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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A functional piece of high Art Deco sculpture
Late one evening about thirty years ago I flipped out when I spotted a beautiful vintage cobalt blue glass and chrome Art Deco radio in a window in Orange, California. The store was closed and I never got back to inquire about the price, but I probably couldn't have afforded it anyway. I've thought about it occasionally and have always wanted one like it. Three days...
Published on February 3, 2006 by Sherman A. Thompson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Design, But Flaws
The Crosley Sleigh Radio CR-38 is all the good things reviewers say it is, and is sure to get a lot of attention from people who will be convinced it's an original. With a few slight changes, it is indeed a stunningly real looking copy of the 1938 Sparton blue mirror glass and wood cabinet. It has the feel and weight of an original.

I rated this item only...
Published on August 29, 2006 by Don Proctor


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A functional piece of high Art Deco sculpture, February 3, 2006
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Late one evening about thirty years ago I flipped out when I spotted a beautiful vintage cobalt blue glass and chrome Art Deco radio in a window in Orange, California. The store was closed and I never got back to inquire about the price, but I probably couldn't have afforded it anyway. I've thought about it occasionally and have always wanted one like it. Three days ago my wish came true when an updated version sold under the Crosley logo was delivered to my house. Here are my impressions:

First, contrary to the advertisements, it is NOT a faithful reproduction of the original Sparton Radio Co No. 557 "sled" aesthetically or functionally. But this isn't really a bad thing, and I'll explain why. The earlier version of the original, or I should say "originals," had three knobs instead of four. The second original version had a forth knob added for tone control. Attractive black deco etching was also added. The four knobs on the second version of the vintage Sparton were not equidistant. They were arranged in two groups of two each, with a little more space between the two groups. Other than that the aesthetic effect is pretty much the same. I've tried to remove the slick chrome knobs and replace them with black ones but the factory must have stuck them on with J-B weld. I'm afraid to apply more force and possibly break something. I might just wrap them with black electrical tape for better aesthetic fidelity.

In my opinion the new version "sleigh" of the Sparton "sled" by Crosley is not an accurate reproduction as much as it is an update of the original. You wouldn't really want a beautiful radio only capable of receiving AM broadcasts, would you? With the Crosley repro you can also select for AM, FM, FM sterio, or AUX, and a CD player is hidden under the hinged glass top. Two AUX standard RCA input jacks are in the back to plug in inputs from a record player or even an iPod if you have the correct cables. Unfortunately there is no tone control, as on the original, but the sound is pretty good.

Design of the original exterior Deco case back in 1936 was by the talented and prolific industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague. The original Sparton "sleds" came in beautiful cobalt blue mirror glass, pink mirror glass, and sort of non-glass material with a mottled grey and black pattern something like Jackson Pollock might have approved of. Other than that they looked pretty much identical in design style. Photos indicate the original "sleds" had black knobs instead of the chrome knobs of the Crosley Repro.

Today's "sleigh" uses molded high quality black plastic trim where the old "sleds" used black painted wood. The plastic should be more durable and not show scuff marks as much as the painted wood did. The cobalt blue case is real glass and not blue colored plastic. It should not be susceptible to scratch marks if properly cared for.

I give the new updated Crosley version a solid five stars for aesthetics. It is a true work of machine-age sculptural Deco art and a pleasure to look at just sitting on the table.

Two smallish stereo speakers, one each tastefully concealed in the opposite ends of the case, give it a pretty good sound in spite of having no tone or balance controls. What you hear is what you get. The addition of a CD player is icing on the cake. What is really neat is the way you get to the CD player. Glass is a dense and heavy material, as well as being easily subject to breakage. So this incredible radio has its own servo motor to gently raise and close the entire hinged top for access to the CD unit. CD control buttons and a red digital indicator are exposed and easily accessible when the top is open. The servo is activated by pressing a chrome button on the left end of the case, Photos show a similar button in the same place on the vintage 1938 versions . I have no idea what it was for on the old ones, or if it even served a functional purpose. The soft whirring of the lid lifter servo is a bit distracting when it is in operation and a CD is playing, but this is nit picking. The CD player works with the lid open or closed, so you can just leave it open if this is a big deal.

The four rotary selector knobs on the front feel a bit "scrapey," as contrasted with the smooth solid movements and positive mechanical click notches of high quality electronic equipment, but they seem to work OK. This is probably my biggest gripe. They feel cheap, fragile, and imprecise. Because the knobs themselves are finished in slick chrome, without serrations, they are difficult to get a solid grip on. However, the unit is as much a piece of Deco sculpture as a functional radio and I approve of the decision to give higher priority to looks. If the slippery knobs are too much of a problem one can always wrap black electrical tape around them for a better grip.

Don't expect a detailed instruction booklet because there isn't one. You do get a small 3/4 page sheet of minimal instructions with the necessary info to operate the radio and CD, and a diagram of what is located where. The FM antenna is a simple thin insulated wire that you are instructed to move around until good reception is achieved. Goofy as it sounds I found this works pretty well. I assume the wire is cut to the correct FM dipole length.

The electronic front end (signal detector section) is about average for a home radio. It won't pick up distant FM stations as well as some car radios but, hey, neither will most of other home radios, including a Boze. So I give this radio five stars also for functionality.

In summary, the radio is a pretty well integrated modern update of a beautiful piece of high Deco glass sculpture. Made in China, the case seems to be well built, with close attention given to fit and finish detail. The radio is somewhat heavy, weighing about 20 pounds. I have found no major flaws so far. Durability is yet to be determined. I am more than pleased with mine.

Pricing is all over the place, ranging from $220 to $129, which is what I paid, plus $20 shipping. These may not be available much longer, so if you want one it might be a good idea to act soon. Some suppliers are already out of stock. But who knows, as long as the demand is there they just might go on and on.

UPDATE, 2/16/02:

I have used this wonderful piece of deco art almost exclusively as decoration after my initial review and it still excites my appreciation of machine-age Deco as much as it did when I first acquired it. I have since discovered a few more departures from the original design.

As another reviewer noted, this replica stands a little higher with respect to width compared with the original. I feel this is taking unnecessary license with Teague's aesthetic sense of proportion. Also, the original apparently had a black lacquered top rather than a blue mirror. Lastly, the small square knob on the left end of the repro that opens the top is aligned with its sides parallel to those of the case, rather than turned at 45 degrees as is the original. The reader can decide if these are important deviations.

My hunch is that the replica designers felt they could improve on Teague's inspired work of art with their own tweaks, imbellishments, and sense of proportions. As with most amateurs they overdid it with the mirrored top and chrome knobs, evenly spaced instead of arranged in two pairs. Its the same concept that if a little salt on a dish is good, then a whole lot of salt will be even better. Amateurs never seem to understand tasteful restraint. Nonetheless, Teague's work of art still shines through in what I would now classify as a later interpretation of his original classic. I still enjoy the contemporary version, though the proportions are slightly changed, the top is also mirrored, and the chrome knob embellishments are a bit overdone.
.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1930's Elegance with 21st Century Sound, March 8, 2006
By 
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
The Crosley Sleigh is a magnificent piece of Art Deco sculpture! This must be the reason why people back in the 1930's used to sit around and watch their radios. It's a substantial piece of equipment with real glass and chrome, not a disappointing flimsy imitation.

The mirrored sides are not the overwhelming neon blue they appear to be in the photo on this page; it's more of a dark cobalt blue and in low incadescent light it looks black.

I would have been content with the appearance alone, but the sound is amazing! Even with the volume turned up loud enough to fill the house the sound stays pure and clear.

The CD player is revealed by pressing a button on the left side which starts a motor that slowly raises the lid to reveal the CD playing mechanism and the controls. Most small CD players start reading the disk when you close the lid, but with the Sleigh the CD is held in place and played by a small black arm that is reminiscent of a phonograph. The practicality of the arm becomes apparent right away - you'll want to leave the lid open while you're playing CDs. If the lid is closed you won't be able to get at the PLAY, SKIP, REPEAT, STOP, PAUSE buttons.

The radio part of the package is more than satisfactory. Without resorting to the wire antenna the Sleigh picks up all the normal stations around here and a few that weren't coming in well on the Sony boombox (with telescoping antenna).

There may be potential problems with the mechanized lid and the CD playing arm. They seem to be well made, but I'm just leary of mechanical parts. I'm planning to treat those delicately.

Overall, the Sleigh is gorgeous and sounds great! I love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Design, But Flaws, August 29, 2006
By 
Don Proctor (Central Maryland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
The Crosley Sleigh Radio CR-38 is all the good things reviewers say it is, and is sure to get a lot of attention from people who will be convinced it's an original. With a few slight changes, it is indeed a stunningly real looking copy of the 1938 Sparton blue mirror glass and wood cabinet. It has the feel and weight of an original.

I rated this item only three stars because there is one well-publicized problem with the lid lift operation (for access to the compact disk playing area) that plagues this radio, and which I hope the manufacturer is looking into. I have had two radios that failed after about a day, and both failures were due to the lift/lowering action of the lid.

The nature of the problem I was having with both radios was verified by a technical representative of a Crosley distributor. Specifically, in both cases, the problem was caused by a faulty lower cutoff switch, which is improperly designed and positioned and which would not allow the lift motor to turn off after the lid closed. The result was a noisy clicking or clunking sound as the lift gears continued to turn at the end of the track after reaching the bottom of the lid return cycle.

I believe that people along the production and distribution line are now aware of this problem. What they are going to do about it is not known, but they are probably going to have to redesign the switch to fit properly and perform its shutoff function efficiently.

A spokesperson for one of the distributors said that not all switches fail after a few lifts, but are likely prone to failure in the long term. So my advice is, until you see this radio sold with a banner that says, "new and improved" or some such label, I would not invest the money right now. However, if you just want a beautiful piece of Art Deco repro, or are content to just play the radio and look at the sheer beauty of this unit, by all means, give it a try. For that, it would be well worth the price.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Crosley CR38, September 24, 2007
By 
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I got this radio a few years ago and it has the look of a 1936 Sparton Model 558 for sure, not the 557 like mentioned in another review, totally wrong Model. C.D. cover never worked right from the start, but as I really did not need a C.D. player, no big thing. The dial light bulbs (4) lasted maybe a year, then one at a time they went dark. Well I like the dark. Now after one year ten months the Auxiliary on it has a loud hum. It looks good, but lacks any quality I feel. Think I will try the old tube stuff this time. (Some) New stuff seems like junk.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Looks Beautiful But Problematic, March 16, 2006
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
The Crosley Sleigh Radio was inspired by the Spartan Radio, one of the most elegant Art Deco radios of the 1930's. Unfortunately, I do not have the resources to pay $3-4,000 for an original radio. The Crosley Sleigh radio is an economical substitution for the original.

On the surface, the Crosley Sleigh radio is a beautifully sculptured radio with the added bonus of a CD Player and a FM tuner. However, the most serious problem with the radio is the top lid that raises and lowers to provide access to the CD Player. The mechanism that raises and lowers the lid does not work very well. I noticed this problem with the first radio that I purchased. I returned it to the vendor and received a second radio. That second radio had the identical problem. I believe it is a design flaw.

The bottom line is that this is a beautiful radio with a serious flaw. I am willing to live with this flaw because it looks great in the living room of my 1939 International Style house. Learn to live with the flaw or start saving to purchase the orignal Spartan Radio.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thing of (delicate) beauty, May 31, 2006
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
This is a wonderful piece of art, and it also sounds great. Radio reception is good - as noted at least as good or better than most car radios - and the sound fidelity is fine. We couldn't be more pleased, if only the lid worked!

Our experience is the same as the first reviewer, we've had two defective units now where the lid mechanism failed. If only they had used a "retro" hydraulic lid support, simple and fail-safe, instead of the servo unit that, according to the manufacturer, is not robust enough for the rigours of parcel shipping.

We're now waiting on a third unit, and cannot say enough to praise the good folk at Retro Wonders for their diligence and concern in taking care of our problems.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the old , and the best of the new!, October 15, 2003
By 
This review is from: Crosley CR38CD Sleigh Radio with CD Player (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
This says "Queen Mary" all over it. This is the "Ultimate" gift for the "Ultimate Art Deco Fan". I plan to purchase one, once the money becomes available. Keep up the good work on this website.
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