Part of our 101 Colourful, Cool, Weird, Novelty, Vintage Toy Instruments gallery is this bright green mini-keys keyboard from Russia.
Seemingly manufactured in at least the 1980s and possible 1990s, the label says “?????” which is a diminutive term for “little boy” or “child”. Before seeing this translation I thought ????? was the brand name, but on closer inspection of a manual we’ve unearthed online, it is indeed alluding to the intended child user.
The manufacturer itself appears to be Malysh (or possibly Malish) although other names did come up in a search including Razno. It appears that Malysh were primarily manufacturing accordions, some also for children, but presumably the keyboards could be manufactured and fitted to either.
So on to this two-octave keyboard, which also seems to have been available in red colouring at least. The manual (pictured below) also seems to translate as a “Philips Electric Music Toy” and “Electromusical toy ‘baby’ Philips”, although any link to the Philips company seems very unlikely, despite Philips manufacturing organs in the West. This may be a mistranslation or wishful thinking perhaps.
Translation is rather dubious throughout, but we can perhaps glean that this battery-operated keyboard features a master oscillator VT4 tone generator, vibrato generator, amp and loudspeaker. Vibrato frequency range is 6-8Hz.
We’ve found one short demonstration of this keyboard on YouTube, shown below. The sound is quite “stylophone”-esque and variation is minimal. It is monophonic.
This keyboard seems to crop up on auction sites from time to time, with fairly high prices. It is considered to be fairly rare given its age and origin.
Check out images of the manual below: