Air King Skyscraper (Updates)

The 1933 Air King “Skyscraper” is so innovative and cool, it’s included as the first radio in John Sideli’s classic book on Catalin radios…even though it’s not Catalin!

Some Air King Skyscrapers made of colorful Plaskon, like the five below, have gone for $40,000 to $50,000 each in auctions and private sales.

An eye-catching example of the crystalline finish in black:img_5111

All of the above Air King Models 52 & 66 are part of Hugh & Jane Hunt’s impressive collection.

In 1933, it was unprecedented to offer radios in such a colorful array of choices.  According to my research…Plaskon versions were available in red, blue, green, yellow, lavender, ivory, and white.  Bakelite versions were available in brown and black.  And the crystalline finishes were only available in black and ivory…you saw the black above, and now the ivory:img_9813The crystalline finish is a smooth clear-coating that at times oxidized to show copper or gold tones.  Some collectors call it a “Flake Finish”.

fullsizerenderHere’s an elegant pure white Air King.  Thanks to GR, a collector in Florida, for the two impressive examples above.

A close up of the speaker grille on top:fullsizerender-1

img_6911This is my one lonely Air King Skyscraper.  It’s the Model 770 from 1937.  Not as cool as the 1933 versions, but still a nice collectible radio.  This model obviously has the speaker in the front, and has an added tuning eye.  Skyscrapers tend to look bigger in photos than in person.  They’re only about 12-inches high, 9-inches wide, and 7-inches deep.  According to Sideli, it was a major step forward to mold a plastic case of this size in 1933, when most radios were made of wood.  The design is by Harold Van Doren.  He had many excellent streamlined industrial designs in the 30’s, 40’s & 50’s, including the first two-door refrigerator.

GR from Florida provides this wonderfully dramatic ivory and black “Egyptian” model:

Here are three additional Model 770 finds by GR.  These are “didn’t know they existed!” versions.  Just check out the dazzling colors of these Plaskon (not painted) Skyscrapers.

The vivid green Air King is an export model that GR discovered in South America.  The bright red 770 is the American version, but that red color makes it extremely rare.  And finally, look over that beautiful blue Plaskon Skyscraper.  It was made by Air King, but it was sold under the Lafayette brand.  That’s why “Air King” is not imprinted above the tuning eye, and why it has a different dial.  (You can click or touch any of the photos to check out the radios more closely.)

Thank you to GR for helping expand our knowledge of how many different versions of Air Kings were manufactured.

7 thoughts on “Air King Skyscraper (Updates)”

  1. beautiful site.
    I just bought a brown skyscraper 52 in spain.
    Tuning knob is original, but left and right knobs are incorrect. do you know anyone that makes replacement knobs for the 52?

    Editor: A recommendation was sent by email. Thanks

  2. This is a most beautiful, interesting and informative website you have! Thanks for my new entertainment.
    Can you give me an idea of what an Air King Skyscraper 770 (eye focus) might sell for? I would deeply appreciate it.
    Thanks so much.

    Editor: A private email was sent to Mares.

  3. I have recently come across an Air King 770. Could you help me with value/questions I have?

    Editor: Yes, I’ll contact you directly.

  4. I have 1 airking 770 in white plaston
    The plaston case is damage (cracks).
    could you help me with value/repair tips?

    Editor: An email response was sent, explaining about bleaching stress lines, but feel free to let us know if you have a technique for repairing Plaskon cases. Thanks

  5. I have a green Air King Model 52 (Egyptian) radio that is need of both of the lever knobs. Can you point me toward some resources for replacements? Many thanks

    Editor: You are a fortunate collector to find such a rare radio! For truly expert advice on Air King Skyscrapers, contact

  6. 6 years ago my wife and I established the Hilbert Museum at Chapman University. Due to popularity we are expanding it and including a gallery of plastic radio’s. We have an enormous collection 300+. However for our opening show we would like to include a skyscraper. It’s the only one we don’t have. We do have the Sparton nocturne, but we would like to borrow one of your skyscrapers for our show.

    Editor: I no longer have a skyscraper in my collection. I refer all Air King Skyscraper questions to

  7. My father in-law just gave me a 1933 Air King Skyscraper in the ivory color. Not sure if it is a model 52 or 62 it has the two globes in the upper square display. He wants me to try and sell it for him so my question is can you advise us on a value and possible outlet to sell it? Should I try pulling it in or is that a bad idea? It has been sitting in a box for 30+ years. Thanks Jack

    Editor: Jack was referred to an Air King expert. That’s a good father-in-law!

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