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I LOVE this phone. It's great. If I could leave the review there, I would ;) but in the interests of consumer information, here's the full lowdown:
-- What is it? --
The Wild & Wolf Classic Corded Telephone is a wired (ie, curly cord, landline) phone styled in homage to the 1970s. It's available in a variety of colours, all typical of the time, including bright turquoise, sunshine yellow, lime green and white.
The only modern change to the phone is that rather than being a rotary dial phone it replicates the look of a rotary dial phone however it is actually a touch tone phone - this is probably due to safety reasons, it is much quicker and easier to call 999 on a touch tone, and also rotary dial phones have no redial function, which this phone is equipped with. The modern features don't, however, get in the way of the style!
-- Where can I buy it and how much is it? --
I've seen Wild & Wolf phones on the internet, on Amazon and other independent retailers but they are also stocked instore and online at Debenhams. This particular model costs £35, which is fairly reasonable as it is very well made, and a lot of attention to detail has been made. Certainly this is a phone which you'd be purchasing as an ornamental as well as functional item and would last you.
-- The 1970s Phone --
Think Columbo. Think Grease (alright - Grease 2). Think Edward Scissorhands. Candy coloured, boxy, yet attractive. As soon as you look at this Wild & Wolf Trim Classic Corded Telephone you will be transported back to diners, your grandma's house, technicolor movies and a world before the internet and mobiles. It's so charming. Yes, it won't appeal to everyone but it does have a pretty universal appeal, and after all, it is a fully functional phone, too. The ringtone is pure 1970s, a shrill bell which takes you back in time when you hear it. It's an ice cream sundae in a phone ;)
-- As a phone --
It works very well. It's corded, and the cord is long enough to be useful without being so long as to get in the way and get tangled. The phone itself has a good weight to it. It has a regular phone connector for use in any UK home phone socket. It has 12 buttons set out as a rotary dial - 0 through 9 and * with a hash key. There are three settings for the ringer - soft, loud and off (though why you would turn it off is a matter of debate since you cannot see if anyone is calling, lacking a caller display as it does).
It's a retro phone, so I can't comment on the LCD screen, the 50 number database of numbers and the text functionality - obviously it doesn't have these things and I won't be knocking off any stars for that fact either - I'm reviewing it as a retro phone, and this has to be taken into account. No gadget fan would want this when there are a hundred bells and whistles cordless affairs out there. But this phone, as a basic phone, works very well. The ringer is nice and loud (when set to loud that is) and the call volume and quality is second to none also. The handset has a good weight and is easy to hold. Overall, as a phone it is a pleasure to use and that is so refreshing in a phone which may fall close to the 'novelty' category (and let's face it most of us have attempted to make a phone call on a novelty phone and not been impressed).
-- Recommend? --
I absolutely do. Obviously you need to be a fan of retro design and the simpler joy technology can bring. This phone is a clever mix of more modern advancements but with absolutely no detrimental effect to the styling, and it just looks great. The phone alone on a table makes a style statement. In a world of iPhones and cordless this and that, it is just so...so cool. There's a big call for kitsch, this is kitsch no doubt about it, but under all the candy coated fun it's also a very well made, reasonably priced, quality phone which is worth the money.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this and also suggest it as a quirky gift for all ages. I love the Wild Wolf Classic Telephone and I am sure that you will too.
Generally when it comes to impulse buys I tend to over spend on products and gadgets that are either too expensive for their own good or cheap prices on products that don't particularly keep their novelty for long. With a mix of corded and cordless telephones in my house however I've never fallen for the corded cartoon phones or the like even though prices for corded telephones have fallen in lieu of more technologically advanced telephones, particularly those with loud speaker facilities or memory presets. That was, until I happened to lay eyes on a re-released telephone I grew up with, on sale at John Lewis - the humble Trim phone which was originally made by the GPO/General Post Office.
We still have an original Trim phone kicking about somewhere, a vestige of old now, though thirty years on when my father bought it brand new the year I was born somewhere in the 1970's and we had three Trim phones at one point during my childhood including a rather bizarre and dust attracting stitched leatherette covered one that my mother disliked for its general finish and look. As far as I remember the Trim phones we had were in three distinctive colours; the more common dark blue one, a dark green one and the bizarre brown/green leatherette model. This was at a time when unbelievably, when it came to the telephone you had to make do with BT systems or little else. No wonder the Trim phone was popular racking up 1.6 million sales by the 1980s.
The word "Trim" is an actual acronym that means "Tone Ringer Illuminated Model," and was the first phone on the market to feature an electronic ringer instead of the tinky bells on other phones. The illumination on the ring was powered by the telephone socket and was better appreciated than its glow in the dark ring, which had previously caused controversy amidst a nuclear Britain and buyers faced with radioactive fears. However, The Trim phone's iconic rectangular shape has stood the test of time, even though it has taken the best part of 30 or so many years to make an appearance again at a time when the 1980's in general are back again in the fashion world. I can even remember The Swap Shop having quite a few lurid colours of the Trim phone on TV and they had a mix of the dialler phones and the more modern Trim phones with a rectangular bezel of squarish buttons.
I've been keeping my eye on the newly released Trim phone however and it has been on sale in the UK for the last couple of years, especially at Urban Outfitters at the most astronomical price of around £60 to £80. John Lewis however are currently charging £35.94 which is a bit better now and of course, I just had to have one for sentimental reasons. I know my departed father would be very happy knowing I had bought one just to remember him by!
The newly re-released TRIM phone is now made by a company called Wild and Wolf, (thank god it's not by "Wet and Wild," !!) and for all that it sounds like a genuinely British name, the phone is made in China and feels decidedly lightweight compared to the heavy original. A pity here, because our Trim phones lasted quite a few years with only a few models needing their cradles replaced due to over use of thundering down the hand set each time the phone was used. It is clear from this more modern copy that, several attempts have been made to keep the original design made by GPO. The round dial for example has been well retained taken from the original GPO item but instead of finger pick holes, round push buttons have replaced where you would have originally rolled your finger around.
It is good that whilst Wild and Wolf have made this phone in a range of several different colours such as purple, striking white and bright red, there are other variants in green, turquoise and another model in soft pink! Wild and Wolf also make other telephones from the 1960's and 1970's era and in this respect the company have also retained the metal finger grip to the right hand side of the original dial of the Trim phone, even though it serves no real purpose in real life anymore, but a design nod to the original. The handset cradle is however lightweight plastic and doesn't feel as well made as the original's cradle that offered two functions in one such as acting as a carry handle if the phone was to be used "in transit," whilst also being a cradle for the rectangular handset to rest on. Other similar design highlights include a ribbed round dial to the side of the phone which can adjust the speaker's volume from high to low and eventually switched off which gives a standard amount of volume. It is however a good point on this more modern rendition that a ringing tone on/off slider has also been included. Two aspects that are missing from the original phone however is the nameplate, which sat at the bottom of the phone underneath the dial and the original address book slider that slid out the bottom on later GPO models before the phone went out of production. It is good however that they have retained the old-fashioned name and address plate in the middle of the central round dial
In use however the Wild and Wolf Trim phone isn't that far off from the original GPO Trim phone. It still has a quaint electronic ringer that will either appeal positively or negatively and the phone's actual handset is very similar to the old, feeling quite angular in the hand but at the same time, distinctive and classy looking. Clarity of speech is also very good, the phone does have a good quality feel about it in this area, evidently now because for the most part BT landlines offer digital clarity over the often crackly line we had in the 1970's and early 1980's! I'm still at two minds with the speaker volume control; it really isn't essential but it keeps the Wild and Wolf Trim phone in long standing with the original's settings and dial. Essentially though, for the price here the Wild and Wolf Trim phone makes a decent stab at coveting an original design and in the colour that I chose (white) it does retain a rather glossy finish rather than something that feels particularly hard wearing. It is a pity that the dial doesn't light up though as the single numerical buttons could have been a glow in the dark nod rather than just black number on white plastic. At least the ribbed rubber cord is long enough to go quite a distance on the hand set whilst the cord at the back is long enough (also white) to place this Trim phone fairly far away from a BT phone socket.
The dial however doesn't light up which is of great pity but the phone does have a redial function, something that the original often lacked and a hold function that would work successfully with other telephone network providers. Both of these functions are on the central name & address bezel, pushing down for redial and pushing up for the hold function. There is also a ringer switch on/off slider which is a bit weird since the control dial at the bottom also has this function too.
For a "cartoon phone," the Wild and Wolf TRIM phone appears to be an excellent imitation of the original for 1970s aficionados and 1980's purists. It may even appeal to teenagers who love the retro and appeal of generations past. For that reason and its recently slashed price, the Trim phone is well worth looking out for and against many standard corded telephones on the market, although it lacks many more modern features the fact that it is available in an almost rainbow like range of colours means it may well fit in with your choice of décor! Now if they did one in black, I'd certainly go back for another Trim phone! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2010
For a range of colours & other retro phones: