Vintage Unboxing: New-in-the-Box Magnavox D2935 Receiver from 1987

D2935 1000pxSometimes good fortune drops in our lap at the least expected moment, but we have to act quickly to take advantage of it! This was the case with the receiver above; I spotted it on Ebay just moments after the seller posted a Buy-It-Now auction. Had I been planning to buy a D2935? No, but I immediately knew I was looking at something special.

This particular D2935 receiver from Magnavox had remained new and unused from 1987 until July 2016, when I had the good fortune of spotting the newly-listed Ebay auction and purchasing the radio for $175.   

The D2935 (and larger companion D2999) has a slightly military, 1980s industrial design that was Magnavox’s answer to Panasonic’s Command Series receivers of the same era. It’s a style that I know many radio hobbyists remember with fondness. Like the Panasonic RF-2200 and similar models, the D2935 looks and feels solid, reliable, and well,… “manly”! The Magnavox is an imposing radio, with a robust sound to match its looks.

I found it unusual that this new-in-the-box D2935 was now surfacing, so after completing the purchase I asked the seller about its background. According to the seller, whose “senior assistance” team Rightsizing for Seniors helps the elderly to downsize and dispose of many of their belongings, the radio’s owner was a confirmed “shopaholic” who purchased many items but never used them. She evidently had a passion for “high end” vaccuum cleaners and owned numerous examples, most of them never unboxed or used.

The Ebay seller speculates that the lady was interested in following world news via shortwave radio in the 1980s, but like the vaccuum cleaners she never opened the D2935’s box. It was jammed into home storage with many other new items–clothing, kitchenware, other electronics… all just sitting for decades.

I briefly considered just stashing away the radio unused, letting it appreciate in its collectable value. However, I’m not a collector but someone who likes to use and DX with receivers. Like an automotive enthusiast who avoids “trailer queens” and drives his pride and joy to car meets, I’d rather turn on a receiver and enjoy it!

Check out the following video to see how this rare portable radio was packaged by Magnavox, and the pristine condition of all included items. The big question is: will the radio still play after 29 years of storage? Click below to find out!

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

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16 thoughts on “Vintage Unboxing: New-in-the-Box Magnavox D2935 Receiver from 1987

  1. Guy Atkins Post author

    Hi John,

    At some point Magnavox made the D2935 keypad overlay with the white fill, and the unit I wrote about and show in the video is one of those originals. For reference, the http://www.shortwaveradio.ch radio museum site shows a D2935 with white fill, as does the http://www.dxing.com reference (the latter has a B&W photo, but yellow would show up as light gray in B&W…the pictured radio’s membrane fill is white).

    The membrane layer on this radio is not one of the hand made replacements but is a pristine original part, just as mint as the rest of the radio and under magnification doesn’t look laser printed (it’s perfectly die-cut, too). Exposure to sunlight (UV) is what causes the cracking over time. This particular D2935 spent virtually its entire life in the dark, wrapped in the original packing material.

    The receiver that Ebay seller Bigapple59 is offering is the same unit, as I recently traded it to my friend Randy for him to sell in exchange for another receiver from his inventory. He is representing the “back story” accurately, as I was the one who initially procured it from the senior assistance organization in my area and communicated more than once with them on the history of the D2935. The individual who owned the radio had numerous other unused, hidden away boxes of merchandise at the time she downsized and moved into a nursing home.

    73, Guy

    Reply
  2. John

    The original color of the overlay in the upper right hand corner is colored yellow. The overlay almost universally disintegrates over time no matter how stored. A replacement overlay was created as shown here:

    http://antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=240038

    The creator changed the yellow color to white in the upper right hand quadrant. These templates are still being sold on Ebay. This suggests that this radio has had the membrane overlay replaced, and is not original as the seller represented it to be.

    There is another Magnavox D2935 being sold as *NEW* with a *Collector Alert* for $799.00 on Ebay right now. It also has the color change from yellow to white in the upper right hand quadrant, which suggests it is also not original. http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Scarce-Magnavox-D2935-AM-FM-Shortwave-Radio-1987-COLLECTORs-ALERT-/182478215084?hash=item2a7c8c97ac:g:x7gAAOSw4A5YvI~0

    As always, buyer beware.

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins

      Thanks Chris! I find that I’m listening almost nightly to Radio New Zealand International with the D2935, despite the radio’s lack of synchronous AM detection. I have other radios with AM Sync, but the Magnavox makes the RNZI audio sound so darn nice :^)

      Reply
  3. ¾ Blind

    Wow, great find! In 1988 or early ’89 I cross shopped the Sangean ATS-803A with the Magnavox D2935 for my first digitally tuned SW radio. I chose the Sangean (actually ended up with a Realistic DX-440) due to its two IF bandwidths. Other qualities such as build quality and audio quality were not part my decision making as I don’t recall reading direct comparisons between these two radios. Had I known of the Magnavox’s membrane keypad I would have been further swayed towards the Sangean because the radio is used bedside with much tuning done in the dark by feel. Nowadays if one wants better audio from their portable radio, one could plug in a pair of amplified computer speakers.

    Reply
  4. Luke Perry

    What a beautiful radio. I had never really noticed these before but yours is so mint that all of the details really stand out. I really like that LED signal meter, a simple design but it really stands out.

    Reply
  5. Joe Patti

    Back in that era, some in the hobby did not think of the Magnavox radios as “serious” radios. But they were as close as you could get for the price. In 1988, I bought brand new a D2999. It was a great unit. Just sold it two years ago in an effort to fund my growing SDR habit, but used it constantly prior. Held up superbly over the years…

    Reply
  6. Thomas

    Wow–Guy! I’ve been off-grid in Prince Edward Island, but just got on WiFi at a Tim Horton’s and discovered your post. I think you got an amazing deal there! Even via your video camera, you can tell that the audio is quite robust even on shortwave–I mean, listen to that Radio Australia sign-on!

    Congrats! Great, great eBay catch there!

    Cheers,
    Thomas

    Reply
  7. Philip Bernacke

    Despite the membrane issue this radio worked well for me on SW with an external long-wire. I have no idea what happened to it but I did use it for years. Mine was Phillips branded. If my memory is correct it compares favorably with the CCRadioSW.

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins Post author

      Hi Philip,

      I hadn’t thought of the comparison with the CCRadio-SW before, but I agree with you. The sound quality is similar and both radios have a similar bulk. The quality of the D2935’s knobs, whip antenna, and case plastic is much better than the CCRadio-SW though. Both radios whip antennas are well matched to their circuitry and the sets receive very well.

      Reply
  8. RonF

    Given that those membrane keys have a tendency to wear & crack as others have already noted, I’d be very tempted to scan the front panel, have some spares made, and put the original aside.

    That’s the sort of thing where it costs a bit to get 5 or 10 made, but you can leave one of the repros sitting on eBay until someone really wants it & pays enough to recoup your total cost ;).

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins

      Hi Ron,

      A couple of years ago, someone did just that, and has saved us the effort of scanning and recreating the keypad design. Check out this thread for description, photos, and links to the high resolution keypad image file: http://antiqueradios.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=240038

      The keypad plastic is of a type that can crack and harden with exposure to UV rays of sunlight. To help keep the plastic on this radio in new condition, I’ve applied a coat of “303 Aerospace Protectant”. This *excellent* product helps protect many surfaces from the damaging effects of sunlight. The 303 product is highly regarded among aviation, marine, and automobile enthusiasts. A 32 ounce bottle costs approximately $19 USD from Amazon. 303 Aerospace is also good for the other plastic surfaces of the radio; it never feels greasy or slick like Armor-All. I highly recommend it!

      A couple of the many positive reviews of Aerospace 303 Protectant: http://www.deckhanddetailing.com/product-review-303-aerospace-protectant/
      http://www.corvetteforum.com/forums/car-care-discussion/1270157-review-303-aerospace-protectant.html

      Reply
      1. RonF

        Thanks Guy, I hadn’t seen that! I’ve had labels for similar replacement purposes professionally printed & cut on vinyl sheet for minimal cost through a signwriter friend, but that’s an excellent homebrew result.

        Reply
  9. Cap

    I got one of these off eBay a few years ago and is as near to mint as you can get. It also came with the original box and inserts.
    The biggest issue with these radios is the keypad, it can deteriorate over time with regular use and is hard to find one without a damaged keypad, although mine is in as new condition, so quite lucky.
    As I recall, the D2935 was a very popular choice during the 80’s by Short Wave Magazine contributors.

    Reply
  10. pjmm

    I owned one of these Radios under the brand of Phillips D2935. I bought it back in the latest 80’s and served me well until year 2000 when the front plastic cover started to decay and appeared cracks in the keypad and display area so eventually had to sell it. Spite of that, still fond of it.

    Reply
    1. Guy Atkins Post author

      See my comments below about keypad replacement and preventative maintenance. If you find another D2935, even with a deteriorated keypad, it could be worth your time to replace the keypad.

      Reply

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