- Hugh Davies
Analogue electronic percussion instrument marketed by the toy manufacturer Mattel Electronics of California from 1982. It has a rectangular console (c20 × 23 cm) incorporating four circular rubber drum-pads, which can be played either with sticks or with the fingers; they trigger a range of electronically generated percussion sounds (snare drum, cymbal, high and low tom-toms). Tom-tom 1 is tunable over a five-octave range by means of a pitch wheel at the left side. LED lights show which pad is being played. A volume control is at the right. There is also a bass drum operated by an on-off key; it can function as a metronome. A sequencer can memorize and record three 16-note patterns, which can either be played or punched in by means of buttons and layered. The sound is heard through a separate guitar amplifier, stereo system, or headphones, connected through output jacks. The unit is powered by batteries or 9-volt AC adapter. Nowadays considered a vintage ‘collectable’, the instrument was used by some professional performers. In the early 1970s Mattel also produced the Optigan, a small photoelectric tone-wheel toy ‘organ’ based on the principle of graphic sound....