Heritage100

‘Karma Chameleon’ singing phone

'Karma Chameleon’ singing phone

…a must-have present for Christmas.

This was originally a phone designed specifically for a BT advertisement in 2002. Suddenly everyone wanted one and it became a must-have present for Christmas. Various companies mobilised to have it manufactured in China and it sold for an average price of £69.99 in the UK, mainly over the internet. This particular phone was made in China for Burostat Ltd.

When the phone rings the chameleon starts to roll its eyes and dance while ‘singing’ the chorus from ‘Karma Chameleon’, Culture Club’s 1983 hit song. As the song reaches the words ‘red, gold and green’ the chameleon sits up on its rear legs and its chest lights up in time with the three colours flashing while the ladybird ‘plays’ the mouth organ. The Chameleon show is battery operated and still works – and it is still hilarious!

This phone is an interesting example of the interaction between technology, entertainment, popular culture, and marketing.

You can watch the 'Karma Chameleon' phone in action in the "Gallery" section.

 

Quick Facts

  • Made in China
  • Made of plastic and metal
  • Date made 2002
  • Concept by BT
  • Made by Burostat Ltd
  • Purchase price £69.99
  • Accession number HMCMS:SH2010.71
  • Song by Culture Club

 


Facts

  • The back of the chameleon lifts off to form the handset, containing the mouthpiece and speaker.
  • ‘Karma Chameleon’ featured on Culture Club’s 1983 album ‘Colour by Numbers’.
  • The single ‘Karma Chameleon’ was at ‘Number One’ in the UK Charts for six weeks in 1983.
  •  Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ won ‘Best British Single’ at the 1984 Brit Awards.
  • The chameleon is a lizard, well-known for its ability to change colour, usually as a means of communication with other chameleons.
  • Chameleons have prehensile tails, which allow them to maintain a superb grip onto branches, and protruding eyes that rotate independently.
  • A chameleon can shoot out its tongue at lightning speed. Blink and you miss it. The tongue has a sticky end to catch prey.

Did you know?

A chameleon can extend its tongue out up to one-and-a-half times its body length to catch insects. This is the equivalent to a 2m person having a 3m long tongue!

Gallery

‘Karma Chameleon’ singing phone

Fact Sheets

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