More than one billion View-Master reels reflecting at least 10,000 different topics had been put into circulation since the first mass-produced 3D viewers were manufactured in Portland, Oregon back in 1939. We spent many hours with our standard black “Model-C” 1946 Sawyer reel viewer–the original version of what is still sold today–and the 1952 View-Master personal stereo camera that allowed anyone to create their own photographic reels. What kid didn’t own the 1970s classic red, complete with reels of vacation destinations like Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore, movies like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Tron, The Muppet Movie, and Harry Potter films, and TV shows like Doctor Who, M*A*S*H, and Popeye?
This weekend Mattel, the current owner of the View-Master brand, is announcing at Toy Fair 2015 in New York City the next stage in 3D viewing with its 2015 View-Master virtual reality digital viewer. Using Google Cardboard virtual reality technology, the new viewers will sport a similar design to the classic viewers, this time allowing a smart phone to slip into the case instead of their trademark reels. Only a prototype is being shown at Toy Fair, however the Google Cardboard technology will demonstrate how newly designed reels in the new plastic viewer will allow anyone to have a 360 degree, immersive 3D experience.
The best thing? The viewer will sell for about $30, including a single overview reel, and additional reels will sell at three for $15. Unfortunately we won’t see the new viewer and reels in stores until the last quarter of the year.