View-Master VR? Retro toy Now Virtual

View-Master VR? Retro Toy Now Virtual 

by JOHN GREGERSON | Dec 21, 2015

Among the holiday gift ideas highlighted here last week was the return of an old friend, one even older than George Lucas, much less Luke Skywalker. Yes, View-Master, the original virtual traveler, is back in stores now, in a new virtual reality (VR) guise that replaces manual slide shows with interactive tech. 

Just $30? "Holy cow!"

Just $30? "Holy cow!"

That's right, "virtual", not the primitive GAF version that so enthralled the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation (including the author). Boomers remember: You slipped thin cardboard disks containing pairs of color film images into a plastic stereoscope to watch and re-watch episodes of Batman, Star TrekThe Man From'd already seen on TV. Minus sound, of course, and in a greatly condensed format.

Today's tech-savvy kids wouldn't give that old plastic red toy a second look (or maybe even a first). But who could really blame them, now that Mattel has launched an epic 21st-century comeback with View-Master Virtual Reality, which enables kids – and, let's face it, adults, too – to step into worlds that blend VR and augmented reality? Users of all ages now can immerse themselves in the architecture of London's Tower Bridge, the structural majesty of the Statue of Liberty, the beauty and adventure of the Australian Outback, the Amazon, an African Savanna, or even an ancient Mayan city. Those seeking to slip the bonds of Earth can also explore Space, trace constellations and compare planetary gravity. All they need is a View-Master VR Viewer, a Mattel Experience Pack and a compatible iOS or Android smartphone.

Next, as Mattel instructs, “Download and launch the Experience Pack app, which is available on the App Store or Google Play Store. Take your Pass Card, which is included in each Experience Pack, and scan on your smartphone to unlock the Experience. Then open your viewer, slide in your smartphone, take the viewer and look through it at the reel.”

Mattel says the toy was inspired by the sentiment: “You are not limited by where you stand, but where your mind can take you.”

Yes, just imagine the places your kids can tell friends they visited over the holidays this year. 

HOLIDAY BONUS: Below, View-Master's vintage TV commercial starring two future Oscar winners!

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