Saturday, October 27, 2007

View Master

Have you ever owned one of these? I have had a View Master since before I could read. I love them. Despite the fact that you can now practically buy a DVD player and movies for the same price as the viewer and reels these days, I got one for my daughter today. It's the one in the middle. It's quite an improvement over the original. The reel loads in the top of the viewer horizontally instead of vertically, like the older ones seen at the left and right. It also transitions between slides more easily than the old ones. The viewer on the left I got for Christmas in 1978 as part of the Marvel All-Star Gift Pak. You just can't beat Ditko's Doctor Strange in 3-D! I just got the canister out again to see what I had in it as far as old reels go. I was pleasantly surprised to find three sets of Batman (1966 TV show, Batman #251: Joker's Five-Way Revenge, Batman The Animated Series) reels, as well as the Six Million Dollar Man, Jungle Book, AristoCats, assorted DC and Marvel heroes from Gift Paks, and a really cool one: The Cisco Kid from 1950 (right), which belonged to my dad when he was a kid.

If you never had a View Master, basically it's a stereoscope. You have two photographic slides on either side of the reel, and they are scaled differently in focus to provide the illusion of depth when you view it with both eyes. In the middle there is a short caption for the slide you are currently looking at. When you press down on the slider, it rotates the slide so that the next pair lock into place and you are ready to view the next one. Each reel has seven sets of slides and there are usually three reels per set. The viewer now sells for about $5.00 and the reels for about $3.00 per set.

As I found out at the National Restaurant Association show a few years ago, there's even a
company that makes custom View Master reels for promotions!

1 comment:

Martin said...

Jim, I love ViewMasters as a kid. I had the handheld. I had the projector you plugged in so you could show them on the wall. Loved that stuff. Probably had a couple dozen sets of reels.

Sadly, all that went the wayside when I was in college and my parents moved. That's definitely a blogging topic for me soon. Thanks for the inspiration!