Mattel and Google have teamed up to update the classic View-Master toy. The new View-Master is a VR toy that is bound to get both parents and kids excited about this modern update to a beloved toy from decades past. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the best View-Master yet.
1. The New View-Master Is Based on Google Cardboard
Cardboard is a recent Google project that makes a “VR” experience more affordable. Cardboard is a DIY project that lets you create a cardboard housing for your Android device. You can then slide that device into your cardboard headset and interact with key Google services.
The Verge has a list of cool things you can do with a Cardboard headset, which includes:
“• Earth: Fly where your fancy takes you on Google Earth.
• Tour Guide: Visit Versailles with a local guide.
• YouTube: Watch popular YouTube videos on a massive screen.
• Exhibit: Examine cultural artifacts from every angle.
• Photo Sphere: Look around the photo spheres you’ve captured.
• Street Vue: Drive through Paris on a summer day.
• Windy Day: Follow the story (and the hat) in this interactive animated short from Spotlight Stories.”
2. The View-Master Debuted in 1939
The original View-Master debuted way back in 1939. TIME named the toy one of the best in history back in 2011, noting that the View-Master exploded in popularity after the company scored a “major licensing agreement with Disney to offer 3-D images of Disney films, TV shows and theme parks.”
It’s likely that the new View-Master will also offer visual experiences from other major creative companies. As the release date of this new toy draws closer, more information will become available.
3. VR Is Expected to Explode in 2015
Go hands-on with the Samsung Gear VR headset in the video above.
There are a few VR headsets on the market now, but the VR space is expected to blow up in 2015. Yahoo recently ran an article about all of the various VR headsets that are likely to make their final, consumer ready debuts in 2015. Among them are Oculus, the Sulon Cortex, the upcoming Samsung Gear VR, Razer OSVR, and Sony’s Project Morpheus. There’s also Microsoft’s Project HoloLens to consider.
In short, 2015 is going to be the year that lots of companies are competing for your VR dollar. The new View-Master, while perhaps less feature-rich than other headsets in this space, does have a serious advantage. It will cost far less than most other VR options hitting the market this year (more on that later in this article).
4. The New View-Master Will Work Best With a Smartphone
Check out a Mattel video about the new View-Master in the player above.
The Verge reports that to get the most out of the new View-Master, you will need to own a smartphone:
“The original View-Master utilized a small, colorful reel, which users placed in the device to see images with a 3D effect. For the VR version, you’ll need a smartphone running a custom Mattel app to recreate the effect (the device will also work with any other Cardboard-compatible app for more traditional VR experiences). The reels will still exist, however, and will be sold separately to provide different experiences, like giving you a view of Alcatraz or other iconic locations like a space shuttle.”
So whether you own a smartphone or not, you can still use this toy. You just might get more out of it when you use a smartphone with the companion app.
5. You Can’t Buy a New View-Master Until Fall 2015
The new View-Master won’t go on sale until this fall. Unlike a lot of other tech toys, this one will be relatively inexpensive. According to USA Today, the new View-Master will cost $29.99, and it will come with a sample reel. Additional reels will be sold in packs of three, with each three-pack costing just $14.99. We’re calling it right now: this is going to be one of the hottest holiday toys of 2015.