It seems that Mattel has gotten into the habit of resurrecting defunct products and giving it a 21st century twist. Just recently it has made the creative yet formerly dangerous "Creepy Crawlers" ThingMaker and turned into a still creative but safer 3D printing ecosystem. Now it is the venerable View-Master's turn. Partnering with Google, Mattel has transformed the toy into a more sophisticated and tech savvy toy by remolding the View-Master into a customized Google Cardboard that promises to deliver educational virtual and augmented reality experiences for kids and students.
The Google Cardboard View-Master is no secret by now. Mattel and Google already announced their partnership last year and we even got our hands on to try one last August. It seems that the two have finally perfected the experience and now Mattel is ready to launch the new product in Fall.
To those who grew up with a View-Master, this "View-Master 2.0" is both familiar and alien. The plastic contraption still bears the iconic red design of the original, though sleeker and smoother in some places. There is still a reel that has to be used to deliver the experience much like the first View-Master, but this is where the old and the new part ways.
Being a Google Cardboard device, it will actually require you to put a smartphone inside the viewer to use, but not before you scan a "Pass Card" on the smartphone first, pretty much like a ticket for a museum or park. And unlike the original View-Master, you don't put the reel inside the device. Instead, you lay it on a surface and use the View-Master, with the phone already inside, to look at it. The reel practically acts as an AR marker.
Check our hands-on of the Mattel View-Master for the finer details of using the device.
The new View-Master will be available in Fall for $29.99 and already comes with one sample reel. Additional reel packs will be sold for $14.99 and includes four themed experiences. Although based on Google Cardboard, the Mattel View-Master will actually also be compatible with iPhones, though the comparatively smaller iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c will require the use of the Adapter.