Mattel Announces $30 View-Master DLX VR Headset Based On Google Cardboard

Mattel brought its A-game to the Toy Industry Association's Toy Fair in New York this week by reimagining a pair of products for the modern generation. One of those products is the ThingMaker, a $300 3D printer that allows kids to easily and safely make their own toys, and the other is a retooled View-Master based on Google's Cardboard VR viewer.

It's a logical fit—for decades the View-Master has been treating eyeballs to rudimentary 3D experiences by inserting paper cards with photos in them. A pull of the plastic lever would cycle through the various photos, which in a sense you could liken to an early version of virtual reality. Now that technology has advanced leaps and bounds since the original View-Master came out in nearly eight decades ago, Mattel thought it was high time it updated its iconic device.

View-Master Opened

The new View-Master is essentially a fancy version of Cardboard. It works with most Android and iOS smartphones, and like the original View-Master, the new version still uses those papers cards. What's unique, however, is the level of interactivity, plus there's an augmented reality (AR) twist—when you lay out the compatible cards on a table and put the viewer on, related objects appear on top of them to let you know what kind of experience awaits.

Once you insert a card, you can flip through the paper reel just as before, only now you have the ability to look all around. You can also click on objects to interact with them—some might provide additional information, while others will play related videos about what you're looking at.

"The View-Master was first introduced at the 1939 World's Fair in New York, giving consumers access to spectacular 3D worlds by simply selecting a reel and looking through a device," said Doug Wadleigh, SVP and Global Brand General Manager, Toy Box at Mattel. "By working with Google's Cardboard platform, we are now able to take that experience even further bringing the discovery and immersive viewing experience of the View-Master to the digital age. Combining technology and innovation with this classic toy gives kids an enhanced experience allowing for play opportunities not yet imagined through new, digitally curated content."

Mattel View-Master

Cardboard was always meant to be a cheap alternative to more fully-fleshed VR systems like Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, and Mattel is honoring that here, at least with the View-Master itself. A View-Master Starter Kit sells for $30 (you can find it a few bucks cheaper at some places) and includes the VR viewer, a preview reel, and an adapter for iPhone 5/5c/5s devices. Additional reel packs sell separately for $15 a pop.