It was hinted at last week but Mattel has now unveiled its virtual reality headset project it has developed in partnership with Google. Shown at the New York Toy Fair for the first time, the VR device is a welcome return for the View-Master, Mattel's 3D viewer toy that was particularly huge in the 60s and 70s.
This time it has been brought bang up to date, offering 360-degree panoramic views of "photospheres" thanks to the device being based on the Google Cardboard platform. Users just insert their Android phone into the View-Master after launching a dedicated app, much like with the Cardboard headsets also available.
The difference in this case, apart from Mattel's device being made in much more sturdy plastic, is that the app works with experience reels, one of which coming in the starter kit.
These look like the original picture wheels that were used with the previous View-Masters, but instead of being slotted into the top, the user pairs them to the headset to get augmented reality features, classic View-Master galleries, and 360-degree tours of different destinations per reel.
The starter set costs $30 and other reels with additional content will be available separately.
"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, senior vice president 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."
The new Mattel View-Master will be available in "fall 2015". Plans to support the iPhone are in the works too.