The View From Here


As I read in the newspaper today, I was shocked but not totally surprised that one of my childhood mainstays is being retired.  The View-Master is a small plastic toy in which was place a white white wheel full of 3-d pictures.  The wheels initially contained scenes of actual places (The Grand Canyon, Disney Parks, I had a set from Cedar Point that probably would be worth something if only I had been a child who thought about such things).  There was a camera made during the 50s with which you could create your own View-Master reels.  Later,  reels of movies, television shows, and other forms of popular culture were introduced.  I had reels full of Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, superheroes (I had a series of  Caped Crusader reels taken from the 60s television series featuring Catwoman), the Flintstones, and others.

In an effort to appeal to  increasingly uninterested kids, new versions of the toy were introduced.  I had the projector that enabled the images to be shown on a wall, or set up in a dark room on a “screen” consisting of a white sheet placed over a few boxes stacked on top of each other.  Friends would come into my theatre and watch as the scenes unfolded to improvised narration.  I believe there was a “talking” version as well.

Over the years, sales of the View-Master have decressed expontentially.  The majority of children are much more interested in video games, DVDs and the like.  But for at least one 8-10 year old growing up in the late 70s-early 80s, it provided hours of imagination and fun.

14 thoughts on “The View From Here”

  1. I remember my View-Master, or should I say our View-Master. I remember having to share it with at least one sister.

  2. My sister and I had the talking one. You could barely understand it but we loved it anyway. My mom gave me her old one which was REALLY vintage! I wish I could remember some of the reels that came with that one… I’m thinking 3D Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs and things like that – pretty cool. I might still have that somewhere, that would be a GREAT find!

  3. I have NO idea what became of my original View-Master. I do remember taking the projector apart and being unable to put it back together again.

  4. Mary Schaufelberger

    I never knew there was a camera to make your own reels!!! We had just the view master and only a few reels. Mine were the ones of the Grand Canyon and the Hopi Indian Tribe. Amazing the things I remember….

  5. Mary Schaufelberger

    This is sad, but I never had either of those when I was a kid. My parents didn’t do toys. We had books and played in the dirt. Not complaining, I had some great times making mud pies!!!

  6. Mary Schaufelberger

    Oh no, not tragic!!! It was quite fun! And what a mean brother you were, Wreckin’ your poor sister’s Christmas….wait, that was a flashback from the play….I mean wreckin’ your poor sister’s etch a sketch!!! 😉

  7. So many comments for a ViewMaster… I had all three of those mentioned items growing up (2 in L’s comment). I think we finally threw the last VM away that was gathering dust in our attic before we moved.

  8. Last thing I remember about our View-Master was that something was wrong with it and it would no longer advance the slides. I remember the the 8-Ball and Etch-a-Sketch, and I remember taking them apart too.

  9. Mary Schaufelberger

    I was at WalMart last night and saw a set of Bambi wheels for a viewmaster! I had to chuckle, and I thought of you. Then, right below those was an etch a sketch! Sorry, no magic 8-ball….that would have been spooky weird!

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