The makers of the original View-Master are teaming up with Google to launch a re-make of the popular 1980’s toy. Most of you know the exact toy I’m talking about. The red plastic viewer that showed 3-D images on a picture reel. You could instantly transform yourself from starring at your bedroom wall to looking at the vast expanse of the African desert.
Last week Mattel and Google unveiled plans to sell a virtual reality version of the toy. It will offer an easy-to-use and affordable platform that will empower users to take dynamic field trips where they can explore famous places, landmarks, nature, planets and more in 360 degree photospheres. The goal of this toy is to create imaginative and interactive learning environment for the users.
Fortune magazine had the opportunity to demo the newest replica of the View-Master and says they were blown away. They were able to visit Alcatraz from the comfort of their New York office. They were able to walk in through the front gates, explored cells, and walked up and down the hallways and were able to look in every nook and cranny of the space.
The product is set at $30 for the device and additional reels are expected to cost $12 for a set of four. Seems like a steal, right? Well, as of now, the device only works with an Android phone. That’s right…you need a phone. While the original View-Master used the goggles to project the images, this version uses your smartphone screen and an app to see the virtual worlds. The price of the app has yet to be determined.
It’s no secret that Mattel has been facing challenges in the toy aisle. The re-branding of this product came about because Mattel is now looking to create the future of play and design toys for this generations kids, not the last one. But with availability of the new View-Master limited to only Android users they are cutting off a large portion of their target audience that use other systems. Only time will tell if this is a smart move and if it will increase sales and brand loyalty.