Mattel Gives Classic View-Master Toy a Modern VR Makeover – ABC News

Mattel introduced a new version this week of the classic View-Master toy with a modern twist: virtual reality.

In collaboration with Google, Mattel created a plastic kid-friendly version of Google Cardboard to view new places and experience adventures. Priced at $29.99, the device is cheaper than adult virtual reality devices, such as those from Samsung and Oculus that cost hundreds of dollars. But the View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer, for ages 7 and up, is a jump up from the free Google Cardboard device you can make at home for free.

Users need an iOS or Android phone compatible with Google Cardboard and place it in the device.

Mattel is betting on new toys like the View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer and Hello Barbie talking doll to emerge out of a sales slump ahead of the holiday season. Mattel reported a loss of $11.4 million in its second quarter and will next report earnings on Oct. 15.

When asked whether 7-year-old children are ready for the technology, Aslan Appleman, senior director of design and marketing for advanced concepts at Mattel, said the new device “leverages technologies to deliver an immersive educational experience” children have always had with the View-Master.

“They’ve always pulled that viewer up to their face,” Appleman said. “They’ve clicked the iconic lever. They’ve been transported to various places via still photography that was high-tech in its day.”

PHOTO: The new View-Master, introduced in October 2015, works with Google Cardboard-compatible apps on a compatible smartphone. Mattel
The new View-Master, introduced in October 2015, works with Google Cardboard-compatible apps on a compatible smartphone.

The new gadget has an updated look of the classic View-Master, which you can still buy at Walmart for about $12. It’s red and has the iconic View-Master lever, which allows users to interact with the apps. So far, Mattel is selling three “experience packs,” sold separately at $14.99. These include a National Geographic Wildlife Experience Pack, a Space Experience Pack and a Destinations Experience Pack, which introduces children to places like the Statue of Liberty and the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza.

If you don’t want to pay for the packs, users can view any Google Cardboard-compatible app on the View-Master.

While there isn’t a headphone jack in the device, Mattel said sound is an important part of “experiencing a sense of immersion” with the device. Mattel designed the viewer with sound channel “speakers” to allow the user to hear the experience, such as the sounds animals make on the African savanna, without the need for headphones.

A Mattel spokeswoman said this was also a design choice to keep the experience “snackable,” or accessible and easy to use for parents without the need to carry around more accessories. You can connect your phone with any Bluetooth-enabled speakers if users want to amplify the volume.