ViewMaster Virtual Reality Starter Pack

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  • TTPM EDITOR'S REVIEW

    Overall Editor's Rating: 4 Stars

    What It Is
    Parents, [aunts and uncles,] and grandparents might remember the classic View-Master toy from when they were kids, but now the 75-year-old toy gets a technological upgrade. Instead of flipping through static images, kids become immersed in different 360-degree worlds with sounds, bonus video footage, and mini games. You still use View-Master reels, but thanks to technological enhancements such as the inclusion of a smartphone, apps, and Google Cardboard, the classic View-Master experience has a whole new feel.

    The View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack comes with the viewer, a preview reel, and a phone adapter. Themed Experience Packs for Space, Destinations, and Wildlife are sold separately, and each comes with three reels.

    To get started, download any of the free View-Master Experience Pack apps from the App Store or Google Play. The Starter Pack preview reel lets you unlock sample content from each app. Full content is available by purchasing the physical Experience Pack or by making an in-app purchase. Then, insert your smartphone into the viewer and lock the latch. Place either the preview reel or one of the reels from the Experience Packs on a flat surface, and look at the reel through the viewer from a distance of 10 inches or less. Digital icons will appear above the reel, and you can select which experience you want to explore by looking at the appropriate icon and pulling the lever. As you play, you’ll be able to pull the lever to zoom in on specific objects that you see, get 360-degree views of those objects, read fun facts, play mini games, and more. With the Space content, kids can explore the solar system, spacecraft, and a star map. The Wildlife content introduces kids to the Savanna, Amazon, and Outback. And with the Destinations content, kids can virtually travel to New York, London, and Chichen Itza.

    Is It Fun?
    This is a very cool new way to play with the classic View-Master toy. It brings updated technology to today’s tech-savvy kids to give them a virtual reality experience that is both educational and fun. This toy will also keep kids engaged because there’s just so much for kids to explore on each reel.

    Who It’s For
    View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack brings updated technology to a classic toy for tech-savvy kids ages 7 and up.

    What To Be Aware Of
    The View-Master Virtual Reality viewer works best with iPhone 6 plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5 all running iOS 8 and above. However, the apps might not be optimized for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c. The viewer is also compatible with the following Android phones: Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Motorola Moto X (2014), Motorola Droid Turbo, LG G4, LG G3, HTC One, Nexus 6, and Nexus 5. Mattel says it may also work with newer model Android phones that have screens between five and six inches. All phones must be removed from their cases in order to fit inside the View-Master.

    The instructions in the app say to place your phone in the viewer with the top of your phone to the left. But doing so with our Android phone only made everything appear upside down in the viewer, so we had to open up the viewer and rotate our phone.

    When using the Experience Packs, you’ll need to unlock the full content in the app by scanning the included pass card. The instructions for scanning are different than what is shown in the app, and it took us multiple tries to get our pass card to scan.

    While you play, you might want to take frequent breaks from looking through the viewer. It can be a little disorienting once you stop looking through the viewer if you’ve been continuously looking through it for an extended period of time. It’s also helpful to take breaks because holding up the viewer hurts your arms after awhile.

    This is not something you should use while walking, however, you may need to walk in a small circle in order to view the full 360-degree scene you’re in. Just be careful and make sure your immediate surroundings are clear of any obstacles so you don’t trip or knock something over.

    (c) TTPM
  • The Mattel View-Master stopped us in our tracks at the International Toy Fair 2015. Even in prototype mode, the View-Master combined the nostalgia we felt for our own manual Viewmasters as kids, with the modern experience of virtual reality. We also love than Auntie and others can add new content as it is created so children can keep exploring!