May 13, 2012

View Master – Reels of 3D fun and memories for over 65 years

View Master – one of the great toy success stories of the last century. There wouldn’t be many people out there that haven’t owned or at least played with one at some point. It was simple to use and with hundreds of reels created over time that meant there was something for everyone. Today’s post is about Bec’s very impressive collection of View Master reels and viewers and why she chose to collect it.


This is the classic red View Master people most remember.

It’s interesting to know that View-Masters weren’t originally geared towards children. During their early years they were mostly sold to adults as a way to view images of either educational or holiday related subjects. This was up until the 1960’s where they were marketed as a toy. It’s from this point that most people remember them as they got them as presents or played with them at friends and families homes. There were lots of other types of View-Master releases including games and projectors and these are very collectable and sought after by people around the world.

Grand Prix was one of the games they created for View-Master. This one was a recently sold on Ebay for about $160 US.

Bec Moss has been collecting for some years. Her love of stuff both retro and vintage is perfectly captured by View-Masters and her collection of reels now totals over 1,000! These little snapshots in time captured in stereoview show the transition from adult gadget through the 1950’s and then the familiar red plastic kid’s version that was popularised from the 1960’s and up until today.

Here’s Bec’s story with more about her collection

I’ve had a fascination with “3D” things since I was a kid. I loved 3D colouring books that came with the red/blue glasses and I’d stare at magic eye books till I was cross eyed, but what really blew my mind was the good old View Master. A friend down the road had one with 2 sets of reels and we’d stare at those reels for hours.

The main Viewers were originally created in bakelite before plastic became the main production method. Also featured here is the projector for View-Master reels.

I purchased my first View Master when I was about 8 or 9 for 50c at a Garage Sale. It’s was the well-known red viewer and came with a Ghostbusters cartoon reel – which I dearly cherished. Over the last 24 years my collection has grown to about 1000 reels and 15 or so viewers.

Bec's collection is a vast array of moments in time, and also shows the different viewers created for View-Master reels throughout their history.

A lot of my collection has come from eBay, but there’s nothing better (as any collector would know) than stumbling across old reels at garage sales or vintage markets. Reels can go anywhere from under a dollar to a couple of hundred dollars.  The so called “holy grail” for View Master collectors is a single reel of President Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963. The reel was pulled from shelves shortly after his assassination and I’ve seen it go for $400 on eBay. I know I’ll own it one day….

My favourite reels are ones from the 50’s/ 60’s that depict holiday scenes of European countries. They’re cheesy and the models ham it up for the camera. I love it when I find a reel from a country I’ve visited; it’s great to visit a county to look through the View Master reel and see what the place was like 50 years ago.

Holiday destinations and famous landmarks were often subjects for View-Master reels. This one is of Tropical Flowers of Hawaii.

I’ve also got a soft spot for the clay animation reels like Peter Pan or Jungle Book. The characters come to life and you feel like you’re a part of the tiny scene you’re staring at.

Scenes from a Barbie View Master reel

There were View-Master reels created for just about anything you could imagine. Disney characters have been a subject for a long time, as well as famous places around the world.

My latest obsession though has to be my sets of ‘Personal Reels’ where you get to see a 3D snippet of people’s lives. They’re even more special when they have a lovely hand written description on them or a date of when they were taken. As I’d found most of the standard reels I wanted, finding personal reels opened up a whole new avenue for my collection.

Personal View-Master reel cover. Once production of these reels ceased, slides would take over as the way to share holiday snaps.

An example of a personal View Master reel - this one from the 1950's.

You could create your own View Master reels during the 50's, this one featured a retired couple and their cat.

I also collect Fischer Price ‘movie’ reels and those tiny viewers that are often shaped like retro TV’s and have uber cheesy pictures of holiday destinations…..but that’s a whole other post in itself!!

Thanks goes to Bec for sharing her amazing collection!

With so many genres and titles out there it’s an affordable hobby that anyone can get involved in, plus the reels themselves don’t take up much space at all. With a big online community that buy and sell the reels and viewers across the world you can guarantee you will always find something new.



  • What an awesome collection! Great pics too – am envious!

  • I have a large collection myself…. Wanting to sell it….. I have the 30 projector…. the bakelite black slide and the tan slide….. I have thew working light attachment for the hand held bakelite projector….

    I have hunderds of the discs with the original wraps and some without…. I have the green hornet with the smoking guy….. I have the case with little minilla folders inside….
    WHo would like to purchase?……..

  • bobby like lots view master reels you can send me view master all to me

    Robert F Vincent
    Pasadena MD 21122

    thank you very much

    from Bobby Vincent

  • I have a collection of two boxed 40s (i think) brown style view-masters, one red one the same as the one at the top of this page, about 150 reels from around the world, a standard projector with instructions and a dairy documenting all the reels. I am looking to sell and was wondering if anyone could give me an idea of prices please.


  • I have 34 maybe more… sawyer inc before it was matel 3d reels if anyone is interested let me know.

  • Hi. I just got a vintage bakelite viewmaster and was hoping to make a custom reel. Does anyone know how I would go about doing so?

  • I have a View Master standard viewer and 6 packs of three reels+picture tour reel of classic adventures anyone who would like them get in touch with me on email and they are yours for the cost of postage say £2-00.

    yours Harry.

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