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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.