Vintage View-Master reels & viewers: See dozens of the classic toys that made color pictures come to life

Tiny magical worlds A collection of vintage View-Master reels

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The first View-Master made its debut at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, and the concept then remains as it is today: it’s a special viewer for pictures that pop with depth and color.

In the days before color TV sets (let alone mobile phones) were everywhere, these picture toys were incredibly popular — even though you can still buy them today!

As you will see below, the pictures are delivered courtesy of a thin disk (the reel) that’s approximately 3-1/2 inches in diameter, and contains seven vibrant images. It was easy to swap reels and see something entirely new, whether it’s a faraway country, scenes from a favorite movie, or a close-up of some exotic animals.

Each reel contains 14 film transparencies (like slide film) sandwiched inside two sheets of die-cut paper. The fourteen images displayed in seven pairs, with the two photos in each pair taken from a slightly different angle. When the two images were seen through the viewer — one by each eye — the end result would appear as if it was in 3-D.

Find out lots more about these classic toys below!

View-Master lots of fun & educational (1949)

From The Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama) January 12, 1949

Remember the old Stereoscopes that used to give three-dimensional scenic effects? There used to be one in every living room. These were rather cumbersome things with a sliding focus, but they were lots of fun.

The latest thing along this line, which by the way has met popular approval, is the View-Master. This is a compact, modern stereoscopic device designed for viewing three-dimension, full-color picture transparencies mounted in View-Master reels.

Vintage viewmasters - 1950s or 1960s

The View-Master stereoscope is slightly larger than a pair of opera glasses. It is precision-built of stainless steel and durable plastic. Lenses are accurately ground of optical glass.

Each View-Master reel is durable, treated paper disk in which are mounted seven stereoscopic sets of full-color, transparent, Kodachrome pictures. When seen through the View-Master stereoscope, these sets appear as seven realistic three-dimension pictures.

Reels are interchangeable and may be used in View-Master projectors as well as stereoscopes.

Subjects pictured on View-Master reels include scenic attractions, fairy tales, and many other fascinating categories. View-Master pictures actually cost less than taking your own snapshots. Some 350 different View-Master reels are now available.

These include scenes from national parks and monuments, beautiful scenic wonders of the states, Canada, Mexico, Central America, West Indies, South America, Europe, England, the Middle East. There are also Bible story reels, animal reels, flower reels, wildflower reels and others.

Chilly Willy & his igloo, as seen through the viewer

As advertised in the 1950s: “All the family will enjoy pictures of famous American scenes, exotic faraway lands and exciting children’s stories in the amazing depth of three dimensions.

View-Master stereo color pictures are so real, you’ll feel you are actually part of the scene! Each low-cost View-Master Reel — for use in View-Master Stereoscopes and Projectors — contains seven stereo Kodakchrome scenes. Over 400 entertaining, educational subjects to delight all the family.”

Chilly Willy's Igloo Vintage View-Master reels

Photo from Dana

Vintage View-Master stereoscopic pictures (1953)

All the family will enjoy pictures of famous American scenes, exotic faraway lands and exciting children’s stories in the amazing depth of three dimensions. View-Master stereo color pictures are so real, you’ll feel you are actually part of the scene!

Each low-cost View-Master Reel — for use in View-Master Stereoscopes and Projectors — contains seven stereo Kodakchrome scenes. Over 400 entertaining, educational subjects to delight all the family.

View-Master Stereoscopic Pictures (1953)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea View-Master reel (1954)

1954 View-Master 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Vintage reel

Vintage View-Master three-dimension reel list – National Parks (1950s)

Vintage View-Master reels with nature scenes

Vintage ViewMaster Model C

From the owner: “View-Master Model C, pictured here, was produced between 1946 and 1955. It was made from bakelite and was the first viewer to have a slot into which the reels were placed for viewing.

“This particular model (3798) dates from approximately 1950, which makes sense, since my parents would have bought it for me when I was at about 3-4 years old. Believe it or not, all reels made for any View Master will work in any model from 1939 to present.”

Vintage ViewMaster Model C

Photo from Jack W. Pearce

This is the way to View-Master land – With Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny & Donald Duck (1962)

Every boy and girl will be thrilled to see their cartoon favorites and fairy tale classics “come-to-Iife” with the realism of VIEW-MASTER full-color stereo pictures.

All the family will enjoy “easy-chair” visits to famous cities. favorite vacation spots and foreign lands . . . your VIEWMASTER viewer is your passport to the extensive picture library. Entertaining and educational for all the family.

Thc Walt Disney theatre contains a non-stereo electric projector (UL approved). 140 full-color pictures of Walt Disney favorites. a screen and stage and a drive-in theatre screen — less than $10.

This is the way to View-Master land - With Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny & Donald Duck (1962)

ViewMaster Boxed Set
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03/11/2024 05:00 pm GMT

Fairy Tales come to live in 3-dimension pictures (c1960s)

Three-dimension pictures make Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz — all the beautiful fairytale classics, look so real, so lifelike, you feel right in the middle of each enchanting tale. The Viewmaster stereo viewer — your magic “looking glass” to this delightful land of fantasy.

Fairy Tales come to live in 3-dimension pictures (c1960s)

Top Cat Vintage View-Master reel (1962)

“Medal for Meddling”

Take a look! Vintage View-Master reels & viewers

Photo thanks to Giles Booth

The vintage View-Master… window to the world! (1964)

The magic looking glass…to exciting nations, past or planned vacations, thrills of outer space, the world of fantasy or favorite cartoon characters

Collecting the many worlds of View-Master full-color, 3-dimension picture packets is educational and entertaining for the whole family.

The new “Nations of the World” series, for example, with 21 story-telling pictures, stamp, guided tour booklet edited by Lowell Thomas and coin (when available), all for $1.25. Choose from more than 800 subjects available.

View-Master... window to the world! (1964)

Old View-Master reels – travel photos from 1962

Old View-Master reels - travel from 1962

Time Tunnel Sawyers View-Master (1966)

Time Tunnel 1966 Sawyers View-Master

The Mod Squad Vintage View-Master reels (1968)

The Mod Squad View-Master reels 1968

Retro Banana Splits View-Master

Retro Banana Splits View-Master

The Banana Splits intro, theme song, lyrics & more about this trippy retro kids' show (1968-1970)

Planet of the Apes – Vintage ViewMaster

Planet of the Apes View Master

Hey, hey – It’s the Monkees View-Master

Monkees View Master

The Monkees are coming: '60s singer-spoofers offer crazy fun + the TV show opening credits

The Man From UNCLE vintage View-Master sleeve

Man from UNCLE View-Master sleeve

(I Love) Lucy and the Astronauts View-Master

We loved Lucy: '50s magazines featuring the lovely Lucille Ball on the cover

Lucy and the Astronauts View-Master

Knott’s Berry Farm & Ghost Town reels

History of Knott's Berry Farm: See the Southern California amusement park as it used to be

Vintage Knotts Berry Farm ViewMaster reel cover

Above 5 photos of reel packaging photos from Amy Meredith

Disneyland Main Street View-Master reel package

Vintage Disneyland, from when Walt Disney's magical new theme park in Southern California first opened in 1955

Disneyland Vintage View-Master reels

1965 Barbie’s around the world trip View-Master reel

1965 Barbie's around the world trip View-Master reel

Barbie and beyond: Vintage Barbie & Ken dolls, friends, dollhouses, accessories and fashions from the '60s, '70s & '80s

Ice Follies View-Master reel

Vintage View-Master reels - Ice Follies ice skating

The Munsters TV show View-Master Pack (1966)

The Munsters TV show 1966 View-Master Pack

The Munsters cast: Sitcom stars Fred Gwynne and Yvonne De Carlo talk TV in these vintage interviews

Bambi: Disney & Sawyer’s Vintage View-Master reels packaging

Disney's Bambi View-Master reel cover

'Bambi' is the best of Disney (1942)

Vintage View-Master reels of Bambi

Walt Disney’s Babes in Toyland Vintage View-Master reels

viewmaster reel babes in toyland 1Walt Disney’s Babes in Toyland Vintage View-Master reels” width=”750″ height=”729″>

Herbie, the Love Bug – Disney Viewmaster

Herbie, the Love Bug - Disney Viewmaster

Hawaii Five-O View-Master reel

Hawaii Five-O View-Master

1970s Viewmaster viewer

Says the owner, “Old Vintage View-Master 1973/74 received at Christmas, with 3 discs/booklets, Zorro & Bonanza TV series, and Tarzan.”

Vintage Viewmaster viewer from the 1970s

Thanks to Jamie

Vintage View-Master story from 1975: History available on film

From the St Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri) December 4, 1975

CHICAGO — Two new View-Master gift packs, a new talking View-Master gift pack, a View-Master projector are among new GAF products for 1975. They were exhibited at the Photo Marketing Association convention in Chicago April 13 through 16.

GAF is offering a new View-Master Bicentennial Gift Pak “that makes learn ing about history fun for any child,” the manufacturer says. Seventy full-color 3-D pictures on 10 stereo reels show important moments in American History, from Revolutionary days to the present.

Titles include “The Revolutionary War,” “Forging of a Nation,” “Historic Boston,” “Historic Philadelphia,” “Westward Expansion,” “Landmarks of American History,” and “Twentieth Century.” The Bicentennial Gift Pak comes with a standard viewer, all packaged in a permanent storage canister.

The new View-Master rear- screen projector has a built-in screen for individual or group viewing. Just plug it in, slip in any standard View-Master reel, press the scene-change lever, and see full-color, two- dimensional pictures that are bright enough to view in a fully-lighted room. This projector includes a built-in carrying and focusing handle.

The good guys always beat the bad guys in the new View-Master Good Guys Gift Pak. Join superheroes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam as they battle the forces of evil. This gift pack includes a standard stereo viewer and 8 stereo reels — 56 full-color 3-D scenes — packed in a permanent storage canister.

Being previewed for age 4 and up is the new Talking View-Master Gift Pak III. Frolic with Tom Sawyer; chuckle with the Peanuts gang; share adventures with the crew of Star Trek. It’s all in pictures and sound in the new Gift Pak III, which contains a Talking View-Master stereo viewer plus 6 talking reels.

The pack includes “It’s a Bird, Charlie Brown,” “Star Trek,” “Bazooka Joe,” “Scooby Doo,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Casper the Ghost.” The viewer operates on two “C” batteries (not included).

Vintage View Master with Star Trek

Tiny magical worlds: A collection of vintage View-Master discs/reels

Tiny magical worlds A collection of vintage View-Master reels

Thanks to longhairbroad

View-Master thinks toys should occupy kids’ minds, not just their time (1979-1980)

A lot of toys are designed to keep little hands busy. Unfortunately, these same toys send little minds off to nap.

The View-Master Disney Character Early Education Theatre, on the other hand, was designed to keep a kid’s mind on its toes. Pop one of the twelve reels into the projector, and you’ve got Mickey, Donald, Goofy and company big as life, in living color, helping your kids learn their ABCs, numbers, color and shapes.

In addition to our Early Education Theatre, GAF makes a whole family of theaters and Gift Paks starring favorites like Marvel All-Stars, The Flintstones and Friends, Star Trek — even the cast of The Muppet Movie.

You’ll find them in sturdy, reusable canisters in toy and photo departments, at prices starting under $8. Which makes them more than intelligent choices in toys that stimulate young minds. It makes them smart buys.

RELATED: Fun for kids – free coloring pages from

View Master toy 1980

Wow! It’s just like having Donald, Pluto and Mickey come out to play with you.

Wow! It's just like having Donald, Pluto and Mickey come out to play with you.

The Six Million Dollar Man View-Master reels (1970s)

The Six Million Dollar Man View-Master

Watch their imaginations grow… with new Kidsongs Videos from View-Master. (1986)

Kidsongs videos from View-Master 1986

Kidsongs videos from View-Master (1987)

They are what they watch… So give them Kidsongs videos from View-Master. And improve the quality of your children’s TV time. When kids tune into TV, it often seems they tune out everything else. Including their own imaginations. Which is why you’re going to appreciate Kidsongs Videos.

They’re exciting original musical productions featuring real kids and grownups, not cartoons or puppets. Which makes a big difference in how our children watch us. Our upbeat melodies and classic lyrics encourage kids to sing and dance along with the cast…

Kidsongs Videos. They’re exactly what you expect from View-Master, a name you’ve known since you were a child yourself.

Kidsongs videos from View-Master 1987

Bugs Bunny & Yosemite Sam View-Master reel (1989)


MORE RETRO FUN: Vintage Hoppity Hop & Hoppity Horse toys were bouncing balls of fun

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Comments on this story

4 Responses

  1. I have Talking View Master Spider Man Gift Pak. It seems to be in working order with batteries. All materials are in excellent condition, including the container. What is the “talking” part supposed to do? How do I get it to work?

  2. Growing up in the ’70s, I and everyone I knew had View-Masters. My three favorite disks were of space flight and the moon landing, of Disney World, and of various national parks. At a time when even the latest color TVs delivered a questionable picture and movies were an occasional treat, View-Masters were an immersive, high quality visual experience that you could access any time and with little money.

  3. My favorite View-Master disk was the Wizard of Oz. The frames showing the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys were so spooky! They looked like they could come right out of the viewer at you!

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