Mattel and Google’s project to make virtual reality kid-friendly has arrived. It’s called the View-Master.
Obviously, Mattel is drawing on the brand power of the stereoscopic toy first released 76 years ago, banking on parents (and grandparents) to reminisce about how cool 3D seemed back when.
The gadget costs $30, and as far as we can tell, it’s only available via Walmart.com for now. Content packs, produced in partnership with NASA and National Geographic, start at $15.
Engineered to fit Google’s no-frills VR standard, Mattel’s reimagined View-Master debuted at a media event in February. At the time, the device was undeniably half-baked; Mattel only shared a nonfunctioning prototype, and the company allowed press to demo the underlying software using Google’s budget Cardboard viewer. Still, the idea left us cautiously impressed:
I don’t think Mattel will hit a home run with View-Master. But I think the idea here — short, simple, snackable VR experiences made for kids — has tons of potential.
The vast majority of Mattel’s toys reside far from the cutting edge, but the company has toyed with emerging technology before. Perhaps if this launch goes well, we’ll see more high-tech toys from Mattel over the next few years.
We got our hands on the new View-Master this week. Stay tuned for our full review, coming this weekend.
Mattel tells us its View-Master “should hit shelves in the coming days” at stores like Toys R Us, and will be available online first. For now, the only online retailer showing the View-Master as in stock is Walmart, but that may change over the next few days.