Mattel’s View-Master Partners with NASA, NatGeo, and Discovery for Educational VR
Toy company Mattel announced it is partnering with NASA, National Geographic, and Discovery on “experience packs” users can purchase when the revamped, virtual reality-based View-Master rolls out next month.
The packs include a National Geographic Wildlife Experience Pack, a Space Experience Pack and a Destinations Experience Pack. Each experience is targeted to kids ages 7 and up, and will sell for $14.99. The View-Master itself will be available for $29.99.
For the revamped View-Master, Mattel worked with Google to incorporate its Cardboard VR viewer into the housing of a sleeker version of the photo viewer, which still boasts classic features as the signature lever users press to cycle through images.
“It was the same play pattern but a higher level of immersion,” says Aslan Appleman, Mattel’s Senior Director of Advanced Concepts, when comparing Cardboard to View-Master.
Appleman adds Google has been “phenomenal” collaborating on how to incorporate Cardboard into the new View-Master. “It’s really our take on their platform.”
View-Master requires users to download a smartphone app, then attach their smartphone to the View-Master housing to get the virtual experiences. The classic reels will remain a part of View-Master, but as an augmented reality experience, says Appleman. When a user sets the reel on a table, the View-Master will then launch the AR segment. For example, in the Space Pack, users will get a view of the solar system. Appleman says the reels serve as “essentially a table of contents.”
First revealed in 1939 during the New York World’s Fair, the View-Master was reintroduced in February during Toy Fair in New York.
The National Geographic Wildlife Experience will allow users to explore three areas: the African savannah, the Amazon rainforest and the Australian Outback, says Christine Kelly, Director of Toys & Games for National Geographic. Users can discover animals and learn fun facts as well as even snap photos of animals they spot during their virtual journey.
“It really is a comprehensive, immersive experience for kids,” says Kelly. “I think it’s a perfect translation of National Geographic into a product because it’s really a 360 (degree) experience for kids.”