A the 2016 Toy Fair conference in NYC this weekend, Mattel showed the first glimpse of the new and improved View-Master DLX.

Seemingly signaling a positive response to the company’s View-Master VR viewer, Mattel is prepping a second version of the device, dubbed the View-Master DLX, for release this fall. The company showed off the first glimpse of the device at the 2016 Toy Fair in NYC this weekend.

The View-Master DLX features improved lenses and a headphone connector, according to the company. It will also now have a focal adjustment wheel, allowing glasses wearers to adjust the device to their prescription for a sharper experience. The original View-Master VR viewer which launched last year included an adapter for smaller iPhone 5 sized devices; it isn’t clear yet if the DLX will be able to fit such devices natively now or continue to ship with the adapter.

apple store view-master
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By all accounts, the original View-Master VR viewer appears to be doing well for Mattel. With support for both Android and iOS, the unit has maintained a solid 4.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon, despite the limitations of what is essentially a plastic version of Google Cardboard (in fact, the device is ‘Works with Google Cardboard’ certified, in case you want to use it with Cardboard apps). To me that says that Mattel has chosen their target audience well (children) and marketed to them effectively with appropriate expectations.

Part of that marketing is clearly focused on nostalgic parents who once owned the original View-Master 3D viewer which became an iconic toy throughout the ’60s and ’70s. The company presents the device as something that kids and parents can enjoy together.

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Even the design of the View-Master VR viewer is made to induce nostalgia of the 3D viewer, utilizing the same concept of ‘reels’, which in the original were the 3D film media loaded into the headset. This time around, the reels are used as a representation of where the device will take you; instead of inserting them into the viewer, you place them on a table in front of you and they are used as markers to present an augmented reality menu, allowing the users to choose which VR experience they’d like to see.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Ian Shook

    Wait, so the device can see in front of itself (camera?) and do AR? that’s kind of a big deal if that’s what’s going on. Or did I miss something?

    • The ViewMaster that’s in stores now does this, too. You look at a ViewMaster reel (with your phone’s rear camera) and an AR scene pops-up. Lean forward to jump from AR scene to VR. The Space pack for example does an AR space shuttle that floats above the reel.

  • DonGateley

    Those “enhanced optical lenses” have to be designed with a very large exit pupil to make up for the lack of IPD (inter-pupilary distance) adjustment. Manufacturers are ignoring how important that is and consumers should absolutely not be. Normal human variation is on the order of a centimeter and even a few mm mismatch between the eye and the lenses in current use results in the very unsatisfactory experience of only being able to focus one eye clearly.

  • yag

    “Mattel has chosen their target audience well (children)”
    Precautionary principle what ? Let’s expect some class action in the next years….

  • Bryan Ischo

    Well I guess that answers the “is VR dangerous for kids eyesight development” question. If it is, a large multimillion dollar company with lots to lose if they are wrong, doesn’t think so.

    • yag

      Well you know how it works in the US. No precautionary principle, if something goes wrong, let justice be done.