The following is a list of viewers produced from 1938 to 1996 and the "known" variations. Since many items are continually being "discovered" for the first time, any updates by our readers would be greatly appreciated. We are only listing production viewers. Although View-Master has, over the years, produced prototype viewers, we feel these items are too rare to be included in this listing .
This round viewer is made of Kodak Tenite (a special black plastic of the era). It has long tubes mounted onto the round face of the viewer and has a pair of eyepieces mounted at the end of each tube. At the bottom it has a hinge that holds together the two sections of the viewer which enables it to open and close in a "clamshell" like manner. These viewers are easily identified by the words "to change view pull stop then release" above the scene title window. It warps easily in heat and was sold alone or in gift sets. It was manufactured strictly in the United States as the Belgium plant did not open until the 1950's.
The versions we know to exist are:
This model is also round in design but more durable since it is made of Bakelite. The inner workings of this viewer are also more refined than the Model A. A metal plate inside easily distinguishes this viewer from its predecessor. Two style variations exist, one has a longer eyecup stem than the other. These variations have been found in both the black and brown versions. Several color variations were made. They are:
The Model B viewer was also manufactured in England for a short time by the Salford Electric Company. Exact production dates for this viewer are unknown. Made of black Bakelite, the English version features wraparound eyecups. This feature was added to the British version in order to block out the light coming into the side of the viewer. There are least two very different variations of this viewer with two different styles of lenses. There are also two different patent numbers assigned to this viewer.
Known as the "Deluxe Stereoscope, this viewer is the most common of the older designs. This square model was completely re-engineered to allow the consumer to insert the reel directly into the top of the viewer. Stereocraft Engineering created this new design and it remains the basic principle applied to all viewers made ever since then! (Author's Note: This viewer was still being distributed in 1956 although it was no longer being manufactured at that time.) It was produced at both the U.S. and the Belgium plants. Because this viewer was in production for almost 10 years, there are many differences that accompany this basic Bakelite viewer. Some of those we have found include the following:
Made of black Bakelite, this attachment was made to clamp onto the Model C and lights up by using batteries or an optional transformer cord. Unfortunately, it made the Model C quite cumbersome to handle as the device was quite heavy when used with two C batteries. Again, this attachment was produced at both the U.S. and the Belgium plants. There are two variations:
As far as we know, a brown lite attachment was not made to accompany the brown viewer.
A special display base commonly known as the "View-Master foot" was used with this model. This base somewhat resembles a flying saucer and has the words View-Master embossed in it. It was used to stand the Model C and it's accompanying lite attachment upright so that customers could look at View-Master reels at store counter tops.
The View-Lite Co. in Kansas also made a separate light attachment. Made of black plastic, this attachment is much smaller and lighter than the Sawyers design. Much to the amazement (and dismay) of Sawyers personnel, this light attachment was actually available before the Sawyers model was introduced. This device is called the "View-Lite" Illuminator.
This model is also known as the "focusing viewer" Secondary to the focusing feature is the fact that this viewer has an image size more than a third larger than the regular model. The lens opening in this viewer was square rather than the typical round design found it most viewers. It also has a built in light source (battery operated) or could be used with an optional transformer. Produced only in the U.S., it came in three styles:
A special viewing stand was made for this viewer as well. This stand was only made in brown and accompanied the Chinese Art Set.
As a replacement for the Model C, this viewer was introduced in early 1956. Streamlined, with a more rounded shape it was a little lighter and easier to handle than the Model C. This model, which dips down in the middle to form a "V" was made of Bakelite and produced in both the U.S. and Belgium. It had several color and knob variations, many of which were unique to the Belgium plant.
Unique Belgium color variations include the following:
This viewer was also manufactured at the View-Master plant in Australia for a short time in the basic brown Bakelite color. Versions manufactured in France and Spain were also made.
Model E Light Attachment (1956-1960)
Made to fit onto the Model E, this light attachment was smoother and easier to use than the one made for the Model C. It could be used with the optional transformer cord or with batteries. It was made in brown with an ivory push button or black with a red push button. This device was produced at both the U.S. and Belgium plants but it is unknown if various colored light attachments were manufactured to match the many colored viewers offered by the Belgium facility.
This viewer had a built-in light source activated by depressing the bar on top. It also featured about one power larger magnification than the regular Model "C". Powered by either batteries or an optional transformer, it was the last viewer made of Bakelite. It was manufactured in the United States until 1966 and in Belgium until 1969. Examples of this viewer has only been found in dark brown with an ivory bar at the top.
Called the "standard viewer" but also given the designation "Model "G" by many collectors, this Viewer has enjoyed the longest production run of the regular viewers. Originally this viewer was made of off-white plastic with a dark brown lever; but this was later changed to an all beige version. Even later, this viewer was a red /white version and, still later, as an all red viewer. Produced both here in the United States and at the Belgium manufacturing plant, recent discovery has a version of this viewer being produced at the View-Master plant in India as well. Differences include:
In 1984, the Model G viewer was updated with a one-piece plastic lever/knob combination like those used in the later versions of the Model L Viewer. It was used in the View-Master Trivia Game that was produced in 1984 and in the 1985 Collector Sets (red or blue version). In the updated version the viewer had a smoother-feeling plastic body and came in vibrant red and electric blue. The updated version was manufactured only in the United States.
Same features as Model F but rounder in design. First introduced in beige and later changed to a royal blue color. Known variations:
Made of Beige plastic, the Belgium version of the Model "H" Viewer had a unique square shape and actually looked more like the American Model F Viewer. The GAF logo appears on the bottom corner and the viewer comes in two variations, one with a long lever and one with a short lever.
The Model J viewer is also known as the European Model "10". This viewer saw a few minor changes during the length of its production. Made only at the Belgium plant, this viewer was considered a "sister" viewer to the standard Model L made in the United States. Several variations exist including the following:
This futuristic viewer is known by European collectors as the "Space Viewer" and was given the designation Model "11" by the Belgium View-Master factory. It was manufactured strictly for the marketing and distribution by the Belgium plant and has also been called the "eyeball" viewer because of its unusual design. Several color variations are known to exist including red, orange, black and gold.
A special version of the Model "11" was made and sold during the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida. It was produced in silver and sold only at EPCOT for a limited time.
The lighted version of the "space viewer" was given the designation Model 12 by the Belgium View-Master Plant. They were only in production for a short period of time and are considered scarce by most collectors. The standard color found on most of these models is gray with a black button, however, they also manufactured a red viewer with a white button and the blue with black shown above.
Newer, more modern in style, this viewer - first introduced in the 1970's - is still being manufactured today. It has been marketed by three different corporate owners, View-Master International, Tyco Toys and now Mattel, Inc. Most models produced are an orange-red color with a bright orange knob. Lighter weight than most previous models, the plastic scene changing lever was used in most versions This is an excellent feature to collectors because it prevents the black rings around the edge of the reels caused by the metal advance levers. It was manufactured only here in the U.S. Many variations exist of this viewer because of its long production run. Custom colors for special commercial runs can also be commonly found. Some of the variations we have found include the following:
View-Master viewers were also made to accompany reels released in Japan by the TOMY Corporation. The standard red viewer with an orange lever plate was produced as well as a special black viewer with red plate. Each example of this viewer is embossed with the TOMY logo in place of the usual View-Master patent information.
This model is also known as the "Push-Button" viewer. When this viewer was first introduced it was poorly designed with the inside plastic bar covering part of the reel image. It was later redesigned with the bar in the correct position for proper viewing. It was dubbed the "Hi-Tech" viewer by the Portland, Oregon plant where it was manufactured but it was short-lived due to it's poor diffusers. The only "plus" for this viewer was the fact that it had a higher magnification than the standard viewer by about 25%. It was noisy and difficult to handle. The easy "push-button" appeared to operate much more sluggishly than the quick moving levers used on previous models. It was modeled with a transparent viewer back so that children could watch the reel as it rotated. It came in two colors, rose and blue, each with a bright yellow push button.
Christmas, 1989 brought the advent of the first "character" viewer to be introduced by View-Master -- Mickey Mouse. A brightly painted Mickey face is fastened onto the standard red viewer thereby covering the back portion of the viewer. The faces are made in China and the viewers are assembled by View-Master employees. Two different versions of this viewer exist.
The square glass version was unique to the European Market and made to accommodate the square shape of the Belgium Model J Viewer; whereas the round face was made for the U.S. Model L viewer.
Because of the popularity of Sesame Street, View-Master decided to introduce the Big Bird viewer to appeal to their younger followers. A bright yellow face is affixed to a standard blue Model L viewer and Big Bird smiles at you through his large pink glasses. This viewer was only made in the United States and no "letter" designation was assigned.
Also known as the "New Lighted Viewer" it is unique in that it is the first viewer to utilize both ambient and artificial lighting. Developed by Tyco Research & Development, this ingenious design uses the viewer's own diffusers as reflectors when the room illumination is too low. Some of the early models had reel alignment problems, however, the problem was corrected in later viewers. Manufactured in China for View-Master, this viewer had a slight color change (from shinny to flat) and the feel of the plastic is a bit different on later models. It comes in bright orange with a large yellow knob.
This character viewer consists of a Casper "mask" on a special purple viewer. Constructed of a very thin, vacuum molded material the face was then placed onto a purple Model L viewer. This was released in conjunction with the 1993 Casper movie and in production for a short time in late 1993 and early 1994. It remained available in toy stores for a much longer period of time.
A "Batman Forever" gift set was released consisting of a special "Batman" viewer (Batman face affixed to a custom black Model "L" viewer) along with three reels from the 1995 movie. Unfortunately, this product was named one of the "10 Worst Toys of 1995" which didn't help promote product sales. It was only produced for a short time but was still available in toy stores recently.
A red "Power Ranger" viewer was released in 1995 as part of another special "character" gift set. Because the Power Ranger craze was past its peak, the viewer was a slow mover and only stayed in production for less than one year. Another white Power Ranger viewer was in the works when the red Ranger viewer debuted but it never actually went into production. This viewer was still available in toy stores recently.
A special Tweety Bird viewer was designed for sale at Six Flags Amusement Parks. Several thousand viewers were manufactured and sent to each of the Six Flags Parks across the country. This was a custom run and was not available in retail stores. Once the initial supply was sold, the viewer was not re-ordered.
The Virtual viewer has been made in many colors including 4 see-through versions. It is still used in gift sets and subject Logo images are now included on the diffuser. It is no longer in stores as a "single item".
Model O (2002-Current)
This flat viewer has the reel on the top when viewing and a light source is needed above the viewer. Early versions had a folding rubber hood that could be folded back for people with glasses. This is no longer present on current versions. As with the virtual viewer lens quality started poorly but has improved greatly in current models. The standard "Rack" viewers now include a hang clip. Many colors are used in the gift sets which come on a hang card, and take up less retail space than the standard boxed gift set. If collecting these viewers one needs to buy most of the gift sets to get all the colors.
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