The Space: 1999 View-Master Reel sets were a big deal back in the 60’s thru the 80’s and, yes, there was a number of variant releases on both sides of the pond.

One of the unique Eagle beauty shots captured by the View-Master photographer while Brian Johnson was capturing his own promo shots of the Eagle.

From the Catacombs: “The View-Master system for viewing 3D color images was invented in 1939 by William Gruber for US company Sawyers, which specialized in souvenir photo postcards. They used newly invented 16mm Kodachrome color film, mounted as seven stereo pairs in a cardboard wheel. Their early sets focused on scenic attractions. In 1966 Sawyers was acquired by GAF, a film processing company originally formed out of the American subsidiaries of German companies. GAF positioned the View-Master as a children’s toy, and signed up television licenses. Sawyers had a Belgian plant from the 1960s, and by the 1970s the European and American divisions of GAF were producing specific reels and viewers for their markets, as well as sharing popular content. After a number of take-overs, View-Master is now part of Mattel’s Fisher-Price brand.”

There have been a number of European packaging variants, but the most unique was the American package basically to house an included story booklet of the episode that the reel set presented: War Games (or known in Europe as “The Power of Fear”).

The American package contents.

A Talking View-Master set was also produced to accompany the standard issue reel set. The set is highly sought after, especially if it is still sealed. The booklet is the same as the American version and the recording is English. There were no non-English speaking Talking View-Master sets produced.

The images were unique to the set as the View-Master photographer was specifically scheduled to take various shots of the assigned storyline of the episode and perhaps some promo shots to round out the set. The shots were taken with a special 3D photo camera very similar to the one shown below.

View-Master Camera by Rodenstock used to take special 3D Pictures for the View-Master Reels.

Must have been interesting as the View-Master photographer got to be in the thick of things during the episode’s production. The biggest downside to this reel set is the lack of the Mark IV Hawks as it probably wasn’t “Hawk shooting day” when “Joe Photographer” was present. A real bummer for us fans. But there was some Eagle action, so that somewhat made up for it. A huge thanks to Sylvain Labrosse for digitally capturing and sharing all these awesome reel images.

As Space: 1999 was in production for 2 years, and the View-Master was one of our childhood main source of media (about the time the VCR debuted, but who had a few thousand bucks for a unit at the ripe age of 10?), it would have been nice to see a Year 2 reel set produced. What episode would have you preferred? You can see which one I chose.

The “What If” View-Master reel set that should have been for Year 2.

4 Replies to “Space: 1999 Reminiscing the GAF View-Master Set”

  1. The View-Master Mark 2 camera you show produced View-Master sized chip images that could be inserted into Personal reels. These tiny chip slides would have been too small to produce images for the commercial reels. The images shot for commercial reels would most likely have been using the Realist format camera or a twin 35mm rig.

  2. It has bothered me for years that there are probably many more 3-D images shot during the production of “War Games” that went used and are now probably lost. This likely holds true for many of the TV series View-Master published. So sad if these unused images have been destroyed.

  3. After years of these pictures being carefully stored in a box, it was really nice when the technology allowed me to scan my disks set. Although they turned out not too bad, considering the hard contrast on some of the images, the result is not like seeing them with the 3D viewer. I remember spending long minutes on each pictures, scrutinizing every bit of details. It was like standing on the studio floor and watching the actors waiting for the “action” call from the director (I was old enough and soon to start my own fan film at that time).

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