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.
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”).
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.
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.