Mattel had a pretty good idea when it decided to rejuvenate its classic View-Master line of toys by turning them into low-cost virtual reality headsets for your children. And now you can get one with a Batman theme, along with a virtual reality adventure inspired by the now-classic Batman: The Animated Series.
Mattel sent us one to play with, and I’m going to say I’m probably an easy mark for this toy. I’m fascinated by virtual reality as a technology, and my devotion to Batman: The Animated Series runs deep. If you can say the same two things, you probably don’t need to reach much further before picking one up.
It’s such a weird combination of the old and the new, just like the updated View-Masters in general. It’s a product line based on a classic toy, but it’s also a virtual reality device. It’s aimed at fans of Batman, but it’s a version of the character that is now seen as retro. As a collector’s item, it has a good amount of appeal for adults, but the molding and design is clearly shaped for children. If you’re an adult with glasses, good luck.
But I mean, look at the packaging. Just look at it. The whole thing is beautiful.
The View-Master is compatible with all the virtual reality content packs that are being sold for the platform — and it also operates as a nice viewer for any Google Cardboard content — but part of the reason this is such a big deal is that it comes with a brand-new Batman adventure with voice acting from Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker and Tara Strong as Batgirl.
That content pack comes with the headset, but you can also just download the program, awkwardly titled View-Master Batman Animated VR, for $12.99 and view it through any Cardboard device.
And you should, because it’s cool. You’re a character in the story, and Batman will speak directly to you. It’s clearly designed for a younger audience, but it’s still pretty great to be able to visit all sorts of locations from the show in virtual reality and get a tiny sense of what it might feel like to actually be there and look around. The voice acting is just as good as you’d expect, and the simple nature of the experience itself gives you plenty of time to stop and stare at all the neat stuff around you.
This is a strange product in a number of ways, and you’ll likely already know if it’s for you just by looking at an image, but it’s a neat way to target a very particular market.