But as good as they all were -- and some of them were absolutely fantastic -- one set stood tall above all the rest: Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.
Sawyer outdid itself in bringing to life Tom Corbett and his friends. The model makers created flying rockets, spacemen with bubble helmets, foreboding planets, secret bases -- everything a kid could want from his science fiction adventures. The set came with three reels -- "The Moon Pyramid," "The Red Planet," and "The Mystery of the Asteroids" -- and an extensive booklet.
While the reels will work in any View-Master viewer, there's something particularly satisfying about clicking through the Tom Corbett set using a vintage Model C, which was in production from 1950 through 1955. It's not quite a time machine, but it's close.
I'm constantly going back to look at these reels; I just never get enough of them. They're so transportive, so immersive -- there are times when I feel like I can reach out and shake Tom's hand. When was the last time a bunch of static images were so much fun?