Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tom Corbett, Space Cadet View-Master Set (Sawyer, 1954)

Everyone's talking about 3-D movies. Bah! For nearly seven decades, View-Master was bringing people a world of eye-poppingly, jaw-droppingly, brain-tweakingly awesome 3-D images. And they delivered this marvel on appropriately futuristic discs. There were travel reels, nature reels, science reels, entertainment reels -- over the years, View-Master has produced thousands of them. 

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? 


  1. This is the coolest thing I've ever seen! I had some toy spacemen that looked a lot like this.

  2. Hi Doc Atomic! I love this post. Did you know that there is still one person doing View Master photography? That's me. Have a look at and I think you might like the robot section. Your blog is very inspiring. Thanks!

    James Spicer


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