You remember the View-Master. It's one of those iconic items that everyone owned as a child, like a Slinky, or an Etch-A-Sketch, or a bag of marbles.

You inserted the stereoscopic photo reel into the top of the View-Master, and the trigger on the side rotated the reel so you could marvel at the future through three dimensional images of places you'd never heard of. It dates back as far as 1939, and hasn't changed all that much down the years.

Until now. The View-Master is coming back thanks a new venture between Mattel and Google.

Cardboard-Master

The all-new View-Master is built using Google Cardboard technology, according to Mattel. Which, when you think about it, means it's just Google Cardboard. Or, for that matter, any other virtual reality face case that uses stereoscopic split-screen to deliver a VR image.

But View-Master promises a little more than that, and will tie itself back into its original premise using a new form of photo reel. This time they're going to be augmented reality reels. Oh yes.

In a delicious slice of marketing design work, the View-Master will take hold of your smartphone to use as a display and motion tracker, and the 'reels' - which look just like their old photo-based ancestors - will sit on the desk in front of you and activate different VR experiences.

A 3D model of the reel's subject will appear on top of the plastic disk when you look at it, and the old rotation switch will now be replaced by an activation button. It'll be used to zoom in and out, and to select options within the immersive VR tour you're taking.

The new View-Master headset is set to launch toward the back end of this year at somewhere around $30, with three-packs of reels costing $15. And, of course, the View-Master will be compatible (by default) with Cardboard and split-screen VR games and apps.

Since it's birth, over 1.5 billion View-Master reels have been sold, and Mattel now holds over 10,000 different topics in its View-Master archive. It'll be interesting to see how many of these are also revived in this first ever update to the View-Master technology.