Thursday, May 17, 2007

Star Wars 30th Anniversary Special - part 17

I keep going back to pre-VCR ways of reliving the "Star Wars" experience at home. Here's another one. The Star Wars movie viewer was a hand cranked device where you'd attach a rectangular cassette which contained a loop of super-8 film, hold up the viewer so that a light source shone through the clear plastic knob on the top, and then turn the crank while looking into the viewer. Now you could watch silent clips from the movie, forward, backward, in fast or slow motion, and you could also freeze frame.

Each cassette ran about 90 seeconds, which doesn't sound like much, but sure seemed like a decent amount of time, especially since each cartridge seemed pretty packed with a variety of exciting clips from the movies.

There were 5 "Star Wars" cassettes made, including the one titled "May the Force Be With You" which came with the viewer. There were also cassettes for "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman." These I never had. I also never got the casette titled "Battle In Hyperspace."

Of the set, "Danger at the Cantina" was my favorite. At the time, there were almost no images of the Cantina scene available. As a kid who grew up at the tail end of the monster boom, the Cantina scene was my favorite sequence from the movie, and now, I had in my hands, a way to watch a condensed version of it again and again. Even better, because I controlled the speed of the film, I could stop and look at the various aliens for as long as I wanted, really getting a good look at them, since most of them had mere seconds of screen time in the actual movie.


Robert Pope said...

I had the Fisher-Price Movie Viewer (primarily Disney shorts) and the Snoopy Drive-In Movie Viewer (still unmatched for the size of the screen) so by the time the Star Wars viewer was on my radar, I kinda had a glut of viewers...It's worth noting that the cartridges for the Star Wars movies played on the Snoopy viewers, too....

Stephen said...

Yeah, my stepbrother had the detention center scene one, and I would watch it slowly, and move the frames back and forth to see the Imperial guys get shot in the chests. I had the Six Million Dollar Man ones, too, but that one was better, because they actually sold a little miniature theater with a screen so you could sit Steve Austin in a chair like he was watching it, and you didn't have to squint into the tiny viewer. Good times.

Todd Franklin said...

Remember the one from Alien? That was the only way I was able to watch the part of the movie since my mom wouldn't take me.

Rozum said...

I never had one of the movie viewers that had a screen to them. I do remember the Six Million Dollar Man one. I had no idea that there was an "Alien" cartridge. What scenes did they show on that?

The marketing for "Alien" was a bit weird. It was an R-rated movie, yet had toys and bubblegum cards. It's almost as if the people behind the markeing for kids sympathized with them "We know you can't see this movie, but we'll give you some stuff so you that you're not completely left in the dark."

Of course it was really all about money, "Star Wars" money since "Alien" was the next big science fiction movie, and certainly the next one that they could plan ahead with so they'd have product when the movie came out, unlike what happened with "Star Wars."