Fisher Price Movie Viewer

Fisher Price Movie Viewer

The afternoons of my preschool era were spent in my bedroom playing with various children’s toys. There was that turntable with its plastic records, a rocking horse, and a Sesame Street playset among many other brightly-colored plastic things. One favorite among these was the Fisher Price Movie Viewer, a plastic rectangle shaped like an old-time movie camera complete with a handle on the bottom and a crank on the side (at least the version I had was shaped like this; there was another version that looked like an old TV with external screen). Long yellow plastic cartridges containing cartoons and other kid-friendly fare could be slapped into this viewer. You then put your eye to the view hole, pointed the other end toward a light source, and turned the crank. Instantly a movie sprang to life just inches away from you. There was no sound, unfortunately; the Movie Viewer wasn’t equipped for that. But there was a fairly good video playing so close to your eyeball that it actually felt like it was inside your head.

The movie I saw most on the Movie Viewer was the Walt Disney classic “Lonesome Ghosts”. I saw this most not just because it is very good but also because it was the only cartridge I had. So that was naturally the one I watched. Over and over again. I watched it forward at regular speed. But I also watched it backward. The Movie Viewer allowed you to crank in reverse, thus reversing the movie, and I did that often, watching in wonder as the action in the movie regressed in mind-bending fashion. I even watched it in fast forward and slow motion and ultra slow motion. The speed of the movie was regulated by the speed with which the crank was turned, so if you turned it faster or slower, the movie got faster or slower. In this way, I watched every single frame of “Lonesome Ghosts” in every way imaginable.

The Fisher Price Movie Viewer really was something to marvel at. It didn’t require batteries and it wasn’t complex, but it put quality, popular movies at a young child’s disposal. It was a primitive kid-version of the VCR, and my preschool afternoons would have been much more boring without it. They would also have had less ghosts.

Enjoy this classic commercial for the Fisher Price Movie Viewer


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. I definitely remember watching the mickey Mouse short Lonesome Ghosts with one of these.

  2. My cousin had one of these and I remember watching Lonesome Ghost as well. A classic.

  3. Thank you for this post. I have been describing this to my wife for years now. I used to love this toy. I remember watching all of the catridges except for the winnie the pooh. I may have made this up in my head but I think you could reverse it also. Man that toy was awesome.

  4. I had a bunch of Star Wars cartridges. But I pulled out the 8mm film and put them in my actual projector.


    I still have a hand viewer like the one above – it has the Sesame Street film in there.

  5. @Rick – It could go in reverse. I watched it more in reverse than in forward. It just seemed magical the way things resolved in reverse.

  6. Great video Chad. The clicking combined with the background noise really effectively captures the experience.

  7. Great post, Doug! I love this movie viewer and my Fisher Price projector so much it’s scary. I spent thousands of hours of my youth watching the cartridges and doing just like yourself, putting them in slow motion, and reverse. :)

    @pJ I found out in my youth you could use the Star Wars cartridges in the Peanuts Drive-In movie theatre, the only problem was that the title cards were displayed in reverse.

  8. Reading your post made me recall the great fun of watching Lonesome Ghosts over and over again. I still have my beloved FP movie viewer, along with the Pluto and Cookie Monster cartridges. It was empowering to have such fulfilling mechanics at one’s disposal.
    And yeah, reversing the action was some kinda magic (any kind of noodling with my actual movie projector’s reels could easily damage the film).
    I was looking into ways of DIY Super-8 conversion into digital a while back and stumbled into a site detailing the use of FP cartridges for watching home movies.
    Of course it would’ve meant using original cases for modification, something I couldn’t bring myself to do.
    But it was an interesting idea, otherwise.

  9. Nice Angela. You don’t happen to still have it do you?

  10. Oh no, all of my toys magically disappeared over the years. I think my mother may have been involved somehow… ;)

  11. Everyones chief suspect in these crimes. Why are the authorities not stopping these monsters?

  12. I really liked the fisher price viewer…but mostly because I thought it made a great lookin ray gun!…the cartridges themsleves became “ammo” of course…

    it was fun to watch those movies though…

  13. Oddly enough, I never tried to use it as a gun. Lost opportunities.

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