Modding a Fisher-Price Movie Viewer
By James Grahame
The Fisher-Price Movie Viewer Theater shows just how far kids' entertainment has progressed since 1978. The compact plastic film viewer shows silent Super 8 movies on a blurry little screen. It can also project a 10-inch image onto the wall.
Its best feature (speaking from personal experience) is that the film is hand-cranked, allowing kids to morph everyday Warner Brothers cartoons into bizarre reverse slow-motion cinematic works of art.
The only thing cooler than owning one of these would be to have one loaded with your own movies. Super8man was up to the challenge, and loaded his own Super 8 home movies into the F-P viewer, enabling his kids to manipulate their flickery images on-screen.
Conveniently, the viewer is compatible with standard Super 8 film. Super 8 film is still available, and it'll cost about $25 to shoot and process a 50 foot cartridge.
The next step is to carefully pry open one of the old yellow cartridges and replace the film inside with your own Oscar-worthy footage. Super8man reports that the cartridges come preloaded with about 12 feet of film, but he thinks they'll accommodate up to 50 feet, giving a maximum running time of 3 1/2 minutes at 18 frames per second.
Before it can be loaded, the new film needs to be spliced into a continuous loop. Loading it into the cartridge is guaranteed to be a fiddly process, and paying careful attention to how the prepackaged film is positioned will definitely make the replacement process easier.
The Fisher-Price Movie viewer was also available in a hand-held version that resembled mom & dad's real Super 8 camera. It requires no batteries, you simply point it at a bright window of lamp and turn the crank. Both models turn up frequently on eBay, although prices vary considerably.