Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"The Omega Glory" Viewmaster Reel

(Click on images to view full size.)

It might be strange to some to hear that I became a Star Trek fan before I have ever actually seen a whole episode! I became hooked only by seeing items in print about the show... a photo of Spock was the first thing I ever collected when I cut it out of a Famous Monsters magazine. That led to the Gold Key comics, and then there was the Animated Series. As a Trek Kid in the early 70's, there was very little in the way of things to buy that could help one to view the actual episodes of the live-action show. A couple of years later I would discover the James Blish books, but at the time all I had was the comics, which were original, though often silly stories.
But one day sometime in 1971 I saw the Star Trek Viewmaster featuring the episode "The Omega Glory" and flipped out. Seeing pictures from the show in 3D was a heretofore unheard-of experience. I dreamed about getting it, saving my meager allowance, and at last the day came when I went shopping with my mother and I finally picked it up.
Joy!!! Rapture!!! I'm sure I had red squares around my eyes that night at suppertime from pressing the viewer against my face as I looked at all the reels again and again. Twenty-one photos from an episode I had never seen became embedded into my retinas and memory as I gazed at them for hours. Reading the episode story in the book that came with it (often inaccurate though it was) was a treat also. Looking back, it's amusing how the writer loved to give phrases acronyms, like "F.S.N.P." which was short for "Famous Spock Neck Pinch."
As you can see above, I managed to scan in some actual frames using the slide attachment on my scanner; but the results are a bit blurry, so there's no need to do them all. However, the scans I made of the enclosed booklet I am posting in their entirety. If you had one and lost it, this will bring back good memories. If you never had it, you will get a glimpse at one of the best Trek-oriented items available for many years. And if you have one but haven't taken it out for years, perhaps this post will make you want to do that very soon!

Shortly after buying the pack above, I discovered the Animated Series set of reels, and I will scan and post that booklet soon as well.

Below is an awesome photo, better than my scan, of the special shot that the Viewmaster crew created for the reels. Using the three foot model from the show, with an AMT model in the background for the Exeter, they photographed the setup using their special 3D cameras.

Below is an ad scanned in from "The Monster Times."
"Give me your thoughts..."
One thing about this blog that you may notice is that sometimes the post is more about my memories surrounding it than the item itself. That's because the memories that one has about a time or place that is brought up by an item is really more important.

However, I'm not posting these entries and writing just for myself. I'm doing it for you to enjoy, and hopefully bring some memories out of your personal treasure chest. If something here does that, please share it! I, and the other readers I'm sure, would love to hear how Trek impacted your life and helped make some great memories.

I look forward to reading about them!

Update: reader Jim commented below about a source for some frame scans that you can find here.


chunky B said...

That last model shot is sweet, I would love to have that as a poster, wouldn't you?

Oh yeah and tag your it


Anonymous said...

The large version of Booklet 05 isn't coming in for me. Can you check the link, Fred? The GAF artwork is scanning up beautifully. It's a childhood memory and kind of a period piece in itself, now.

John G7

Frederick said...


Thanks for the heads up! The Blogger interface goes wonky quite often and when working on a post it removes the link sometimes.

It's fixed now, try again!

DarenDoc said...

Glorious. I would gaze at these viewmaster reels for HOURS... simply enjoying the detail in the pictures that one could never get from watching tv. (And to top it off, we didn't have a color TV til 1976) So this was a special treat.

Love seeing them again... I still have my original reels... and an original bakelight ViewMaster viewer to enjoy them with... perhaps it's time to unearth them and see what memories they bring.

I'm looking forward to seeing the "old" episodes on Blu-Ray at the end of this month... I think it will give me the same feeling.

CMX54 said...

Those old Bakelite Viewmaster viewers are a real rarity today...I had one, too.

In the '50s, lots of things were made of Bakelite... I had an old tabletop tube radio with a beautiful light-up dial, and the case was made of brown/black/red Bakelite. Used to tune in distant AM stations on it during the wee hours...ah, memories! :-)


The Nostalgic Gangsta said...

I love how they ended up using the AMT models on the show too.

The FX guys on DS9 did it too for a lot of the battle sequences during the Dominion War.

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog when searching for information Star Trek Viewmaster reels.I wondered if anyone could tell me how much the three reels from the Omega Glory plus a bakelite viewmaster would fetch nowadays.The reels unfortunatley do not have the illustrated sleeve though.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Would love to see a scan of the left & right image of the same shot to see exactly how they managed 3D out of what was essentially a 2D 35MM frame.

Frederick said...


In the case of the earlier reels, like this one, they had a special camera that they brought onto the set to make the photos. Each separate picture was offset from the other, left to right, then combined to show depth. The two photos are only off by a few inches. The episode was picked at random, determined by the day that they visited the set. Which explains what so many wonder, why this episode when there were so many better ones.

Here's a page with an animated gif combining the two images from their Batman reels that shows the effect.

DANIEL said...

Thank you Frederick for making such a comprehensive in depth page. I love the photos but particularly all the wonderful articles on Star Trek and the magazine clippings. It must have taken you forever to make this page, but thats ok, Its gonna take me forever to go through it. Thannks from a Trekker since 1975. Live long and prosper :)

Frederick said...

Hello, Rick!

Thanks for visiting and commenting! Glad you are enjoying it, hope you have a good time catching up.
I started this blog in September 2008, and I post a couple of times a week, sometimes once a week, but new stuff is added regularly. So keep coming back for new (old)stuff!

Rob Bignell said...

Thanks for posting the booklet. It's one of the many great Star Trek things from youth that I've lost. As a kid, I would spend hours looking at that picture of the Enterprise and Exeter - it made me feel like I really was in space. As for the selection of "The Omega Glory," my understanding is that Roddenberry went with it because he penned the episode and needed the royalties after Star Trek was cancelled - some tell this story to disparage Roddenberry, but I can understand where he was coming from. He needed to eat, too.

Frederick said...

Thanks for the comment! I had not heard that story about Gene before; it may be true. I had understood it as being a random selection based on when the Viewmaster people could show up at the studio to take the shots with their 3D camera setup. Their schedule was what determined it, and it just so happened that the episode was this one, unfortunately. We are lucky it wasn't "The Alternative Factor," I guess. But at the time, it didn't matter to me; it was Star Trek and that was more than enough!

Anonymous said...

I'm just bidding on this on ebay. Wish me luck.

Aildoux said...

Good to see each individual transparency of this. The perfect post would have been to post side by side both of each picture so we could see the 3D effect using the cross-eyed technique. Maybe for a future repost? Thanks again!

Anonymous said...


Scanned nicely!


Frederick said...

thanks for the link, the frames are beautiful!


Unknown said...

That was a fun read! I feel like I missed a lot by not getting into Star Trek until recently. I'm really glad I did, though.

Frederick said...

thanks for commenting, glad you did too! Hope this site helps you catch up some and enjoy all the stuff you might have missed!

Peter said...

Is it me, or is the second to last page of the booklet missing? I can tell because the description of the 5th frame of Reel Three is incredibly short, and the Merak female had not been named prior to the description in the 7th frame. I feel like there is something missing when read audiobook-style.

Unknown said...

Just found this site- not sure if it is still active. I just got in a new viewmaster- not the VR one. Looking to re-stock my old favorite reels and found this link. I rather liked this episode even though the premise is a bit shaky. It makes sense that the Viewmaster crew had to schedule set visits. Luck of the draw.
I always absolutely loved the slides and the detail you just couldn't see on a TV screen. I spent hours looking at the slides just looking for things I hadn't noticed before.
In reading the view book I remember that at the time I got it the narrative didn't match the episode. I wonder if the slide summaries were from a earlier script revision. The descriptions also make it pretty clear that the view book writer hadn't seen the episode as aired.

Anyway- thanks for the site. I have it bookmarked and will be browsing through it.

btw- I also always thought that the Yang name "Cloud William" was intended to be a corrupted "Col. William"