Friends, one of my most cherished childhood toys was the Fisher-Price Movie Viewer Theater, which I believe was released back in 1977. The handheld movie viewer which was originally released in ’73 was obviously easier to take to school or on car trips, but it was that 1977 Movie Viewer Theater though that captured my heart. Thanks to being able to not just watch the Super 8 mm shorts on the much larger screen of the viewer, but I could also flip a dial and cast the moving images on a nearby blank wall or sheet. I am extremely happy to say that not only is that beloved toy still in my collection but it is in working order, to say nothing of the fact that I now possess nearly a complete collection of those Fisher-Price film cartridges.
As I understand it, Kenner actually beat Fisher-Price to the punch back in 1973 with the Cassette Movie Projector, although they didn’t stop there. Just two years later they would produce the Snoopy Drive-In Movie Theater as well as the handheld Snoopy Movie Viewer. While I believe that four Peanuts shorts were made for the Fisher-Price Viewer and Theater, Kenner would produce a total of 12 cartridges in their line.
Considering that I frequently discuss the local drive-in theater of my youth on the Saturday Frights podcast, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I was blown away when I received the Snoopy Drive-In Movie Theater as a kid. From the plastic Snoopy sitting in his car looking up at the ‘drive-in’ screen to the fact that Woodstock was running the concession stand, it just managed to always make me smile.
Interestingly enough, besides those 12 carts focusing on Peanuts characters, Kenner also ended up releasing six cartridges for The Six Million Dollar Man as well as film carts for the likes of Speed Buggy, Grape Ape, and Scooby-Doo among other Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
Sadly my Snoopy Drive-In Movie Theater is no longer functioning, and I assure you that my finger hovers over the ‘Buy It Now’ button when looking on eBay, but at least we can enjoy watching it in action thanks to this YouTube video!