There are many toys and collectibles from my childhood that I dream of owning again. Sometimes they are just out of reach and too difficult to find and buy again. I’ve come to noticed that items released in America sometimes have a corresponding release in Japan. Growing up in the 70s and early 80s, we didn’t have VCRs and DVD players to record our favorite shows and movies on TV. We were lucky if we had 8mm home movies at home. But we did have movie viewers. The well-known viewers were the Kenner Movie Viewer (1975), the Fisher Price Movie Viewer (1973), Ideal Pocket Flix (1978), and the GAF View-Master Automatic Movie Viewer (1978). Some operated with hand crank for spinning the reel cartridge forward and backward and at the viewer’s own pace. Others were battery operated. Each brand had its lineup of popular movies and tv shows like Star Wars, Star Trek, Six Million Dollar Man, and more. I always wanted View-Master’s Godzilla Double-Vue cartridge. But I’ve never been able to get my hands on it. A few weeks ago I found something much better, the Popy KuruKuru Televi.
In the 70s, Bandai released Chibikko Movie (バンダイ ちびっこムービー). It was the same as the Fisher Price Movie Viewer here in the U.S. It was a silent movie on a spinning special cassette. Following Popy released the KuruKuru Terevi (ポピー くるくるてれび) in 1979. It improved upon Bandai’s design. It did not require manual operation, but rather, it was electronic requiring two AA batteries. Unlike the Chibikko Movie, KuruKuru Terevi was a great success. Its catch phrase was “Your own TV theater” (キミだけのテレビだ). Each replaceable cartridge was a 2-3 minute 8mm film clip with no sound. The player retailed for about 2000-2500 yen and each cartridge about 700-800 yen. The cartridge lineup include Doraemon, Kamen Rider, Mazinger Z, Mobile Suit Gundam, Candy Candy and more. While the Chibikko Movie struggled, KuruKuru Terevi was successful. In the U.S., its was Ideal Pocket Flix viewer.