Retro Scan of the Week Special Edition: “At Last! Reality For the Masses!”

April 30th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

VictorMaxx Stuntmaster VRThere was a time in the early 1990s when “Virtual Reality” via bulky goggles strapped to your head seemed like the promise of the future. Video game console manufacturers like Atari, Sega, and Nintendo all dipped their toes into the virtual reality waters, but none devised a practical and cost-effective solution. Those attempting to create affordable consumer VR headsets encountered common problems: a true stereo display using two high resolution color LCD screens and motion tracking was too expensive, and even high quality goggles caused serious motion sickness and disorientation with many users.

Apparently VictorMaxx knew something that companies with multi-million dollar R&D budgets didn’t. They released the StuntMaster VR, a “3-D interactive virtual reality” headset with seemingly impressive motion tracking capability (“point-of-view instantly scrolls or rotates with the turn of your head!”). But alas, I own one, and I know that VictorMaxx only surpassed the competition in hyperbole and false advertising. The StuntMaster VR is a terrible piece of junk.

VictorMaxx Stuntmaster VRImagine that: reality for the masses.

Dare you step forward, cheeze ball? Despite what the box says, the StuntMaster VR is not a 3D display. It contains one extremely grainy low resolution LCD screen in the center of the goggles. If you put it on, it hurts your face. The display singes your retinas with an intensely fuzzy, VictorMaxx Stuntmaster VRhard-to-focus-on image. The head tracking mechanism is nothing more than a stick you clip to your shoulder (see picture above) which slides through a loop on the side of the headset. When you turn your head, the StuntMaster detects the stick sliding in the loop and translates this into a left or right button press on a control pad, assuming you’ve actually hooked it up to the controller port of your SNES or Genesis. Remember the “point-of-view instantly scrolls or rotates with the turn of your head” quote? I’d love to see that happen in Super Mario World. Obviously, it couldn’t actually work unless the game were programmed for that functionality in advance. Unless, of course, you’re playing Doom and you want to turn left or right by moving your head.

VictorMaxx Stuntmaster VRA disturbing, tragic world, yours? Then please, do not buy the StuntMaster VR headset. Mine was so useless that I took it apart about four years ago and wired up some connectors to use it as a tiny LCD monitor. Even then, the LCD screen’s extremely low resolution makes it nearly useless. So now it spends most of its days sitting in its box, partially disassembled, reflecting on the good old days when plants were still green and the Lawnmower Man played out like a guaranteed guide to the future. I still want one of those springy mid-air virtual reality harnesses, by the way.

The StuntMaster headset makes me wonder how long VictorMaxx stayed in business. Who knows, we might hear from a former employee in time. Did anybody else have one of these, or any other VictorMaxx products? Leave a comment and we’ll talk.

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12 Responses to “Retro Scan of the Week Special Edition: “At Last! Reality For the Masses!””

  1. extrarice Says:

    Man, I remember attending a movie FX expo in LA around 1995, and this thing was on demo. I remember trying to keep my Arwing in StarFox going straight while using this thing! Much more fun was the rumbling theater seats for a “virtual roller coaster” ride. And for some reason Atari was demoing Cyperborph for the Jaguar there; I still don’t understand why…

  2. KitsuneDarkStalker Says:

    VFX-1 pwned this…

  3. Shawn Mulligan Says:

    I have one of these things too, picked it up 5 or so years ago for like $15 at some mom & pop used game store. Its pretty horrible – the speakers are tinny, the screen’s contrast is impossible to adjust, and its horribly uncomfortable. I did the same thing you did – I took the sega genesis connector and made it into standard video/audio rca jacks, and I attempted to play an xbox game on it – Halo doesn’t play so well at blurry 160×120…

  4. Robert Says:

    Hi. I have a lot of these from my old school store… they are not so bad…. Piece of rare collection…

  5. Vintage Geek Says:

    I just saw an ad for this thing on Craigslist, complete in box. I think I’ll pass! Thanks!

  6. Art Says:

    I will buy any and all that come my way shot me an email if you have one to sell.

  7. Lee Says:

    I had this thing , got it at a pawn shop for 30 bucks, I ripped off the adapter and replaced the Sega adapter with the RCA adapter, I used it for watching Star trek it was interesting when Captain Picard stepped out into space, eh it made me a bit space sick lol.
    I cut some paper pieces and then cut some smaller holes in pieces of paper to force my eyes to focus right. after that it was good to go for 3d. Victor max really needed to add the option of adjustable lenses to the thing.

    I did open up the one unit I had and it had 2 LCD screens in it, and the lens was also using a “Fresno lens ” that was suppose to aid in the eye focussing..not a good idea..would have been better if they used lenses that could focus individual eyes then it would have been better. Also take Note that back then, the smaller LCD units were still Black in many video cameras view finders. the higher ends were color and very pricey.
    Oh I find it funny that sony is trying to pawn off there Stereoscopic tvs and glasses for a ridicules price just because it has a 3d Plug for a modulator for stereo glasses..give me a break!

  8. Jim Says:

    Hey, Lee- the one you had was not the VictorMaxx Stuntmaster. I believe VictorMaxx followed up with a premium stereoscopic version (that still sucked, but not on the epic scale of Stuntmaster) which is probably what you have. This thing only has 1 screen in it.

  9. johnson Says:

    as i can imagine,this 3d glass was unconfortible with a blurry poor responsive color lcd screen,but it was ahead of it,s time,but sadly toooooo expansive,but whay if we can moddifie this unit to replace the old lcd screen for a new modern lcd screen to overcome those blurry and poor response issues of that old lcd screen.
    also these lenses wich don’t focus correctly should be removed to get a better vision.
    and lastly if we can make such a/v adaptor extension sothat we can also hookup other gameconsoles to it or just a dvd player etc,,,,

  10. johnson Says:

    i accidentally bought one pulled off broken down victormaxx HDM system.
    it just turned out that that guy had moddified it to hookup any video soucre to it,but i no longer could put it on my head,i just had to use it like a virtualboy without a stand.
    even worse,he used an unusual long heavy connector for wich he had rewired all wires to it, so i couldn’t even keep it stable on a flat service.
    to make matter worse,those connections were very lose because of that annoying heavy connector so a had a very ard time to keep the connection in place,but even then the picture ditn’t allway’s come on screen whatever i dit.
    this happened many times during gameplay,turning me screwed up.
    somehow those connections were very very sensitive for lose contact.
    i had a hard time to beat 3 mario games but i dit.
    what’s also worsen me was the fact that the cables were missing so i couldn’t use it,even then i had no chance to try the motion tracking system,because this thing being broken down.
    the stick was still included there but it become useless because of this.
    man i was just pissed off feeling me sooo misleaded for what i d get ,but it turns out that that guy has said in the discription that it was moddified and that the screws were missing,but he ditn’t had mentioned this in the title(he even put the wordt rare in the title,well i guess it will be rare to find such thing in good condition at such low price),also those first pictures he put were only the box itself,you had to check out those last pictures to finaly find out that it was broken,why dit he not had put those inportant pictures on the front, am mean by default a regular consummer will simply NOT know that this thing is broken in the first place,man in this case i should had to check every pixel onscreen to make sure what you get,that’s bullshit.a second mistake i had make was to leave a positive feedback but that was BEFORE i opened the pakage,so again OOOPS.
    now i have refunded this crap to get my money back but we both have make lose in money because of this shit happened.

  11. johnson Says:

    i was forget to mention that once i had a picture onscreen with that broken victormaxx 3d system,the screen is actualy good for 1993 standards,i could see all details HOWEVER reading letters is nearly IMPOSSIBLE and i must say that dark levels like underground levels were sooo dark that it was hard to see what am doing,unless i cranked up the hue control but offcourse that will lead in false colors.but in normal lighting levels the picture looks pretty good,and there’s actualy NO TO LEESS BLUR in fast motion,so it is slightly better then the gamegear screen, i can live with it,even alltrough i am halve blind.

  12. Johney Says:

    I recently bought a victormaxx stuntmaster on dbay and i enjoyed using it but unfortunately ,after 1 week , that head tracking system mechanics inside it broke after heavy use ,so now i can’t use it anymore wich is sad ,because it adds to the VR experience in 3D games such as wolf3D & doom etc,,,
    My conclusion is,, victormaxx used chespass plastic for thrir mechanics inside, had they opted for metal mechanics inside it instead, then it eould had never brake,even not when rough use, yes i understand they made it cheap,but in this case it was made a little bit too cheap,ouch, i feel sorry for everyone ending up with the same motion hedtracking issues as a cause of this, like me,o,o,o, am sad & angry about this,why.

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