Hot on the heels of the Back to the Future Nike sneakers comes the Back to the Future Hoverboard from Mattel, based on the hoverboard in Back to the Future II. It must have seemed like a great idea from Mattel's perspective, but it's turned into kind of a disaster. It sounds good on paper. Mattel worked with some of the movie's crew like Bob Gale, the co-producer and co-writer of the movie, and the movie’s SFX supervisor, Michael Lantieri to create a duplicate of Marty McFly's hoverboard.
At first glance, it looks good. It's lifesize. It has the hole where Marty pulled out the handlebars. You can stand on it and it does make noise from the movie, and the sounds are motion sensitive. The problem comes with closer inspection.
First of all, it's not a perfect reproduction. Mattel's hoverboard is missing the popular lenticular or holographic surface from the original. The original fuzzy pink foot strap has been replaced by a non-fuzzy strap, and that foot strap isn't adjustable. So unless you have big feet, the strap is useless. It gets worse when you try to do something with the board. We all accept that it doesn't really fly, but Mattel claimed it would slide on level surfaces like carpet. It doesn't, really. Personally, I think they could've put some removable wheels on it so it does something.
Worse, the hoverboard seems poorly constructed. There have been some complaints of poor sound from the speakers. Those sounds don't match the movie. The decorative labels have been bubbling or coming off. The hoverboard won't stay on the included stand. All this might have been tolerable at a cheaper price, but for $120, it seems outrageous.
Gizmodo called it 2012's worst toy, and posted some embarrassing video of their attempts to slide on it. Even Bob Gale came out against the hoverboard, withdrawing his endorsement and saying he feels deceived on the final product. In part, he wrote:
"I put myself out there to promote this, so now I want to publicly stand here with egg on my face and apologize. This product, at this price, falls short of the top notch standards that you and I have come to expect for something that carries the Back to the Future brand. To those of you who bought one because of my endorsement and are upset with the product, I'm very, very sorry. Please accept my apology. I share your disappointment, and you have permission to put my photo on a dart board and throw sharp objects at it."Despite all this, the hoverboard sold out, and Mattel is accepting pre-orders for another batch. Frankly, this could have been better. A company called hoverboard.org.uk was producing what looked like high quality replicas (but sadly no more). There are fan projects to create cheap but effective reproductions. They could even have made it fly. Back in 2010, an artist named Nils Guadagnin created his own version of a hoverboard that actually does fly. You can't ride on it, but it uses magnetic fields to float over a podium. I think that might have made it a nice conversation piece.
What do you think of the hoverboard? Would you still want one?
[Via Gadgetwise via Matty Collector]