Likely hoping to capture the same frenzied, nostalgic excitement that was created by the release of the Nike Mags, Mattel has just announced that the company will be creating a 1:1 replica of the hover board used by Michael J. Fox’s character in both Back to the Future II and Back to the Future III. As mentioned on the Matty Collector blog, Mattel will be taking preorders for the hover board between March 1 to March 20, 2012. The board will make “whooshing” sounds similar to the films and Mattel mentioned that the board will “glide over most surfaces,” but not actually hover. Mattel is targeting a November or December 2012 release window; somewhat late for anyone that was planning an amazing Marty McFly Halloween costume this year.
Pricing has yet to be announced by the toy company, but is likely going to be high. On the blog post, Mattel states “Because this is such a high-cost item, there will be a minimum number of orders required to go into production. If we don’t receive the minimum orders, won’t go into production and customers will not be charged.”
The iconic hover board was first seen in Back to the Future II when Marty McFly had to escape from Griff Tannen, the grandson of Biff Tannen. It was also used at the end of Back to the Future III when Marty needed to help Doc Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, save Mary Steenburgen’s character Clara Clayton from dropping off a speeding locomotive.
Mattel officials haven’t indicated if the company will be partnering with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in order to both raise money for the foundation and promote the product at the same time. After Nike took this approach to promote the Mags, the company ended up raising over 5.6 million dollars after selling 1,500 pairs of the shoes over a 10-day period. In addition, Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, matched that number to help raise over 11 million dollars for the foundation.
In 2010, a french artist named Nils Guadagnin recreated the pink hover board for an exhibition aptly named “Back to the Future.” Built into the structure of the board, an electromagnetic system actually levitates the board and a system of lasers stabilizes the board while it is hovering on the display. Within the video, Guadagnin slides a plastic ruler underneath the floating board and pushes down on top of the board with his hand to show how the lasers auto-correct the positioning. However, it’s highly unlikely that the board could hold up any significant amount of weight.
When it comes to actually developing hovering technology, a study published by a group of New York University researchers is claiming to have made progress in artificially replicating how hummingbirds and dragonflies effortlessly dart through the air and seem to hover in a single place. Using an example that used a “pyramid-shaped object hovering in a vertically oscillating airflow,” the researchers were able to fly the object more effectively when the weight distribution was on the top rather than the bottom; quite the opposite from a aircraft like a helicopter. However, researchers still have to run tests on larger versions of this object in order to determine if the design would apply to larger structures.