All posts by Doug

Back to the Future Hoverboard Prop Replica Build-up

Ever since “Back to the Future II” I’ve wanted a hoverboard. Who wouldn’t? They’re extremely cool. The prop itself is a fun design, and I figured it’d go great with my growing prop collection. Rumor has it that Mattel is going to market a licensed replica this year, but like all licensed prop replicas it will be WAAY out of my budget.

Members of the Replica Props Forum ( have posted dimensions and even downloadable, printable graphics to help build your own. To really build a nice one, some of the parts should be machined and molded/cast or vacuum-formed, but I wanted to do this “on the cheap”. So, here goes.

I should have taken more pics from the beginning, but here goes. I started by creating a custom paper size for my inkjet of 8.5″ x 26.9″ (the longest it would let me make it) and printing the graphics on thin posterboard/cardstock cut to 8.5″x28″. Because of the restriction in length, I had to scale the board down slightly. I then 2 pieces of 1/4″ foamcore to the correct dimensions, then 2 more 1/2″ shorter and narrower. I then laminated these together with the 2 full-size pieces in the middle, with the 2 smaller pieces on top and bottom to allow me to taper the board. I filled in the taper with Elmer’s wood filler, cut the angle for the tailkick, glued it back together, and glued on the graphics. Basic board complete:

For the magnets, I found these tapered plastic bowls at the dollar store for 2/$1.00:

I cut the bottom 1/2″ off, and cut a piece of plexiglass to fill in the top:

After some gluing, filling, and sanding. Unfortunately they’re a bit larger than they should be (about 6″ at the bottom) but it’ll work for this build.

I cut the base of the magnets from styrene:

I then built the clamp pieces from styrene and disposable plastic plates. I filled in behind the plastic plate pieces to give the piece strength.

I made the center clamp piece from 2 pieces of 1/8″ styrene (glued together) and used a 1/2″ countersink bit for the holes:

And here’s a dry test-fit on the board:

Still some paint work to do, then I’ll tackle the top of the board with the velcro, foot disc thing with the pink fuzzy stuff, etc.

I realize it isn’t perfect, but total cost breaks down like such:

2 pieces foamcore $6.00
plastic bowls $1.00
plastic plates $1.00
pink paint $3.89
primer $0.96
plexiglass scrap $0.00
2 tubes wood filler $6.00
clearcoat $3.89
thin posterboard $1.96
spray adhesive $4.96
1/8″ styrene scrap $0.00

Disney and Lucasfilm – My Thoughts

As I think everyone in the known universe now knows, On October 30 Disney announced that it is purchasing ALL of Lucasfilm, Ltd from George Lucas for $4 Billion. Since then, everyone I know has asked me what I think. So, I guess I’ll put it here.

First – I have concerns about what this means for the fan organizations the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, and the Mando Mercs. Initial posts from both Lucasfilm and the 501st seem to indicate that nothing will really change, and I hope so. Every year, members of these groups donate thousands of hours of their own time to community events and charities around the world, raising millions of dollars in donations. And heck, it’s a lot of fun!

I won’t deny it – Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm doesn’t completely excite me. Anyone who knows me very well knows that I’m not Disney’s biggest fan. However, I look at the recent success of Marvel studios and the amazing “The Avengers”, and it gives me a glimmer of hope. The Marvel films have benefitted from some amazing directors at the helm such as Joe Johnston, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau, and Kenneth Branagh. Disney themselves have taken a “hands-off” approach to the recent films from Marvel, the Muppets, and Pixar. If they take a similar approach with “Star Wars”, and the new films have a great director like those I’ve mentioned at the helm, I think episodes VII, VIII, and IX will be amazing films. Kathleen Kennedy is set to follow in George Lucas’ footprints as head of LFL. She has been producer on Star Wars and Indy (as well as the Jason Bourne films and others) since the get-go, and she knows not only how LFL works and what “Star Wars” is all about, but understands George’s vision of what family entertainment should be. She’s a proven professional and I can’t think of anyone better to lead LFL as George heads into retirement.

How can I not be excited about the announcement that there will be new “Star Wars” films?

I do have to say that I think Disney got a bargain. Not only did they buy the rights to produce new “Star Wars” films and merchandise, they also obtained similar rights to Indiana Jones. They also got all divisions of Lucasfilm including Industrial Light & Magic (the visual effects company), Skywalker Sound, THX, and Lucasarts (the video game division).

Interestingly, Fox retains distribution rights on the original 6 “Star Wars” films until at least 2020 (they have the rights to distribute Episode IV “well into the future”), and Paramount retains all rights to distribute the current 4 Indy films along with any possible future Indy films. Disney (via LFL) will have rights to any Indy-related consumer products such as toys, props replicas, etc.

I wonder what the Fox piece of this means for future box set releases. After 2020, it’s possible that Disney/LFL will have the rights to all of the films except the original Episode IV. That could complicate issues.

I’m happy to hear that George Lucas will be donating most of the money from this deal to help improve education. Hopefully, that will quiet many of the naysayers who claim Lucas is just in it for the money. He doesn’t need the money.

I guess ultimately, I’m catiously optimistic. Best case they put someone like Joss Whedon or Joe Johnston at the helm (Johnston btw began his career at Lucasfilm as a production designer on Star Wars and Indy – he even designed Boba Fett) and we get some amazing “Star Wars” films. Worst case – well, can it really get worse than Jar Jar Binks???

Evening Project: Vintage SW Action Figure Stand Restoration

A long time ago….

Back in 1978 or so, the Kenner Star Wars collection consisted of a mere 12 action figures. Yes, it was actually possible to “collect them all”. As a bonus, Kenner offered a display stand to display your collection on. It was a mail-in offer, and was (for the most part) very limited. Here’s what the offer on the back of the figure packaging looked like:

I always wanted one, but by the time I even discovered Star Wars, it was too late. The mail-in offer was expired. So, here I am, all these years later.

Lately, I’ve been bitten once again by what I call the “vintage figure bug”. I dug out my old, modest collection, cleaned them up, and purchased replacement weapons for them from ebay.

Anyway, these “mail-away” display stands fetch a pretty penny on ebay. One in good, complete condition will sell for $150-$200, which I just don’t have (and couldn’t justify anyway). But, about a week ago, I stumbled across this little gem for $10.00

So, I bought it. When it arrived, it was as advertised: Incomplete, with worn decals and missing the cardboard backdrop. The base was scratched up pretty badly as well.

I went to work to clean it up.

I started by giving it a good scrubbing with a toothbrush and dish soap. I removed all of the “discs” that the figures stand on, and cleaned the base really well. Then, I used some novus plastic polish to remove as many of the scratches as I could. I then removed the sticker by soaking it in soap and water, scraping as much of the paper off as I could, and using lighter fluid to remove the sticky residue.

A while back I found a scan of the backdrop online, so I printed it on two pieces of paper (too wide to print on one) and used spray adhesive to glue them to a piece of posterboard. I then created a replacement “name” sticker in photoshop, matching the original font as best I could. I then printed it on two pieces of paper. To more closely match the finish of the original sticker, I gave them a couple quick coats of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Acrylic spray paint.

Once the paint was dry on the new “stickers”, I used spray adhesive to glue them to the cleaned-up base. I didn’t get them exactly straight, and will probably re-do it at some time in the future. But for now, I have a great display stand:

Add-in some figures, and this is how it looks: