'The Future' is now? Hoverboards arrive three years early
March 19th, 2012
06:26 PM ET

'The Future' is now? Hoverboards arrive three years early

Back in 2007, when the "Back to the Future" ride was shut down at both Universal Studios theme parks in the United States (in favor of a "Simpsons" ride, though there is still a "Future" ride in Japan), it might very well have been seen as a sign from the powers that be that the interest in the 1980s sci-fi comedy trilogy just wasn't there anymore.

Since then, something funny has happened: Christopher Lloyd started popping up in commercials in Argentina, in character as his most famous character, "Doc Brown." Replicas of Marty McFly's famous 2015 Nike shoes went on sale in September.

Now, replicas of the hoverboard, perhaps the most famous piece of "Back to the Future" lore from 2015, are being made available for pre-order by Mattel, the same company that, in the world of "Back to the Future," put the product out in the first place.

Bob Gale, producer and co-writer of the "Back to the Future" movies, was just as surprised as any other fan when he heard about the hoverboards.

“I had no idea about it until it was announced at New York Toy Fair," he said. "I checked it out and called up our licensing person at Universal to find out about it."

Soon Gale was meeting with some of the people at Mattel, with some of his actual hoverboard props in tow: “They were so excited to have their hands on the real things. They had booklets of paint swatches to match the exact color."

Why so much excitement over a board? Gale recalls the demand for them was overwhelming when "Back to the Future Part II" was released in 1989.

"Bob Zemeckis did a very tongue in cheek interview and, totally straight-faced, said ‘Hoverboards have been around for years and parents’ groups wouldn’t let it on the market.’ Oh man, did that catch fire," said Gale. "Someone from Mattel was totally aggravated that we put [their logo] on the hoverboard because kids were calling and writing and convinced that somewhere there must be a stash of hoverboards they weren’t able to market."

Scott Neitlich, marketing manager at Mattel, said the company is happy to finally make this a reality: "We've been looking forward to making a prop replica for years."

The company saw a similar level of success with replicas of "Ghostbusters" PKE Meters and ghost traps.

Though we're three years away from hoverboard technology (and they still won't work on water), the Mattel hoverboards will "gently glide over most flat surfaces," with accompanying sound.

Gale said he thinks the enthusiasm about these items (not to mention fan creations like mini-flying DeLoreans), shows that the "Back to the Future" fan base is alive and well.

“Had [Universal Studios] not made that decision to dismantle the ride when they did, had they put it off until the 25th anniversary, they might have said, ‘Maybe we ought to keep "Back to the Future" going. Maybe if enough people write in, they’ll take half of 'The Simpsons’ ride and turn it back into ‘Back to the Future.’"

The fan community for "Back to the Future" has gathered at sites like BTTF.com over the last several years.

CNN Geek Out spoke to Stephen Clark, creative director for the site, and a few of his compatriots, all of whom are placing orders for hoverboards, anxiously awaiting their arrival in November.

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Opening day reaction to 'The Art of Video Games'
Visitors at "the Art of Video Games" exhibit at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art.
March 19th, 2012
06:24 PM ET

Opening day reaction to 'The Art of Video Games'

Bringing video games into an art museum would be considered an ambitious undertaking in years past, but visitors to the Smithsonian opening of “The Art of Video Games” say it isn’t surprising at all.

The new exhibition explores 40 years of video games as art through interactive games people can actually play, pieces of gaming memorabilia and dynamic visual displays that highlight the artistic work done by developers. It is the first such exhibit to appear in a major museum, and visitors of all ages came away from its opening day with feelings of nostalgia.

Groups of family members – parents and children, grandparents and grandkids – marveled at the exhibit, and each took away something different.

“I thought it was pretty neat to watch the evolution of games,” said Kim, a mother from Columbus, Ohio. “I grew up playing 'Frogger' on the Atari but got away from games until my son started playing.”

“I thought it was amazing,” said Jimmy, a 21-year-old from southern Maryland. “I thought it showed the great history and beauty of video games. People will be able to come to the Smithsonian and still learn about video games and see the beauty in them.” FULL POST

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