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Back to the Future Costumes Design Freebies

Making hoverboards, Back To The Future style

Last year our local entertainment expo brought the cast of Back To The Future to town. I was bouncing around the house in excitement when I first heard the news since that’s my favorite trilogy of all time. Seriously just so good. I re-watched the trilogy, introduced it to my kids, and then got down to business.

2 months and an 80’s punk makeover later, I was Spike, a member of Griff’s gang from 2015:

The Hoverboards

Planning the hoverboards was one of my favorite parts of making this costume. It gave me a chance to geek out in Illustrator with an attention to detail that warmed the cockles of my heart. I started out with just creating the 2 hoverboards my husband, daughter and I needed for our costumes:

The Thrrilll (odd man out)} and No Tech Knowhow hoverboard recreations

Once I was on a roll though, it was hard to stop. After the “odd man out/the thrrilll” board and “no tech knowhow” I dove into the “rising sun” hoverboard, the “Pit Bull” (You bojo, those boards don’t work on water. Unless you’ve got power!) and the pink kids’ hoverboard Marty totes around in the Delorean.

Download the hoverboard graphics

Want to make your own hoverboard? I’ve recreated the graphics and put together a high-res JPG of each so you can print them off yourself. Each hoverboard has a black line around the outside that you can trace on to your foam or plywood to get a perfectly even edge around the graphic.

For a full-scale hoverboard just print off at 100% on a 24″ x 36″ sized poster. I ordered mine printed at Vistaprint with a coupon code that made each print about $20.

How we made our hoverboards

Once I had the graphics designed we ordered them from Vistaprint. While we were impatiently awaiting the mail, we went out to Home Depot and picked up a sheet of 1/2″ thick insulation foam (Foamular C-200) for $10.

We cut the foam to the shape of the outer stencil included in the poster, painted the edges to match the movie hoverboard, and glued the graphic on the top and bottom. I’ve included a few photos of my handy helping husband to show the general process:

Once the board was assembled we picked up and spray painted some disposable plastic plates for the silver circles on the bottom. The rest of the pieces were 3D printed using Imirnman’s models from Thingverse and then screwed into place.

Noteworthy hoverboard resources

Now that I’ve shared how we created our hoverboards, I wanted to mention a few other makers with great tutorials in case one of those is more your style.

I came across some beautifully crafted hoverboards for purchase online – solid wood, and as close to the originals as possible. They’re above my price point, but if you have some cash set away I’d recommend checking out the hoverboard replicas and kits at GoldenArmor.com.

DIY Prop Shop also has a pretty great tutorial on making a plywood hoverboard, along with graphics you can print at home (standard printer paper sized), for the classic pink Mattel model:

Also worth checking out if you have access to a 3D printer, Imirnman created all the parts for the pink Mattel hoverboard and posted them for download on Thingiverse. There’s also an option to order them printed, which is ideal if you don’t have a 3D printing champion on your team yet.

3D hoverboard model by Imirnman

By Martha

Martha is a miniature-making, Hary-Potter-and-Back-To-The-Future-loving designer with a thing for her grandma's pot roast. And really swank vintage chairs.

7 replies on “Making hoverboards, Back To The Future style”

Hi Martha,
your Spike costume is breathtaking. So detailed – respect!
I guess I would be too lazy to be so accurate. 😀

The hoverboard graphics also look stunning!
I wanted to ask if it would be possible to get them in a higher resolution and less compressed? (Maybe via E-Mail?)
The ones posted here are quite small and sadly have some JPEG compression artefacts.
It would be great if that would be possible.

But I guess I´ll first try to make your skyway sign for my BTTF vitrine.
Thank you very much in advance!

Kind regards from Munich
Alex

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the kind note about my Spike costume! It was a ton of work so I totally understand not wanting to put that much time in to make it accurate. But it was a ton of fun and I’m so glad I did it. I’ll have those photos and memories forever.

You’re right, thanks for letting me know that the images linked from this post were small and low resolution. I’ve taken a minute to update the hoverboard gallery on this page with links to higher-res versions. If this isn’t high enough quality for what you were thinking, let me know and I can email them over to you as well.

I’d love to see pics of your BTTF vitrine when it’s done – what a great idea!

Martha

hi Martha,
congratulations for the job. I noticed that in the image with the letter D you wrote 3d printed parts from thingiverse.
I tried to search but those pieces don’t exist. there is only Marty’s hoverboard. where could I find those kind of handles?
thanks and congratulations again

hi martha, i was just wondering is there a way that you can print the sheets of the pink hover bored graphics into parts and not all as one? i have small printer and not alot of printer shops in my small little town, so if there is a way to print it into sheets of a full size hover bored that with be very nice.

Hi Kanna! I didn’t have a good print shop in my town either, so I just ordered it online from Vistaprint and they mailed it to my door. If you’d rather print at home, DIY Prop Shop made a nice PDF that prints on regular sized paper that you tape together. It used to be linked from their hoverboard video but the link is broken, so I posted on my site: https://sweetmagpie.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/DIYPS_hoverboard_printouts.pdf

Happy making!

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