Tag Archive | DeLorean

Journeys Through Life – We’re Going Back, 30th Anniversary Celebration – Day 5

In 2010, Joe Walser and a dedicated group of Back to the Future fans, came together to pull off We’re Going Back: The 25th Anniversary Fan Celebration of Back to the Future. The event took fans to many of the film’s locations, held meet-and-greets with cast and crew, and much, much more!

I almost considered going in 2010, but held off…figuring that when the big future-date in the film’s sequel hit, I’d find myself traveling to Hill Valley, in the year 2015.

I jetted out to the west coast in late October, and was soon surrounded by several hundred fans, as we wandered the Courthouse Square, rode DeLoreans on railroad tracks, flew around on hoverboards, and found ourselves at The Enchantment Under The Sea dance (to name just a few things).

Returning to the present, I decided to add my trip to the Journeys Through Life section on my blog, telling a little about my once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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It had certainly been a wild ride for the We’re Going Back event. But like all good things…it was time to draw the festivities to a close.

The final day would send us away from Los Angeles, and east towards City of Industry, CA. Along with having a name I always found a little odd, this city was well-known for the Puente Hills Mall. It was Puente Hills, that would play the part(s) of the Twin Pines Mall, as well as the Lone Pine Mall.

It was in the southern area of the mall’s parking lot, where Marty and Doc first graced audiences with the reveal of the DeLorean Time Machine, as well as the first time-travel experiment, and a nail-biting chase scene.

However, our journey would begin on the northern side of the mall, as we entered near the AMC Theatre’s Puente Hills 20 complex…but not before many of us stopped to ogle a Part 1 styled Time Machine.

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Today, we’d be sitting in one of the theatres, to hear from a number of persons who had worked on the trilogy.

WGB53Our first guests of the day, were Kevin Pike, and Michael Scheffe (see left). Kevin is notable for being the effects supervisor on the first film, while Schaeffe did concept work for all of the films.

Michael provided some of the most interesting tidbits of the day, when he revealed a slideshow of his concept work done during the trilogy.

We got to see items like the original concepts for the Luxor taxi cab in Part II, as well as the first concept imagery of the Mr Fusion power generator…which in the original concept, was a Westinghouse product.

I’m sure Michael wasn’t expecting it, but upon hearing that he was instrumental in the design of KITT from Knight Rider, I gave him a little ‘thank you’ for having a hand in designing two of the vehicles that captured my imagination as a child (KITT was my favorite screen-used vehicle, until the Time Machine came along).

During the lunch break, I took a moment to wander the mall, whose carpet and furnishings still echoed a bit of its pre-21st century history.

Stopping into a See’s Candy store on the lower level, the woman working behind the counter commented on how many Back to the Future fans were in the mall today. I quickly explained about our big event, and she encouraged me to send some of our cohorts over for free samples.

A fun moment came when I quoted to another woman, Doc’s “I remember when this was all farmland as far as the eye could see” bit, regarding the mall area.

Her response? “I remember when this WAS all farmland.”

Returning to the theater, we were then introduced to the trilogy’s two editors: Arthur Schmidt, and Harry Keramidas. I had the chance to speak to them the night before during the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, but it was nice to hear them reminisce about their time on the film.

Editing can often be a thankless job, but in truth, some films have been saved by editing (like Jaws and Star Wars). Both Arthur and Harry, I hold in high regard, because they each edited two of the first film’s most crucial scenes: The mall car chase (which was edited by Arthur), and the clock tower finale (which was edited by Harry).

WGB54Next we were introduced to David DeVos (see right), who had done work on Back to the Future: The Ride. DeVos had also been a tour guide at Universal Studios, and given his rapid-fire vocal introduction, I didn’t doubt it!

Though not part of the main production staff on The Ride, DeVos did contribute to helping extend out the queue videos, after the ride was first introduced at Universal Studios Florida.

DeVos also shared stories about the building of the main queue building, let-alone the testing of the ride vehicles…including the time one of the vehicles was put on one of the highest settings.

WGB55Sadly, the real-life work schedules of several of our expected guests, kept them from appearing. However, always willing to lend a hand for the BTTF community, Terry and Oliver Holler (see left) took to the stage, and gave a presentation regarding what led them to becoming one of the most famous couples in the fan community.

The Hollers shared stories about building their Time Machine in the early 2000’s (when they had to rely on pausing their VHS copy of the films to figure out what part went where), as well as the various places where their vehicle had taken them over the years.

WGB56Our next guest, was Michael Klastorin (see right).  Klastorin had been the Unit Publicist on the 2nd and 3rd movies, and had just released Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History book (which I had picked up the night before at The Enchantment Under The Sea dance!).

Michael shared a few stories regarding his experiences working on the films, as well as researching the book. Notable among them, was his attempts to interview Eric Stoltz in regards to his early involvement in the first film…which yielded a rather interesting (if humorous) endgame.

Our final presentation, talked about the music of the films, as well as the sound mixing process. On hand for part of the presentation, was Dennis Sands, one of the trilogy’s sound mixers, and Mike Mattesino, the producers of several upcoming releases of the trilogy’s soundtrack albums.

A highlight was when we were shown just how important sound mixing can be to a film.

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We were shown portions of the first film’s skateboard chase, but without Alan Silvestri’s musical score, and just the sound effects. It definitely was a strange sight to behold, and showed a number of us how important sound mixing could be to the final scene.

We were also informed about upcoming soundtrack/audio releases, including newly-extended score releases for the second and third films.

WGB58As the afternoon turned to twilight, we headed out the south portion of the mall, and onto the parking lot area, many of us had largely seen, only on film, for the last 30 years!

In the weeks leading up to the event, the We’re Going Back event planners had been busy. Several of their above-and-beyond workings had included:

  • A replica of the Twin Pines Mall sign that had been specially made, and placed in the same place Marty had encountered it in the film.
  • A replica of Doc Brown’s white truck, that had been placed under the same lights as in the film.

Tonight, a good portion of the parking lot where the film’s time-travel experiments took place, was roped off especially for us.

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Chairs had been set up for an evening screening of Back to the Future, and the event had brought out people from all over.

Several different DeLoreans parked behind our seats, as we waited for the appropriate time, and a number of costumed folks could be found in all shapes and sizes, wandering around the area!

Throughout the week, while we had been celebrating the films on the west coast, the majority of the film’s major players had been on the east coast, taking part in numerous show appearances. That evening, before we were scheduled to start our film viewing, a Skype call was made to Christopher Lloyd in Washington D.C.

Though the connection was not perfect, we were able to get a few words in with him, regarding his feelings on the films, as well as some of his favorite moments.

Even our official Marty impersonator, Tyler Dunivan, jumped in for a few words, stunning Chris.

“Is that Marty!?” he exclaimed, causing the audience to roll with laughter and applause.

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Chris did mention how he liked working on the third film the most, and when he mentioned “he had a girlfriend” in that film, the event organizers had a fun moment.

Erica D Breig had shown up for the day in her amazing Clara Clayton outfit once again, and was brought forward into the call.

“Emmett!” she exclaimed. “When have you been, I’ve been so worried about you!”

On the projected screen, you could see Chris’ eyes scanning his computer monitor, before they went wide, and with a shocked expression he shouted: “…CLARA!”

Of course, we were coming up on our official start time to screen the first film. To get the screening started on the right foot, Chris was able to give us a great big: “GREAT SCOTT!!”

While I wanted to sit down and watch the film like everyone else, I got ‘itchy feet’ during the first 10-20 minutes, and wandered around, watching the crowd. Eventually, I took my seat, and enjoyed the rest of the film with a few of my new friends.

My first viewing of the film was on VHS in 1986. It wasn’t until its 25th anniversary re-release in theaters, did I finally see it on the big screen. Since then, I’ve seen it 4 more times with an audience, including tonight.

One thing I’ve noticed in watching the film with a live audience in the past year, is how much the audience really got into some scenes.

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It was fun to see everyone whoop it up when the DeLorean made its first time-travel journey, or how they applauded for George telling Biff to “leave her alone,” let alone the build-up and release of the clock tower’s big lightning strike scene!

A fun moment was that during the Libyans’ chase scene, a live recreation happened around us! A VW van speedily chased a DeLorean Time Machine around the perimeter of the viewing area, as a few die-hard fans rushed from one side of the parking lot to the other, trying to get a good shot of the recreation.

As the film drew to a close, much like those preview audiences in the early days of the film’s development, there was applause and leaping to our feet, as the DeLorean flew into the future…which was now (to us) the past.

Following the film, many of us quickly gathered near the screen…for it was time, to find out who had won some of the awesome prizes from the We’re Going Back raffle!

Raffle tickets had been sold online and during the event, and now it was time to see if the gamble had paid off. This would be one of two different raffles, with an additional one taking place after the event.

WGB513As many of us watched, all manner of Back to the Future related products were awarded, several of them signed by various members of the crew. My hope to win a signed copy of The Art of Drew Struzan was quickly dashed, as none of my numbers were called.

The mac-daddy of all the raffle items, was a custom Boosted board, whose board design was based off of the 2015 Hoverboard Marty rode. This $2,000 valued prize quickly found its winner that night, and its new owner quickly hoisted it over his head, as Joe Walser, and Tyler Dunivan, looked on.

As the auction came to a end, it was time for some true emotions…it was time for many of us, to say our goodbyes.

WGB514It was hard to believe that 5 days ago, we had all queued up in front of California Pizza Kitchen on Hollywood Blvd (or near the Hollywood United Methodist Church), and gotten our wristbands and vouchers for the event.

I could almost hear Alan Silvestri’s music cue titled “Marty’s Letter” in my head, as I saw all manner of persons hugging, crying, and even promising that we’d do this all again…in 2020.

My new friends and I, almost like Marty finding himself late for school, found ourselves chasing down our tour bus, as we left the Mall, and returned to our drop-off point in front of the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Even here, goodbyes and promises to ‘keep in touch’ were made, before many of us dispersed off into the night.

Later on that evening, at the Orange Drive Hostel off of Hollywood Blvd, my mind was a whirlwind of thought over the last 5 days. As I turned to look at my phone, I soon saw that it was coming on to 1:20 am, on October 26th 2015…30 years from the time when Einstein had been sent one minute into the future, becoming “the world’s first time-traveler.”

While I drifted off to sleep, a couple dozen fans (who most likely had their own vehicles!), were still at Puente Hills Mall, and celebrated the event with a group picture.

Quite a change from 30 years ago. Bob Gale recounted on the DVD commentary for the first film, that at the exact time in 1985, word was 2 dozen people had shown up at the mall, thinking something was going to happen.

Nothing did…but here it was, 30 years later. The film’s fandom had grown and evolved in ways that in the Summer of 1985, its creators could never have fathomed. That fandom has stretched around the world, and had produced a fan-made event that celebrated one of the most satisfying film trilogies of all time.

Sure, fandoms like Star Wars may be considered bigger (and more lucrative), but the last five days had shown, that the fandom of The Back to the Future trilogy, was a grouping that seemed like “A Match Made in Space (and Time).”

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Concluded

Originally, this was where I planned to end my remembrances of those 5 days in October of 2015…but in the end, I found my mind criss-crossing across other thoughts, that could not be contained in these 5 parts.

Come back soon for the conclusion of the We’re Going Back: 30th Anniversary Celebration. There’s a few more things to talk about, before we let go of the past…

Journeys Through Life – We’re Going Back, 30th Anniversary Celebration – Day 2

In 2010, Joe Walser and a dedicated group of Back to the Future fans, came together to pull off We’re Going Back: The 25th Anniversary Fan Celebration of Back to the Future. The event took fans to many of the film’s locations, held meet-and-greets with cast and crew, and much, much more!

I almost considered going in 2010, but held off…figuring that when the big future-date in the film’s sequel hit, I’d find myself traveling to Hill Valley, in the year 2015.

I jetted out to the west coast in late October, and was soon surrounded by several hundred fans, as we wandered the Courthouse Square, rode DeLoreans on railroad tracks, flew around on hoverboards, and found ourselves at The Enchantment Under The Sea dance (to name just a few things).

Returning to the present, I decided to add my trip to the Journeys Through Life section on my blog, telling a little about my once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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For our bus trip on the second day of the We’re Going Back event, we would find ourselves traveling far away from the Los Angeles area.

Heading north, and then taking a left onto California State Route 126, we soon found ourselves in some desert terrain, punctuated by small areas of farmland. Where were we heading to? The Old West? The Hilldale Housing Development?

Nope. We were heading to Fillmore, California. Today, the sleepy little town of 15,000, had opened its doors to us Future fans, and would become Hill Valley, California!

For the day’s event, Fillmore had closed off part of the street around its Town Hall, where panther statues and a clock were placed, similar to the ones in Hill Valley in the film. A Welcome to Hill Valley sign had also been set up, and posters calling for the re-election of Mayor Goldie Wilson were everywhere. Even the official Back to the Future band known as The Flux Capacitors, played throughout the day on the Town Hall’s steps.

Several shops also displayed BTTF-related signage. A corner store hung a Cafe 80’s sign out front, the local antique store became Blast From The Past, and even the local movie theater got into the act (as seen on the left).

Upon arriving, many of us made a beeline for the theater, which was premiering the Kickstarter-funded documentary, Back in Time. The film gained national attention when it quickly reached its goal, showing that there was definitely a fanbase that wanted to see it.

Though there is plenty of material the filmmakers had to work with (they even got sit-down time with Steven Spielberg!), I couldn’t help but feel the film’s final product was a little muddled. Its structure seemed to be at odds with itself, as it tried to find a balance about the making of the Back to the Future films,  as well as those who were inspired by the films, and where that fandom led them.

Upon exiting the screening, we were each given special newspapers, inspired by those that had been seen during the course of the film’s trilogy. Those of us who attended the second screening, mainly received newspapers related to Doc Brown’s mansion being destroyed in 1962 (if you watch the beginning of the first film, you can see the same headline, framed on Doc’s bedroom wall).

Returning to the central area around the Town Hall, all manner of fans could be seen.

It was fun to see the amount of people that had dressed in costume for the event, including several that were very uncommon. There was a 1955 Biff Tannen with his henchman 3-D in tow, Griff Tannen and his hoverboard gang, “cowboy” Marty with Clara Clayton, and even Red the Bum from the first two films (“crazy drunk driver”)!

There were also some familiar faces when it came to stars of the film. For the first time since Back to the Future Part II, Griff Tannen’s gang members (played by Ricky Dean Logan, Jason Scott Lee, and Darlene Vogel), reunited for pictures and autographs.

There were also appearances by Matt Clark (who played Chester the bartender in Back to the Future Part III), and Al White (who played the father of the family living in the McFly’s home, in 1985-A Hill Valley, in Part II).

In the behind-the-scenes realm, I was surprised when a man in a salt-and-pepper beard complimented me on my 2015 Doc Brown costume. It turned out, this was ‘Dangerous’ Bob Widin, who had been the property master on all three of the films!

Bob was like those Uncles with a million stories to tell, and pretty soon, he was telling about how they tried to make Doc Browns’ 2015 metal glasses see-through (but failed), as well as how they constructed the 2015 barcode license plate for the Time Machine!

There were also a number of tented stands had been set up with all manner of items for sale. One was selling limited-edition reproductions of Marty McFly’s skateboard from the first film (re-issued exclusively for the We’re Going Back event!).

One stand was run by BTTF.com‘s founder, Stephen Clark. Stephen has been a one-man force-of-nature at his site, and has sometimes been called upon to write up product material related to the films. It was nice to finally meet the man behind the site.

I also managed to meet author Caseen Gaines again, who I had met some months earlier in Chicago, when he was promoting his book, We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy. Caseen had read my book review, and I felt honored that he liked what I had to say.

Also on hand, were Terry and Oliver Holler. I had heard of them for years, and had gotten the chance to meet them in April of this year. Just like then, I appeared before them as 2015 Doc Brown!

The two were continuing to raise funds for Michael J Fox’s Parkinsons Foundation, and had found a once-in-a-lifetime way of doing it.

Their DeLorean Time Machine had been converted to ride on railroad tracks, and for a $50 donation, you could ride the rails too! First, you’d get a picture of you leaping from the Time Machine as a Diesel Engine (the same one that destroyed the DeLorean in Part III!) was about to pulverize you. Then, you’d back up in front of an older steam engine, and re-enact the scene where Marty sticks the Hoverboard out of the side of the DeLorean!

Of course, there weren’t just trains around. There were several regular DeLoreans, and quite a few Time Machines. A Toyota 4×4 that looked just like Marty’s from the film was parked nearby, and even the special 2015 Toyota Tacoma some of us had seen on Hollywood Blvd the night before, had made it out

One of the biggest vehicular surprises, was the appearance of Part II’s 2015 Hill Valley Police Car! For years, the only pictures many of us had seen of it, was of it sitting in a field, looking like it would fall apart at any moment. Apparently, the owner of the vehicle fixed it up, and brought it, along with another custom car that was seen in 2015 Hill Valley as well. Word was, the Police Car would be auctioned off in the future, at a later date.

Speaking of auctions, the company Screenused.com, was planning one themed around the films, that Saturday (October 24th). In the old Fillmore Bank Building, several of the props from the auction were on display, and some could even be brought out for a closer look. I will admit, one of the funniest moments, was seeing this couple dressed as Seamus and Maggie McFly (with baby William!), discussing the Pizza Hut hydrated pizza wrapper with a Screenused representative.

While many of us were enjoying the festivities, there was some concern over a special newsstand release by USA Today
that we wondered about.

Those of us who attended the Part II screening the day before had gotten an exclusive “Gang Jailed” edition (limited to only 1,000 copies printed!). The October 22nd, 2015 issue of USA Today with the “Youth Jailed” headline, was officially streeting the day we were up in Fillmore, to newsstands across the country!

However, I and many were unable to find a copy before the buses rolled out that morning (Not even a Starbucks on Hollywood Blvd at 7:30 am had them!), and none of the smaller stores in Fillmore carried USA Today. Online, there was word of some bojo’s, who were buying whole reams of the newspapers at various locations, leaving none for anyone else! After being shut out of the Pepsi Perfect loop the previous day, many of us wondered if we’d be left out of this nationwide promotion as well

Fortunately, luck came in the form of our fearless leader of the We’re Going Back event: Joe Walser. That afternoon, Joe and his family could be found at the tailgate of a Budget Rent-a-Truck along Fillmore’s main street, handing out USA Today papers to each person! Class act all the way, that Joe!

Of course, for those of us who purchased the day’s event package, there was one event we were mainly looking forward to: hoverboarding!

Hoverboarding had been held previously in 2010, and here, it was increased three-fold for the larger group in attendance.

Three Champion cranes had been set up in the town’s park area. By giving up one of your wristband tabs, you’d be strapped into a harness, and once lifted in the air, the crane would swing you in one direction, before sending you back the other way.

This was the same method used in making the boards fly when they filmed Part II, though not quite as cumbersome (the harnesses weren’t as elaborate as in the film).

My worst fear was that I’d be completely off-balance, as skateboards and rollerskates have never agreed with me. However, after a few seconds on the board, I was surprised how easy it was to balance on it!

As dusk fell on Fillmore, we made our way to several food trucks for dinner, and then to the town square, to watch Back to the Future Part III.

Unlike the other films in the series, this was only the second time I had seen Part III on a big-screen. It was definitely an experience, to take in what everyone’s reactions were, and I heard probably more whooping and applause than I can recall when I saw it on a Summer day in 1990 with my Dad…and yes, it was still painful to see the Time Machine pulverized by the Diesel (death) train.

As the screening wrapped up, many of us did the polite thing, and helped to fold-and-stack the numerous chairs that were provided for the event. Then, it was a short walk back to the buses, and the return trip to Los Angeles.

On the ride back, I and several of my new “Friends in Time,” talked about the day’s experience, as well as the films themselves. The talking on the buses in the late-night glow of the moon and stars, put me in mind of my high school days. Several of our high school marching band competitions had a similar after-event feel, and it was a moment in which I found a happy medium between nostalgia, and fandom.

By the time we got back to our drop-off location, we were all ready to get to sleep, and prepare for the next day’s adventure.

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Come back soon for the chronicling of Day 3 of the We’re Going Back: 30th Anniversary Celebration. We’ll travel back in time to visit Doc Brown’s former mansion, the street where Biff, Lorraine, AND George lived, as well as travel back to 1985 to check out a familiar Burger King, Hill Valley High School…and finally, Marty McFly’s home.

Journeys Through Life – We’re Going Back, 30th Anniversary Celebration – Day 1

In 2010, Joe Walser and a dedicated group of Back to the Future fans, came together to pull off We’re Going Back: The 25th Anniversary Fan Celebration of Back to the Future. The event took fans to many of the film’s locations, held meet-and-greets with cast and crew, and much, much more!

I almost considered going in 2010, but held off…figuring that when the big future-date in the film’s sequel hit, I’d find myself traveling to Hill Valley, in the year 2015.

I jetted out to the west coast in late October, and was soon surrounded by several hundred fans, as we wandered the Courthouse Square, rode DeLoreans on railroad tracks, flew around on hoverboards, and found ourselves at The Enchantment Under The Sea dance (to name just a few things).

Returning to the present, I decided to add my trip to the Journeys Through Life section on my blog, telling a little about my once-in-a-lifetime experience.

__________

As we boarded the buses to take us to the big site of the first day’s events, many of us were giddy that this day had finally come!

This wouldn’t just be any ordinary day, but one that had been seared into our brains, when Doc Brown announced in the first minutes of Back to the Future Part II:

“We’re descending toward Hill Valley, California, at 4:29 p.m., on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015!”

That fabled Wednesday was now upon us. Social Media had declared today “Future Day,” and Pepsi had planned to drop 6,500 limited edition Pepsi Perfect bottles online (FYI: none of us got them). And just where were we being bussed to? Universal Studios Hollywood, the studio that had given Back to the Future life, and where a number of exciting activities awaited.

As we arrived at the studio’s main gates several hours before the park fully-opened, several sets of tour trams greeted us. Some of the guides even tailored their spiels to us, and one guide even brought along his hoverboard!

The tour would stick to the general routes, but there was one special stop many of us were looking forward to.

I had ridden the tour several times, since my first visit there in 1990 (has it really been that long?). Of course, soon a familiar scene played over the monitors on the tram cars, and with a left turn, we found ourselves in a familiar place: Courthouse Square!

I had often seen this iconic backdrop from afar, or while sitting in a tour tram, but today, many like myself, could set foot on it!

Not much remains of the original set, except for the Courthouse building, which survived 2-3 fires that swept the backlot following the filming of the trilogy. Currently, the building’s pillars are hidden by a false front, as it is being used for episodes of the ABC series, Agent Carter.

Still, that didn’t stop many of us from wanting to get our pictures taken on the Courthouse steps, or wandering around, re-imagining where certain things were filmed. I found myself trying to re-trace Marty’s footsteps into 1955 Hill Valley (filming what his POV might have looked like), and also recreating Doc Brown’s triumphant jump-and-run, after the Time Machine sends Marty back to 1985.

What was most touching, was when a special ceremony was performed on the steps of the Courthouse building. One couple was able to find another fan to perform a wedding ceremony, and the event was witnessed by all of us!

As the tour continued, many of us were surprised to see the main ‘A’ car of the trilogy, sitting off to the side. The car had mainly been used for the ‘glory shots’ of the vehicle throughout the films, but had fallen into disrepair over 25 years since the last sequel. In 2012, Joe Walser (who spearheaded the We’re Going Back fan events in 2010 and 2015), and a special crew, were allowed to restore the car, at the courtesy of Universal Studios. Over the course of a year, they made it look just as good as it did when we first saw it on film!

After its restoration, the car had sat in a special building on the lower lot of the studio, along with other props from the studios’ history. However, with the tearing down of the building earlier this year, the ‘A’ car was put into storage, but through Joe Walser and his contacts, was wheeled out for us to at least see it out in the open (though word was they were putting it back into storage after our tour, and figure out a proper way to display it again for tourists in the future).

After the tour, we returned to the main lot, wherein we walked a private red carpet to receive front-of-the-line passes, and get a picture with Doc Brown.

Though the media and many geek outlets had proclaimed it Future Day, you would almost think Universal was ashamed of their popular pop-culture series.

The thought that there might be commemorative merchandise was only a dream, as only a few stores carried miniature DeLorean Time Machines, and a few shirts related to the film. One store did have Diamond Select’s prop replicas of the Flux Capacitor and Mr Fusion, along with Hot Toys’ Marty McFly figure…though these were priced at about 150% higher than what you would find them online for.

Even with the lack of merchandise, many of the staff in the parks that day, put their own little spin on the day’s events:

  • Our tour guide bypassed the closing ‘musical montage’ bit on the tram, and piped in a clip of Marty playing Johnny B Goode, as we returned to the park.
  • The announcer in the new Despicable Me: Minions Mayhem queue called us a bunch of “buttheads.”
  • Down on the lower-lot, Several Marty McFly’s and a Jennifer Parker met Optimus Prime, who asked them, “if you traveled back to 1985, would you ever dream that you’d be talking with me?”

One surprising acknowledgement of Future Day, came from a most unlikely source. High above the park, The Goodyear Blimp circled overhead, its display relaying BTTF-related quotes, and hashtags to use for the day on Social Media.

It was notable that there were also fans of the films in the parks, that weren’t part of our group. They were in BTTF costumes or shirts, showing that the fandom was still alive outside of us uber-fans. This couple from Japan dressed as Marty and Doc, complete with an actual clear-tie!

Some fans also returned to the site of The Institute of Future Technology, where Back to the Future: The Ride, had operated for over 14 years. In 2007, it was replaced with The Simpsons Ride, and even the fabled Time Traveler’s Depot (where I had procured some of my first Back to the Future items from in the 1990’s), had now become The Kwik-E-Mart.

As 3:30 approached, many of us exited the park, and headed towards the Citywalk portion of Universal. At 3:30, we were scheduled to watch Back to the Future Part II, in the AMC Universal CityWalk 19.

After being seated, many of us assumed the film would start right away, but that wasn’t the case. Joe Walser and his cohorts, had a few surprises in store for us.

The first was related to the fabled USA Today newspaper, that Doc Brown shows Marty. The next day, a special edition of that future paper (it was dated October 22nd), would street to newsstands. However, we were going to get something cooler. While those that hit newsstands would show the arrest of Martin McFly Jr, a representative from USA Today told us, that those of us attending the showing, would get a special print, showing the arrest of Griff Tannen, and his hoverboard gang!

We were then shown a number of BTTF-related commercials that had been created over the last few weeks, including Universal’s Jaws 19 parody. It was probably the only place in the world where this parody trailer, was displayed on the big-screen, let alone for an audience that went crazy when the title appeared.

We were also shown a special short, titled Back to the 2015 Future. The short film featured Marty McFly (played by look-alike Tyler Dunivan) coming to our time, and being surprised at the changes. He also finds a different son than Marty Jr, and begins to think that maybe, his dreams of becoming ‘a rich rock star,’ may not be so important after all. The short also featured cameos by the likes of Claudia Wells (Jennifer Parker from the first film), and utilized locations such as The Gamble House, and Courthouse Square.

Some of us soon realized what was happening: with all these little extras, the starting time for Part II was not going to be at 3:30! Instead, the film rolled around 4:24 pm, which meant, that precisely when Doc announced it was 4:29 pm on October 21st 2015 on the screen, it was the same as it was for all of us! The moment elicited cheers from the darkened theater as we arrived, in the future! The future had become the present, and in a few moments…it was the past.

This was the third time I had seen Part II with an audience, and it was fun talking to some younger fans who were too young to see it in 1989, let alone families who had made pilgrimages as a group to experience it all.

The original plans following the screening, were to visit the ‘A’ car DeLorean at Los Angeles’ Natural History Museum, and screen the documentary Outatime, which chronicled the vehicle’s restoration.

Unfortunately, these added plans did not work out. Once the film ended, we each received our exclusive USA Today papers, and made our way back to the buses.

However, for those of us staying near Hollywood Blvd (where one of the hotels for the event was), we checked out another great Future Day surprise (not planned by the WGB organizers), courtesy of Toyota.

Earlier that day, Toyota had placed a special 2015 model Tacoma truck in faux packaging, near the Dolby Theatre. The truck was styled to resemble a modern-day version of the black 4×4 Marty pined for in the trilogy, and it generated alot of picture taking.

A representative overseeing the event, said that two other versions of this truck were also in New York, and Texas for the day’s event. We could also get the chance to get an exclusive die-cast version of the same truck, by answering some questions about Back to the Future. Plus, it was fun for the rep too, who was a big fan of the films, and happily proclaimed how exciting it was that he could talk about one of his favorite films.

Just like at Universal, the Future Day events also hit those walking along Hollywood Blvd. One couple dressed up as Marty and Jennifer, and came down to see the truck.

It wasn’t exactly the Future Day many of us hoped for, but still, there was more than enough to make it a day that we wouldn’t soon forget.

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Come back soon for the chronicling of Day 2 of the We’re Going Back: 30th Anniversary Celebration. We’ll travel up to Fillmore, California, where Hill Valley, California, comes alive. DeLorean-totaling trains will be seen, along with special vehicles, hoverboarding, cool costumes, and much, much more!

Movie Musings: My Top 10 Reasons why The Back to the Future Trilogy is the best Trilogy of All Time

By the time you are reading this, I’ll have been in Los Angeles, CA, for several days.

I’m here in The Golden State partaking in one of the biggest events of my life: We’re Going Back – The 30th Anniversary Fan Celebration of Back to the Future.

I almost decided to do the Fan Celebration event 5 years ago in 2010, but as many of us weirdos know, 2015 is a really notable year for the film’s fans.

In fact, the year 2015 has a significance across all 3 of the Back to the Future Trilogy of films:

  • It’s 30 years since the release of the first Back to the Future film
  • It’s the year that Marty, Doc, and Jennifer travel to in Part II
  • it’s the 25th anniversary year for Part III

With this collusion of the trilogy’s events swirling around this time and date, I felt it’d be a great time to release my Top 10 list, regarding why I believe the Back to the Future Trilogy is one of the greatest trilogies of all time.

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10) The Set-up/Pay-off effect of storytelling

10) The Set-up/Pay-off effect of storytelling

Back to the Future’s films, notably the first one, have been quite clever in setting up story points in the beginning, that you then don’t quite see coming down the line. This makes the audience actually sit up and take note. That story Lorraine was telling about how her father hit George with the car? The flier lady telling the history of Hill Valley’s Clocktower? Doc’s explaining about how he came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor?…they all end up becoming story points later on!

In commentary during Back to the Future, co-creator/co-writer Bob Gale claimed that he and Robert Zemeckis are big believers in this formula, and you can also see it in their other works…though here, it really feels like they put it to good use!

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9) The effects work

9) The effects work

Though this was originally going to be about Industrial Light & Magic, I widened the scope, to also include the physical effects, notably those overseen by Kevin Pike, and Michael Lantieri.

The trilogy takes advantage of animation, optical effects, miniatures, wire work, and much more, with no computer finessing at all!

Much like films such as Terminator 2, many effects are accomplished by multiple means, oftentimes making us wonder just how they achieved certain scenes.

A perfect example is the hoverboard effects, which were accomplished with wire rigs, actual skateboards, optical effects, and more. All these different techniques combined to make those of us believe that Robert Zemeckis and his crew had gotten ahold of the ultimate Christmas gift.

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8) Part II goes inside Part I

8) Part II goes inside Part I

In a commentary at The University of Southern California, Zemeckis mentioned how oftentimes, audiences want to experience the same stuff in a sequel, as they experienced in the first film.

With the plot of Back to the Future Part II, Zemeckis realized the film afforded them the chance to do something that no other film could: go back into your first film, and see it from a different point-of-view.

The plot to get the Sports Almanac from Biff in the past, soon had Marty and Doc tip-toeing around Hill Valley, 1955, trying to avoid their ‘other-selves.’ This led to some intriguing camerawork, and played up the concept of what could possibly happen if you interfered with your past self…creating a paradox!

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7) Part III is one of the stronger third films out there

7) Part III is one of the stronger third films out there

When it comes to most trilogies, the third film is often the most derided. While many consider The Godfather to be a trilogy, so many then mumble that they watch or even enjoy Part III of that series.

Though not as aloof in time as Part II, Part III does bring back the idea of a major time-revelation, placing Marty and Doc in a specific time-and-place for the majority of the running time, and leaving them with the problem of getting Back to the Future.

Part III also ends up flipping Marty and Doc’s roles, with Marty taking the more serious tact as Doc loses himself in a romance with Clara Clayton…something that Doc’s scientific knowledge never counted on.

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6) Courthouse Square

6) Courthouse Square

It’s not very often that a certain place can become as iconic over the course of a film series. When deciding how to stage Hill Valley’s downtown area over the course of several timelines, the decision was made to utilize a location on Universal Studios’ backlot. The creative freedom could afford the crew to change out a lot of things without interfering with real-life businesses, which would have happened if they filmed on a real city square.

The set would also be transformed in Part II to a future vision of what the square would look like, along with a portion meant to represent an alternate 1985, in which Biff Tannen has altered the timeline. Much of that set was shrouded in darkness, with plenty of un-PC buildings and services.

For 1885, the production moved up to gold country in Sonora, in order to showcase a town that sprang up along the railroads, which would have been impossible to make convincing on the Universal backlot.

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5) Alan Silvestri's score

5) Alan Silvestri’s score

Much like John Williams became a household name with his scores, I think the name Alan Silvestri would not have been as popular, if he had not done the score to the Trilogy, let alone the first film.

Silvestri manages to hit the sweet-spot, of giving us a low-key, emotional score, but ready to burst forth from that, is a bombastically fun and energetic theme. The theme has been one of my favorites ever since I first heard it at the age of 6, and ranks up there with the themes to Star Wars, and Indiana Jones (in my mind, at least).

Silvestri’s score for Part II explores some darker and more bombastic themes, while Part III’s score mixes between ‘westernizing’ the film’s themes, and actually delving into some softer tones for Doc and Clara’s romance.

What’s also notable, is that unlike some other themes that get recycled into other movie commercials or promotions for other properties, the Back to the Future theme has remained exclusive to its series.

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4) The Time Machine

4) The Time Machine

By now, Marty’s breathless question about his friend making “a time machine out of a DeLorean,” has probably become one of the Top 5 lines from the film series.

I had never seen a DeLorean at the time I saw the first film, but after I did, suddenly it was another vehicle to add to my mental database regarding cool-looking cars…though for me, it was the added accoutrements that Kevin Pike and his guys added to it, that made it impressive.

Past interviews have said that the design was meant to evoke the work of someone who had put the machine together in their garage, and I think that’s why it looks so cool. It’s got that ‘used-universe’ feel like I had seen on the ships in Star Wars, and maybe that’s part of the appeal, as well as the fact that the cooling vents on the back seem to almost turn the vehicle’s shape into an arrow, looking like it’s ready to pierce the Space-Time Continuum.

As well, even its various transformations across the trilogy have all seemed memorable…even its tragic demise into a pile of scrap.

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3) The films line up in succession

3) The films line up in succession

I have to this day, not been able to think of another series/trilogy, where its movies lined up in a straight line. Whereas most sequels take place months or years after the previous ones, the Back to the Future Trilogy can amazingly be lined up, as the sequels start mere minutes/hours after each other.

This also makes Back to the Future one of the first trilogies that could be cut together in a seamless way…though I still haven’t found the uninterrupted “Fan-edit” online, I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.

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2) The characters

2) The characters

These days in most films, there’s usually a few characters in each one that just get so annoying, but even with the likes of Biff Tannen in the trilogy, almost all the characters are enjoyable, even the background ones. Though of course, Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd have excellent chemistry as Marty McFly and Doc Brown, making their friendship so believable in just a little amount of time.

Growing up, Marty McFly was one of the coolest teenagers I ever saw on screen, yet in truth, his character is not super-cool, but even so, he is relatable in being an average kid who wants to dream big, but also has some character flaws to deal with.

Even Crispin Glover for being rather strange in his mannerisms, brings an interesting chemistry to his character, where you can see him as a 50’s dweeb, but you also can relate to him in some ways.

Of course, actors like Thomas F Wilson, and Lea Thompson, got the chance to really stretch their acting chops, playing different versions of certain characters, as well as past and future relations of those characters.

I could easily go on-and-on, but I think it shows how much the cast of the film works for the series.

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1) There are only Three movies!

1) There are only Three Movies!

Yep, just think about that for a moment: there’s no film prequels, or 4th films…the Trilogy is just that…A TRILOGY!! You can deny all you want, but The Phantom Menace, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and The Hobbit Trilogy exist.

In the more than 30 years since we saw The End in Back to the Future Part III, many have pleaded and begged Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale for another story. Given their contracts, both Zemeckis and Gale would need to give approval for any continued adventures, and so far, neither is willing to budge, even with 80’s films like Ghostbusters, and The Goonies getting a second lease on life almost 3 decades later.

I know some will say that Back to the Future did live on in things such as Universal Studios’ Back to the Future: The Ride, the Back to the Future: Animated Series, and the Telltale Games‘ release of Back to the Future: The Game (which could almost function as a Part 4). However, my main area is in regards to films. Anything outside of the films I consider Expanded Universe, or Fanfiction.

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Okay, I know I didn’t expound a whole lot, but those are my Top 10 reasons in a nutshell. I largely stand by my number one choice, and it’s been fun to hear Zemeckis say that he feels that three is the perfect number for the films to end on.

As well, he and the other actors and crew members have moved on. It was a lightning-in-a-bottle moment, but the biggest issue is that the adventures wouldn’t work with new characters. I likened the whole thing to being like most Amblin Entertainment films like E.T. or even The Goonies: it was a major experience in your life that you can’t relive, and trust me…you never forget your first time.

Well, that’s all for this little movie musing. Because plenty of places chose to just drop their stockpile of Back to the Future merchandise on me and many fans this week, November is going to be wall-to-wall reviews, as we dig into the Visual Dictionary, take a look at some Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment vehicles…and see how perfect, Pepsi Perfect really is!

Toy Review: Hot Wheels’ Retro Entertainment Series – Back to the Future vehicles

Since its introduction a few years ago, Hot Wheels’ Retro Entertainment Series has turned itself into a one-stop shop for 1:64 scale diecast vehicles, associated with some of history’s most famous film and television vehicles. We’ve gotten  all sorts of vehicles, including those from Knight Rider, Ghostbusters, Magnum P.I., The A-Team, Smokey and the Bandit, and many more.

When the line was originally announced, there was one film series eagerly on my mind: Back to the Future. Let’s face it: along with fascinating many of us with tales of disrupting the Space-Time Continuum, there were also plenty of modern-day, future, and vintage vehicles on display in the films. Over the last few years, the line-up has included the following vehicles, that all appeared in the 1985 film that started it all.

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1985 Toyota Hilux 4×4

“Check out that 4×4…THAT, is hot!”

Like many teenagers, Marty McFly dreamed of having a sweet ride of his own. Of course, even I as a 6-year-old watching the film, could see the allure of the Toyota 4×4 being driven around Hill Valley’s Courthouse Square. If there was one thing my young mind liked besides flashy sports cars, it was big trucks (it was the era of Monster Trucks and Bigfoot, after all).

Though the truck was not a prominent player in the film, it definitely became part of the vehicle “lore” of the film. Two differentToyota Hilux model trucks were used over the course of the trilogy. The one Marty sees in the first film, is significantly different than the one we see in Parts 2 & 3. By the looks of the toy, Mattel tried to hit a happy medium.

At first, I thought this was a brand-new molding, but is actually based on a previously-done one not associated with the film. Design-wise, the molding doesn’t include the front grill/bumper-guard like the vehicle seen on the film. They also made the tires over-sized on the vehicle. As you can see from the main picture, they’re only slightly larger than average vehicle tires. The design also deviates from the real vehicle in the film, in that the truck is missing a front grill bar, and the toy does not include the extended cab window behind the driver and passenger doors.

For the die-hard Back to the Future fans, the license plate shows the markings from the first film. In the sequels, the plate information was changed.

Obtaining this vehicle was a pretty difficult feat in itself, as I never once saw it at a local store, and secondary market prices have pushed it to starting bids above $15. Luckily, i found one for sale in damaged packaging, which suited me just fine, as I intended to display it.

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1982 DeLorean DMC-12

“This is the big one, the one I’ve been waiting for all my life!”

To many, Back to the Future was our first introduction to the DeLorean DMC-12…though with some added accoutrements to send Doc Brown’s creation through the space-time continuum.

The mold for this vehicle has been used in some of the regular main-line iterations of the DeLorean time Machine, but this one sports some additional paint details, and a less shiny metal body.

The paint applications on this vehicle are minimal, mainly relying on colors of black, light blue, and yellow. It is also nice to see the rear exhaust ports given a metal sheen (some iterations have often confused their coloration to just be flat-black).

Throughout almost all iterations of the DeLorean, they often give the vehicle the same-sized wheels, rather than than larger rear tires, and smaller front ones. Given the different-sized wheels on some releases, it’s sad they didn’t go this direction with the Time Machine.

It’s been several release waves since this vehicle has come out, and it has entered into some high secondary market prices, along with other Retro Entertainment vehicles like Ecto-1, and The (1966) Batmobile.

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1946 Ford Super De Luxe Convertible

1946 Ford Super De Luxe Convertible

“Marty, he’s in a 46′ Ford, we’re in the DeLorean, he’d rip through us like we were tinfoil!”

In 1955 Hill Valley, CA, Biff Tannen and his gang could often be found tooling around town in Biff’s shiny black ride. Of course, Marty McFly ended up making the dimwitted bully a laughing stock, when he ended several of his chases, by rear-ending a manure truck.

This release is the only official release of Biff’s Ford, and also includes the same plate numbers, and red interior as the one on-screen. Much like the Toyota Hilux, Mattel chose to mess around with the vehicle’s wheels, giving it larger rear wheels.

Biff’s car was one that many of us definitely didn’t expect to ever be made…but made it they did, with the most amazing accessory that noone asked for: a plastic pile of manure that one could remove from the vehicle!

The mold is not new, but a re-use of one created for the Ford vehicle, from the film, The Karate Kid. It also may have been used as the Ford vehicle from the Grease. Given the moldings being similar, the plastic manure pile could also be “dumped” into these vehicles as well.

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Overall, Mattel’s Back to the Future offerings are good, but they didn’t put me over-the-moon like some of their other releases, like those for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Knight Rider.

The downside of obtaining these vehicles, is that the majority of major store chains don’t seem to carry them. A few Toys R Us stores did during the first few waves, but since then, they seem to have given up. In cases like this, I’ve had to turn to the internet to find what I wanted. The most recent release has included Biff’s Ford convertible, but it may be too soon to tell if its secondary market value will increase like the DeLorean and Toyota 4×4.

Currently, there is word that by the end of 2015, Hot Wheels will release two more iterations of the DeLorean Time Machine: one in hover-mode, and the other with the white-wall tires when Marty went back to 1885.

Even so, I feel there’s room for a lesser-thought-of vehicle (I mean, they added a Pontiac Fiero glimpsed briefly in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!). And that car that I’d love to see is: Doc Brown’s yellow Packard. Not a very prominent vehicle, but it was in each film of the trilogy, and it’s a vehicle that I don’t think has ever been done in 1:64-scale diecast.

The Back to the Future Time Machine / Hot Wheels Showdown, Part 1: In the Beginning…

As far back as I can remember, I’ve often been a sucker for cool vehicles in television and film.

I wasn’t taken to many movies as a child, so most of the cool vehicles I saw were on television. I soon had 1:64-scale versions of the vehicles from The Dukes of Hazzard, and The A-Team. I’m also pretty sure the reason I got a Matchbox Cars Ferrari, was due to the one Tom Selleck drove on Magnum P.I.

But then came that moment in 1986, that changed my life, forever.

Watching Back to the Future in my Grandma’s living room in 1986, I wasn’t completely sure what was going on. The film gained my attention when Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), was drawn to a strange sound, emanating from his friend Doc Browns’ (Christopher Lloyd) truck.

Slowly, a ramp lowered, and through a thick smoke-screen, out rolled a vehicle I had never seen before. It was shiny, and had all sorts of strange paraphernelia on it.

After that Summer, The Delorean Time Machine was firmly planted in my brain. I eagerly begged my parents to take me to the sequels, marveled as it flew through the air, and looked on in horror as it was crumpled to bits by an oncoming train.

I had numerous versions of the Time Machine, which included a plastic ERTL model kit, an R/C version made by JRL, and a 1:18-scale Sunstar Die-Cast model.

Despite all the publicity regarding John DeLorean’s business dealings, Back to the Future made many people like myself fascinated by this rarely-seen vehicle. When my Dad and Uncle saw a used one at a Porsche dealership, they brought me along on their next outing to take a look at it. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have all of Doc Brown’s additions.

I had all manner of die-cast cars (and still do: over 6 cases full!) as a child. While Hot Wheels and Matchbox were churning out sporty cars like the Corvette, the DeLorean was nowhere to be found on store shelves.

And then, one day, I got lucky.

My family stopped into a small drug store at Grossmont Shopping Center in La Mesa, CA. I was able to convince my Dad to let me go inside with my Mom, and like any young child, requested a stop down the toy aisle. And that was when I saw it:

The packaging it came in is long gone now, but even with its not-so-perfect looks, I had to have it! Sure, the interior was white plastic, and the metal on the body was far from perfect, but in those days, it was take-it-or-leave-it when it came to some products. Plus, Zylmex’s wheels looked very similar to those on the actual DeLorean.

This DeLorean was made by a company called Zylmex. If you never heard of them, don’t worry: many people out there haven’t. Zylmex (or Zee Toys in some circles), seemed to be that generic brand of toy you often saw in smaller shops. You probably had one or two toys from this company growing up, but were often at a loss as to who actually made those toys.

What was note-worthy about the Zylmex DeLorean, is that it sported working gull-wing doors! However, the mechanism wasn’t too reliable, and I’m sure some other owners of this little car, had doors that did the following:

This would be the only (known) 1:64th scale DeLorean for probably 25 years, until one of the big players decided to do something about it.

In 2010, Hot Wheels finally brought the DeLorean into their vehicle lineup. The original release contained a unibody Die-Cast design, with the only moving piece, being a snap-up plastic rear deck, that showed the area where the DeLorean’s rear-engine was.

This mold would be used 4 more times, 3 of which showcased the DeLorean body in gold and black, along with a variation of the silver body-type.

In 2012, the Hot Wheels Red Line Club released a special retooled mold of the DeLorean. With a shinier exterior, and limited to 4000 pieces, it also is the only use of a newer Hot Wheels DeLorean mold, that features opening gullwing doors.

It seems that 25 years after the DeLorean was immortalized on film as the coolest time machine of all time, we finally got our Die-Cast dream vehicle (mainstream, anyways). But…What about that Time Machine?

In Part 2, we take a look at several iterations of “Back to the Future’s” DeLorean Time Machine, including a version you may never have seen before.