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'Back to the Future' hoverboard looks great, fails to hover (hands-on)

A new replica of the "Back to the Future Part II" hoverboard strives for screen accuracy.

Hoverboard and shoes
It's Marty McFly time. Amanda Kooser/CNET

Our "Back to the Future" hoverboard dreams haven't all come true yet, but there are ways to get close. One method is to build your own working hoverboard using leaf blowers. Or you could be Tony Hawk and borrow the Hendo, but you're limited to a special surface. Perhaps your best option is to drop $48.99 (about £35, AU$60) on an official replica hoverboard from HalloweenCostumes.com.

Hoverboard and shoes
Taking the hoverboard out for a stroll in the park. Amanda Kooser/CNET

This isn't the first hoverboard prop replica in existence. Mattel came out with one in 2012, but it regrettably had big Mattel logos on the top. The HalloweenCostumes.com version has proper graphics on top. The only indication you didn't snag it from the movie set back in 1989 is the official licensing graphic on the bottom.

The board itself is big and sturdy. It's made from plastic with Velcro grips on the front and a Velcro foot strap on the back. It even looks like it could handle a good snow bank, much like a snowboard. Unfortunately, I live in New Mexico and there was no snow handy to test this theory.

So what's the point of having a hoverboard that won't hover? To answer that question, I strapped on a set of light-up Marty McFly Air Mag shoes and took the hoverboard out in public, carrying it around like an oversized purse, as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be doing.

I asked a group of kids if they knew what I was carrying. I was met with blank stares and headshakes, except for one girl who asked, "Is that a flying board?" Thumbs-up, my geeky young friend.

I got a mix of responses from adults, some of whom recognized the prop. The question I was always asked was, "Does it work?" A bit of the glimmer went out of their eyes when I told them it didn't, but the amount of hope packed into that little question was inspiring. We all want real hoverboards.

The hoverboard will appeal to anyone with a nearly complete Marty McFly costume who wants to take the whole ensemble over the top, but I'm still left wondering what on earth I should do with this thing. A science fiction writer I know suggested sticking it on the wall for decoration. Someone else thought the hoverdisks looked like the speakers of an old-school boom box.

In a brief moment of mad ingenuity, I realized the hoverboard would make for a spectacular serving platter, the centerpiece of any geeky party. Who needs to eat sushi off a naked person when you have a hoverboard instead?

"Back to the Future Part II" imagined a pretty spectacular future world. Now that we've reached our timely destination, we're still short a few items, most notably time-traveling DeLoreans. It may have taken awhile for a truly worthy hoverboard prop replica, but at least it arrived in time to celebrate the movie's vision for 2015.

Sushi on a hoverboard
This may be the greatest plate ever created. Amanda Kooser/CNET