The burnt orange vest is lined within. Notice also, that
despite the scale of the jacket, the collar is round and
follows the contour of his neck without buckling. The
button snaps are fabricated from metal, and the vest as a
whole is actually stuffed with cotton batting to give some
body. The denim jacket, with its brass buttons, is
constructed from panels of blue and gray stitched
together, even at the mitre-joints on the sleeve: it is not a
blue panel affixed on top of the gray sleeve, but rather, the
pieces of fabric are stitch-joined as they would have been
on the life-size jacket. I had not known that this was even
possible at this small a scale! I waited months alone for
the execution of this jacket, but it was worth it!
The outfit, painstakingly patterned out over the
course of a year, is complete. From the
"hey-kid-what's-with-the-life-preserver?" vest, to
the gray and blue denim jacket, to the grid shirt
and suspenders, the maroon t-shirt, jeans, all the
way down to the signature red-swoosh Nikes. As
you scroll down, you'll even see the infamous
Klein jockey briefs that Marty wore in the film. No
detail was left out, and further, no shortcuts were
taken in developing these articles, as you'll see.
Included with this jacket
is the "Art in Revolution"
button Marty wore.
The great thing about this movie is how intricately the story is
woven, and how well-textured the film is with all this great
detail. The above scene, for example, when Marty's digital
watch sounds in the phone booth of Lou's Cafe back in the
1950s has little impact on the narrative (except maybe to
underscore the theme of "time"), but it's a memorable one.
And it's what helps you remember, when you're doing a figure
of Marty, to include a digital/calculator watch. So as you can
see in many of the pictures, I included this as well!
In the photo to the left (our reference
photo for the fabric used to line the cuffs
of the full-size jacket) we realized it was
a tight paisley-ish pattern. This too, with
a great deal of time and effort, was
replicated in sixth scale expressly for
this project. Also, I should mention the
two front pockets of the jacket are real
working pockets. They had to be. For
his Aiwa walkman, of course! If I recall
correctly, the hunting for the right fabrics
and denims alone took six months of
searching (real denim is just too thick
for this scale.) The fabric used for this
end result was selected for the way it
drapes and buckles convincingly.
Many of the pieces you see in the photographs are
not of course the first execution of each piece.
There was much trial and error. I visited the home
of my collaborator to see how she was coming
along, and found several versions of each garment,
each with imperfections, but each represented a
necessary stepping stone in the development of
each article of clothing. It's hard to believe, but I've
found someone as much a perfectionist as I am!
It would be a crime not to include Marty's mode
of transportation. A little research on the internet
(God bless the internet, by the way) reveals that
his skate board in the film wasn't a particularly
fancy one. It was a Valterra Splatter Madrid
board that was commonly sold in Toys 'R Us
stores. I found a graphic on the internet and
Photoshopped up a sixth scale version for ol'
Marty. The wheels and trucks for the board were
taken from an unusual candy dispenser my
friend found for me and the board itself is crafted
from real wood.
The pockets on these
jeans, just like their real-life
counterparts, are fully lined
with a white lining fabric.
The front is closed with an
invisible snap under the
false button. Further, I
added a bit of padding to
the Dragon body's legs as
the profile for these legs
was a bit too thin. Michael
J. Fox isn't tall, so it's better
that the jeans appear tight.
In the pictures to the right, you can see that
two belt loops are on the back of his jeans in
the middle, not one. Also painstakingly and
accurately replicated are the angles of the
seams and pockets in the back.
"That's your name, isn't it? Calvin... Calvin Klein? It's written all
over your underwear!" We got so far into the re-designing of
Marty's outfit in one-sixth scale that there was no turning back.
And no stopping short. If you've seen the movie then you know
how important his purple underwear is in the film. It's the reason
his mother calls him Calvin throughout! So of course it had to be
done! Now, deciding to do it, and then doing it, are two entirely
different things. It wasn't easy. Working with a stretchable fabric
and elastic at this scale, and trying to make it read "Calvin Klein"
legibly on an elastic band less than a quarter of an inch wide is
quite the challenge. But it is the overcoming of these challenges,
the solving of these problems as they crop up, that really
deepens the satisfaction when a figure is completed beautifully.
So while my partner worked on all the
clothing, I worked on the head, the shoes and
all the wonderful little props you see in the
photo above. The enchantment under the sea
dance poster is faithfully recreated in sixth
scale as well as the Goldie Wilson posters
which were plastered onto a white van at the
beginning of the film. In the strings at the head
of the guitar is tucked a photo Marty had in
which his brother's head, then his sister, and
finally himself disappeared. Marty borrows
this guitar from Marvin Berry (Chuck Berry's
cousin) so he could realize his dream of
playing in front of an audience (this film had
pay-offs everywhere!). The picture to the left
shows the photo tucked into the strings. And
yes, that is a photo of a 1:6 scale guitar head
and not a full-size one!
Another minor glitch was that the letters used to warn Doc are not identical. The screen captures to
the left and below show that the line spacing is different. One letter ends with "disaster", the other
with "terrible disaster" on the same line. Again, probably no one noticed this (or cares), but when
you're recreating these things in sixth scale, you can't help but notice. Still, the point is, I recreated the
letters, mistakes and all, for total accuracy in their smaller counterparts (above). If you look at the
shape of the word "not" on the envelope, for example, you'll see how closely I duplicated them on the
tiny prop versions. Accuracy is everything! You can also see that in the two letters (which of course
are supposed to be the same letter) the way the "M" is written in Marty's signature is radically different.
You don't want to know how many times I had
to freeze frame, rewind and repeat to be able to
draw out Doc Brown's flux capacitor drawing so
that I could reproduce it in one-sixth scale...
Trust me. You don't want to know.
I also tracked down some reference visuals for the covers of the two publications seen
in the film. Although the above picture doesn't show it, the Fantastic Story magazine
also has a spine with the title and price on it.
Also, the Tales from Space comic book comes complete with its back cover faithfully
reproduced as well. I also inserted pages into the binding of both of these props to
give them some thickness for greater accuracy.
So that's it. Probably the most fun I've had putting a figure together. Not only is Marty
McFly a great character from a really lovable movie, but I had a wonderful time
collaborating with a true genius at the height of her skills and talents. I am definitely
hoping to collaborate with her on future projects as well.
Michael J. Fox as "Marty McFly" in
BACK TO THE FUTURE, 1985
Okay, here it is, ladies and gentlemen...
Welcome to the next level! There is a
reason why customizing action figures has
held my interest for as long as it has: it is a
continually evolving art form. Regardless of
how much praise one receives, it would be
a mistake to rest on one's laurels. It's only
a matter of time before the works of other
customizers (who may have been inspired
by your works initially even) surpasses and
eclipses your own.
It's quite thrilling, even then, to
see the work, and it's certainly
great for the art of customizing
But that's when the desire to push the envelope is at its
strongest. I realized it was time to make the most detailed,
most exquisite figure I will have ever done. I wanted him to be
fully dressed in a completely film-accurate wardrobe, and I
wanted him to be equipped with as many interesting
accessories from the film as possible. After much thought, I
decided to do Marty McFly from Back to the Future. It's hard to
think of a film that would conjure up as much fun (and as
many worthwhile props) as this one...
And so, to make sure the outfit would be of the absolute highest
quality, I solicited the talents of a 25-year veteran designer of 1:6
scale (playscale) fashions. Having been invited to view her
portfolio as well as her personal collection at her home, I
realized she is quite possibly the world's most skilled and
talented designer at this scale! But, that's enough hype from
me. The many
pictures on this web
page certainly speak
for themselves. It's
hard to imagine a
better execution of
In these photos, one can see
how expertly the blue triangle
panels are joined to the gray
on the sleeves. Also, exactly
like the full scale jacket, there
are expansion pleats where
the sleeves meet the back of
the jacket. We had to pause
the DVD countless times to
make sure the pleats were
The cinching at the bottom
is really the icing on the
Another prop that was featured prominently
was Marty's Aiwa walkman, which he used
in the past to convince his father George to
take his mother Lorraine to the
Enchantment Under the Sea dance. The
music was that of Edward Van Halen, and I
made sure this was clearly visible on the
the one-sixth scale mock-up of it I made.
The wires used were coated copper at 26
gauge to achieve the properly scaled look
of real headphone wires.
The headphones were crafted from piano
wire and polymer clay. The piano wire was
the best choice because as a steel wire, it
would retain it's shape best and still offer a
bit of tension, like a real headphone's
metal band would.
The grid shirt that Marty wears proved to be
especially difficult to recreate. Try finding
that pattern of fabric (or it's one-sixth scale
counterpart) anywhere... In the end, one
day, a friend spotted a gentleman at a
restaurant wearing a shirt whose pattern
looked like Marty's at one-sixth scale. A
quick trip to the nearby Macy's to pick up a
similar shirt later and we were soon on our
way to having what we wanted.
Although they're hard to make out (and they're
supposed to be as they were on the real shirt),
there are buttons on the grid shirt. I made them
from a slightly translucent plastic and
fabric-tacked them in place. If you look closely,
you'll also notice that the grid on the shirt is lined
up perfectly everywhere: perfectly straight down
the front, and properly aligned at, and on, the collar.
The suspenders are crafted from 1/8th inch black
elastic, which as you can see in the photos,
doubles perfectly for the suspenders at 1/6 scale. I
fabricated some metal clasps from aluminum and
attached them to each end (two in the front and two
in the back). Also, I added some metal brackets on
the front of each side.
The handmade jeans also are a true work of art. If
you examine them carefully, they are even more
detailed than the best Dragon jeans out there. As
you can see in the reference pictures, the number
of belt loops is duplicated precisely (with two in the
middle of the back instead of the customary one).
Also, a brass button was added as the main
button, as well as tinier metal rivets to the edges of
The Nikes are featured more
prominently in the sequel
("nee-kays"? What is that,
some kinda Injun talk?") but
he definitely had them on in
the first movie. I actually
created these shoes using
the same techniques I used
for Gladiator's boots. In fact I
did these first, but ended
finishing Gladiator (ver. 2)
first because of this figure's
endless clothes and props!
The headsculpt, by the way, is the third
one I'd done of Marty. The first looked
too mean, and the second too goofy.
This one has a nice understated
expression to it that I like.
Jennifer writes down her phone number and a message for Marty on the back of a
blue Save the Clock Tower flier. If you pause the DVD, you'll see that the number
was already written on the back as the woman first hands them the flier. Ooops. I
replicated this prop as accurately as I could, all the way down to Jennifer's
handwriting style. That flier was blue, but there were white ones used as well.
Accessories for this figure then include:
- maroon t-shirt
- purple Calvin Klein underwear
- hyper-detailed jeans, featuring lined pockets and metal buttons, snaps and rivets
- accurately-scaled "grid" button-down shirt, with buttons
- grey and blue denim jacket with working front pockets, and back pleats;
featuring accurately patterned cuff linings, and brass button trim
- black suspenders with aluminum hardware
- infamous burnt orange "life-jacket" vest, padded, with aluminum buttons
- custom head-sculpt
- DML body
- DML relaxed hands
- digital calculator watch
- 1984 Nike red swoosh sneakers with real laces, weathered
- Valterra Madrid "Splatter" skateboard with working wheels, trucks
- replica Aiwa Walkman and headphones, showcasing "Van Halen" tape
- re-elect Mayor Goldie Wilson poster
- faithfully reproduced "Enchantment Under the Sea" poster
- 1:6 scale guitar
- wallet-sized photo of Marty, his sister, and his brother (with head cut off!)
- guitar stand
- blue "Save the Clock Tower" flier with Jennifer's message and phone number on back
- white "Save the Clock Tower" flier
- Doc Brown's flux capacitor drawing
- "Tales from Space" comic book, complete with back cover and pages for thickness
- "Fantastic Stories" magazine, with spine and pages for thickness
- Marty's warning letter, pristine, on Lou's Cafe stationery
- Marty's warning letter, old and battered, on Lou's Cafe stationery
- envelope for warning letter, Lou's Cafe stationery
- black figure stand (Kaiser, model #2175)
- certificate of authenticity