Remembering the Back to the Future Fan Club

Time Travel

It’s Back to the Future Part III’s 20th anniversary this week.  Let’s take a look back at the Back to the Future Fan Club and the Fan Club Magazine that also debuted in 1990.

Here is a very cool looking 1990 ad for the Back to the Future Fan club.  You could find this ad in magazines and comics in late 1989 and early 1990.

BTTF Fan Club ad

It entices you to join up with the promise of a “beautiful” membership kit which includes an 8×10 photo (of what?), a logo patch, stickers, pencils and a membership card. You also get a 1 year subscription to the quarterly fan club magazine, which was cool, except the magazine itself only lasted one year.  You also get a forwarding service for fan mail to cast and crew of the movie, which was actually pretty cool because more often than not that could result in autographs.  I obtained a lot of Star Wars autographs through mail by writing letters to actors (pre-Sept 11, though).

Like I said, the actual Fan Club magazine only lasted a year, and since it was quarterly that meant only four issues.  Let’s take a look at those issues.

BTTF Fan Club mag 1

Here’s issue #1 of the fan club magazine. It was released in Winter 1989, very soon after Back to the Future Part II was released. Needless to say, there were lots of news and reviews of Part II as well as upcoming rumors on the impending May 1990 release of Part III.  Also included is a nice interview with screenwriter Bob Gale and Neil Canton.

BTTF fan club mag 2

Here is issue #2 of the fan club magazine. It was released in Spring 1990 right before the release of Part III. It’s loaded with news about the impending release of Part III as well as an entertaining interview with Thomas F Wilson.

BTTF fan club mag 3

This is issue #3 of the fan club magazine. It was released Summer 1990 right after the release of Part III. It contains a big interview with Christopher Lloyd as well as a FAQ type interview with Bob Gale and Bob Zemekis about all three movies. Readers sent in questions they had about the movies and what happened and the two Bobs try to answer their questions. Someone even asked about the hoverboard rumor, ie that Mattel was going to release the hoverboards back in the ’80s but parents groups blocked the release. The Bobs confirm the whole thing was made up. The hoverboards never existed.

BTTF fan club mag 4

This is the fourth and final issue released in Fall 1990. Huge interview with Michael J Fox as well as Lea Thompson.  The cover even mentions the fact that it’s the last issue.

The magazines had a lot of cool photos, stories and interviews.  Like many of the “fan club” type magazines of today, it also contained a few pages of merchandise you could order.  Let’s take a look at some of that product.

Here’s page 1 of the Back to the Future Fan Club merchandise catalog (click the image to see it bigger on Flickr).

BTTF Merchandise pg 1

Nice collection of swag they got here.  Cool Back to the Future Part II posters (advance movie posters as well as the “Cars of Back to the Future”).  I also even like the Back to the Future watches.  The group of stuff in the lower center picture are the things you’d get in your membership packet, the pencils, stickers and patch.

Here’s page 2 of the product catalog.


BTTF Merchandise pg 2

Hmmmm, not so sure about the satin jackets.  Or the rainbow glasses.  It looks like that kid in the lower left is going to a NASCAR race.  And is that a guy in the lower right?  I do like the iron on transfers in the upper right.  I would have liked any of those to put on my shirt.

So that’s some of the cool stuff you got with the Back to the Future Fan Club.  Like I said, it only lasted a year, so four issues of the magazine and I’m not sure how long you could order the merchandise.  Honestly, I’m surprised they didn’t offer The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy documentary on VHS for order in this product catalog.  It came out around the same time.

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13 Responses to “Remembering the Back to the Future Fan Club”

  1. You know, a little “Out of Time” License plate key chain would have been pretty neat, though I’d take a little DeLorean anyday. I wonder if the Batman flick had a similar fan club, or at least utilized a similar merch outlet. I seem to remember having a similar set of posters, only Batman themed…

  2. Yeah, I bet they did use a similar vendor that produced similar “themed” objects that were generic enough to be used by anyone.

  3. Ah, Back to the Future: greatest sci-fi movie of all time, or greatest… est sci-fi movie of all time? Either way, it’s got to be my favorite.

    And I don’t compare the movies; they’re all a part of a greater whole to me, and one without the others feels nearly inconsequential.

    Never saw an ad for the fan club that I can recall, though, which is odd: I was reading comics at the time, though they were Marvel’s Transformers and Archie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (which was far cooler than it may sound). I would definitely have liked to have joined it, and get the magazines and stuff; the keychains and watches look particularly cool.

    My BttF swag was pretty limited, though. I remember getting a set of shades from Pizza Hut for the second movie (only one pair, sadly), some of the trading cards (I seem to recall some of the futuristic vehicles, with the card even boasting that they were actually going to be in production. At least, that’s how my mind interpreted it).

    I also had the BttF part II novel adaptation thanks to some book club from school, and I absolutely LOVED reading it. I wish I’d been able to get the first, but at least I was able to check out the third from the school library. I really would like to have the complete set, though.

    Oh, and not sure if it counts, but I got the Happy Meal toys based on the cartoon, too. Einstein and the time-train, Marty and the hoverboard, and Verne’s contraption were just bonuses; the main one I wanted (and got) was, of course, Doc and his DeLorean (with sparks!).

    I didn’t even realize it was the 20th anniversary of the third movie… pretty cool, and I thank you for the reminder.

    –LBD “Nytetrayn”

  4. Yeah, I was able to get all 3 novelizations. I too started with Part II, but I never found Part I or Part III in stores. I found both of them years later at a “garage sale store”. And there are alternate covers for all three books.

    You can see them in my Back to the Future set on Flickr.

    • I’ve got the white cover for mine… is the blue one more common?

      And lucky I checked the post, I didn’t know you’d replied; nothing showed in my Inbox.

      • I’m not sure which cover is more common.

        For Part II, I only ever saw the blue cover on shelves. And I have only ever seen the white cover once or twice since then when I look in used book stores and garage sale stores.

        For Part I, I would imagine the movie poster cover would be more common. The cover I have may have been a later printing. I can’t tell from the title page of my book.

        Part III, I’m not sure which color stripe is more common. I’ve seen both, but I think the Part III book is not as common as the other two as a whole.

  5. I felled in love with Back to the Future the first time i saw it, it had all the makings of a good time machine movie and what made me like it so much was because it went back in time the same year i was born they went back to NOV 5, 1955 i was born DEC 10, 1955 how about that, and i always love the cars of the 50’s i plan on buying a 55 ford, great movie, i like part II and part III also.

  6. FRIDAY NIGHTS at ImprovBoston
    Come see…

    “1.21 Jigawatts”
    A live, improvised parody/tribute dedicated to the classic film “Back to the Future”

    September 2, 16, 23, 30 @ 8.00pm
    October 7, 14 @ 8.00pm

    Purchase Tickets at http://www.improvboston.com

  7. Gabriel Russo Says:

    Hello, My name is Gabriel Russo and I have designed a LEGO version
    of the Back to the Future III train to participate in the LEGO CUUSOO project.
    It is a beautiful MOC to commemorate one the most iconic movies of the 20Th century
    and an eye-candy for LEGO Train fans. – http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/13443
    Should my design receive 10.000 supporter it would be considered by LEGO(R) to
    be make into a real product. It is doing well and since I posted it I have received excellent
    feedback and close to 300 votes.
    Would you be interested in helping me promote this model in your webpage?

    Please let me know, my email is GRussoDiaz@gmail.com

    Thank you very much.

  8. Great Lobe bttf amazing films. U know they should have kept going they are great things fan clubs

  9. I have a copy of the fourth and final (fall 1990) issue of this magazine, in pristine condition, kept in plastic since I bought it back in 1998. How much do you think it’s worth now?

  10. Shongedzai Says:

    So, I randomly went to this place called the PIT and they put on this musical, and I was skeptical but it is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen! I posted the link at the bottom!

    http://thepit-nyc.com/event/that-80s-time-travel-movie-the-unauthorized-musical-parody/

  11. Dick Vaughn Says:

    Dear bob gale i loved Back to the future you did a good job
    on the movie series your fan Joseph Vaughn

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