Ahhh, those were the days, when decks were all uniquely shaped, not a uniform popsicle cookie cutter shape in sight…
The coolest kids in school for me were the skaters, in the year above or older, one kid would always bring his board to school and sling it on his back attached somehow to his backpack (wearing black Vision Street Wear hightops with our school uniform). To me it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and I can still remember it vividly.
I can’t recall how we ever got into a conversation, but I went on to buy that deck off him, a totally thrashed H-street Tony Magnusson, and that was it, I was hooked for life (that kid and I are best of friends to this day, 22 years later).
Above is the first deck I ever bought brand new, can still remember getting the bus to Leeds with my skate buddies and my £60 christmas money to pick that years main present…..
After much deliberation I’m sure, I settled on the World Industries Mike Vallely Cliff Elephant, and remember it being a great board. Good job, as new decks were hard to come by as a kid in the late 80’s (this board being released in 1989, graphics by Wade Lageose), new ones only came around for birthdays and Christmas…
Collecting early 90’s skate memorabilia is one of my many obsessions, obtaining all the decks I had as a youth however is gonna cost, as these things don’t come cheap! (tracking an OG version of the above deck recently, auction ended at $1200, ouch…….)
Next up came the Ed Templeton New Deal ‘Woof Cat’ (1989, graphics by Ed Templeton) as it’s known, never seen one of these for sale despite daily ebay searches, know it ain’t gonna be cheap when one does finally surface as Ed is now a well respected artist and photographer.
This was his first pro model on the newly created New Deal company, for a brief period in ’90-91 New Deal were the hottest skate company around after their ground breaking video release ‘Useless wooden toys’.
Writing about the graphic in Sean Clivers excellent ‘Disposable, a history of skateboard art’, Ed’s inspiration for the graphic came from a catalogue his grandmother picked up from the Metropolitan museum of art showing a small egyptian style pin in the shape of a cat.
Around this time the New Deal team visited the UK on a brief promo tour (no Ed unfortunately…..) featuring Danny Sargeant as the only pro (too gnarly and old school for me and my friends tastes) and AM’s Armando Barajas and John Montessi, who were both incredible on the day as we skated between Leeds many spots.
Next deck another New Deal Ed Templeton (1991, graphics by Ed Templeton) with his signature style, not even sure how to describe Ed’s style, sure it references something but I ain’t enough of an artbuff to know who’s style (if any) he’s biting….
I emember this deck as being somewhat of a disappointment after my first Templeton, never really getting to grips with the shape, in particular the rounded tail which seemed way too short.
He was my favourite skater when I first picked up a skateboard in 1988 and still is today, Vista’s finest and accordian player in Flogging Molly (again), Matt Hensley.
Watching H-streets ‘Shackle me not’ video in the late 80’s changed everything for me, setting me off on a love affair with skateboarding that persists to this day.
This was one of the earliest double kicked boards, following on from the game changing World Industries Vallely barnyard model. Released in 1991 with graphics by the Italian graphic artist Francesco Albertini, it features an image of Matt in the ‘thinker’ pose, wearing his trademark look of army surplus cut off cargo trousers, t-shirt, vans chukka shoes and wallet chain (a look we all copied, shaving our heads and bleaching our hair years before every man in England did the same copying Gazza’s bleached Euro ’96 crewcut….)
Blind Jason Lee ‘Support America’, rarely seen on ebay and when they do, there’s a good chance the now star of the US sitcom ‘My name is Earl’ will swoop down and outbid anyone for rare examples of his old pro model boards (once dropping $3,000 for a rare example of his Bowie tribute deck).
This is the only deck I ever snapped clean in two, and it happened after only two weeks skating. Gutted doesn’t get close to describing how I felt, with no Birthday or Christmas around the corner to get a replacement and having to go back to a thrashed old deck with no nose or tail for months on end….
Next up a deck that really conjures up a moment in time for me, the Blind Henry Sanchez Terminator Slick deck (1992, graphics by Sean Cliver). I have picture of me riding this at a Plan B demo in Nottingham in 1992, sporting cut off 40″ waist baggy blind jeans, adidas gazelles I’d customised by colouring the stripes in red, and a Jeremy Klein dream girl t-shirt, great memories (the demo was amazing too, Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Danny Way and Colin McKay, still on top of their game almost 20 years later).
As can be seen on the picture above, early models of the deck featured an image of Arnie’s face screen printed on top of the robot, the idea being when skated the image would wear away showing the robot underneath. Due to cost and problems screening the image this idea was soon scrapped, later models (and the one I and my best friend both bought) featured just the robot. Again a very rare deck, fetching $2000+ when a good example comes up on ebay.
Of all the decks I ever bought brand new (amongst many trades, buying second hand boards) this is the only one I don’t really remember much about. It must’ve been a pretty poor day stock wise at Air skates in Leeds, the only reason I can think I bought this 101 Gabriel Rodriguez (1991, graphics by Eric Brunetti) deck must’ve been for the company, 101 being the hype company that month (my friends and I were all hype beasts before the term had been invented) as Gabriel was never a favourite skater of mine.
The Guy Mariano ‘Accidental Gun Death’ (1992, graphics by Marc McKee) board was the last deck I bought before a break from the skate world due to my developing teenage interests in beer and women… Another slick bottom deck, it’s now looked back on as one of the most controversial graphics from the World Industries camp, again a very rare deck fetching $3,000+ on ebay (why couldn’t I like boards from less popular skaters and brands, would make collecting them again a helluva lot cheaper…)
Above is my latest ride, wanted a cruiser to get to the shops on when weather permits and this is perfect, Krooked Zig Zagger with huge Krooked wheels and Independent trucks. It’s the funnest thing ever to ride, can go over any terrain with the big soft wheels, no flying off when hitting stones with this beast, rides straight over ’em no worries!