Tag Archives: bmx

Thrashin’ and Trashin’

In 1988 I was a number of things, a comic book fan, a budding artist, a metalhead (more specifically a Metalikat), a lover of cartoons, a Garbage Pail Kid collector, but more importantly, I was a skateboarding poser. As much as I loved the culture, brands, imagery and artistry of skateboarding, I was super timid and afraid of getting hurt, and thus I spent a couple of years steeped in the sport, standing on a board very comfortably on the sidelines.  I bought issues of Thrasher magazine, I adored movies like Gleaming the Cube and Thrashin’, and I had more fingerboard key chains than fingers. That was one of the first times in my life when I desperately wanted to be a part of a clique that I absolutely knew I’d never be accepted into.  I’m not throwing blame on anyone but myself here, but being a heavy kid who was awkward at best and downright terrifyingly clumsy at worst, it felt impossible to break into the culture.  That didn’t stop me from wearing the clothes, obsessing over the movies and begging my mom for a skateboard in the months leading up to Christmas 1987.


Sadly, not my original board, but this is quickly becoming my next collecting holy grail…

I actually lucked into my first hand-me-down skateboard sometime in early 1987.  It was an Action Sports Kamikaze, a white board with a knock-off red, Hosoi rising sun graphic on the deck, red wheels, and black rails, tail and nose guards.  I have no idea how I ended up with it, whether I traded with someone to get it or if I found it in a yard sale, but I know it wasn’t purchased new by my parents.  It was beat up with gouges scraped into the art, which I artfully covered with some extra Garbage Pail Kids stickers from my collection, in particular a Greaser Greg which I thought added a nice level of badass to the deck.  I happily rode that board up and down my street doing the only “trick” I knew how to do, kickturns, which is about as basic as you can get.

Where I grew up in Florida in the mid to late 80s, the BMX, surf and skate culture was pretty hardcore.  I’m sure it was noting in comparison to southern California, but you couldn’t throw a rock in my neighborhood without hitting a homemade launch ramp in the street or a gang of kids out “shredding” the pavement.  Hell, every 7-Eleven in my area (just north of Orlando) sold bars of Sex Wax (for waxing down your surfboard) next to the candy! Everyone was decked out in Powel/Peralta, Sims, T&C, or Santa Cruz t-shits, wore Vans, Dynos, Chuck Taylors, or Airwalks (before they were co-opted by Payless Shoes of all places), and had the hairdos to go along with it ( either the ‘Tony Hawk’, semi-shaved on one side and along the back, with long bangs flipped to the other side, or the ‘Brian Kelly’, short-ish and gelled to either wave to one side or be semi spiked.)

MSDGLTH EC002    tumblr_mcuep1jhFc1qj9zl0o1_500

I had a weird mix of the Brian Kelly and the Tony Hawk cut, lived in T&C shirts and surf shorts and wore a lot of Dynos and dual color Chuck Taylors.  I used to sport a Tracker Trucks painter’s cap with the bill flipped up and the word ‘Rad’ written in sharpie across the bottom.  In the winter I wore a grey and aqua green Billabong corduroy denim jacket.  Actually, I pretty much lived in that jacket from the winter of 1987 until my sophomore year in high school, during the fall of 1992.  The only reason I finally took it off was because my friends were so sick of seeing me in it that they chided me until I go so pissed off that I literally took a pair of scissors to it during home room and cut it into small pieces so I could throw it at them like confetti in the hallway at the end of fifth period.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Mine was like this, one with aqua green sleeves and a grey torso...

Mine was like this, one with aqua green sleeves and a grey torso…

I was an all out poser.  Though I did have a love for the culture surrounding skating, I hardly participated.  I just rode my board up and down the street, and would sit on it by the curb when friends and neighborhood kids would take turns flying off the homemade plywood launch-ramps they’d build on the weekends.  What solidified it for me, in my mind, was when I started obsessing over the idea of getting a brand new deck.  The year before I got a really awesome BMX bike, a baby blue GT Performer with white grips, mags and wheels.  I loved that bike so damn much and would ride it at top speed everywhere.  When I was on that bike I felt invincible, like Bill Denbrough on Silver (his 28-inch Schwinn) in Stephen King’s IT, I could do anything on it from jumping curbs to speeding down the steepest hills at full tilt.  So in my 10 year-old brain I thought this would translate to getting a new flashy skateboard that I dreamed of having built custom from a local skate and surf shop.  Makes sense right?


Well, somehow or another I convinced my mom to drop $150 on a brand new board for me in Christmas of 1987.  By this point my parents had tired of surprising me and they usually either took me out to the store to pick out a few gifts, or like in this fateful year we made the trek out to a surf and skate shop down in Orlando.  Now, I knew about a lot of the pro skaters by this point from endlessly scanning the pages of Thrasher magazine, and when I walked into that shop I knew exactly what I wanted, a Mike McGill Powell/Peralta deck.  I mean, everyone knew that the Bones Brigade was the shit, and of all the pages I tore out of my skate magazines, the McGill handplant pictures were my favorites and the ones that ended up tacked to my bedroom walls.  So I had the opportunity to pick out all the components for my new board and I was very stoked.  The board itself was silver with the classic skull and snake design, but with a subtle purple coiled snakeskin pattern in the background…

Not my actual board, but this is exactly what it looked like…

The first thing I picked out was the grip-tape for the top of the deck.  I wanted mine to stand out, so I decided to go with a clear version.  I also got a couple of intact sheets so that I could cut it up into a sort of rough camouflage pattern, little silver-dollar-sized pieces in weird shapes that I applied myself later.  Since there was purple on the board, I decided to get a set of matching purple Tracker Trucks with a set of black risers.  I picked out a couple of black rail guards and a black tail guard to match the risers.  Then the coup de grace, a set of 4 lime green Santa Cruz Slimeball wheels…


So, I loved this deck.  Like love, loved it.  Took it everywhere with me.  I practiced handplants on the edge of my bed with it, sat on it in the living room while watching cartoons, and rode it all around three neighborhoods (the one in Florida where I grew up, then in New Hampshire for the 9 months we were there and then for a couple years in Georgia.)  I just wanted to be clear that I loved that board to death, and I was in good company too.  I mean, Axel Rose was also a fan so…


But at the end of the day I always felt like a phony.  Unlike the GT Performer, this McGill deck did nothing to bolster my skateboarding prowess.  It didn’t help my with my anxiety of breaking every part of my body on a launch ramp, help improve my balance, or assist in the weight loss I so desperately needed at the time to help with my self image issues.  This is all plainly obvious of course, and I knew it at the time in my heart, but damn if I didn’t hope that a cool pro deck would make me, well, cool.

The cherry on the top of this crap sundae is that even though I felt like such a poser on the inside I did love that board.  So, a few years later when I was living in Georgia and it was stolen out of our garage by some local doucebag, that really hurt.  Kind of like how you never mess with a man’s car (ala Pulp Fiction), you do not steal a kid’s skateboard.  I eventually manged to find out through the very active neighborhood kid grapevine that it was taken by a fifth grader who thought I looked like a jerk.  He didn’t even keep the skateboard, he instead threw it down a sewer one neighborhood over.  It was one of those kinds that didn’t have a handy manhole cover either, because I was all set to go spelunking to get that skateboard back.  It was gone, lost to the underground, and with it pretty much my entire identity of that surf/skate/BMX culture that I had wrapped myself in.  By this point my parents had given away my GT Explorer without asking me, stores had pretty much stopped carrying T&C clothing, and all I really had left (now living in Georgia, light years away from the beachy atmosphere of Florida) was that old and by this point ragged Billabong jacket.

So when my friends started giving me crap for wearing it everyday, even in the sweltering Georgia summer heat, I had had enough.  That was the day I literally cut the poser off of myself, into pieces, and threw it away.

These 1984 Donruss BMX trading cards are Rad!

There are a lot of great 80s era pop culture collectibles on display at Branded HQ; toys, books, lunchboxes, stickers, vinyl albums, animation cels, and heaps of magazines and comics. Though I love all of that stuff, when I’m feeling really nostalgic the one collectible that I find myself going back to time and again are my vintage trading cards.  If you think about it, flipping through sets of cards is a lot like getting lost while surfing the internet.  They’re like a hard-copy version of tumblr, only instead of snarky memes and gifs there are pun-laden captions and lenticular or hologram chase cards (well, at least later on the 80s and into the 90s.)  And though I spend a lot of time flipping through my stack of card binders, it’s rare that I actually share these here on the site.

Sure, I’ve been making my own digital sets of cards to share here (for movies like The Monster Squad, Adventures in Babysitting, Young Guns, Young Guns II and Rad), but I typically tend to skip scanning and sharing vintage trading card sets in lieu of concentrating on any sticker-card subsets that may have been included.  Unless a set is completely comprised of sticker cards (like all the Little Shop of Horrors, Three’s Company, Supergirl, CHiPs, and all of the Garbage Pail Kids sets), I usually held off on sharing them for some odd reason.  Well, today I thought I’d finally share a set of straight up trading cards that are pretty darn cool.  Hailing from 1984 and printed & distributed by Donruss, here is the complete set of BMX cards…

1 A

This set consists of 59 different cards (yeah, that is a weird number) that are broken up into 10 different BMX bike brands including Redline, Torker, Hutch, Murray, Schwinn, Kuwahara, Hyper, Diamond Back, Huffy, and Raleigh.

19 A

Right: Kuwahara Laser Lite from E.T.

This consists of a pretty wide swath of 80s era BMX bike brands, though noticeably absent are GT, Haro, Skyway and Mongoose. I’m actually wondering if this set involved a partnership between Donruss and the included bike companies where these cards basically were issued as collectible advertisements.  I mean, I know that yes, literally that’s how these cards function, but I’m wondering if the companies paid a set price per card to be featured? It would explain the odd number of cards and the lack of some major BMX companies being represented…


Though the cards are broken down by company within the set, each company section is divided into two categories, riders and bikes.  The cards that only feature the bikes have a list of specs and a description on the back, while the rider cards feature either company blurbs, short biographies and/or vital statistics…

6    15

Also of note, this set is almost strictly geared towards BMX racing as opposed to the freestyle movement, so there aren’t any cards featuring “tricks”, mainly just riders getting air off of track jumps (or potentially while riding in and around skate and bike parks…


I really loved that the set also included female riders…


Card #15, Christy Anderson riding for Hutch

…well, one female rider.  Still though, I’m glad they included Christy Anderson.


Clockwise from top left: R. L. Osborn, The Redline Factory Team, D. D. Leone, the Redline Pro-Styler, and the Redline Carrera II.

Going back to the idea that each one of these cards was a paid advertisement from the bike companies, again, it would explain why there were 7 cards for a larger company like the Redline team, yet only 1 for Hyper (above) and 2 for Torker (below).  I’d never even heard of those brands until I got my hands on this set of cards a few years ago…


Torker Magnum 200 & the Torker 280


Clockwise from top left: Michael Joseph Buff, Monte Gray, Tim Judge, The Hutch Pro Star Complete, & Brian Deam

It seems like most of the teams topped out at 7 cards, like Hutch,  Redline (both above), and Schwinn (below), but Team Murray potentially had a much larger budget as they feature on 11 of the cards in this set…


Clockwise from top left: Jeff Botema, Murray Factory Team, Keith Gaynor, the Team Murray 330, Jeff Ruminer


Clockwise from top left: Rusty Cable, Anthony Sewell, Mike Horton, the Team Murray X20FS III, and Scott Clark


Clockwise from top left: Sam Arellano, Stu Thomsen, the Team Murray X20r, and the Schwinn Predator P2600

Yet, there are also inconsistencies where some of the riders go unnamed on the cards as is the case for Schwinn.  All three pictures below appear to be of the same rider, but he isn’t named on the cards and his number plate on the bike is always hidden.  If these were all paid advertisements, Schwinn seemed to have wasted some real estate on these three cards…


Bikes, from left to right: Schwinn Predator P2000, Predator Team edition, and the Schwinn Sting Frameset

One of the brands that I was really happy to see in this set is Kuwahara, the company responsible for all the bikes in the film E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.  In fact the first card in this article is the Kuwahara Laser Lite, Elliots bike in the film and the card features a very familiar backdrop…


Clockwise from top left: Deric Garcia, Dick Miller, Gary Ellis (top right & bottom)


Clockwise from top left: Brent Romero, Brent Romero (again), Doug Davis, Doug Davis (again), the Diamond Back Turbo, and the Diamond Back Formula One


From left to right: Andrew Soule, Mike King, Rodney Cooper, and John Paint


Clockwise from top left: Don Johle. Raleigh Logo, George Antill, Ron House, and Sam Arellano

If you enjoyed taking a look at this set and you love 80s era BMX, then take a moment and check out the set of cards I made for the 1986 Bill Allen movie Rad as there’s a good chance you’ll dig those too!

These Should Exist: The Rad Edition

I’ve been having a ton of fun creating digital trading cards recently.  I think this project sort of falls inside the dead center of my Venn diagram that is a mix of being creative, learning to hone my Photoshop skills, and geeking out about all the 80s stuff that I love.  With that in mind I’ve had a hard time focusing on much else for the past few weeks and decided I might as well dive into creating another set of cards while I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  So over the past week I tackled another of my all time favorite films which also just happens to be criminally under-merchandused, the 1986 BMX-ploitation flick Rad!

Rad Wrapper

For anyone that’s been reading this site for any length of time or listened to the podcast I co-host, The Cult Film Club, it should be pretty clear just how much I love this flick. I must have rented this flick from the local mom & pop video store 2.6 million times as a kid and I was always bummed that it never caught on with audiences in the theater the way that it did on VHS and on cable.  Though this isn’t the sort of film that made sense to spawn a toy line, I always felt that the movie would have been perfect for adapting into one of those youth novelizations or, well, a trading card set…


Rad_1_Cru_combo     Rad_2_Cru_Cant_combo

Rad_4_Bart_Taylor_combo     Rad_5_hanging_out_Combo

It’s weird, when I tackled this set I thought it was going to be a cake walk in terms of picking what scenes and characters to include on the cards.  I mean I love the crap out of this film.  But that actually became a problem because after I started compiling a list it was quickly topping out at one hundred cards.  Creating that many cards would have taken forever and I knew that I had to draw a line at around 30 cards.


Rad_7_SgtSmith_Combo     Rad_10_DukeBest_combo

Rad_8_Wesley_combo     Rad_9_Mopheadboy_combo

Narrowing the list down was tough.  Sure, there were a bunch of cards I wanted to make that highlighted some of my favorite lines (“The only thing I’m good at is riding THIS bike!”, “Let’s Walk this sucker”, or “Gnarly!”), but when I was limiting myself to 30 these were some of the first to go.  I also wanted to include at least one card for ever major pro BMX rider featured in the film, but that would have been half the set right there.  So I ended up making sure that I at least included cards for the two main stunt doubles, Martin Aparijo and Eddie Fiola.



Rad_11_pegride_combo     Rad_15_qualifier_combo

Rad_13_wannadance_combo Rad_14_bikedance_combo

I also wanted to include cards for all the awesome bands and musicians on the soundtrack, I mean what is this movie without the sweet dulcet tones of John Farnham or Sparks?  Again, these had to go…


Rad_16_asssliding_combo     Rad_27_Timmer_combo

Rad_28_radracing_combo     Rad_29_bestbuds_combo


There was also an issue trying to source enough interesting radical facts for the card-backs.  Again, since this movie never got the DVD treatment there were never any making-of documentaries shot, no director commentaries, etc.  There were a handful of BMX magazine articles and the official/unofficial commentary track that Bill Allen, Bart Connors, Sam Bernard, Martin Aparijo, Eddie Fiola, and Jose Yanez recorded last year that were invaluable for compiling the facts that made it onto the card backs.


Rad_18_Cru_Bart_combo     Rad_19_Cru_360_flip_combo

Rad_20_Hulk_Hogan_combo     Rad_21_Bart_takesout_Rod_combo


All in all, I’m really happy with how the set turned out and I can add it to the list of digital trading cards that I can only dream about being real, sitting in binders between my Goonies and Little Shop of Horrors cards…

Rad_25_mikemiranda_combo     Rad_30_bicycleboogie_combo


Alright Dudes! Let’s walk this sucker!

This month it was my turn to pick the movie that the Cult Film Club covered and I decided it was high time that Paxton, Jaime and I dug into one of my favorite 80s flicks the 1986 BMX classic RAD!


Starring Bill Allen, Talia Shire, Lori Loughlin, Bart Connors, Jack Weston and Ray Walston, the film was directed by the legendary Hal Needham (Smokey & The Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Megaforce.) For those who haven’t seen it (correct this NOW) the movie centers on BMX junkie Cru Jones who only wants to get radical on his bike with friends Becky & Luke, challenge the local cop to races in a lumber yard, and get his morning paper route finished by 7:15am. All his mom wants is for him to go to take his SATs and get into college. But when Duke Best, head of the Mongoose bicycle company, partners with the local businesses to bring a professional BMX track called Helltrack to Cochrane, Cru sees and opportunity to do what he does best, which is riding his bike. But before he can race, Cru has to prove that he can qualify, which is easier said than done when Best, along with his stuck up hot shot riders Bart Taylor and Rod & Rex, the Reynolds Twins, keep putting up barriers he has to hurdle. Along the way he learns who his true friends are, as well as winning the heart of beautiful BMX champion Christian, but does he have enough thunder in his heart to beat Helltrack?

We talk about our favorite scenes, amazeballs dance sequences, the awesome soundtrack, and what makes this film still work after almost 30 years.  So if you’re curious to hear me and my friends talk about this awesome flick, break out a bowl of Kix and head on over to the Cult Film Club and listen to episode 16.  You can also listen to the discussion by clicking, or right clicking and saving here!

CFC FB Cover Photo

Also, I just want to remind folks again that the star of Rad, Mr. Bill Allen, has just released his memoir detailing his 30 years in Hollywood in his book My RAD Career which you can purchase directly from him in both paperback and special signed editions.  If you pick up a copy it helps both Mr. Allen and will help keep the lights on here at Branded.  Also, tell him Shawn from Branded sent ya!

Bill Allen Memoir

I wonder if Santa and Mrs. Claus ever did the bike dance from RAD when they were dating…

I know it’s a little late for Christmas missives, but I was away from Branded during the holidays and I had totally intended to share this rad 1980 advertisement for the Schwinn Phantom Scrambler…

This came out of an issue of Boy’s Life which I’ve heard tell also featured an even rad-er image of Santa on a Tron light cycle.  Now that I want to see!  Anyway, a belated Merry BMX-Mas everyone…