#657: what's so strange about me?

Chances are if you skated in the 1980's, you had this guy's board... And if you didn't, at least two of your friends did.

Rob Roskopp was something else. From his cartoonish surfer dude looks (though he was from Ohio) to his crazy hang-ten nose mannys and lauching over cars, you either loved the guy or hated him. But he was everywhere. And his bull's eye graphic series easily rivals any VCJ-fueled Powell skullfest as the most iconic of the decade. In fact, Rob's boards were so popular that they've gone onto overshadow his actual skating. Only in the 80's.

But by decade's close when Rob was finished cashing all those checks (at least temporarily), he caused quite the uproar in the industry by leaving skateboarding entirely to start biking. What is essentially a non-issue these days, Rob's forray into the world of two wheels was viewed as nothing short of treason and his name would be shunned amidst enraged cries of "kook!" forevermore. Too funny.


bugs said...

great choice. old Santa Cruz ads rule.

r. dahl said...

huge guy. always rad to watch larger than average humans skate. wielding that much mass has to be tough. and yeah, somehow through some sketchy trade somewhere out of desperation for a newer board i ended up with a snub nose street model. fuckn couldn't escape it. how many dudes had that arm through the wall drawn on their trapper keeper's back in the day?

iSapien1956672 said...

awesome... love the old "cut out" ads like the one of him smithing...

G. said...

my first deck !!!! buyed for the graphic only (you know how it works)..
1988 - 2011 and still skate ... so thanks Rob

Anonymous said...

Also my first boarrd. All in neon colors with the rough as hell clear grip! Can't forget the slimeballs. The bio from Ohio!

The Chez said...

Did he do the drawings for the graphics? I noticed "Roskopp designs by Santa Cruz" in one of those ads.
I never really saw the guy skate so didn't even have a clue back then he was a skater. For all I knew he was a graphic designer.
That bbq set pretty much rules.
That's so funny he was shunned because he started a successful bike company. God forbid you move on to other interest sometimes!

Nate said...

@ The Chez, Jim Phillips did the graphics for the Roskopp boards (as well as most of SC's graphics - a job his son, Jimbo Phillips now assaults). The "Rob Roskopp Designs" was a sub brand developed due to the overwhelming success of the Roskopp series of boards/graphics. It didn't last as a brand, but no doubt did generate some ducats for both Rob and NHS Inc.

Keith said...


Crazy post.

It was so different in the 80's. Kids only got to see photos in monthly mags and the rare skate video that popped up at the local shop. No internet or youtube. It seemed like a board graphics life cycle was a lot longer and was a huge selling point. You didn't even have to be amazing to sell boards. Just have a sick shape and graphic. So many Roskopp boards around town.

I don't remember any footage of him except for some speed freaks stuff with him doing manuals to pivot to fakie on a small bowl.

The bike shun really is silly. Heath bikes across the country and everyone rides his nuts. All those former pros into fix gears now...

Lucas said...

Roskopp's eye graphic was the first board I noticed when I started buying skate magazines. I wanted it desperately but never got it. Some kid who lived down the street from me got one, though--complete with Slime Balls, Cellblocks, clear grip and, for whatever reason, Gullwings. I think it found a home in his garage shortly thereafter.

Loo Ganida said...

Wheels of Fire was the first skate video that I saw. I rented it, for a birthday party. We shit our minds! we though Roskopp blasted that car off flat at first(I was 12).
It is crazy though, how little skate coverage there was back then. I skated for 4 years before I saw my first video!
I have never seen that instructional video with Natas and Rob, cool!
Thanks again!

The Chez said...

Ahh, thanks Nate. I know Phillips did most the graphics for NHS back then but I was confused by the Roskopp designs tag.

I remember having the street model, hence why I want the bbq set!

chops said...

thanks guys. really wasn't sure how this one was going to go over.

And I too was on board with rob, inheriting an friend's old Roskopp 5 with clear grip tape, red trackers and slimeball vomits back in the day.

And let me take this time to whole-heartedly recommend "The Skateboard Art of Jim Phillips". All the boogerific/vomitastic Santa Cruz and Speed Wheels ads, graphics, etc. all in one place. Super good.

Thanks guys.

stephen said...

awesome post!!! love the 80's era and yup... i had a roskopp 2 once. i still vaguely remember picking it out with my mom. it was blue with orange oj's and tracker sixtracs... surprised no one tried to talk me into indys back then at the shop. definitely picked out for the graphics/popularity of it more than anything hahaha ...not that rob didn't rip though.

Anonymous said...

Hyped on The Barn!

Streetface was my first pro board.

ODG said...

Fucking love those old Santa Cruz graphics. Powell/Peralta too. Interesting to see what will happen with Stacy and VCJ coming back..

mikebythesun said...

Wow, so much to say here. Where to begin?

First off, Chops, thanks for posting this. Though Rob wasn't the best vert skater of that era, he was an icon and did what he did with style. There are several recent interviews with him on-line (including at least one really good youtube vid interview) and I have nothing but respect for him. These days he's a stand-up family man who devotes himself to his work and still loves what skateboarding gave him. Much respect.

Next, let me agree with some of you that Rob deserves at least a base level of respect just by the fact that his graphics were amazing. That series is perhaps the best skate graphic series of all time, executed by the one and only Jim Phillips. In addition to plugging the amazing book on Phillips' art, let me further endorse by mentioning that I have two Phillips' skate graphics tattooed on my body with my kids' names - the Natas panther mini and Salba tiger. (Yeah, I figured that being I never went pro the least I could do is give my kids a classic skate graphic with their name on it.) I have some space on my leg for the Roskopp 1 design should baby number three come along.

Lastly, funny story here about my Roskopp board. I think I was 12 or 13 and I had my second board. It was a board from K-Mart called the "Snake Board", and it was an embarrassment. Damn thing felt like it was made out of balsa wood, and it probably was, but it was the best I could get out of my dad who would never consider spending more than $40 on a complete setup. Anyhow, there's this kid at my church who as a Roskopp II. White with Thunders and Kryptonics with a tailbone. No rails, which was weird because most pro were still riding rails at that time. Anyhow, the kid is a few years younger than me and not really into skating like I am so I ask him if we can "borrow" each others' boards for a while. He doesn't know any better and agrees, and I'm stoked because I'm finally going to get to skate a "real" board for a while. So he gets my purple "snake board" and I get the Roskopp. First thing I do is take off the tailbone, revealing the great "SC: Santa Cruz Pro Series 86" print on the tail. The next thing I do is to actually skate the thing. I'm having a great time and, with a real board under my feet, really learning to skate well. The only problem is that, after two months, needless to say, the board did not look like it did when we first traded. And he wants the board back. So I put the tail bone back on and hope that he won't notice that most of the graphics are scratched off and the tail has been worn down to a 30 degree angle, making the tailbone edge visible from the top of the board. I remember meeting his dad in the parking lot at church and nervously giving him the board. I remember noticing him looking at the board like, "what the HELL happened to this thing". The next week at church I see the kid and I'm expecting to get back my shitty snake board. He doesn't have it. "I trashed it", he said. "Like you trashed my board". Wow, really? The kid was so pissed off he couldn't even look at me. I remember seeing his parents and not being able to look at them. Oh well. Truth is that I felt more embarrassed than bad because after all - the board HAD to be skated guys, right? I mean, you don't let a practically brand new Roskopp II in 1987 sit in the garage of some 10 year old who doesn't know what he has, right? That would be a sin (no pun intended). Besides, I soon scored a used Powell Per Welinder street model from a friend so I was all set. Then again, the Welinder had boneite, so I guess I got mine in the end.

Oh, yeah, I saw the kid about five years ago. We're in our mid-thirties now and I could sense that he was STILL pissed about it. Hahaha. Life is funny.

Thanks, Chops, for the trip down Memory Lane.

Anonymous said...

Great to see a full grown man ride a board. That's close to impossible in today's technical era.

Anonymous said...

never rode the roskopps.

i did love those "series" style graphics, though. like the lucero in the cell... good stuff.

anyhoo, i always thought of rob as an also-ran, but as i grew older and tried to do some of the vert stuff he did, i recognized talent.

there has to be a coupla million of us kids born in the early 70's who had no access to vert ramps at all... who thought if given half a chance we'd be 10 times as good as roskopp or losi or ken park or jinx or... any number of these guys who RIPPED, but couldn't beat hosoi or hawk in a major NSA.

i seriously imagined that i was better than a ton of pros until i actually looked down from the deck while prepping to drop in on vert for my first time. instant respect to anyone who had their name on a bottom of a board.