The recent release of Toy Machine’s latest video, Programming Injection (released in parts on Thrasher, as is tradition), has reignited our appreciation for the company. Plenty has been written before about the prior era of the company (Welcome to Hell, Jump off a Building etc) but not much has been about how Toy has maintained it’s momentum and relevance throughout this more recent period. What follows is a look at the last fifteen years of Toy Machine, through our rose-tinted lens.
Good and Evil
I imagine many skaters in the UK were first introduced to the Good and Evil video when it came attached to the cover of Sidewalk Magazine. With it’s classic soundtrack including Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, Patti Smith and… Franz Ferdinand, the video established a great level of re-watchability. The pre-intro Ed Templeton part sets the tone for the video, then we go straight into the epic intro section set to Dinosaur Jr’s Kracked… The personal highlight of the video for me is Johnny Layton’s introductory (!) section set to Patti Smith’s Free Money, closely followed by Diego Bucchieri’s all-out assault for the closing section.
Further Full Lengths
Suffer the Joy came two years later in 2006, featuring the same team and an incredible, and still talked about, breakout section from Nick Trapasso, followed by Brainwash, four years later with a couple more additions to the squad in Collin Provost, Daniel Lutheran, Jordan Taylor and Leo Romero. These new riders all have full parts, with the older members of the team being part of an extended montage (Apart from Matt Bennett who has a short but really cool handrail-based section later in the video).
The Importance of Collin Provost
The addition of Collin Provost to the team was an interesting one, as one of the first skaters fully competent in transition skating added to the team - competent as being able to skate all types of transition compared to say the more miniramp / diy leanings of Donny Barley, Chris Senn or Bam Margera from prior incarnations.
Even though his Brainwash part was entirely filmed in the street, his transition skills showed through in his spot selection, with plenty of banks / street tranny in amongst various more mainstream spots. Collin would be the only all-terrain skater on the team until the introduction of CJ Collins a few years later…
Toy’s current video and inspiration for this article, this team includes heavy hitters Leo Romero, Blake Carpenter and Jeremy Leabres, all who have great sections in the video.
The (too) short team montage echoes the feeling of Good and Evil, with most of the team from that period getting involved in this one - Matt Bennett in particular has a great couple of minutes of footage.
Collin Provost bags the last part in the video, with a hefty seven-minute, three-song part, which somehow reminded me of Heath Kirchart’s closing section in Alien’s Mind Field…
If you compare Collin’s Programming Injection part with his Brainwash one, you’ll see that same classically trained style, trick and spot choice, but taken even further with the addition of ever more ridiculous spots, be they a couple of incredibly gnarly ditch spots, bank-to-walls or even more outlandish / undefinable spots. Sporting various Toy tricks throughout; impossibles over fences and as the culmination of bowl(!) lines, nosebluntslides, or various Barley grinds on differing terrain.
One of the better introductory parts in recent years, but one that seems to have been a littler overlooked compared to some of the other parts released from the video, or even other recent introductory parts! (Watch Eddie Cernicky’s Welcome to Krooked part here)
Wallie-ing his way straight out of Baltimore and shooting a couple of notable photos including the switch wallie / wallride on the thumbnail below and getting a Thrasher cover shortly after getting on, Myles made an instant impression even before the release of this part featuring the footage of those tricks. Covering all personal taste bases with mastery of various disciplines including deep switch skills (Nollie fs flip, switch backlip shove line at 0:29, switch back tails and switch front feebles) and wallies (The polejam section at 1:07 and plenty more…) There’s even evidence of transition skills in the accompanying Thrasher interview…
A probable highlight on rewatching is an explosive Nollie FS Heel over a handrail into a crusty bank - this clip exemplifies the part somewhat, especially the type of under the radar spot Myles seems to prefer.
Blueprint of a Toy Machine rider.
Rewatching these videos got me thinking about all the different types of skateboarder that have been a part of Toy Machine over the years, from Satva Leung and Josh Kalis, to Cj Collins and Myles Willard. A unique style seems to be one of the main through lines between every skater. Donny Barley, Chris Senn, Bam Margera, Billy Marks, Josh Harmony, Austin Stephens, Collin Provost… Not all of them quantify-ably good, but definitely all unique!
Certain tricks seem to run throughout the ages of Toy Machine; front blunts, feebles both ways, nosebluntslides, impossibles - all of which can of course be attributed back to Ed himself…
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