Mr Smith, blademuseum.com

“I respect the community so much.
Blading has been good to me, the people have been good to me.
I just want to give back, never forget our roots!”

In the world of agressive inline skating there’s one thing that keeps boggling the minds of many skaters,
Collectors! People spend money on stuff 30 years old that others would spend on their cars!
Now there is one such collector who has taken collecting of blading memorabelia to the highest of levels!
His name is Tom, he lives in the United Kingdom and is the creator of Blademuseum.com and the person who made that amazing RollerbladingRollerblading page come to live.

I have been talking to Tom for years and felt it was time for a real interview.
So recently we made an appointment and jumped on a call…..


A section of the display Tom has set up

My first question for you tonight would be, when did you start skating?

My first introduction to rollerblade was Christmas of 1992
A childhood friend got a pair for Christmas, I was so in awe and thought this looks incredible
My birthday was the following month in January
So bugged my Parents with: ‘Man these Rollerblades, they look great’
So I got on to mum and we went to the local Toymaster, do they still exist? god knows.

I’ve never seen one so…

I got a pair of Ozbozz street screamers,
they looked a bit like the old Rollerblade Lightnings
They had Fluorescent green wheels, liners and laces.
That was in 1993.

So, you have been skating for a while?

27 years, yeah!

So, where did you see inline skating then first, on the television or in like an interview?

It was Roller hockey! Again, My friend who had got the pair of blades, he played roller hockey.
There was a few kids playing roller hockey around that sort of time, so that was the first thing I had ever seen, that was the only use I thought Rollerblades was for really.
But shortly after that my family got satellite TV.
And the brand-new movie that was out at that point was called Airborne.

Oh, heck yeah!

So, seeing that; I saw Chris Edwards, I didn’t know it was Chris Edwards at the time obviously but you know. The stunt level at the time, jumping stairs and riding around on a ramp, I want do this!
This was probably nearly a year after I got the skates and I wasn’t that into it, I got bored with roller hockey really quickly, I put them in the cupboard.
It wasn’t until I watched airborne that I went in the cupboard, got them out and..
That was it!
I was Jumping over curbs, I was on it every single day, practicing, practicing, practicing!

That’s so cool, cause, I honestly have never seen the movie or don’t recall ever seeing it.

You’re missing out if you haven’t

I will watch it, I think from that the next question would be, who is your idol, for I have a strong idea who it may be, but….

Yeah, from the get-go obviously Chris Edwards was just, the GOD.
He was the first guy I saw you know, doing a 720 on the vert and it was just, the possibilities. When you are Ten years old it’s such a great time to be influenced by something like that.
And Arlo Eisenberg obviously, straight after that, I saw The Hoax!
And that was just,
Another game changer. It was one thing seeing Chris Edwards on a vert ramp but to then see the whole street skating culture, and that kind of edgy, kind of badass kind of feel to it made it feel like it was a legitimate sport

More so than doing it at a place where it was ‘allowed’, you would see someone doing it on the street,
With the Arlo Attitude
!

Yes exactly, he was the right person at the right time to have that kind of Rebel Attitude, you know just Angry Youth, Rollerblading. And I think being a young kid, you just wanted to be part of that!

And at that time, was there a bit of a scene where you lived?

No! God, it was literally me skating on my own for maybe Six months to a year and I then convinced a good friend of mine to get some blades and that made it a whole lot more interesting, so we started skating together
But there was only two of us for the first couple of years.
Just a case of feeding off each other, trying to push ourselves.
Then literally took maybe Two, three years before the boom hit.
That was probably 1997, 1998. When you would see Two Hundred kids at a skatepark, where you normally would see only a handfull

I never lived through that time, I was around but never saw it in the flesh.

It was weird! I think back now and it is as if it never even happened.
It’s, it’s like a dream, 200 kids at a skatepark now, you couldn’t comprehend that,
I was fortunate to be growing up during that period.

What was then, the first big Blading event you ever went out to?

The skate-brand Bauer, used to do the Bauer festival, they came to the UK, there were Five, Six stops around the country and Obviously I live in the South-West of England which is the back end of No-where really. But one of the stops was about 45 minutes from where I lived, so that was my first event.
You know, Rich T was there, the late great Richard Tailor doing demo’s and that was when you really saw what could be done.
It was one thing skating with your little crew but when you saw the pro’s in action that was incredible. I remember,…
Richard Taylor, I had like a Bauer Catalogue and he signed it for me.
He wrote; ‘To Tom, drop a Bomb – Rich T’.

And that’s still framed in your house?

Yeah, I got it. Good times!

So then, did you continue skating all that time until now or did you, after the boom had hit or after it all went down did you stop skating?

I kept going, me and a couple of friends,
When it got to about 1999, 2000 all the guys that I had been skating with locally, had stopped. A couple of us stayed with it and I have not stopped. I think the longest I haven’t skated in my entire life is about three months

Oh wow!
It’s just the mental thing it does for you, the let out.

Exactly, it’s an outlet. that’s never changed. It feels just as good doing it now at 37 years old as when I was Thirteen. I still get the same buzz from it.
Physically I wish I was 13 again, but don’t we all.

Ummm, No, not me!
I had some bad knee injury at that time, which I am still dealing with. It was worse then than it is now.

So then, you kept skating. And at a certain time, what must have happened is you saw something I don’t think I saw, I don’t think the pro-skaters saw…
You started collecting. How do you think that came about?

Yeah well, that’s interesting,
I would say as soon as somewhere around the year 2000 I started getting nostalgic for the Nineties, That quickly!
Cause obviously skating changed so much in the span of a few short years.
So I remember I had just gone to university in 2002 and I got an Ebay account. I started thinking about some of the stuff, skate wise, I had always wanted as a kid but could never afford, the wheels and the skates. I started typing in the brands and BOOM!!
I was amazed what was coming up. Really the most obscure places too, Mexico, Canada.
I was looking globally from the get go. And slowly and surely I was getting little trinkets and getting them sent to my university dorm room and before I knew it I had accumilated 50 sets of wheels, within the space of a year.
I kind of got hooked from there.

I do remember, from myself I did kind of collect stuff, but it was more for me to like use, when I found an old wheels I was like COOL, I will skate it!
Or even give it away, which is something I still do…

Obviously, I held on to a fair few bits from the mid 90’s, a lot of my old clothing and I had a couple of the old Senate wheel-boxes. I never wanted to give away those memories.

I think we all felt when we used to go to a physical skate-shop back when they were around you would look up on that top shelve and there would be the elite Roces skates like the Lowriders and the Impala’s, the stuff that you really sought after and you could never get.
You were lucky if you got one pair of skates every Two years when you were a kid and I would look at all the Tech wheels and all the packaging and I wanted it so bad back then,
but you would get one set and you would have to last that for a couple of years.
So I was like oh hell, I am going to try and get all the stuff that I sought after as a kid and its lead to what it is today!

Well, I am quite happy that you did, it’s just amazing that someone would have done it, at that time. I never really realized that that was an option.

Yes, I can’t say I know anyone else who did that and it was just that early, I am quite a nostalgic person in life, in general and it was just, as soon as I saw the change in skating I wanted to go back to my roots.

How would you describe the change in skating because I don’t think you mean that the way we skated changed, perhaps more the product or the scale changed at that time, how would you describe that?

Well I do mean the skating changed! I mean when I started it was very edgy, punk rock style and as time went on it became more hip-hop, the clothing style changed. The type of skating changed and it seemed to get away from the raw element skating had, if that makes sense. It kind of went to a place where I felt I couldn’t compete with it anymore, I felt a bit disconnected when people started to get so good, the level was so high and I just wanted to go back to the time when I was having the most fun

That does make allot of sense and I have a feeling you possibly saw how some of the skaters were trying to be skateboarding.

You could say that, and then obviously when we talk about the product it was nowhere near as cool when we got to the 2000’s. The wheels were amazingly packaged before when by then they were packed in a shrink wrap. All the creativity started to dip a little bit and it wasn’t such an exciting time to be buying product as well.

yeah, I suppose the brands just got bigger and bigger and chose the money over the creativity.
The safe route

Yeah, exactly

So then you are building this ‘thing’ and at some point it must have gotten to a point where you had to do something with it, or were other people pushing you towards doing more with the collection you had?

Yeah, You’re going to love this,
In around 2012 I was introduced to the legend that is Kazuharu Morita in Japan. And he somehow got wind that I had a collection. He messaged me on Facebook one day. He was asking if I had a specific video, it was the very early Hyper video called, oh man let me think a bit.
I can’t even remember it.

Was it like Mooseknuckle?

Oh man years before that, it was made by Groove production but before it was Videogroove. Even before David Paine was associated with Groove. It was around the same time as dare to air, you can date it from that.
So Kazu remembered that video, he hadn’t seen it since the early Nineties and he asked me if I could digitize it. I put some of it online for him, and we got chatting, I showed him my collection and he was kind of blown away at what I had.
As you know I rarely show people what I have and the room I have here dedicated to Rollerblading. It got his attention and he said: ‘ Why don’t you try and get this to the masses”
I never really thought about doing that, I was content just having it for me.
He may been out to visit Tracy white and seen what was doing with his museum, in his basement.

Yeah it’s a very different approach to a common goal!

Yes, Later Carl kindly got in touch about contributing magazine/catalogue scans to the website and I instantly took him up on the offer and has been my right hand man ever since!

*Carl Smith, not Tom’s brother is actively collecting all Rollerblading mags to scan them to preserve our history: https://www.instagram.com/rollerblading_mag_collector


I would say that between you and Tracy somewhere in the middle is probably me and most of the other collectors.

I respect what Tracy does, and with Tracy being an ex pro, he’s obviously got grounds for people to know who he is, and being in the US it’s so much easier for people to come and visit.
So my concept was I can probably do something similar to this but virtually,
Realistically nobody is going to want to come to Budleigh Salterton in Devon in the UK, to come and look at my collection.

I think you’d be surprised, but I don’t know if you want all those people?

Well, anyone is welcome, but in terms of practicality it’s not the easiest place in the country. So the idea was, if we can do this virtually to get the same experience we are probably on to something people would be interested in. And that’s how the Blademuseum-website was born.

What would you say is the best thing about you now having the website?

It gives exposure to everyone around the world!
People would not necessarily ever see all of these products and videos.
They can all have a nostalgia trip down memory lane.
I get allot of people messaging me that they are stoked now able to read their favourite issue of Daily bread or watch an early Video Groove tape and get some information they have never known before.

That’s what I always wanted to do with the Museum, I didn’t just want to, be like an instagram where you get nothing but the picture. I want it to be a history lesson. And try to get words from the old pro’s involved and try to make it as detailed as you can, so it lives on for years and years.
So history doesn’t get lost.
That’s one thing with Blading history, it’s still very unknown to a certain degree and there’s so much dis-information or even wrong information. I want to be the source where you can get the valid information from the right people
It’s all there in one place.

Yeah, I would say being interested myself in the history of how quad skating turned into inline-skating I can’t find anything.
Allot has been lost, nobody seemed interested enough or keen enough.
Or maybe, which is what I hope, the people who have pieces don’t yet realise what they have. And it will surface eventually.

It’s a shame to hear though, but it takes dedication to want to do this.

If I think back at how many hours I have looked for that one item, you or me were looking for. It’s absolutely, completely insane but that is what I like to do so….

Exactly, that’s how I feel!

I would say, that at this point you are probably the fore-most collector of skating memorabelia, especially stuff that is genuine, mint and original. I also know allot of people keep trying to get in contact with you.
What would you say is the most common question you get from people?

Is that for sale, or how much is that?
That’s all messages I get on Instagram, asking me to sell stuff.
Not so much from the blademuseum website itself but on instagram I get so many messages asking if I will sell stuff. Which, you know, I reply to most of it like; take a look at what I am doing, does it look like I want to sell?

I feel that some people feel like there is always a price and as we have seen in the last year; a couple of examples of collectors going so far with prices that I wouldn’t have been surprised if you would have said: Okay, I will take it.

I have been tempted a couple of times, I will admit!
Some of the numbers I’ve seen that are getting thrown around today blow my mind.

Yeah, you and I both know how I funded my move…..
I should get a T-shirt made: ‘ My move was funded by Cozmo wheels”

Cozmo, there is a lot to say about that brand.

Cozmo wheel lineup at Tom’s. Tom has all classic agressive Cozmo wheel commercially released

Now I know that you take donations for the museum, people can send in stuff for the museum which I absolutely love.
Now I was wondering what would you say is the percentage you get through donations and what percentage do you find yourself?

I would say, it’s probably about 50/Fifty at the moment.
If I am honest I don’t look for stuff like I used to. I am thankfully now at a place where I have Ninety percent of everything I could have ever have dreamed of owning.
When people get in touch with donations it’s been great.
Many things you wouldn’t even think off.

A great example happened last year where the editor of Inline-skater magazine got in touch with me saying that he had all the original files from the magazine, all the pictures from the magazine from ’95 to’98 and if I wanted the disks and things like that!
You would never get the chance of getting that, especially from the source like that.
he sent me the discs from the states and obviously I uploaded them to the site, you probably saw them, I did a section on them.
It’s things like that which I absolutely love, that stuff would never be seen else!
It’s so special to own that kind of history.
It’s so random from clothing to wheels, magazines, I had pairs of skates donated.
It’s been incredible with in the space of Five years.
The website has helped, Prior to that I never got that many donations
But when people see what you are trying to do, and trying to archive it really makes a difference.

I would say that the community, even though I have my issues because of who I am the community really does rally together, to try and maintain what was there and cherish it for the future.

Yeah man, I respect the community so much.
Blading has been good to me, the people have been good to me.
I just want to give back, never forget our roots!

What would you say, if possible, is the most amazing item you have ever found?
An item where you wouldn’t have believed you would have gotten it, ever?

One of the things that I do treasure the most is the Team Senate shirt that I kindly got donated by the man himself, Dave Kollash, that he wore in the Skate video Mad Beef.
Mad beef was one of my favourite videos, it came out in 1994 and Dave does the 244 rail wearing that shirt.
For me to have that shirt now hanging in a frame in the museum, signed by him
It’s just the coolest thing ever.

I agree, I also know you are One Hundred and ten percent interested in movies and film-making, I know you work allot in film,
I have a feeling that this is so special because it is something that may have influenced you to choose this path when you saw the videos then and now you can have it on your wall.
As if it’s a part of like your Star Wars.

That’s is like my past Star Wars, that’s a great analogy Harrie, I fully agree

Did you realise it was that special when you got it?

I think it was 2014 when I got it, right before the website went up.
I had spoken to Dave back and forth on Facebook and he kindly gave me a set of wheels I needed at the time, the 1995 Senate Scott Bentleys Sloth wheels.
He always said they were never for sale and I contacted him and I showed him what I had and said: “I am just missing this one set, what do you think.”
Within minutes he said he never thought he would give them up but I can see what you are doing here and I want to see you complete the line and he gave me the wheels!

That’s absolutely amazing, I must say I have chatted with him and he is an absolutely lovely guy.

Hero!
I Love Dave so much he’s a great guy, been so supportive of the project
He’s given me plenty of words!
One of the first articles on the Website was on his Special K wheels.
So, tacked down the original artwork that him and a friend drew for the wheel design
So it was incredible to share the original concept that he had done and what ended up on the final wheel.

‘The orginal concept drawing Dave Kollasch did for Senate as seen the article’

Yeah, I have seen that and it’s an amazing piece! “Read it here: http://www.theblademuseum.com/senate/senate-dk-wheels/

Now I would imagine you have stuff, like myself, that most people have never seen in real life. What would you say with all this stuff is your ultimate goal, let’s say 20,30 years down the line do you have any idea what you would want to do with it then?

Wow, that is a tough question,
The ultimate goal would be to have a proper place to display this stuff.
I don’t quite know where that would be but a physical place to be able to come and visit would be the ultimate goal.

Yeah, I get that. The problem with that is that most places where you would imagine you could put it are usually not long term
Most skateparks close after Ten years.

Just look what happened to the Eisenberg skatepark, the display that they had there which thankfully I now own some of the stuff that was on display there that had sat there for what, 20 years and you would think that was the ultimate place where some of this stuff should be displayed, I don’t think we will ever see a thing like that again.
As you said the longevity of skateparks is going to be what they are.

There’s only One or Two, there’s like G-park in Japan which has stood the test of time, and that’s only because there’s a family behind it supporting it all the way.
Besides that maybe a Woodward but even a Woodward I wouldn’t know if they will always be a skatepark…

Yeah I think you are right there.
Who knows what the future holds?

Do you still follow skating and in what way are you following it.

Oh I am, I keep up to date as much as the next guy, I really enjoy listening to all the podcasts, Jump street and Transit.
It’s really enjoyable for me especially because they have so many of the old-school guests.
That always makes it that much sweeter for me. I love what’s Jon Julio is doing with THEM.
I keep up to date with what is happening the best that I can, it’s a bit different in terms of how you get your news these days, with sites like Rollernews gone and the days of Be-mag message boards gone.
You’ve got to remember your outlets to know what’s going on but I try my best

And are you still interested in contests, to see who won what contest and which person is ” the best” or anything like that?
Do you follow, what you can see of it because most of it is hidden to many people (no livestreams or anything for many contests).


Oh yeah, I always watch the Livestream of the Fise tour, always enjoyable.
I’ve got to give a shout out to my fellow UK lad Joe Atkinson, your man!
I feel like following him I pretty much follow the cutting-edge of Rollerblading in 2020.

Even in these times he is pushing every boundary he can find!

I have just been watching him on these lock-down sessions on Tim Schmidt’s miniramp and it’s been keeping me entertained!

You and me both,
To that end, what would you say is the best thing you have seen in the last Five years?
As far as Contests, people winning and such?
The way I see it, because we look back a lot we may forget that right now there are things happening which have never happened or which are still beyond anything which we have ever dreamed on

Man, this is a tough one as well,
I guess the “What year is it?” event at Woodward, seeing some of the stuff there, is mind blowing. Eric Michael springs to mind, the stuff I’ve seen that guy do, I can’t even name some of the flips and spins what the hell he does.
It’s still getting pushed further and further then what I ever imagined it could be.
It all looks so healthy, PowWow competition I’ve just watch the edit off a few weeks ago.
It’s just incredible

I would also say that, I am not always there but it seems like Pro’s are in a way better place then they were, let’s say again, Five years ago

Oh, definitely, I think the sport is in a better place then it was Five years ago!
I don’t know about mainstream support but there’s little things that you see Rollerbladers used in adds or in a video-campaign, in movies. You feel like we are getting noticed again
I even last night some guy posted in a group that he had been messaging the X-games Facebook page and they said they wouldn’t rule out they’d bring us back one day.
The fact that they didn’t say no just blows my mind.

I don’t know if you follow the Nine-club, a skateboarding podcast.
What I have seen, it seems that some of the guys on there really dare to say that I don’t hate these guys.
Tony Hawk always been saying that but now even some other guys basically say Rollerblading is as cool as what we do! (Tony of course meant Skateboarding)

It’s hard to see what is being done and not have some respect for it
You could argue that at the first X-games in 1995 it maybe did look a bit goofy
But 25 years on, the sport was young it’s matured and people have got better.
It’s unstoppable as far as what can be done!

I have always felt like the style you can have on inline skates is so far ahead of style on a BMX or a Skateboard.

I fully agree, I always thought that watching a Skateboarder or BMX-er you can’t always tell who is who, Nine out of Ten look the same, with Rollerblading everyone looks different in terms of style of tricks.

I would assume that’s because it’s too mainstream, with Skateboarding
To be at the top of street you need to have your Tre flip on lock, you need to have a couple flips to rail.
There’s so many rules now, that the freedom we have because we are let’s say underground allow us to have on one end Joe Atkinson, on the other a guy like Montre with completely different styles.

Completely different styles, completely different personalities as well.
That’s why I felt we have lost a little bit as blading went on.
There was a lot of personality in the early days and not so much in the early to 00’s and I think it’s come back now and I think there’s more personality and I think now it may grow again and get more attention to it.

Yeah if you look at the spectrum of Pro’s right now, the ones that are now coming up
I see things I absolutely love!

What I would say was why Blading looked so interesting and went so big, and I will go back to Arlo. He brought so much more to skating then skating itself.
You had a face associated, a voice associated with Rollerblading.
That was lost for a long time.

That’s probably where youtube, Podcasts and such are helping us, there are now people who are positive, online personalities who can show the world this is what it is, this is what it means.

Someone who speaks passionate who is articulate and people want to listen to.
We got guys like Montre who is so hyped and comes across as that, that is what we need to get interested in the sport again.

Now to close off, what would you want to see in the world of skating?

I mean, this is a tough one. I think Blading is in a healthy place!
I am not one of those guys that thinks, get us back in the X-games and everything will be great again. I think it would have the opposite effect.
I like us being somewhat underground yet getting a bit of main stream exposure.
I just really like that Rollerbladers are pulling the strings now!
I just love the fact that Jon finally has his own mould with THEM, something which hasn’t ever been done, where a Rollerblader has owned his own boot-mold.
I just feel we have achieved so much we now hold the power!

I have always just hoped that Fise will explode one day for I feel that is THE platform

I think we are in the right place with that, for me it’s so much more special then the X-games
It’s ours.

Now a personal set of questions from me,
First one is; Do you like, bananas?

Yes, I love a banana!

Thank you, that’s very important. I always ask that question when Ricardo is doing an interview so I felt I had to put it in as well. And then my real personal question.
What is your favourite contest ever?

NISS!
The National inline skating series, I watched it live on Sky TV when it started and it just felt like Rollerblading was here.
We have a sport we have our own contest and I don’t think that can be beat

After all that, is there any item you are missing right now?

The original Hoax T-shirt with the ‘Arlo state Pen’ logo on the chest! That has evaded me for years, if anyone reading this has one and wants to give it a new home you know what to do 🙂

and there we have it, Tom´s thoughts on many aspects of skating.
I hope you enjoyed this interview, please feel free to send me feedback!


If you would like to find out more about the Blade museum and Tom
Head over to:

theblademuseum.com

1 thought on “Mr Smith, blademuseum.com”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Im now forty and I do think about skating still. Although I’m not in the physical shape, dare i say, someone twice my age is more like it, I glad that things are getting better and that blading is getting a leg back up into the masses.

    Keep up the great Work!

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