Neil Blender’s The Heated Wheel skateboard company

It’s been a long time coming but the announcement of the existence of Neil Blender’s The Heated Wheel skateboard company was met with glee. Arguably one of the most influential pro skaters of all time despite being largely absent from mainstream skate media since his 2005 section in Vox Footwear’s ‘Destroy Everything Now’ video.
(See below).

For those of you too young to know who he is and why Neil Blender’s The Heated Wheel skateboard company is a big deal: here’s a very basic overview.
Born and raised in California, Neil Blender was classically trained in the huge concrete parks of that late 70s/early 80s and as such became one of the top pro skaters on the scene of the time. His skating was fast, powerful, stylish and always innovative. Stalled inverts? That’s down to Blender. Originating the idea of using the nose of your board long before boards really had noses? That’s Blender too.
Trick names as diverse as the ‘no comply’, the ‘wooly mammoth’ and the ‘lien air’ (Neil backwards) – all NB.

Neil Blender's The Heated Wheel skateboard company

Alongside his contributions on the board, Neil Blender was also one of skateboarding’s founding polymaths.
A gifted writer and a photographer with a regular column in Transworld, a musician (with his music still being used to this day by the likes of Polar Skate Co), an artist (one of the first professional skaters to do their own graphics) and, most importantly, a hugely funny iconoclast as adept at making up trick names as he was lampooning those he saw as overhyped ‘widdlers’. If you don’t believe our hype, let me hand you over to Lance Mountain who said of Neil Blender in the Transworld Mag ’30 Most Influential skaters of all time article (Neil Blender was 19th).

“He was one of the first guys to draw his own graphics. He was the first one to give tricks different names. He was our ringleader. Neil’s myth is more hidden and harder to find, but there would be no Mark Gonzales without Neil Blender.”

High praise indeed eh? After a long stint on G&S skateboards throughout the 1980s and into the 90s, (see above for his truly classic G&S ‘Footage’ section), Neil Blender was one of the three people (along with Mike Hill and Chris Carter) who set up the Alien Workshop brand. Whilst Blender did have a short avant-garde section on the first Alien Workshop video ‘Memory Screen’, his role at the brand was primarily artistic. According to some accounts, the original AWS logo, sketched on a Denny’s napkin by Blender actually reads ‘Neil B’ in reverse.
Proper head fuck stuff eh? Anyhow, Alien Workshop went on to dominate the industry for two decades despite being one of only a few skateboard brands based outside of California.

Neil Blender's The Heated Wheel skateboard company

Blender’s distinctive art work continued to adorn Alien Workshop boards, along with appearing on album covers for the likes of Dinosaur Jr and many other bands. Whilst all of this was happening, the man himself disappeared by design, resurfacing for Vox footwear in 2005 and then reappearing sporadically on Instagram.
As one of the most well-loved skaters and artists of the formative 80s period, it always seemed odd that Blender never joined many of his contemporaries like Lance Mountain, John Lucero and Steve Douglas in starting their own brands. Most people just shrugged and passed it off as another of NB’s mysterious decisions.
Then, just when everyone had forgotten about the idea of ever seeing an NB led brand, Neil Blender’s The Heated Wheel skateboard company appeared, seemingly from nowhere.

There’s way, way more to the Neil Blender catalogue than we have space for here so, if you want more – check out this forum archive of obscure and not so obscure Neil Blender related ephemera then watch the Bobby Puleo doc below.

We’ve just had our first drop from Neil Blender’s The Heated Wheel skateboard company and it’s banging.
Varied shapes and concaves all adorned with incredible Neil Blender art work.
This stuff will sell out fast – don’t sleep.
Now listen to Worked World.

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