Tony Hawk‘s impact is undeniable; Millions of kids first got on their boards after watching him defy gravity while pioneering the art of skateboarding in the ’80s and ’90s. Yet, Tony’s influence on pop culture is more subtle but no less significant. This became quite apparent following the success of Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill” and Metallica‘s “Master Of Puppets” after their inclusion in Stranger Things. A viral tweet from artist Neil Slorance summed it up: “can’t sass kids for discovering Kate Bush and Metallica through Stranger Things when I know full well my entire music taste came from Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2.To which Tony tells HollywoodLife that he’s “honored” by that.
“I discovered music through the intercom system of skate parks,” Tony says during an EXCLUSIVE interview over his collaboration with Hot Wheels to launch its first-ever fingerboard line, Hot Wheels Skate™. “And the soundtrack [to the skate park] was punk rock – because a lot of the skaters were in the bands that they were playing, and it was all DIY. So, that was the soundtrack to my youth. And so I wouldn’t bash anyone for where they discovered their music.”
Had streaming services existed in 1999 when the first Tony Hawk Pro Skater game dropped, Goldfinger (“Superman”), Suicidal Tendencies (“Cyco Vision”), or The Vandals (“Euro-Barge”) might have experienced the success that Kate Bush and Metallica are enjoying in 2022. “I wanted to bring along all the culture of skateboarding to the game,” he tells HollywoodLife. And the intention of that was so that skaters would appreciate it. That’s really all I had in mind.”
“If a skater sees this game, they might be inspired to buy a PlayStation. And so, to me, that was the win. And then once the game exploded, people, they honed in on the soundtrack just as much as they did on the gameplay, and that was a huge honor,” Tony continues, who says that he was trying to really capture the authenticity of the skating experience. “I wasn’t in charge of picking the new music,” he says. “I was in charge of picking that era of music.
(“I do feel responsible then for you liking Dead Kennedys,” Tony tells me after I divulge that “Police Truck’s inclusion in Pro Skater was the first time I heard the Bay Area punk band. “That’s cool.”)
Tony continues to have an impact on music, appearing in Surfport’s video for “Open Your Eyes” (“The first track from the new album, [“FML”]I really like”) and adding bands like Rough Francis, American Nightmare and Viagra Boys to the soundtrack of 2020’s Pro Skater 1+2. “It’s surprisingly political,” Tony says of Cave World, the new album from the Viagra Boys. “But, there are a few tracks that are just right in tune with what we love about them. And so I appreciate those.”
The authenticity and accessibility that Tony brought with his Pro Skater games shine bright — like a neon pink carnival tent — in the new Hot Wheels Skate™ fingerboards. Tony worked with the legendary tory brand to lunch its first fingerboard line, which boasts a wide range of boards sporting unique designs and attachable shoes, creating an accessible progression path for new fingerboarders. The boards and playsets – featuring giant piranhas, donut shops, and a sideshow skate park – aim to engage the imagination while also allowing kids a chance to skate if they don’t have access to a nearby vert ramp or pool.
Though Tony has previously lent his name to fingerboards, Hot Wheels Skate™ is a “much more robust line than the stuff we’d done in the past,” he tells HollywoodLife. “And working with [the Hot Wheels] creative team was exciting to me because I knew that it would go in different directions — and it definitely has.”
One surprising direction was including a Hawk Man sideshow poster in the Amusement Park Skate Set. “I knew when I signed up that we would get some fun, creative things, but I didn’t realize it would involve me personally so much,” Tony says, adding that the poster was “cool,” fun,” and that he loves it.
Another element that puts Hot Wheels Skate™ above others is “introducing beginners to finger boarding through the shoes that are detachable. I thought that was brilliant,” says Tony. And it allows me to do hand plants like I do on vert ramps. So, selfishly, I liked it too.”
One way that the Hot Wheels Skate™ line differs from others is that they’re “a little bit differently designed,” says Tony. “I think they’re easier, especially for beginners. And I like that some of the boards are wider, and some have old school shapes. So I think it [brings] more variety.”
“I hope it inspires kids to start skating for real,” Tony says when asked if Hot Wheels Skate™ may have an impact. “I don’t want them to think that they can go skating on top of donut shops and aquariums, but I hope that it will allow them just to try to roll around a little bit.”
Hot Wheels Skate™ Fingerboard and Shoe Assortments and Hot Wheels Skate™ playsets are being exclusively launched at Walmart stores and on Walmart.com starting in August. In addition, Hot Wheels and Tony collaborated to create a limited-edition Birdhouse life-size skateboard deck, which will be exclusively sold on MattelCreations.com
To give back to the skating community, Hot Wheels will be donating to Tony’s signature charity, The Skate Park Project. This non-profit helps underserved communities across America create safe and inclusive skateparks for kids of all ages. For more info on The Skatepark Project: https://skatepark.org/.