The Best Retro Skateboards of the 70s, 80s, and 90s and their Reissues
How do you define the best retro skateboard?
Is the best retro skateboard defined based on the deck design? Or limited addition issues, NOS (new old stock) or reissues? What about the skateboard specs? Or is it the innovation it created in skating? Or does it ultimately come back to the nostalgia created by its place in skate history?
Here I have identified the best retro style skateboards available for sale today!
I’ve broken my picks down into the best retro skateboards across the decades that most shaped skate culture – the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Best Retro Skateboards from the 70s
Overall Best 1970s Retro Skateboard
The Original Screaming Blue Hand - Santa Cruz, Jimbo Phillips
As you go down the rabbit holes to find the best skateboards in skate history, the one thing that remains the same is that the people associated with the creation, manufacture, and design of these boards have become legends unto the industry.
That said, we can’t talk about deck design without mentioning Jimbo Phillips.
When you talk about artists, Jimbo Phillips was a Picasso of the 1960s onwards, his main industry.
Jim Phillips is an artist best known for his work in the surf and skateboard industry.
He was born in 1944 in San Jose, California, and he has spent most of his life there. California and the surf lifestyle would go on to be a big part of his graphic art.
The Story Behind The Screaming Blue Hand
It seemed that skateboarding had a reputation for being “in your face” and borderline offensive with their designs, but behind the illustrations lay a world of reason and hope.
The story of The Screaming Blue Hand as told by Jimbo Phillips:
“As I sat at my drawing table and clenched my left hand, I penciled a sketch, thinking about how powerful the hand is, how artists have used it in gestures to express emotion. Then I thought about it being even more expressive if it had a mouth right on the palm, and how much more if it was screaming!”
The best 1970s retro skateboard brand: Santa Cruz
Founded in 1970s, the Santa Cruz skateboard brand is the longest existing skateboard brand in history and is an icon of skate culture and history.
The MPI Vintage Skateboard is an epic retro skateboard from the 1970s
The MPI Vintage skateboard takes us back to when the concaves didn’t exist, and the flat rounded nose was in, making it easier to cruise in comfort.
This NOS model measures 6.75″ x 25.25″ with a wheelbase of 11″ and 4.0 aluminum alloy trucks and matching 59mm x 42mm 78A Yellow wheels.
The deck features a flat, rounded nose with a wide round tail and has a reverse camber shape.
As a 70s model, this board features the retro hole pattern, which is compatible with many more modern trucks.
The Santa Cruz Logo Deck is a Classic 1970s Retro Skateboard
The Santa Cruz Logo was created by legendary skate artist, Jim Phillips.
The typeface make strong use of distinctive shapes such as the triangle used to form the A, and the long rectangular lines formed by the “C” and “U”. Additionally the branding makes use of primary colours to really “pop”
This Santa Cruz complete skateboard measures 7.87 x 11.81 x 31.5 inches and comes with Bullet trucks, OJ brand wheels, and Shielded bearings.
It adds that touch of nostalgia to an all-rounder fit-for-purpose deck!
The Screaming Hand 1980s classic NOS Retro Skateboard
This Santa Cruz Toxic Screaming Hand is an absolute classic. While it was released in the 1980s, we thought it was worth mentioning as a Santa Cruz classic.
This board’s wide old-school shape makes it comfy for cruising and the epic multi-color graphic on purple veneer screams of retro skateboard vibes.
While the original Screaming Hand is iconic, the Toxic Screaming Hand is totally gnarly!
Made of 7 ply North American Maple, this model measures 9.7″ x 31.7″
Best Retro Skateboards from the 80s
Overall Best 1980s Retro Skateboard
Powell Peralta Welinder Nordic Skull Retro Skateboard
In the 1980s, Per Welinder was an innovator in the skateboard industry.
He drew a skull with fangs on his board, designed to reflect his Swedish heritage. The Runic stone lettering spells out Per’s name.
In 1987, this graphic was adapted for a street board as Per began to perform both freestyle and street demonstrations.
The quote behind it is, “Search and strive, push beyond with strength, yours not theirs, that is the key.” Something Per came up with. Powell Peralta also used the graphic for T-shirts and stickers.
This Powell Peralta Welinder Nordic Skill Skateboard measures 9.62″ x 29.75″ with a 14.88″ wheelbase.
Powell Peralta Original Vs Reissue
Powell-Peralta reissues are the closest things to their original 1980s decks.
They are made from U.S. maple and have a concave and shape that replicates their original counterparts.
These boards are handcrafted in Mexico, and the graphics and shapes were designed in Santa Barbara, CA.
Deck Shape: 193B
Deck Concave: SP3
Deck Wheelbase: 14.88″
Deck Length: 29.75″
Deck Width: 9.62″
Deck Nose: 3.65″
Deck Tail: 6.23″
Deck Tail 6.23″
The best 1980s skateboard brand: Powell Peralta
Stacy Peralta, one of the many legends of the sport, teamed up with George Powell to create Powell Peralta, and we couldn’t love it more.
The Powell Peralta team worked together to create and market some of the most innovative technology in wheels. As a result, the Bones Wheels became the number one wheels in skateboarding.
Powell Peralta Winged Ripper Birch Complete
BIRCH?! Where is the maple?
While birch is no Canadian maple, the trucks underneath will offset the deck, and the Winged Ripper design is so iconic we are all here for that.
The trucks on this skateboard are the drawcard for this Skateboard – Including premium alloys, high-rebound bushings, and heat-treated axles.
The Powell Peralta Retro Skateboard Deck: McGill Skull Snake Pink Old School Re-Issue
While we are on the subject of skulls – The Powell Peralta Skateboard Deck McGill Skull Snake Pink Old School Re-Issue is bursting with an identity crisis from the past.
100% Canadian Maple!
Count me in!
They’ve modernised the trucks and wheels but kept the shape and concave!
Best Retro Skateboards from the 90s
Overall Best 1990s Retro Skateboard
Roccos Reign - The Devilman Classic Retro Skateboard
The Devilman Classic became an iconic 1990s skateboard and swept through the graphical designs for World Industries, including the logo itself.
With an 8.1 deck – The Devilman Classic model is ideal for reliving the pure ecstasy of riding the sweet anti- everything wave of the 90s.
The rise of the World Industries skate brand saw the fall of the Big five brands, with Steve Rocco sweeping the carpet out from underneath them.
If you’re interested in the rise of Steve Rocco and World Industries, its well chronicled in The Man Who Souled The World – a classic Skate Culture documentary.
His revolution didn’t have much to do with technology or performance—skateboard decks, wheels, and trucks didn’t change substantially during Rocco’s reign.
Instead, he was all about marketing—graphics on boards, advertising, videos, and most importantly, tapping into the skater zeitgeist of the time and riding it like Poseidon on the crest of a tsunami.
The best 1990s skateboard brand: The bLind Takeover
In the 90s, bLind Skateboards was one of the few skateboard companies that managed to bump the graphics of their board to the next level.
They were one of the first companies to experiment with crazy animation, and the first famous skater that collaborated with the company was Lance Mountain.
Mountain was a rider for the deck company Frog, when in 1993 he left Frog for bLind Skateboards.
The 1990s Nuke Baby skateboard reissue from bLind
Blind Skateboard Deck Danny Way Nuke Baby Screen Print Pink 9.7″ Re-Issue.
Continuing with the hot pink theme, the graphics might look borderline offensive however the story behind them is interesting enough to grab yourself the reissue.
In skateboard art, I love the remakes.
For example, check out this graphic that travels through time.
bLind snatched the graphic from Nash skateboards after its 80s debut and then renamed it Nuke Boy which then became the graphic used for a Danny Way pro-model courtesy of Marc Mckee.
Fast forward to mid 90s where bLind re-uses the graphic for a Ronnie Creager deck transformed into a “Nuke Rat”.
Then 30 years after the 1st Issue “Puke Baby” arrived!
As we worked our way through the categories, we talked about the heroes (and villains) in the skateboarding industry that worked in unison to create the innovative and technology-savvy decks, trucks and wheels that we have today.
Therefore, one could argue that the best retro skateboard would be a collaboration of all the major players in the industry.
Please wholeheartedly disagree with my personal opinion of the nostalgic reissue and NOS classics and leave your comments below with which skateboards you think deserved the award!