Let me guess, you expected something like, "Winter is coming." I mean, sure, even I have to admit it's hard not to idly go there after having the phrase fracked into our collective pop culture subconscious over the past decade, but once winter finally came and a Starbucks cup was left on the table I was more or less over it (and apparently the writers and crew were, too). So, next up on the mental mnemonics list of cold-shit-that-immediately-crystallizes-to-mind would be Metallica's "Trapped Under Ice." After all, nothing screams metal more than a headbangin' nod to cryogenics ! All that whimsically said, I must now reluctantly admit to having painted myself into a word association corner, and since I can't be bothered to come up with a new title let's all just move on to the next paragraph, shall we?
Okay, so generations before Tim Burton came along in stop-motion to reanimate the goth scene and make it infinitely more merchandisable with The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), there was Rankin/Bass—the powerhouse that produced the king of all holiday classics, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). In what could easily have been spat out as a generic, by-the-note riff on the seasonal song of the same name, Rankin/Bass seized upon the whole outcast aspect to embark on a spirited Yukon adventure that championed the misfits who walk among us.
What, if anything, does Rudolph or Rankin/Bass  have to do with skateboarding? Well, all things Danzig aside, the archetypal misfit of the ’80s was the skateboarder , because any kid across the heartland who willingly went out of step with society to pick up a board back then was all but guaranteed a one-way ticket straight to the Island of Misfit Toys.
Photos left to right: A choice selection of oddballs responsible for the pages of Big Brother skateboard magazine; The late Sandy Bodecker in a Chris Reed shirt!
To the credit of Rankin/Bass this fabled land has since become a staple descriptor for any pod of oddballs who exist in a segregated nature from their peers or counterparts. For example, harkening back to the hey-days of print magazines, Big Brother was considered to be one such isle of nitwits in relation to TransWorld and Thrasher—possibly even skateboarding as a whole—and I'm forever grateful to have been a castaway in that cadre of clowns. Curiously, from what I've been told, the original ragtag crew at Nike SB was also fondly referred to as the "Island of Misfit Toys" by its late founder and benefactor Sandy Bodecker. And with that portentous segue--
(Thank Christ! He's finally going to address the damn shoe!)
--how the heck did I get the opportunity to go full Burl Ives for the holidays at Nike SB? The best answer, albeit the most confusing one, would be a glowing recommendation to read the book Being There, by Jerzy Kosinski (or you could just skip to the visual chase, watch the movie starring Peter Sellers, and come to a similar Chauncey Gardiner conclusion). Chances are, though, you're solely here for the shoe story and currently wondering what the fuck you're doing wandering through paragraphs that feel as if they were constructed by M.C. Escher. Unfortunately, all I can really say in a factual sense is that I'd been booked to do this Holiday 2020 project well before getting the offer for what would eventually come to be known as the StrangeLove Valentine's Day Debacle —what a hoot and a holler that was!—and come hell or high water we planned to leverage this moment as a way to create our very own vinyl toy . And we did! Because what would Christmas be without a new toy underfoot.
So what have we learned here today? Absolutely nothing, I'm afraid, but we did manage to safely get a few of our team riders together for a frosty outing in the streets of Milwaukee, WI, where Max Murphy, Timothy Johnson, Ty Brown, Ben Narloch, and friends bucked the wind chill coming off Lake Michigan to abuse the shoes in a seasonal fall setting.
Lastly, I do want to add that I had no idea this project would ultimately result in my last name being prominently stitched onto a tongue tag but—holy crap!—there it was on the sample I received, so what was I supposed to do? I mean, it was just too ludicrous to lose, and I knew my son would get a kick out of seeing and wearing his surname, so I simply let it ride in the ridiculous spirit of absurdity—the preeminent guiding light for my life.
On a serious note, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Steve Pelletier, Nick Halkias, Austin Dal Molin, and Kelly Bird for all of their help and guidance in getting this project to the finish line of 2020. I've greatly appreciated the opportunity to play in this big league field of dreams and it never would have happened without them. While I'm at it, I'd also like to thank Brian Flynn at Super7 for patiently holding our hand through the whole toy-making process, in addition to Klim at Bigshot Toyworks for bringing the final figure design to life.
Lastly, yes, Virginia, there will be a restock of decks and all-new apparel coming to the site this coming Friday, December 18, to coincide with the official release of the holiday shoe in skate shops. —Sean Cliver
1. Marc McKee first brought this frigid fascination of metal bands to my attention quite some time ago. He cited a number of examples, only now, many bereaved braincells later, all my synapses can sputter forth from the flagging memory is the aforementioned "Trapped Under Ice" tune, the band Celtic Frost, a crazy predominance of cold-hearted Scandinavian musicians, and a general proclivity toward pillaging and raping Norse mythology. But a quick Google search also dredged up an odd Australian metal band formed in 1992 called Cryogenic and you can't get any more on the nose than that, mate.
2. Perhaps the largest contribution made to skateboarding by Rankin/Bass was the donation of their corporate logo to Plan B in 1991, a brand in and of itself entirely focused on the Dashers, Dancers, Prancers, Vixens, Comets, Cupids, Donners, and Blitzens… the Rudolphs, eh, not so much, unless you consider Rodney Mullen to be of the red-nosed variety.
3. No, not just because GSD had a devilock and wore skeleton pants. Although, come to think of it, I guess he kind of was the Rudolph of the '80s pro ranks? I mean seeing as how he lit the way for many creative DIYers around the globe back in the pre-internet day.
4. Hats off to the person who tried to leave a comment saying we "run this website like a couple of antivax kids," because they were absolutely right—we were in no way prepared for the onslaught. The funny thing is we only had 200 pairs or so for our online release, and as soon as commenters started openly bragging about "raping our joke of a site" and how all the shoes would be theirs, we proactively reached out to StrangeLove's earliest customers in an effort to sell them directly into as many good hands as possible. So on the infamous night before the drop when my partner went to activate a "coming soon" preview and accidentally let 3000 bot-assisted orders burst through a 40-second crack in the site, we actually had no more than 25 pairs left in stock—Shopify simply crapped out under the strain and massively oversold the inventory. So there it is: the story straight from the horse's mouth. Feel free to believe it or not, although most won't, I'm sure, because if there's one thing I've learned in 2020 it's that people only believe what they want to believe, facts or sources be damned.
5. Ideally I wanted to do a glittery edition of the toy to match the shoe sole, but we just couldn't get our vinyl act together in time for a production turnaround in Japan… shikata ga nai!
Merry Christmas Misfits!!!!
Can I get this pair of shoes from Tokyo? Hope I can get them.
I’ve always been interested in skateboarding as a kid but I never had the money to get a board or even the shoes. Now thanks to COVID it made things worse. I missed out on the Strangelove SBs but I hope to start skateboarding by buying a matching skateboard and the special shoes. I want these to be the shoes I begin my journey in. I can’t wait to get them. I know I’ll get them!
love that you’re sharing these stories… so dope your boy is gonna be rocking these kicks with his last name on them. Hope to one day make my boy proud like that. Amazing.
Your ART expressed on both the Strangelove SBs and the Holiday Special SBs has been the best!! Perfectly executed for us ‘misfits’! Thank you for sharing your art with us! And please keep it coming!!!