SINGAPORE - Plastic skateboards are riding high on a wave of popularity here, thanks to their fancy, customisable designs and compact sizes.
Weighing about 1.5kg and measuring 55cm in length - the usual wooden ones weigh about 2.4kg and are typically 80cm long - these lightweight boards are cheaper, more portable and easier to manoeuvre, say retailers.
Most plastic skateboards are built for cruising, as opposed to wooden shortboards that are designed for stunts.
They were first brought in six years ago, says Mr Eddie Goh, 61, who owns skateboard shop Go Sports, which has been around for more than 30 years.
His shop's two branches in Dawson Road and *Scape in Orchard Link sell about 120 plastic cruiser skateboards every month now, up from 30 a month in 2009. Prices range between $99 and $200.
"They've become very popular in the past three years and they're sold in more places here now.
"We think it's tied to the Penny brand," he says, citing the Australian company well-known for designing and manufacturing the colourful plastic boards that teenagers are often seen gliding around on in East Coast Park.
"Some of the buyers are teenage girls, who use them as fashion accessories to match their clothes and bags. They like the designs and the colours such as mint, lilac and peach," adds Mr Goh.
Ms Emma Thomas, managing director of White & Black Trading, estimates that 3,500 skaters have bought Penny boards last year, up from 1,300 in 2012. Her firm, the official importer of such boards in Singapore and Malaysia, began bringing them in in December 2011.
Those with fashion prints are the bestsellers, followed by designs that come in pastel colour gradients, she notes.
Prices range from $175 to $205 and the users are mostly youngsters aged eight to 25.
"A lot of Penny fans buy them and display them in their bedrooms like trophies. The designs are colourful and fun and they're updated every year," says Ms Thomas.
Secretary Seah An-Gel, 22, for instance, is happy with her two Penny boards as they "come in many colours, are good for taking pictures with and are easy to master".
"I use it to go to nearby malls and parks or to the coffee shops when there's no bus service. Sometimes I take it overseas to beach resorts too," she says.
Polytechnic student Ian Sim, 19, also enjoys cruising on his plastic skateboard from Nickel, a slightly larger variation of the Penny produced by the same company. He bought it in 2012 for $200 and takes it out for a monthly spin.
"My friends and I used to do outings such as skating out for supper. Once, we skated for an hour from East Coast Park to Marina Barrage. It was fun," he says.
But not all are enamoured of Pennys and Nickels though.
Skater and polytechnic student Venessa Ng, 18, prefers her regular wooden skateboard to the Penny board even though she has both.
"The standing area is small and my feet are big, so I switched over to the longboard for better stability."
This article was first published on February 22, 2015.
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