Photography by Bart Jones | Written by Daniel Lutheran

No, we didn't go to North Carolina. Nope. Believe it or not, this latest chapter in the Toy Machine story begins as we boarded a red eye with red eyes and a crew for the books. Provost, Leo, Leabres, Myself (Daniel Lutheran), Blakation and new guys, Axel and CJ. Add in a handful of high-end media extraordinaires, including the one and only Bart Jones, and we were ready for our Chinese Destiny. We hit three cities--Guangzhou, Huangzhou and Changsha--over a two-week span hosted by gracious guides with hearts of gold, thank you! Experience after experience it was one for the books. Now, there are quite a few ways to write an article like this (none of which I am particularly studied in.) Everything from the gritty details of centipede snacks to hotel horrors to the triumphs of tricks, it's all in here. It's all part of this story. But right there at the center of it all is a group of individuals particularly interesting, experiencing life on the ride. As a fan and friend, here is a slight reach into each of these characters that I find particularly inspiring. Maybe you will, too?

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Unparalleled pop artist. Between Tsingtao sippin’, Provost flicks a Reynolds in the face of Eastern fans. *click to enlarge.

COLLIN PROVOST

Collin Provost is a wet hot American weekend with the boys extended straight into a lifetime. Jet ski included. The dude's a giant. A massive amount of life packed into a six-foot frame with a destiny unknown aside from staying fast. What's to say for someone who out-parties the party then gets five photos a day? It's unreal, watching the work of the most road dogged of road dogs. Wherever Collin is, it's loud, fast and proud, the opposite of tired, the antonym to soft. He's at the heart of this machine, beating rapidly.

Can't remember not being sponsored.

Cannot tolerate silence, at any time.

Can film a video part in one week.

Loves the @doitforstate Instagram

Owns two houses, spends 95% of his time in hotels.

Owns a boxer brand.

Everyone's brother.

Leabres going the distance, full arch all in. Dream photo on a dream spot. *click to enlarge

JEREMY LEABRES

Jeremy Leabres is the definition of camaraderie. Forget that he can handle all terrain on wood while he oozes style; the dude is one of the most down dudes I've been around. His compassion for skateboarding and his comrades is radiating at all times. His attitude is superior. He blew up, went pro for some of the biggest companies in the world yet embodies the skate rat persona now maybe more than ever. Charged up and community oriented, traveling with Jeremy is a true pleasure. I enjoyed getting to know him better.

Gets up at 6 a.m. daily.

Ready to skate by 7 a.m. daily.

Hates when fools are late.

Mom is a Police Officer.

Loves dogs more than humans.

Mastered tranny in six months.

Loudest shy dude I know.

Quick feet bank-to-bank, our Dutch friend, Axel, seals the channel to fakie. *click to enlarge

Yours truly, gap to backside five-0. *click to enlarge

No push, no problem. CJ took his signature flick into this Chinese mountain. Look at that runway! *click to enlarge

CJ COLLINS

The future is in good hands; our little guy Chad has got it (Red Bull beanie included). This was the first trip we have all traveled together and I think it goes without saying he makes us proud. Surprise after surprise, this little dude goes for it. In between playing video games and flirting with his million followers, CJ laid down heavy moves on terrain far outside Combi Bowl. Throw him in a van full of "adults" and he holds his own. No gimmicks, no warped mentality. It was a pleasure getting to hit this voyage together. Hide your daughters. Hell yeah, Ceej!

Sacked a bump to bar immediately.

Has more followers than Toy Machine.

Cannot nollie flip (yet).

Is nine years old. (JK)

Watches TV at highest volume available.

Brought seven of the same beanies on trip.

BART JONES

Every now and then the skate cosmos send you a gift far superior to that of which you could imagine. For us, this gift came in the form of Bart Jones. A vessel of entertainment, Bart should be renamed Heart because that's what he is, all heart. The dude never took a breath the whole trip, skated the demos drunk, carried around 100 pounds of gear (50 of it unnecessary) in 105-degree weather and fell in love, twice. Amazing, right? I'll leave it at that. Just know it'd be impossible to encapsulate the true wonder he is in these few words. Love ya, Bart!

Blunt fakie king.

Falls in love quickly.

Has no need for air in between sentences.

Won't sit down.

A good friend.

Might have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Ricky goes both ways and had an umbrella between tries. Switch flip by the comfort king. *click to enlarge

BLAKE CARPENTER

Nobody does it like Ricky. You probably know him by Blake and due to the plethora of skating he's put in your face over the last years, you know he's something special. From his careless ease (truly careless) on board to his monotoned stoke or distaste off the board, it's hard to quite put your finger on what makes him tick. The only real take away you can be certain of is Blake knows what he wants out of life. The man is a modern day Columbus, a true ambassador for The Machine. With a creative bag of tricks a kid only dreams to acquire accompanied by an insatiable appetite for the unknown, his world is alive and well. I would not be bummed to be stranded on an island with him.

Prefers zero underwear at all times.

Skating for 15 years, has no clue or care on how to sticker a board.

Daily kit includes full functioning tote cooler for the boys and baby fan.

Eats super fast like something's on his mind.

Can spark fear, can land tricks on command, cannot tolerate authority.

Great roommate.

Bart goes Nat Geo on Leo’s skyline frontboard. Sun setting, Leo shining--beautifully gnarly. *click to enlarge

LEO ROMERO

Leo is the reigning senior in this school of eccentrics. Filled with fire and brimstone he's been-there-done-that. He's calculated and set his course with heavy strides, conquering most of the game though never losing the eye of the tiger. Leo's functioning at a high caliber, from facilitating the youth's dreams as he's done for many (myself included) to properly making love to spot after spot, he's full range. He has a huge heart for this creative life, though always allows his skating to do the talking. With songs dripping out of him, he reveals no fear, appreciates what he's been blessed with and takes life for what it is--an opportunity to share happiness with friends.

Spent copious amounts of time naked this trip.

Fantastic musician.

Prefers to be laughing.

Knows Karate.

Heavy food connoisseur.

Straight up movie buff.

Comfortable in the pinch, Leo’s golden. Long pipe five-0 at the tail end of two weeks abroad. *click to enlarge

Really, nothing is impossible for Collin… aside from listening to silence. *click to enlarge

Terrain the shape of your imagination, Axel ate his fill day after day. A postcard backside flip to ease your mind. *click to enlarge

AXEL CRUYSBERGHS

Axel is the Dutch connection of the Machine, the new fruit ripe upon the tree. I don't know him that well but here's what we've picked up thus far in the journey. Axel has a new age perspective, light mannered and kindred, he's unafraid and steady on a board. He loves to rip pipe, he strategically annihilates whatever’s for the taking. He has a healthy fear of spiders and is in an international relationship with skate royalty. I'm absolutely sure there are more interesting facts to explain our guy, soon to be seen, but for now this will have to do.

Toy Machine's newest pro.

Brought one beer to a pack of wolves and most likely won’t forget that soon.

Living a skate-date.

Has a lovely accent.

Smuggled protein bars to China.

Has never been drunk.