BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) A Vermont snowboard company is bringing back images of Playboy bunnies on its boards, seven years after similar depictions sparked a protest outside its headquarters.
Burton Snowboards announced last week that it's launching a collection ''featuring vintage Playboy centerfolds'' and artwork by tattoo artist Chris Nunez.
Jake Burton, founder and chairman of Burton, said he supports the freedom of artistic expression and called Playboy one of the most iconic brands in the world.
''Board graphics are artwork, and we understand that art can be offensive to some and inspiring to others,'' he said in an email to the Burlington Free Press (http://bfpne.ws/1OgH22k), adding that he was involved in the project from the beginning.
''The end result is a beautiful board that looks as good as it rides. And just like all of our past collaborations with Playboy, I'm sure it will be a collector's item,'' he wrote.
The move comes about a month after Playboy announced it would stop running nude photos in its U.S. print edition. The new boards feature images of Playboy centerfolds with art covering parts of their bodies.
In 2008, about 150 people demonstrated near Burton's Burlington headquarters over a snowboard collection with images of Playboy models and another with cartoons of self-mutilation. Ten ski resorts in Vermont and out West also banned employees from using them on the slopes.
The controversy prompted a youth and family services organization in Burlington to withdraw its participation in a Burton-sponsored program called Chill to introduce disadvantaged kids to snowboarding.
Spectrum Executive Director Mark Redmond said the organization is applying for Chill Foundation support again after a staff member found three kids who want to learn how to board this winter but he said ''it's disappointing to see a good company like this resurrect something I think is objectifying of women.''