Power boots can and should rise again
For some years in the past, boots under the power category dominated the market. The adidas Predator is an obvious example of this past dominance, as is Nike’s T90 Laser series. This spread throughout other brands in the industry as well, such as Mizuno’s Wave Ignitus series. As time moved on, power boots began to get less and less popular. Eventually, they were all but killed off by almost every single brand on the market. I would argue that this was partially to do with the pivot away from power boots and towards control boots by Nike and adidas rather than sales dipping.
This was sad but understandable. The big brands wanted something fresh and they probably saw a gap in the market when it came to control boots and decided to go down that road. One of the reasons why I would argue that it seemed that the brands almost self-sabotaged when it came to power boots is by looking at how power boots evolved until the were eventually discontinued. One of my prime examples of this is the difference between the T90 Laser 3s and T90 Laser 4s.
While some people, myself included, weren’t fans of the Laser 3s but they were very definitely power boots. The power pods and the rubberized fins were so over the top but at the same time completely fitting for a power boot. When it came to the release of the Laser 4s though, the were toned down in comparison, and this came while the Maestri was exploding in popularity. Furthermore, from what I can recall, Nike didn’t really support the release of the Laser 4s. It was almost like they sent the boots out to market to die. From there, it was probably not a difficult decision for Nike to kill off the line. Its somewhat sad since I personally think that the Laser 4 was a good boot, especially in the Kenga-Lite variations.
Adidas, on the other hand, kept going for a while. While I think that the Lethal Zones were decent boots, they didn’t really feel like a Predator as previous models did. I don’t think that they were as much focused about letting the Predator die on the line so to speak, but the release of the Predator Instincts also saw a weird launch, with a soft launch coming as part of the Battle Pack release during the World Cup in 2014 and a proper launch coming shortly after. It is possible to see why this might have hurt on initial sales of the Instinct because normally initial sales are a strong indicator of how the boot will perform in sales as well as pushing to help establish a new model.
This is a shame because I feel that one of the great things about the Predator Instinct is that it was uncompromisingly a power boot. Adidas didn’t care that the boot was heavy, they didn’t care if the rubberized fins split opinion. While adidas pushed the boot more as a control boot rather than a power boot, it was still unquestionably a power boot. It was heavier than other boots, more aggressive than other boots, but also comfortable and could take more than its fair share of tackles and abuse. And for those reasons, I personally found them to be easy sell to a lot of players and it was a great shame that the boots were discontinued rather than evolved.
Which brings us to today. We are starting to see tentative steps towards the return of power boots. The Nike PhantomVNM has echoes of a power boot and I would love to see Nike get more aggressive with the design and the control/power elements. Images of adidas-sponsored players training in the Predator 20 prototypes also shows us that adidas seems to be moving in a direction towards more aggressive uppers. Puma has also had increasingly more aggressive designs on the Puma Future series which has been divisive but nonetheless seems to be somewhat popular.
One brand that you can’t say has shied away from power boots or at the very least has continued to refine their formula is Concave. While some of the models in the past have been divisive, their product has improved in leaps and bounds versus what they were making previously. People will rightly point out that this is due mostly to their technology, but the brand deserves respect for continuing to evolve that technology and sticking to its guns. It is because of this that they could benefit from the return of power boots in every brand, since they would be able to push their boots as power boots more aggressively and their technology has in the past been pushed as something for people who want more power.
An article like this cannot be put out without me mentioning the Mizuno Wave Ignitus series. The first and second models are some of the best power boots of all time in my opinion and I, as well as many others, would love to see a mostly leather power boot come from the brand again. This isn’t to say that the last two models of the Ignitus were not good boots. In fact, they were great boots and the aggressiveness of the power areas were nice, but the series seemed to do best when the bio vamps were intertwined with leather itself, rather than being their own part of the boot.
New Balance is another brand that seems to be looking at making power boots, though I am not certain they will do so. During conversations with their product designers in the past, they had mentioned how Vincent Kompany kept wanting a more aggressive boot with taller studs and bit of a grippier upper. Having been told this, they continued to try and his custom boots more like that for him. Of course, Kompany now wears Puma boots and wore the adidas Ace 16.1 leather, but the point stood, and the designers wondered out loud with me about whether a not such a boot should be made as a general release. This led us to talking about power boots because in the past, power boots also tended to sell well to defenders and defensive midfielders.
Power boots held popularity for a long time and were often the boots that were the most packed with tech, and gimmicks, but I feel as if we have lost something without these types of boots on the market. There is definitely a market for power boot silos and maybe it should return at the expense of other boots. At the end of the day, I really hope we are seeing the return of, and a new beginning for power boots. What do you all think?
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Special thanks to Concave for photo permissions