Every Boot brings something to the market
In a video game group I’m in on Facebook not too long ago we had a thread talking about redeeming qualities in bad games or interesting features in games we disliked. It gave the idea for this article which will talk about good parts or ideas on boots that for the most part were/are widely derided. In some ways it’s a positive look at some boots that often gave people the most negative reactions.
New Balance Visaro 2
Oh yeah let’s get started with a real piece of crap. The second generation of the Visaro almost completely destroyed all of the good will that NB had built up. It was so bad that the brand decided to just kill the series completely.
But I think something that the boot doesn’t get credit for is that the soleplate was pretty nice. It seemed to work on a majority of different surfaces with not many problems. A nice mix of rounded and triangle studs, NB tried making sure players got plenty of grip without sacrificing the ability to quickly pivot. It’s the kind of soleplate layout that would be nice to see more of. Seeing how the rest of the boot is so ridiculed, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the soleplate went when the boot did. It can be argued that maybe the soleplate could’ve been carried over to the 442 FG but the costs involved probably prevented this.
Still, shame the rest of the boot was crap.
Nike Hypervenom Phantom II
It’s hard to pick a place to start with the Phantom II. Any boot following the original Hypervenom was going to have a difficult time pushing the envelop further and trying to become just as popular was a Herculean task. For some reason, Nike just decided to not even bother trying. A horrible, stiff upper made worse by the Flywire used on the upper for support. A baffling boot.
The boot itself was only improved after Nike brought back the NikeSkin upper. But the original idea for that first, stiffer upper deserves credit. What Nike did was they spraypainted some socks and had players around in them. Over time, the parts where the foot crease left less paint on those areas than others and gave Nike a good idea for what kind of flexing the foot goes through during play. That’s what led to all of the different lines on the upper. The execution was terrible, but that idea was pretty smart and a massive risk on Nike’s part but it’s these kind of risks and boldness that has made the top player in the boot market. It should be pointed out that Nike should be taking more risks like this.
Adidas F50 TUNiT series
Ok, this is another one that’s somewhat of a gimme. There were so many issues with these boots, from the studs falling out too easily to the uppers being bulky and oddly shaped. It wasn’t until the final boot in the series, the F50.9 iTUNiT where adidas seemed to have got the formula right.
Obviously, the idea itself was fantastic and as I recently wrote for BOOTHYPE, the idea of a modular boot still has a lot of legs. There’s not much else to say other than I hope adi or someone decides to try again at some point because there is definitely something there with that idea.
Puma evoSPEED SL
Legendary boot for all of the wrong reasons. Puma released a boot onto the mass market that was not only ridiculously lightweight but also very poor durability. Famously known as the “10 game boot” Puma showed what happens when you push the lightweight envelope too far. For some reason was it not only NOT limited edition but it was available almost everywhere and costing and eye-watering $250 meaning that you shelled out around $25 a match to wear these.
One of the positive things about these boots is that while they were useable, they were considered quite nice to play in. The soleplate deserves applause for being fairly grippy and having a nice mix of round and bladed studs. The upper was really thin and gave you one of the most barefoot feels on the boot from almost any boot ever. If the idea was only developed a little further by Puma and they hadn’t chased the “lightest boots on the market” trophy so hard, Puma could’ve had a massive hit on their hands.
Nike Mercurial Superfly II and III
A braindead release that proved that hype alone can sell a lot of product, even if that product is horrible to use. To this day, it’s crazy to think that Nike charged $400 for that stiff catastrophe. An upper that never seemed to break in combined with one of the stiffest soleplates to ever release was a recipe for one of the worst boots that many people have ever played in. And yet people still bought them! Insane. And perhaps the weirdest part of the boot was the “Sensestud” that was supposed to adapt depending on how soft or hard the pitch you were playing on was. Well, that and the back studs loved to snap super quickly. Whoops!
And yet…and yet the Sensestud is actually an interesting idea from Nike. Having a soleplate with studs that adapt the condition of the pitch would be a breakthrough technology. Just like the modular design of the TUNiT, the implementation of the tech was poor but done properly would be eye-opening. Having a boot that you could use on multiple surfaces thus eliminating the need to have different boots for different places would help decrease the cost of boot spending for a not insignificant amount of people. But then the companies couldn’t justify having so many different soleplates, which I guess not that they try and justify it anyways.
Nike Mercurial Vapor XIII
Haha…no, I’m joking. But could you imagine the hate I’d get?
New Balance Furon Pro
Oh New Balance, not surprisingly the “efforts” made with the original Furon Pro helped ya’ll have a second boot on this list and this boot should have been a red flag that the brand was going to have difficulty figuring out boot uppers. Going down as one of the stiffest and most uncomfortable boot uppers in history, the Furon Pro gained attention for all of the wrong reasons. Added to the stiff was the confusing decision to put a burrito tongue with no cushioning on the upper and a super stiff heelcup that didn’t many people’s heels. It’s understandable that they wanted to make sure they wanted to have lockdown but over did it.
Just like the Visaro 2.0, redeeming feature of this boot was the soleplate. That combined with FreshFoam insole meant that if you could ignore the stiffness of the upper for long enough, you’d realise that the soleplate was giving you tons of grip and while having enough cushioning to stop you from feeling the studs on the bottom of the boot. If NB had a much softer upper on this boot (as they apparently did during the prototype phase) then they could have had a real quality speed boot on their hands from the get go, though the forefoot of the soleplate needed a little bit more flex as well.
There are obviously more examples of awful boots that have redeeming features and I want to hear from you what boots you think about like this. Please make sure to share this with your friends and make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!