A technical monster, the original Nike Superfly captured the imagination in the same way all great football boots do.
The next step from the sought-after Nike Mercurial SL’s and' Mercurial Vapor SL’s, the Mercurial Vapor Superfly brought together the red-hot carbon fibre soles of its coveted predecessor and teamed it with FlyWire; Nike’s latest step in realising founder Bill Bowerman’s dream of pulling the traction plate closer to the athletes foot.
Here on Footy-Boots.com, it’s safe to say it all' went off' during the big reveal; comments and ratings flooded in, with people infatuated by the idea of the Superfly. And why wouldn’t they be?
A fusion of exciting technology from a company in red-hot form, with big players wearing them and an audacious price-tag to match, the Superfly represented that same level of innovation set by past Mercurials and the legendary adidas Predator.
It’s successor was met with similar adulation upon launch; the SenseStud was an incredible promise; adaptable traction, daring visual graphics and one of the' biggest-scale launches we’ve ever taken part in.
Still today, one of the most frequent questions we’re asked is ‘When or Will Nike ever make a Superfly IV?’.
In response, a question I’d like to pose to the people who ask is ‘Why would you want them to?’.
I firmly believe that the Superfly wasn’t a bad boot. However, with hindsight firmly in effect I don’t think it was a standout boot in terms of performance.
The Superfly series was Nike showboating; having less than a decade prior been envious of the market shares held by adidas, Umbro and Puma, Nike now were not only matching adidas blow-for-blow but now owned one of the brands that led the market when they first entered it.
With that in mind, a successful pricing benchmark laid down in the form of the SL’s and a legion of dedicated fans behind them, Nike created boots that pushed the envelope beyond comprehension at the time.
And at the time, people overlooked the durability issues that plagued the first batch of player-issue models, incredible discomfort and even the fact that the players themselves often wore boots that excluded key pieces of technology; from Nani overlooking the Superfly altogether and Cristiano Ronaldo essentially never using a model that featured the SenseStud.
Whilst innovation must come at a cost, Nike also priced the Superfly range – particularly Superfly II & III – at an audacious premium, at £275 as a baseline (you’ll also note they were never available at ‘discount’ retailers, like SportsDirect, at launch) resulting in the Superfly range standing a class apart from other top-tier statement boots.
A genius piece of marketing in itself, once upon a time enthusiast and retailer alike were able to mention the Vapor in the same breath as the Predator PowerSwerve, v1.08 and GT Pro, once the Supefly launched it boosted itself into a league all of it’s own.
In short, the Superfly was a great exercise; an experiment that belongs at a World’s Fair to wow crowds at what sports equipment could be, before having it’s compontents shared between American football cleats, Basketball shoes and football boots – rather than being exported wholesale into all three.
The pricing structure should have been kept limited editions; occasions when Nike can justify a big price tag for something that rightfully will only see limited-to-no time on the feet of professionals.
Most of all, I think the Superfly defines what Nike bring to the football market; that intangible combination of behind-the-scenes innovation, masterful choice of which athletes to back and sheer' chutzpah of bringing us the sort of boots that could only bear the Nike Swoosh.
Looking back on the Superfly, what’s your take on the range? Is the fact we’ve got so much to say about them so long after they’ve been retired a testament to their success?
Let us know in the comments!