NIKE AIR MAX PLUS ‘HYPER BLUE’
Back in 1998 during a super techsperimental sneaker era, Nike dropped an atomic sneaker bomb in the form of the Air Max Plus, also known on the street as the TN or Tuned 1. With its teched-out kinetic design harnessing an all-new cushioning system, the TN rang a bell that still has ears ringing today. As the AM95 introduced a fresh method of colour-blocking, the gradient upper on the TN was a revelation and the OG Hyper Blue, Orange Tiger and Grey Shark gradients are still eye-popping today. Certain shoes have attracted bad-boy reputations, largely on account of the company they keep, and in the TN’s case, it’s definitely the go-to shoe for ne’er-do-wells. Indeed, the TN’s somewhat thuggish personality is highly prized in certain urban enclaves in Europe and Australia. But why?
The design of the shoe itself is not and never was one for the faint-hearted, just check the specs. An exoskeleton over intense spray-faded uppers, wedged profile that falls nothing short of aggressive, clear toe caps and the chunky multi-windowed midsole with multi-coloured bubbles flanking glitter-infused plastic shanks… This list could go on and on, but to put it plain and simple, plain and simple people are intimidated by the TN, whereas the wild and crazy are drawn to the wild and crazy. Add to the equation the fact that the Air Max Plus has held the crown of one of the most expensive Nike runners at Foot Locker for 15 years straight (retailing for a humble $239.95 in Australia), and what we have here is an ‘in your face’ masterpiece that carries price tag status to boot. Did we mention the fact that they’re comfortable as hell? Well they are.
2013 marks not only a big year for the Air Max franchise in general, with the AM1 receiving some belated 25 year anniversary love, but it also happens to be the 15 year birthday of the TN. Foot Locker have taken the opportunity to bless us all with retros of two of the original schematics – the ‘Orange Tiger’, which released in April and the ‘Hyper Blue’ which hit shelves this week.
The commemorative Hyper Blue re-release is a thing of beauty… straight up! Hyper blue fades up through sky blue on the fine mesh upper, with chamois yellow subtly accenting the situation. Generally speaking the Air Max Plus releases with a single-colour sole, but sticking true to the OG colour blocking, the Hyper Blue 2013 retro sports that black and white segmented midsole which ties oh so nicely in with the black heel counter, exoskeleton and rand. Check out our pics of the retro above and cop yours now from select Foot Locker doors across Australia and Europe as well as Champs Sports stores in the USA.
TUNED AIR EXPLAINED
Whilst the aura of the TN overshadows the design of the shoe itself, not everyone understands the technical definition of Tuned Air. Essentially it’s a blow moulded unit coupled with rubber hemispheres strategically placed in the sole to provide extra support. Adding the ‘hemis’ allowed Nike to take the pressure down and deliver a softer ride without compromising stability. David Forland, Technical Director of the Cushioning Innovation explains.
‘We started to experiment with what we call ‘hemis’, or ‘hemispheres’. Basically what we did was add a mechanical element in to work with the air sole. And so where we needed stability in the running shoe, opposite the crash pad, we built in a series of hemispheres to provide that stability (seen above in red).
From a revolution perspective, this one wasn’t as challenging as some of the other steps before. We were still using our same blow moulded air sole, so we didn’t have to invent a whole brand new way of making them. We did all the testing to make sure that it was working. We could change the wall thicknesses, and eventually we got to some products where we had different thicknesses of hemis.
The Air Max Plus was really a combination of Air and Tuned. We then actually released some commercial products that were much more Tuned, where the air sole was sort of minimised. We don’t use as much air pressure in the Tuned products. It all happened during that era when we were trying to figure out how can we get out of using the old gas. We experimented with these kind of units, where it was like – you know, maybe these mechanical elements are doing more of the cushioning, and air is doing less of it, and providing some other feel.’
NIKE AIR MAX PLUS ‘ORANGE TIGER’
After a 15 year hiatus, this year in April all of a sudden and out of nowhere, the OG Orange Tiger TN re-appeared on shelves. This release piqued our interest in a big way here at the SF HQ, and we were on the hunt immediately. The team orange fade up through to tour yellow colourway is so tequila sunrise nice that it’s still inspiring Nike releases today. After over a decade of Foot Locker exclusivity, the TN finally flew the safety net and arrived at select retailers in Tokyo including atmos and Mita Sneakers. The bring-back was seriously on point, check a photo of the OG and the 2013 retro in the gallery above to see for yourself.
NIKE AIR TUNED 10 – 2008
Celebrating a decade of Tuned Air, Nike dropped this wild Olympic edition for the 2008 Beijing Games. Orange and blue editions were also released commemorating the OG Tiger and Hyper Blue TNs.
SF TUNED TEE
Being they Tunedheads that we are, we couldn’t hold ourselves back from getting amongst the celebrations. We’ve whipped up an ode to Tuned tee, and it’s available in our webstore here now. Read more about the Nike TN in our bumper 72 page Air Max feature in Sneaker Freaker issue 28.
Finally, we gotta say a big thanks to Foot Locker for keeping the TN dream alive, please keep them coming!