04 May 2013

Nike Air MAG vs Knockoff

By now, you should have heard something about the Nike Air MAG's that were released in 2011.  They were available by auction only through eBay and ten select Nike stores around the world.  A total of 1510 (1500 through eBay) were sold.  Proceeds from the auction benefited the Micheal J. Fox Foundation.

I should mention that was I crazy enough to buy a pair.  Hey, it was for a good cause.  I made some smart calculations and wild guesses and bought the shoes for a good price.  In the end, only 18 people paid less than me as I purchased it at one of the lower prices, over 30% less than the average selling price.

There have been some knockoffs from China (where else?) that have been popping up that last 12 months or so.  These go for about $200-250.  Well....again, I was crazy enough to buy a pair a few months ago...just to compare the two.  Now, I do want to say that these are knockoffs or bootlegs, so you will be buying an illegal product.  I also want to inform those out there of the differences between the real deal and the fake.  Without something to compare it to, it is difficult to spot the fake.

The $250 price tag is direct from China.  Prices will vary from vendor to vendor, and there is a limited amount as they cannot keep up with demands.  There are people selling these knockoffs second hand on auction sites and forums and charging a lot more, at least 2-3 times the price.  So, be careful as some China vendors and auctions are known to be scams.  Forums are a lot safer as members are known to the community.  Best to do research before you pull the trigger on your purchase.

It has been over 18 months since I got my Nike Air MAG's, also made in China, and I have yet to review these shoes.  So, this will be a brief review of both.  I got the same size of both, so it will be very easy to see the differences.  Note that in all photos, the real Nike is on the left, while the knockoff is on the right.


Nike Air MAG boxes
Nike:  The first thing you will notice is the size and construction of the box.  The Nike box is well constructed with thick cardboard.  I should note that when I received the shoes, it came in a box within a box, within a box...and really well protected. The box is also in one piece, meaning the lid is attached to the box.  It also has a magnetic flap on the box.

Knockoff:  This is a flimsy box and will be damaged during shipping.  Box is in two pieces, like most traditional shoe boxes.  It is also smaller than the Nike one, but one would not know that just from looking at pictures without comparison.  You can see in the image above the noticeable size difference.  Note, these are the same size shoes.  They matched the yellow colour almost perfectly.

Other differences:  The logo on the box is slightly different. There is a small red number, which I assume is the size of the shoe, on the bottom of the MAG logo.  Obviously, on the Nike box, the number matches my shoe size.  On the knockoff, it is marked at a size 10.  There is a label on the front of the knockoff box, that is similar to current Nike shoes, that indicates the shoe size as well as other relevant information.  Of course, I could be wrong on this number thing.  Also, note the orientation of the box in relation to the graphics.  The knockoff is in a 'portrait' orientation, taller than it is wide.  The Nike is in landscape and closer to a square, like a thick pizza box.

Nike Air CPK MAGherita - logo and box
I cannot  help to think that the logo and the box looks a lot like it was made by California Pizza Kitchen.  Wait a second, Back to the Future released in 1985...California Pizza Kitchen founded in 1985.  Although, Pizza Hut was the 'offical' pizza of the movie. 

Nike Air MAG pack out
Nike:  The shoes are packed out in semi-dense foam.  It holds its shape and sort of 'locks' the shoes in the box.  The shoe sits snugly into the cut out as the foam is deep, about half way up the shoe.  It is a three layer layout, with the bottom layer uncut (no shoe silhouette cut out).  This gives the structure rigidity. The charger is packed in its own box (upper left).

Knockoff:  The shoes do come individually bagged, whereas the Nike ones are just placed in the foam.  The foam in the knockoff box is a lot softer, it does not keep its shape.  It is also about half the thickness of Nike, with one layer of foam and no bottom layer.  Shoe is touching the bottom of the box.  Might be the reason why they come bagged.  While there is a cut out for the charger to fit, it just flops around in there.  There is no mini box for the charger.

Other Differences:  The charger for the Nike is wall plug in only, and uses a mini jack to plug into shoe.  The knockoff charger has a USB option and plugs into shoe via a data cable. I guess you could charge it through  a computer.  Neither charger is anything special, meaning they were not 'custom designed' for the shoes.  Note how the boots are placed, Nike is placed horizontally, while the knockoff is vertical.


Nike Air MAG - outside
Nike:  The real deal has tighter construction. It has a taller and stiffer collar.  The LED's on the heel have a coloured lens, so you can see the lights even when not turned on

Knockoff:  Construction is a bit flimsy, but acceptable.  The shoes almost look broken in.  An easy tell for the fake is the non-coloured LED's in the heel.  They light up correctly, but the window looks empty when not lit.  If you look closely, you can see the naked LED bulbs and some of the printed circuit board they are mounted to.

Other Differences:  The Swoosh is slightly larger on the knockoff.  Again, you would not know that without the Nike to compare to.

Nike Air MAG - inside
Nike:  Notice the light aqua colour in the heel cup and midsole.  Shape of mid-sole is more swoopy and lower profile.

Knockoff:  The splatter on on the heel cup and midsole matches the Nike really well.  Although some areas can use a little more splatter.  The colour is a bit off, more of a darker shade of of the main colour than the light aqua of the Nike.

Nike Air MAG - collar
Here is were you really start to see the differences, even without knowing what the real ones look like.

Nike:  The logo on the ankle strap lights up using a electroluminescent panel.  The collar is a more streamlined design and stays upright.  The white edge of the collar is about the same thickness as the main grey part of the collar.  Notice the cut out is crisp, clean, and follows the same shape as the rest of the collar.  The Nike ankle strap floats on the the boot, while the Achilles pad is secured (glued) to the boot. 

Knockoff:  Hard to tell from photos, but the ankle strap is fixed to the boot with hooks and loops, while the Achilles pad floats.  Strap logo does not light up, it is painted to give a glowing illusion.  One telltale sign is the way the collar flops.  Also note that the white edge is puffier than the gray part of the collar.  The cut out is poorly finished.  Nike has the hidden (or tucked in) the stitches that are around the perimeter of the hole.  You can clearly see the stitches on the knockoff.

Fun Fact:  There are many that have purchased the knockoffs and made modifications to it.  One modification is making the strap logo light up.  Some are selling the shoes with these on auction sites and forums.  Take note of the other differences that I have (and will) point out so you know what you are getting.

Nike Air MAG - quarters
Nike:  Clear (light grey tint) outer sole with EL panel for lighting.  Also, you can see that the heel cup on the Nike is shorter.  Nike has a more subtle rib structure along the side of the shoe.  This is where the laces would go into the base of the shoe.  Note that neither of these shoes have the auto-lace feature.  Get over it!

Knockoff:  Longer heel cup, resulting in a smaller gap where the heel cup and the midsole meet.  A major tell in is the ribs on the knockoff.  These are very noticeable, even in poor lighting.  The ribs are so pronounced, there is a need for a notched recess for the hook part of the swoosh to sit in.  The light up sole is done with two LED's, instead of EL panel.  You can really see the difference once lit.  Also, the outer sole is a semi-transparent rubber, almost yellowing from over UV exposure.  Notice that you cannot see the lighting element (in this case LED) through the side.  Whereas, you can 'clearly' see the EL panels on the Nike.

Nike Air MAG - rear
Nike:  You can get a better look of the rigidity of the boot from this angle.

Knockoff:  Achilles pad is very close to the real deal, just slightly larger.  Since the pad is floating, it makes the boot look more flimsy than it is.  Other than that, the view from the back is almost identical. 

Nike Air MAG - top
Nike:  Here you can see the Nike has a narrower toe box.  Notice how the collar and sides of the boot look stiffer and have a cleaner form.  The way it is constructed, the laces look like they go into the sides of the shoe.  Laces are a little thicker but narrower. 

Knockoff:  Not only are these laces a bit wider and thinner than the Nike's, they are also less tight, meaning the elastic is not as strong.  From this angle, you can see the ribs on the side are much more pronounced than the Nike.  Keep this in mind when comparing the ribs, think panty lines on a chick's butt.  The Nike is like a hot chick wearing form fitting jeans, and you can just barley see the faint panty line of her boy cut shorts.  While the knockoff is more of a fuller sized gal wearing classic briefs with yoga pants that are at least a size too small. The floppiness of the collar can also be seen here.

Nike Air MAG - soles
Nike:  The soles of these shoes flare out, creating a wider...wait for it...footprint.  The flaring is on the clear outer sole, and almost looks like a flat tire.  The tread pattern is little pyramids, like the ones in Cairo, but much smaller. 

Knockoff:  The tread pattern is recessed squares, or raised grid pattern, like a waffle.  The footprint is more of a traditional shape, without any flare.  Also, you can really see the difference between the clear grey tint of the Nike and the yellow-ish clear of the knockoff.  There are minor shape differences in the part out, but nothing drastic.

Nike Air MAG - light up
Nike:  Oh yeah, these shoes light up, just like the ones in the movie.  Note how the EL panel in combination with the clear sole, results in a crisp edge and bright light.  The crisp shape is achieved by having the EL panel cut in the D-shape that you see lit up.  The Nike logo on the ankle strap is just as bright in the aqua EL panel.  The heel is lit by three rows of LED's in green, yellow, and red.

Knockoff:  When turned on, the heel lights are almost identical.  The lights on the sole differ since they used LED's instead of EL panels.  Also, the glow is a little muted.  This is partly due to the rubber defusing the light. The shape of the light is achieved by a defusing lens behind the outer sole.  Instead of the aqua glow, these have a more blue-ish glow.  The ankle strap does not light up, but the paint colour of the Nike logo matches the blue of the sole lights.

Other Differences:  I mentioned that the chargers are different.  The location of the charging port also differs.  On the Nike, the charge port is well hidden on the bottom of the Achilles pad.  The knockoff has the female end of the data port loosely dangling from wires behind the Achilles pad.  This is also where the power button is hidden.  And by hidden, I mean also dangling from wires behind the Achilles pad.  On the Nike, the button is hidden in the outside collar, at the tip, totally concealed and clean.


The Nike version is great.  It is made by Nike.  So what, if it does not auto lace?  Seriously, get over it.  The positives of the Nike Air MAG far out weigh the one negative of no auto lace.  Of course, you get what you pay for.  The lowest price these went for was $2300.  The fact that these were a limited run helps the quality of the product.  Nike went all out on this one.  I would think that if these were mass produced, it would easily be in the $300-400 range.

The knockoffs are surprisingly well made.  I have to say that since these are knockoffs, it is stealing from Nike and Universal.  You are also encouraging the business of bootlegging.  Yes, I know I bought a pair, too.  But it was for research...and I donated a good chunk of my paycheck to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  I know that is still not a good excuse.

Anyway, you get what you pay for and at about $250, you get something really well made.  Sure, it is not dead nuts on, but really, without the Nike to compare to, it is difficult to tell.  Even comparing screenshots from the movie, the knockoffs look really close.  Heck even the Nike's, when comparing to actual screen used shoes, vary a little.  Only a handful of people can really tell the difference...well, one more now that you have read this.

Worried that your strap does not light up?  No worries, there are people selling modify ones.  Keep in mind the differences if you decided to purchase these.  There are forums that even show you how it is done if you decided you want to tackle that yourself.  In the end, if you always wanted a pair and did not get a chance or have the budget to bid on the authentic ones in 2011, the knockoffs are a great alternative for about $250.


I have had a few people inquiring about where I purchased the knockoff Air MAG's.  I got mine from AliExpress.  It will give you a few choices from various vendors where you can order. Looks like they are still around the $250 price.

Also, if you are looking for a cheaper pair, there are officially licensed (from Universal Studios) versions available from Halloween Costumes, for only $100.  These are not as 'screen accurate' as the knockoffs, but for only $100, they look pretty good.  I ordered a pair and when they come in, I will do a full review and comparison between the three versions.  You can read about that by clicking HERE.

A new version, known as 'V3' is out.  My review/comparison here.


Martini said...

Totally jealous. Every time these have come up for sale, I have just spend thousands on my car and can never afford them. Do you remember Mickey Maloof? He was the one who started the petition to Nike about 10 years ago to have these made. I was exchanging emails with him for years about it. He had a website too. But as soon as Nike announced they were going to make them, Mickey's website went down and his email address was no longer valid. I'm very sad that I never got a pair. I don't have the DeLorean Nike's either.

Anonymous said...

Send Some Real Photos Of Authentic Ones To My Mail Adress. Thank You! nmnipz7@gmail.com

LFO said...

where did you buy the replica's? you can also respond to me by sending me an email, lfouk@hotmail.com

Unknown said...

Can u send me a link for the replicas?! Brokeasspinoy87@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to clear up the yellow soles of the replica?

Anonymous said...


thanks for this article. it was so informative and i learned a great deal on legitimate nike air mags.

i am looking at 2 listings on eBay. i was wondering if you could lend your expertise for 1 minute if it wasn't too much trouble


ef en oh en gee 2 at gee mail dot com

Unknown said...

Yeah I want one to

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

So I bought a black pair from China , they are very well made , just wish they came in a yellow box or any box at all , my shoes didn't come in a box at all they came in a bag that had the air sucked out lucky they weren't damaged on the way to me , other than that they are good enough for me

Anonymous said...



awildermode said...

I believe it uses a common charger. You should be able to find something to fit and charger at local electronics store if you do not already own a device that uses the same plug

Anonymous said...

awildermode, can you advise on how long each pair should be charged to be "full"?

awildermode said...

Sorry for the delay. I am not sure the exact time it takes to fully charge the shoes. While charging, the red lights (bottom row) of the heel will blink. When fully charged, the green lights (top row) will be solid. Hope that helps, thanks!

Unknown said...

Hey, quick question. Will you do a comparison of the V3's to the authentics? You can find the V3's at sneakerahead.co

awildermode said...

Hi AJI Pro. Thanks for your comment and request. This gives me something to do. I have ordered the V3 and will be doing a write up for you as soon as they arrive.

Adam said...

I have both a pair of size 9 and 10... looking to offload. Know anyone looking to buy?

Unknown said...

How do I order a pair I'm really confused

Unknown said...

I would do a trade with you I have a $700 pair of shoes weird that I would trade for replica Air mags if you do them really good for me

Unknown said...

I meant to say I would do that

Unknown said...

Hi,I'm from africa and I just wanted to know if they are out yet in South africa

Unknown said...

Hi,I'm from africa and I just wanted to know if they are out yet in South africa

Unknown said...

Hi,I'm from africa and I just wanted to know if they are out yet in South africa

Anonymous said...

Where from china ?