27 November 2014

Nike Air MAG's vs Knockoffs vs Costume Version

This will be a review of the Halloween Costumes version of the Back to the Future shoe. Also, I will compare the China knockoff  as well as the real deal Nike Air MAG's.  This will be formatted much like my last review.  In the photos, the authentic Nike Air Mag (refer to as Nike) will be on the left, China knockoff (refer to as knockoff) in the middle, and the Halloween Costumes version (refer to as HC version) will be on the right.

For a more in depth review of Nike Air MAG vs. Knockoff, click here.


While the Nike and Knockoff boxes look very similar, the Halloween Costumes version is totally different.  It is a typical shoe box with an incorporated lid.  The base is grey with dark blue paint splatter graphics, this is to mimic the paint splatter on the sides of the shoe.  The lid is blue with official Back to the Future Part II logo across.  One side of the box has a label with an official Universal Pictures logo and number indicating size of shoe.  Note that all three shoes are the same size.

Sure, the box does not match the cool Nike version, but it is better made than the Knockoff. It also helps that the HC and Nike came in a sturdy shipper.  The Knockoff was poorly packed for shipping, especially for something that was shipped overseas.  This is why there are lovely creases and dents on my Knockoff box.

Pack out of the three versions
Pack out of the HC is typical of your average shoe.  The standout is the printed paper since there is a lack of cut out foam to fill in negative space.  Normally, when you get shoes, it comes wrapped  in thin tissue paper.  But, this paper is quite thick...but it has cool printing on it.  Win some, lose some.

Packing paper with Back to the Future Part II logos
A charger cable is included with the shoes, but no plug-in unit.  This means you will need to plug into a USB port, instead of a wall, to charge.  Lack of foam and plug-in unit keeps the cost down.  I wonder if I can access data if I plug my shoes into my computer.  Different kind of shoe hack.

The Shoe:

Outside of shoes
The first thing you will notice is, there is no Nike logo on the HC.  Since these are only licensed from Universal Pictures and not Nike, there is no swoosh.  It looks kinda naked without the logos.  Although, I have no clue how they basically knocked off Nike's design and not face legal action from Nike.  But, there is a rule that states that a 10-15% change of a design means it is a 'new' design.  More on that later.

Before I continue, I am just going to flat out say that the HC is very similar to the Knockoff.  The HC is basically the Knockoff without Nike logos.  I would not be surprised if these are made by the same manufactures and just re-branded (or un-branded) to legitimately sell to the mass market.  Even the electronics are basically the same.  There are some minor differences that I will point out.

Moving on, you will notice that the construction is the same as the Knockoffs, even down to the well defined ribs of the quarters.  Most of the differences between the Knockoffs and Nike are exaggerated on the HC.  For example, the ribs are deeper and on the HC than on the Knockoffs.  The Nike has smooth sides with slightly raised ribs.  Both the Knockoff and HC have sharp transitions to the rib, even to the point were it dips down before it raise up to the rib...as if they used a George Foreman Grill to press these grill marks.  You will notice this in different lighting as you will see hard edges on non-authentic MAG's (see photo below).

Laces are four elastic straps.  On the HC , the quality of these elastics are lower than that of the Knockoff.  Both are wider and not as thick as the Nike laces.  I can see the others wearing out in time, but Nike straps lasting longer.  I would not know, I have yet to put any of these on...so, I cannot comment on the comfort of these shoes, but they look damn cool.

Comparing toe box of MAG's
From the picture above, you can see that the toe box shape and size is very different.  The Nike is sleek and low, slightly above the toe cap.  The Knockoff has a larger toe box with a taller front wall, it is about twice the height of Nike.  The HC has the most toe room, with a very bulbous toe box at nearly three times the height of the Nike toe box.  These  differences are also apparent in the width of the toe box.  The wider HC almost extends past the outsole.  If you look down, you will see outsold peeking through on the Nike, a little less on the Knockoff, and almost completely covered on the HC.

The collars of the HC are similar to the Knockoff as they are floppy compared to Nike, which are stiffer and offer a little more ankle support.  The Nike collar, the white part, is almost flush with the side walls.  Both the Knockoff and HC have puffy collars.  If you like really luscious collars, then you will love the HC.  They seem to over stuff the HC collars, they also sit low, about the same height as the Knockoff.  Both collars sit low compared to Nike.

Nike collar is a uniform height all around, Knockoff has slight variation, almost unnoticeable.  The HC collar is all over the place.  They did not get the side supports shape quite right and it seems they are compensating by varying the height of the white collar.

Inside of shoes
In the photo above you can see what I mean about the depth of the ribs.  The uppers are a slightly darker shade on the HC. Hard to tell in pictures, but the Nike is the lightest grey, then slightly darker Knockoff, then slightly darker-er HC.  The colour of the outsole and heel cup is also darker on the HC. There is a slight teal tint in these parts.  The photo above shows this.

Along the throat of the HC, there is stitching all around.  This creates a piping effect around the edge of the lace area. Nike and Knockoff do not have this.  Speaking of stitches, there is additional stitching around the ankle strap on the HC.  The stitching is there to hold the hook and loop system that secures the strap to itself and to the shoe.  Nike and Knockoff use some sort of glue to hold down their hook and loop, resulting in cleaner looking straps.

While we are in the ankle area, we should talk about the hole.  On the Nike, this hole is a crisp three-sided window with tight radius corners, with no stitching around the perimeter.  Knockoff window is more rounded, still somewhat of a three-sided shape with larger radius in the corners with stitching.  The HC also has stitching, their window is more of an ellipse or pill-shaped, and a lot smaller opening than the others.  If you have girthy fingers, it may get trapped in the HC window.

Achilles pad and heel cups
From the back of the shoes, you can see the differences in collar puffiness.

Again, since the HC is not made and not licensed by Nike, we do not see any reference to "Nike MAG" on the heel cup.  You will also not see "Nike" on the front of the ankle strap.  The profile of the HC heel cup is also flatter than the other two, you can see this better in the side views above.  Texture on the heel cup and outsole are the same on all three, but the HC texture is not as deep. 

The ankle strap is reversed on the HC, with the hook and loop closure on the outside.  This might be just a manufacturer error on some and can easily be swapped with the other shoe.  At least they did not give me two rights or two lefts.  The HC Achilles pad matches the Knockoff, while both slightly differ from the Nike.  Nike's pad is fused to the back of the shoe, the others attached by hook and loop and completely removable.

Soles of the MAG's
There are some small details on the Nike sole that the others did not replicate.  First, you will notice that the Nike sole is wider than the others.  This is due to a flare of outside edges of the sole, imagine it looking like a flat tire.  The clear parts are clear with a slight blue tint on the Nike, while the others have a yellow-ish tint...looking like it did not come from a smoke free home.  These are new, and there is no smoke in this home.  Maybe they smoked a lot at the factory.

The waffle pattern of the sole is obviously cleaner on the Nike.  It is hard to see in photos, but on the bottom surface, the waffle pattern turns in to inverter pyramids, instead of recessed squares as they are on the sides.  Think meat tenderizer and the little pyramids, but the inverse of that, versus your typical waffle from a George Foreman Grill.  Yes, that is two George Foreman Gill references.  Both the Knockoff and HC's waffle pattern is recessed flat squares all around. 

Light them up!
Yes, they light up...but you already knew that.  Here are some major differences between the authentic and not-so-authentic ones. Nike uses a LED's with tinted bulbs on the heel.  The tinted bulb or lens allows the green, amber, and red to be seen even when not lit.  On the Knockoff and HC, you see the bare LED elements through the window in the heel cup, and only see the colours when it is lit.  Because of the bare LED, the hot spots are more noticeable on the non-authentic shoes.

Nike has electroluminescent panels to light up the two 'D' windows on the outsole.  This is why there is a nice crisp light when powered.  The others use two blue LED bulbs to light the window, resulting in a hotspot in the corner.  The Knockoff has better light distribution than the HC.  Also note that the Nike lights are a flat teal, while the other are a deep blue with hot spots.

Both non-Nike shoes seem to use the same electronics. The charge port and activation button are very similar as they just hang out the back of the shoe, hidden by the Achilles pad.  It takes a lot of effort to access these dangling wires.  One will have to 'dig' behind the Achilles pad to activate the lights.  In the Nike, the button is hidden inside the corner of the outside collar, while the charging port is on the bottom of the Achilles pad.


You get what you paid for.  At $100, you are getting a really good replica of the Nike Air MAG's.  With a little modification, like adding a Nike logo on the front of the strap, 'Nike MAG' on the back, and swoosh on the side, the Halloween Customs version can easily pass as a great replica to an average person.  Plus at only $100, I could wear these and not worry about it.

As stated in my previous post about these shoes, it is really hard to tell the difference between the Knockoffs and Nike's.  Unless you have seen (or have) the authentic ones to compare to, the $250 Knockoffs are a great replicas.  Although they are bootlegs, they make a great alternative to spending $6000 for an authentic pair and the risk of messing up your investment. 
Where to buy:

Nike:  Since my last post on this subject, a few have asked me where to get these shoes.  The Nike's are long gone.  As stated before, they were only available through eBay or select Nike Store auction.  Pretty much the only place you can get these are still on eBay.  But be prepared to spend  at least $6000 for a pair of authentic ones.  Keep in mind that there are strong rumours of a re-release of the MAG's with power lacing, from Nike, in 2015.  Again, these are unconfirmed rumours.

Knockoffs:  There are a few places online that sell these.  I got mine from AliExpress for about $200-250.  While it seems risky to order something like this from overseas, they seem legit as bootleggers go.  Others are selling these exact Knockoff on online auction sites for double the price.  Again, I should stress that these are knockoffs and  violate of many licenses.  But, they are pretty nice considering the cost.

Halloween Costumes:  These are officially licensed from Universal Pictures, so they will have Back to the Future logos.  These are sold as "Back tot he Future 2 Light Up Shoes" and not as "Air MAG's".  Halloween Costumes sell these for about $100 and are almost as good as the Knockoffs. 

Now, you know the differences between the three.  Hope this information helps should you decide to invest in pair of these shoes.  Please be careful of scams.


Martini said...

Great review, especially the conclusion. Crossing my fingers that the 2015 release Nike hinted at are actual powerlaces... and that I can actually get a pair!

Martini said...

p.s. Mine are the Knockoffs, but I bet you were able to see the telltale signs in my photo.

Unknown said...

I have a real pair of the NIKE MAG I'm thinking about selling $2,500

Sharon Stone said...

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