A sequel never gets a fair shake. From the moment it is revealed (or “leaked”), the next in line to anything, whether it be a movie or a video game or a shoe, is going to be harshly judged under the prism of the original and how it stacks up to something that for the most part had zero expectations. And when that original sets the bar exceptionally high, the challenge for creative is even greater.
Take the launch of the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout last year. After literally decades since Nike Baseball and Ken Griffey Jr. hooked up to create one of the swoosh’s most memorable signature shoe lines, you could look at the selection of Mike Trout as the heir to the throne one of two ways: the pressure was going to be astronomically high because it’s been so long since the last Nike Baseball signature shoe or there is no pressure because it’s been so long that it’s actually a nice surprise – an added bonus, if you will (say that in a Dusty Rhodes voice) – that anything new would have been welcome. Nike Baseball and the sneaker community seemed to take the latter route. Even though it was a well-received shoe that Nike showcased in the year and a half since its debut, the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout was just “happy to be there.”
But now that surprise has been replaced with expectations, the Lunar Trout 2 had to be a hit and there had to be a turf version for us non-baseball players who were awfully disappointed when the Trout 1 did not have a non-cleated version. So how did the launch of the Vapor Trout 2 go? Check out how our day with Mike and Nike Baseball went…
9:30 a.m., somewhere in the OC: Last year we went to Cal State Fullerton to check out the launch of the Lunar Vapor Trout. It was a celebration of Nike Baseball’s past with all sorts old school artifacts from the ’80s and ’90s that culminated with the future in Mike Trout and his then-new signature cleats. This time around, it’s all about the future inside a modern art gallery. The theme of the presentation was “The Blueprint”; this is because when people think about what a modern-day superstar baseball should be able to do, Mike Trout does it all and in dominating fashion.
To drive that point home about how great and unique of a talent Trout is, Nike even invited Sport Science’s John Brenkus to talk numbers and break down Trout’s mechanics and how crazy they are. Seriously, the energy generated by Trout’s swing could light up a couple of households. The money line from Brenkus: “Some call (Trout) one of the greatest ever. Science proves it.”
Here’s a replay of the Periscope broadcast we put up on Twitter from that day. You should really follow us on Twitter if you want get the feeling of what it’s like to be there at these launch events, really…
10:10 a.m.: After the presentation, we got a chance to walk around the space again and talk to Nike Design Director Ken Link and Trout about the Lunar Trout 2 and the journey from last year’s iteration to where we are today.
Why the Trout 2 is launching now instead of at the beginning of this 2015 MLB season:
Link: When we launch (new product), we want to make sure we’re coinciding when the kids start to ramp up. We’ve got fall baseball coming, we’re launching this into next season and really keep dropping (new colorways) over the next few months so that people know (even if Trout’s season is over) that this is Mike Trout’s shoe.
Trout: We wanted to gear up for when people are watching the most and with the holidays coming up, parents will be looking for cleats to buy their kids. It makes more sense than debuting it in the dead of the summer.
On feedback Trout had about the Vapor Trout that he wanted to see get better on the Trout 2:
Link: Mike does a lot of things for us and there’s plenty of dialogue between himself and the team. One of the things we’ll notice when we’re taking footage of him or scanning his feet is how we can we the shoe tighter around the foot or how we’re making sure he’s locked in and help his vertical explode or stealing a base.
Trout: Obviously, lighter, I like being able to go out there and feel like there’s nothing on my feet, but you have to be comfortable and protected out there too so I can’t just go out there and wear socks.
The lack of a Trout 1 turf shoe bummed Mike too:
Trout: Yeah, I was disappointed too, but now there is (laughs). So in the off-season I don’t really wear cleats at all so just to be able to work out in my own shoe is a great feeling.
Future colorways that I always love to ask about but never get an answer to because of course they’re not going to spoil the surprise:
Trout: There’s some crazy designs, crazy colors… yeah, there’s a few (new graphics on the upper) that are coming that are going to spice things up.
Random Fun Fact: When asked about what kicks he likes to wear off the field, Trout mentioned the Roshes, only he pronounced it “Row-Shay”, adding to the list of thousands of ways you can pronounce Roshe. For the record, this is Nike’s take on it.
11:00 a.m., Angel Stadium: After the presentation, we head out to Trout’s home turf prior to the Angels’ game later that night against the Houston Astros. Whereas last year we got to work out with Trout’s trainers at CS Fullerton, this year is going to be on the actual field of the Angels. Yeah, that’s going to be a treat, but not before we get our gear first…
And maybe the coolest part of the whole event, the walk up the tunnel onto the field. Sure, there were no people on the stands and I may or may not have had an entrance music playing in my head as I went up the steps, but it doesn’t make it any less special. Got chills doing this…
For a closer look at all of the gear we got to use, check out our special version of the KoF Mailbox.
11:30 a.m.: On the field, we got a chance to do a little bit of everything, from stealing bases to fielding to capturing our swings in slow-motion. Wait, what?
Yeah, the less you know about how I did out there the better, really. Nike also got us using their recently released Vapor 360 fielding gloves featuring Hypefuse.
1:00 p.m.: After a quick lunch, I broke off the from the pack to take care of other business before meeting back up with them later that night to watch Trout debut the Trout 2 cleats against the Astros. Here are some pics from the weekend of Trout wearing them along with a white and red colorway of the turf version that look pretty good.