Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Real Akuma Prods


I am an old arcade and Nintendo head at heart, I don’t play too many modern video games outside of a select few, give me NBA Jam, Aliens V Predator and Street Fighter any day, Street Fighter II is a particular favorite of mine. So much so that on a recent trip to Tokyo I scoured arcades trying to find a machine with the game on it to try and set a top 20 score, I wasn’t able to find one but did manage to finish Street Fighter IV a few times through on a single credit and set a top score on Marvel Vs Capcom so that set my desire at ease.

That being said it’s fairly straightforward to assume I was excited to hear about the upcoming Nike x Streetfighter collaboration range but have so far been disappointed by both the Chun Li and Ryu pairs. Keeping my hopes high for the next in the series I was pleased it was going to be Akuma, my second favorite character to play (after Ken), but I am pretty steamed over how it looks. I must say that I am a P-Rod fan, I have about 8 pairs of the P-Rod I as it is one of my favorite shoes of the last decade however there has been little since then to get excited about in the range, for me at least.

The collaboration for me lacks inspiration, creativity and an overall sense of completion, I can see what the goal was for the pair, I understand the use of canvas to represent his outfit and his Kanji logo on the heel but when we have two powerhouses such as Nike and Street Fighter I can’t be blamed for hoping for more than just a Kanji and line art illustration on the innersole. This is just to GR for me.


I have taken this opportunity to present my artistic interpretation of an Akuma sneaker using the P-Rod III as a base. I approached this custom from the perspective of a realistic production shoe. A lot of what we create as customizers is often unachievable in a mass produced environment, something I have learnt in my collaborative experiences and this is something I was intent on avoiding.

Since this was the case I have ensured that all embossed PR panels are of a single color and not detailed, that the graphics could be replicated digitally and that there is no multi-panel portrait or imagery going on. The main colour is Akumas flesh tone and the grey/blue represents the color of his uniform. On the frontal 101 panel there is a tear in the blue fabric in line with the way his sleeves appear to be nonexistent or even more likely ripped off his dōgi. The red gradient on the swoosh reflects his use of flames in his power moves and the red towards the back mirrors his hair color.

I have also added the kanji 'ten' (天) - meaning "sky/heaven", (all in the spiritual sense) which appears on the back of his dōgi after many of his fights just near the tear as there is no adequate place to put the kanji on the back of the sneakers without reconstruction work. The carnage pattern and its shadow were added to give the shoe a little more depth and reflects the viciousness with which Akuma approaches each of his battles. Finally the Vapor SB laces were included to tie in the design as he wears twine around his waist as he fights.


This is by all means not the be all and end all of custom sneakers but I am really happy with the custom colors I created and the composition of the design. If it was factory produced having reverse stitching, redoing the interior (color and material), adding a bamboo innersole and changing the outsole would be on the top of my list of things to change. Also on the back panel where the red embossed PR pattern is I would include an alternate material panel, something like long suede to more adequately show it was representative of his hair while still being embossed. All of this is of course extra, but extras that are easily achievable in a factory setting but to illustrate my point in a 2 day turnaround I think the custom still does the job very well.


I am not doing this post to put Nike on blast, I am just sick of seeing all these shoes come out and then seeing what appears to be a last second thought to add a minor detail and call it a collaboration whether it’s the recent Superhero inspired skate shoes or this new Streetfighter pack. Maybe if someone like myself or another artist was involved with these kinds of projects and up and comers were given more opportunities to show what they could do I will eventually find that next release that I am actually going to want to buy, even at a retail price, which I am so hoping comes along again soon.

What do you guys think?

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