What a unique release the Nike Total90 Laser III is! Nike have completely redesigned the Laser from its predecessors and created a more dynamic cleat that is designed to improve accuracy and power. The initial roll-out in the range comes in a rather wild Electric Green/Black/Challenge Red color that is very noticeable on the field. Fernando Torres, Wayne Rooney and Robbie Keane are some of the top stars who have taken to wearing these in the last few weeks. I had the opportunity to get my hands on a pair, and after 3-4 weeks of testing in numerous training sessions and 2 games, I have experienced what the cleat has to offer, and why Nike dynamically transformed the range. I normally wear a size 9US and that is what I wore for this review.
Side by side, the Total90 Laser III looks very similar size wise to the Total90 Laser II. But, when you put them on and wear them, you will notice a difference in how they fit! The new Laser III does not have the same wide fit as its predecessor, but instead has a tighter front fit. I think one thing that makes them look wider is the fins that sit along the outside of the cleat, just below the strike zone. You end up loosening the laces a lot to get your foot into them!
At the beginning of the first training session, they felt great and I encountered no discomfort. But, by the end of the practice I started to fell blisters on both my little toe. Reason being, one of the seams that runs from the laces to the outsole is left unprotected on the inside of the cleat. Thus, it rubs against your toe when you change direction. My solution for this problem was to wear a band-aid until the cleat loosened up some. The upper material is synthetic leather, so these cleats break in pretty quickly. It really didn’t take them long to mold to my foot shape, and once they did they responded really well. Oh, and the inserts are pretty cool also as they use PORON technology that is designed to improve shock absorption in the insole. This means less shock to feet and joints, while also reducing pressure from stud placement. I haven’t seen this type of insert in any other cleats.
Style & Design
Well, the first thing you will notice about this cleat is the color! The electric green absolutely pops, while the five red pods in the strike zone are easily distinguished because of the black background. Personally, they are a little too colorful for me. But over the past year, there have been some wild and crazy color choices that have pretty much sold out, so it is not surprising that Nike chose the same route with this rollout. I do, however, really like the latest White/Metallic Gold/Dark Obsidian version that has been released. If you compare this version of the Laser to the Laser II, you can see that they have completely redesigned the front. Nike decided to remove the Shotshield technology (the rings on the front of the Laser II cleat) and moved from a central lacing system to an off center. They have also added the T90 logo toward the back of the Laser III cleat in large black letters.
Nike has rolled out a bunch of new features on the Laser III. First offis the addition of five red ‘pods’ that sit right along the strike zone. The pods are designed to even out pressure distribution on ball contact. After testing, I can confirm that they serve a purpose, as they do act like small cushions when you hit solid shots. Do they distribute pressure? I can’t confirm this, as that seems like more of a scientific question. I also found that the pods are positioned outside of my normal strike zone. If you have ever watched Cristiano Ronaldo strike a free kick, you will notice he strikes the ball in a completely different way, kind of off center. Well, if I was to describe where the pods are lined, I would say that Ronaldo’s strike would be perfectly in line with where they are positioning. It offers something completely different, and while I was wearing these I was tempted on several occasions to change my shot up! Not a bad thing in my opinion.
Next update is the addition of TPU fins that sit on a honeycomb panel. Now, these I found to be really interesting! Each fin is raised a few millimeters off the honeycomb area, and you can move them by brushing your hand along the area. They are designed to flex on contact with the ball, acting like a car suspension system in a sense. Do they work? They are great for controlling the ball, especially on a wet surface. When it comes to touch and control, you can feel the cushioning effect that the fins have and they do serve that purpose if you use that part of your foot. But, they are positioned outside of the passing zone (ie. your instep), meaning they really don’t serve that functionality, and they definitely are not going to be used when you shoot. Personally, I use my instep for control, and the top of the cleat for dribbling. Thus, I didn’t have as much use for the area as other players might have.
Personally, I am not a fan of the Electric Green color. It is too loud for me and I would have preferred to see the White/Metallic Gold version released first. Second thing that I was disappointed with was the fact I encountered some blisters. If you decide to get these, rub your hand in along the inside of the cleat, and you will find the misplaced (in my opinion) seam that caused the problem. Next, I am not convinced that the fins serve anymore of a purpose than just control. The area that they cover is too low for passing and shooting. I would have liked to see them run in between the 5 pods, offering even more value to that area. Finally, one Mr. Fernando Torres changed back to the Total90 Laser II for last weekends Premier League game, where he scored his 50th goal for Liverpool. My question is, what was up with the Laser III that persuaded Torres to go back to the original pair. Very unusual!
I have to admit that when I first saw these I was completely shocked at how many changes Nike made to the cleat! Normally, you see companies redefining what they have on prior releases, but the Laser III is completely different to the Laser II. For that reason, I would say that these are a diagonal step in the range, rather than a step forward. The Total90 Laser II was all about Power, while the Total90 Laser III is all about accuracy and power! In a sense, Nike have moved towards a similar design to the Adidas Predator (side note: this could be a very smart move on their part since the Predator range has moved away from the raised design) I was pleased with how these performed overall, and have no doubt that they will be a hot commodity come this summer’s World Cup.