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Nike Air Penetrator Mid (1995)

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the sand/aubergine/black colorway.
Air Penetrator Mid

QUICK FACTS

Colorway: sand/aubergine/black

Original Release: 1995

Retro: N/A

Release Type: General release

Weight: 18.4 ounces

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BACKGROUND

The budget-friendly Ndestrukt. 

When the Nike Air Ndestrukt released in 1995, it became the first official member of the newly formed Ndestrukt line. And despite being overshadowed by its successor, the Air Shake Ndestrukt, the Air Ndestrukt was still quite popular in the United States and internationally. But not everyone could afford the $94.99 price tag (about $161 in 2020). That realization pushed Nike to develop a cheaper alternative a cheaper alternative to the Ndestrukt, and it did so in the form of the Air Penetrator Mid. 

Nike Ad featuring the Nike Air Ndestrukt.
The Air Ndestrukt (1995). Photo: Nicekicksvault

Released in 1995, the Penetrator was designed as a takedown model of the original Ndestrukt. A similar, yet technologically inferior alternative to the flagship Ndestrukt basketball shoe. Unfortunately, if the Air Ndestrukt is considered overshadowed by today’s sneaker connoisseurs, the Penetrator has been all but forgotten.

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the sand/aubergine/black colorway.
The Air Penetrator Mid is the takedown of the Air Ndestrukt and is all but forgotten by today’s sneakerheads.

WHAT IS A TAKEDOWN?

Nike shoes are expensive. It’s a fact of life. Another fact is that the cheaper the shoe, the more accessible it is to the masses. Put those two facts together and you get the takedown model. 

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the white, black colorway.
Photo: expoaut1980

Several times a year, Nike will release a flagship sneaker, a headliner featuring the latest cutting edge technology, the product of Nike’s fastidious dedication to research and development. But all that hard work isn’t cheap and Nike is notorious for attaching steep price tags to their sneakers. The takedown exists for those who cannot afford the flagship sneakers. In this case, the Air Ndestrukt is the flagship shoe, the Penetrator is the takedown.

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the sand/aubergine/black colorway.

Takedowns are entry level sneakers designed with similar characteristics to the flagship model, but either lack or severely reduce the innovative technological features that make the flagship unique. It is basically a replica of the flagship model, minus the bells and whistles.

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the sand/aubergine/black colorway.

Takedowns were designed to broaden a flagship model’s reach. In addition to leaving out many features of the flagship model, takedowns are sold at a lower price. Lower price tags make the shoe available to those who cannot afford the flagship version. Lower price tags, however, also tend to mean lower revenue, which in turn makes it difficult for Nike to justify the production costs of creating a retro. This explains why the majority of takedowns never return once their initial run is over. That being said, if the demand is high enough, the supply will follow. It’s simple economics. 

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the white, black colorway.
Photo: expoaut1980

DESIGN FEATURES

The Penetrator featured an oiled ultrabuck (for the dark pine and black colorways) suede and leather mid-cut upper with breathable defense mesh perforations in the forefoot, a reinforced synthetic tip and an EVA cup-sole design. The outsole consisted of solid rubber with a herringbone traction design. Lower cut than its “big brother” the Air Ndestrukt, the Penetrator lacked the heel Air sole unit and therefore had vastly inferior cushioning. The Penetrator also did not have the Lace-lock system featured in the Ndestrukt. At 18.4 ounces, the Penetrator was heavier than the Air Ndestrukt which weighed 17.3 ounces.

COLORWAYS

The Penetrator Mid released in four colorways:

The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the sand/aubergine/black colorway.
1) sand/aubergine/black
The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the dark pine, black, copper colorway.
2) dark pine/black/copper. Photo: vintagebyroundtwo
The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the white, black colorway.
3) white/black. Photo: expoaut1980
The Nike Air Penetrator Mid in the black, white colorway.
4) black/white. Photo: furugika

PRICE

The Penetrator released in 1995 and retailed at $60 (about $102 in 2020). The Penetrator has never been retroed. 

Kicksigma