Adidas Torsion Artillery Hi: Out of the Box
- Price: $160 MSRP [Sold out on Adidas.com / Available on eBay]
- Pros: Unmatched 90’s feel, Great materials
- Cons: Hard to style, Hight can be uncomfortable
While they are a high-top from the peak era of basketball sneakers, the Adidas Torsion Artillery Hi never climbed to fame the way the Jordan 1, or even the Question did. Instead, it was on the feet of a couple college players and basically nobody else. Today, you almost never seen the name.
20 years ago, though, the sneaker still had its celebrity admirers. After the success of Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves wanted to find a shoe that fit the exaggerated characters they played. The Converse Chucks they were wearing in the first film were too tame. With the Torsion Artillery Hi being a bit taller than a Jordan 1, a bit chunkier than an Air Force 1, and a bit more out there than anything else, it was the perfect fit.
In honor of the 3rd Bill & Ted coming out this year, Kid Cudi and Adidas teamed up to release the original design on the Torsion Artillery Hi. With these still sitting on shelves, is this a worthwhile shoe to pick up?
First things first. These are not an easy shoe to pull off. Sitting more than 2 and a half inches taller than a Jordan 1 High, they make a statement. It’s closer to a moon-boot than a sneaker in a lot of ways. They are also unapologetically 90’s in design. Yeezys these are not.
Starting up front, the toe is the classic toe-guard/perforated toe panel that a lot of shoes from this era have. Adidas chose to exaggerate them here, with the toe guard wrapping up nearly a third of the way onto the toe. The toe guard panel also runs about a third of the way down the shoe, covering up a lock-down strap that doesn’t lock you down. Moving back, the three stripes logo is in a glossy finish, with alternating white, off-white, and cream panels continuing to the back of the shoe.
Moving up, the shoe features an exterior layer to protect your ankle bone like the Jordan 5 – though the padding its way above your bone. These panels also feature articulating lace holes, giving you a lot of choices for how to lace them up and the ability to move if you lace to the top.
The tongue is strips of grey leather for the first five inches or so, with a couple of white panels finishing it off. The top of the tongue is finished with a sewn-on grey cloth piece, and it matches the grey of the interior lining.
The exterior of the upper is finished off with green laces that come pre-installed half way up the shoe, and adidas logos on the heel and top of the tongue. White laces come attached if you’re looking for the monochrome look. With as tall as these shoes are, I don’t think you’re going to find any other laces that fit. These are your two options.
Inside, the lining is a soft, 90’s-sweather-like material. Done up in a light grey. This is in strong contrast to the bright red insole featuring the same logo as all the other Adidas x Kid Cudi collection under your heel.
Finishing out the shoe, the midsole comes in a cream-colored foam. This is mated to an outsole that lives up to the 90’s design, featuring rubber panels in grey, white, and black. Torsion and soft-heel branding shows these used to feature high end tech, even if that tech isn’t today.
Pulling these shoes off isn’t easy. Going from retro 90’s to “got-lost-on-the-way-to-a-costume-party” can happen really quickly. Of course, you probably knew that already. If it’s a look you like, it’s probably a look you love.
Fit & Comfort:
These shoes fit pretty tight, especially for Adidas – which tends to run a bit bigger than other sneaker brands. I have these in a size 13, and they are snug all around. For comparisons, I’m a 13 in a Jordan 1, with lots of room up front. These are about as wide, but a lot shorter. I wouldn’t size up further, there is a lot of padding that will loosen up, but order up.
For such old technology, the Adidas Torsion Artillery Hi are amazingly comfortable standing still. The shoes are well padded throughout, and with a shoe this tall that means a lot of padding. The tongue is large, it can get bunched up but it’s also fairly easy to position it how you want.
On the other hand, once you start walking you can tell how tall these are. If you lace up any of the top three lace holes it will rub your calf raw as you walk. I’m sure they’ll break in, but plan on wearing really tall socks for a while. The alternative, not lacing them, will mean your pants will sit inside the shoe (unless you go full-on 90’s with your outfit and get some JNCOs). With heavy denim this can also bunch up and be uncomfortable.
No matter what, you’ll want to plan ahead for wearing these in comfort, as well as looks.
Adidas really impressed me with the material choices here. Some of the panels – the tongue in particular – are somewhat plasticky, but overall, the leather seems soft and higher-end compared to most retros. I expect these shoes will look even better with age.
Elsewhere on the upper, the strap across the ball of your foot is a fairly cheap-feeling nylon. Though, you won’t ever be touching it. The three stripes are made of a rubbery soft plastic. They might scratch a bit with age, but this will probably play into the shoes design more than detract from it. The eyelets are mostly metal, with the exception of the very top which is just plastic. Finally, the black heel padding is a soft, nubuck-feeling synthetic.
The midsole is made of a fairly soft EVA foam. It’s pretty comfortable overall, but it feels just like the Jordan retros that crumble at year 5 if you don’t wear them. You’ll want to make sure you don’t keep these sitting for too long before breaking them out. With as soft as the midsole is, they could have gone with a harder, longer-wearing rubber outsole. Unfortunately, they opted for an extremely soft blend. I can’t imagine it will last too long.
Inside, the lining of the shoe will look fairly beat up pretty quick. The ankle constantly rubs against your leg, and this material isn’t made to stand up to that. On the other hand, the padding around the shoe feels great. I would expect it to outlast the outsole and lining.
Ease of Care:
These shoes should be fairly easy to take care of. While the plastic coating on the leather is thinner than most retros, it’s still there and means water and a rag should get 90% of dirt off. A bit of soap should be able to get the rest. The just-slightly-off-white of the sneaker should also keep them from looking to worn over time if you keep up with cleaning them.
The only part that worries me is the laces. They feel fine, but with as tall as these shoes are, and their limited availability, if you rip one of them, I’m not sure you’ll ever be able to replace them. I would make sure you keep them from dragging on the ground.
Adidas originally priced these shoes at $160, and they were only available from the confirmed app in the US. After launch, they popped up on Foot Locker and PACSUN in limited sizing, but both of those websites are not allowing discounts on them. Going abroad to places like END might save you 3 or 4 dollars on the exchange rate, but you’ll pay it back in shipping.
On the resale market, prices are all over the place depending on sizing. Last sale price runs anywhere from $129 to $333 with smaller sizes generally a bit cheaper at time of writing.
Adidas is also listing that they plan on pulling them from the confirmed app, sold out or not, in a couple of months. They are very clearly trying to keep these from hitting sale shelves. That being said, knowing that Adidas has Pharrell’s sitting at outlets half the time, I’d expect at least some sizes to go on a discount.
Of course, no retro sneaker should cost what they do. This isn’t any exception. That being said, compared to Jordan’s, these are a steal. The materials are way nicer than almost any Jordan 1, and there is more of them.
Also, even if you’re the type of person who has more sneakers than sense like I do, these won’t overlap with anything else in your collection. They are unique. Even at retail they are a great value in the retro sneaker world.
The Adidas Torsion Artillery Hi are an old design, impossible to pull off, and not that comfortable. And I adore them. They scream 90’s retro without looking like you’re a hype beast. I’m really glad that Adidas took a chance with bringing back the old design, especially with their other Torsion styles sitting.
Despite the shoes, I know I’ll never play like Jordan. But I might just be able to beat the grim reaper at battle ship. Might as well aim for what’s possible.