The Under Armour Micro G® Anatomix Spawn – Black Lotus Performance Reviews
Under Armour made the biggest move this offseason by signing Stephen Curry to their young roster of talent (although they did lose DeAndre Jordan to Nike). Curry is one of the top stars in the league and in an instant, is the face of UA Basketball. Still, the company is slowly making strides to be among one of the top basketball shoe companies in a market which is still heavily dominated by Nike. High quality construction and performance has characterized Under Armour Basketball so far. Last season the Charge BB and Torch showed evolution from traditional designs and color schemes. With more of a presence on the NBA hardwood, the designers are now continuing to push new concepts and ideas which is fully represented with their latest signature performer. One of the most unique designs of the year takes the focus of this Performance Review – the Under Armour Micro G® Anatomix Spawn.
Setting a bold tone for Under Armour Basketball this Fall is their signature performer of the season – the Micro G® Anaomix Spawn. The features include the following:
- Synthetic upper with interwoven material for an anatomic fit and light weight performance
- Cushioning provided by Micro G® midsole
- Rubber outsole with herringbone traction pattern
- TPU stability plate that extends from the forefoot to the heel
- Contoured Micro G® sockliner for added comfort and fit
Aesthetics and Styling
For the first couple of season, Under Armour took an understandable subtle approach to the aesthetics for their basketball performers. The Charge BB changed everything last year as it gave the market a taste of what Under Armour is capable of. Even though the shoe has a traditional shape, the design of the Anatomix Spawn shows evolution from the subtle style of one of the first Under Armour performers, the Black Ice. The concept of the Spawn is that it works as one with the foot mimicking the muscles, tendons, and bones. With this concept, there are no straight lines anywhere to be found, which fits the idea that it essentially is a living part itself. Aside from the interwoven materials of the upper, the technological features include a forefoot to heel TPU cage, segmented sole, and the ever present Micro G® cushioning. Since this is the signature shoe for the Fall, Under Armour did not disappoint with color schemes releasing team inspired colors as well as this flashy “Pinkadelic” color scheme evaluated for this Performance Review.
The side profile of the Anatomix Spawn is very appropriate for the name. Ovals and wavy lines have a “spawn” effect on the upper, while the lower half curves accentuate the flowing feel of the shoe. Multiple layers and segments created all over help to make the colors of the shoe pop out also. We start our evaluation with the contoured rubber outsole. This sole is broken into forefoot and heel segments with the herringbone traction pattern molded into all parts of the rubber. The forefoot area forms a toe cap up front with the “anatomix” text molded in the center. Herringbone makes its way up here and on the medial & lateral sidewalls. A small UA logo is found on the lateral side outrigger. The wavy design creates natural grooves all over the forefoot. On the medial side, a groove cuts the sole into segments on the sides and extends to the middle of the forefoot. The lateral side sees a similar cut, but much closer to the mid foot. There are “spawn” shaped cuts of rubber within the main portion of the sole to keep traction sticky, but fluid. The forefoot part of the sole curves as it reaches the mid foot and has another UA logo on the medial side. On of the most unique technological aspects of the Spawn is with the mid foot TPU cage. The cage starts out on the lateral side, goes through the mid foot, and ends at the heel. This ingenious cage designs not only cuts back on weight, but allows the footbed to be more comfortable. The last part of the outsole is the U-shaped heel. It has the oval pieces and herringbone traction pattern that climbs up the back side heel. Completing the foundation is the contoured and wavy Micro G® midsole. The midsole starts off with a smooth layer on top and waves around the base of the shoe. Dimpled areas are found throughout the main portion of the mid sole, which is visible through the segmented rubber outsole. The Micro G® branding is printed discreetly on the lateral heel.
The multi-layered upper continues the spawn theme. At the toe box, the main portion is covered in mesh. A tougher rubber like synthetic makes up the toe cap to provide body and stability. For the sides, the design is more symmetrical than random. From a wide view, the waves and oval shapes may look random but that is not the case. The quarter panels have a mesh window surrounded by the interwoven layers.
Ovals and shapes litter the heel and collar. Mesh ovals make their way on the top of the collar and Achilles. The rest of the heel and collar are covered with the synthetic, interwoven layers which also covers the shapely heel counter. Another UA logo is found on the lateral heel. For the Achilles notch, the wave design continues. The notch forms a V before dipping down then curving up for the collar. Padding is plush but compact, with the lining on the silky side.
Running straight up the shoe, the lacing system is comprised of eight eyelets. The standard oval laces first pass through a small lace hoop at the throat line which has another UA logo. Each eyelet (aside from the third) is reinforced with extra material. Stitched on at the throat line, the thin tongue is made up of the rubber-like synthetic. Mesh material on the sides anchor the tongue from moving out of place on the inside. The spawn design on top of the tongue creates padding. Finishing it off is a lace holder in the center and the “anatomix” branding on top. What would an Under Armour basketball performer without a Micro G® insole? The Spawn is equipped with the contoured Micro G® insole which is both comfortable and responsive. “Anatomix” on the heel rounds out this unique performer.
Comfort and Fit
Designed to mimic the foot, wiggling into the Anatomix Spawn may take a minute or two. The fit is a close, form fitting true to size that is very comfortable all around the foot. Just as getting into the shoe may be a task, so is lacing up tight. The eyelets on the interwoven upper hold the laces from moving freely and the player will have to tighten the laces going through each eyelet. These small details make the difference when a concept becomes functional. Normally, a form fitting upper would have a stiff or suffocating feel. That is not the case here as the mesh openings seem perfectly placed to give the anatomic feel. The upper does feel like one with the foot. And this is no more apparent than at the toe box. Here, the layers of materials showcase what the shoe is all about. The mesh top allows for good flexibility and wiggle room, while the thicker reinforced cap and toe box feel protective but do not break up the flexibility of the shoe. The same can be said for the sides which clamp down tight around the foot. Most of the lace pressure is felt around the middle. Arch support is great from the sculpted TPU cage and contours of the foundation. And like the toe box, the areas of reinforced material around the mesh quarter panels are placed to allow the upper to stay close and protect, but not lose the flexible feel. Moving on, ankle support and protection is very good. Coverage is comprehensive from the front to the Achilles. The wrap is high but not restrictive & cumbersome due to the minimal padding and thin material. Heel lock down fits the feel of the shoe. It is just very comfortable without any added tightness or movement. The last aspect of comfort and fit is the Micro G® cushioning. From the insole down, cushioning is dense and plush. As we have mentioned in previous Performance Reviews, it really does not get any better than this. The contoured set up keeps the foot from sitting flat as the foot has full-length, consistent cushioning from the toes to the heel. True to the design, the Anatomix Spawn fits very close to the foot, with excellent flexibility and a good balance of comfort & responsiveness.
On the court, the Anatomix Spawn just feels amazing. The fit has an almost perfect blend of tightness, comfort, and court feel. In a few words, this is what a basketball shoe should strive for. There is no break in time needed, as the design of the shoe would suggest. Heel to toe running is tight on the court. The foundation gives good control, balance, and flexibility while the Micro G® set up provides the cushioned feel for every step. Up top, the upper has no problems flexing and bending. Most of the time, a player would have to get accustomed to the flex points of a synthetic, form fitting upper, but for the Spawn, it seems to work great out of the box. Weight wise, the shoe is on the light side. And because of the exceptional design, it all feels balanced from the foundation to the upper. All this established, performance is versatile and fit for almost every playing style. First off, the responsiveness and form fitting feel give the shoe a fast, free sense of movement on the court. Flexible, agile guards will be able to dip and get low to the court while staying balanced. Getting in and out of movements is very quick. The responsiveness of the shoe can handle all the lateral movements, cuts, and bends on the fly. And because flexibility is just amazing, the shoe plays even faster. For the big man, the tight, but comfortable fit around the foot makes it a very good option. The interwoven upper has coverage from the ankles down, and the contoured foundation, with the TPU cage, makes playing down low comfortable. There is enough stability to handle hard play, while the flexibility makes for smooth spins and turn arounds. Jumps are comfortable and responsive through the Micro G® foundation. Pushing off or landing on the Micro G® has a responsive & dense feel with plenty of soft comfort. Anyone that plays in the Antatomix Spawn can go on and on about the aspects of performance, but this shoe must be played on the court to experience what may be the best basketball performer of the season.
A shoe that performers this well will have excellent stability. Normally, a synthetic based upper that has a form fitting design would not be the most comfortable or would feel very rough. The Anatomix Spawn brings a combination of comfort, gripping fit, and flexibility that is unmatched. There is plenty of support and security all around. What makes the design perform above the rest is the fact that it feels consistent everywhere. The ankles have very good and tight support but it does not feel any different than the support felt down the heels or sides. All the aspects of the shoe seem to work as one without any uncomfortable flex points. The hard synthetic areas are well placed to allow the mesh areas to flex comfortably. If the purpose of the design was to get the shoe to act like a foot – skin, muscle tendons, and bones – then the designers have nailed it. The player can play jerky or smooth and the shoe just holds up well. For the foundation, the TPU stability cage is also innovated. It provides body to the shoe and helps prevent awkward bends without having a very hard feel. The Micro G® cushioning is able to bring comfort and impact support while the stability cage does not get in the way. And since it extends all the way to the heel, the foundation will always have a pillar of support. Top to bottom, stability compliments the light weight, comfortable, and flexible performance of the shoe.
The Spawn brings ideal herringbone traction performance. With the herringbone spilt into the oval shapes around the forefoot and heel, the player has more overall control when stopping & starting. Just like most herringbone based soles, it does give the sticky grip and ability to stop on a dime abruptly. What sets the Spawn apart and gives the shoe the fluid feel on the court is the sections. This allows the player to swivel and use only the areas where the foot is pressing down the hardest to find traction. Response time is increased. Quick cuts and changes of directions are performed with good balance. All movements where traction is needed, from sudden to subtle shifts, have a smooth, non-jagged flow. Overall, traction performance is simply outstanding. Ventilation performance is good. The tight and close fit does, at times, keep heat and moisture in, especially for long game sessions. Mesh openings and the silky lining keep the shoe from being uncomfortable.
Even though they are still building, in terms of a marketing and commercial sense, Under Armour Basketball is right at the top when it comes to exceptional quality, construction, and performance. With designs like the Charge BB, they are showing their push to grow the market through innovative concepts. The Anatomix Spawn this season falls into this category. Bringing a concept of an anatomically designed shoe that fits as one with the foot, the Spawn does not disappoint. This is a shoe where function almost exceeds the form & concept. Versatile offering all aspects need for a basketball performer – amazing fit, cushioning comfort, responsiveness, traction, and light weight stability – the Anatomix Spawn is flat out amazing. Every season, there may be a couple of performers that can stand the test of time. The Anatomix Spawn is one of those special shoes where the design and performance will be remembered. Those looking for one of the best shoes of the season that has plenty to offer should not hesitate to pick up this latest effort from Under Armour. Available at the Offical Under Armour Online Store now, the Micro G® Anatomix Spawn comes right on time for the 2013-2014 season.
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