By Michael Scarola
I remember back in 1985 seeing promos on television for the Misfits Of Science. At first I wasn’t planning on watching it but happened to be home the night of the premiere episode and decided to check it out. I was instantly hooked and the one character that stood out to me was Johnny B. He had a cool style that not only fit the 1950’s music he sang but also fit into the look of the 1980’s. Leather motorcycle jackets were in style in the 1980’s and high top sneakers were just gaining popularity.
From the first few moments I saw Johnny B I knew I wanted a pair of white high top sneakers. At the moment I didn’t care which brand, I just wanted to wear sneakers like Johnny B. I recorded the episodes on VHS and eventually started scanning through to decipher exactly which high top sneakers he wore. In the pilot episode and a couple of the earlier episodes he had a pair of white/gray New Balance high tops (figures 1-1 & 1-2). They appear to be New Balance 480’s and I remember seeing those in stores at the time.
That year I put white high top sneakers on my Christmas list since I was only 15 years old at the time and didn’t have a job yet. I got a pair of Kangaroos (Roos) and was happy to have them even though they weren’t exactly the ones Johnny B had.
As I watched more episodes it was obvious Johnny B also wore two pairs of white/gray Nike high top sneakers. One pair was a more ordinary white/grey pair (figure 2) and the other were a very high pair that had a Velcro strap on the top portion (figure 3-1). A sneaker store by my house did have the regular pair of Nike high tops, without the velcro strap, but they were around $65(USD) and I couldn’t afford those at the time.
The pair I really liked were the Nikes with the velcro strap that my friend Sean and I referred to as ‘ski boots’ (figure 3-2). They appeared to have a velcro strap that went around the entire top portion and had what looked like a flap in front that went over the strap. At least that’s how they looked on the lower resolution TV sets of the time. About a year or so after Misfits Of Science was off the air a friend of mine showed up one day with a pair of red canvas Nike high tops (Vandals) with a velcro strap that went all the way around the top portion. I assumed the strap was the same on Johnny B’s pair. I looked for Johnny B’s Nikes with the velcro strap in every sneaker store I could but was never able to find a pair. This particular pair of Nike’s eluded me for the next 3 decades. I would always wonder what particular model these sneakers were and what they looked like up close. The only other time I saw them was in a brief scene in the 1986 movie Soul Man.
Over 30 years passed and I had searched online a few times with no luck finding these sneakers. A few months ago I came across the web site, Science Of Misfits. What an amazing and comprehensive web site dedicated to one of my most beloved television shows, the Misfits Of Science. Recently I contacted Janis Kunz who runs the site asking if she knew anything about these sneakers that Johnny B wore. Janis did some research and helped me to discover exactly which sneakers they were. They were Nike Double Team Hi’s.
A more than 30 year search had ended for me. However my ‘myth’ regarding the velcro strap had been crushed, well maybe not exactly crushed but at least I now know the truth. The velcro strap did not go all the way around the top of the sneaker as I had come to think all these years. It’s a long strap that goes around the front of the sneaker and has a wider portion towards the outer edge where it attaches. This wider portion is what I thought looked like the flap over the strap. I immediately compared screen shots of Johnny B wearing these high tops and the images from the links I attached below and could now see how he wore them. He didn’t tie the laces and simply stuck the ends of the velcro straps into the eyelets on the inside of the sneakers. This gave the allusion that the velcro straps might have gone all the way around the top of the sneakers when in fact they did not. I have to say that being a huge MoS fan all these years, it’s a relief finding all this out and finally seeing some up close pictures of these amazing high tops Johnny B wore.
Janis also helped me to remember the name of the other Nike high tops Johnny B wore that did not have a velcro strap. They are Nike Airship Hi’s. Even though I had seen these in person in the sneaker store back in 1985 I couldn’t remember the exact name. After all it has been over 30 years since seeing them so it’s understandable. A fun fact regarding Nike Airship Hi’s is they were actually worn by Michael Jordan before he got his signature ‘Air Jordan’ sneakers. Both Johnny B and Michael Jordan wore these, how cool is that!
Deciphering which high tops Johnny B wore has been a long journey that has come to a satisfying end and led me to Janis’ awesome web site, Science Of Misfits. I can’t wait to further delve into more of the facts and trivia regarding the Misfits Of Science.
Below are links to pictures of the Nike Double Team Hi’s. I have to say they are an impressive looking pair of high tops, unlike most I’ve ever seen.
Here’s a couple of links to the Nike Airship Hi’s.
Below is a link that shows the New Balance 480 high tops.
Here I’ve compiled a list with the name of the high top sneakers Johnny B wore in each episode of the Misfits Of Science.
01-02. Deep Freeze – New Balance 480
03. Your Place Or Mayan? – New Balance 480
04. Guess What's Coming To Dinner? - New Balance 480
& Nike Double Team Hi
05. Lost Link - Nike Double Team Hi
06. Sort Of Looking For Gina - Nike Double Team Hi
07. Sonar... And Yet So Far - Nike Airship Hi
08. Steer Crazy - Nike Double Team Hi
09. Fumble On The One – Nike Airship Hi
10. Twin Engines - Nike Airship Hi
11. Grand Theft Bunny - Nike Airship Hi
12. Grand Elusion - Nike Airship Hi
13. Once Upon A Night - Nike Airship Hi
14. Center Of Attention - Nike Airship Hi
15. Against All Oz - Nike Airship Hi
16. The Avenging Angel - Nike Airship Hi
17. Three Days Of The Blender - Nike Airship Hi