The Beginners Guide to Rare Union Bindings

It is the opinion of the staff at Michigan Boarder that, without question, Union bindings are the best value in snowboard bindings on the market today.  Sure, there are other bindings that may boast more tech features, but one of the great things about Union is they have everything you need and nothing that you don’t.  Union bindings are a combination of form and function at its purest level.  They are minimal, amazingly comfortable, and equally as functional.  Over engineered bindings always end up being total shit.  Lets be honest here I don’t want to name names, but seriously, that spiral ratchet, tungsten aluminum, space-age polymer heap of shit isn’t going to wipe your tears and change your diaper when that junk falls apart is it?  Its not.

This article is intended as a beginners guide to rare Union bindings and how the different tiers are set up.  Rare Union bindings have been sold on the secondary market for big bucks. The desire for these bindings is growing and while demand is high production on some of these units are impossibly low.  Collectors market anyone?  For sure!  There are Union collectors and I am one of them.  I also collect spores, moles and fungus.

Tier 1-Custom House UCH

Every year Union releases a limited run of what is called Custom House bindings. These are the entry level of rare bindings.  They are available to heavy hitter shops that order enough bindings from Union to be deemed worthy of being able to carry their limited stuff.  UCH bindings are usually made in collaboration with brands or entities that are friends of the C3 family.  These are the easiest limited bindings to get, as it goes, this year the number to retailers were limited and Union dictated how many of each unit the shops could buy. This season there were five UCH bindings released for resale.  They were the Crab Grab Contact, Dinosaurs will Die Force, Salmon Arms Force, SIA Butt Snorkeler Contact, and a PBR re-issue Contact.  Of the five, the Butt Snorkelers were the most difficult to obtain.  They were only  shipped to shops that attended SIA.  Super rare!  Speaking of super rare, what you do you know about the Positivity Camp collab?  Oh you don’t, that’s right.


 

Tier 2- Commission store color ways

The commission store color way bindings reference specific color ways that are released only to legacy shops.  What’s a legacy shop precious?  A legacy shop is a store that’s been in the game for a long time and is respected in the community as OG.  A few years ago a bunch of legacy stores with similar opinions about their not-in-it-for-the-love competitors got together and created The Commission.  Here’s what they have to say about themselves: The legacy shops involved have the welfare of snowboarding on their minds. The majority of snowboard retailers do not. So we collectively created “The Commission” to create products and make initiatives for the betterment of snowboarders”.  Basically they were trying to combat online sales by creating exclusive products for shops they felt were in the cool club.  A lot of it was retail drama.  Yeah that’s a thing.  I totally back the idea, but half these guys had their “commission shop only” gear for sale online, so what’s the point?  The intent was to drive people into their store…lameish if you ask me.  Most notable releases were the bass green Superforce, camo Superforce, and my favorite, the wood Superforce.


Tier 3- Superpro card release

Each season Capita and Union make a card that is a superior version of a proform. This card is intended to be distributed to industry ballers, top tier shreds on the up and up, and other snow folks worthy of being honored with receiving one.  These cards always have some sort of super rare binding color way.  You’ll notice a pair of Superpro bindings by the marking on the baseplate; it may say Superpro, Team, or, like this year’s…Superforce.  These bindings are made in such limited quantities that sometimes owners of these cards who aren’t vigilant at placing the order in time miss their opportunity to get said bindings.

This season there is a black Superforce with a dark grey U on a team high back.  They are built on the Force platform.  Last year they made a white Superpro that was basically a UCH contact with upgraded XO straps.  This was a solid combination and an amazing binding; it was not just the usual odd color way of a Force binding with a team high back.  Other notable past Superpro color way releases were the infamous Stars and Stripes Forces and the all red Union Teams.


Tier 4- Team Bindings

Team Bindings are the collector’s holy grail.  These bindings are a special edition given to pro and am riders only.  The riders receive the bindings directly from Union.  They are not available in any stores.  Team Bindings are always designated with a large U on a team high back.  These binding are usually built on the force platform, but some have been done on the atlas platform as well.  The baseplate is marked Team much like Superpro.  Sometimes there are additional markings on the straps, but they’re always marked as Team.  Team Bindings have been made in a few color ways and weird variations, for example: yellow with a black U, grey with a white U outline, black with a white U outline, black with a white U, white with a black U outline, and white with a black U.


Side Notes

 

The white Team Binding debacle

Last season the Team Binding was the white Force with a black U.  They also were marked Team on the baseplate.  These bindings were seen in most films and on almost every rider.  They were the hot shit and pairs were selling on eBay for double and even triple what a Force would normally sell for.  After the showing of the Union movie, Stronger, Union allocated a few of these binding variants to each shop that showed the movie; these white Forces were marked Stronger on the baseplate as opposed to Team.  The Stronger bindings also ended up selling for 3-4 times their retail price on secondary market. At this same time, Union was releasing the Pink Forces to the same shops receiving the Stronger bindings.  There was a lot going on!  Once the dust settled and all the collectors were happy to have one of the two versions of the white Team Binding the unthinkable happened.  Union released a third version of the binding…this year’s white Force.  So after all of the $500-$1,000 purchases of these super exclusive white Force bindings, the general public now had access to the bindings at $230 a set with the only difference being that the binding is marked Force at the baseplate.  This doesn’t make the other bindings less collectable or desirable it just makes telling them apart very difficult. It also stole their thunder!  There have already been attempts to sell this year’s binding as last year’s Teams. You have been warned sucker!

 

The Pink Unions

As stated above, Pink Unions were given to shops that showed the Stronger movie.  They nearly sold out instantly in stores.  Some made their way onto the Internet for resale.  Allegedly these are one of the rarest bindings to have ever been created.  Don’t quite me on this but I think there were only like a hundred units.

 

Over Seas Releases

Union also does stuff with folks outside of America.  There are few crazy collabs out there, but these right here are real nice Clark.  Check out the Union X JBMC and the Union X Joint collab! This Japanese shit dope as F*ck holmes!  You still don’t know about that Positivity Camp collab do ya?


 

Union’s greatest hits

Check out a few of our favorite Custom House joints that Union rolled up for us below:

The Holden Collab- fucking black, rock-n-roll studded core ass shit! This right here is perfection!

The Spring Break Collab– Contact Pro with a Team back.  They’re the perfect accompaniment to any Spring Break board including the Slush Slasher and the Tree Hunter. This binding is as sexy as it is functional. Striking!

The PBR Binding– something like 166 units made.  The red bled into the white after riding them, but who gives a shit.  The only thing these bindings looked bad on was the PBR Stepchild board you paired it with that day you got a barbed wire armband tattoo you kooky bastard!

Ultrafear– back when the Ultrafear had a mix of every board graphic in the Capita line and was a limited release, back before it was pointed, and back before they made that all white Ultrafear that made me dizzy it was so damn ugly (I ride Ultrafears so you know it was bad) these were the only bindings ever where it was ok to actually pair with the matching deck.  I don’t know why this was ok it just was. However, just because you did this doesn’t make it ok to wear the shirt of the band you are going to see.  You follow me asshole?

Harembe Superforce– HA HA ok so I was told by Union that these were not intended to be a Harambe bindings it just so happened that with the timing of events and such the Harambe thing just kind of happened.  These were last year’s SIA attendee only binding.  Regardless if Union meant to or not I say we never forget! #DOFH

Danny Kass– Danny Kass for years now has had a special binding with Union.  This one in particular was our favorite.  They had a little tee shirt on the back covering the boob eyes! Creativity at its finest folks!

PS…

There are more variations and color ways than are listed.  Again this is a beginner’s guide.  We are working on the definitive guide for assholes soon.  It will be our finest works to date; by that I mean it should be mostly accurate.

 

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4 Responses to "The Beginners Guide to Rare Union Bindings"

  1. kcampbell  December 28, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Great article, especially as I have been loving the team highback on this years force! And have been seeing them, and the black team unions in a lot of edits this season! Two questions:
    1) How des one find out when those sneaky lot at Union are releasing rare bindings? For example this year I believe they released their black team binding with white u in limited quantity to some shops. Have seen a few of them about from googling especially in Asia/Europe and some shops in NZ. As you can imagine all sold out and gutted I wasn’t fast enough to grab a set…but why so quiet? not even on their website… Either these are fake or Union just release in super small batch?
    2) You really hated the all white ultra fear? Why? 🙁 haha I’m bias and own it- was unsure myself but it weirdly got me a lot of compliments on the mountain here in europe… I find Capita goes through a great run of board graphics then one year I’m just not feeling it…for example I have the outsiders from 2016 which looks great. The 2017 version was also good. But not feeling the alien graphics from this year, same goes for the DOA…last two years were great especially the 2017. But again not feeling this years…just prefer it when capita do plain graphics with a stand out base…(with the exception of the early Ultrafears…the graphic mash up was dope back when it was a limited edt. board…). this is all subjective of course 🙂
    All the best, Keep up the good work!
    k

    • BennyWest  January 1, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      1. I know exactly what you are talking about in regards to those black teams online… They are legit but definitely not supposed to be for sale or online! They are supposed to go to the team only! That includes am’s! Union is quiet about the release of the limited stuff for a lot of reasons. Hype is the biggest! I think that C3 is one of the last companies that actually gives a shit about brick and mortar shops! Doing the release like they do drives people into stores! Thats important… finding out ahead of time is just like anything else… you gotta stalk!

      2.Yeah I hated the white graphic! Still the Ultrafear is one of the best snowboards of all time so it is what it is! Next years is dooopppeeee!

  2. nosedradamous  January 1, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Thanks for the Beginners Guide to Rare Union Bindings post. We appreciate that you guys get what we’re trying to do.
    Just waned to give you the correct info on the info you posted.
    Of this years Custom House Binders, the rarest were the Salmon Arms. We only released 100 units of those. Then came the DWD, with a 150 units, 200 Crab Grabs, 300 of the Pabst and 560 of the Butt Snorklers.
    The Commission binders have been de-Commissioned as those guys dibanded. We did 3 bindings for them, the burnt wood, bass boat and camo. Then gave thme the USA and a Super Pro binding for exclusive distribution. But we stopped doing stuff with them 2 seasons ago.
    SuperPro’s, we only do 250 of these a season and they are intended for SHOP KIDS ONLY. Shop kids are our front line, and are usually poor. So we want to take care of the dudes holding it down with something special and in their price range. Usually these are cutom creations, or Frankenbindings of new stuff hitting the market, combined with shop favorites. Sometimes we do variations of the team bindings as well.
    And your spot on with the Team Bindings. Team only.
    The overseas custom house bindings, we bring in 15-20 pair a season of each for the C3-Shop and C3 Snowboard Shop in Seattle. They go quick. Japan, Korea, China, Austria, Canada and Italy all have some stuff that drops and tells its own story. Sometimes it translates to the North American market, other times it doesn’t, but looks rad. Anyway, you can find it at C3 under eXclusives.
    And of the rarest of rare, Baldface and Mt. Baker Banked Slalom bindings are up there as the rarest of the rare. We make 12 pair a season for the LBS and the only way to get them is to win your class at the LBS. Baldface, well you have to buy your seat on the Union cat in Nelson BC, then go into the shop in the lodge and grab yourself a pair.
    Keep your eyes peeled as two more UCH are dropping this season in February.
    Happy New Year and again, thank you for the huge compliment of an article.
    Johan

    • BennyWest  January 1, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks man! I will use all this info in the final version ” The Definitive Guide to Union Bindings”.

      Emmet better get those other two into my shop man!

      Thanks for taking the time! I am humbled!

      Benny West

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