What happened to Darker?

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What happened to Darker?

It appears that they have entirely redesigned/reduced their product line and are going through a major transition. Their marketing (who would have thought that Darker had any marketing) is full of transitional messages like "leap forward" and "aggressive orthodox evolution" and even "Carry on our wayword!" (Hope they don't mean the Aberdeen WayWORD Festival :sneaky:).

The new 7p-2A series blades (now 7P-2A.Ri) have an outer ply made of "European wood" that "is more supple than Japanese cypress" and has "more speed and power". I have no idea what 'European wood" they use, it looks like spruce to me and if that's the case that's a leap backward in my humble opinion, having played with both hinoki and spruce blades. Or maybe it's just some European cypress. I'm not an expert, so I may be mistaken.

There's also a new S&W 5-ply wood line made of willow and, again, some unnamed "European wood".

Most popular kiso hinoki blades, including 1-ply, have vanished from their 2024 catalogue.

The 2024 internet catalogue is currently somewhat brief. It's worth noting the odd (or should I say even, as there are only even numbers) pagination, which makes it appear as though half of the catalogue is missing (I know they also have a new 5P-2A.Ri blade that is absent). So there's still hope that they will keep some of their old hinoki blades.

Nevertheless, it appears that Darker are running out of their premium kiso hinoki wood, I'm afraid, as most Darker blades are currently out of stock for months in online retailers and some vendors informed me that they do not anticipate seeing specific kiso hinoki Darker blades any time soon.

I do hope it's a false alarm, so if you have any info, please share it with us here.


Screenshot 2024-06-11 at 11.05.16.png
 
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Update: Found the full 2024 catalogue: http://www.darker.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/webyoudata.pdf

Looks like they retain 7P-2A.7t and 7P-2A.Carbon (they raised the price though).

But many blades are missing, such as Darker Esteem or Aqua Selas ( and vendors confirmed they were not expecting it)

No 1-ply blades either.

Here the full list of 2024 products and, the last table, discontinued blades:


The discontinued list includes 5P-2A, 7P-2A, J-Speed 90 etc.
 
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says Spin and more spin.
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For those who knows; how does Nittaku Septear ( 7 ply pure Kiso Hinoki ) compared to one ply?

Comparing a 7 ply hinoki blade to a 10.5mm 1 ply hinoki blade will kind of feel like comparing a 22 hand gun to a fully automatic assault rifle. Okay, more accurately, it would be like comparing a 22 hand gun to a 45 magnum. However, that downsizing to go with your rubber downsizing might help you win a few more matches. :) It just won't feel like the magical 1 ply.

But, answering the OP's question, it may be that the change has to do with the availability of real hinoki and/or new laws on its commercial use in Japan. I don't really know.

But, there are woods that have very similar playing characteristics to hinoki that just are not from 500 year old trees. Various kinds of cypress look slightly different because of the color of the wood but play with a very similar feeling and play quality.

I don't know. But hinoki is a complicated subject when you look at it closely.
 
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I just got a Darker 7P-2A from tabletenniss11 and tested it together with my Nittaku j-pen excellent that I got approximately at the same time. The j-pen excellent is a 9mm 1ply kiso hinoki and it has a much better distinctive feel than my 7P-2A, much more aliive.

Cheers
L-zr
 
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Comparing a 7 ply hinoki blade to a 10.5mm 1 ply hinoki blade will kind of feel like comparing a 22 hand gun to a fully automatic assault rifle.

But, answering the OP's question, it may be that the change has to do with the availability of real hinoki and/or new laws on its commercial use in Japan. I don't really know.

But, there are woods that have very similar playing characteristics to hinoki that just are not from 500 year old trees. Various kinds of cypress look slightly different because of the color of the wood but play with a very similar feeling and play quality.

I don't know. But hinoki is a complicated subject when you look at it closely.
On a multiple layer blade at least, spruce has a somewhat similar feel to hinoki. I think Soulspin is using Italian Spruce.

Cheers
L-zr
 
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says Spin and more spin.
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On a multiple layer blade at least, spruce has a somewhat similar feel to hinoki. I think Soulspin is using Italian Spruce.

Cheers
L-zr

I personally love the feeling of spruce as well. :)

Those blades with a spruce medial ply under a limba top ply really have a unique feeling that I love.
 
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But, answering the OP's question, it may be that the change has to do with the availability of real hinoki and/or new laws on its commercial use in Japan. I don't really know.

I don't know. But hinoki is a complicated subject when you look at it closely.

I do not know Japanese law, but hinoki has been a problem and will become a bigger problem, since Japan also have the same goals that EU has.

EU already has laws relating to sustainability - linked to that of the UN 2050 target.
already, table tennis as an Olympic sport to be in EU, which is subjected to meet the same EU target, has table tennis blades as complicated subject too.

ie, if Butterfly blades are using x amount of wood - they need to be either planting x amount of trees, or the product is not allowed to be imported into the EU.

so, solution is to change the x amount of wood, and/or to change material.

so if TT companies are not planting trees, we are due to see huge changes in blades in the coming few years.
this will warrant its own thread when news break out. I first shared this here, I think in 2023, or 2022. it will happen one day
 
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On a multiple layer blade at least, spruce has a somewhat similar feel to hinoki. I think Soulspin is using Italian Spruce.

Cheers
L-zr

"Somewhat" is the key word here. Both spruce and hinoki are soft and have extended dwell, but similarities end here. Spruce dwell is, for lack of better description, is a dumbed down hinoki dwell :). Spruce is less reactive to incoming spin, but nowhere close to hinoki when it comes to generating your own spin. It also has less gears. It's hard to explain, but kiso hinoki grabs the ball, holds it for a moment and then spits it. Spruce.. well, it just dwells on it. It's just not as exiting. That's why spruce blades are good at everything but masters of nothing. Spruce is nice but dull. That's what I meant when I wrote that going for spruce instead of kiso hinoki is going backward.

BTW how did you manage to buy a &P-2A blade from TT11? They have been out of stock for months there, and I just checked it's not in stock now.
 
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Comparing a 7 ply hinoki blade to a 10.5mm 1 ply hinoki blade will kind of feel like comparing a 22 hand gun to a fully automatic assault rifle. Okay, more accurately, it would be like comparing a 22 hand gun to a 45 magnum. However, that downsizing to go with your rubber downsizing might help you win a few more matches. :) It just won't feel like the magical 1 ply.

But, answering the OP's question, it may be that the change has to do with the availability of real hinoki and/or new laws on its commercial use in Japan. I don't really know.

But, there are woods that have very similar playing characteristics to hinoki that just are not from 500 year old trees. Various kinds of cypress look slightly different because of the color of the wood but play with a very similar feeling and play quality.

I don't know. But hinoki is a complicated subject when you look at it closely.
Oh no oh no oh no...

No more kiso hinoki, what can I do? What should I do. I am like a headless chicken running here and there...

IMG_5674.jpeg
 
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I do not know Japanese law, but hinoki has been a problem and will become a bigger problem, since Japan also have the same goals that EU has.

EU already has laws relating to sustainability - linked to that of the UN 2050 target.
already, table tennis as an Olympic sport to be in EU, which is subjected to meet the same EU target, has table tennis blades as complicated subject too.

ie, if Butterfly blades are using x amount of wood - they need to be either planting x amount of trees, or the product is not allowed to be imported into the EU.

so, solution is to change the x amount of wood, and/or to change material.

so if TT companies are not planting trees, we are due to see huge changes in blades in the coming few years.
this will warrant its own thread when news break out. I first shared this here, I think in 2023, or 2022. it will happen one day

What about furniture companies and houses builders? They don't have to plant trees?
 
"Somewhat" is the key word here. Both spruce and hinoki are soft and have extended dwell, but similarities end here. Spruce dwell is, for lack of better description, is a dumbed down hinoki dwell :). Spruce is less reactive to incoming spin, but nowhere close to hinoki when it comes to generating your own spin. It also has less gears. It's hard to explain, but kiso hinoki grabs the ball, holds it for a moment and then spits it. Spruce.. well, it just dwells on it. It's just not as exiting. That's why spruce blades are good at everything but masters of nothing. Spruce is nice but dull. That's what I meant when I wrote that going for spruce instead of kiso hinoki is going backward.

BTW how did you manage to buy a &P-2A blade from TT11? They have been out of stock for months there, and I just checked it's not in stock now.
Those properties are hardly noticeable on a multilayer blade actually depends on other layers. My soulspin blade with spruce is actually more “Hinoki” like than my SDC which has a Hinoki top layer, not Kiso though.

I bought it on a weekly sale maybe a month ago.

Cheers
L-zr
 

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I'm in a similar camp; currently play with a Darker 5p-2a and after switching from H3 to D09c absolutely love the feel of the racket. Would be interested in picking up a 5p-2a.Ri to see how it feels - it does look like Spruce to me (some of Xiom's new blades, like the Calderano TMX surface ply also looks like Spruce/Hinoki in their blurry catalog photo). Soulspin may be seeing some new interest given that they seem to be the spruce experts.
 
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What about furniture companies and houses builders? They don't have to plant trees?
In the UK builders and construction companies, builders merchants etc buy from sustainable sources, so the guys cutting and selling trees as ‘lumber’ do the replanting.
 
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