Many of you would be familiar with the Astrox 100ZZ, which is the Japan-made model of the Astrox 100 series. Recently, Yonex decided to produce some of its flagship Astrox series rackets in Taiwan, these include the Astrox 88 series and the Astrox 100 series. Thus, the Tour and Game rackets were born. For the Astrox 88 series, apart from the top-range Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro, Yonex has also presented the made in Taiwan Astrox 88S Tour, Astrox 88S Game, Astrox 88D Tour and Astrox 88D Game. Similarly, for the Astrox 100 series, apart from the Astrox 100ZZ, we also have the Astrox 100 Tour and Astrox 100 Game.
Check out the Astrox 100ZZ:
The Tour rackets are the mid-range products, whereas the Game rackets are the lower-range products in their respective series. Therefore, in terms of price, quality of production and materials, the Japan-made flagship models definitely top the chart, followed by the Tour rackets and then lastly, the Game rackets. However, I must say that I am really impressed with the Tour and Game rackets - they are very affordable and at the same time, very well-made with similar finishes compared to the Japan-made flagship rackets.
Let's talk about the Astrox 100 Tour and Game rackets now.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the review, If you are like me who used to wonder how to tell each of the three rackets apart visually, let me break it down for you.
The most obvious way to tell the Tour and Game rackets apart is, of course, by looking at the decal on the racket frame and shaft. The word "Tour" is painted on the frame and shaft of the Tour rackets, and the word "Game" is painted on the frame and shaft of the Game rackets.
Next is to look at the support cap right above the wooden handle on the racket. The Tour rackets have a similar support cap to the Japan-made flagship made rackets, and the Game rackets have the older generation boxy design racket support cap on them which, coincidently, is the same one used on the second generation Astrox 88S and Astrox 88D.
Thirdly, you will notice that the Japan-made flagship and Tour models have a fully recessed racket frame profile whilst the Game models only have the top half of the racket frame recessed.
Fourthly, in terms of shaft thickness, expect the Japan-made models to have the thinnest shafts. The Tour rackets will then have a thinner shaft compared to the Game rackets.
So far, the same physical features have been used in the flagship, Tour and Game models of the Astrox 88S, Astrox 88D and Astrox 100 series so it looks like Yonex might carry on with this trend going forward.
Moving on to the review of the rackets now.
The Astrox 100ZZ is an extremely fast racket, with plenty of easy big power albeit a smaller sweet spot compared to the traditional Yonex rackets. The racket shaft is stiff but still very nice to play with overall.
For me, the 3U weight class of the Astrox 100ZZ is too heavy. The 3U Astrox 100 ZZ is a much bigger beast compare to the 4U version, essentially everything is souped up – the weight, the solid feel, the oomph behind it, as well as the energy required to play well with it too! It is certainly too much for me to handle, as I'm not able to generate enough racket head speed, especially in the short sharp shots to do this amazing racket justice. In tricky situations where I had to dig out very very late, I wasn't able to play very well with this head heavy racket. The 4U is the preferred weight class for me. However, people who are super strong will absolutely love this racket. Viktor Axelsen, for instance, plays amazingly well with this racket. The amount of power and the crisp feeling you get out of this racket is absolutely insane.
For the Astrox 100 Tour, as mentioned before, is made in Taiwan. You can see it has the words "Nanomesh Neo" printed on the racket and the material itself is used in the frame of the racket. The shaft is what Yonex calls the Rexis shaft which is slightly thicker than the one used on the Astrox 100ZZ at 6.7 mm, but it does contain the innovative Namd material as well.
For me, the Astrox 100 Tour 4U model plays really really well, just a touch slower compared to the Astrox 100ZZ. It felt decently head heavy and has no problem generating a lot of power with good timing. I thought the shaft of the racket was pretty stiff and the swing of the racket felt super smooth. Overall, a very nice racket to play with.
The 3U version of the Astrox 100 Tour, on the other hand, was heavier, more solid and slightly stiffer compared to the 4U version. It really reminded me a lot of the Astrox 100ZX to be honest. I believe they might have very similar design philosophies and I wouldn't be surprised if it was made exactly the same as the Astrox 100ZX model, just painted differently. Again, stronger players will really like this racket.
Let's now look at the Astrox 100 Game model rackets. In this model, there is no Rexis or Namd materials in the racket shaft or the racket itself. It is replaced by the Nanomesh Neo material in both the frame and shaft and the shaft thickness is 7.2 mm, the thickest amongst the three models.
Besides this, it also has the biggest frame amongst the three models at 24 cm x 18.7 cm. Ironically though, it has the thinnest frame at only 9.8mm compared to 10.5mm and 10.6mm for the Astrox 100ZZ and the Astrox 100 Tour rackets. I guess Yonex thought having a thinner frame might speed this racket up considering its bigger frame.
In terms of playability, I thought the Astrox 100 Game rackets have a slightly lighter head in comparison to the Astrox 100 Tour and the Astrox 100ZZ models. They are also just a touch less stiff compared to the Tour models. Out of the three models, I think the Astrox 100 Game rackets are the easiest ones to play with, but have the least power and stiffness.
If we look at the Astrox100 Game 3U rackets, they are, overall, heavier compared to the 4U rackets but still very nice to play with. Punchy and solid. Again, stronger players will really enjoy the 3U models.
Here is a table showing the rackets' measurements for you to easily compare them against each other.
As these rackets are so new, Yonex hasn't even put them on the racket matrix, so here is my interpretation of where the Astrox 100 Tour and Astrox 100 Game rackets might stand in the racket matrix.
In terms of pricing, I believe the Tour rackets are about 25 to 30% less compared to the Japan-made flagship models, and the Game rackets are in turn 25% to 30% cheaper compared to the Tour rackets. So the Tour and Game rackets are actually really good options if you have a tighter budget.
I would also add that both the Astrox 100 Tour and Astrox 100 Game rackets are head-heavier than the Astrox 88S and Astrox 88D Tour and Game models.
Overall, I am really impressed with these apparently lower-range, made in Taiwan models of the Astrox 100 series rackets. My only disappointment would probably be that the Tour and Game rackets come pre-strung with factory strings. I guess it's probably a nice idea to have free strings but when you're buying a racket that is retailed between £140 to £180, you would expect to get fairly decent strings on a pre-strung racket. However, what you are getting is in fact unbranded, unmodelled strings, which are not even one of Yonex's cheaper strings such as the BG65 or BG3.
The ones I got are also strung at an extremely low tension which is almost unplayable. It really is a shame, because bad strings ruin the feel of good rackets. Imagine buying a Ferrari, and they put on really poor, cheap tires that make the car un-drivable. So my advice to anyone who is buying the Tour and Game rackets would be to get them re-strung with a string of your own preference at your own tensions. This will maximise the enjoyment you will get out of these rackets.
Do check out my Youtube videos below and if you own a Tour or Game racket, do leave me a comment below to share your experience playing with them!