I have been sitting on this post for quite some time now and have finally decided to pull the plug and get this published. For those of you who have been waiting on this review, please accept my apologies for the delay!
So Yonex has recently released two additional models of the Astrox 88D --- besides the made in Japan Yonex Astrox 88D Pro, there are now the made in Taiwan Yonex Astrox 88D Tour and the Astrox 88D Game models. You all know I love the Astrox 88D Pro. A quick recap of the characteristics of the Pro model: head-heavy, solid-feel, very fast for a head-heavy racket, smooth, lots of power, easily maneuverable.
Now if we look at the Astrox 88D Tour racket, it retains the fully recessed frame profile of the Pro model rackets, but for me, I felt its head is significantly lighter compared to the Pro model racket and, therefore, significantly faster and also easier to play with. It feels like a head-light racket and also less stiff and more hollow compared to the Pro model. You can easily generate enough power from the back of the court and it allows you to get out of trouble easily and effectively. And because of how quick the racket is, it is rapid at the front of the court. So to be honest, I was very impressed with this racket and I don’t have a single bad thing to say actually. However, if you are expecting something which feels identical to the Astrox 88D Pro but at a cheaper price point, then you might be disappointed because this doesn't play the same way as the Astrox 88D Pro.
The Astrox 88D Game, on the other hand, has a close resemblance to the Astrox 88D Tour in terms of feel, with only subtle differences. It has a slightly bigger racket frame compared to the Tour and Pro models, as well as a slightly thicker shaft. It also has a half-recessed frame profile compared to a fully-recessed frame profile on the other two higher-end models. For the stats people, here is a table of measured stats from all three brackets:
In terms of playing feel, the Astrox 88D Game racket has an even more hollow feeling compared to the Astrox 88D Tour racket. It is also a touch more head-light compared to the Tour racket and, similarly, very easy to play with. Power shots are crisp, drives were easy, shuttle length and height were good. Easy to pull off get-out-of-jail shots when you're in trouble.
As part of my test, I went from the Astrox 88D Game to the Astrox 88S Pro, just to see how it feels when it is compared side-by-side with a famously head-light racket. Instantly, I thought the Astrox 88S Pro was stiffer and has a better feel of the shuttle. Crucially, the Astrox 88S Pro felt head-heavier than the Astrox 88D Game, and it glides through the air better with a more solid feel. This was why I was so confused during my testing. Because the Astrox 88D Game is a D model racket, I presumed that it should feel head-heavier compared to an S model, but I was wrong. In fact, I genuinely feel that the Astrox 88D Tour and Astrox 88D Game models have less head weight compared to the Astrox 88S Pro, and they are very different compared to the Astrox 88D Pro model. Additionally, the Astrox 88D Tour and Astrox 88D Game models don't feel as smooth as the Pro. I felt a little bit of a drag when I played with them, but that's probably just me being picky.
Taking the retail price of the Astrox 88D Tour and the Astrox 88D Game racket models into consideration, their performance and production quality are really impressive for their price points. I'm not sure if Yonex intended the Astrox 88D Tour and Astrox 88D Game models to play and feel the same as the Pro model, but with cheaper materials. Honestly, if you don't compare them side-by-side, each of them plays pretty well on its own. I would really recommend you try the Astrox 88D Tour and Astrox 88D Game rackets out for yourself to see if you can pinpoint the subtle differences.
Pro Tip: If you guys are giving the Tour and Game models a try, which I certainly recommend, make sure you guys remove the factory strings and re-string them using strings and string tension of your preference. The strings will have a significant impact on your experience with these rackets.
See you in my next post!