Review by "julian"
(published with permission)
I've just come back from my first 3 hour session with Phoenix. I like it
- I've even just ordered it in 2mm as I have it in 1mm - and I THINK it will be my pip of choice for the next few months. It has enough of the basic qualities I need that I've found missing in other pips for me to ignore the bad points (it has friction!). I'm looking for a slow pip, good control that I can play short and long with ease and move the ball around the table. I have to be able to manipulate the spin on blocks against top easily. It has to attack well. It also has to have a linear response against spin - no surprises where you suddenly have to close the bat, but rather a gradual closing of the bat against increasing spin. So far Phoenix is it.
This is a stiffer pip than insider with a rougher tip, and I'd guess a bit more friction. The sponge is great. I found it slower than Insider (Ins). If the 2mm is even slower than the 1mm I'll be very happy.
It has about the same spin reversal as Insider. Blocks go low over the net. I've not got the touch for friction pips yet, many blocks went long and high, but enough went well for me to stick with this one.
Against hard top spin you have the drop shot - take the ball very early, close the bat a lot, and the ball flies low and short. Take the ball later with soft hands and it drops short also but is not so much of a surprise.
Control over placement was great, short or long side middle, wherever I wanted it it went.
Blocks against top, I found best to chop block the first one, no spin block the second, and then the third, a very similar stroke as the no spin block but with slight wrist roll forward gave a top spin block.
You could hit no spin and top spin balls easily.
Bear in mind every stroke has to be active, a passive block gets the second ball stuffed down your throat. What this rubber has that the others I've tried don't, is a killer chop block, drop shot, control over placement and easy spin manipulation in the blocks. Did I find it easy to play with? Was it an immediate replacement for my beloved Friction Special?? No it wasn't. I'm going to suffer a lot to rebuild my game, and I came away very depressed. My options are to either cheat with a coat of armorall on pips or learn how to play with friction pips. I've enough confidence now with the speed of phoenix and the various options it has to know i can work with this. Thank god it is Hallmark, so I can maintain my brand loyalty (if anyone from hallmark is reading this, I take XXL in T shirts and you can send it with the rubber... Wink )
Just got back from another 3 hours with Phoenix and it is official, we are now partnered... I mixed multiball with the pips, with sequences and a match. I lost 5-4 in the match, but it is with my regular training partner who is 20 years younger than me and plays in a league above me.
The sponge is interesting. The harder the ball comes at you, the more control you have. It seems to get slower the faster the ball comes. This pip plays like Half Long or an anti top with the versatility of an LP. Spin reversal is average. BUT you can basically attack any ball. manipulate the spin on blocks, and have total control over WHERE the ball goes. I like it. It is something you can base a game style around, but you won't win any passive block versus top spin contests.
My training partner was very dismissive of the reversal when he was top spinning against the pips, but in the game, because you have so much control and so many different options he was sending balls long, in the net, or was just being beaten by the attacks! Great stuff!