Forum-member and blade manufacturer UlmoGerman has asked me to translate two reviews covering three of his blades by Martinspin. They are below. First one is about Die Angel (The Sting); the second review is a comparison between USD and NSD. I've translated the reviews and left out the rest of Martinspin's original posts which were made on noppen-test.de. So just to be clear on this, the texts below are my translations, not my reviews.
Some time ago Uli gave me a couple of his blades to test them. I finally found the time to test them. I used the same rubbers (Meteor 845 OX & Xiom Omega IV 2.0 mm) for all blades.
ULMO Die Angel
Uli's website has this on it: “Die Angel OFF- is a 7 ply blade with a balsa core. Forehand and backhand have different plies and dampening layers. As a result the forehand suits topspsin strokes and the backhand is harder, offering more control and somewhat less speed, to support blocking and countering as well as the use of pips-out or antispin rubbers.”
I have to mention that I have played with only a few balsa blades and that I prefer conventional (classic) blades.
Aggressive push (LP): the stroke is easy to control and offers good speed with a somewhat flat trajectory of the ball.
Stop-block (LP): The thick balsa core interferes with the control on this stroke and it is hard to keep the ball low.
Block and counter (LP): This is the blade's forte. The trajectory is flat, speed is high but controlled and placement is excellent.
Sideswipe (LP): In spite of the hard outer ply on the backhand side and its being slower than the forehand there is only moderate spin-reversal. The control is good, again, but returns are not very dangerous. The catapult of the balsa core prevents the ball from having sufficiently long contact with the LP.
IMHO the balsa core should be thinner for an OX LP to make enough backspin to be able to return the balls dangerously, close to the table.
Play over the table (INV): The catapult of the blade is too high to be able to play really decently over the table.
Push (INV): Amazingly good control and relatively heavy backspin make this stroke an excellent one.
Block and counterdrive (INV): As the blade's forehand supports looping, blocking with it offers less control than the backhand. When the stroke is successful, though, balls are fast and stay low, putting pressure on the opponent.
Looping close to the table, topspin-smash (INV): Controlled stroke with good speed and sufficient arc.
Play at mid-long distance (INV): Away from the table the danger and control of attack and defense are limited.
I would play close to the table with this blade and be very aggressive with the LP backhand. Playing with LP there are hints of playing with SP, as long as you play aggressively. Block und counter are best for the LP side. Spinny loops can be returned quite well by aggressive pushing using the LP. The forehand side is producing a surprising amount of spin, which can be seen when pushing. Looping to open up is quite possible, I think, but it will not produce balls of the same high quality that will be produced by loop or topspin/smash over the table. I would recommend Die Angel to all backhandoriented Ich würde die Angel allen RH-betonten Noppenspielern empfehlen, die gerne blocken bzw. kontern und ihre aktiven Punkte mit dem finalen Endschlag der VH erzielen.
USD vs NSD
Today I have compared the USD with the NSD. On the forehand I had Yin-He (Milky Way/Galaxy) Apollo and on the backhand a Meteor 845 OX, on both blades. The NSD is loutishly long, wide and rigid. The USD isn't quite so awkwardly big, and very flexible. The NSD is clearly faster and has a crisp touch and a clear sound. The USD's touch is softer and it sounds duller; it has also better control.
Disruption away from the table: The NSD offers very good spin-reversal and is quite disruptive. Chop-blocks will produce a good deal of backspin and attacking against backspin (lifting) can be done effectively. The USD doesn't offer quite as much reversal nor the same degree of disturbance. At this distance its control of speed is remarkable, which works out positively when lifting. The stroke is clearly more controlled with the USD.
Blocking away from the table: The sideswipe, although a typical close to the table stroke, is very effective with the USD and placement is accurate. The same stroke with the NSD will be as effective, but somewhat harder to control. Disruption-effects are naturally higher with the NSD and its spin-reversal seems to be a little better. Block and counter have good control with both blades. Due to the lower trajectory the stroke is more dangerous with the NSD, but also somewhat less controlled. The USD is not specifically suited for blocking, as it is simply too flexible and a fair bit wobbly at this distance.
Attack away from the table: When contact with the ball is made on the highest point of its trajectory, both blades are very controlled. The NSD is gradually approaching its limits here. Low-spin defense can still be done with good control, but due to the flat trajectory of the ball control is diminishing. Still, returns will be dangerous. Driving the ball is also an option, even if it is not the strongest point of the blade. The USD is a completely different story. Away from the table it begins to shine and at last it shows the strong points of its flexible head. The balls are coming off with a nice curve and so the speed can be increased. Kills are out, but the variability is very good.
Defense away from the table: If it needs to be the NSD can be used away from the table, but it certainly is not the blade's forte. It responds very slowly to the use of the wrist when chopping and attacking strokes are rather risky. I have also tested the forehand away from the table and it lacks the necessary curve for a safe topspin play away from the table. The USD, however, is a typical defense blade to be played at mid-distance. It handles very well and you can play using a lot of wrist. Spin-reversal away from the table is excellent and will cause a lot of attackers a lot of problems if they try to keep looping against the backspin.
No question about it, the NSD is the oversized blade for a disturbing game close to the table, as control, disturbance and spin-reversal are very high. The USD is very good at mid-distance defense, both for chopping and for looping with the inverted. The names Uli came up with are really a bit confusing as the blades are so different and hence hard to compare. The USD is to be recommended for players that do well with flexible blades offering a lot of feedback and like to be all over the place at mid-distance.
Without opponent, no match.