Stiga ‘Arctic Wood’ is a last one among seven blades launched by Stiga in 2016. During 2016, Stiga launched two kinds of all-wood blades – Celero Wood and Arctic Wood. ‘Celero Wood’ is a modern version of classic all-round blades. So it shares many features with classic ‘Allround Classic’ or ‘Allround Evolution’ (except for the wood of second layer). On the contrary, ‘Arctic Wood’ looks very special thanks to the use of specially treated wood for top layer. I don’t know the price of Arctic Wood yet. But, from its material and appearance I predict that it will be a high-priced blade, unlike Celero Wood which is a reasonably priced blade.
Like most of Stiga blades, Chinese penholder version is also available for Arctic Wood. Among six kinds (Legend, Master, Classic, Winner, Pro and Pen) of Stiga handles, what is on my hand is ‘Master’ version and ‘Pen’ version.
‘Master’ means normal FL (flared) handle, while ‘Legend’ means wide FL handle. Also Stiga calls ST handle as ‘Classic’, AN handle as ‘Winner’ and CO handle as ‘Pro’. Not using normal words such as ‘Flared’ or ‘Concave’ has been tradition of Stiga for long time.
The size of head of shakehand version is 157mm x 150mm. It is common size for many shakehand blades from other company. Also it is a bit smaller than traditional Stiga head whose size is 158mm x 152mm, and a larger than the head of Hardwood series or NCT Wood series whose size is 156mm x 148mm.
‘Pen’ means Chinese penholder handle. Because Stiga is not providing Japanese penholder handle, Chinese penholder is called by Stiga just as ‘Pen’. ‘Pen’ handle of Arctic Wood is similar to those of other Stiga blades. As a Chinese penholder, it is somewhat wider than usual Chinese penholder from other table tennis companies.
The size of head of penholder version is 160mm x 151mm.
The thickness of blade is about 6.0mm. Except for the top layer, the construction of blade is similar to those of many offensive 5-ply blades from Stiga, such as Rosewood NCT V, Ebenholz NCT V and Intensity VPS V. Second layer is Tanne, and center layer is Ayous.
Top layer is special Arctic wood, and it defines the characteristic of this blade. I couldn’t have checked the exact name of the wood for top layer yet. But, anyway it is different from any other wood that I have ever seen. Of course it also makes very refined appearance.
From the construction of blade, we can’t expect that Arctic Wood will be a fast blade. I expect that its speed level will be similar to that of Infinity VPS V. But, what I’m interested in is its feeling thanks to special top layer. Differently speaking, the difference from the feeling of many Stiga offensive blades those share the thickness and second/third layers with Arctic Wood. As soon as possible I will compare Arctic Wood with Rosewood NCT V, Infinity VPS V and so on.
Instead of plastic lens, Aluminum plate is placed at front side of handle. Stiga is applying this kind of Aluminum plate for new blades such as Carbonado series and Celero wood. On Aluminum plate, brand name (= Stiga) and product name are carved in relief. It looks very nice. But, unfortunately it disturbs fifth finger. At least for me it is serious problem. For that reason I can’t help using the Aluminum plate side as backhand side whenever I test new blades from Stiga. (It is right decision of Stiga that they place this Aluminum plate only on single side of handle and don’t place anything on opposite side.)
At the end of handle, there is also an Aluminum plate. It replaces paper sticker that had been placed at the end of handle of Stiga blades for long time. It also looks very nice. (And, this ‘end plate’ doesn’t disturb fifth finger.)
Even though its graphic design doesn’t include vivid colors, Arctic Wood looks very attractive. From the launching of hardwood series, this ‘Classic’ look has been consistent theme of the design of Stiga all-wood blade. It is now the strong identity of Stiga blades. Just touching and watching Arctic Wood is a pleasure.
As soon as possible I will measure Arctic wood, and report its mechanical characteristics.
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