|S E R I O U S L Y | S E R I O U S | D I S C L A I M E R|
|I bought the two Kamui tips (Black Medium and Black Soft) mentioned in this post, for a total of $34.95. My review is based solely on my own experience. Your results may vary.|
|I’m not much of an equipment junkie, meaning I don’t make it a point to constantly change equipment in hopes of playing better. When I like something and it works for me, I tend to stick with it. I hate when manufacturers f#ck with a perfectly good product in the name of “progress” or “profit” and the changes end up making a good product average and an average product downright terrible.|
Way back in my third year of playing, I got completely destroyed in a tournament by a Japanese player who was visiting America. He stayed in the area for a month or so and before he left for Japan, he completely destroyed me in yet another tournament. Afterwards, he gave me a little ziploc baggie with two tips in it, and said one word, “Moori”. This word meant nothing to me, but I thanked him for the gift and put them in my pocket.
The next day, three people came up separately to me and asked if I still had those tips. I was offered $40, $30, and $80 for both tips. I knew nothing about equipment back then, but I did know it only cost $10 to put on an average tip — and that was the cost of both the tip and the labor. This piqued my interest. I had the tips put on my cue. The tip installer offered to install the tip for free if I’d sell him the other one for $10. No, thank you.
Those tips were THE SH#T.
They lasted an unbelievably long time (they were Medium-Hard Mooris) and you all know how much I can play. When they finally had to be replaced, Mooris were no longer as rare and I gladly paid $20 each to have two installed on my shafts.
After a couple of years, I switched to Moori Mediums and those quickly became my favorite. After installation, I’d go practice breaking with it for a few hours. Then, I’d have the mushroomed edges trimmed off and I was good to go for months. As with many good things in life, I took it for granted these tips would always be there and they would never change (damn, that makes it sound like a relationship, ha).
A couple of years ago, Moori changed its product. The new Moori Mediums were NOT the same in quality as the old ones, although they did come in a blister pack, like my allergy pills did. The new Moori Mediums constantly mushroomed and weren’t as durable. I could actually change the shape of the tip by striking the cue ball hard with it. I was disgruntled but stuck with them anyways, for lack of better substitute.
For the tournament mentioned in my previous post, my tip repair guy was out of all Mooris and even the rumored best Moori replacements, Kamui tips. He put on a compressed Elkmaster (Efren Reyes’ preferred tip). That didn’t work. He put on a Triangle. Nope. (He’s got a lot of patience for me, as you can tell.) Cut the Triangle off, and go with a LePro. Didn’t like it. I ended up playing with my break cue which had a five-year old Moori Medium on it for a while as he tried other replacements. Finally, a friend of mine located a Kamui Black Medium. I heard the Kamui Black Soft was the closest to a Moori Medium but that was not available. Whatever. Slap on the Medium and let’s go. I had no time left.
The Kamui Medium never played as my Moori Medium did, but it was good enough for me to make it through the tournament. In the meantime, I had received a Kamui Black Soft in the mail. Not ten minutes after I was out of the tournament, I had the Kamui Black Soft put on. I hit a few balls with it but was too tired to register the fine differences so I saved the practice session for later.
The next day, I hit balls for about three hours. The Kamui Black Soft hit just like a Moori Medium, but the best part was, it didn’t mushroom, which was a feature of my Holy Grail Old School Moori Mediums. This was like finding out a previously extinct animal was no longer extinct. Like any good conservationist, I am building an underground zoo/bunker to house my stockpile of previously-extinct, now not-extinct, tips.
How long did research and development on your tips take before you were satisfied with the quality to put it on the market?
12 months minimum for any new version. But we are never satisfied with the products we produce, so we keep improving the consistency and quality. In the last 4 years since we renewed our factory, we have probably made more than 20 minor upgrades to the Kamui tips. Most of the improvements were for better longevity, less mushroom, less defect rate. This would be very hard to notice. But we firmly believe that we are achieving “consistent playability” for our customer, which is a key factor for billiards.
When (and how) did you guys find out your tips were first being counterfeited?
It was in the end of June. We found the picture of the counterfeit on Yahoo auction web site in China. There had been rumors of the counterfeit in the last two years but most of them were just an assumption from the Chinese people as they assumed what they had was a counterfeit. We have been monitoring the market in China but we hadn’t been able to find anything until June (2011).
The counterfeits are spreading to the other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines. And once they get there, they are just as good as here.
Were you able to find the counterfeiter?
No, we have not physically found this individual. We have people on it, but our chances are slim on actually catching [him]. It will take time.
Did/Could you take any legal actions against the counterfeiter?
No, but we may. The counterfeiter in China is hard to catch. One day they are open for business and the next day they are closed and moved shop to a new location. When they think it is worth it to make a counterfeit, they will do it.
How often do you have to change your security measures to stay ahead of counterfeiters?
It is our first time but we anticipated this was going to happen. It is all a matter of when and we are prepared for it. We will take action right away when it’s needed. We are prepared to make changes to the look of our tips to protect our valued customer. The hard process is educating our customers so they know what they are purchasing; we know that our customers want the real product. This is one way to stop the counterfeiters.
Neat photograph showing the counterfeit tips and the holograms on the genuine ones. Holograms are used in a lot of things, including currency, as an anti-counterfeit measure. They are also used in some extremely gaudy cues that I don’t think anyone is interested in counterfeiting.
As you may or may not know, Kamui unveiled their chalk earlier this year. While reviews have been mixed regarding its performance (I like its finer-grain texture but have yet to become a rabid fan), all agreed that its price tag — $25 per piece — was rather hefty. Before Kamui’s chalk, the most popular higher-end chalk was Blue Diamond, which averaged around $3 to $4 per piece. In contrast, Masters chalk which is the chalk most common in pool rooms costs $3 to $4 per dozen.
How long did research and development on your chalk take before you were satisfied with the quality to put it on the market?
It has been almost two years since the first trial. We went through a lot of hypothesis and test cycles and it is over 120 test samples by the end of last month. We look for solutions to our problems through different industries. Integrating the new knowledge in the gripping mechanism in the chalk, for hitting a cue ball, is the most difficult part.
We have a pool table in the office at the factory and some of our staff are at the competitive level to verify the quality of our chalk and other products. We found some breakthroughs which helped us overcome technical difficulties; then decided to provide the sample chalk to our sponsoring players, which was more than 50pcs. After getting the positive feedback as a “competitive tool”, we introduced a limited number of the chalk to the market as the “product”. This feasibility sales study was necessary as our price point is new to the market. The high price point is due to the high material costs, but the reaction from the players from our first introduction was also positive. This told us that we are onto something that can impact billiards in a positive way.
KAMUI CHALK #0.98 remains to be completed. With further R&D, We may discover a better product and release it. As we express to all of our customers we are never satisfied with the products we produce. We are always looking to improve; the most successful companies in the world seek to improve their product for the benefit of the consumer.
Do you have problems with people counterfeiting your chalk yet?
Not yet, but we anticipate it. We cannot change other people to follow the rule and expect the government to protect us. But we can change ourselves and drive us to be more competitive. This is much more constructive.
How long does it take to make a batch of chalk?
[We make] a thousand [pieces] in one month.
How long does it take to sell a batch of chalk?
Difficult to answer. We are getting more inquiries every day. At the moment, they are all sold out for the next couple of months.
Do you have other nifty gadgets in the works (that you are willing to drop hints about)?
Only in idea phase right now. Our biggest problem is creating 25 hours in a day 😉
Well, kids, there you have it. If you’re as ticked off as I am that Moori screwed up its product, Kamui is a dang fine replacement. I’ve done fairly well this year with the equipment I have and I do expect I shall do even better now that I am happy with one of the most crucial parts.
If you have any further questions about Kamui products, you can email John Bertone directly or visit the Kamui Tips website. You can also find John (representing Kamui) on Twitter (@KamuiTipsdotcom) and Facebook (Kamui Chalk Fan Page).
|If you would like to purchase Kamui tips or products, you may email John Bertone who can direct you to the nearest authorized dealer. He can also direct you to authorized online dealers as well.|
|I bought my tip (Kamui Black Soft) from PoolDawg. If you spend more than $25 with them, you can get a free luggage tag by entering the code: OMGWTF at checkout. This nifty offer expires at the end of this year.|
and because it is Friday, here is another pretty picture of ice chunks lying on a beach somewhere