After many hints from the table tennis community about the Nittaku Factive, I was finally able to finish a successful review about it. It’s not that I missed out on the rubber, but I have to be wise with my limited resources such as time and money. Therefore, I have to prioritize with my testing.
In this country (Germany), the Japanese table tennis brand Nittaku still plays a rather minor role. There is a German distributor again, but that hasn’t improved much.
That Nittaku has great potential can be seen by the very successful, and in Japan enormously popular, Fastarc rubbers. The absolute bestseller there is the Nittaku Fastarc G-1, and that before the Butterfly Tenergy 05. For years this goes on, with few interruptions, only if a rubber novelty is sold more often for a short time.
In the same way, the Nittaku Fastarc C-1 appears within the rankings as a softer version for spin play. From time to time, the Nittaku Fastarc P-1 or S-1 can also be seen among the TOP rankings.
Just recently, in February 2021, the Nittaku Factive could also reach the fourth place in the sales ranking. Currently, it has dropped out of the TOP10 again. (Japan sales charts)
Of course, such rankings are not comparable to the situation in Germany, Europe or the USA. There other table tennis brands like andro, Tibhar, Donic or JOOLA that are pushed by the dealers, while in a Japanese TT-Store Butterfly, Nittaku or Yasaka cannot be missing. The only brand I can think of is the brand Xiom, which seems to be equally successful everywhere due to the low-priced Vega rubbers.
So the question is why the Factive is selling well in Japan. Is it the low price, the brand name or the outstanding playing characteristics? For whom is the rubber suitable? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Are there comparable rubbers? I will now clarify this.
Technical attributes of Nittaku Factive
|Reviewed rubber||Black 2.0mm|
|Sponge||Small-sized pores 45° Shores (EUR) Medium|
After taking the Nittaku Factive out of its packaging, I noticed several things. First of all, the rubber is extremely light. Before taking pictures and mounting the racket, I also had other rubbers in my hand, which is why this was so obvious to me.
On the positive side, I like the color of the sponge. So far, I think only the Tibhar Aurus Prime has this great purple as a sponge color. These pink sponges are gradually annoying me, as there are simply too many of them.
The topsheet seems to have a good grip and elasticity. The pimple structure shows very long, thin pimples that are relatively far apart. When squeezing the topsheet of the rubber, almost no resistance is felt at the beginning. Only when I reach to the sponge, which, is also not particularly hard, I could feel a little bit of resistance.
The purple sponge was equipped with fine pores. I would have initially suspected a very soft hardness for the sponge as well. During the thumb pressure testing, the topsheet flexes so much that the sponge seems softer at first. I then separated the topsheet and the sponge in order to assess the hardnesses separately. The hardness of the sponge is noticeably medium, which also corresponds to the manufacturer’s specifications.
My impression on the weight is confirmed by my scales. The packed Factive rubber (red 2.0) brings 88.10g onto the display. The uncut sample weighs 59.68g. Cut to a Stiga Allround Classic Carbon remain only 40.62g.
Playing characteristics of Nittaku Factive
During warm-up play, the Nittaku Factive shows itself to be a very controllable rubber. On contact, the ball initially sinks deep into the rubber before reaching a low-catapult, slow sponge. This gives the feeling that the ball can be caught and guided for a long dwell time.
This creates a tremendous feeling. It’s also the case that the opponent’s stroke energy gets reduced to your own dosed speed at all times, without slowing the game down too much.
Although the impact is actually indirect, there is still the feeling that the ball is accurately guided. Without a strong catapult effect, the Factive achieves a low to medium basic speed.
Looping, Characteristics & Half Distance Play
I was initially very surprised with the topspin play. Especially on slow, longer stroke movements, I was able to produce a lot of rotation with the Nittaku Factive. It all worked very easily. The very good control of the soft, absorbing topsheet combined with the low-catapult, direct sponge creates a high arc on such strokes.
The more I dig into the ball and the more I hit direct shots, the more the direct feel of the sponge comes through. The topsheet elasticity gives in almost completely without causing a strong catapult.
During faster loops, the trajectory of the ball flattens out significantly. The impact power is not particularly high. While the Factive was still relatively dangerous on soft topspins, this attribute is completely replaced by safety and control. The rate on all attacking strokes blew me away. I simply didn’t make any more mistakes. Unfortunately, neither did my better opponents.
From the half-distance, the first signs of a dynamic development can be seen. However, I could only play along with counter topspin. The power and danger is simply missing. Emergency strokes really succeed from all positions. I’ve rarely experienced a rubber that plays linear with low-catapult and still forgives so many mistakes.
Comparisons with Nittaku Factive
It is really difficult to find a comparable table tennis rubber. The Nittaku Factive actually possesses the characteristics and the structure of a fast, catapult-strong table tennis rubber. However, the topsheet has been made as soft and flexible as possible, so that only a little bit of catapult develops passively from there, but this is immediately regulated by the low-catapult sponge.
In terms of pure tensor characteristics, the rubber ranks among the easy-to-play tensors. Due to the reduced built-in speed-glue effect, there is enormous control, despite the medium sponge. I only know this from the Xiom Vega Intro, while being on the same level in terms of performance.
Playfully and in terms of concept, however, the Vega Intro features a direct-impact topsheet, similar to medium-hard classics. Overall, the spin potential is higher on the Vega Intro, but you also have to invest a bit more yourself.
In contrast, the Nittaku Factive actually takes over completely on soft spins. In addition, it is less spin-sensitive, which is advantageous for passive blocks and returns. So if you’re an advanced beginner who hits the balls a bit harder, be it on topspins or backspins, you’ll do better with the Vega Intro, while the Factive is perhaps even easier to play with and simply works on a very low impact hardness.
As an alternative, the andro GTT 45 comes into question, but I see it below the Factive or Vega Intro in terms of performance potential. When considering overall control, however, the GTT 45 is an option.
The other EPT rubbers around TSP Ventus Basic, Donic Desto F4 or andro GTT 40 are simply too soft to be good alternatives.
Service, Return & Openings over the Table
In the service game, the Nittaku Factive gives you a solid potential combined with a playful ease. I could see this well after switching to my left hand. My playing level there is somewhere between 1100 and 1200 TTR points (German Table Tennis Rating).
The biggest deficiency is my forehand serve. Somehow I hardly get any acceleration under the ball, which is why the backspin is actually very poor. With the Factive, however, I was able to create a reasonable spin very easily. Normally, I need a very soft rubber to achieve this.
I like the fact that no catapult suddenly appears in any form, so that I could place my serves well-dosed and in a controlled manner.
On returns, the rubber shows itself to be benevolent and controlled. The great strength is that every mistake is compensated and still playfully good strokes are produced. Almost intuitively one tries to go more and more into the balls. Despite these characteristics, it is rewarded at the same time to execute the strokes very correctly, which results in more speed, spin and accurate placement.
Flips and over-the-table openings can rely on a great deal of feedback and confidence. Banana flips come off easily. The Nittaku Factive is also very suitable for learning this more demanding stroke technique, as the ball can be guided nicely.
Blocking, Counter-Play & Shooting Game
Block and counter strokes are the absolute strength of the Nittaku Factive. Each stroke can be applied safely, easily and precisely placed. For passive blocks, the rubber sucks the ball deep into the surface and returns it spin-neutralized and moderate. This way, even late blocks and emergency strokes succeed flawlessly.
On active blocks and counter strokes, the control does not diminish and the player can act directly. The rubber provides a moderate pace, which makes extreme acceleration difficult, but at the same time keeps the stroke-quota at maximum.
The Factive is very reliable in the shooting game. All shots can be hit precisely. The speed is sufficient to keep the initiative sometimes. However, the rubber is not very powerful. In the high defense, you get an exceptional feel for the ball. This makes it possible to play safely and in a controlled manner. Controlled counterattacks are always possible, but also harmless.
Conclusion on Nittaku Factive
With the Nittaku Factive a real insider tip is on the market, which impresses with special playing characteristics. For control-heavy allround players and junior players, an interesting rubber is available.
Especially in the blocking game and with counter strokes, the rubber shows a great performance. But also with safe topspins, the rotation and, in attacking play in general, the low margin of error are real advantages.
Thus, I can now warmly recommend the Factive to players who are looking for a rubber between classics and catapult-strong tensors. This rubber is the most powerful among the EPT rubbers, next to the Xiom Vega Intro.
Such rubbers serve as a pre-step to a moderate tensor such as the andro Hexer Duro, which, however, already has more catapult.
Another factor that should not be underestimated is the low weight of the rubber. Youngsters simply need more lightweight rackets, because they don’t yet have as much strength as adults and the handling has to be learned first. And that’s where such a lightweight rubber comes in handy.