has been only one new product to attract our attention this time and as we mentioned in
each section on this issue we feel the need to retain what we reviewed last time as the
new slim tube design needs to be seen by many folks. However a new product from CTC is
worthy of not and that is their Premier Light tubes. There are two versions, one called a
"Limited Edition" that was the original and the newest which is somewhat
different. Shown below are both tubes. They differ in
ornamentation and are made on different kinds of machines. CTC has pioneered the light
tube design that avoids the ventilation holes found in many light filters in both MYO
products and in packaged cigarettes. This is accomplished by using a
microscopically perforated paper that mixes fresh air with the smoke throughout the length
of the tube thus keeping the smoke less dry while lightening the impact. The CTC Escort is
the primary example of this design. The problem arose however that in order to make a more
attractive tube (like the Limited Edition), the tubes must be made on the Decofle machine
we discussed previously and that machine they found, had trouble with the combination of
adhesive and the porous paper as the adhesive would seep through this porous paper during
the manufacturing process. Thus a few hundred cases of the very attractive double banded
(one gold, one blue) "Limited Editions" were created. All subsequent Premier
Lights were and are
made on another machine that has not the same tip design capability. Thus you see two
different design schemes. They smoke equally well but if you can get the Limited Edition
tubes you should do so (at least you can say you tried them - for historical reasons if
for no other reason.) We're told the D&R
Tobacco bought up most of the Limiteds so you should visit their site (www.cigarettetobacco.com) for a chance to get a
few boxes. The Limiteds can be distinguished by the packaging with the word Supermatic
noticeably absent from their boxes. Shown here are the two boxes. At right
is the box containing the Limited (the word Supermatic is not on these)
and at lower left is the newer Light. It is often interesting to have tried products that
have changed almost immediately after they were first introduced. While certainly not
collectable (At least I assume not), appreciation of the stage of development of any
product and the chance to try early versions increases one's appreciation for the
complexities of creating any new product and a rare chance to sample the actual fruits of
the evolutionary process. As far as smoking pleasure, both tubes seem to be even lighter
in nature than the Escort lights that have found so much success over the years. These
differ also in that they have white tips, and even the newest one has an upgraded design
appearance. I got several boxes of the Limiteds for myself to put away for archival
reasons (to show the grand kids or whomever). I must admit that I like
the styling of the Limiteds even better and hope this enhanced design influences tube
manufacturers to all look to the enhanced beauty of their products. After all that is the
operating philosophy about the much talked about and soon to be released Ver Cruz line,
which by the way is still in development as it faces new and interesting obstacles and
limiting factors that are inherent in the tube manufacturing industry as it exists today.
You have seen throughout the months several different designs for this tube and we still
do not know which will be the final one. We have had a lot of feedback on these designs and welcome even more. You can make you comment by
clicking here and
sending us an email as to your thoughts. Positive or negative, they are all appreciated.
Before revisiting last issues reviews on the slim tubes we would like to let you know that a kit exists that will let you try the whole "Slim" scenario. You get a box of tubes, and injector and a case all made in the "slim" design. It is shown at left and is available at many of the retailers that advertise on this site. Also look in this issue's "Buyer's Guide" for more specific directions on where to find these great innovations.
It is worthy of note here that we have learned of a new product from Rizla that is, in fact, a tube with the diameter of a manufactured cigarette. It will require a special injector provided by Rizla, of course, and we should see this product in the coming week or so. The tube won't work on any other injector yet but the Rizla which is a hand-injector. Nonetheless we look forward to seeing this innovation as it may make the migration to the MYO world from packaged cigarettes easier for some.
In this issue's Injector Section, we took a look at the new innovation from CTC which is the 6.5 mm Rayo Slim hand injector. As promised, we will now take a look at the tubes that are made for this creative new product. We will also take a look at some issues that seem to be of interest to many of our readers, namely, tip diameter and filter element length. But first let's examine the new tubes as they are, in my opinion, going to revolutionize they way many folks look at MYO cigarettes, especially those making the uncertain transformation from the packaged cigarette market. The new Premier version package is shown at left and is strikingly different in appearance from traditional MYO cigarette tubes.
The minute you see the package that the new "slimmer" tubes come in, you know something is up. The box is about half the size of most 200 count tube boxes and has a pleasingly cubicle shape. Because of the dimensional characteristics of the box and the way the box opening is designed, this container is going to be much sturdier, which translates into fewer crushed tubes and much more flexibility in transporting them. When you open this new container, the first thing you notice is that the tubes inside are strikingly upscale looking. They come in both the Premier and Rayo brands, but are essentially identical. They are very nicely made with darker print logo and labeling on the tube you can actually read. Very classy. The new tube is considerably smaller in diameter than the industry standard 8+mm King-Size (as you can see in the graphic at right). They are also shorter, the possible ramification of which we will address in a moment. However, the biggest news is how wonderful these little things are to smoke. The thinner design makes for a much milder stick regardless of which tobacco you choose. It is also a fact that these new tubes use considerably less tobacco than the traditional size. CTC provided the figure of 20% less tobacco but we find the savings to be closer to 50%. What this translates to in practical terms is less money spent on your smoking, unless you smoke twice as much as with the standard tube. We think that will likely not be the case for those who find these as attractive and functional as we do. The reason is that most MYO cigarettes last a very long time, ten minutes or more and many simply don't want that long of a smoke. Some put them out after only half finishing the stick and relight them later when they are ready for more. More often, the half used stick is discarded and a new one is lit. Regardless of which group you find yourself in, there are definite advantages to the shorter smoke. The fact that the tube is also shorter, about the length of a Regular size cigarette (Camel unfiltered, Export A, etc.) makes for an even shorter smoke. In tests, we found them to last about 50% longer than either the Camel or the Export A, but as these are packaged cigarettes and have certain accelerated burning characteristics that are well known to the MYO enthusiast, this does come as no surprise. Now no doubt at some time we feel a longer version of this slim stick will be demanded by the emerging MYO public. A longer sick would put the experience into the realm of the "Queen Size" Sherman Natural/Cigaretellos market, as the diameter is the same, though the Sherman product is a full 100mm in length. The industry standard for cigarette diameters of packaged cigarettes is approximately 7.5mm (see the new Camel stick at right). We consider the new Premier and Rayo Slim tubes to be a very important step in attracting a larger segment of the smoking public and certainly welcome the opportunity to enjoy a shorter smoke. Even more pleasing, we now have the ability to consume the more flavorful halfzware, like Stokkebye's Amsterdam Shag, Samson Blue, Bali Blue, Gauloises and other robust tobaccos that we usually enjoyed only in a thinly handrolled stick. CTC certainly has earned a high five from us for this new product.
One subject that we seem to get a disproportionally large amount of e-mail about is the actual dimensional length of the filter elements that are in various filtered tubes. Many complain that the element does not extend the full length of the "tipping" paper, which is the brown or "cork" part of the stick you hold in you mouth. The graphic at left shows not only the various "typical" filter element sizes but also includes representatives of the filter plugs or "tips" that some people use with hand rollers and rolling papers. One such product represented in this rather larger display is a new one from Wilson's of Sharrow, distributed by The Sheffield Exchange ( www.sheffieldexchange.com - yes, the company that distributes Sheffield Sterling Silver products/high quality cutting tool products from the renowned Sheffield region of the UK, as well as the predominant distributor of English Nasal Snuff in the US). Over the years, we have had many requests for a slimmer filter tip from the handrolling customer and reader and until now could not find one in the US. Europe has supplied this size for quite some time so those of you who have been looking need wait no longer. The Sharrow product line has three selections of filter tips (sometimes referred to as filter plugs). Gizeh, CTC (Rayo) and Canuma have pretty much dominated the US market up until now and all of their products we have seen have been the standard 8+mm diameter filter. The new Sharrow line ranges from a really tiny 14 x 5mm plug to a full 20mm x 7 filter. As you can see, the Rayo (the most commonly found in tobacco stores, along with Gizeh and Canuma) is 20 mm but over 8mm in diameter. For the most part, we find the larger diameter tips to be difficult to use in hand rollers as they tend to do better with a similar 8mm rolled stick which we find simply too large for our tastes. These tips are very popular so our opinion is just that, but many have requested narrower tips. I personally like to create with a 110mm hand roller a much thinner stick and I think I have a lot of company. The Sharrow products should do quite well as they are both well made and available now for distribution from Sheffield (www.sheffieldexchange.com). Since RYO Tobacco ( www.ryotobacco.com ) carries their English Nasal Snuff, we would suspect that they will add to their inventory of Rayo, Gizeh, and Canuma, these great new smaller filter products.
To address the question of filter element lengths let's repeat the graphic above so you can see it while you read the following: Filter elements (which include the filter material itself, wrapped in a paper sleeve) are manufactured on machines designed (as CTC does) specifically for their manufacture, while in most cases, tubes are made on a machine called a Decoufle (pronounced dek-o-flay). This is the same machine that makes filter tubes for most of the larger manufacturers, CTC included. There are other less complicated (and less costly) machines that make tubes and CTC has pioneered many of the designs. The Decoufle, however is a multi-million dollar machine that is modular and is similar to the machines that manufacture packaged cigarettes. Each module performs a different function and the first stage module is the one that introduces the filter element usually manufactured elsewhere. While CTC has proprietary machines that can do practically any size and kind of filter, the Decoufle is faster and is used by most filter tube makers because of the quantity it can produce. It does have certain limitations which are reasonable tradeoffs considering it can manufacture many thousands of finished tubes per hour. It makes use of filter element rods which then, in the case of standard King-Size tubes, it cuts to size resulting in the 17mm length of most MYO tube filter elements. The longer Rayo 20 mm plugs are made on other types of machines.
Because of the Decoufle's high cost, the machine is most often dedicated to making tubes using elements produced on other machines. Tipping paper comes in 24 and 48mm strips, the Decoufle uses the wider one which it cuts in half as part of the tube making process. This is why all MYO tubes, regardless of manufacturer have approximately 17mm filter elements and 24mm tipping paper on the tube. Thus, at this stage of development, you will always find about 7 mm of overlap from the tipping paper to the actual filter element. Manufactured cigarettes are not injected but rather rolled and thus have different technologies making the final assembly. The machines that make cigarettes are even more costly than the Decoufle. For the time being, you will have to get used to the fact that the filter elements in your tubes are not going to be as long as the colored, (or white) tipping paper. There are advantages to this as I can still remember absent-mindedly smoking a manufactured cigarette too close to the tip and getting a mouthful of burning (melting) filter element. With the shorter elements when you stop at where the tip begins you are still smoking tobacco. Zig-Zag's 100 mm tubes have a longer filter element but are made on a machine specifically designed for this purpose. On the other hand, the Maiker 100mm tubes we have seen from Sixty-One have the 17 mm filter element as well. More on this amazing machine, including pictures, can be found in our Special Review Section this time where we take a look inside CTC (The Clinton Tube Company). Likewise, the new CTC line of Slim tubes are made on other kinds of machines. The process is quite interesting but has limitations that will exist until the MYO industry grows to the point where substantial (and I mean substantial) investment in more flexible production machinery designs are practical.
And finally, the Vera Cruz line of designer tubes is nearing final design and production planning stages. As of this writing, we expect the tube to look much like the example below. The manufacturers have discarded the Maduro and Elegante handles and replaced them with the "Nocturne" label. We will keep you updated on the final launch date. Those that have tried the prototypes really like them and we continue to feel confident that they will make the MYO experience even more attractive to a lot of packaged cigarette smokers as well as attract folks from the boutique market as well. As is the case with any new product, a great deal of time is spent on design parameter compromises that will offer the consumer the best possible product at a cost that is realistic. These tubes have a great flavor, which means they are neutral and add no additional flavor to whatever wonderful tobacco you may choose to put in them. Let us know what you think of this latest design as your input continues to be important to the development of this really exciting new product. Until next time, let us know what you think of the new slim design tubes, the Sharrow slim-line filter plugs, and any other ideas you may have rattling around that you think would be of benefit to the RYO/MYO industry. By the way, our review of the David Ross filters generated huge amounts of interest. As a matter of fact, we have received a lot of very positive e-mail about these cost-effective strength reducing devices. It is always gratifying to introduce new products to our readers and this is amplified immensely when the response is so overwhelmingly positive. You may contact us at the link below or go to the Contact page for more options. We look forward to hearing from you. -the ed.
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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