Review: PAA El Fantasma

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The card was stuffed carelessly into the letterbox, half-in, half-out:

"The Headless Horseman called while you were out. Your parcel has been cursed and is at the following location:

[ ] returned to hell
[ ] with your freshly decapitated neighbour
[X] at your back door

My PAA El Fantasma had arrived!

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For legal reasons, Phoenix Artesan Accoutrements have to say the razor is made from ABS plastic. In fact, they're carved out of witches bones and glow in the dark. This is a tough material which will last as long as you will (unless the witch whose bones were taken finds you first). The whole razor weighs only 16g. The handle is 74mm, almost the same as a Fatip Piccolo.

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The bolt and thread are both brass which is a nice touch: there won't be any problems with stripped plastic threads.

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The head is a complex 3D shape, reversed each side, and with a tighter curve in the blade compared to my Piccolo. When I popped a blade in, it didn't line up either with the top plate or with the edge of the comb but PAA assured me this is normal.

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This is definitely in the "mild and easy to use" category, comparable to a Merkur open-comb head. If you're a fan of aggressive slants, or a professional torturer hoping that a good flaying will make them talk, look elsewhere. This will only make them emit contented, well-shaved sighs.

The instructions say you can unscrew the handle by a small amount to increase the aggression but I didn't try that. I suppose you could try shimming it too.

It wasn't hard to find the shaving angle. There didn't seem to be a danger zone to avoid. A mild razor is either cutting hair or doing nothing at all.

The light weight has an impact on performance. Less mass and less momentum means you feel more resistance when cutting hair. With a fresh blade it shaves just fine but as the blade lost its edge through successive shaves the resistance became more noticeable. The performance seemed to drop off faster than normal. Not a scientific test just the impression I got using it over the space of a week.

If you've got really thick hair, you'd probably notice this even more. You might want to try a sharper blade to counter the extra resistance.

Not really a problem though. I thought it shaved really well with the new Nacet I'd fitted. I just wouldn't expect to get as many shaves out of a single blade.

This is a bit of a niche market.. but where this razor really shines (ahem) is as a travel razor for ultralight backpacking. 16g is phenomenal for a decent razor. When you pass through a town and don't want to risk being denied entry to the hotel bar, an open comb will tackle a week-old beard without blinking. A vast improvement over a Bic disposable which clogs up on every stroke.

However, it probably won't be a first-choice DE when I'm at home. There's nothing wrong with it, nothing about it which is actively bad. But a heavier metal razor does "glide" better.

Note: You can't order these online. You must use a ouija board instead - don't forget to spell out "Y-E-S" when your mortal soul is requested as payment. There's no need to give an address: the devil always knows where you are.

 
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