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A General Flagship Discussion

Sion

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Here will be a discussion on flagship level puzzles, and more so what justifies them when there is a growing number of low cost high performance cubes.

-what defines a flagship?
-what distinguishes a flagship from is lower cost and high performing counterparts?
-what price could be considered the border between LCHP and Flagship puzzles?
-how can flagships further distance themselves from their LCHP counterparts to continue incentive to buy them?

I’d love to hear what you all have to say about this matter.
 

qwr

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Flagship is the best performing, usually most expensive and these days customizable, cube.

Ex while Qiyi MS is extremely good for its price, it's still a little less polished and high performance than the Valk line. The flagship for Moyu is still the GTS3 / WRM.
 

Alex Shih

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Flagship is the best performing, usually most expensive and these days customizable, cube.

Ex while Qiyi MS is extremely good for its price, it's still a little less polished and high performance than the Valk line. The flagship for Moyu is still the GTS3 / WRM.
Are customization options really worth the high price tho? You basically only customize your cube once to find the setting you like the most, and after that you basically never touch those settings again. The Qiyi MS may be less fancy, but objectively, its performance easily matches flagships. IMO paying $20+ more for customization is not worth it unless you are world-class.
 

qwr

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Are customization options really worth the high price tho? You basically only customize your cube once to find the setting you like the most, and after that you basically never touch those settings again. The Qiyi MS may be less fancy, but objectively, its performance easily matches flagships. IMO paying $20+ more for customization is not worth it unless you are world-class.
I told you what a thought a flagship is; whether or not it's worth the price is a whole different matter (my opinion: if you can try a cube beforehand, then it's not)
 

nairismic

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Flagships are the most expensive and most customizable cubes from a company. Flagships (imo) are not worth it unless you want a premium plastic feel. The customization features are pretty much useless after a few days of use. If we had more physical cube stores, then flagships would be useless. In the future, I think that even magnet customizability will come down to around $17, because the cheapest cube with magnet customizability is currently the YJ MGC Elite, which stands at $23.
 

Sion

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From my experience in cube design, I can definitely say there is, for a good amount of designers, a higher standard put on R&D for flagship level puzzles as compared to budget cubes. Typically, there is a substantially lower amount of effort put into making a budget cube; this includes reusing and only lightly remodeling molds and using yesterday’s innovation as compared to big, unique changes.

To cite a few examples, going from the Gan X to the XS, while the base mechanism stayed mostly stagnant, GAN put a lot of effort into an even lighter mold for their base cubies to make the lightest competitively viable speedcube. Yet, once they release a new base model, it essentially becomes fair play since the molds are already existing, enabling GAN to slightly tweak those cubes and sell them at lower price points.

The RS3M 2020 is a more substantial yet subtle example of this. If you look at the part design, as elegant as it may apppear, it is at most a very lightly modified rs3 adapted to use similarly lightly modified GTS3/WR edge and corner feet, all with spring compression. There’s really nothing new about it, which reflects very low amounts of RnD as compared to the GTS3, which pioneered many of these features.

That’s how I see it; flagships bring substantial change while LCHP cubes only reuse what has already been done, but at a lower price. LCHP cubes are so good because they don’t take risks, and therefore are markedly easier to produce at a low cost and higher frequency, while flagships take more time to develop into their own unique products. I’d love your opinions on this miniature essay.
 

qwr

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In the future, I think that even magnet customizability will come down to around $17, because the cheapest cube with magnet customizability is currently the YJ MGC Elite, which stands at $23.
TC sells a $1 extra magnets kit for the RS3M lol

personally I have fun trying out all sorts of budget cubes and old cubes, maybe even more than just maining one cube!
 

pi³

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-what price could be considered the border between LCHP and Flagship puzzles?
-how can flagships further distance themselves from their LCHP counterparts to continue incentive to buy them?
I think that the $15 mark is pretty much the line between LCHP and Flagship puzzles. The most expensive LCHP puzzles are ~$12-$14 and after the $15 line you have flagships like the Valk 3 and the WRM (with some exceptions).
Flagships could offer extra features e.g. magnets, pre-lubing, customizability to offer extra incentive to buy them.
 

s_e_a_n666

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Flagships have customization nowadays so that the cube fits a wider audience. Since customization is still pretty new the prices are high but they will go down as we have seen with cubes like the Tengyun V2, YJ's MGC line, and even the RS3M 2020 which is a budget cube has the Moyu adjustment system. The most defining difference between budget cubes and flagships is probably the design and manufacturing quality, as well as the customization options.
 

Sion

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Is performance really an indicator of budget anymore? If the answer is no, is there much of a place for flagships in the marketplace anymore?
 

dudefaceguy

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I think the real answer is that the market is driven by our insatiable demand for more cubes. Compared to other hobbies, cubing is insanely cheap. You can get every decent 3x3 including all flagships for less than the price of a crappy bicycle. I have about 15 3x3s.

As long as we keep buying cubes, they will keep making cubes that are just a little bit different than other cubes. New budget cube? Might as well get it, since it's so cheap. New flagship? Better upgrade to the latest and greatest!

I do think that the flagships will come down in price. There is less and less of a difference, and most cubers know that an expensive cube won't make you faster. Of my 15 3x3s only 3 cost more than $20 (Huanglong, GTS3M, and Tengyun).

Smart cubes are a great way for companies to release new cubes at a high price point, so there is less of a reason to have very expensive non-smart 3x3s.

On the subject of customization, I was really excited to get my GTS3M and fiddle around with it. I took it out of the box, but in 2 drops of Silk, and ... it was perfect. I didn't do a thing to it. It's still on the factory settings.
 

Sion

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Here’s a good question for all of you: are flagships an important part of the hardware landscape? Why?
 

s_e_a_n666

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Here’s a good question for all of you: are flagships an important part of the hardware landscape? Why?
Yes. This is because companies will put innovations such as customizable systems in their higher end cubes instead of their budget cubes. You're gonna be paying a premium for a new premium design and product.
 

cyoubx

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This is kind of backwards - but I actually think flagships should be the cubes with the least amount of customization available. In many other hobbies/sports, the top-of-the-line products are fine-tuned to a specific use-case. You would never buy a tennis racket with adjustable string tensions. You pick whatever tension you want and have your racket strung precisely at that tension.

The equivalent in cubing would be a cube that has settings specific to what a user wants, even if that means requiring a longer time to set the cube up. For example, instead of having a spring compression system, include extra springs of varying stiffness. IMO, cubes with a lot of customization should be left for beginners who don't know what they want.
 

s_e_a_n666

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This is kind of backwards - but I actually think flagships should be the cubes with the least amount of customization available. In many other hobbies/sports, the top-of-the-line products are fine-tuned to a specific use-case. You would never buy a tennis racket with adjustable string tensions. You pick whatever tension you want and have your racket strung precisely at that tension.

The equivalent in cubing would be a cube that has settings specific to what a user wants, even if that means requiring a longer time to set the cube up. For example, instead of having a spring compression system, include extra springs of varying stiffness. IMO, cubes with a lot of customization should be left for beginners who don't know what they want.
I see your point, but beginners who don't know what they want won't know anything about these settings. I think beginners should get comfortable with the way one cube feels and see if they want to try something different with a new cube. You don't want to overwhelm beginners so giving them a standard cube to start will be more beneficial than giving them a load of options from the get go.
 

dudefaceguy

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This is kind of backwards - but I actually think flagships should be the cubes with the least amount of customization available. In many other hobbies/sports, the top-of-the-line products are fine-tuned to a specific use-case. You would never buy a tennis racket with adjustable string tensions. You pick whatever tension you want and have your racket strung precisely at that tension.

The equivalent in cubing would be a cube that has settings specific to what a user wants, even if that means requiring a longer time to set the cube up. For example, instead of having a spring compression system, include extra springs of varying stiffness. IMO, cubes with a lot of customization should be left for beginners who don't know what they want.
This is a good point. I wouldn't be surprised if the next flagship fad was extremely light cubes with no customization. Carbon fiber with carbon composite springs maybe?

Although reviewers seem to like it when cubes are heavy - just like with electronics, a light one "feels cheap." Maybe more insane copper cores.

But I suppose you can already get made-to-order cubes from the retailers. Perhaps with the new budget cubes that are very cheap, these will become more popular. Getting a YLM with custom magnets costs $30, and they can probably do a spring swap for a few dollars more.
 

Sub1Hour

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This is a good point. I wouldn't be surprised if the next flagship fad was extremely light cubes with no customization. Carbon fiber with carbon composite springs maybe?

Although reviewers seem to like it when cubes are heavy - just like with electronics, a light one "feels cheap." Maybe more insane copper cores.
This is all up to personal preference so I do see cubes starting to get heavier and lighter. I for one like a cube with substance to the turns like the WRm and Valk 3 but I don't like how light GAN cubes are. I do know some people that have hands that tire very quickly so a heavier cube limits them. I also don't think any cubes have had "Insane" cores, the Valk Power core was just reinforced with a bit of copper and didn't make it that much heavier than the valk, only by a few grams, going from 82 grams to 87 grams (non magnetic versions). I'm sure that filling in the corners and extra plastic here and there also contributed to the weight of the cube. I think that the spectrum of weight is only going to get larger, but I don't think that cubes lighter than 50-45 grams will be used since at that point performance might be sacrificed and the turns wouldn't feel so great at that point. On the heavy side, I think that going over 150 grams would be too much for most cubers, but I think I could use a heavier cube just fine, but not over 200 grams.
 
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