On a lark I purchased this 1988 Russian adjustable razor. What did I anticipate? Not a lot. I was just curious. I had never used a Russian or Soviet copy of a classic Gillette razor. Could they do it? Could they reproduce or even get close to the quality of a vintage Gillette? So I bought one. There are several versions out there trying to copy the famous "Black Beauty" the Gillette Super 109 Adjustable. This was the least expensive version. It has a plastic bottom plate, similar to the later versions of the Black Beauty. There are other models out there...at least a couple. At least one has a metal bottom plate and on eBay the prices go up accordingly, at least double what I paid for this version. It was $18 with $7 shipping for a total of $25. Not cheap but not "pricy" either.
In the accompanying video I show my first shave with this razor...unlike my usual reviews where I have used a razor or product over at least a week. This time I wanted to give some insight into how I go about the "experimentation" or "evaluation process." This time the impressions started out positive but went down from there fairly quickly.
This razor is milder than any of the Gillette Adjustables (Black Beauty, Slim or FatBoy). When set on the lower settings of the 9 possible settings the blade aligns pretty well. The blade exposure appears to be even. The blade gap is even. As you progress upward in the settings to above "4" there appears to be one side presenting more blade exposure while also one side tilting higher than the other...sort of a "crazy" unintentional slant. Once you get to the "9" setting one side is definitely more aggressive than the other and the blade gap is obviously higher than the other side of the blade. I noticed that the plastic bottom plate had some "flex" and movement. Maybe the metal version would not present the variance of blade gap and aggressiveness difference from one side to the other but it's definitely present in this razor.
The shave isn't uncomfortable, relatively smooth, moderately efficient, just not near perfect, just OK. A Gillette it is not. A reasonable copy of a Gillette Adjustable, yeah probably. It has some alloy probably in some of the parts of the head of the razor and maybe even some brass. The weight is similar...pretty close to a Black Beauty but the handle is probably made from aluminum or zinc alloy. I've never seen or touched a plastic bottom Black Beauty so I don't know how close that material compares. There also appeared to be some manufacturing flaws on the handle's "stripes." One side towards the top the vertical strips faded compared to the other part of the upper handle. If it was meant to look like that, the designer must have really liked his/her vodka that day.
Can you shave with this razor? Yes. Can you get a decent shave with this razor? Yes. Should you buy this razor instead of a vintage Gillette? No. Should you buy this razor or possibly the all metal cousin of this razor? Well, depends on what you want out of it. Interesting Russian made adjustable razor in a world with few adjustable razors...might be worth it as an addition to your collection...as a novelty. As a daily shaver? No, find something else.
Below there are some pictures and the accompanying YouTube video review link once it has been uploaded.
Good Shaves, Be Happy, Be Safe
Picture Slideshow. Click on image to change picture.