Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Disc Dog Product Test Of Hero Disc USA's SUPER AERO's

The other day I was given the opportunity to product test a few discs from Hero Disc USA. In particular, these were discs designed to be used in dog sports, called the Super Aero. I received six discs in all and I added four of my own discs to round out my testing and comparisons.


Disclaimer: I am no expert. But I have resources and experience. I have resources in scientists explaining the colored plastic mold processes and how it (the different colors) can affect things like disc flight. And I have time under my belt, having practiced disc throwing, without my dog around, for an hour a day, four to five days a week for the last few years. This does not count the time spent with my dog.


When I received these test discs I did not expect to discover any huge differences and yet, while handling the discs, I was sensitive to variations in the how the discs felt in the open-air where I had light to moderate breezes impacting my field of practice.

The test discs I received from Hero Disc USA included

SPRAERO-STRLTE-Yellow    Hero Super Aero ~ Starlite-Yellow
SPRAERO-STRLTE-Orange    Hero Super Aero ~ Starlite-Orange
SPRAERO-STRLTE-Red    Hero Super Aero ~ Starlite-Red

SPRAERO-K9CDY-Orange    Hero Super Aero ~ K9 Candy-Orange
SPRAERO-K9CDY-Yellow    Hero Super Aero ~ K9 Candy-Yellow
SPRAERO-K9CDY-Red    Hero Super Aero ~ K9 Candy-Red

The discs I added to the tests included two Club Discs (Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate) that came from Discover The World (DTW) (Fastback like) and two Air 235s from Hero Disc USA.


In case you are wondering about the new names of these discs, Starlite and K9 Candy, these are their newest production run models from this year, 2015, superseding all previous model names and references, AKA, "first generation (K9)," and "second generation (Starlite)" discs.

As it was explained to me when I asked,

"We only changed the name.

1st generation is related to the K9 Candy (referring to the fact that these are the same material as the Super Hero but in lighter [and much loved] Super Aero [model])

2nd Generation Starlite (referring to the fact that these are the same material as the Super Star but in lighter Super Aero plastic)"

The Starlites are a solid color while the K9 Candy discs are a bit thinner, flexible and end up being a wee bit lighter. More on the weight differences later.


First Round Of Tests

The first thing I did was get out there and start throwing my familiar distance shots. In all fairness, they mostly performed the same, but there was a tendency for more distance from the K9 Candy model on this day. But that can be accredited to how I am used to the lighter models and getting them out there between the 40-60 yard range of so. (A yard is three feet). I was also working down-wind.

Then I started my simulated freestyle routines and that's when I noticed that the Starlites seemed to handle better in the wind than my other discs.

What I mean by "handling better" is that as I was trying different releases or maneuvers with the discs, I noticed winds were pulling the Candy discs away from my expected trajectory path while the Starlites resisted the wind effects a bit more than the Candy models. The Starlites were still impacted by higher winds, but did not drift as far as the K9s, making it easier to effect a stretching recovery grip/catch.

After that experience, I decided to weigh them and here's what I came up with:

Air 235s:       99, 100      kg.
Club Discs:  102, 103      kg.
K9 Candys:  101, 105, 107 kg.
Starlites:      121, 121, 123 kg.

Hence you can see why the Starlites handle better in the wind while for me, the Candys are my go-to discs. The reason the Candys are my go-to discs is because Vader will destroy an Air 235 in a day. The same with the club discs that are effectively similar in construction.  He (Vader) also prefers the Candy to the Starlites because they are lighter.

The biggest draw to the Candy (AKA old "generation 1" discs) for my team is that while I could order 10 Air 235s or Club Discs, Vader destroys the 10 discs within the month due to his harsh bite.   Right now I have been using the same eight 1st generation discs with Vader for a year now. Money saved!

There is also something of note about the 1st gen discs.  After using mine for a year in practice, they get worn down and weaken a tiny bit. Meaning in a good gust of wind, they'll react to being pulled out of shape. To me that is not a bad thing because it made me be more aware of the wind while throwing my practice discs.  Then as I deploy my reserved set of performance discs, I am all the more keenly aware of the wind but they aren't quite as affected by the wind as my practice discs.

That does not mean they compensate for a stiff tail wind. But my worn out discs keep my on my toes while I can still consistently chuck them between 30 and 50 yards.


Test Session #2:

Today (the first test was a few weeks prior) I was testing 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50+ yard distance throws with the discs and several different releases again.

First was series of throws testing how well I could place the 12 discs I was testing.

At 10 and 20 yard tests they all performed admirably and consistently. At 30 yards, the heavier discs showed off their stability, but otherwise did not shine too much above the others. In the wind they handled slightly better, as noted in my first test.

All the discs performed well in air bounce tests with the lighter discs staying up or floating in the air longer and getting more height than the heavier discs. Most notably the first generations (K9s) loved the wind in this test.

One fascinating test I did, which was kind of useless but entertaining were the rollers.

I would toss the disc out with the intent of hitting the ground at about the 25 foot mark, and then seeing how well they rolled after that.

All but the Starlites rolled straight for about 10 feet then arced or rolled off with the direction of the wind, ending up about 60 feet right of the targeted throw line.

The Starlites fought the wind, hitting the ground, rolling what felt like a tad slower, but not going more than 20 or so feet off the center line with the wind before flopping down.


All distance test throws were in a stationary position and into a 5 or 6 mph wind. After throwing, I walked the discs into a line, parallel to where they originally landed:

Facing into the wind, my first test netted a distance of 130 feet, with the orange and yellow Starlites showing up the field, followed up by a K9 then the 235s and a fastback.

Test two into the wind got us a wee bit farther out there, at around 155 feet, with the yellow Starlite leading the way, followed by a 235, and a mix of K9s and Starlites.

I was concerned that I was favoring the heavier discs by throwing my test subjects from lightest to heaviest discs in that order. So the third time out, I started out with my heavier Starlite and threw a club disc last.

My third test put the Orange Starlite out there at about 160 feet, followed by a 235 and the purple K9. The rest were barely contending.

Facing the wind, I was not surprised that at least one of the heavier discs managed to always win out by a touch or farther than the other models.

No surprise, right? Check this out:

My fourth test demonstrated something fascinating.  Remember how I said that the K9s could catch the wind and this was a challenge to always be aware of? Or that they loved the wind during an air bounce?

This time I threw with the wind and I only threw one of each. It was a dead-man's test... one throw for all the beans.

The end result was that the Starlite, club disc and 235 pretty much sat together at around 155 feet while the K9 took complete advantage of the tail wind and not only went the distance, but left the rest behind at around 180 feet.


There was one other result or observation that came out of my test that kind of surprise me but if you're drunk maybe not. (Seriously, I was dictating to my phone out on the field and I DID NOT SAY drunk! But hey, it still makes sense!)

Something that seems to be common sense, but just in case you aren't doing this:

The discs pretty much performed as expected without too much of a variability in the 30 to 60 to 90 foot test throws. But I was throwing in clumps of models. IE, throwing the 235s, then the club discs, then the Starlites, etc.. What was interesting was when I was trying to do something at a certain distance with specific targeting in mine and randomly grabbed different discs with disregard for brand or color, I found out that this threw in a little bit of instability with my results. It was a fascinating test.

Lesson learned?: Always use the same brand/model of discs in any one single event or competition round to help eliminate potential instabilities in your results. What you do between rounds is totally different, and unless you can handle your different models like a pro-golfer and his different clubs, I'd keep it simple enough up front.


I have been a Hero Disc USA customer and supporter for a few years now. I have felt like it takes less effort to toss their discs when practicing for toss and fetch compared to others that are slightly smaller and or heavier. Vader also has shown a strong preference for the 1st gen (K9) discs.  When he hits the discs at 25mph, they give a bit and he bleeds less or not at all because of their give. Other discs tend to leave their mark.

The K9s have served us well.

But I may stand apart from a sector of my disc dog community.  I was once sternly reminded that there are two or three disc stunts one can't do because the K9s too soft. And they are pretty soft. But I have found that adaptability serves me well in figuring out the tricks these discs may not like. So the limitations seem minimal for most while the hardcore freestylers will more than likely deploy a different disc.

As far as pricing goes, whether you drop a quick $150 on beautiful new Hero Disc USA Super Aero discs or spend half that on their blems. Be it as it may, I can personally attest to how the first gens will last a very long time and if your dog is a soft biter, they may even outlast you! Though to be honest, there are dogs out there that have a hugely destructive bite and even these discs may not survive your pup!

{A blem is what I call a blessing to the wallet. A blem is short for blemish and that is when a disc has an error in either the label printing (look closely at the pic above) or manufacturing of the disc where bubbles or such might appear where none should. My stockpile is mostly all blems (yes, I have a stockpile, much to the chagrin of Hero Disc) and they perform just as well as the new discs I just tested. }

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