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What advantage do these have other a cheaper model, like the parker 99 and some of the merkur razors? Serious question as I have been pretty happy with my 99R and given the simplicity of the device other than fancy ones like the futura I don't know what these bring over cheaper models.
With any DE it's not so much what one can do that another cannot or advantage/disadvantage. It's about what works best for the individual. I didn't find much of a difference in shave quality going from the DE89 to the AS-D2 but I wanted a nicer mild DE and the AS-D2 fit the bill for me.
The Feather AS-D2 it's solid stainless and made in Japan. Whether that makes it worth it to you or not is your call to make. There are certainly other stainless DE's out there that sell for less than even the Massdrop. Not sure about Parkers but Merkurs are plated pot metal/Zamak and subject to plating issues, deterioration of the base material and breakage.
I can't answer the "what advantage over cheaper DE razors?" question because this is my first DE. Received mine off this latest drop a couple days ago, and I'm floored by the overall build & machining quality of the AS-D2. Which is, however, exactly what I expected and why I paid the high-ish cost for this razor: I wanted a finely-crafted product that will last a lifetime.
Others write this razor is "mild" compared to some, and they go overboard describing the sharpness of the Feather blades. All I can tell you is 1st shave using a DE razor and unsure of the proper technique, the razor glided over my face such that I thought it wasn't cutting... No tugging, pulling, and almost no audible cutting of the stubble. Then I touched my face which previously had 3 days' growth, which was now all gone.
I visit Massdrop, and bought this razor, because I'm tired of cheaply made throwaway goods. I want to buy & use things that are high quality and made for a lifetime's use. The cheaper article may perform just as well for less money... for a while. But I'm sure this razor will outlast my grandkids. So when you look at it from a standpoint of service-life, it's not that expensive and buying Feather blades in bulk makes it stupid-cheap compared to disposable cartridge systems.