I started off drumming playing with Vic Firth sticks, I then moved on to Vater stick as I found them to be more cheaper and more durable. Not too long after I found Vic Firth Nova in my local store and was curious as to why they were so cheap, the owner explained to me that they were sticks with visual defects and not defects with the stick itself so they paint them fully to cover it and call them Nova sticks.
The playing and durability is identical to the full Vic Firth sticks so I decided to purchase some and they did indeed feel identical even at less than half the price. While I like the full black coating, I found it to chip off and mark the drums or cymbals, but it does provide extra grip and cover visual defects, I think it might have been better if they covered it all except the tips.
Overall, they look pretty good, play very well, last just as long as regular sticks and are about the 3rd of the price. These are awesome.