“Hey there yo-yoers!” (to quote the venerable Sniffy-Yo)
I’m new to YYE and yo-yoing in general, and thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Rob, I’m 24, I live in my hometown, San Diego, but left my heart in San Francisco. This is my story.
While in my MCAT studying dungeon a few weeks ago, I was feasting on a Big Stick™ popsicle and decided to take a much needed procrastination break by educating myself on the history and wonders of this classic frozen treat via Wikipedia (does anyone else do this?). There was no Big Stick™ Wiki entry, but nonetheless, I ended up getting a primer on the history of the Popsicle™. After learning that “popsicle” isn’t actually a “real” word with a Greek/ancient pedigree, but rather, the name of a brand that has made its way into our everyday vocabularies (like “chapstick” and “xerox”), I struggled to remember what these words were called. Enter the Wikipedia vortex of doom.
After throwing out some guesses into Wikipedia, I landed on the correct word - eponym. The adventure commenced something like this:
eponym ☞ list of trademark/brand name eponyms ☞ histories of how various eponyms evolved (did you know that “heroin” and “escalator” were actually trademarked brand names? gee whiz!!) ☞ international trademark law ☞ more titillating eponym histories ☞ etc.
Working my way from “aspirin” to “zipper”, I eventually landed on a special word - “yo-yo”. I was shocked - I had no idea the word “yo-yo” as the west knows it had its beginnings in a trademarked brand name. Of course, the story of the word’s evolution was just the intro to the actual “yo-yo” Wikipedia article, and I ended up reading the rest of the article.
All of a sudden, I had a rush of nostalgia. I was brought back to the great yo-yo boom of the early-90’s, before the rise of Pokémon brought forth the great yo-yo crash of the late-90’s. I remembered the “yo-yo guy assembly” that started the boom at my elementary school, the yo-yogate scandal, the yo-yo related injury crisis, and the establishment of yo-yoer internment in designated yo-yoing zones. Then there were my first yo-yos - the Yomega Brain and Saber Wing Brain, the Superyo Sonic Spin (my favorite), and the Playmaxx Turbo Bumble Bee that I abandoned after it “broke” (read: became unresponsive). Back in those days my favorite yo-yo company was Tom Kuhn, and my dream yo-yo was the SB2. However, at $99 ($140 in today’s dollars), I had little hope of ever obtaining it with my meager pre-pubescent salary - and I never did. Eventually, I ended up jumping on the Pokémon train and put away my prized throws.
Fast forward to now. After spending a minute feeling like a washed-up 24 year-old geezer, I commenced to google Tom Kuhn to see if the company was still around. Lo and behold, in the top search results was my old friend <insert classic 90’s shop here> - it was still around, and so was Tom Kuhn! I had mail-ordered my Saber Wing Brain from them, and received quite a bit of flak from my mom for sending out my order with cash, exact change, pennies and all (I was too impatient to wait for my mom to get a cashier’s check). That was at a time when many still considered entering credit card information online foolhardy. After chuckling a bit at the still 90s-esque <insert classic 90’s shop here> website, I was shocked at how much things had changed.
“Look at all of those metal yo-yos! And all these companies!”
“WTH is up with all of these bloated butterfly designs?” (not many people I knew played butterflies back in the day)
"…unresponsive? Huh? Do they mean the website? Probably - this shiz definitely needs to be optimized, along with a CSS overhaul… What is this, 56k redux?"
“Man, a lot of these are expensive.”
[*]“Wow, look at all of these hip, ‘unique’, acid-washed, neon-splashed yo-yos! Why haven’t I seen any of these at Dolores Park?”
And so the seed was planted. I was overjoyed to see that the SB2 was still around, and started to toy with the idea of fulfilling my childhood dream and ordering an SB2, á la “The Santa Clause” Oscar Meyer Wienie Whistle. Even today, with my grown-up bank account and credit cards, I was still reluctant to drop $89 for “just” a yo-yo, so started to cruise ebay. While cruising ebay, my superconsumer sixth sense kicked in and something occurred to me - “Wait a second, the SB2 was released over 15 years ago, and back then it was top of the line - there must have been some major yo-yo advances in the intervening time. I bet I can get an even better yo-yo for my money than the SB2 - childhood dreams be “darned”!!!” And so I began my due diligence.
At this point, I was still married to the idea of getting a “non-butterfly” yo-yo, since the idea and aesthetics of the butterfly shape were still alien to me. However, after discovering the unbelievable sorcery the young-uns were doing with these simple “toys”, I simply could not have my comeback yo-yo be a small gap/small width yo-yo. Butterfly it was. The video that really cemented my desire/goal of learning to yo-yo was “BOAR - Ughagh!” by Ricardo Meli - “sooooo cool!”.
I had come across it after coming up with the side goal of bringing a light-up/glow yo-yo to next year’s Burning Man and doing light shows for people - I had searched for “yo-yo dubstep”.
I digress. Using yoyowiki.org for data and <insert classic 90’s shop here> as a shopping launching point, I dropped the SB2 idea after about 5 minutes. I landed on a preliminary budget cap of $50, and thought I’d get a YoYoJam or YoYoFactory, since those brands seemed well established/trustworthy, and I was still unsure of the value of these other “boutique” yo-yo houses. I would also get a responsive, sturdy plastic, since that seemed like the practical thing to do. All that seemed fine and dandy, until I landed on the onedrop page.
There it was, the one drop Project. At this point, I was unimpressed by all of the other flashy, cartoon-laden, silly-named metal yo-yos, and plus, they were expensive. The onedrop Project, however, was different. Here, I’ll share something about myself - I’m a sucker for intelligently designed, well-made products. Products that straddle the line between utilitarian tool and art object, where form seamlessly follows function. Naturally, if there’s one thing that shifts my consumption patterns from elastic to inelastic demand, it’s intelligently designed, well-made products. The onedrop Project is one such product, and I demanded it. The lines of the Project were so instinctively “classic”, the projection profile grooves elegant, and the axle/nut capture system seemed like such an obvious design decision as to be essential. Plus, there was just something about the aesthetics of the hex-nut and finish that was so appealing - in the <insert classic 90’s shop here> photo, it looked as if it was just painted in grey primer, so different from the loud, flamboyant anodization of the other yo-yos I had seen. 30 minutes had passed and I had already thrown away my budget cap and plastic yo-yo requirements.
Alas, five more minutes would pass and I would discover just how behind <insert classic 90’s shop here> was - the Project was history. Luckily for me, the Project ended up being a success history, and onedrop is very much alive today. After more research, and a transition to the more up-to-date YYN and YYE, I landed on the MarkMont Next as my first yo-yo. It lacked the replaceable axle system that I had fallen in love with, but it retained and improved many of the other characteristics of the Project that had attracted me. Plus, it was nickel-plated, which meant that it would develop a lovely patina, and the nut was still of a more sturdy, pressed-fit design.
Being that the MMN was listed online as an “advanced” yo-yo, I was a bit worried at first (e.g. “This yo-yo is hard to get back up. It will take many layers of string. It may need a bind to get it to return. This is not for a novice; very advanced.”) I was also a teeny bit self-conscious for choosing an expensive, unresponsive metal for my first yo-yo. I came across a fair amount of online anathema decrying the proliferation of spoiled rotten “newbs” foolishly/naively starting off with expensive yo-yos. Pfff, whatever! I’m a grown “semi-expletive” man, it’s my money, and if I want a nice, well-made yo-yo, I’m going to have it - online opinions be “darned”! I’m that same guy who eschewed the age-old motorcycling convention and went with the nicely-sized, 850cc, well-designed, well-made, beautiful Italian motorcycle as my first bike (an Aprilia), rather than getting a small “starter”/beater bike. One year and 18,000 miles later, my bike isn’t totaled, and more important, I’m still alive - oh so alive. Moving on…
So I got the MMN about 3 weeks ago, used thick lube to make it responsive, then got sick of the slow spin time and made it unresponsive after a day. I learned to bind the second day, started to get really addicted, and of course really loved the MMN - it was unlike anything I’ve ever played with (of course). Fueled by my natural curiosity and great enthusiasm for my new hobby, and emboldened by the discovery of BST and how well yo-yos hold value, I went on to procure an orange peel 54, an ILYY Liopleurodon, a relatively complete side effects set, and my new love, a nickel Dang. I really wanted to explore the range of sizes, shapes, and weights out there, and discovered that I really love full-sized, rim-weighted, heavier yo-yos (67g+ range). I’ve also found that I really enjoy discovering how different types of string can drastically change my yo-yoing experience.
As far as my progress is concerned, I’m really happy with where I’m at, and am even a bit surprised (it must be from the hard-earned hand dexterity gained over the years from being a pianist/flutist). Right now I’m working on the advanced section of Andre Boulay’s tutorials, particularly Boingy Boing, which is killing me - words of wisdom welcome! My favorite trick so far is Plastic Whip - it’s so simple, but oh so slick, and once it clicked and I got it, it was the first time I felt like a yo-yo wizard (just an acolyte wizard, mind you). A close second would probably be Barrel Rolls.
Anyways, before my MCAT score drops even further, I think I’ll end my neophyte saga here. And again, to borrow from the venerable Sniffy-Yo, I’d also like to end by commenting/marveling at how friendly, helpful, welcoming, and generous I’ve found the yo-yoing community to be in my short three weeks of lurking. The online yo-yoing community is the first online community I’ve ever felt compelled to participate in, and probably the first community I’ve ever even posted in.
Thanks for giving me my new life hobby, thanks in advance for the support, and thanks to the BST’ers for spreading the love! I look forward to getting to know all of you.
Stay fabulous yo-yoers!
To be continued…