After FoolsGoldDigger’s review of the Freehand Pro I decided to give a Freehand yoyo a try. So I went to my friendly neighborhood toy/yoyo/kendama store who also support our local skill toy club, the “Yolex” club. I purchased a Duncan Freehand Zero with the 3 counterweights as well as the new Yo Yo Factory responsive Replay.
I’m still looking for a good quality responsive yoyo that’s not too responsive. That is, I want to be able to do at least a trapeze without the yoyo either snapping back immediately or having the spin die immediately.
First of all, the price in the store was $26 which seemed really high. They then told me it was on sale for $16.95 which is a reasonable price point for this yoyo. That is, it’s a price point which matches up pretty closely to what you can buy it for online. Is it actually worth $16.95 is another question entirely.
You can see the specs here on YYE. The most interesting spec is the weight which is listed at 65 grams although it feels much lighter.
Responsiveness: Wow, this thing is so responsive that it’s almost useless as a trick yoyo. When I took it apart there was sort of a thick goo on the bearing and spacers. After cleaning this off it was only slightly better. There are, however, extra spacers you can swap out but the spacers included make the gap even tighter. This is a consistent quandary I have with Duncan yoyos. The whole point of the Flipside I bought for my grand daughter was that you can flip the bearings to change the responsiveness. Flipping the bearings changed the yoyo from “very responsive” to “very slightly less responsive”. The bearing upgrade for the Metal Drifter also only changed it from “very responsive” to “very slightly less responsive”. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Response pads: Oh man! It uses those friction stickers that I hate so much. On the Metal Drifter my grand daughter wore out those pads in a matter of weeks. They just don’t last. But maybe I should look at it this way: If I clean the bearing and let the pads wear out I might have a yoyo that doesn’t snap back at the first sign of slack. The yoyo might actually become useful. But is that what I really want? Do I want a yoyo where, if I remove one response pad and break it in for hours, only then does it become playable? As a contrast, every YYF yoyo I own was playable right out of the box. Now that I think of it, that’s been true for every other brand of yoyo I own except for Duncan.
Spin time is measured in seconds. Double digit seconds if you’re lucky. It’s unfortunate for the Freehand that I bought a Replay the same day. By comparison the Replay, which is cheaper but doesn’t include the 3 counterweights, spins almost as long as the Replay Pro. The Replay feels better in the hand, has a weight that feels more like a yoyo than a toy, it responds when you want it to with very little unexpected snap back, it’s just a vastly better yoyo. After an hour of throwing the Freehand it started to loosen up a bit. But it’s still just a super responsive yoyo with short spin times.
The Freehand Zero is obviously designed for 5A tricks. I mean, it even comes with 3 counterweights. Maybe I just don’t get why you’d want a super responsive yoyo if you’re learning 5A tricks. That makes no sense to me at all.
There’s a plastic trash bag in my closet which I call “The bag of shame”. It contains the yoyos that didn’t make the cut; yoyos that reduce the fun rather than increase the fun. They may be good giveaway yoyos for a kid who wants to learn, but they’re not worth playing with when I have yoyos which are so much better in my collection. Although there are a few different brands of yoyos in the bag of shame, is it a coincidence that every Duncan yoyo I own has ended up in that bag?
Summary: I just don’t get it. I have no idea why this is a popular yoyo. It doesn’t excel in any way. It feels light and toy-like in the hand, it responds way too quickly, it just doesn’t make sense as a freehand 5A yoyo. In my opinion the only thing worth keeping were the counterweights. Put the rubber ball counterweight on a Replay Pro and you have a darn good 5A rig for about the same amount of money.