Thoughts on the fast-paced history of modern yoyo

From The Yonomicon by Mark McBride, 1998. This book covers a lot modern play with these shapes and the at-the-time, new, transaxles and he illustrates all the complex moves that are still the foundation of modern horizontal / sidestyle. Trapeze and shortly thereafter, double or nothing is probably what sparked all of what we know now as in, beyond just looping. I dunno, just chiming in.


Between 1999-2000 a lot of the foundation of modern 1a were laid. I look at the SuperYo Kickin Tricks video as kind of seminal, which was shot in 1999. By that point Steve had unleashed 5a and 3a and 4a were gaining steam, all of which further wrenched the focus away from 2a. You had Escolar and the Longorias (among others) active at that point, and so many of those tricks ended up being the classics which influenced the next creative wave.

edit: Also if you never saw it, have a nice day at school!


And I would argue none of that would have been possible (or even happened) without the Turbo Bumble Bee… and its brother the GT + Cold Fusion.

This is where worship at the altar of wood starts to break down, for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think wood is pretty cool but it clearly limited what people could accomplish with yo-yos.


Definitely confirmed



Clearly. Man, got me again. I’ve wasted so much time and energy on these inherently limited materials.

Then again, wood is less WHAT I worship as opposed to what I USE to worship. And in that regard, I don’t really find it inferior to any other medium.


I like wood for what it is … but holy padoodles man, fire up a Turbo Bumble Bee after an hour of throwing a No Jive 3-in-1 and it is a mystical, religious, transcendental experience. I know… because I’ve done it myself. :star_struck:

  • Response that actually works 100% of the time, totally consistent, completely reliable with no futzing around or “well, you gotta factor in…” excuses involved.

  • Ludicrous spin speeds and spin times with a metal ball bearing, on even the most average of average throws

Wood yo-yos were holding the field of yo-yo back, and the explosion of the Turbo Bumble Bee + beyond is what enabled all evolution in Yo-Yo after 1997.

I mean heck, the “mini Flores yo-yo nestled inside a plastic rim weighted container” approach of the Pro-Yo 2 was indeed a big step forward but fire up that Turbo Bumble Bee and … it’s like touching the face of God. :sparkles:

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As have I. I still have the one I bought in 1998. Don’t think I’ve ever knocked the TBB or its place in the pantheon of significant yo-yo’s. Nor have I ever suggested that the 1a revolution could have happened on wood. @zslane asked when said revolution happened and I mentioned I usually think of Kickin Tricks as the time it really arrived.

As I’ve said before, your use of the phrase “holding the field of yo-yo back” indicates an assumption that there are only two directions - forward and back. But there are a lot of reasons to play yo-yo and a lot of ways to progress - not just the easiest path to a long sleeper or the most technical trick. Maybe we fundamentally disagree on that point. But I’ve mostly played wood for 12+ years and I don’t actually feel I’ve been “held back”.


I’m still working my way up to the “beefcaking” era at the moment.

The Turbo Bumble Bee (and GT, and Cold Fusion, and Cold Fusion GT) were clearly the inflection point ~1997-1998 which set the stage for the next 5 years… but they were all narrow gap.

What was the first popular yo-yo to ship with a wide gap? Because beefcaking was stacking two of the small bearings together to mod a wide gap into an existing yo-yo.



Takeshi started recessing Freehands which “maximized” the FH gap by lowering the response in early 2003. But I kinda see JD’s trifecta that year (and the Hitman) as the moment wide gap really took off. Those shipped w “adjustable gap” (so that kids could still yo-yo with them sans bind). But they were functionally wide-gapped for sure.

In terms of what created the unresponsive movement though - a HUGE factor was the Renegade. Because when its massive starbursts wore down (after like a week) you kinda HAD to bind.


So the Hitman would be the archetypal, most popular, first mainstream default wide gapped yo-yo?

original 2003!


I mean I’'d invite anybody to contradict or add context, but yeah. I mentioned the Renegade in my edit above as being similarly important to the development of unresponsive, and Takeshi’s recess was the first/best structural mod to improve the gap toward unresponsive play.

But I think Hitman was the first popular wide gapped production model which was really geared toward that new style.


Just shows ta go ya, kids, they were doing some pretty fantastic tricks 20 years ago. :wink:

And they’re still quite impressive.


It’s all what you make it.

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I was being totally sarcastic!!!


The best yoyo performances I’ve ever seen were with low performance equipment.


The Dollar Tree vids…nailing a routine with a $1.00 yoyo impresses me more than…I’ll leave it at that.


It all impresses me, to be quite honest. When I see someone playing with skill and style, I don’t even notice or care what yoyo they’re using, unless there’s something about its aesthetics that catches my eye.


I dig it man

Takeshi mod - no one contradictions there

When I got my Turbo Bumblebee GT (ca. 2000), I was told it was the most advanced yoyo on the market that could be used in a contest. I was somewhat isolated from the yoyo community, so my knowledge of when binding and wide gaps started becoming popular is limited, but since I’ve taken a liking to YoyoJam and its history, I may have some information that would be useful. YoyoJam seemed to be on the cutting edge of yoyo advancement, especially through the 2000s, and they may be able to shed some light on these matters. It looks as though wider gaps started to become popular or were at least created a little bit earlier than the Hitman. The earliest yoyos in my collection with a wide gap are the YYJ Phat Phaktor and the Phat Boy (same as the Phaktor but with a partially ceramic bearing) from 2002. They are large organic plastic hybrids with narrow brass rims and have a wide C size bearing with a starburst response system and an adjustable gap. The Matrix also came out in 2002, but I think it uses a smaller bearing with a weaker response system. Sadly, I don’t think I have anything else from 2002 in the way of YoyoJams or anything else, and I’m not sure if wide C bearings were used by any other manufacturers before that. Furthermore, the YYJ Hitman was accompanied by a number of yoyos that could go completely unresponsive in 2003. YoyoJam models that I have from 2003 include the Speeder, Big Ben, Mini Mo-Trix, and the Night Moves 1.

YoyoJam yoyos that I have from before 2002 do not have the wide gap. I suspect that the move to unresponsive was a gradual thing, in part because of the gap in the time between the late 90s when we had all tug responsive throws and 2002/2003 when the wide gap unresponsives showed up. Instead, companies like YoyoJam were using a narrow gap with no response system at all, or a weak “reverse” starburst as in the case of the early YYJ Spinfaktor models from 1998-2000, which were more of “semi-responsive” models.

A Quick addendum: For these semi-responsive yoyos, it seems that many of them will play completely unresponsive (as in, you’re not bracing for a snap back when you try a slack trick) with one well placed shim. I did this for my SpinFaktor.

I hope this helps, and feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken about something. I’ve been trying to retrace the steps yoyoing took since ~2000 myself since I got back into it around 2010 or so.