Vs. Newton Charity Issues (2019)


That’s always been my read of this.

Perhaps I missed it, but I haven’t seen an effort at redemption.

Everyone makes mistakes. Most people don’t steal money intended for cancer research, and then lie about it compulsively and continuously, and then only come clean when they’ve been publicly found out (after a lot of time and effort is put into investigating) and are being threatened with legal action and felony mail fraud charges. There is no indication that Heath ever would have come clean about all of this. And even when he was cornered and facing legal action, Heath continued to lie and deceive in his admission posts. It was unreal. Just unreal. And then Heath disappeared from the community, for understandable reasons. He was pretty universally despised after it all. But his exit also meant that he wasn’t working to make amends.

Heath donated the money he had promised to charity after he was cornered into doing so. When faced with the threat of legal action, after 2 years of stringing people along and telling us that he had already made the donation, he was all the sudden able to get the money together. That’s not atonement and that’s not redemption. Frankly, I’m not 100% certain what redemption looks like in this situation. Perhaps making an effort to be useful to and supportive of the community? Perhaps facing the music for a while and doing whatever is necessary to, as much as possible, make up for the wrongdoing? The debts incurred weren’t just financial. In any event, it seems to me that redemption doesn’t look like leaving for 6+ years and then showing up again because you’re upset that someone might be stealing your yoyo design, and then immediately talking about rebooting your company.

You all are moving forward with this project, and I’m not trying to derail that. I wish you all the best and hope it’s wildly successful. It’s especially cool that this might raise some funds for charity. None of you owe me a response, or anything, and frankly my life is way too dope for any of this to break my stride. But I think it is worth being clear on why some of us might be less than giddy with the form of Heath’s reappearance. Peace out.


It appears to me that this sentiment accurately reflects what some of the older members of the community feel and think.

I was not around what the fiasco happened, and what happened was certainly not acceptable in any way. I am, however, puzzled that many do not believe Heath has a right to step out of the shadow of that incident, rejoin the community and restart his yoyo company. Should we hold it against him for the rest of his life?

Eight years have passed, I am sure he has matured, he has apologised and repaid the money; and it is significant that he is allowing, what many call the greatest yoyo ever, to be reproduced in huge quantities without sharing in the profit.

It sounds like there are some emotional scars, but intellectually I don’t think there are any justifiable reasons for him not to be allowed to move forward, and to give him a second chance.


Just out of curiosity how would you feel about this project(or even the Ti Walker) if Heath hadn’t appeared/gotten involved?


This timeline isn’t right, and you can verify that yourself by looking at the relevant topics. Here goes, click along with me if you don’t believe me. It’s all documented in the forums. Let’s build a timeline.

(To do this, I filtered these topics to just Heath’s posts, which you can do by clicking on the avatar and then filter.)

Maider wins MA States / VSNYYC topic

  • Topic starts – Nov 2010
  • Battosai run / Andrew Maider joins team – Dec 2010
  • Jesse Christie joins team – Jan 2011
  • Ti-Walker drop – Feb 2011
  • Moon Walker / Septopus protos – Apr 2011
  • Brett grimes joins team – May 2011
  • “going to worlds at literally full force” – Jul 2011
  • eBay auctions – Dec 2011
  • G3T proto – May 2012
  • D Bearing Skywalkers – Jul 2012
  • WYYC 2012 congrats – Aug 2012
  • last of the “works” charity auction yoyos going up – Aug 2012
  • The $4073 is correct in total, will be done ASAP – Sep 2012
  • Payment of $1150 screenshot, let me fix this – Oct 2012

Vs. Newton Charity Issues topic

Last charity auction was August 2012, payment was made in full by October 2012. That’s three months. Where are you getting “two years of stringing people along” from?

The apology topic is dated March 2016, The post this community deserved long ago. Heath’s previous post was Oct 2012 so that’s… 2013, 2014, 2015… a little over three years, maybe three and a half if you want to be generous?

There are a tiny smattering of posts (mostly selling stuff) from Heath in that 2013 - 2016 time period, though nothing on this particular topic, so he didn’t quite leave entirely.

Honestly I read through 180+ posts by Heath in those three topics and I just don’t see this. Every post Heath makes about (in those three topics, at least) it he emphasizes how sorry he is and how much he wants to fix it. Unless it was happening outside these forums, or outside the above three topics?


I do think some people are being a little too harsh but I do see where it’s coming from. It does seem that the whole situation was pretty complicated and dragged out and the way Heath handled the situation when actually called out can warrant concern even a few years after the incident.

For the side against Heath I definitely liked what jrod said the best. For other responses against him it seems that they won’t really consider forgiveness and regained trust no matter what he does. But Jrod did bring up a good point saying that he hasn’t really done anything to redeem himself, at least yet, and his sudden reappearance due to this project doesn’t really help his case.

Especially with his involvement with this project he isn’t really doing anything that shows redemption. I understand that it’s his design so he has the right to be involved but his involvement isn’t really doing anything to CHANGE how others view him and his past. Only way I could see that is saying that he “graciously” allowed this project to continue but even with that he was kind of forced into a corner.

I’ve avoided saying this but I think I would’ve preferred if Heath had never gotten involved. I definitely think it’s changed the dynamic and I feel like he’s treating it like he’s done/doing more than he really is with some of the things he’s said.

Either way though people were gonna complain, if he didn’t get involved then you’re stealing someone’s design, if he does then you’ve involved yourself with someone that’s had a terrible past.

With all that said though I do like to try to see the best in people and it was his design so we’ll just roll with it. Heath is really only involved in spirit tbh, the project is still really all Jeff so nothing can really go wrong.

I’m very much looking forward to the release.

(ClockMonsterLA) #26

I’m still trying to understand what the whole point is of hashing all this out here. I mean, what exactly is the goal of those who don’t want to get a TiVayder and don’t feel that Heath can redeem himself until he dies and stands before the Pearly Gates? If you don’t intend to buy a TiVayder, fine, don’t buy one. Why all the sanctimonious finger wagging in a public forum?

I keep reading this topic hoping to hear more actual news about the project, but instead I’m treated to a lot of high-handed moralizing and announcing of just how much they don’t believe in second chances. Could we perhaps re-title this topic so nobody else will be misled as to what it is (or has become) all about?

(LJ) #27

This was also heavily discussed on YYN. And as far as the timeline I don’t remember the dates but something is very off. It wasn’t three months beginning to end. It was years, as @jrodriguez said.


I’m looking at this more closely. It appears the problem is a lot of it was launched on a different forum (yoyonation?), particularly the “works charity auction series”. Maybe you can break part of the conversation off into a different topic @vegabomb? Use the wrench and do “select all posts below”?

(LJ) #29

I don’t think that’s necessary. The YYN forums are gone again so there’s no way to look anything up.


I did find this post which offers a competing timeline

I have some questions about this. When did the auctions actually start?

8/2/2011 – Heath says the auctions will be delayed until after WYYC 2011
11/10/2011 – “The Works “works” yoyos are going on eBay.
12/4/2011 – claims $615 raised pre-auctions
9/1/2012 – claims he needs to relist $311 modded yo-yos, even though $311 is the second highest bid

We know that all money was paid as of October 2012, but I’m unclear when the auctions ran? From November 2011 to August 2012? That seems consistent if I match both topics?

Also, how much of the charity auctions were VsNYYC yo-yos, versus other people’s donated yo-yos? From the above post it looks like most of the ~$4073 was donated yo-yos from other people? That definitely helps me understand more of the outcry.

(LJ) #31

The majority was donated.


Let me map the depths of this. Things to be upset about:

  • I donated a yo-yo to be auctioned on eBay for charity, and that yo-yo did not get put on eBay in a timely fashion. (This would be prior to auctions running; the original topic was started on YYN forums in Sep 2010 and I guess it called for donations of yo-yos to auction?)

  • I donated a yo-yo to be auctioned on eBay for charity, and that yo-yo got sold on eBay, but the money never made it to the charity. (This would be after the auctions completed, apparently auctions ran from Nov 2011 to Aug 2012 best I can tell).

  • Heath donated his own company’s yo-yos to be auctioned on eBay for charity purposes, but the money was instead used to run his yo-yo company. (how much out of the $4073 was VsNYYC generated? Looks to me like $1000 or less?)

  • Money intended for a charity was used as a loan fund to underwrite a yo-yo company. (this clearly happened, by Heath’s own admission)

  • Money intended for a charity was used for personal purposes having nothing to do with yo-yo. (it is unclear if this happened)

  • The charity auctions would not have happened in a timely fashion unless people kept nagging Heath to get it done. (documented in forum posts)

  • The money would never have made it to the charity unless people kept nagging Heath to get it done. (?)

  • Heath lied about what was going on, specifically, he said that he had donated the money but “couldn’t” provide the receipt for various reasons. (documented in forum posts)

  • Other people had to contact the ACS to verify that no donation had arrived on Sep 26, 2012. (documented in forum posts)

  • Heath makes first ACS donation of $1150 on Oct 1 2012 (documented in forum posts)

  • Heath takes out loan and makes ACS payment of $2150 and $1000 on Oct 9 2012 (documented in forum posts)

So a compressed timeline:

  • Sep 2010 – launch concept of charity yo-yo auctions (YYN)
  • Nov 2011 to Aug 2012 – auctions run (?)
  • Sep 2012 – community demands final proof of donations to ACS
  • Oct 2012 – ACS donations made in full

From my perspective, three things:

  1. I didn’t realize a bunch of people had donated yo-yos for this charity drive; I thought most of it was rare VsNYYC stock. It seems 3/4 of the charity sum was generated from other people’s donated yo-yos. I can understand a bit better why people were so upset now.

  2. It is claimed several places that “Instead of donating the money, Heath stole it and spent it on undisclosed personal things” but it seems to me that the charity fund was used as an emergency loan fund to run Vs. Newton (send the team to worlds, etc) more than anything else. The business was run poorly, which is why there was never enough additional money to pay back the loan fund, which brings me to…

  3. The key question, to me, is this: if nobody had hassled Heath, would the proper amount of money eventually have made it to the ACS or not?

I’d like to think the answer to #3 is yes, but it is undeniably true that it only happened after considerable outside pressure was brought to bear.


My read of this is that Heath had “let me do just one more big, popular yo-yo drop and I can pay the loan back quickly” syndrome.

It reminds me a lot of the “all I need is one big win and I can pay all my gambling debts” gambler’s fallacy. At $20 profit per yo-yo (assuming that’s ballpark) you’d need to sell 200.

Also, what a PITA to run a bunch of manual auctions one by one, ship things out, tally all the results, etc. No wonder it took an entire year before the auctions even started. I wouldn’t even consider a project like this unless I was auctioning CRAZY valuable yo-yos, like incredibly rare early G2 swirls, anti-yo… or maybe Ti Walkers. Then you could do 4-5 auctions and generate a decent sum. But individually auctioning + shipping 40+ different random yo-yos? What a logistical frickin’ nightmare.


Yeah I don’t see it that way. I’ve been part of this community a long time. I care about it. And if I see something which I disagree with I’m going to express it. I know that this thing is moving forward and I’m not trying to stop it. I won’t buy one because I associate it with a really toxic situation which seemed to consume the yo-yo community when it happened.

I think it’s fine for Jeff to want to reboot a yo-yo he likes.
I think it’s fine for Heath to say hey dude can I give it my seal of approval.
I think it’s fine that the money to go to charity (I liked Jeff’s original statement of PurpleYoYo).
I think it’s fine for Heath to be part of the community as a player.
I don’t think anyone should make another dime selling a VsNewton design.
I don’t think a company which ended that way should reform.
I don’t think Heath should be the one to decide about where the charity money goes or how.

People make mistakes. People live and learn. People deserve forgiveness. I don’t believe that forgiveness equates to carte blanche to return to anything like the same capacity as when one left under such circumstances.

I also KNOW this doesn’t need my stamp. Do what you feel is right and support what you feel is right. I’ve said my piece (prob more of it than necessary as usual) and I’ll get out of the way.


Thank you all for your feedback and current mindset on the matter.

I agree with @jrodriguez in the sense that I likely have jumped the gun in regards to suggesting the return of Vs. Newton so soon after rejoining the community for a considerably long but needed hiatus. I will focus my efforts to being an exemplary member of the community while the Ti Vayder project comes to fruition and likely after that as well.

I asked JRod, LJ, Jeff, and Andre the following in a PM group involving my public return, and will now ask this here:

What can I do for or within the yoyo community directly for redemption? I’ve done a considerable amount of personal atonement, but what can I do for this community?

I’m not expecting a direct action (though I’m not opposed to one). Just advice. You can reply to this or PM me.


ooooof. This brings back bad vibes.

Other than just a timeline of events, even before the charity disaster, the VsNYYC marketing strategy (however you wanna call it) already rubbed some people (like me) the wrong way. In a way, it predicted what happened - a hero narrative was created for one individual but couched in the idea that it was a community activity. In other words, the whole enterprise seemed pretty self-serving from the beginning. It was always all about Heath, although some beloved yoyos got created in the process.

This yoyo could’ve gotten rebooted without Heath’s involvement, and that would’ve been for the best.

(Ethan Phelps) #37

I don’t get what your saying but how does this make you want to leave?


I’m glad this topic was started. I was planning on sitting down this morning and starting a similar type of thread. I was initially very excited about a large run of updated ti walkers, it sounded like they’d be similar to the DR’s that were made last year(?). Then Heath started in with it, that was fine, good that he gave it a green light. But then it started to feel like he was part of the run, and that didn’t sit as well with me, it started to feel like he was being paid (he’s not, that was clarified), then he announced that this was going to be an official Vs. Newton release, and that didn’t sit well with me.

I’d go on, but my replies to various comments below some up most of it. But I’ll add, I believe heavily in people being forgiven, and I hope that eventually Heath is forgiven by the majority of the community, and it is forgotten. But he has just popped up again, and “restarting” his brand, although Jeff had said that this wasn’t going to be a part of a brand. A lot of this project started to not feel right. And I think the majority just got excited for a cheap Ti Walker, I know I did at first. And I know many are just thinking about having this great yoyo in their hands, and not about the big picture, but I think the big picture needs to, or at least should, be discussed, which it’s nice to see it being done here.

He was quickly able to get a loan to pay back the funds used, that should’ve been done.

Only fixed it when backed in to a corner, and after flat out lying about it for some time. Apology felt very forced, and more of an apology that he was caught.

I’ve thought about this exact thing, and if there was 0 involvement, maybe even him turning over the CAD in order to make a run, ran by someone else, with 100% proceeds going to charity, it would sit a little better. Personally, the more I’ve thought about it, I’d feel better and think it was a step in the write direction if this project only had Heath saying he supports it as a step to him coming back to the community, and leave it at that.

I personally get the feeling that some of this is marketing for a VSNYYC comeback. And I could be 100% wrong about that, but that is the feeling I get with some of the posts.

On one post Heath has said that this is an official Vs. Newton release, as a collab with Jeff. That is where I began to lose interest. So he is involved in more ways than just spirit now.

I had the thought, there are a lot of people interested in yoyo design. Since everything that happened with Vs. Newton, how about making all of the CAD files for VSNYYC yoyos open source? There is a YoYo Design Facebook Group that hosts files, or give them to someone to host on a Google Drive. And have an open thread about yoyo design, where you can help others and answer questions?

Plenty of people love(d) your designs, how about helping the next generation of designers? And the fact that money could not be made off of something that holds a negative connotation to many may help as well.

I think he would be ok with it, but has @unklesteve been asked about this? He was pretty direct about his feelings for Heath when all this went down. I’ve thought about this since Heath became involved with the project, and what Steve’s thoughts were on a donation that Heath was associated with.

I think it would be a good thing if there was no involvement from Heath, other than to say it has his blessing and that he wants all profits to be donated to this charity, that would be a step in the right direction as well.


That’s actually solid and considerable advice. Thank you.

Lots of the OG CADs lack bearing seats and responses (I used the same machine shop for every VsNYYC run and they would just plug it in on their side), but I’ll see what I can do to help future designers and makers that want help.

And I agree. This project has publicly leaned more to me than it should. I think that most of that is due to my excitement and ability to respond (I seem to have more time to browse the forum than Jeff whom is an incredibly busy man).

As stated in my post earlier this morning, I will tone back and focus on being an exemplary member of the community while this project is underway, and assess things more slowly and as they come.


It takes a lot of character to admit publicly when we mess up royally and violate peoples’ trust, and to come clean about taking a lot of people for a ride.

This is just my opinion, of course, but I think it might do a lot demonstrate to folks that you’re interested in furthering the yoyo community if you would just be an active and supportive member of the community again. AaronW has given you some ideas – you were a designer, and there’s a lot of up and coming designers who might be excited for you to help them along. Sounds like you agree that this is actionable and good advice. I imagine it will take some time for some folks to feel welcoming toward you, and some folks might never feel that way. Perhaps that’s not an unfair price to pay for what went down. I suspect also that some people will always think of you as that guy who robbed money intended for cancer research. And unfortunately, that might also be a not entirely unfair price to have to pay given what went down. I suspect that you’ll never be able to make everyone happy, but that also ought not to be expected of you, imho.

In any event, your post here strikes me as a good first step. I’m sure you know as much, but moving forward and fostering goodwill isn’t going to be an overnight or formulaic thing.