(warning, i just woke up and am sipping coffee. The following may not be totally coherent)
Just for sake of friendly debate and to further conversation, Ill stand on the other side of the fence.
I think the reason they are not popular is that they are in stark contrast to todays throws and journey. Fixies are pretty hard. Down up, not so much, but any tricks become a mountain of a mole hill. If anyone started on fixed, sure they’ll “get it” but those that started with modern will be feeling like they are taking a GIANT step backwards. The difficulty curve goes nearly vertical past rock the baby. Doable? sure, but dam is it hard! Spirit Bomb? I imagine theres only a handful of people that can do this on a fixed. Kinda like Kendama, few people stick with it due to the very very high difficulty.
But with NonResponsive, if you mess up, you can try it again. Going off kilter? adjust and try again. Horrid knot or axle wraps? Unscrew it and get it out effortlessley. With Fixed, if you miss or it fails, game over. Time to rewind. One shot to get it perfect before having to recover its insane flopping and twists from a minor imperfect move and wind it back and fix tension. Not to mention that massive majority of fixies cannot unscrew, and have super tall walls and tiny thin gaps. This is a nightmare and borderline deal breaker for me personally. Having to pick a bad knot from a fused fixie is like a bad dream. I know im hurting the string digging and gouging away in there trying to fish out and get into that rock solid knot. I hate that feeling. If you cant get it, you gotta slice it out. That just sucks.
Also cotton string. (shudders at the thought) The constant fear of it breaking is enough to put me off.
Now I know there is history and lore, timelessness and class with wooden responsives, but I dont see them as ever gaining popularity again. Ive got a few. I throw them a few times, smile at the novelty, and put them back away.
Perhaps this is my inexperience talking. Maybe im too young to “get it” (im 34 btw), or maybe I just would prefer a new sporty car over a classic (albiet beautiful) late 50’s chevy. There are simply different rigs for different gigs.
I do not think that starting on fixed is any better than starting on unresponsive. They both have things to teach you. They both will bring new things to the table, But I would almost recommend people to start with UNresponsive if they want to do tricks like theyve seen me do or on youtube vids. To start someone on fixed that wants to do 1A is not going to do them any favors by forcing them to learn things they dont want or need. I remember hearing gripes of competetitors back in the day being forced to learn 2A just so they could show their style in the freestyles (1A’s humble roots).
Both are important in their own ways. I would argue the importance of Unresponsive’s breakthrough and possibilities act as a crutch in someways but that the same time, with a crutch it allows you to make progress when otherswise it would not happen in a timley manner and it would be FAR easier for an aspiring hobbyist to get burnt out on the challenge of fixed when the convenience of Unresponsive is within reach.
I may go as far as to say start with Unresponsive and once you become proficient in 1A THEN try your hand at the wacky world of fixed. That way you wont hit a wall right off the bat, look at videos of people doing LONG runs of insane tricks, yet the fixed that youve got wont trapeze for more than a second. Thats the epitome of disappointment to the aspiring but over-challenged fixed player.
“Nothing will discourage an aspiring musician more than a beginner instrument.”
If I had a customer come in asking about yoyo and expressing interest in doing tricks with it, the LAST thing I would hand them would be a duncan butterfly. I want them to enjoy the hobby, not quit THAT night because that butterfly is such garbage.
Id go as far as to say that few things have driven away or turned off potential throwers more than the dreaded imperial/butterfly trap. Im hard pressed to find something worse, yet at the same time MEGA popular in people minds as “the one to get.” Then they try it, nearly everything is impossible, they get discouraged and come to the conclusion that “yoyo is not for me” when in reality its just the super sh*t yoyo that hasnt changed since the 50s (guessing at time frame here). Stuck in its old ways worse than my (fictional) super racist g-pa that hates everything. Old, bitter, and needs to retire. It needs to be desperately re-designed or discontinued for the sake of the newbies! They just want to play and duncan made sure to make that happen as little as possible with these aged models. (but they are so cheap!. . . . “exactly. were not talking price, were talking design and execution”) Low prices are good. Bad design doesnt make the low price worth it. Being cheap and being low priced are totally different things.
Again, I want to reiterate that I can think of few things that have turned yoyos off more than the duncan butterfly/imperial. I know some will take it on and continue but I feel that massive majority will abandon the journey based on the perceived difficulty, borderline impossibility, of what they see, vs what they got in their hands.
Yes a poor craftsman blames the tools, but sometimes, it really is the tools shortcoming that prevent a nice final product. Sure when your pro you can take kiddie instruments and make beautiful music, but for a first timer? its a joke.