I had a decent post written, then my session timed out. I was at a client’s computer while doing serious software upgrades to another(XP SP3… yeah, we’re really getting him modernized).
Just going with what I’ve got and staying below the $50 range:
In regards to plastic/metals, the DM2 is still my go-to yoyo. I have stuff MUCH more expensive, but this is my favorite so I am biased towards it.
The Speeder 2 is also a metal/plastic, but when I bought it, it was $45, and I think it’s gotten over the $50 mark at this point in time. It’s like all catch zone, but ain’t good for grinding.
Regarding metals, there’s the dv888. While nothing amazing, it’s still a good, solid, stable performer. It’s not for everyone but more people like it than don’t like it. I like it, but someone I know hates it. I hear more positives than negatives. It can grind, it can be modified to accept hubstacks, it can be siliconed. It’s small but it’s got good weight especially in the rims, which helps with the stability and super long spin times. Lots of options for a very inexpensive metal.
Don’t forget some full plastics. Well, not really, they have metal weight rings. The Protostar and Northstar are $35, amazing and perform like metals that cost twice or more than what they cost. If you like light, go Protostar. If you like heavier(and hence a bit slower), go Northstar.
After that, we get into less expensive stuff. The Legacy II and Chaser are really good. Going further down in price, YYJ has many sub-$20 yoyos. I have one one the way, the Lyn Fury, which I intend to silicone and maybe shim out, but we’ll see what I do after I silicone it.
Other yoyos I am looking at include the Dibase. I also have a RecRev Sharp, which was recently send out to be retapped since it got stripped. The Oscillatrix is another one in that price range but that is one I’m not currently interested in. Adding even $50-10 gives you a lot more options. including the One Drop Cafe Racer, but I don’t think that’s a good upgrade for you yet.
I also recommend against the PopStar for now. I’ve heard good things about it, but I haven’t played one yet but I might get a chance to soon if I ask. It’s around $25 but very small, so it’s not a great upgrade yoyo for someone new.
Don’t forget to have him check into the Shinwoo Zen yoyos. The Duncan Raptor is one on my wants list as well.
My suggestion: I am partial to the DM2 and do recommend it highly. It’s within budget and with the 2 bearings, it’s ideal to take your friend from zero to hero if you want it to.
If your friend wants to save some dollars AND can bind, the Protostar might be a good choice over the Northstar.
I’m not recommending the dv888. Here’s why: The smaller size only. It will be harder to land tricks. The Protostar, Northstar and DM2 have very large catch zones. They work ideal for beginners and those still new but can bind but are also serious players for advanced players and beyond. The dv888 is just a bit harder to use for now for your friend because it’s smaller. I’d say your friend is marching into the direction of the dv888. It really depends on their skill level. If they can bind and really want it, then I won’t say no to the dv888, and they’ll just need to work a bit harder on certain things, which may or may not be a good thing. at first but will benefit later.