Left: Agonist Prototype, Right: Agonist First Retail Release
The Agonist is yoyomonster’s current flagship yo-yo. It is essentially a bimetal version of their previous flagship yo-yo, the Checkmate, though the weight has been reduced by several grams to accommodate Hideo Ishida’s fast play style. So far there have been two releases of the Agonist: a prototype, and a retail version. The specs on the two versions are identical. They are each available in purple or green. The only differences between the prototype and the retail version are that the prototype is blank, and the press fitting of the rings on the retail version is somewhat better. The press fit is still relatively weak, however, and yoyomonster has informed me they are working on a final retail version, which will be released when the press fit is sufficiently strong. At present, they have a prototype with a good press fit, but I could not get a satisfying answer about when the final version will be released. I was just told it will be a while later.
Hideo Ishida is currently using the Agonist and recently used it to place 3rd in 5A at JN2014, which is the highest he has ever placed in that event. Check it out below–a really great performance overall.
I believe Naoya Takeuchi, who took 3rd in 5A at AP2014, sometimes uses the Agonist.
[tr][td]yoyomonster Agonist Specs [/td][td] General Yo Amplitude Specs[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Release year: 2013 (1st run)
Trapeze Width: 40mm
Gap Width: ? (~4.25mm)
Profile: Mixed Straight
Body Material: Aluminum 7075
Rim Material: Brass
Bearing: YYM Concave 10-ball
Bearing Size: C
Response: Yoyomonster pad[/td]
[td]Release year: 2014
Trapeze Width: ? (~40 mm)
Gap Width: 4.25 mm
Profile: Step Straight
Body Material: Aluminum 6061
Rim Material: N/A
Bearing: GY AIGR flat bearing
Bearing Size: C
Response: GY Smooth Hat Pads[/td][/tr]
Note how similar the specs are between the Agonist and the Amplitude. Aside from being a bimetal yo-yo, the only differences are that the Agonist is approximately 1g lighter and 1mm greater in diameter, and has a mixed straight profile rather than a step straight profile. The main difference is in the weight distribution–the Agonist has more weight concentrated around the rims, which makes it more stable and longer spinning.
I could find no information on the Agonist’s gap width but it appears to be about the same width as with the Amplitude, as you can see from the images in the first post.
[tr][td]The response pads on the Agonist are proprietary 19mm diameter 1mm thick silicon pads, but are very similar to IRPads. Moreover, the Agonist is compatible with various popular pads such as YYF CBC large slim pads and IRPads. There is also a special “Hideo Ishida” version of the response pads put out by yoyomonster, which are 1.08mm thick. They come in Type 1 (normal) and Type 2 (soft) versions. I have only tried out the standard YYM response pads and the Hideo Ishida Type 1 pads so far, and while I slightly prefer the Hideo Ishida pads, the difference would not be significant for most players. The standard response pad is pictured on the right.
In addition, it’s worth noting the Agonist uses a long (12mm I think) M4 axle.[/td][td]
Stability: The Agonist is remarkably stable. From how stable this yo-yo is, you would not expect it to weigh 62.16g. It’s just as stable as most of my heavier yo-yos and more stable than some, including the Amplitude. This is due to the increased weight distribution on the yo-yo’s periphery. One really has to try it to believe it. It maintains stability very well for 5A tricks during pinwheel-like motions, and while it is easy to get this yo-yo to tilt horizontally if you want it to tilt, I have very rarely had it do so unintentionally.
Spin Times: The spin times on the Agonist are phenomenal. Whenever I get a new yo-yo, I like to run a couple of sleeper tests. First, I’ll throw one or two strong sleepers with the default bearing and time it. Then I’ll put in a new NSK (if I have one) gold bearing and do the same. On my first throw with the default bearing, I got 7:47. I was impressed enough that I didn’t run a second test with that bearing. When I put in the NSK, I got 10:16. That is the second longest sleeper I’ve ever thrown, the longest being around 10:30 with a 72g Sturm Panzer Eclipse Ogre. It outsleeps the Draupnir, the Laser, the Isotope 2, both versions of the Leo Sniper MK II, the Amplitude, the Ares Star, the Leviathan 5, the Prominence, and the Movitation. Considering this yo-yo is lighter than all of these except the dark blue Leo Sniper MK II, this is absolutely incredible. Now I know spin times are not even close to the most important factor when choosing a yo-yo, but man, the Agonist is impressive. Spin times when there are multiple string layers are not quite as good as would be expected from the sleeper test, but still as good or better than everything I have except my Sturm Panzer yo-yos, which are either D-bearing yo-yos or have very wide gaps. Color me impressed!
Speed: The Agonist plays very fast. This can be a pro or con depending on your preferences, but since it was designed to play fast, and I like yo-yos that play fast, I’m calling it a pro. It’s not quite as speedy as either version of the Leo Sniper MK II (very light D-bearing yo-yos), but it’s speedier than anything else I have. It plays pretty close to the Amplitude in feel, but is a little faster.
Torque: The Agonist has torque well above average due to it’s high diameter:width ratio of 1.299 and its distribution of weight around the rims. The torque is not quite as extreme as the Laser, Eclipse Ogre, or Leo Sniper MK II, but there’s plenty to give it high RPMs and long spin times.
Default bearing: The default bearing is quite good for a steel bearing. It’s a YYM concave 10-ball, which you can buy on its own for $10. It’s not a cheap Chinese bearing. The default bearing is not that important, but it bothers me when I buy a $250 yo-yo and it comes with a cruddy bearing cough Turning Point cough. I don’t like it quite as much as a YYR Double Straight, but the difference is relatively insignificant. It’s basically a “generic” concave 10-ball bearing that outperforms the Konkave.
Response: The response pads on the Agonist are highly customizable, but I find the default ones suit me just fine. The Agonist binds tight but not as tight as a Draupnir, which can be a little grabby. With a properly cleaned bearing it is dead unresponsive when jerking the string. The string doesn’t wrap around the axle like it can happen with grabbier yo-yos, leading to unintentional binds. Thankfully, the Agonist only binds unintentionally if the bearing is in bad shape or a response pad is falling off.
Horizontals: I’ll admit it. I am really bad at horizontal tricks. So how do I know this yo-yo handles horizontals well? I know because that’s exactly what this profile was designed for, ever since the Checkmate. Hideo Ishida does a lot of horizontal tricks for a 5A player and it’s his signature throw. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s great at handling horizontal tricks. Plus, even though I suck with these tricks, I can at least notice when attempting them how quickly the yo-yo spins out, and the Agonist is comparatively quite slow to spin out when in horizontal motion.
Smooth: The Agonist is dead smooth (unless you manage to knock out a ring!). I know this isn’t very important during normal play, but for me it adds to my enjoyment of the yo-yo if it plays smoothly and quietly.
Quiet: The Agonist is one of my quietest yo-yos when paired with the right bearing. There’s just a very soft hiss when spinning and a tiny ping heard when it lands on the string. It reminds me in this way of the Draupnir. I think it’s ever so slightly quieter than a Draupnir, but at those sound levels it’s hard to tell for certain. But it’s definitely quiet.
Comfort: The “mixed straight” design is in my opinion the most comfortable profile design I have encountered. It accommodates both a 1A grip and 5A grip equally well. The Agonist just feels good in the hand, it doesn’t hurt to catch, and it’s not awkward to throw. It’s just plain comfortable.
Appearance: Some people may disagree with me here, but I think the best-looking yo-yos are not those with crazy splashes like CLYW yo-yos. I prefer minimalist designs. They just look more elegant. The Agonist is an elegant yo-yo. The purple version is especially beautiful. Sadly, I could not find a purple version of the retail model before it sold out. The green version looks pretty good, but it’s not purple. Everything’s better in purple.
Price: The Agonist is a Japanese bimetal yo-yo so it goes without saying it’s going to be relatively expensive. Note on one site it was sold at $240, probably due to the dollar being weak against the yen at that point, but in yen it has always been sold at 19800 yen. On Yoyomonster’s new international site, the price is $200. I think this is expensive, but reasonable. Sturm Panzer has better deals for similar yo-yos, but the Agonist still costs significantly less than its biggest competitors’ bimetal yo-yos, namely, Yoyorecreation and Turning Point, whose anodized bimetal yo-yos run 23800 yen - 29800 yen.
Controllability: By controllability, I mean, how easy is it to keep the yo-yo on its intended trajectory? The Agonist is somewhere in the middle. It’s not super forgiving for a 5A yo-yo, as it can move off its intended trajectory due to sloppy technique. On the other hand, it’s not as bad as you would think for a 62.16g yo-yo. It’s about as easy to control as an Amplitude. But it’s definitely less forgiving than heavier yo-yos, in general, insofar as how easy it is to keep the yo-yo on its intended path, especially during pinwheel-like motions. I consider this a separate issue from stability, which to me means a yo-yo’s tendency to avoid tilting to the side, whereas by controllability I mean its tendency to go where you want it to go.
Grindability: The finish is similar to that of the Amplitude and most of my yo-yos (I don’t know the technical term, sorry). It does not grind as well as a blast finish, and the cup is just deep enough to do thumb grinds. Wearing gloves should ameliorate the first issue, though there’s nothing to be done about the second issue except practice.
Finger spins: The axle stub protrudes enough to make finger spins difficult, but not impossible. I can’t do finger spins on the Agonist, but that’s not saying much. I’ve seen people do finger spins on yo-yos with similar cup designs so I know it can be done.
Weight: It’s a really light yo-yo at 62.16g. It either suits your style or it doesn’t. I like light yo-yos, and if you like yo-yos such as the Draupnir, Amplitude, or Leo Sniper MK II, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like the Agonist.
Fun factor: Whether a yo-yo is “fun” is incredibly subjective, so I leave this in the neutral category along with my opinion that yes, it is fun, despite being designed for competition. There are a few yo-yos I regard as more fun, but to me there is no distinction between “fun” yo-yos and “competition” yo-yos. While fun yo-yos may not be competition yo-yos, and vice versa, in my opinion this one falls into both camps.
Weakly press-fit rings: This is in my opinion the only real con for the Agonist. It is very difficult to manufacture bimetal yo-yos, and this is yoyomonster’s first attempt. They almost nailed it, but didn’t get the rings quite right. As such, the rings may pop out after a particularly hard collision. This happened with my prototype after a dice collision hard enough to break the coating. I tried to put the ring back but it wouldn’t stay, and I ended up using an epoxy to reattach it. I must have used too much epoxy, not applied it evenly, or put the ring in backwards, because now there is significant vibe, although the yo-yo is still playable. My green, retail Agonist is much better, and the rings feel pretty firmly attached, but I haven’t tried pressing my luck given my experience with the prototype. Yoyomonster now calls the second version a prototype also, though it was marketed as retail. My guess is they went to retail too soon, thinking they had fixed the issue with the prototype, and after realizing the Agonist wasn’t quite ready, started working on a new one. So even though this is a fairly serious con for 5A and a mild con for 1A (the rings shouldn’t fall out unless you enjoy slamming your yo-yo into concrete), it should be eliminated by the time of the next release. And since the Agonist is currently sold out everywhere, this shouldn’t be a con for anyone here unless you buy one of the first two versions second-hand.
I’ve been meaning to review the Agonist ever since I purchased my prototype. After I broke my prototype, I forgot about it until I bought the retail version, which reminded me again how much I loved this yo-yo. The Agonist is my favorite yo-yo for 5A. For 1A, it’s a close call between the Agonist and the Draupnir. Overall, it’s the Agonist all the way. I believe this is one of the most underrated yo-yos in the world, especially in the West, where most of us likely have not even heard of it. If you like light yo-yos, you will like the Agonist. It is incredibly stable and long-spinning, it plays fast, smooth, and quiet, and it can serve you well in a competition or just having fun. The one major problem, the weakly press-fit rings, should no longer be an issue by the time the Agonist is re-released, which could be in a week or in several months. Is it worth spending $200? If you think any yo-yo is worth spending $200, then yes, I believe it is, and I think you would believe so too.