Sunday, April 11, 2010

Custom Yo-Yo Case Tutorial

It wasn't too long after I started to yo-yo before I decided I was going to actually collect them as well. Like many others that collect yo-yos, I was in need of a good place to store them while I wasn't using them. I wanted something that was utilitarian. It needed to be easy to carry, and it ultimately needed to protect my yo-yos. I also wanted it to be at least slightly aesthetically pleasing... something that would display my yo-yos and look good doing it. I lurked on the internet for a while, and decided that I wanted a Hyper Heavy Spinner Box. For those of you that know a bit about these,  you know how laughable it is to hope to find one for sale. At least everywhere online that I have looked, they are always sold out. I get the feeling that they are no longer in production. There are some more readily available alternatives out there, but none of them are quite as cool as the Hyper Heavy Spinner Box. I also considered the Black Star Case, which is 50 dollars plus shipping. That was too expensive for me. I mean, I could buy another yo-yo with 50 bucks, so I had to come up with something else.

I searched around on the internet some more and found some tutorials on how to make your own yo-yo case. The particular videos I watched made it look pretty easy, so I decided to give it a try. The hardest part for me was finding a case. Most people have some sort of appropriate case just lying around in their garage or wherever they store stuff they don't use anymore. I looked around my house everywhere and found nothing useful, so I started checking thrift stores. Eventually (for my first case), I settled on an old laptop case. My laptop "kicked the bucket" as some may say, so I really had no use for the case anymore, and it turned out to be a pretty good case for the project. I'll post pictures of it at the end of the post. After that, my buddy found another good project case for me, and generously gave it to me. He wanted a case as well. He had pretty much decided that he wasn't going extend his yo-yo collection too much, but admitted that he'd probably buy a few. Anyhow, he decided that he wanted his case to be in an old blue Pokemon lunchbox. I thought the idea was pretty clever. I haven't seen a yo-yo case like that, and it would certainly be colorful. It was big enough that I was able to get 6 holes for yo-yos in the foam, without them being too close together. That case turned out good too. I'll also post pictures of that one at the end of the blog. I'm working on the third case now, and, for the sake of the tutorial, I'll be taking pictures whenever I feel like they might be helpful.

First you'll need to get materials. Obviously, you'll need a case to put the foam in. Like I said, most people probably have something usable just lying around somewhere. If not, start hitting the thrift stores. You can find good cases at department stores and office stores, but they are usually pretty expensive, and if we wanted expensive we could just buy one of the Black Star Cases. You'll also need to get some foam. Some people use eggshell mattress material, which works fine, but for the sake of making my case look as much like an official yo-yo case as possible, I went out and bought Poly Foam. It might be called other things, but essentially it's a big square of 2 inch thick packing foam. Not like styrofoam... it's softer... kind of squishy. Anyway, if you choose to use this stuff instead of Eggshell Mattress material, you'll be able to find it at some craft stores. I got mine at Hobby Lobby. If you can't find it at a craft store, I've heard of people getting theirs from their local post office (it is, after all, packing foam) or FedEx store. Call the stores first, if you don't want to run all over town looking for it. You'll also need scissors/exacto knife/box cutter (something that is sharp enough to cut through foam easily), and a ruler or something else that is equally as useful for measuring. You'll also need a small can with the top cut off, and preferably a small cup of warm water with some dish soap or hand soap mixed in with it (weird combination, I know, but I'll explain later.)


As far as the can goes, I used a SMALL can of Hunts Tomato Paste. I don't suppose the brand or contents of the can are really a factor, but I know that for it's application in this project, it is the perfect size. Regardless, when you're next out buying groceries or rummaging through your cabinet, take your most average sized yo-yo with you. Hold your yo-yo up to the bottom of the can to compare size, because you'll want to be using a can that has roughly the same diameter of your yo-yo. It wouldn't hurt for the can to be slightly smaller than your yo-yo, but for the sake of simplicity, just make sure it's close to the same size. You are going to be using this can to make the circular cuts down into your foam, where your yo-yo will go. That being said, you've probably realized that you can't simply go out and buy a can of tomato paste and expect it to magically make holes in foam for you. You're going to have to remove the top of the can, but not in the conventional manner. Usually, you open the can by cutting a circle in the top most part of the can, inside the area that the lip of the can surrounds. In this case, however, you are going to turn the can sideways and cut on the outside of the lipped area, just below the lip. This might seem a little bit confusing to some of you, so I'm including a picture of the can before the cut, and after the cut.



I don't recommend you waste the contents of the can, (there are starving people out there that would just love to have a big glob of room-temperature tomato paste) but you do as you see fit. Anyway, now that this part is done, you can move on to the more case-related things. Lets get back to the subject of the foam. I personally wanted black foam to be in my case, but I couldn't find anything except slightly off-white foam. If you want a specific color, but can only find white foam, then you'll need to buy some sort of dye to dye the foam. The next few bits of this tutorial will be over dying the foam. If you don't care what color your foam is, or you were able to buy foam in the color you wanted, skip past this part if you want. To prepare for this part of the project, you'll need a big tub. One of those 5 dollar totes from Wal-Mart will do, or you could just use a bucket or whatever. The dye might stain the container, if you're not careful, so make sure to use something that you don't care to stain. If your container isn't big enough to fit the foam down in flat, you might have to fold the foam over a bit or do different sides of the foam separately. You might also want to keep the container in your bathtub, or better yet outside. The dye seems to get everywhere when you're doing this project, and it's nearly impossible to get the dye off of some things. It should also be noted that you should wear kitchen gloves (the big yellow ones that your mom wears to do dishes). The longer the gloves, the better. Your clothes should also be old clothes that you don't care about, or clothes that are the same color as the dye. I had to warn you, because I'm not going to be held responsible for you dying something that you shouldn't.

Black Dye

The first thing you are going to do is put warm or hot (not too hot... you don't want to burn yourself) water into the tub. Don't fill it all the way up. Just make sure there is enough to fully submerge the piece of foam. This is where you'll want to slip those kitchen gloves on. Once you have the water in the tub, you're going to open the dye carefully. If you got Rit Dye, like I did, it's in powder form, and is pretty messy. Dump the dye in the water, and let it get all mixed up in the water. Stir it with something, if you're impatient. If you got black dye, it's going to look like you have a tub full of liquid doom.

Liquid Doom

Once the dye is all mixed up into the water, put the foam down in it. The dye will start soaking into the foam immediately. You're going to want to thoroughly make sure that the foam has absorbed as much of the dye into it as possible, a bit like a sponge would absorb liquid. This will allow the dye to change the color of the foam all the way through, rather than just the outside area of the foam. To do this, make sure you submerge the foam fully, and kind of squeeze the foam while it's under the surface of the water. That will help the foam absorb the dye. Turn the foam, flip the foam, fold the foam... do what ever, just make sure that the entirety of the foam has had the chance to absorb the dye into it. 

 Immediate Soakage!

Make sure to soak every part.

Totally Submerged

After you've thoroughly soaked the foam, take it out of the water and hold it over the tub, to let a lot of the excess water drain out of it. After that, squeeze the foam tightly to wring out any extra water. Note that you're not going to be able to squeeze the foam until it's dry, unless of course you intend to squeeze the foam in direct sunlight for about 6 hours. Make sure that, while you're squeezing the foam, that you don't rip it. Anyway, by squeezing out all of the excess water, you'll be able to get a good look at the foam, to determine if there are any areas that are lighter than others. If the color of the foam is splotchy, or looks uneven, just throw it back into the tub and soak it again. Check it again after you're done soaking it again, and just continue to repeat the process until all of the uneven or splotchy places are gone. When you're satisfied with the look of it, just wring it out really well again (preferably to the point where water is no longer dripping from it), and set it on a flat surface. I like to put mine outside on a flat surface on top of a layer of old newspaper ads. That keeps dirt off of the underneath side of the foam. I also like to let mine lie in direct sunlight. That really speeds along the drying process. It might take a day or two for the foam to be totally dry. It really just depends on if it's overcast outside, or if its humid. Obviously, you wouldn't want to let it sit out in the rain, as that would be counterproductive. 
Splotchy Color

Wring It Out

 Lay It Out To Dry

Some of you have been lucky enough to skip directly to this part. For those of you that haven't been so lucky, it's okay, because once the thing is dry, the hardest part is over. This is where your case is really going to start shaping up. The next step is pretty straight forward. Take your ruler (or other measuring tool) and figure out the dimensions of the inside of your case. Once you have those measurements, you're going to want to cut your foam a tad bit larger than the dimensions of the case, just to be on the safe side. I'm not sure how it works, but if you cut it to the exact dimensions, it somehow always manages to be too small for the case, which is insanely frustrating, especially if you've only bought one piece of foam. Also, it's worth mentioning that if the corners inside the case are rounded, you'll want to cut the tip of the corners of your foam off. If you don't, the rounded corners of the inside of the case will push in on the squared corners of your foam, and will cause the foam to warp slightly. After it's been cut, push the foam into the case and see how it fits. There is a chance your foam will be just a tad bit too large for the case, because of how we cut it too large just to be safe, so you might have to trim a little off. If you get lucky, the little bit extra that we left on might cause the foam to fit perfectly snug into the case. 

 Already Cut Foam and Case

Fits Good
If you're wanting the placement of your yo-yos to be pretty symmetrical, the next step could get a little tedious. Now, because I'm sure you don't want your yo-yos just scattered about in the case, and you probably want them in nice, even rows, you're going to want to make a template. Obviously there are ways around making a template, while still achieving symmetry, but for this tutorial, I'm going to explain how I went about doing it. First, I measured the dimensions of the foam. Then, I sat some of my yo-yos in rows along the top side of the foam, to determine how many yo-yos I could fit in one row without it being cluttered. Turns out, I could have 4 rows, and 5 columns of yo-yos. So, because I'm planning on storing 20 yo-yos in this case, I need to divide the foam into 20 equal parts. To do this, you take the width of the foam, (mine was 15 and 5/16ths of an inch wide) and divide that by how many columns you want. As it turns out, I'm going to have 5 columns that are each 3 and 1/16th of an inch wide. So I orient a piece of printer paper like the foam (landscape in my case) and create a series of vertical lines on the paper, each 3 and 1/16th of an inch apart. I was only able to fit three full 3 and 1/16th inch sections on the sheet of paper, but don't worry, we'll improvise later and there won't be any problems.

 Vertical Lines on Paper

Next you'll want to measure how tall your foam is. Mine was 11 and 1/2 inches tall, and I wanted 4 rows of yo-yos, so in order to figure out how tall each row would be, I took the height of my foam, and divided it by the number of rows I wanted. In my case, each row needed to be 2 and 7/8th inches tall. So, starting from the top left corner of the paper, I measured down 2 and 7/8th inches and made a line all the way across the paper, and measured from that line down another 2 and 7/8th inches. I could only fit two rows on my sheet of paper, but like I said, we'll improvise later. 

 Grid on Template

Now the first part of your template is done. I included the dimensions of my squares on the paper just for reference, and unless you're using the same size foam as me, your dimensions are going to be different. The shaded in areas at the bottom and side are not fully sized. I like to cut off the portions of the paper that won't be used in the template, but you don't have to. Just note that, in the rest of the pictures of the template, the extra portions are going to be removed. Maybe I make this next part harder than it needs to be, but I like to make sure the next part is pretty exact. So, I take each square used in the template, and divide it into 4ths. That means I divide it in half vertically, and I divide in half horizontally. Where the two lines cross will be the exact center of the square. If you have a compass, the next part is a breeze. Just measure out from the center of a medium-sized yo-yo to the edge of the yo-yo with your compass, and put the needle of the compass at the point where the two lines intersect in the middle of your square, and draw a circle. If you did it right, the circle will be exactly the size of your yo-yo, and it will be dead centered in the square. If you're like me and don't have a compass (pathetic, I know), you are going to have to try to position the center of the yo-yo on the intersect in your square, and trace the outer edge of the yo-yo. This method often leads to imperfection, so if you have a compass, I suggest using it. After you're done drawing the circles in the squares, use an exacto knife or scissors to cut the circles out. Do this carefully. The holes should be big enough that you can fit the empty tomato paste can through.

Lines to find the center of each square.
 Circles centered in squares.
Can fits through cut-out circles. 

You're almost done at this point, and I'm sure you can guess what is getting ready to happen next. First, you'll align the top left corner of your template with the top left corner of your foam. If you've cut off the corners of your foam, you can improvise by lining the top and left edges of your template with the top and left edges of your foam, respectively. Now, you remember that cup of water and soap that I mentioned? No, it's not necessary, but it is pretty useful. Once your template is lined up, you are going to be using the cut side of the can to push through the template, and cut through your foam. If you stick the rim of the can in the cup of soap and water and turn it, it will lubricate the can so it cuts through the foam more easily. This could result in less snags in the foam, and ultimately, a smoother cut. Now, when you're using the can to cut the foam, some people like to only twist the can one direction and others like to twist it back and forth. Either way, you DON'T need to put a lot of pressure on it. If you do, it will pull the foam down, and can lead to inaccurate cuts. Sometimes this will cause you to tear the foam or cut crooked and through an area that you shouldn't. Your best bet is to just apply enough pressure to get the thing to cut when you twist it, and thats not a lot of pressure at all. Take your time with this part. You can potentially ruin the entire project if you rush through it. 

 First Cut

When you've cut all the way through the foam, continue twisting the can and pull it out of the foam. You should have a cylindrical "cork" of foam. It'll be stuck in the can and you'll probably have to pull it out. Save these. I like to cut them in half or in fourths and stuff them down into the bottom of the holes, to act as a cushion against the bottom of the yo-yo. I'm cutting one of them in half and using a bottle cap to cut through the foam, to act as an insert because I intend to buy a Mighty Flea or a Big Deal in the near future. Or, if you don't want the holes to be open when they aren't being used, you can stuff the cork back down into the hole, and just pull it back out when you want to put a yo-yo in it's place.


There are multiple uses for the corks.

You might remember from when I mentioned it earlier, but I said we'd improvise at a certain part because we couldn't get 20 squares on a single sheet of paper. Well, when you've cut all the circles that are on the template, just move it over. You'll want to keep the left most holes lined up with the holes you've already cut in the foam. The remaining holes will be over the uncut foam, and you can continue to cut them in proper rows and columns.


Looking at the finished product, you'll notice that the bottom row is hardly aligned with the rest of the holes. The only thing that I can come up with as to why is the fact that I underestimated how much space the chopped corners would take up. Because of this, I had to shift the bottom row up slightly, and on the bottom right hole specifically, I had to shift it drastically to the left, meaning I had to shift the hole to the left of it slightly to the left as well. All in all, the case turned out well. Here are pictures of all three cases. The one on the left is my first case. I recently removed the rectangular area from the bottom right part of the foam as an experiment. It didn't turn out as good as I wanted it to, but I can easily store accessories and string in there now.  The one in the middle is my buddys case. It's small, it's efficient, and it's Pokemon. Can't go wrong. The one on the far right is the one that I was working on for this tutorial. You'll notice in the bottom right corner that I used one of the corks as an adapter, of sorts, to make storing Mighty Flea-sized yo-yos possible. Over all, I'm pretty satisfied with the way the case turned out. If you have any questions about case making, feel free to contact me, and perhaps I can help you out.

Closed Cases

Open Cases

Thursday, April 8, 2010

HSpin Beysick Review

One of my buddies ordered the HSpin Beysick from YoYoNation. I got the opportunity to spend some time throwing it. As a matter of fact, my buddy pretty much left the yo-yo alone until I had the chance to take a few pictures of it. So everything is all nice and minty, just as you'd see it right out of the package... if that's what you'd call the container it comes in. Let me elaborate. I'm not too familiar with HSpins, but I do know that the Beysick is the first of HSpins "Core Series." I'm guessing this is HSpins equivalent of the YYF Fundametals. Anyhow, instead of coming in a box, or a package of some sort, the Beysick comes in a pair of socks. Yes, socks. Two black, regular-sized socks, with "HSpin Core Series" printed on them in white. As I understand it, a lot of people are just using these socks as a pouch of sorts to carry their Beysick in, to keep it from getting damaged. So, whether you wear them on your feet or pack your new wheel around in them... you'll get a new pair of socks with your Beysick. They're useful any way you look at it.

Umm... Socks. Awesome.

Inside the socks you'll find the Beysick and a little packet of extras. The packet includes 2 extra HSpin silicone stickers, an extra axle, and a little paper insert informing you that you've just purchased the first yo-yo in the Core Series line, asking for feedback. One thing that you won't find in either sock, however, is a string. Thats only a minor inconvenience for must of us, as we usually have a myriad of strings handy. But for someone who is buying this as their first yo-yo, or even first performance yo-yo, they are going to need to buy some string with it, if they don't already have any.

 Things You Can Expect To Find In Your Sock 

I don't know how to describe the size of this yo-yo with any better word than mid-sized. It's slightly bigger than the Boss, and a lot smaller than the Dark Magic. The Beysick is about 1 gram heavier than the Boss, but it feels a lot lighter on the string. This could be due to the weight not being so focused on the rims as it is on the Boss. The rims of the Beysick are a lot thinner, and you can really feel the difference when you throw. Not that it makes a significant difference in playability, but the Beysick feels a little floaty. Some people like that feel, others don't. I don't really think it detracts from the playability at all. On the contrary, gives the yo-yo a more bouncy (if thats even the right term) feel when you're doing tricks that involve you popping the yo-yo up off of the string or bouncing it between strings.


The shape of this yo-yo is pretty cool. The inside surfaces of the yo-yo taper down in to a little flat area that surrounds the response system, as is true in many yo-yos, but what really gains my attention are the rims. There is a distinguished edge between where the inside surface of the yo-yo ends and where the rim begins. The rim is slightly rounded, just enough to give it a comfortable feel in your hand. Don't get me wrong though... if the yo-yo snaps back really hard into your hand, chances are you are going to feel the sting from inner edge of the rim. I wouldn't exactly call it harsh on your hands, but it is something that you should watch out for.
 Rim Shape and Gap
The string gap on the Beysick is 4.10mm. I usually think of gaps under 3.5mm as small, 3.5 - 4.5 as medium, and everything above 4.5 to be large. That being said, I consider the gap in the Beysick to be pretty average. Small gap yo-yos force you to be more precise when doing tricks, and large gap yo-yos are more forgiving, allowing you to be a little bit more sloppy with your tricks. The Beysick offers a happy medium. It requires you to be somewhat precise and subtle with your movements, but doesn't bind up on you the first time the string isn't centered or when you aren't sporting a perfectly straight throw. The response system is pretty well suited for the Beysick. 

It's response system is made up of a red silicone sticker on either side of the bearing. The surface of the silicone sticker is just slightly below the inside surface of the yo-yo. If you didn't examine it up close, it would appear to be totally flush. Despite it being slightly recessed, it is ridiculously consistent with binds. If you get too sloppy on a trick, it will bind up on you in a hurry, but if you even make an effort to keep the string centered, this thing is going to be as unresponsive as you need it to be. The only other thing that is really worth mentioning here is the bearing. It's a 5X11X5 mm bearing, which is typical for HSpin. Right out of the sock on a flick test, the bearing didn't spin that well. The bearing didn't have shields on it, so cleaning it was a breeze. I dropped it straight in the little container that I clean my bearings in, poured in a little paint thinner, closed the container and shook it a few times. I took it out and used compressed air to blow out the rest of the paint thinner, and put a little YYJ Thin Lube on it. A follow up flick test indicated that the cleaning had done what it was supposed to, and the bearing spun just as a well maintained bearing should. I put the yo-yo back together and I was good to go.

Axle, Response, and Bearing

Another feature worth mentioning on the Beysick are the Hub Spikes. The spikes are pretty pointy. Not quite as pointy as those on the Big Brother TT, but pretty pointy, nonetheless. I'm not a huge fan of Matador tricks. I think they are impressive, but not something that I'm real excited to bust out when I pick up a yo-yo. Regardless, the spikes on the Beysick are designed to make Matador tricks easy. You can pinch the spikes and pick the yo-yo up while it's still spinning, you can turn the yo-yo on its side, balance the spinning yo-yo on one finger using the spike, and, if you're more creative, you can do quite a few more tricks with the spikes, as well. (You can't really tell how sharp the spikes are in the image I'm providing.)

In addition to the spikes, the rims of the yo-yo are undercut, allowing for IRGs. IRGs are growing on me, and I'm getting better at them, so I was pretty excited when I realized they were easily executed with the Beysick. As far as any other kind of grind goes, like Arm Grinds and things of the sort, they are possible. It's easier to do Arm Grinds with the Boss, because of it's beadblasted finish. The Beysick has a pretty slick anodized finish. I guess that makes it a little better for stall grinds, because it's not as likely to crawl up your arm. The ano looks great though. Once again, the grinds are possible, they just aren't as natural as they are with beadblasted yo-yos. 

Hub Spike and Rim

So, for being the first of HSpins budget, all-metal Core Series, I'd say they've hit a home run. A metal, all-around great playing professional level yo-yo for 60 bucks seems like a good investment to me. I don't have any real complaints about this yo-yo. It plays better than I would expect from a 60 dollar yo-yo. If you are wanting a great performing yo-yo with a price tag that won't break your bank, the Beysick is the way to go, without a doubt.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

YoYoFactory Boss Review

A few days back, I ordered the YYF Boss from YoYoSam. I specifically ordered it from there because they had the Matte Black variation of it in stock, and I had a  5 dollar off coupon from the last time I bought something from there (YYJ Thin Lube). Anyhow, both times I've ordered from them, I've received my order pretty quickly. Their yo-yos cost about the same as other yo-yo stores, but their shipping is usually a little less. Both orders that I've made there have also shipped with a small pack of yo-yo string, so that's a plus. Anyway, it's a worthwhile site (they have more than yo-yos), so go check it out. Moving on, I got the yo-yo in the mail just yesterday. I was ecstatic.

I don't usually care too much about the packaging a product comes in. The YYJ yo-yo's come in a little plastic box that says "YoYoJam" on it. It's pretty regular looking. YYF, however, put a little more creativity into designing their packaging. It's cool... and it just looks right for a yo-yo package. The front has a little window at the top that displays the yo-yo logo, and at the bottom, there is a circular window that displays the yo-yo. The back has a dandy little story about YoYoFactory on it. I'm not certain if it's large enough to read in the picture, but essentially it just explains what kind of yo-yo's they produce.



I unboxed this beast and just stared at it for a bit. It looks nice. The black matte was a good choice for me. The yo-yo came with some greenish-yellow string. I didn't use it, because I assumed it was cotton. In anticipation to string it up and play, I almost forgot to take a picture of the freshly unboxed contents. I attempted to be semi-creative with this display.

So Minty

The first thing that really caught my attention about this yo-yo is the size. It's small. I don't want to say it's undersized, because it's really not. The smaller sizes are becoming more and more popular with the advanced players. Next to the Dark Magic, however, this thing looks miniature. In comparison, the diameter of the Dark Magic is a little over 56 mm. The diameter of the Boss is a little over 50 mm. It didn't take me very long to grow accustomed to the smaller size. I really started to like it after about only 30 minutes of play. In my opinion, the smaller size makes it easier to hold onto, and easier to maneuver through strings during tricks.


The Boss is beadblasted. At least mine is. As I have read, there are a few out there that aren't beadblasted, but instead have a really slick finish. Anyway, mine feels a little grippy. As I mentioned in the Dark Magic review, I'm not very good at IRGs... or grinding at all, for that matter. But the IRGs are ridiculously easy with this thing. The rims are undercut, much like the Dark Magic, only they are rounded and a lot more smooth. The inside of the cup of the yo-yo is totally flat, so there is plenty of room to get your thumb in there. While I'm on the subject of the cups being flat, you're not going to be getting any Matador tricks out of this thing. The absence of the hub spikes means less room for the axle. To remedy this issue, YYF just gave the Boss an extremely small axle. I haven't had any issues with that so far, but I've read that due to the short axle, hitting the Boss on something can lead to permanent stability issues.

Small Axle and Size C Bearing

The Boss is incredibly stable during play. You can barely tell that the thing is moving on the end of the string unless you intentionally throw a crooked sleeper. This thing rarely has a vibe at all, and when it does, it usually corrects itself within a few seconds of the throw. Its also very easy to make it move quickly, but it plays well at a more leisurely pace as well. The string gap is a massive 5.09 mm. If you don't keep the string dead center throughout tricks, the yo-yo is pretty forgiving. This also allows for more layers of string to be threaded through the gap without it grabbing.

String Gap

Turning Point K-Pads make up the response system. They are incredibly efficient. The yo-yo stays unresponsive at the end of the string and throughout tricks, but the binds are incredibly snappy and consistent. I've had the yo-yo snap back on me one time before I was ready for it to, and it was totally due to me being sloppy while doing a trick. It's pretty rare for it to bind up without you wanting it to. The YYF Size C bearing helps keep it unresponsive by spinning quickly for a long time. It should be noted that I'm used to the spoils of KK bearings, but I must admit that the YYF bearing gives the KK a run for it's money on the spin times. I haven't cleaned the bearing at all, and it spins super smooth, and it stays pretty quiet. I guess that's what you should expect from a high-end yo-yo.

 Response System and Bearing

Overall, this yo-yo is a winner in my book. It spins for a long time. It's stability is unreal. It grinds well. Even the aerial tricks are made simple with this thing. It's like a stackless 888 with more rim weight, and the 888 is undeniably one of the most popular yo-yos out there, and for a good reason. I've had the Boss for a little over 24 hours, and it's became an extension of my arm. If you've got the cash to buy one of these, do it. You can't go wrong.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

YoYoJam Dark Magic Review

This will be my first actual yo-yo review, so keep that in mind when reading it. I'm going to attempt to adhere to a slightly altered format of other yo-yo reviews, for the sake of efficiency. I intend to provide a decent amount of pictures, and I apologize in advance for their poor quality. I don't own a quality camera at the moment.

So here it is... the YYJ Dark Magic.

Unopened Dark Magic

I'm not going to dedicate a specific area of this review to specs, as they can be found on just about any online store that sells them. Oftentimes, however, those sites are lacking decent reviews concerning the actual play of the yo-yo. Hopefully you'll be able to find that vital information here.

I got the Dark Magic in the mail about 4 days after ordering it. Small story behind that before I continue. Prior to owning this yo-yo, I had never owned an actual performance yo-yo. Just a few Duncan yo-yos, none of which cost over 15 dollars. So, as I'm sure you can imagine, the 4 days that it took to ship seemed like an eternity. At that point, I was more than ready to drop the playability restraints that my previous Duncans had imposed. Anyway, I opened it up, and there it was all nice and shiny, in all it's glory.

Nice and Shiny

I personally am quite fond of the look of the Dark Magic. Particularly the translucent red and silver color theme. The other colors look good too, but I fancy the red and silver. The caps look good, but for the sake of functionality (IRG), I took them off. The aesthetics took a hit with the removal of the caps, but I was willing to sacrifice looks for performance. If you're not a big fan of inner ring grinds, leave the caps on. I'm still not that great at IRGs, but the the undercut rims make them possible for me.

Caps Removed

Lets get into how it plays overall. It should be noted that, since this is my first performance yo-yo, I don't really have the ability to compare it to other yo-yos based on my own experience. I'll give this a shot anyway. The yo-yo weighs about 70 grams. Some people tend to say this yo-yo is a little too heavy. Just by comparing it to some other popular 1a yo-yos, it's not that much heavier. Compared to the YYF 888x and YYF Boss, the Dark Magic is only about 4 grams heavier. However, compared to the YYJ Axiom and YYJ Hitman, the Dark Magic is 6 or 7 grams heavier. I suppose it's just personal preference. It could just be the limitations of my current abilities, but the yo-yo seems a little sluggish. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. It really just depends on your play style, and I tend to like the slower style of play. That being said, the weight really doesn't cause a problem for me. I've noticed that if you don't throw a perfectly straight sleeper, the yo-yo is likely to have a little bit of a vibe. For me, it doesn't really affect playability. I just ignore the vibe, but for some people, that could be a real issue.  

The string gap of the yo-yo is 3.4 millimeters. That seems to be pretty narrow compared to a lot of performance yo-yos. The response system is what's known as YYJ Hybrid. For those of you that don't already know, the YYJ Hybrid response system is made up of a rubber o-ring on one half of the yo-yo, and a starburst pattern on the other half. The yo-yo won't come back to you if you just tug it, and it delivers consistent binds every time, but I found it to be a little bit grabby when you don't really want it to... like mid-trick. This sometimes causes the yo-yo to bind up before you're ready, and can lead to some painful bruises or cuts if you're unlucky enough. Also, if you don't throw a really straight sleeper, the response system can scrub the string, and cause the yo-yo to deviate to one side or the other. The bearing is a normal YYJ bearing. When I got the yo-yo, the bearing didn't spin for as long as I thought it should have, so I soaked it in some paint thinner and used an air compressor to dry it out. Then I put some YYJ Thin Lube in it, and it spun a lot better. A good flick to the bearing just seated in the yo-yo let the bearing spin for about 11 seconds. When thrown, it's easy to get a good one and half minutes of sleeping, even on a not-so-ideal throw.

Response System and Bearing

 String Gap

I think it's safe to say that this is a great yo-yo for people that are still in the learning process. It makes it possible to do some harder tricks, but doesn't always deliver when you're trying to do tricks with more than one or two layers of string in the gap. I was only able to do simple string tricks on my old Duncan, and this yo-yo allowed me to do broaden my range of tricks, but still didn't open up the window for difficult tricks, as it was still just a tad too responsive in my opinion. I remedied this by doing a few different things. First, I took out the stock rubber o-ring and stretched a Shinwoo P-Pad into the recessed area where the o-ring was. The P-Pad is just about flush with the inside surface of the yo-yo. After that, I took a piece of sandpaper to the starburst pattern on the other side. I'm not really a big fan of starburst pattern response systems anyway. The starburst pattern is still there, but it is significantly less aggressive on the string.

Shinwoo P-Pad and Sanded Starburst

After directly modifying the response system I swapped out the bearing and added shims. I used the Konkave Bearing and Shims kit available on I shimmed it out as wide as I could with what was given to me in the kit, which essentially added a little over 1.4 millimeters to the string gap. The KK Bearing really helps keep the string centered, and away from the response system. You have to throw a pretty crooked sleeper to get the string to scrub the sides of the yo-yo. I also started using 100% polyester string, which seems to be more durable than cotton and (when broken in) quite a bit less responsive.

Widened String Gap with Konkave Bearing

In conclusion, if you want an intermediate-level yo-yo, this is a pretty great throw. If you start using this and decide you need to step up your game a little without dropping a lot more cash to buy a more expensive yo-yo, you can just spend 20 or 30 dollars and modify it a little, making it capable of doing far more advanced tricks. My only real concern with this yo-yo is the fact that the body is made out of plastic. If you throw this indoors, be sure to do it in an area with plenty of open space. In all of my clumsiness, I've managed to bang the yo-yo on a few hard surfaces, resulting in several cracks throughout the body of the yo-yo (mostly where the plastic meets with the metal, as you can see in the pictures). Regardless, it's an excellent yo-yo for the price. With confidence, I can say that this is an exceptional addition to anyones collection.