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.