As seen in our 2014 International Toy Fair preview for Duncan Toys, the Skyhawk is the new, soon-t0-be-released offstring yoyo from Duncan Toys. Pre-production samples have landed, and are being play-tested by none other than Sean Perez, 6x Philippine National YoYo Champion!
Rei Iwakura is, hands down, one of the most inventive and flawless yoyo players and performers in the world. If you think you’d like to argue that point I’ll save you the time: you’re wrong.
The solo ham section that starts about a minute in to this video kicks off with a dead smooth solo ham fast mount, and escalates quickly to be some of the cleanest and best solo ham play I’ve ever seen.
Huge thanks to YoYo Store Rewind for putting this video together!
The 2014 International Toy Fair in New York City is just around the corner, and that means plenty of new products from the top yoyo manufacturers!
Our first Toy Fair preview of the year comes from Duncan Toys, who has a surprising number of new releases slated for the year. Although the cover of their catalog features a huge logo for their 85th Anniversary, they don’t seem to be releasing any anniversary-themed products, and don’t make any mention of any anniversary events or releases. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any actual anniversary promotions from Duncan this year, especially now that Sales & Marketing Coordinator Brandon Jackson has moved down to Orlando to manage Duncan’s Disney retail cart and partnership. Duncan Toys looks to be short-handed at the moment, so if you ever wanted to work in the yoyo industry and live in rural Ohio…here’s your chance!
First up…licensed Ignite yoyos for Despicable Me 2! The Ignite has Brake Pad response and a replaceable wooden axle sleeve that you can easily swap out for the bearing assembly from a Duncan BumbleBee. All five designs are in Toys R Us stores across the US now and retail for only $5.99, and Despicable Me 2 (which is a great movie, by the way) has been out on DVD and Blu-Ray since December 2013, so you probably have it already. Or you should. Really, it’s great.
Next up we have the Hello Kitty yoyos that we first reported on last July. There are two models available, a ProYo and a Butterfly XT, each model with four different designs. These don’t seem to be shipping yet, but the ProYo version will retail for $5.99 and the Butterfly XT will retail for $9.99. Expect to see these in mass market outlets in the spring, if not sooner!
Duncan jumped in the kendama game last fall with the release of their Komodo kendamas, first shown on YoYoNews last July. New for this year is the Venom kendama, which appears to be identical to the Komodo but with a different paint finish on the tama that promises to be tackier, making balance tricks like Lighthouse and Bird a bit easier. The catalog photo is just a digital mockup,
and we don’t have confirmation on a retail price or availability yet. but the Venom is actually shipping to retailers now with a retail price of around $24.99.
We’ve already seen the Echo 2, a revamped version of the ill-recieved Echo from a few years back. The Echo 2 seems to very much right the wrongs of its predecessor, and is quickly becoming a 1A favorite among Duncan’s sponsored team.
But new for a US release is the Torque, a re-branded version of Duncan’s metal “Torquave” yoyo created for Bandai’s Hyper YoYo campaign. We’re guessing the specs are the same; 55mm diameter, 43mm width, and weighing in at 66 grams with Duncan’s large bearing setup. The Torquave was scheduled for a February 2014 release in Japan but if Duncan is releasing it here…does that mean that Bandai will not be releasing it themselves?
The Torque/Torquave is a new design that we assume was created specifically for Bandai and they have a history of preferring that their exclusives stay exclusive. The Torque photos are also just digital renders…so if this was already supposed to be ready to release in Japan in just a few days and Duncan didn’t have samples for photography in time for their catalog, it’s quite possible this product isn’t even ready yet, and the launch isn’t going to happen at all in Japan. Mysteries!
UPDATED INFO: The Torquave IS still being released in Japan, production is currently underway, and the catalog photos of the Torque are actual product photos that were only digitally colored. No more mysteries!
Duncan has three new plastic performance yoyos coming this summer, two for 1A and a new offstring yoyo. The Featherhawk and Firehawk are identical yoyos, just with different weight rings; the Featherhawk comes with Duncan’s new plastic Performance Rings, while the Firehawk comes stock with metal Performance Rings.
The Skyhawk is the new offstring yoyo, and comes stock with the metal Performance Rings. Offstring seems like a pretty small category for Duncan to need to produce another specialty yoyo for, especially since they don’t really do much to promote the style of play. But maybe this one will turn out to be more to the players’ liking than the Hayabusa which was good but never seemed to gain much traction outside of Duncan’s sponsored team.
Duncan’s Performance Rings were first shown at last year’s International Toy Fair, although Duncan never did manage to actually produce and ship them. Hopefully they, along with these Hawk yoyos, don’t suffer the same fate this year.
And finally we have a better look at Duncan’s new Performance Rings, as well as two new versions of their Mod Spacers. The Mod Spacers were originally developed as part of the Pro-Z yoyo, making it a “convertible” model from standard shape to Butterfly shape. Mod Spacers offer an option for players to refresh their existing Duncan products, especially now that Duncan is offering Mod Spacers designed for offstring play, as well as another set that converts your Duncan yoyo for use with a large bearing. Since Duncan hasn’t updated the bearing and response setups of most of their plastic yoyos, the Mod Spacers can serve as a welcome upgrade for players who enjoy the brand but are frustrated with some of the outdated designs.
All in all, looks like Duncan has a lot to offer at the 2014 International Toy Fair, although some of these products were shown last year and never materialized and the Hawk series and Torque are all just digital mockups. The licensed items are available now (Despicable Me 2) or hopefully very soon (Hello Kitty) and the Venom kendama will likely be available in just a couple of months…but with a “Summer 2014” release mentioned for the Torque, Hawk series, and the Performance Rings, it’s possible that we won’t see them until Fall/Winter 2014.
SLUSNY and Barely Legal team member Zděnek Hýbl playing new offstring yoyo Pegasus by God-Tricks in front of the SLUSNY yoyo shop in Prague.
Hiro from Kitty String posted this great video of Duncan Crew offstring superstar, Sean Perez! The interview portion is all in Tagalog, but if you don’t speak it you can skip ahead to 2:17 for the beginning of four minutes of outstanding yoyoing from Sean, who is a 6x Philippine National YoYo Champion.
As we gear up for the 2013 World Yo-Yo Contest, we take a step back to appreciate and admire the greats of years past. We will be posting the top 5 in each division in the weeks leading up to the World Yo-Yo Contest.
This time we take a look at the history of the offstring (4A) division. The inception of the style can be traced back to the 1950 Duncan instructors pushing the limits of yo-yos. Rumor has it that Duncan demonstrators would sometimes show the kids a single offstring trick—a front mount, and high toss—at demonstrations; it was intended to be just enough for the kids to try, break their yoyo, and buy another one. It wasn’t until 1990 when Dale showed a group of people the concept and Jon Gates took the style to a whole new level by introducing diabolo and Single A concepts but most importantly: the offstring bind. Later Jon collaborated with John Higby, and with the popularization of ball bearing axles and rubberized rims, Jon was able to push the boundaries another step further. After Jon led the Japanese Hyper Viper tour of 1998, which featured offstring, the style spread like wildfire. With the ground work established, players like Hironori Mii and Sky Kiyabu began to add offstring tricks to their routines. Due to the unprecedented nature of the style, offstring was initially accepted within the Single A division before being moved to the X Division and then eventually being granted its own dedicated division. Today offstring is one of the most intense divisions—any mistake can end up with a yo-yo flying off the stage. Regenerations, solo-ham, technical, whip catches and so much more—the growth from a challenge among friends to a highly competitive world-wide division remains a testimony to the creative possibilities of yo-yo and the ingenious minds who foster it.
5. Bryan Figueroa –
- 6x National Champion, 12x Regional Champion, 4x State Champion
One of the few players on these lists to not have a World title, Bryan’s six straight National titles are impossible to overlook. Dominating—which is perhaps a dramatic understatement—an extremely tough 4A division in the United States for six years, Bryan is clearly one of the greatest to play 4A. Bryan is known for his technically difficult tricks and extreme accuracy—rarely does he lose a yo-yo. With two near victories at the World stage, Bryan is a World title away from cementing his legacy further.
4. Naoto Okada –
- 2x World Champion, 3x National Champion, 4x Regional Champion
One of the four players on our list to own two World titles, Naoto is the ultimate performer. His on-stage persona is more artistic than anything else, taking yo-yoing in a direction that highlights its expressive beauty. With a number of near flawless routines to cement his extreme professionalism, Naoto never seems to disappoint. Even in the midst of a less than perfect routine, Naoto maintains his composure—something only a true performer can do.
3. Rei Iwakura –
- 2x World Champion, 1x Asia Champion, 3x National Champion, 8x Regional Champion
The curse of 4A World Champion—no one has ever won back-to-back 4A World titles and after taking the top spot at Japan Nationals, Rei has perhaps the best chance ever to accomplish this feat. And with it, he will certainly have an argument for the greatest of all time. Already one of the most out-of-the-box thinkers in yo-yo, and now incorporating his brilliant Artistic Performance routine concepts into his 4A routines, Rei is truly a master of offstring. With no end in sight after taking the top spot over Naoto and company at Japan Nationals, he only seeks to climb the list.
2. Tsubasa Onishi – /
- 2x World Champion, 2x Asia Champion, 3x National Champion, 2x Regional Champion
Tsubasa holds the interesting feat of winning both US and Japan Nationals. Not to mention his two World titles, his resume is only to be expected with the creativity he exhibits year after year. One of the few to make full combos that incorporated his ears, Tsubasa is undeniably one of the most ingenious offstring trick creators. Add in his arm stand whips & jump behind the back whips and it is clear Tsubasa belongs among the greats.
1. Eiji Okuyama –
- 2x World Champion, 1x Asia Champion, 1x National Champion, 2x Regional Champion
The first ever to capture two world titles, Eiji is the original offstring superstar. Creator of the classic trick which bears his name, Eiji Regeneration, Eiji pioneered offstring and pushed it to levels unheard of. With his signature extremely long string, Eiji was at the top of the offstring division for many years. Incorporating full arm grinds, long regeneration combos and intricate string tricks, Eiji was diverse in his repertoire; Eiji also had an aura of confidence and swagger which emanated on stage. All of these qualities came together to cement his place at the top.
Who do you think are the greatest offstring players of all time? Feel free to post your thoughts below!
As a reminder, these rankings take into consideration competitive players from around 2000 and on.
Japan Technology has released a new “Pearl Collection” version of their popular Ashiru Kamui Light offstring yoyo, and with it comes this great video of Atsushi Takeuchi showing off the new model. Why don’t we see more offstring videos?
Introducing GAIA, the signature offstring design for 3X Korea Champion Jeon Ji Kwan!
When we first asked Jeon Ji Kwan about his dream 4A design, he mentioned “speed, power spin, floating time, quick regen, and finger spin”. After number of prototypes to fit his requirements, he proved GAIA is his dream design by capturing his 3rd Korea Championship!
There will be a limited pre-production release of the C3YoYoDesign Gaia at Japan Nationals and Malaysia Nationals this weekend.
Weight: 72.4 grams
Width: 53.25 mm
Diameter: 75.27 mm
Gap width: 2.1 mm(thin spacer), 2.15 mm(thick spacer)
Bearing Size (Inside x Outside x Width): 5mm x 10mm x 4mm (Size A)
Gap Type: Fixed
Response: Silicon sticker / flowable silicon
Slusny.net just dropped a really fun video to promote the YoYo Empire Nimbus offstring yoyo, featuring Petr Kavka and Zdenek Hybl.
Jeon Ji Hwan, from the South Korean C3YoYoDesign team, just won the 4A division at the 2013 Korean National YoYo Championships…and right before the contest, C3YoYoDesign dropped this year-old video of him from their archives.
And today we got a brand new video from Jeon! It’s great to be able to see his progression as a player both in tricks and style.
Tomohiko Zanka dropped this great offstring video…some really interesting concepts in here, and he pulls them off well.
SpinGear just tweeted about this new offstring yoyo by World Champion Tsubasa Onishi. Looks…well, it looks a lot like another huge offstring yoyo for serious competitors. That style of play doesn’t really lend itself to a lot of variety in the equipment. I mean, you can shoot for different colors but even then….you’re really kinda stuck with delrin because there just isn’t enough demand to justify molding versus machining. But according to Spin Gear, there will be additional weight kits for this yoyo available later, so that’s pretty cool.
Width: 53.8 – 55.0 mm (depending on gap adjustment)
Response: YYF Slim Pad
And really, what announcement about a Japanese yoyo would be complete without a hilariously confusing description, courtesy of Google Translate:
Model with respect to the shape of the creative ingenuity that was used to Kamui Onishi players prefer. It is the model that brought, was realized in the factory planning Onishi players themselves are produced in domestic. Endorsement is uncompromised performance ease of use that made the prototype himself until satisfactory.
Pick one up at SpinGear, and while you’re there you should get some Hyper YoYo stuff. Because seriously, it’s all awesome.