For Throwback Thursday, check out this hilarious old promotional footage that Duncan Toys produced in the 70’s.
The first four minutes are a yo-yo “history & science lesson” presented by Doug Behringer, who was the Promotions Director for Duncan during this era. Scratch your head while he explains how yo-yos are powered by the sun.
“What do you think would happen to a yo-yo in outer space? Without gravity, do you think it would spin forever?” I wish I could make this stuff up!
Also notice: towards the end of the bit, Doug explains that it’s called “playing yo-yo” rather than “playing with the yo-yo.” I’d reckon that the term “yo-yoing” hadn’t been coined yet. Crazy stuff.
The latter ten minutes of the film is an extraordinary glimpse at yo-yo contests of yesteryear – “How to Run a Yo-Yo Olympic Contest.” This was filmed in 1979 at Six Flags over Georgia, and distributed to parks and recreational departments across the country in preparation for this nationwide event orchestrated by Duncan Toys. According to the video, the Duncan Yo-Yo Olympics was open to all boys and girls under 16 years of age. Divisions were segregated between the sexes, and also either over or under 12 years old.
Contests seeded from the Playground level to the City Contests, followed by State Contests, and onto one of 9 Regionals. Finally the top 9 in the country were flown to Nationals at the Marriott Great America, in Illinois. The prize for a Gold medal at Nationals was a $1000 Scholarship Bond.
Duncan had certified demonstrators in every region of the country mobilize to sell yo-yos, teach tricks, and judge these competitions locally. In Atlanta, the regional demonstrator at this contest was Lance Lynch from Pensacola, Florida. With that fantastic mustache, watch in the film as Lance rounds the kids up in a line for the contest. Unlike modern freestyle based competitions, this primitive yo-yo contest format is very similar to how Kendama ladders are organized today. As Lance moves down the line of kids with a clipboard, everybody steps out from the line one at a time to attempt each trick. Here, everyone starts off with 100 points, and loses 2 points for each miss. It’s basically a sport ladder where the competitors move up the rungs in a group.
Here are the old trick lists:
-Walk the Dog
-Around the World
-Rock the Baby
State / Regional Level:
-Man on the Flying Trapeeze
-Double or Nothing