Note: This is a new format. if you want to know more about the new review format, please see this post here.
When I first heard that Mike Montgomery was picked up by MonkleyFingeR I was really excited. I have known Mike for a few years and have loved his enthusiasm, uniqueness, and skill level. Mike has a keen eye for knowing what he likes in a yo-yo. His previous signature yo-yo’s, the BaseBoost and Beast, were perfect designs for his technical yet flowy play-style but failed to have enough exposure to catch on. His new yo-yo from MonkeyFingeR is the Forte and was recently released. Ray was kind enough to get one in my hands.
Note about Mike though: The kid snores like a truck… Jus’ saying.
|Gap Width:||4.10 mm|
|Bearing Size:||Size C|
Just by looking at the Forte, you can tell that Mike and MonkeyFingeR wanted to take a different approach to yoyo design. The current trend in the already crowded yo-yo market is wide yo-yos with an emphasis on mid wall weight and a heavy profile. The Forte is not one of those yoyos. It is thinner than most yo-yos with a width of 36.32mm, and has a classic “full bodied” catch zone. This sets a good amount of weight at the middle of the wall but crowds up the catch zone and gives the Forte a high wall off the response zone. Despite its limited width when compared to the current market, the Forte is on par width wise with classics such as the YoYoFactory G5 and the Version 1 Velocity, two favorites of this reviewer. For the first time in a while, I carried the Forte in my jean pocket instead of a belt clip.
The Forte is presented in a custom triangle “box” featuring an exploded view of the yo-yo along with specs and small write up. I really like the look of MonkeyFinger’s packaging. It presents well on a shelf and stands out among the sea of rectangles and tubes. The colorway options on the Forte are incredible. The one I am reviewing is called the RatRod and has the look of a classic “Hot Friday Night’s’ street rod. The Deuce Coupe colorway is a bright orange with a star filled blue splash, and the ChopTop has more organic and subdued colors. MonkeyFingeR did a great job capturing three popular color style choices without leaving too many risks in the name of variety.
Lastly, I have to praise MonkeyFingeR with its excellent use of beadblasting. The catch zone is the only part of a yo-yo that needs to have a blasted finish is the catch zone, and that is exactly what MonkeyFingeR did. The response area and the side cup still hold the sheen of an amazing anno job.
I have found that yo-yos with a high response wall have a tendency to tilt, but also have a greater capacity to be flexible on axis changes. The Forte combines the high wall and tilt control with a thin profile and mid body weight placement. It took me a while to get used to the play feel, but it grew on me. Knowing Mike for a few years and being familiar with is play style, I can see how the Forte would really lend itself to his “Tech yet floaty” play style. The Forte has long spin times and a snappy response, and while it tended to tilt more than I liked it to, it was easily correctable without much spin sacrifice. I found the Forte to be clean on binds and wraps, and the thin profile lent itself well to tight string configuration transfers. For example, you know how when you were learning Black Hops, you found yourself hitting two strings when you reached triple or nothing? If you can practice your precision, a thinner yo-yo would assist with that. Likewise, when playing tightly knit string tricks, the Forte was less likely to grab more than the intended string.
It is safe to say that MonkeyFingeR is gaining a reputation and a following. While some designs were too different to catch on, like the Evil-Yo and the Lesula, Ray and crew have released excellent throws like the Gelada. The Forte is a decent middle ground between traditional and outlier. Mike has a great online presence and his reputation and personality have garnered him a steady following. Despite the push, the Forte has seen little consumer reaction. I think that this is mainly because people are not sure what to expect. Once people start coming out of their comfort zone I expect the Forte to get a lot more attention.
With the availability of so many yo-yos on the market, a price tag of $125 has to match the same level of expectation that comes along with the price tag. I feel that the Forte does this. The Forte is different in design than other modern yo-yos without sacrificing much in the way of play. It is unique enough to garner the attention of players who will want to try it, and give them a different feel than any other yo-yo on the market. The Forte has excellent presentation both in pre and post purchasing, and comes in a small variety of colorway choices that cover a broad spectrum of color preferences. Overall, I feel the experience may not outpace the price tag but certainly matches it evenly.
The yo-yo public is a fickle bunch. Don’t deny it, you know you are. One day we like thin yoyos, one day we like fat yoyos. Heavy, light, shiny, raw, dark, delrin, ti, 7000 series, 6000 series….. the problem is that sometimes we don’t know what we like until we try it for ourselves. I will admit that on first glance and throw, the Forte was a bit too different for me but after only a few hours of play, I came to love it. I love that it fits in my pocket without looking like I am packing heat. I love that it is flexible enough to handle any trick I throw at it and still controllable enough to experiment with. I don’t think it will see much play as a 3a or 5a yoyo, but it is quite fun as a casual 1a yo-yo that may see some stage time. The Forte is a good yo-yo, and may require people to walk out of their comfort zone, but then again, what set that comfort zone for you in the first place?
Written by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen who prefers diet Dr. Pepper to regular