Interview with YoYoBulgaria’s Martin Antonov – Inventor of the efreet Fire Yo-Yo #yoyoskills


1) I think everyone loves this question, so I have to ask, how did you enter
into the yoyo world?

That was about 10 years ago (I believe late 2004) in my first year at High School.
I had a friend who bought a yoyo from a skate shop. They only had Duncans
there and no one knew anything about yoyos in Bulgaria at this point. I started
playing all the time – at home, on the way to school, in school, at the bus stop
and so on. It was great! A couple of months after that I bought a Dark Magic from
the US and then everything changed for me. I quickly became the best player in
Bulgaria and I would have loved to go to competitions but there weren’t any in
Europe at that point. This is why I started YoYoBulgaria – an online yoyo store to
spread the love in Bulgaria. We organized 10+ competitions, the first one in 2009.

2) What are  favorite types of tricks?
MidAir tricks by Augie Fash. Probably first introduced in this video:

I also like the 4A style of Lim
Aik Hwee but I never managed to land any of his tricks 🙂

3) what are your favorite yoyos at the moment (both efreet and other
brands)?

I have been a passionate collector for quite a long time now and having had a
yoyo store of my own I got to try many different brands and yoyos from all over
the world. I would say some of my favourite throws are: YYR Dreadnought G,
YYF Catch 22 Copycat, Summit, Chief and pretty much everything by CLYW and
One Drop. Having slightly larger hands than most people, I have always felt a bit
of need for a heavier and bigger yoyo – something that only my Dreadnought
gave me. Thus my favourite one at the moment is the efreet 64. I kind of made it
to my own needs, hoping that other people will enjoy the feel of it as well.

4) So, a fire yoyo. You did it. Congrats. When and where did that project
begin? Tell us a little about how that project came to be.

Thank you so much 🙂 The idea was born when I was in my final year (2012) at
the University of Warwick, UK (doing maths). I was thinking – well, there is fire
poi, staff, diabolo, devil sticks, even juggling balls. Why isn’t there a fire yoyo? I
did a bit of research and it turns out there were several attempts but none of them
would match my needs as a yoyo player – non responsive, long sleep times, no
special strings, light or no Kevlar gloves at all. I drafted some designs and ideas
for shapes, coating and most importantly how to “attach” fire to a yoyo. I had
exams at that point so I put the project on hold. After I graduated I did a lot of
research on how to build yoyos in general – where to find parts, CNC machines,
coatings and everything yoyo related. It turned out to be a lot more complicated to
manufacture a standard aluminum yoyo than I thought, let alone a fire one. There
were a lot of prototypes, a lot of experiments with coatings and in general it was a
very long process. You can see some of the prototypes here:
http://efreetyoyos.eu/the-fire-yoyo
fire1234

5) What was the most difficult task when putting together this project?
This is a very hard question to answer. We had difficulties and setbacks with
almost every aspect of this project – manufacturing deadlines, coatings,
anodizing and so on. What I found hardest about the project was finding a
protective fire coating and inventing a fire system, while keeping the yoyo
balanced. Those required a lot of experiments, physics and background reading.

5.5) Did you ever think about giving up?
At some point I was thinking that it is not possible to create a fire yoyo, the way I
wanted it to be. I don’t give up that easily, though 

6) Did you ever light anything on fire without intending to? 🙂

I can’t recall that I have. I have always been very careful around fire and yoyos.
Proud to say that for 10 years I have never hit myself with a yoyo 

7) I got to play around with it and it’s really quite exiting. I was also a lot
more frightened than I would have anticipated.  I think one of the coolest
things about it is that it’s almost like an entirely new skill toy. You have to
learn how to “tune” the setup to best fit your preference. I think it changed
how I yoyo quite a bit- did it do the same for you? 

Thank you for the nice comment. I am very happy that you find it exciting 🙂 It is a
very different skill toy, this is true. I believe it will be a new experience for yoyo
players as well – having to setup their yoyos and getting that extra “wow” effect
when performing at AP or a talent show. For me personally the development of
the fire yoyo was very exciting. I was frightened at first as well, especially with all
the tests without gloves. After a bit of practice I gained confidence and was finally
happy with the results. It definitely changes the way you play and the way you
think about your yoyoing in general. It is an entirely new experience. I hope that
players who decide to give it a go will be feeling the same way.

1red1

8) We should touch on the 64 non fire version as well. A huge diameter.
Plays awesome. Give us some back story on that. Did you just have the
drawing from the fire yoyo and decide to make a non-fire one to go with it?

I had never intended to make non-fire yoyos. The competition there is very tough
– there are yoyo manufacturers with many years of experience making amazing
throws.
The reason for the large diameter and wide design was not to burn your fingers
while you hold it in the first place. The shape itself acts as a protection against the
flames. After I tested the very first fire prototype, I was quite amazed by the
quality and overall feel. It perfectly suited my needs as a yoyo player, so I
decided to make 7075 non-fire versions with an affordable price tag, while
keeping the high quality. An orange efreet 64 has been my main throw for over a
year now and I doubt this is going to change any time soon.

9) what’s next for you. Version 2.0? Or trying to figure out how to have a
flaming counterweight? 

A lot of time, money and effort have been invested in the fire yoyo. If it gets a
good reception and people are interested in innovative yoyo products we will
keep going. I have a plan for a completely different yoyo project – codename
Zeus. Not much more I can say about it at this point, but if the efreet project is
successful I would like to focus on the Zeus, bringing again a completely new
product to the market.
The Fire yoyo is currently working well. If there is a second run of the same
product, only slight changes, mostly cosmetic, can be made. For something to be
called a Version 2.0 we would have to start fresh. During my research I have
stumbled upon many interesting materials and ideas, here are a few:
– There is a special and very expensive ceramic-like material (10 times more
expensive than Titanium). It is relatively new and is used to build space
ships which have to block very large amounts of heat. With this material
(only?) we could create the “perfect” fire yoyo – no gloves will be needed.
Unfortunately this material is very hard to get. In any case I would love to
make a limited run with a different design which would truly be something
out of this world.
– If we were to pursue a different direction, where players MUST use Kevlar
gloves, no special coatings will be needed and we can make a version
which will be less expensive, generating more flames, while keeping the
playability of a regular yoyo. This will be a completely new, simpler, more
balanced and performance ready design. I already have a few ideas on
how to implement this and it can be done relatively quickly.
– I never thought about a flaming counterweight, so thanks for the idea. It
can be built very easily and I will make sure to include one with the next
releases.
These kinds of innovations would require a solid funding, research and testing. All
of the above mentioned and more can be made possible only if the Fire yoyo
project is successful. An alternative, which I would love to happen, is to work with
a large yoyo company. This would make all ideas possible very quickly. For a
single person, the whole process and most of all manufacturing and assembly
takes a lot of time and effort.

10) what other skill toys do you play with?
In 2011 my partner and I decided to expand our business and created the first
juggling/skill toy/yoyo physical store in Bulgaria. I got the chance, and honestly
had to, get familiar with all the skill toys we had in the store – juggling balls, clubs,
kendama, poi, staff, spin tops, pen spinning, astrojax, finger boards, contact balls,
devil/flower sticks and diabolo. If I had to choose a couple of my favourites that
would be contact poi, 3 ball juggling and kendama (although I am not very good
with the kendama).

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11) Congrats on making such a huge mark on the manufacturing world of
yoyos. Any advice for others in your position?

Thanks! My advices would be “Think outside of the box” and “Never give up on
your ideas”. The last major innovation in the world of yoyos that I can recall was
the hubstack system. I remember turning my yoyos into spin tops with those
special stacks from YYF and to me this was a huge breakthrough. It was very
entertaining to play with and show to friends.
There are many more possibilities for innovations in the design, playability and
functionality. In my opinion, yoyo is the king of all skill toys. It completely changed
my life.

12) Favorite food?
Probably the hardest question… I will go for my dad’s special Potato recipe
(potatoes, feta cheese, Bulgarian yellow cheese and herbs).

13) favorite band?
I listen to Minimal (electronic music). Favourite DJ is Boris Brejcha. Favourite
band? I don’t know, maybe The XX.

14) least favorite food?
Mayonnaise.

Many Thanks to Martin Antonov. For his time, thoughts, and products. We hope that you all enjoy this as much as I did!

 

Available at YoYoSam.



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