For the last two years (apx), I have been doing by best to make my way to Chico at least once a month and help out with the Saturday Yo-Yo Club. Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and I enjoyed the company of some of the finest yo-yoers in the world and the heads of the National YoYo League. About a year ago, Thad (Thad Winzenz National YoYo Master) started showing me prototypes of an unnamed yo-yo he was working on. Over the year the yo-yo evolved with input from myelf and frequent club members and emerged as a raw prototype undersized yo-yo. I dug it, and suggested a few minor tweaks. Two weeks ago, Thad put the finished Bulldog in my hands. Designed by a National Yo-Yo Master, and influenced from a club attended by some on the greatest yoyoers around, the Chico Yo-Yo Company consisting of Bob, Thad, and Richie, have finally released the Bulldog.
Manufacturer: Chico Yo-Yo Company
Yo-Yo Bearing Size: Size C (.25x.5x.1875″)
Yo-Yo Diameter 50.8 mm
Yo-Yo Weight 66g
Yo-Yo Width 38.1 mm
Richie kept telling me for months that the anodization was going to be unlike anything currently available, and he was right. The Bulldog has one of the most unique finishing jobs I have seen on a contemporary yo-yo. It looks like dark red marble. The packaging the Bulldog comes in is pretty cool also. It is about the size of an OneDrop box, but is clear allowing you to see the yo-yo from almost all sides. The Bulldog comes in two flavors; Gloss finish, and Matte finish. The model I am reviewing is the Gloss model. I spent a lot of time playing both models, but asked to borrow the Gloss finish model because I thought it would photograph better. The Gloss Bulldog is a little grippy but a feast for the eyes. On the Matte finish model, the finish is soft and very, very smooth. It is not as shiny as the Gloss Bulldog, but still is a joy to look at.
Comfort and Tech:
It looks simple. I think that this was actually a goal of CYYC. The yo-yo shape looks inviting but not alien. Don’t put it aside just yet though, once you get a little deeper into inspection, you find yourself holding a piece of precision machined art. An often overlooked design point is how the yo-yo fits in your hand. A yo-yoer has to hold the yo-yo before he can throw the yo-yo. Holding the Bulldog, you can tell that CYYC put a lot of thought into this. The yo-yo is comfortable and familiar. It hits the meat of the hand perfectly, and with a 50.8mm diameter, the Bulldog is easy to grab. On the Matte finish, you will notice that the only section of the yoyo that is matte finished is where it matters. The recess area is not bead blasted, ensuring you that your $105 investment will not snap a sting in 5 minutes and fly into the china hutch. Inside the bearing seat is a slightly deeper bearing seat well. Not as pronounced as the bearing seat well on an ILYY, but still there to do the same thing. The bearing seat holds up the bearing like a pedestal, ensuring that the bearing will not rub against the side of the bearing seat well. The recess area comes stock with flush silicone, but you could fit a silicone ring from OneDrop, or a YYJ o-ring in if you wanted a more responsive play. You might even be able to fit a YYF K-pad in there, but I was not able to test this. I was happy to see that the Bulldog uses a C-Size bearing. This makes it easy to replace, customize, or upgrade in the future.
Inside the cup of the Bulldog is a very defined Inner Ring Grind area. The way the IRG is designed in the Bulldog, you should have no problem pulling off a 360 and still have enough spin to combo in a few string tricks. The IRG, combined with an inverted slope rim, pushes as much of the 66 grams to the outer rim as possible.
The last little bit of tech I want to touch on deserves a standing applause. The silver ring on the side of each half… At first I thought it was just aesthetic, but after a week of in-depth inspection I discovered why it really exists. When you put your yo-yo down, you usually put it on its side so it does not roll away. If you put the yo-yo on aggregate, like brick or concrete, you risk chipping away little specs of anno. This raw ring the Bulldog reduces this risk. The rings are actually the apex of each yo-yo half, so when you place the yo-yo on its side, the raw ring is the only part actually touching the surface. It is a feature you never knew you wanted, and not only looks good, but is also a shield for the Bulldog’s anno.
On a Throw:
I need to invent a new word for smooth and solid because the words smooth and solid just do not do the Bulldog justice. Because of the medical condition I have in my hands, a bad vibe, or even a minor vibe, can echo up the string all the way to my elbow, creating a very unpleasant throw. This does however give me an advantage to being able to feel vibe on a yo-yo. The Bulldog suffers no vibe whatsoever. It is one of the smoothest yo-yos I have ever thrown, right up there with my BvA, DNA, and P2. The Bulldog is extremely solid also. Not quite an anchor, but certainly not a pushover. A bad throw can be easily corrected, and a good hard throw will reward you with an incredibly stable machine capable of many, many string wraps, transfers, pops, and rejections.
Though I took the Gloss model home to review, while at Bird in Hand, I played the Matte model for about 5 hours so I could speak of its playability as well. While the two models play on the string exactly the same way, there is no denying that the Matte finish model is a finger and arm grind boss. The stability on the string is married well with the stability on a grind, giving you a very evenly yoked player that will surprise you with its ability.
The 38mm width honestly had me a bit concerned. There is a lot of backlash on thin yo-yos like the M1 and Hectic. They are great in the pocket, but some players thought they were too thin. (Not me, BTW, I love the pocketness and playability). After a week of play, I am no longer worried. Thanks to the stability of the Bulldog, slightly thinner than an 888 but wider than a M1, you have a yo-yo that I think players spurned by the thinner yo-yos will enjoy. It still fits in the pocket, but is wide enough for you to hit ridiculous whip combos.
The Bulldog plays great in 5a configuration as well. Just like in 1a configuration, when performing body wrap tricks, you will find the Bulldog where you expect it to be. This is so important with putting together a smooth routine. Thanks to a well balanced design, perfect (for me) weight and a stable platform, the Bulldog was exactly where I thought it would be when I pulled off a leg wrap trap to behind the back trapeze. The same was true when chopping the Bulldog through bee-stings and propellers.
I can find nothing I would change at all. Even the simple laser engraving makes me happy. This is one well trained puppy, and I love it. If I were to purchase one, the Matte finish is probably the one that I adopt because I love to do arm grinds, but that is the only real difference between the two models. Either style is a steal for the price asked. The playability is just awesome, you just want to challenge the yo-yo, and it cheers you on. Bulldogs in real life are like slobbery little fuzz monsters that you just want to hug and cuddle, but the yo-yo model is not to be underestimated. This thing is a real player, and it expects you to bring an A-game. It will still love you if you don’t though. No hesitation here. If you want a new throw, and dig the look, head over to Bird in Hand and adopt a Bulldog. I don’t think you will be disappointed. If you have doubts, find someone who has one and try it. Take it for a walk and decide for yourself!
The Bull Dog is only available at this time at Bird in Hand (Online store also)
Written by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen who loves that “Walking the Dog” is now pun-able thanks to the Bulldog.
Edited by Dustin “Splugen” Gunter, who woke up when he saw the Grammar Ninja symbol in the sky.