They say what goes around, comes around. This is true in all walks of life, and even the yo-yo community. Yo-Yo companies have seen actions reflect their profitability. Yo-Yoers have see comments affect their popularity, and bloggers have made choices that affect their credibility. Perfect example: For the last three years, once a week I put a yo-yo through a review cycle. I carry the yo-yo. I play with the yo-yo. I tweet and status update about the yo-yo, and the day before I write about the yo-yo, I photograph the yo-yo. I had always considered this a potential risk because no one likes to see their brand new design dinged up but I have had a pretty good track record of not dinging up review yoyos and I keep a keen eye on the health of my string. So wouldn’t you know it when the yo-yo I happen to be reviewing this week experiences a freak snap page of a brand new string, outside, over concrete. This poor yo-yo is not just dinged, it is scraped, scratched, and dinged thanks to a hard throw, faulty generic string, and a 30 foot trip down the alley where yo-yo club is held. I have always worried about waiting so long before I photograph but part of the planned time goes to thinking of how to photograph the yo-yo. I find it very scary, and almost mythic that this yo-yo which screamed under the feet of yo-yo clubbers, bounced off a brick pylon, and wedged itself in the frame of a doorway is in fact the new YoYoJam yo-yo called “Karma.”
Val handed me a few yoyos at Nationals to review. The Karma was among them. It had a similar look to it as the YoYoJam Phenom which I personally loved, but was missing the foil caps I have come use to seeing on a YoYoJam high end metal. Like the rest of the new YoYoJam line, the Karma comes with a thin C-Sized bearing for responsive play and a full sized YoYoJam Speed bearing for standard play. The Karma has nickel plated weight rings mid body, similar in appearance to the Phenom. I have only seen the Karma in Red but a cursory search reveals that it is also available in blue. Instead of foil caps, the Karma has a simple laser engraving on the flat wall inside the yo-yo cup. Both halves are the same and the font used for the Karma logo is the same used for the YoYoJam logo.
Comfort and Tech:
Weight (g) 65.5
Diameter (mm) 50.80
Width (mm) 41.04
The first thing I did when I got home from Nationals was to physically compare the Karma to the Phenom. As far as I know, the Karma is only the second yo-yo released by YoYoJam that has mid body weight rings. That is pretty much where the similarities end. The catch zone on the Karma has more of a curve to it and rounds out before reaching the response area. Specification wise, the Karma is smaller than the Phenom at only 50.80mm in diameter and 41 mm in width. While Karma has an extra 2 mm in width, it is almost 6 mm smaller in diameter and 4 grams lighter.
About mid week, I noticed the Karma was getting a bit snaggy. I opened it up and saw a buildup of residue on both halves around part of the response pad. It took a bit of acetone and elbow grease to clean if off but it got me thinking about how the gunk got there in the first place. It has not been hot enough to melt silicone or adhesive, and the yo-yo has avoided water. It is likely more environmental than anything, but it is worth keeping an eye on. The response groove itself is set to take the standard YoYoJam pad and looks just deep enough to take flowable silicone.
The curve of the Karma’s catch zone helps rounds out the outer rim. Thanks to the midsize diameter and expressive width, the Karma is comfortable in the hold and the catch. Inside the catch zone, there is a groove with a slight undercut but it is more towards the center of the Karma under the weight ring.
On a Throw:
I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to the Karma review. I loved the Phenom, and upon first inspection I expected it to act like a small, lighter Phenom. I could not be more wrong. It may be lighter than the Phenom but it has a much more solid feel to it. The Phenom has a hint of floatyness to it that is great, but the Karma is rock solid and fast. A completely different feel from the Phenom.
Once I cleaned up the pad residue I spoke about a bit ago, the Karma was very fast but did suffer from a very slight vibe. Strangely enough, after I snapped the string and sent it across the parking lot, the Karma was even more smooth. I have to hand it to YoYoJam. Many yoyos change for the worse after taking a walk but the Karma took in in stride.
The Karma exceled in steadiness. Regens tended to turn but not lean which is workable. The Karma has a long spintime and a snappy bind. I ran into a few snags after a few wraps but I honestly feel that the Karma I had was exposed to heat or something and the adhesive on the pads. I swapped out the pads on the last day and that seemed to free up any snags. Thanks to its mid sized diameter, the Karma was great for chops and a wide catch zone lent itself well to hops and transfers.
I came in expecting a small Phenom and walked away with a whole new found respect for YoYoJam Dale. Dale took a similar concept, Bi-Metal design, and delivered a completely different throw than anything else in his line. With all the new designs coming out of the Georgia based shop, you really have to hand it to YoYoJam and Dale. He has a very dynamic and wide ranging line. The Karma has not seem much in the release world thus far but if you can get your hands on one, it is worth trying out. Just don’t go in expecting it to feel like a Phenom. It’s a Karma, and it is excellent all unto itself.
Written by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen who thinks he should shoot his photos earlier in the week.