Tag Archives: yoyo

One Year Later – State of Yo

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oyl

Today is what would have been the 6 year mark of YoYoSkills and nearly the 1 year mark of YoYoSkills being on hiatus.  I can’t tell you how much I have missed you all.

Last September I decided to hang up my proverbial Keyboard and Mouse. My wife and I started Foster Care certification classes to hopefully, increase our family.  Leaving YoYoSkills was a move that was hard to make and I was humbled by the a significant amount of support you guys gave me.   5 years of my life and 5 years of dedication.  As much as I miss it I still feel it was the right decision to make.

As today is the 1 year mark,  I felt I owed you an update as to where I am in the progress of my life changes.  I also wanted to take the opportunity to speak to the state of our community as I have observed it.

Family:

We finished our classes to get our Foster certification in October.  It took several months to then get the house certified, and then the search began.  My wife and I went to several interviews, saw several case files and talked to many, many social workers.  Looking for a child to adopt is a surreal experience.  You look at so many case files they start to blur together.  Initially the Foster Agency has you create a “Target Range” with specifications when you are looking;  Boy or Girl,  Age range,   Ethnicity,   Siblings,   Temperament, ect.   In a way, it is like choosing a yo-yo but one million percent more serious.  My wife and I already have a natural daughter so our target specifications were primarily based on what would be the healthiest for her. Rylie is a very strong kid, but she is just a kid after all and it was very important that we set her up for success.  Being a big sister is no small feat.  We wanted a boy, but were open to a girl if there was a good fit.  We wanted to stay within a few years of the age of my daughter.  We wanted a child that would fit well temperament wise in our family.  The rest of it was not important to us.  We looked so many case files, had so many interviews and saw so many kids in need.  It was hard to not take them all.  This process took so long that I found myself seeing kids in our target range in public and wondering if they were available to adopt!

In March, we were blessed with an interview that fell out of our requirements, but felt right in every way possible.  They were brothers,  aged 3 and 4.   They were younger than we were looking for and both came with challenges.  I will level with you, never in my life had I ever considered three children but these two stole my heart immediately and my wife felt the same way.  After a month of visits we moved onto overnights, and then in May they moved in.  For the last four months these two boys have transformed my heart and family and it honestly has felt like they were always part of my life.   Before all of this, I never considered life with three kids and now I can never see my life without them.

These two boys bring my child count up to three, and one is still a toddler.  They demand all my free time and I am more than willing to give it to them.  At the end of my day when my wife and I collapse in exhaustion into an unmade bed with the mornings unfolded laundry,  when my office job goes immediately to a fatherhood referee upon coming in the front door, when there is enough fighting among siblings that we could have a WWE ladder match in the family room and when I only get to throw a yo-yo for those sweet quiet 15 minutes after everything is all done before I have to get ready to do it all again in the morning, it is worth every single moment.

YoYoing:

Though I don’t get much time any more to be part of the yo-yo world  I do still manage to squeeze in participation where I can.  MonkeyfingeR was kind enough to offer me a position on the team as a Brand Manager and I have been doing my best to help Ray keep the MonkeyfingeR brand focused and on track.  This arrangement is great.   MonkeyfingeR is an amazing indie brand and being a brand manager is similar to program management which I do for a living anyway.  I also got to help design a new yo-yo, the Gelada 2 which is the best yo-yo I have every played.  I am thrilled at the reception  the MonkeyfingeR brand and the Gelada 2 has been getting and with throws like the Apex, Co-Lab, and Gelada 2 receiving positive feedback I get the same feeling I got when I ran YoYoSkills.  I am extremely excited for the future of MonkeyfingeR and can’t wait to show you guys what we have coming up next.  MonkeyfingeR has allowed me to take a step back from YoYoSkills but still be active in the community, and I can never repay Ray and the team for that chance.

That said, YoYoSkills is something I miss daily.  I miss reviewing yoyos from around the world.  I miss covering yo-yo news.  I miss having time to watch hundreds of throw videos from players all over the world and highlighting them on the worlds largest yo-yo news website.  While prepping this write-up, I was shocked to see that YoYoSkills STILL gets a few hundred views a day.  I was expecting maybe dozens, but hundreds?  I miss you guys too.  Not a week has gone by without someone asking me to start up YoYoSkills again.  As much as I want to I would not be able to dedicate the time to the website that you guys deserve.  I have also been asked to hand it off to another party but honestly it would take the right person with the right track record and the right circumstances to make that happen.  As it stands, I have not been presented anything that gives me confidence that YoYoSkills will continue to be run with my vision in mind.

On that, there is nothing that is keeping you  from starting your own blog.  When it comes right down to it, YoYoSkills is just a name, brand, and web domain.   If I could grow it organically with zero web franchise experience, you can too.

The Players:

This has been a banner year for yo-yo players.  The evolution of tricks is absolutely  amazing.  The tricks I see online and from friends are absolutely amazing and we are not exactly talking about a huge amount of time.  Zac Rubino, who first started getting into 4a seriously a few years ago is now considered to be one of the best in the world.  Tessa Piccillo whom I campaigned in 2010 for a spot on the YoYojam team has captured the top female yo-yoer position.  Gentry Stein, who I called out in 2009 as one of 5 players that NEEDED to be sponsored, is now the World Champion.  These guys are not the only ones but I mention these three specifically because they are players who I have been cheering for and supported for years.  They have grown into world level performers.  Don’t get me wrong,  I had ZERO to do with these three incredible players successes, but it is amazing to see three players whom I cheered and rooted for become so successful.   I admire them as a fan, applaud them as a friend, and am very proud of them.

The Community:

It is amazing what happens when you step back and take a look from a 10,000 foot view.

For the majority, the community is kind, welcoming, and inviting, but there are very vocal outliers that don’t seem to want to sport to grow, or only want to target a certain demographic with a certain style and attitude.  While I know that this has existed forever my new focus as a brand manager seems to reveal it with more clarity.  Instead of calling out names and incidents, I feel it would be more constructive to share my personal architecture of community success.

1: Build the next generation – YoYoing will grow and evolve as the community grows and evolves.  Without a generation of players to replace those that are graduating to different roles in the community, the only result will be stale contentment.

2: Respect the work of the last generation – You are here because of them, whether you want to admit it or not.

3: Welcome new opinions and ideas – This industry can never be run by one person or one group of people successfully.  It takes a constant flow of talent and ideas, just like it takes a constant flow of water and sunlight to grow a forest.

4: If you want something, start something – Want another YoYoskills?  Start one.  Want a club in your city?  Start one.  Want another place to buy yoyos?  Start one.  Want a yo-yo company to make a certain kind of throw?  Start one.  This community is run by the constant steam and power of people who started something, and it will continue when you start something also.

Lastly-  YoYoing is for everyone, and everyone should be welcome to yo-yo – If you exclude someone or something, you prevent yourself from becoming smarter, stronger, and loving more.  Much like how I never considered having three kids, now I can’t imagine my life without them.

– Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen

So You want to Make Money Yo-yoing

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“I’m going to be a Professional Yo-yoer for a living…sort of, kind of…maybe?”

So what does it mean to be a professional Yo-yoer?  Is it possible to make this a full time job?  If I work really hard, with there be fame and riches awaiting me?

Um…no.  Take note: the world champion gets what, 500 dollars?  There isn’t a lot of money to be made as a yo-yoer.  For the rare few it can be a career, mostly those that make yoyos, or are spectacular entertainers and business managers.

Very few of us have what it takes to be John Higby.

For the rest, the yo-yo is a fun hobby that gives you a skill and social group to relate to.

But fear not!  While you probably aren’t going to make a living yo-yoing, you can make enough money to get that new yoyo you wanted, or help pay your way to nationals, or worlds, or that trip to Vancouver to meet me.  Because I know that’s everyone’s dream.  Here are a few ways to scare up some pocket change:
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The folks at Terra Kendama made a wood yoyo??

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I spotted this on /r/throwers on the reddits. Apparently the guys over at Terra Kendama tried out making an unresponsive wooden yoyo with what looks like a large bearing and .555 pads. Groovy.

Terra Wood Yoyo

In case you haven’t caught the kendama bug yet, Terra Kendama is the company behind the Pill, and easily the best kendamas I’ve played so far. Opinions on kendamas vary wildly, and my experience with them is admittedly limited, but I seriously doubt anyone would argue with their woodworking abilities on a purely objective level. Terra Kendama has said nothing past simply posting the picture with the most simple of titles “Handmade Unresponsive Wooden Yoyo”, so who knows if they were just playing around or if they plan on making the leap to having a few yoyos.

I can only speak for me, but if they do make some, they’re probably going to be really good. What do you guys think?

So You Want to Start a Yo-yo Club…

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Doc’s Note:  I am happy to introduce Jeremy “Mr. Yoyothrower” Meugens from www.MrYoYoThrower.com. Jeremy is a great writer and a long time yo-yoer dedicated to his local Vancouver skill toy community, a school teacher, and an all around good guy.  Today we try out a new column called “So You Want To….”  which will… well I think you get it.  Enjoy!

– Doc

Ack!  How I start a yoyo club???

There are 3 things you need.  Time, time, and…time!

Yo-yoers are much like cats.  It’s easy to catch their attention, not so much to get them to keep coming back.  To have a successful club, you need a location, and someone to be there, at a specific time, on a regular and consistent basis.  If you love to yoyo, and want to find some yo-yoer friends, then this needs to be you!  Once you have that, finding (or creating) yo-yoers, and building a community of them becomes simple.

Location can be tricky.  I’m going to use the Vancouver club as an example, as it is what I have experience with it.  When I joined the club there were three or four guys that met once a month or so in a local mall.  I joined up, and in the exuberance of learning a new skill started pushing for weekly meets.  This caused a problem: mall security didn’t agree with our agenda.  Luckily I found a kind-hearted mall cop who suggested I go talk to mall management and see if I could work out a deal.  I did, and, we did!  We had achieved a steady time and position, which made it possible to tell anyone we spotted with a yoyo  to “come to the club, we meet every Saturday”.  Every Saturday for 2 years I appeared at said time in said location to maintain our presence and be there for the club. It may sound like a lot of responsibility, but really it was a blast.

If your local mall doesn’t have agreeable management, or it’s the case that you don’t really dig on throwing your-yo in a mall, take a look around your community.  If your mind is drawing a blank, here are just a few starter ideas:

-A member’s house,

-Sometimes elementary schools will let you use their gym (say hello to increased membership by welcoming the students)

-Community rec centers (again, offer demos or lessons)

-Undercover parking garages

-The empty bandstand in the park

-Local toy stores  (offer a weekly demo for customers)

-The covered area near the local skate park (skaters and yo-yoers are a good crossover, but you may run into issues with language if you draw younger kids)

As you can tell, for a hobby like yo-yoing there are more than a few potential locations, something I need to keep in mind as currently the Vancouver club is between venues. Our amicably managed mall is under construction.  In the meanwhile we are meeting in a park, but I’m hunting for a new location which will be more suitable when summer is over and rain season begins anew.

A final note on location, some venues have liability concerns; offer to sign a waiver.  If they don’t have one, message me, I’ll forward you the one we use.

Location and time accomplished? Excellent, next spread the word.

Facebook, forums and poster in public libraries inviting people to join are a great places to start.  By hunting around dollar stores, you will find at one that carries yo-yos that beginners can cut their teeth on which aren’t complete garbage.  Buy twenty, and then go hang out in a park and invite people to come try.  At this point you can give your dollar store yo-yos away, sell them (if the city by-laws allow it), or tell people where to buy them.

It’s the twenty first century and your new friends probably have access to the internet, so if you find yourself with some keeners, print off cards with links to  information about your club and a site to learn beginner tricks (www.mryoyothrower.com, hint hint).  If you want to be fancy, there are plenty of online sites that will print you business cards for free (plus cost of shipping), or just print on regular paper, cut them out, and glue them to construction paper.

A few things that the Vancouver Club has done to build its yo-yo community are:

Attending local Farmer’s Markets: If you talk to the management and offer to come entertain for free, the are usually happy to let you. I have never left a market with less than ten people who are over the top excited about the prospect of learning to yoyo.  Often the markets will offer to pay you, or let you sell your beginner yoyos.

Starting them young: If you have free time during the week, start talking to Elementary Schools and offer to come in and do a demo, or run a lunch time club.  This worked beautifully for the Vancouver Club.

Go where there are already communities, make them your own: Offer to do a demo at local community centres, cultural centres, after school care centres, churches, and just about anywhere else that people come together. Most of these types of places are desperate for events, I’ve even received the occasional bit of money as a thank you for doing this.

The best ‘trick’ of all: Carry a beginner yoyo with you everywhere and let people try it out, isn’t that how you started?

It can be hugely rewarding to build up a yoyo club.  Having somewhere to go on a weekly basis where you are surrounded by people smiling, having fun and being positive is a wonderful thing.  Its a good feeling to think you helped create this community of hobbyists.   It’s also a fair bit of work, but then most things worth doing are.

 

-Mr. Yoyothrower

Obligatory World Yo-Yo Contest post – LIVE STREAM + TWEETS #WYYC

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#WYYC or #WYYC2013

IT’S WORLDS WEEK!
Since 2009 YoYoSkills.com has covered the World Yo-Yo Contest.  This weekend will be no different.  The World Yo-Yo Contest begins August 8th and goes through Saturday August 10th.  YoYoers from all over the world will be in attendance and yo-yo companies will be showing off new products. I wish I was there, and one day perhaps I will be.
Hit the jump below, this post will stay on top of the blog until Saturday Night
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Introducing: Bareknuckle YoYos and the 50 Cal

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Bareknuckle YoYos is a new yoyo startup from Matthew Marie that is coming to the World Yo-Yo Contest! Their first yo-yo is the 50 Cal which you can see in action above. The images on the Facebook page of the yo-yo will be a bit different than what is below, but I DO have the final specs.


Height: 60.96 mm
Width: 38.1 mm
Weight: 70 Grams

Looking good! Matthew will have a few at Worlds, and he is pre-selling them on the Bareknuckle facebook page.

Mr. J Review: CLYW Puffin

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I’m back with a long overdue review. It’s been a long time since I have reviewed a yoyo, modded or other wise. So it feels good to get back into the swing of things. Today I’m reviewing the new CLYW Puffin. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this yoyo but no real review. Well, today I give you a real review of the Puffin.
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One Drop Chik

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One Drop Yo-Yos has officially announced their newest yo-yo, the Chik!

Source: One Drop’s Facebook page

We are proud to announce the signature yoyo of Igor Korzhev: the Chik!

When we asked Igor what he wanted for his signature yoyo, he gave us
the following criteria:

*Similar to the Burnside
*Add Side Effects and ship with spikes
*Make it lighter
*Add some Projection Profile grooves
*Competition ready

This is now our largest diameter Side Effect yoyo. The Projection
Profile was placed in the middle facet of the catch zone – just in the
correct spot for finger grinds. The play is stable and smooth.

Specs:
Base Weight (two halves, response pad, bearing): 62.8 grams
Weight with aluminum Spike Side Effects: 66 grams
Width: 41.7mm
Diameter: 56.8mm

Releasing soon.

Casa De Allen x YYSxYYF (Allen, Benharris, Severance, Owens III)

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YoYoFactory legends Tyler Severance and Harold Owens the III came over for dinner last Friday during their post BAC Roseville tour. With Dylan living here now, we thought it would fun to do a three camera video. Hope you enjoy. (and yes, I know that old man Allen is seriously out trick classed here… haha)

The song BTW is a killer mashup on the Bootleggers Soundcloud channel.

Flo Rida vs fun. vs Ellie Goulding vs Red Hot Chili Peppers

Friday Night PRE-BAC Pizza Party!

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Want a chance to win a One Drop Dang or Anti-Yo Bapezilla for only $10?  Check it out.

 

Friday Night PRE-BAC Pizza Party!

 

Pre-BAC Pizza Party from 5:00 – 7:00 PM!

A Secret Unreleased YoYo ($20 Value) for only $10! 1 in 10 bags will be secretly filled with yoyo’s from our sponsors like the One Drop Dang, Anti-Yo Bapezilla and many more!

Join us at Pizza Inferno!
1800 Fillmore St San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 775-1800

You will FOR SURE get a new yo-yo with a retail value at $20, but also a very good shot (1 in 20) of a much more expensive yo-yo, all for only $10.  Oh, and pizza also….   free pizza….  and knowing JD, Hi Chew also. If I were able to make it, I would be all over this.

via Friday Night PRE-BAC Pizza Party! | Bay Area Classic YoYo Contest.

THROW! – Coming to YoYoExpert at 2012 NATS

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The goal is simple. Get to 100 points before your opponent does. Before you start collecting trick points, you need to play a Throw card. You collect points by finalizing your trick. You can finalize after one point card, or many. It all depends on what you are willing to risk!
Game Details –
– 70 Cards – Two players for each deck
– Game designed by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen
– Illustration by Jason Week
– $25
– Available at YoYoExpert after the 2012 National Yo-Yo Contest
– First Release at the National Yo-Yo Contest on October 6th at the YoYoExpert table!

ThrowYoYoCardGame.com

Music –
Penny Arcade
by Mr. Bear

Throw – The YoYo Themed Card Game

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For the last year year and a half (since March 2011) or so I have been developing the game “Throw”.  This is a self contained card game (think Munchkin) for 2-4 players.  Jason Week has been commissioned to do the art on the card faces and they look great! This was my sample print and it turned out so well I decided to announce the game a bit earlier than I intended to.  The logo on the back is temporary, and once the logo is complete the Beta run will be ordered.  Beta test sets are being sent out to a few key people (Not accepting testers at this time), and once testing is complete, Throw will be available for retail purchase.

 

Very very excited!

Demo video of the game in action will come in the next few weeks.