Now, I’m by no means claiming that the Yo-yo was solely a toy of the 1980s. Indeed, in it’s current form as a toy it dates back until at least the 1920s, and records date it back to being a hunters weapon in the Phillipines during the 16th century, and there are even examples of Yo-yo like objects being used in ancient Greece, dating back to 500BC!
However, there was a sudden fad for the Yo-yo when I was at secondary school, which is why I’m writing about them. A friend of mine brought his into school one day and started doing a few very simple tricks with it. Up to that point I had of course played with a Yo-yo before, but all I ever did with it was make it go up and down the string, which got a bit boring after a while.
My friend kept throwing his Yo-yo out in front of him and looping the loop with it, and at that point I was hooked. At the first opportunity I went Yo-yo hunting, and I ended up with a cheap metal Yo-yo that was blue with a picture of a panda on it, but it was all I could find, so it would have to do. I started practising and before long was copying my friend’s tricks of throwing the Yo-yo out horizontally, or performing loops.
I triumphantly demonstrated my new skills to my mate, who then went on to show me his new trick. He called it “the spinner” but I later learned the accepted term for it is a sleeper. With a sharp flick of his wrist he sent the Yo-yo to the bottom of the string, where it stayed, spinning round and round like mad, instead of rolling back up the string. He then slapped the back of his Yo-yo holding hand, and it climbed back up the string into his hand.
I was amazed at this, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get my Yo-yo to do it, so I asked my friend for help. He showed me his Yo-yo, which was made by world leading Yo-yo manufacturers Duncan. He explained how instead of the string being tied to the central axle the string was actually twisted together so that the end of it was a loop into which the axle was placed. This allowed the Yo-yo to spin on the string instead of immediately return back up it.
So, off to the shops I went again, and this time managed to find myself a much better Yo-yo, and also a book explaining how to do various tricks including the infamous Walking the Dog, where you allow the Yo-yo to touch and roll along the floor before returning to your hand. I practised and practised, and whilst I managed to (sort of) walk the dog it wasn’t long before the fad at school ended and I started to lose interest.
The reason this particular memory from my childhood came into my head was that I stumbled across a new Yo-yo made by Duncan the other day. The reason it caught my eye was the price tag. I might consider spending five pounds on a Yo-yo, perhaps even ten, but this baby costs a cool Â£300! The Duncan Freehand Mg is a precision piece of kit, with the body made from 99% magnesium and the central ball bearing axle being made of ceramic and surgical grade stainless steel.
Personally I could never justify that kind of expense, but apparently Yo-yo connoisseurs are loving it, stating it as being the most perfect Yo-yo ever made. I should think so too for that price! If you’ve got a spare few hundred quid kicking around that you don’t know what to do with, you can get one from Play.com!