Monday, December 22, 2008

yo-yo #18: b-grade g5+

yoyofactory is unbelievable. unbelievable.

the first yoyofactory yo-yo i played was the original grind machine (the 2nd, seasick green run). while i felt the yo-yo was something of a misnomer, being that it was not a spectacular grinder, i was amazed by its consistency. i remember disliking the plastic inserts and caps (the same as a fast 201), but once i ditched them (and the adjustable gap), that yo-yo was effectively a metal freehand.

i'm not sure of the exact moment in time when yoyofactory exploded, inundating the yo-yo scene with hype and metal. the 401k was a great seller, but was readily available for a long time. at some point after the release of the g5 though, yoyofactory became synonymous not only with consistency, but also yo-yo fashion. they didn't just set the standard. they became it, and by 2007, had fully dominated the 1a market.

i first tried a g5+ at the "golden ticket" extravaganza at worlds '07. the exclusive celebration itself was not as huge a deal as many had assumed it would be, but some cool products were unveiled, and this yo-yo became available for the 1st time immediately afterwards. at the time, it came in a dull gray and a brilliant orange. i think the orange sold out in a matter of hours, whereas the gray could be bought on yoyonation for weeks thereafter. augie fash used one of the oranges to throw a memorable (and planned) aerial into the chandelier during an onstage freestyle. boyd seth somehow got it down that night and claimed it for his own. i think he gave it back at some point.

at the east coast classic the following year, yoyofactory began selling its "b-grade" yo-yo's. these were essentially flawed rejects that didn't meet the company's high standards. the first of these were red 888's with blotchy ano and limited engraving. they sold for $60, which incited a substantial frenzy to get them. since their flaws were primarily cosmetic, they were incredibly solid players, and yoyofactory correctly recognized that they could still make the masses salivate at a lower price point.

at iyyo this year in nyc, i bought this b-grade g5+ from samm scott. samm and i have been friends for a few years. though he lives in virginia, he was one of the first guys to come hang out at the park when the north carolina easily amused chapter was just getting together. he's a pretty amazing technical yo-yo player, skilled in all the major styles but 2a. we were rooming together with brandon jackson, adam brewster, and mike salcito (another nc crew guy) at this place called "the pod hotel". it was aptly named, as the floorplans were so unbelievably cramped that we felt literally compressed into each other like seeds desperately awaiting dispersal. there was only slightly more room than their had been in my element during the drive up.

after day 1, samm and i were back at the room, and he had acquired a pair of b-grade g5+'s. i'm not sure if he had bought them for the $55 they were going for at the table, or if ben had just given them to him outright. (ben is ridiculously generous, and once sent me a pair of top-tip g5's he had scratched a bit while stacking them.) anyway, samm just couldn't get into them, and was quickly running down to his last hundred (which in nyc will buy you a sandwich and styrofoam cup for your tap water). he said "give me $40 and it's yours," and i said sure.

the yo-yo is matte black. the ano has some quirks in places where it's not super-dark; almost brown. the only engravings are the yyf b-grade logos on both rims. the finish is beadblasted and much better for grinding than the original grind machine. i'm always amazed that yoyofactory's "rejects" consistently outplay almost every other company's top-of-the line models, and yet they get barked at on forums for everything from customer service to not releasing certain colorways.

anyway, it was a crazy-good player... but like samm, i just never really got into it. i tried to trade it away a few times with no great prospects. i figured it didn't cost me much, and it's a good yo-yo that reminds me of that trip to new york. why not keep it?

then a few weeks ago, i noticed that yoyonation had started selling little rubber "nubs" to protect the yyf axle towers if you want to ditch the hubstacks (wow, i bet non-yoyoers will really enjoy that sentence). i bought a few pairs of the white ones and, just for kicks, took off the g5+'s stacks and put on the nubs.

holy shit.

i love this yo-yo now. i have nothing against hubstacks; they're fun and enable some weird tricks. but hadn't really occured to me that i might prefer a yoyofactory yo-yo without them. something about this particular yo-yo just kind of puts me off with hubstacks, but when they're removed i absolutely adore it. aesthetically, i think it looks great; a tiny white dot surrounded by a big, black mass. if you've got an 888 or g5 that you've never really connected with, i heartily recommend this rather obvious change. for better or worse, it completely changes the way the yo-yo feels, looks, and behaves. it's uncanny that a $2.00 upgrade (or downgrade, i guess) was able to bring a stagnating piece of my collection back to life.

thanks, samm. ;)

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