Monday, March 2, 2009
yo-yo #'s 29 & 30: s.o.s. f.a.s.t. 201's
so these will be quick (which is appropriate).
i love yyf f.a.s.t. 201's. since the 1st one i bought on clearance at a target circa 2005 (for $1.88!), i've found them to be totally surprising in their near-unlimited potential. stock, they represent (imo), the most perfectly conceived/executed "absolute beginner yo-yo", and with a 5-minute mod, i don't know any tricks that they can't perform with ease and grace. nice shape, nice weight, totally take-apart, and the old stock can still be found for under $5 at some stores.
for years, i taught school kids how to yo-yo. in planning which yo-yo's to distribute and use, i amassed something of an "arsenal" of beginner throws, allowing kids plenty of options while starting out. aside from 201's, my school case contained big bens, lyn furys, freehand 2's, mosquitos, raiders, and eventually the yyf precedents. as the kids and became more invested in the class, a daily race to be the first in the class (and so have first pick of the yo-yo's) developed. inevitably, all of the 201's went first, and since the class only had four, the fifth person in line was inevitably the most disappointed. it was funny to me, but it kind of made sense. the 201's didn't sleep as well as their big-bearing yyj peers, but their response was much more consistent, and when you're just starting, an unresponsive yo-yo can be downright frustrating. they weren't as smooth as the duncans, with their machine-gun-loud "active response", but they didn't snag randomly either, as newbies frequently experience with aggressive stickers. the 201's offered the steepest learning curve, and were justifiably sought after.
i liked them too. playing them stock is a great exercise for improving smoothness, and although they're noisy, they have unexpectedly impressive potential, even unmodded. that said, i do prefer to perform a ridiculously short mod on the ones i play regularly. these two 201's feature a super-quick mod i use to take a stock 201 into the realm that an experienced played will appreciate. if you're actually good at yo-yo, i'm sorry... but you SHOULD be able to rock the hell out of a totally stock, out of the package 201. (just throwing that out there.) but i do find that this mod makes them eaven more fun.
the red one appears stock, but i've actually integrated another of yoyofactory's recent innovations, which works just as well on a 201 for 1a as it does on the popular loop 720's. essentially, all i've done is popped the caps, removed all of plastic the "active-response" nubs (they twist off with a light pinch). through the eight holes that accommodate said nubs, i've woven some poly string through, resulting in a raised "string-on-string" response area. since i've never been a fan of the unwieldy 201 bearing/spacer setup (or of adjustable gap), i replace it with the standard duncan mosquito/bumblebee guts, which fits perfectly and creates a nice gap. put it all back together with a poly string, and you;re good to go. total mod time here: 04:37
pretty much the same deal on the black one, only here i used a dremel to do a super-rushed "ghetto-recess" (literally carving the recess out). this is not the ideal way to do a recess, but with string-on-string, there's really no need to do it super clean, and i was kind of going for speed. i did spin the yo-yo on the dremel for a sec though, just to apply a light 440 satin. the same cap-popping, response-removal applied, and i repeated the string-on-string bit in the newly recessed area. easy. i actually had some minutes left on the stopwatch, so i cut out a pair of playing card inserts and replaced the stock pogs (which do have their own appeal, i guess). could a more elegant mod be done to a 201? of course! they're probably the most easily modified yo-yo on the market. but my total time with this one is nothing to sneeze at: 08:48
obviously, a sticker-mod would speed things up even more, since it does take a minute or so to thread in the string, but i've actually come to prefer the way s.o.s. plays. both of these mods handled rancid milk and pure 143 on the first 2 throws. (i'll grant you i had to relearn the former in order to test them.)
these are great yo-yo's, and a lot of times people seem to look at them as though they're somehow below-standard, either due to their modest price-point or their beginner-friendly stock setup. the fact is that they can be taken from novice-friendly to the stratosphere in virtually no time at all (much less work than it would take to silicone a zero, for example). i feel that they remain among the best things that yyf has done, especially given their wide availability. i'd LOVE to see them back in toy stores again. maybe they'd need to be redressed a bit to gain more popularit in the community. how cool would it be if yyf asked its contest team to collaborate in a series of "customized" 201 mods? who wouldn't buy a 201 set up to miggy's specs? or yuuki's? or augie's? they'd sell like baseball cards.
anyway, great little plastic yo-yo. too often overlooked.