Thursday, September 10, 2009
yo-yo # 60: the red v
since i'm just getting to know this yo-yo, i'm not going to waste a ton of words with amusing anecdotes or pithy philosophical musings. in time, i'm confident that i'll have to redress this post (maybe several times), as i'll have this yo-yo in my pocket for awhile. as such, though there are two of them, i'm only going to discuss one of them. ;)
actually, there are 2.5 red sparkle powdercoated flying v's on the planet. steve buffel, the proprietor of saturn precision yo-yo's, is as you should know, a gentleman and a scholar. at the inception of the flying v, as steve was asking about my preferences, we briefly discussed the possibility of a powder coated finish. since the heyday of the diss kings, i've always loved the look and feeling of powder coat, and the lure of it on a yo-yo i was helping to design was irresistible. however, it was not to be.
steve, who has forgotten more about making smooth yo-yo's than i (or most yo-yoers) will ever know, and who has experience with multiple methods of coating yo-yo's, brought up two major reservations with using the finish in a production run: inconsistency and demand. compared with an anodized finish, powder coating is incredibly inconsistent. anodizing a yo-yo actually produces a physical bond between the finish and the aluminum. it can be chipped off, but it's incredibly durable (having tried to beat up a number of them, i've found spyy's ano to be especially tough). powder coating a yo-yo, by contrast, bakes a flowable "crust" onto the surface of the yo-yo. it's beautiful, and also durable, but compared with ano, less precise. tiny variations in the surface are possible, and since yo-yo's are spinning instruments, these variations become amplified, and can quickly reduce a precision toy to a shuddering mess. they CAN be essentially perfect (as are the coatings on both of my diss kings masterpieces, as well as my white addict)... but they won't all be.
the other issue with using powder coat is the simple fact that the market doesn't seem to dig it en masse. it looks cool, and people want to try it, but functionally, it doesn't have a lot of advantage over ano. yo-yoers, it must be said, like to make positive and negative distinctions between yo-yo's; sometimes arbitrarily and sometimes legitimately. a powder coated finish would look beautiful, but it's glossy, tacky texture makes it awful for extended grinds (unless satin finished, which is possible but disturbs the coating's signature aesthetic). we were already discussing a yo-yo that was thin, that featured a small gap (although we also enabled a large one), and that had shiny rims. it needed to have some features that people would actually WANT. silicone response, a large diameter bearing, and a bead-blasted/anodized finish seemed important if we were going to try to share the v with the world. it's been pretty well-received, but i think if they had all been powder coated, people would have either complained or just stayed away, neither of which were desirable.
still, it's what i wanted, and what i originally said was important to me. although he had no need to do so, and nothing to be gained by it, steve set about preparing his last three raw flying v's for me along the lines i had originally requested. he had the pieces powdercoated in a brilliant, deep red sparkle. the color is deeper than the mg i described below, and its sparkle is more subtle. he then remachined the bearing seat to prevent variation and make the spin as true as possible. the yo-yo's were laser engraved with tressley cahill's original graphic, and steve added my own signature to the rim. we didn't consider putting my name on the production v's, and i'm glad of it. that's partly because no one would buy a yo-yo because it had my name on it, but moreover, the v was meant to be a yo-yo that's shared with other yo-yoers. when they play it, i don't want them to think of me at all. i want them to play the way they play, and use the yo-yo as if it's their own "signature model", which... if you're playing it... it is. sure it's what i like, but when you play it, it's what you like and how you play that counts. you're the one making art with it. i like that the red v's have my name on them, not because i'm an egomaniac, but because it's clear that these are distinctly mine, and just what i wanted. unfortunately, one of the 6 halves met its fate in laser engraving, and was rendered unusable. steve sent me the yo-yo's straight away (including the extra "ok" half - hence the "2.5"), but not before he pimped them out further, adding the presentation box and accoutrements of the special edition pure's, including "certificates of authenticity" for both yo-yo's (2/2 - lol). he could have sent them to me in a ziplock bag, but i've come to realize that over-the-top generosity is just the way steve seems to roll.
somewhat predictably, the yo-yo's play better than any powder coated yo-yo i've ever touched. devoid of vibration, and gleaming like a pair of fire trucks, they redefine a phrase i use often for yo-yo's i dig on: "a joy to play". the coating adds a bit of heft (maybe a gram or two), and though it is glossy, i don't do a lot of long grinds anyway. in fact, i like that when i set one spinning on my arm, it rockets across the length of it before launching from my shoulder. also, since the coating is thicker than ano, the recessed response is shallower. a single k-pad (my preferred sticker) sits just about flush, and enables tighter binds. i vastly prefer this for when i play unresponsive. i haven't decided whether i prefer this version or the production for stalls, regens, and other small gap "tug stuff". i need a low-friction surface for the john gates trick, "measuring tape", which is certainly among my top 5 favorite tricks. i'll need time to see how i use these yo-yo's.
people have already warned me against playing them "too hard", but they must not know me at all. what kind of hypocrite would i be if i were to stand on my blog-soapbox all day preaching that yo-yoer's should "allow their playthings to experience the world" while i stroke mine on their little leather pillows and "let no dust alight"? nah. these yo-yo's are for playing. all yo-yo's are for playing. i won't bang them up prematurely, but they're going to get dinged and scratched and scuffed, rest assured. and as they do, they'll be even more beautiful than they were on the day i got them in the mail. and if that doesn't make sense to you, then we don't look at yo-yoing (or life, maybe) in the same way. we don't have to.
it's not that i believe that "nothing is sacred"; more that "everything is". and it's not that i believe that "nothing should be preserved", but rather that "beyond this moment, nothing ever can be". not only is there no use to our human tendency to grope at shiny cars or heirlooms or faces or yo-yo's, desperate to keep them ever the same... to my mind, that tendency (and the fear that drives it) betrays the most egregious of our delusions.
wait... you don't count those as "pithy philosophical musings", right?
thank you, steve.