London Calling...

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Greetings from England!
This week we are in London for the UK Toy Fair.
Gentry and Ann are meeting up with with us to witness the legendary YoHans attempt to Break a Guinness World Record.
To celebrate Yoyofactory.com is going to have some great deals on Ann and Gentys yoyos.
Shutter 34.99
Shutter Wide 49.99
Replay Pro 10.99
Ann Czech Pivot 44.99
Ann Replay Pro 10.99
Ann Shutter 34.99
Play the Rainbow!

Play the Rainbow!

Remember these deals will only be available for one week!
From 1/22/17 to 1/29/17
ALSO if you are in the UK look for some specials at YoYofactory.co.uk

2017 in review

2017


The year 2017 started with optimism for big things. LOTS of new product hit early on.


PAOLISTA dropped first, Jan 14


Akira joint our team in Japan after unofficially repping the brand for a while .


SPACE CROWN ULTRA dropped our first ULTRA yoyo (and is still amazing if you haven’t tried it).


By January we were already in ICELAND doing prep work for WYYC. In our pockets… new basecamp yoyos


Early Feb saw HEIST drop. We have made yoyos in the usa every year since our launch and with Heist we upheld the tradition. with this fun steel throw.


Replay Pro, Flight, Edge, Horizon and Shutter all started the year not as new yoyos but as popular yoyos and by the end of the year they still held that position. Its great to have new waves of players discovering our yoyos year in year out.



Feb 25 Saw PNWR as the BASECAMP/Navigator launch and the launch of a new contest year at PNWR. The season would run until ICELAND and Nate dailey took the first win of the season for YoYoFactory.


Bratislava was the next big destination with Evan Nagao and Gentry Stein heading to Europe to hook up with our European squad for EYYC.  Paolo, Tony, Robert, Vashek, Ann, Michael, Konstantin, Kasper, Carolina, Matous…. we rolled deep.


After EYYC Gentry took a detour to Germany to look for a bridge…. yup.


Next up, we went in on a new concept with YoYoExpert and the buyers club /mystery box concept and the introduction of PIVOT. we had first done dimple capped metal in the BASECAMP Sherpa and PIVOT as a concept was the next step. Before Czechpoint Pivot came out we needed to drop HORIZON ULTRA, another great yoyo we will continue to release in 2018.


About this time we took loop2020 public, showing our concept for the future. We still aren’t finished with development but you can follow along or be part of the process at https://www.facebook.com/groups/235808530184435/


By this stage FIDGET SPINNERS started to mess with our year. Retailers started giving up shelf space to them, high end collectors had a new hobby….  We knew it would pass but man….


Come April it starts getting hot in Arizona so it was surprising for Evan to come visit but we worked on some designs that later now are WEDGE and some others still lined up for the future. We tagged along to Mexico nationals, great city and scene. Good to see Paul, Luis, Betty, Emiliano and the crew. also excited to see them again in a few months in ICELAND.


Next to launch was FLIGHT PRO. The ETHOS came next through YoYoTricks and in our hands was a prototype yoyo for Nate Dailey that wasn’t quite right meaning it would be later this year.


May we had an adventure. Vashek and Gentry jumped in in Arizona and we took the long way to BAC. Originally we were going to climb a mountain but heavy snow fall had us swimming in creeks, hiking travelled and less travelled canyons and criss crossing Utah, Nevada and California.


Gentry kept on being a rock star throughout the year. He took trips to Paris, Canada and Hawaii, performed on a music video with the recording artist Baby Raptors and stepped his yoyo presence working with the Shutter Crew.


Betty got her first player edition launch with an Edge as did Konstantin. In Europe Paolo was  putting contest results on the board and Robert and Matous were touring with SLUSNY.


A last minute planning trip to Iceland in early July while Polo repped YYF at AP. Shu flew the flag at CYCC and soon we tarted seeing pictures of people arriving in ICELAND.  The Mexicans borrowed a tent and disappeared for a week….


As a small company when one of your few employees volunteers to basically take a full time hobby of organizing a contest it becomes a big part of your year. As a sponsor YoYoFactory contributed 2 years before the event to see a big chunk of the yoyo world make its way to such a remote place was amazing. The contest was amazing. Iceland turned it on. Rain, Sun, Rain and Snow all within the hour ;)


YoYoFactory team SHOWED UP. The Shutter Crew starred through the prelim days Chandler Steel was unstoppable coming from wildcard to Finals. It was a party. When the contest was over we didn’t want to leave. It felt like the russians were there weeks later, oh wait they still were ;)


There were 3 main projects still not finished. A Evans plastic dragon, that we had been chasing for 4 months now through 3 rounds of prototypes, a project we still aren’t talking about and NATES new yoyo. In September Nate met ND Ultra…. and the world was introduced to shutter WIDE ANGLE. Gentry had been throwing wide Angle since JUNE. No-one noticed, or mentioned it to him despite the obvious size differences.  ND Ultra was in stores by September.


The curse of the spinners was also well and truely over. We needed to work hard and catch up!


New colors of WHIP including an Ann edition signaled the start of 3 new Ann Collection releases. Legend wing started coming in lacquer finishes for those who like their wood a little less natural.


Then it was USA Nationals. We scooped John ANdo and Kevin Nicholas on our way to Chico. Its always good be back in Chico and see the players turn up. We hit a mini adventure before the contest with John and then straight into the competition. THICK AND FAST. It was Shutter Crew again starred early but then the seeds came in and it was BOOM BOOM BOOM. when the dust settled Nate snapped a string, Gentry held a bit too much back and Evan was grinning. There was a new champ! In 3A Alex Hattori calmed his 1st National title for Yoyofactory and will compete next year to become the most successful player of ALL TIME at the USA national contest.


ND Ultra also dropped. It’s super good!


The European Contest season was next! YYF players won almost everything in the open divisons.


There has only been brief mentions of doing things in Asia but there was stuff happening and still time to do more. YoYofactory in Japan had been conduction a national promotional tour all year and Shu would be joined by Gentry to do the final events in tokyo. Before then Shu and Gentry would meet up to do Shanghai Toy Fair and get to know the city in anticipation of Worlds 2018. After Tokyo Wewould all meet up in Korea, a place we had never really visited and somewhere we had long wanted to see!


The event in Korea was massive. It was such an honor to be a part of it. We need to come back!


In Japan Shu continued to feature in media and finally the loop720 has gone ben him a successful selling signature yoyo in the market. Things are looking good for 2018 with new concepts and looping promotions.


Towards the end of the year we got involved with the Toy Movement in South Africa who conducted special event on December 1 st , 2017 to coincide with World Aids Day at the Woman’s Goal on Constitutional Hill. We supplied a demonstrator and product for the kids in an awesome day of fun! (Thanks Corli!)


By December we start looking to 2018... but need to finish the year off strong. Wedge, killer. Snowflake Collection, perfect. Horizon Ultra, Drool.


So what’s next?

Interesting year coming up.


No EYYC USA Nationals or Worlds date or venues named.


Product wise things are a bit more exciting.


Something new in plastic.


720 rollout / loop program/ 2020


Alex Hattori has something pretty special to share


A Horizon Team member is getting a signature yoyo (not edition).


Plus a bunch of just as exciting things we aren’t ready to share just yet :-)



Performance of the year: SHU TAKADA


Most improved Competitor: Chandler Steele


Best on Screen: Polo Garbkamol


Who to watch in 2018: Gentry Stein



Contest highlights:

World Champion: Shu Takada (2a)

Malaysian champion: 1A Julian Chee Yie Jian

Brazilian Champion: Daniel Borges

Mexico Champion:

USA Champion: Evan Nagao (1A)

Alex Hattori (3A)

Czech Champion: Michael Malik (1a 2x)

Karolina Zahrubska (womens)

Italian Champion: Loris Rosa

Illinois, Ohio, MER Champion: Chandler Steele

PNWR Champion: Nate Dailey

Mexico Winter Contest Champion Betty Gallegos

Winter 17/18

It might be cold out but this season is FIRE.

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So many options its hard to choose somewhere to begin!

How about HUBSTACK AFTERGLOW. The best light yoyo in the world. Turn play on its side with the Patented TRIPLE BEARING HUBSTACK design.

Then there is something never done in WOOD. Our LEGEND WING design has a unique textured rubber finish. Unique feelings and great classic play.

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Then we gave some of our favorites a NEW holiday look.

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FLIGHT, REPLAY PRO and LOOP 720 in a CLEAR WHITE marble snow swirl.

The 720 is SHU TAKADA specification with the RED responsive looping spacers (which do not require lubricant) plus the new BLUE spacer for those looking for a freestyle setup.

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Then there is the Gentry Stein SHUTTER Wide Angle. A clear winner in a white on white look.

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Last but not least we have something from nowhere near snow. Hawaiian born and breed Evan Nagao is never out of place, so we are dropping a brand new model, the WEDGE in the collection.

 

Machined from Delrin with a solid Aluminum hub this yoyo encapsulates Evans play style and penchant for massive tricks. Give it a big throw.

We would also LOVE some help photographing this collection.

If you can get any shots of these yoyos in the Winter Wonderland they should exist in share them with the hashtag #yoyofactorywinter and we will choose some winners before spring to receive a generous selection from our catalog :)

NATE DAILEY / ND ULTRA

We got the briefest of shoots with Nate Dailey to show off his new signature yoyo the ND Ultra. Nate is ultra consistent as a player and doesn't miss a trick which makes him a joy to shoot. We hope to get some time with him soon to lay down a full video. 

YoYoFactory Adventure, where not a single yoyo was thrown

How can it be? How can it be a YoYo.... anything Adventure if a yoyo isn't thrown? Well, sometimes it isn't the time, or the place. On this adventure we visited THAT place, at THAT time.

Gentry Stein stands on the steps of Freedom House. Panmungak North Korea behind him

Gentry Stein stands on the steps of Freedom House. Panmungak North Korea behind him

Today, Nov 13 2017, news broke of a North Korean soldier was shot by his former comrades while defecting to South Korea 

The soldier is reported to have left the North Korean guard post in front of Panmungak, on the border inside Joint Security Area (JSA) on the heavily-guarded border between the two countries  and proceeded to move towards Freedom House on the South Korean side.

This is where our adventure took place.... less than 10 days ago.

The freedom railway connects the north to the south. It is one of many symbols of the wish for a relationship between the North and the South.

The freedom railway connects the north to the south. It is one of many symbols of the wish for a relationship between the North and the South.

North Korea is now off limits to US citizens. Visitors from other nations can access it via China and we know a number of people who have visited in the last 2 years. None of them recommended going. Since the capture and ultimate death US tourist Otto Warmbier its something we wouldn't consider doing.... but there is another way to visit.

Its safe they say. Organized tours leave Seoul daily shuttling camera toting tourists to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). This area is 6km back from where the battle line was when a ceasefire on the Korean Peninsula was called in 1953. Roughly following the 38th parallel, the  DMZ stretches almost 150-mile-long.

Located within the territory is the “truce village” of P’anmunjom here North Korean and American soldiers stand face to face.  This is part of the Joint Security Area (JSA) which is used by the two Koreas for diplomatic engagements and, until March 1991, was also the site of military negotiations between North Korea and the United Nations Command (UNC). Now its is used for posturing. Loud speakers blare propaganda, both directions. 

While the military stands face to face, guns ready. So do tourists. From the South and North.

They stand alert. The blind on the building will offer some weather protection for the armed and alert solider on the southern side. Standing on the stairs opposite is his Northern equivalent.

They stand alert. The blind on the building will offer some weather protection for the armed and alert solider on the southern side. Standing on the stairs opposite is his Northern equivalent.

Its a bizarre scenario. The North Koreans don't get the opportunity to come down to the actual border, instead watching from a building (with a door locked from the outside) preventing anyone  from defecting. From the south visitors get to enter the negotiation halls and literally step into North Korea, albeit briefly.

As with all travel, the understanding gained from an experience IS the reason why. Here we balanced the risk of visiting the front line of a technical war zone with the opportunity to share the feelings on the ground. While we felt safe every moment we knew events like this shooting do occur and that this was NOT the place to start busting out yoyo tricks.

For a brief moment, this yoyo existed in both the south and the north. It sits atop the conference table which one day may be used to negotiate a permanent resolution to the conflict on the Korean peninsula.

For a brief moment, this yoyo existed in both the south and the north. It sits atop the conference table which one day may be used to negotiate a permanent resolution to the conflict on the Korean peninsula.

While the American media portraits an imminent conflict, in South Korea life goes on. The have lived in the spectre of conflict since the ceasefire in 1953 and its no use hiding. It is not part of daily conversation or news cycle. North Korea has never changed its tactics. Brinksmanship or the 'chicken game' is a way of life. South Korean have shown a lot of compassion to the north. previous periods of the 'sunshine policy' offering aid and attempting to support joint trade initiatives may be dulled by current international sanctions but there is evidence along the DMZ a unified Korea is desired. Rail bridges, point of entry bus and rail terminals all modern and constructed in the past decade, exist ready for reunification. While 2.5million land mines will ensure that it is not an easy process, many hope for this day to come soon.

Casually standing on the North Korean side of the room, Gentry is pictured with a South Korean guard. The door behind him isn't locked. It leads to 'no-mans land' where you will not be retrieved from should you decide to head North.

Casually standing on the North Korean side of the room, Gentry is pictured with a South Korean guard. The door behind him isn't locked. It leads to 'no-mans land' where you will not be retrieved from should you decide to head North.

While our visit was brief, it was certainly memorable and while not significant on a geo-political scale we hope we have shared some insight into one of the most tense situations on the planet right now.

 

YJ YoYoFestival

There has been a change in Asia. Over the past 10 years Korea has emerged as a powerhouse. Not economically, although brands like Hyundai and Samsung have been doing their part to make that true too, but as THE style influencer.

Korea is cool. Fashion, music, design.... its all being driven by Korean influencers. While the USA media hypes WW3 and Nukes raining down the truth on the ground in Seoul is a well dressed NOW generation moving through life with a funky K-pop soundtrack to their lives.

Tourism in Korea is up. They come for makeup, food and a look at the magic. We joined them in Early December to visit the YJ YoYoFestival. 

WHAT IS YJ YoYoFestival? Why didn't you know? Its the biggest single day yoyo event held anywhere in the world in 2017. close to 700 ticket holding attendees headed to Sejong University performing Arts building for an unforgettable day of yoyo action. The hosts, YJ shop run a day of non-stop yoyo action for players of all ages. There are games and fun, performances and contests and you guessed it.... plenty of K-pop.

Outside the venue players participated in a range of activities

Outside the venue players participated in a range of activities

Apart from the number of players the thing that stood out the most was the overall high level of skill from everyone in attendance. The kids here are good. Not just 1a good.... there are off string players, 3a, 2a.... they can play all styles. More than just play everyone was having fun.  

The first player to take to the stage was Gentry for a demo Freestyle. The crowd went NUTS. Gentry admitted forgetting his second trick because he was so blown away by the response.

Later John took to the stage. Its the first time we have seen John perform this year so its the first video we shared.

The action continued throughout the day. Long sleeper contes with over 300 participants, Parent contests all the way up to a Pro division for cash prizes.

 

Special thanks to YJ YoYoShop for hosting an amazing event! If you are ever in Seoul make sure you come through and check out their store

Shanghai

Shanghai is undoubtably one of the greatest cities in the world. YoYoFactory has been lucky to have an excuse to visit annually for the past 5 years with players like Ben Conde, Jake Elliot Gentry Stein and now Shu Takada coming along. Its a really fun city. Easy to navigate by public transport, great food, history, art, style.... all things that will make it an amazing host city for the 2018 World YoYo Contest (if they would just name the date!!!).

Checkout this video by HEARTBEAT Media of the behind the scenes action from our latest visit.

Shanghai Toy Fair

An annual event for YoYoFactory that takes a new meaning with the World YoYo Contest scheduled (well not scheduled as that would mean there is a date set, but planned maybe?)  for Shanghai in 2018.

Gentry and Shu lit up our booth today and will be for the rest of the week. We also have a community event planned for Saturday and a city to go get lost in! After this, Gentry heads to Japan with Shu for Yodobashi Cup, to eat Ramen and eventually head to Korea next month for YJYOYO Festival.

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Big in China. 

John Ando Adventure

‘I want to do an adventure ‘

Thats where it starts. Last year pre USA nationals we did Peru. This year our goals were not as broad but still pretty high. There was talk of rafting, multi day hikes but in the end we came back to some unfinished business.... the summit of Mt Lassen. First time we came through on a West Coast tour there was snow on the peak and we didn’t have gear. On a pre-nationals trip 3 years ago with YoYoExpert the trail was closed to maintainance. 

This time nothing was going to stop us. 

 

the peak  

the peak  

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the accent  

 

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On the way

 

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near the top

 

 

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Above it all! 

 

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Altitude Check  

 

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loop2020

 

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dressed for snow? 

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Adventure complete.

Got Talent!

lots of it!  In Poland, Kacper Pałatyński is the hot ticket while in Thailand  Polo Garbkamol is setting the stage alight! 

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Kacper has it! 

 

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Polo has it!