Youtube.It’s the source of the majority of learning in the developed world as well as being the source of the delights and horrors of viral videos.
It’s also the place people go for advice before making a purchase. I know us old farts still like to look to the written word from what we perceive as reliable sources, but in my observation people are increasingly more interested in viewing than reading.
Yoyo reviews are inherently controversial. I remember a conversation with Steve Brown about why he stopped doing them and replaced it with essentially paid advertisements on Yoyo news.com. He got tired of everyone complaining. If you only give good reviews, you aren’t really a reliable reviewer. If you say anything negative about a yoyo you have to deal with people who love the yoyo or the brand whining about it.
Added to that is the fact that in the last 5 years there have been fewer and fewer crappy yoyos. We have hit a point where there is an accepted idea of what will work in a yoyo and more importantly there is a plethora of shops that have both the equipment and expertise to make a yoyo properly.
So where do reviewers fit in? If yoyos are like dogs (All dogs are good dogs) then what do we need reviewers for? The answer is preference. While all yoyos are good yoyos, for each individual some are gooder than others (no it’s not a word, but English doesn’t work at the best of times and I’m using it and you can’t stop me). People’s preference is huge. I had a discussion with a friend about this recently about the fact that he prefers heavier yoyos and I like lighter ones. I don’t generally enjoy ‘H’ shaped yoyos, I lean towards throws that have some variant of an ‘O’ shape. He on the other hand likes his modified ‘V’ or ‘W’ shapes. The big difference being play style. I’m not a competitor, I play chill and like a comfortable yoyo that doesn’t hit the end of the string hard. He plays faster than me, so he needs more weight and stability.
What is comes down to isn’t finding an ‘objective’ or ‘balanced’ reviewer (impossible), but instead finding one with similar tastes to you who is honest about what they are doing and what their limitations are. If the reviewer is a recognized champion on an international level, you know you can trust them to tell you what will make a good competition yoyo. If they aren’t a competitor, but have been throwing for years and have handled 100’s of yoyos, you can trust them to give a reasonable assessment of they yoyos capabilities within the context of their abilities. It’s up to you to choose a reviewer that is right for you.
So the job of a youtube reviewer is threefold.
3. Personal Opinion.
While online stores display pictures of the yoyos and sometimes pictures of them spinning or a video created by the brand selling them, seeing what it’s going to look like out of the box and getting someone else's first impression can be huge. After your first couple of yoyos you have moved from getting a toy to play with into the realm of collecting yoyos, as which point it’s the experience that you are after. What’s the packaging like? Are there going to be surprises in the box? What does the yoyo feel like in the hand? Is there joy in that first throw?
Comparison is a key. A friend of mine briefly setup a website for doing reviews called cyyclical.com. He had a great system. He used a selection of his favourite throws that covered a decent selection of the broad ‘types’ of yoyo. He reviewed them, then in future reviews used them as a comparison point. He'd also compare to other similar yoyos. If you are thinking of buying a yoyo and want something that you know you are going to like, being told that it’s similar to something you already own will help you make your decision. At the same time, being told how it’s different from a yoyo you own gives you the perspective to decide if you want to try something new. While you can’t objectively say “X yoyo is better than Y yoyo”, you can say “This one feels heavier on the string but seems to get through longer tricks”.
Personal Opinion. It is the most powerful marketing tool if used right. A trusted source telling you that they like a thing will make that thing sell. If Gentry Stein goes on record saying that a particular yoyo is his new favourite, you can be sure a horde of 10 year olds are going to rush out and get one. I wouldn’t though, as I know I have different tastes in yoyos than Gentry. At the same time if John Doe (Random made up person you’ve never heard of) tells the world he loves a yoyo, the world will blink and move on. So personal opinion is good, depending on who is doing the talking.
I like a few different yoyo reviewers. I think my favourite is Thomas Velto at Throws’n’Brews. Not just because he’s really nice and lets me bribe him to showcase my yoyos on his website, but because he’s fun to watch and contributes a lot of content that is useful and interesting. He also has vaguely similar tastes in yoyos to me, which is helpful. Dylan Kowalski is good for a watch as well, he specializes in more budget friendly yoyos.
So my opinion is that we need reviewers. They may not be able to be objectively objective, but they give us information that we can use to then make our own judgement.
Here’s a couple reviews of some of my favourite yoyos, enjoy!