Rain City Skills

12 Months 12 Throws - March - The Retro Rocket

2019 is the year of Maddness at Rain City Skills. 12 Months, 12 yoyos. January was the long awaited production run of The Ducc. February brought the instant hit, The Loonie. Now we have the Retro Rocket.

Over a year ago Daniel Kessler approached me with an idea for a yo-yo collab. My only criteria was that we come up with something unique, something no one else has done. We ended up close, something that, from what I could tell at the teme, no one but me had done (King Yo Star Morpheus was my previous throw with that shape).

The Retro Rocket is an undersized powerhouse. It’s got full size performance in a pocket friendly package.

We tossed around a whole lot of names and themes, but when we stumbled on “The Kessler Run” I knew we nailed it. From there the Retro Rocket theme assembled itself. Daniel drew up a delightfully simple design logo.

We went with 3 colourways based on our favourite shows. The Kessler Run for Star Wars, The Redshirt for Star Trek and the DHD for Stargate!

You can get yours direct at Raincityskills.com

as well as Yoyoexpert.com and Yoyosam.com

Below you can watch a couple reviews and check out one of my latest tutorials!

Closing Down Return Top Shop

Life is Change. 3 years ago I took a leap and decided to start an online store. In the beginning the intent was to provide access to yoyos for kids in Vancouver at affordable Canadian prices, without having to deal with shipping from the USA. The store quickly grew as people across Canada got excited about having a Canadian store. As I branched out and got some interesting different brands into the store, people outside of Canada started buying from RTS. The business grew to the point where it is mostly breaking even. The problem is time. It takes a lot of my time to manage inventory, promotion, shipping and accounting. Time for which the only compensation is the enjoyment I get from interacting with customers who are excited about what they get.

I’ve come to a point where I want to do other things with that time. The yoyo market has been changing. When I started yoyoing 10 years ago, the only real options for buying yoyos were yoyonation.com and yoyoexpert.com with a few smaller retailers. Beginners couldn’t just grab something off amazon or eBay, they had to go to a Yoyo retailer. Now there are a lot more options for online retail as well as the option to buy directly from manufacturers. This means competition, and I don’t have the cash flow to put into the advertising needed. There are more brands than ever before, so the ability to stock enough variety that will sell through is challenging. Brands are selling direct, which means that not only do I compete with the other online retailers, but with the brands themselves. This isn’t a complaint, as with Rain City Skills I understand the other side of the equation, but it’s an additional challenge. What it really boils down to is where I want to put my time.

Rain City Skills has been more successful than I expected, and I want to see where that goes. I’ve got other yoyo world projects I want to explore, like more writing, starting a podcast, making T-shirts, yoyo fundraisers with schools and a long list of other things. So it’s time for Return Top Shop to go. What I will be doing is shifting a very limited selection of products to mryoyothrower.com, mostly so I have options for the local Vancouver community as was my original intention. Rain City Skills products will still be available through yoyoexpert.com and yoyosam.com, as well as now through the raincityskills.com website directly. Thank you to everyone over the years who have supported the store, I’d been a fun ride and I appreciated all of you!

The Sk8r - Rain City Skills x Oh Yes Yo

The Sk8r will be available at yoyoexpert.com, yoyosam.com and returntopshop.com for $64.99.  I’ll also be selling extra colouring books at Returntopshop for a limited time, just in case you wanted one to keep as a collectable.  Or give to a friend. Or if you wanted to colour a 2nd one yourself ;)

The Sk8r comes in red, white or black with either purple or black hubs.

Specs:
Diameter 52.95mm
Width 42.2mm
Gap 4.2mm
Weight 62.4g
Bearing Size C Flat
Material Delrin

The Story

Rain City Skills x Oh Yes Yo

      When I approached Coffin Nachtmahr Of Oh Yes Yo with the idea to do a collaboration called the skater, he was 100% on board right away.  His first suggestion was that the name needed to be spelled Sk8r.  From there, designing the yoyo to look like a skateboard wheel was a given.  Justin Scott Larson went to work taking Coffin and My ideas and giving them shape.  The design he came up with was nearly perfect, as always!  What wasn’t a given was finding the right machine shop.  This is the most prototyped yoyo I’ve ever made.  We started this process in the beginning of 2018.


     We started with one shop that I’d worked with before for begleri.  We sent them 2 variations, one 59g, one 63g.  They did a good job of the body, but were unable to make the hardware properly (the hub wasn’t snug against the body, so it tended to slip instead of screwing together tightly).  It did give us the opportunity to bring the prototypes to PNWR in Seattle where we learned that the yoyo community was of no help making decisions.  We had 2 weights options and we left the contest with pretty much a 50-50 split between people that liked one or the other!


     Onto a 2nd machine shop.  This time I used the same shop that made the Rain City Skills ‘Showgirl’.  Again, we tested 2 variations to make sure the hub design would work.  This time they nailed it, fantastic!  Except in the time between ordering the prototypes and actually getting them the shop seems to have run into some trouble.  As soon as I got the prototypes my contact stopped responding.


      Finally we ended up at Yoyoempire.  I really should have started with them, they have made more Delrin yoyos than just about any other brand on the market and have the experience needed to get it right.  So a 5th prototype was made to make sure they had the design right and bam, ready to go!


      In the interim between the various prototypes I was busy crafting the unboxing experience.  This is where Coffin had his chance to shine.  He is a professional artist.  He makes his living with his art and yoyo sales.  He drew up the sticker logo, blending the 2 brands and the skateboard concept.  I hunted and found lego skateboards and paired them with an assortment of mostly horror or science fiction villain themed Minifigures.  There are about 50 varieties spread amongst the 150 Sk8rs made.  Jack from “Nightmare Before Xmas” makes an appearance, the Scream guy, Donald Trump, various mad scientists, there may even be a Sith or two in there.


      The idea for the big ‘enxtra’ came at USA nationals in 2018.  Coffin was drawing up label cards for the Boutique Yoyo Collective table and we came up with the idea to include a yoyo colouring book!  I sent him home with a list of yoyo words (bind, whip, slack, etc) to outline in graffiti format.  So each Sk8r comes with a collectable colouring book that even has a drawing of a Coffin and I!


      The finishing touch was packaging.  Coffin sent me a photo of skateboard wheels shrink-wrapped and pointed out that this was do-able at home.  I popped onto amazon, got some shrink wrap and tested it.  You can do it at home with a hair dryer, but it’s not super effective.  So next stop was the hardware store for a heat sealer and heat gun.  I then spent most of the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend splitting my time between packing to move and shrink wrapping yoyos.  As you can see in the images below, I added in a basic fingerboard that makes a perfect display stand!


     All in all this has been a really fun project.  At some point I’m sure I’ll run out of ideas for interesting themes and accessories, but I’m really digging the creativity that goes with it.  I’m looking forward to my next collaboration and where 2019 takes Rain City!


     Just for fun, The Sk8r drops on October 24th, my birthday!  So if you needed any more incentive to grab one, think of it as my birthday present! 


     

How to be ridiculous at a yoyo contest

 (Post Originally written May 2018)

So I did a thing.


Yesterday at the Canadian National Yoyo contest I competed in 2 divisions.  I defended my 4a Championship title (and lost to the Amazing Terrance Wang) which was fun.  I also caved to peer pressure from my friend and a Canadian yoyo hero and the organizer Wayne Ngan and competed in 1a.  I wasn’t going to because a couple years ago I stopped practicing 1a.  I still do it and am constantly making up tricks, but I’m not doing the repetitive practice of specific tricks that makes competition work.  So I told him I’d do it, but if I make finals I’m not going to take it seriously.


Initially I was just going to do something stupid like get on stage, throw the yoyo and stare intensely at the audience, making uncomfortable eye contact with as many people as possible before the yoyo spun out or the 3 minutes ran out.


I ended up going a little more creative and basically did a half-arsed AP (Art and performance) routine.  The idea was basically to take each of the Rain City Skills yoyos and do something ridiculous to match the theme of the yoyo.  For the showgirl yoyo I attached the little feather boa that they came with to the string and acted surprised when it unwound, did a couple tricks then wore it around my neck.  For the Hipster Highlife I used the beer shop edition.  The plan was to stop, pour root beer in it and do a shot before going on to Yoyo. Unfortunatly I forgot the root beer, lol.  Finally I pulled out 2 gamers that were stuck together with an elastic band as the soundtrack to Mortal Combat came on and I mimicked playing a video game before taking them apart and playing with one.  The routine culminated with me pretending to hit myself in the head and fall to the stage when the “Finish Him” was announced on the soundtrack.


Why did I do this?  Beyond just not wanted to do a 3 minute routine this is part of my ongoing frustration with yoyo contests.  With a few exceptions they are boring as snot to watch.  I stopped actually watching the stage at contests years ago because most of the time its just a person on stage staring at their hands twitching.  Occasionally you get a true performer who can make their routine interesting to a point, but the limits of the scoring system don’t reward that enough to make it a priority.


The Mountain Dew cup at the 2018 World Yoyo contest was in part the inspiration for what I refer to as my “stupid yoyo” routine.  It was a minor event as part of the contest that was a way to thank their biggest sponsor, Mountain Dew.  Anyone could enter.  You were given a cheap plastic yoyo that didn’t even have a ball bearing that you had to use.  You had 30 seconds to yoyo to this really cheesy pop song that I think was written for the event.  Initially it was a challenge of “What can I actually do with this yoyo”.  It quickly evolved to “How ridiculous can I get with this yoyo”.  The best part was who won.  A kid who walked on stage, strutted around, pointed at the sponsor logo on the stage then threw a sleeper while he chugged a bottle of Mountain Dew.


It was fun.  It was fun for the players and it was fun for the audience.  It was accessible to everyone.  I wanted to channel a little of that, give the parents and audience something fun to watch and give the judges a laugh.  I think that ended up being the most important part.  The judges are the unsung heroes of any yoyo contest.  They sit at that table and concentrate hard all day long.  I tried it once, it was exhausting and I never want to do it again, so in this act my hats were literally off to them.


The big question now is…should I do the work to turn this concept into a legit AP routine and submit to worlds for 2019?  And if so, what do I do with the DUCC? Might be fun for a chuckle.

Rain City Skills Gamer - Round 2

Round 2 of the hugely popular “Gamer! The first run of themed ‘splash’ colourways sold out in a weekend, so by popular demand we did a second run!

I like to stay tuned in to the community online and one piece of feedback that was overwhelming was a desire to have a beadblasted finish, so we added that. I also opted for a slightly thicker but better quality carry case that should hold all your accessories.

For the second run we chose 3 new games and 1 repeat from the first run.

The repeat is the “Space Invader” colour. The first time around the anodizer forgot a colour, and I wanted it just right, so the 2nd run includes 3 colours of aliens!

The Hero in honour of The Legend of Zelda, another game which has occupied many, many hours of my life! 
It’s Dangerous to go alone! Take This!

The Plumber in honour of Nintendo’s flagship gaming franchise, the Super Mario Brothers! Yes, we’ve left out Luigi, but I was an only child growing up so all I played was player 1 ;)

Finally, I can’t take the credit for this one. This colourway came back from the anodizer differen’t than I’d originally planned, so I asked facebook. Overwhelmingly the response was for a World of Warcraft themed throw. Specifically...
Leeeeeeeeeerooooooooooy...Jaaaaaaaaannkiiiiiiiiins
Check out the video and if you have ever played the game seriously you’ll be face in hands sighing, becuase we’ve all raided with a Leroy.

If you missed the story of the Gamer yoyo and how it came aboutclick here to read up. The first run actually had 500 yoyos in it, most of which were earmarked for schools and a charity project Free Hinton of Eternal throw works with.

Since people seem to like their solid colours, I’ve decided to release a small quantity of what remained from the first 500 as mix/match colours. These are not bead blasted as they came from the first run. To the left is all the combos you can make with green!

Where to shop:
www.returntopshop.com
www.yoyoexpert.com
www.yoyosam.com

Rain City Skills 'Gamer' Round 3

The Gamer has been something of a phenomenon. When J. Free Hinton of Eternal Throw and I first envisioned this throw it was with the intention of making an affordable beginner yoyo that would fit well in kids hands and would be affordable enough for us to sell at contests to beginners. Free works with a charity Called “Bikers Against Child Abuse” that helps children that have been in abusive situations. He wanted yoyos that he could afford to give to this kids. I wanted them for use in the schools I work with.

The design came from the intent to have a beginner yoyo, combined with a desire to pay tribute to the Tom Khun SB2, the first serious metal ball bearing yoyo. Justin Scott Larson is the brain behind the technical side of the design, having wanted to make just this yoyo for years!

What ended up happening was fortunate timing. When the first run was released, slimline yoyos were in fashion and there was a demand from the yoyo community for more! We made 500 to start (that was the only way to keep the price down) and out of those 400 were solid colours earmarked for Free and I to use with kids. The other 100 were splash editions that I loaded up with extras to sell in stores. Those sold out immediatly. So we did a 2nd run of splash colours that moved almost as fast!

1 year later, 600 gamers are out in the world and demand is still there, so I bring you round 3 of the gamer! 4 new colours themed after video games, Megaman, Rampage, Pokemon, Super Mario and a fade colourway we decided to call ‘in game currency’.

Each package comes with the following:
1 gamer yoyo with an unresponsive ‘c’ bearing installed
1 hard shell zip up case
2 spare sets of Rain Pads
A slim bearing for responsive play
A pair of lego pieces that attach to the hubs
A bottle of thick lube to tweak your responsiveness, or to make the Full size bearing semi-responsive
A really cool keychain multi-tool/string cutter

This throw is a passion project, not a cash grab. It’s priced at a low $44.99 to make it accessible to everyone. I want every yoyoer to have this in their case, to enjoy and to share with any beginners they see. Walk the dog, shoot the moon, or throw an unresponsive bearing in and practice your toughest combo, I guarantee your tricks will clean up fast practicing with this throw!

The Gamer will be available September 20th at www.returntopshop.com, www.yoyoexpert.com and www.yoyosam.com!