Not the Ma variety but the toy/top/spinning dohickey.

Do you have a yo-yo? Did you have one/some before? How many tricks could you do?

I’ve misplaced the 6 or so that I had had since the 1950’s. It used to be a big deal for kids my age and older. Guys (experts) would come to town and promote yo-yos and demonstrate the more exotic tricks. They would carve your yo-yo with neat designs.

I never had any brand but Duncan.

Tommy Smothers was quite adept and Dickie called him Mr. Yo or Yo-Yo Man on their shows.

I bought Duncans at TG&Y and garage sales. I remember one had lights!

In Shop, we made some.

I could do many of the easier tricks in the books at my school library. Some of them took a little fear abatement to do. Mostly I liked skipping it on the floor and up walls. I’m simple like that.

I seem to remember a whole video of Tommy Smothers and his yo-yo tricks, but I can’t find it on IMDB. Not just segments of their variety show. Or maybe it was a bunch of segments pieced together.

I used to have one of those fancy ones with a clutch–I could never get the “normal” kind to “sleep”. I liked doodling 'round with it, but I’d always wind up with the string being uncomfortably tight on my finger before too long.

I don’t actively practice much these days, but I have half a drawer full of yo-yos and two yo-yo holsters. When I do sling, I am still fond of the Turbo Bumblebee (now sold as the Duncan Bumblebee, since Duncan bought Pro-yo) and the Grim Sleeper. These are both rim-weighted ball bearing transaxle yo-yos, but the Bumblebee uses cork break pads to help get out of its sleep, and the Grim Sleeper only uses a starburst pattern in the plastic to catch the string, but the string gap can be adjusted on the fly to make string tricks easier.

Someone on The Straight Dope a while back claimed that the molds on the Duncan Imperial warped sometime back in the sixties and they never fixed it. I can’t verify this, but I do find that the Imperials don’t give satisfaction for too long.

I never did get to where I can do more than ten loops, far from the hundreds people talk about, but I figure when I get ready to improve there are now YouTube videos to help.

So good to know there are active yo-yo types here. It’s a raw guess (of course) but I would have to say it would have been in the 70’s (when my kids were old enough to have any interest at all) when I last put a yo-yo string on my finger. If it helps place things in time, all my yo-yos were wooden!

The advances in yo-yo technology are hard for me to relate to, so thanks for updating my knowledge.

Did any of you ever win any prizes in a yo-yo contest? I have one (somewhere – wherever my yo-yos must be, probably) that I won in the early 50’s, I think.

I got a Duncan Imperial (green) for Christmas. I haven’t even taken it out of the packaging yet. I kind of like the idea of having a mint-condition one in the display card rather than using it once or twice and tossing it in a drawer. I used to do simple tricks with them back in the 60s, but never got past walking the dog.

I do have a number of fixed-axle wood yo-yos, from the BC line, which I got cheap because a local grocery store was divesting itself of its yo-yo stock. They play nicely, but I can barely bring myself to break in my extra BlackBirds and Phantoms. The Spitfires are less precious to me, and I have been known to give them to children to give them a decent start at the hobby.

I went through a yo-yo phase in the early Sixties. I had forgotten the name of the big manufacturer then, but it was brought back to me in this thread–Duncan. The only two tricks I did that I can remember were Walk The Dog, of course, and my favourite, Rock The Baby In the Cradle, which I thought was the coolest trick of all. I was the first kid at school to do it.

Not long after, a pop song came out called Walking The Dog that I just assumed was about the yo-yo trick…

If you don’t know how to do it,
I’ll show you how to walk the dog.

I liked the Duncan butterfly yoyo a lot when I was a kid. Haven’t touched one in years, but they were much easier to re-catch on the string and do tricks with.

Oh, yeah. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. The rest of the song makes references to nursery rhymes – Miss Mary Mack, Mary Quite Contrary.

In the commentary to the yo-yo episode of the Simpsons somebody mentioned that on investigation it turned out that the Duncan company, realizing that theirs was a product that would naturally have a cyclical appeal and could not be expected to remain fashionable tended to market it in years-long cycles.

But the world yo-yo championships go on each year. Once in a while I check in, and goddamn. I’d take a lot more interest in the Olympics if there were a yo-yo competition.

When I was just getting started there was a little booklet about the size of the bottom third of a comic book with “how to’s” that had 9 (I think) basic tricks that were part of competitions to get to the advanced level, and another bunch of specialty things that were for two-handed stuff.

Help me remember the nine basics:

  1. Spinner (our name for it was Hesitate)
  2. Over the Falls
  3. Around the World
  4. Walk the Dog
  5. Creeper
  6. Three-Leaf Clover
  7. Spank the Baby
  8. Rock the Baby
  9. Loop the Loop

Now that I try to list them I see I must have traded some of the more advanced ones for basics.

One that was necessary for a few of the more advanced things, and which also loosened the string once it had tightened up, had a name like Lazy Susan.

There were also:

– Dog Bite (yo-yo caught the pants leg and stuck)
– Reach for the Moon (hard trick for me)
– Machine Gun (used a piece of paper to make the noise)
– Pick Pocket

Help with others!

I decided to search for a list of tricks and at this site I found:

Tricks include:

•Gravity Pull
•Walk The Dog
•Forward Pass
•Around the World
•Lunar Loops
•Astro Loops
•Planet Hop
•Orbit Launch
•Rock the Baby
•Warp Drive
•Flying Saucer
•Tidal Wave
•Double or Nothing
•Ursa Minor (aka the Shooting Star)
•Tandem Dog Walk
•Gemini Loops
•Land Rover
•Ursa Major
•Eiffel Tower
•Confederate Flag
•Three Leaf Clover
•Shoot for the Moon
•Rock the Baby on the Launch Pad
•Rock the Baby on the Trapeeze
•Ferris Wheel
•Lindy Loops
•Splitting the Atom

I have a yo-yo with me right now!

Anyway, a really impressive, but pretty easy trick is the spaghetti one you mention. If you can make the yo-yo sleep, you can probably do it.

Throw the yo-yo down for a good spin and have it sleep. Use both hands to quickly gather up the string in a loose fashion, under your mouth (keeping your hands between the yo-yo and your mouth in case it jumps up). Pull the yo-yo to stop the sleep while you release the string and make a slurping noise with your mouth – it can really look like you’re slurping up the spaghetti. Guaranteed to impress the kids.

I can do that, rock the cradle, the one where you flip the yo-yo around your finger so it lands on the string (trapeze?), and, of course, walk the dog, around the world, and so on. I was never able to do the double-or-nothing, where you flip the yo-yo around both hands and have it land on the string. I tried a few times, and when you mess up, you can end up with a knot on the string, which is really annoying.

The only time I ever came close on the Double or Nothing was with the butterfly yo-yo and even then I couldn’t count on it doing right in front of other people.

I can’t remember if I saw it in a book, saw an expert do it, or whether I dreamed it up myself, but I did a trick I called The Star (or Sheriff’s Badge) which involved looping the string around the little finger, then the index finger, then the ring finger and finally the thumb and holding it up to show the star shape, I had to move fast! (And I always had the string on my middle finger.)

I have dug out my old Duncan Yo-Yo & Spin Top Trick Book: Plus International Yo-yo Proficiency Ratings, that I sent off a dollar for back in the late 80’s. I was able to do all the tricks rated under ‘expert’. To wit:

Gravity Pull - Up-and-down (this can seem tricky for people not used to sleeper yo-yos; check out Amazon reviews)
Sleeper - Yo-yo pauses at the end and hums
Walk the Dog - The yo-yo pulls on the string as it tries to run away along the ground
Forward Pass - A backhand throw in an upward swing, then catch
Around the World - Forward pass, then instead of catching the yo-yo is allowed to sleep as you swing it in a full circle at your side
Lunar Loops - Forward pass, then fling the yo-yo out again instead of catching it
Astro Loops - Like the lunar loop, but have the yo-yo swing back on the outside of your arm
Planet Hop - Gravity pull, but when the yo-yo comes back up, sling it back down again
Orbit Launch - The planet hop on the outside of the arm
Rock the Baby - Do a sleeper, then gather the string into a triangle and let the sleeping yo-yo swing through it
Confederate Flag - Do a sleeper and then gather the string to form a box with an x in it

The star string trick mentioned above is called Ursa Minor or Shooting Star in this book, a big part of the gimmick being that it is done one-handed unlike other string-manipulation tricks.

Although my mastery of all the other ranked lists is spotty, Shoot for the Moon might have kept me from attaining Grand Master rank. That’s the one where you do a Forward Pass, then when it returns redirect it upwards, then outwards, upwards, etc. For me it worked like this:

  1. Throw a Forward Pass
  2. Barely avoid taking a yo-yo in the face

Great list there, Johnny Angel, and it seems that some of the tricks just had their name changed over that span of time. For instance, what you describe as Planet Hop was called Hop the Fence and may have been a basic 9 trick that should replace one of those on my list a few posts back.

I haven’t done a comparison, but I suspect a lot of names differ depending on who you’re talking to. I suppose Duncan has been in as good a position to establish conventions as anybody.

This appears to be the exact book I have, only without the $1.50 price printed on the upper left corner. They’re packaging it with their Pro-Yo now, I suppose instead of having a little order form on the back of the package for us to mail away for the book.

The newer book you link to seems to list the exact same bunch of tricks in the same order. Are these just with new illustrations? I suppose I’ll pick it up someday.

That looks like pretty much my repertoire when I was into yo-yos in 8th grade. I always liked the standard Duncan imperial yo-yo. I also had the Duncan Professional and the Duncan Butterfly, but didn’t like those as much.

The set of tricks that I could never quite get down are the ones where you have to catch the yo-yo on the string. Here’s an illustrated example. It was somewhat easier with the Butterfly yo-yo, but I could just never get it down consistently.

I had a couple of yo-yos when I was a kid. I could get them to go down to the end of the string, but I could never get them to go back up.

Nor could I. That’s a great link though and I’m going to look further for the book(s) I learned from. Thanks for the find.