Four years of yoyo design

Thank you for the many years of support for Mk1!

I first released the Diffraction to a small group of online folks on October 30th in 2018. I had spent the previous 6 months learning and practicing yoyo design, getting feedback from friends, planning out colors, and getting an engraving sorted.

This was a fun and exciting project, and expensive, I thought, though after selling the extras I wasn’t too much in the red. I was happy with the results, but didn’t work on a larger release until the following year.

In 2019 I fixed a couple small issues with the first version, and released the Diffraction v2, in more colorways, still all fades, to fill out the range of hues that I liked to see. One of my Orlando friends took these to Worlds that year and sold a couple at the BYYC booth. Later, they caught the attention of YoyoExpert Garrett, and I got my first retail store deal! Super exciting!

During this time I had been writing down all of my yoyo design thoughts on a forum thread at YoyoExpert, leaving helpful notes for future hopeful yoyo designers. As a past educator I believe strongly that it’s important to elevate the practice and art of yoyo design in a way that people in the future can access and learn from.

After the first two diffractions Diffractions, I’ve been running hot, designing, prototyping, and releasing yoyos, doing accounting, filing taxes, paying license fees, and recording videos.

Here’s some of the stuff that Mk1 has done:

The people that I met in this time have been a big inspiration, source of help, and at times even become close friends. One thing we’ve been missing, though, is the ability to hang out together at yoyo contests. I started really getting into yoyo design not too long before Covid19 appeared, and even discounting that, it’s difficult for me to find time free to travel away from my family. Because of this, Mk1 the team is mostly an online-only affair, barring the couple chance encounters, like the time I met Jack at Disney Springs while his family was on vacation. He showed me a great wrist mount trick and I failed to do even the setup for it.

This evening, the third version of the Diffraction will release here on Mk1, and on some of our favorite retailers – YoyoExpert, Yotricks, YoyoSam, and MotMot. Please give it a look! It’s the coolest version yet, with four great new fades. We can’t wait to see how you like it!

Nathan Crissey joins Mk1 Yoyos

National Yoyo Master and very nice person Nathan Crissey was already a fan of Mk1 yoyos when I asked him if he wanted to join. I knew that, of course, having asked him if he was a fan of Mk1 yoyos beforehand. This was a natural result of our online friendship, such as things are.

He’s most well-known in the yoyo community for his work in contest organizing and contest judging, though at times he was also sponsored by YoyoJam and Werrd. It’s said that he was the first person to create a magic knot on a yoyo string, though the only thing for certain is that he was the first person to do it on film.

Nathan lives just outside of Houston with his wife, 2 kids, a dog, and enjoys trivia, barbecuing, weightlifting, sports, and keyboard building.

One of Nathan’s other hobbies is trying to trick me into designing a titanium yoyo. I haven’t relented, yet. He does know his way around CAD software, and may end up taking the design into his own hands.

On the Mk1 team, Nathan plans on winning the Over 40 World Championship one day. You’ll find him online bearing an avatar of “The Count” from Sesame Street.


Nathan competed recently in Scales Open v6 using the Mk1 x Spiral Sliver.

Mk1 Spyglass Design Notes

The Spyglass is the latest yoyo design from Mk1 Yoyos, our third bimetal, and eighth release overall. It takes design inspiration from previous Mk1 releases, the Diffraction and Contact, combining them into something wholly unique in our lineup. We’re excited for it. Are you?

I documented the design and production process on YouTube in a video series called Mk1 Mechanics. I encourage you to watch it to explore the entire development process from start to finish. There are quite a few already in the playlist, but expect a few more videos to round out the end of this yoyo’s journey to completion.

You can also follow along in the YoyoExpert discussion thread for this yoyo.

The Spyglass has a compact round shape with a deep undercut near the response, carefully tuned to match the material location of the circular steps in the cup. Compared to other Mk1 yoyos, it’s smaller and denser, giving it a unique feel while still having good performance.

There were two primary design goals with this yoyo. First, I wanted to put some broad steel rims on a yoyo to showcase the bimetal look. I’ve always enjoyed the shiny style of big bimetals, both during casual play and under stage lights. Second, I wanted to bring the stepped cup of the Diffraction back into the Mk1 lineup. I have enjoyed that cup design since the very first moment with it, but it isn’t usually the right one for a yoyo to use. Here it is again, in a yoyo specifically designed for it!

A third less important force was to keep the yoyo design very rounded. This helped keep the yoyo comfortable, and powerful, and it also handed me an opportunity to utilize a schmoove groove once again. This cool feature optimizes midweight without affecting the cup’s design, and here it felt natural to include.

It was tremendously fun to design this yoyo out in the open, showcasing the various design techniques and thought processes that I use to create yoyos. My sincere hope is that it will inspire more people to take an interest in this art.

Diameter: 53.0mm
   Width: 43.9mm
    Mass: 63.9g
Material: 7075 Al + stainless steel
    Axle: 8mm
 Bearing: C
Response: 19mm slim pads

You’ll be able to get the Mk1 Spyglass yoyo in the United States beginning on June 24th for $100.

B-grades are available at the Mk1 store.

Developing the Sliver

The design of the Sliver, a new yoyo from Mk1 and Spiral, began with a threat.

anyhow if we're gonna collab we should think of some sort of idea or theme or concept
you have 5 minutes. otherwise I'm making you pay for half a run of The Spin top return top tri-material bimetal disaster

Jamie (Spiral owner) immediately responded with some slimline/mini thoughts, and a 37mm wide concept that he had been working on intermittently. This was back in 2020, early in the year, before even the Kappa had released.

Talk about a collab subsided for a couple months, interspersed with design questions like, “how wide do you think a bimetal could be before it blasts itself apart?”. I got distracted and worked on the Exia, and some counterweight ideas. Jamie was working on the P40-Warhawk. We traded ideas and tips back and forth. He was preparing for the Kappa release, I had just dropped the Umbra. We talked about yoyos a lot, philosophically.

(junji ito comic)
Hmmm... I'm sure this was formed by the earthquake as well.
But unlike the one on the other side, this one's quite small.
Aha! Take a look at this!

There are holes, but they're not yoyo shaped...
Don't really have any form...
How b-grades are made

In May, we got back on track, looking up different slimline widths, and found a range to explore between Heshgod Petri (28mm) and SF 36 (36mm). I made this rough draft:

3d yoyo render
Early slimline draft, 57×34

Jamie sent me his version:

3d yoyo render, profile
3d yoyo render, cup

We go back and forth like this for a couple hours until we take a break to think of a name for the collab. Mostly we found cool names that had already been used on other yoyos. Since we’re pals, I bought a Kappa and he bought an Umbra. We like each other’s yoyos, which is a good sign, always. We traded some MTG anecdotes with each other, which I suppose is an omen of things to come! Plus, this important exchange:

I want a good slimline unresponsive that isn’t punishing

– me

bro yes let’s make a GOOD slimline

– jamie

Several months later (July 2020), Jamie sent me a file called “heck.x_t” which contained a yoyo design.

Sliver early revision

I sent back a revision where the rims were rounded over.

Sliver early revision

We didn’t even have a working title for the yoyo, having abandoned plenty of great ideas that were already in use.

Its frame is made of lead and it's 5 times the weight of a normal yo-yo. I call it... THE HEAVY BRAIN  !!

Heavy ... Brain  !!
Case study on yoyo names

Eventually, finally, we thought of something passable: “dither”, referencing a pixel art technique where two colors are blended using a checkerboard or other pattern, which adds texture + the appearance of a third virtual color. It’s a metaphor for how we created the yoyo, of course.

Through this process the design got refined down to something really close to what you see in the production version. 6061, flat cup, same dimensions. We discussed the ‘small’ 8mm axle and decided to simply put it through a stress test once we got the prototypes.

We were happy with it, our teams were happy with it, so it was time to order some. So, I did. And we got the first prototype photos in August, along with the Mk1 Contact, which I was prototyping at the same time.

Sliver prototype photo
Sliver first prototype
Sliver prototype photo
Sliver first prototype

Later, they came in the mail.

Sliver and contact prototype sets
Contact and Sliver prototypes

We sent them to the team for feedback, and got a couple notes that resulted in changes for a 2nd prototype. Of note, the weight dropped, the rim cut in the profile got pulled back a bit, and some of the fillets were made more round. The next round of prototypes were blue rim dip, just to try something new. It took a bit to get around to this, due to other yoyo releases, but in February 2021, we placed the order. This is also when Jamie came up with the final name for the yoyo:

yojamjam: Yoyo name. This is the one I think. Sliver

The 2nd sliver prototypes arrived at the same time as the 2nd Contact run. They looked cool! I shipped them out for team testing and got to work on the other various MK1 stuff that I had been putting my time into.

Blue yoyos
Sliver 2nd prototype

The CAD file ended up not changing from this version, but the other really long part of yoyo production was still left – picking colors, designing engravings, coming up with a box & a sticker. This was a collab, and a special one, so I wanted to get really deep into it.

Given the new name & theme, I contacted one of my M:TG friends who had been working on card proxies, and hired her to design box art based roughly on the look of Tempest pre-con decks. This was combined with custom art from a friend-of-a-friend.

Magic the gathering
The rath cycle (tm)
TEMPEST
"The Slivers" Preconstructed deck
Magic: The Gathering Preconstructed Deck
Sliver artwork
Custom Sliver artwork by Sheyenne Smith
Box artwork
Box art by Evelyn Butler

The box was designed to fit Magic cards, though it’s thicker than usual to accommodate the yoyo.

For colorways, we settled on making some raws, 2 rim masks, 2 fades, and 2 solid colors. This sort of symmetry makes the reasoning process easier for me, and also provides a handy way to organize the yoyos once they arrive. Of all the colorways, the PK Sliver took the longest to develop, due to the newness and intricacy of the engraving. It’s striking in person, and we all hope you enjoy it (or whichever colorway you get).

The colorway development process usually involves tons and tons of 3d renders, which I’ll spare you. Instead, here’s a photo of the results.

Sliver colorway photo
Sliver production colorways

There we go. That’s the tale of the Mk1 x Spiral SLIVER yoyo. I hope you enjoyed it. Maybe you can be part of the story?

This yoyo releases on Friday, January 21st, at 8PM Eastern right here on Mk1yoyos.com and on Throwspiral dot com. (Also yoyoexpert, yoyosam, yoyotricks, and yoyoworld)

Mk1 and Spinworthy – The RBC

The RBC yoyo is a collaborative effort between MK1 Yoyos and Spinworthy. The idea behind this project was to take one of Spinworthy’s popular wooden models, the Blood Cell, and recreate it in high-quality 7068 alloy as a hollow, tug-responsive yoyo.

The RBC uses a very small MR85 bearing, 5x8x2.5mm in size, and custom pads that take advantage of the small diameter of the bearing. The gap is narrow (2.3mm) to keep it very snappy, making it pleasant for modern responsive stall-based play, shoot the moons, and for classic yoyo tricks.

MK1 team member EOS has a signature colorway of the RBC. Check it out!

The RBC yoyo is available here on MK1, and also at YoyoExpert, YoyoSam, and YoyoTricks.com.

rbc yoyo next to a cat

44Tutorials

Mk1 team member EOS44 has been very, very busy in the yoyo tutorial sphere with great intermediate to advanced content.

Here’s some recent videos that we recommend!

Make sure you subscribe here.

Mk1 Contact 2nd Run – Releasing July 30th

It’s back! The Mk1 Contact yoyo is re-releasing July 30th at UK Throw, YoyoSam, YoyoExpert, and YoyoTricks. Find out more about the Contact or watch a review or two.

The Mk1 Contact will be $45 for solids and $50 for splashes/fades/dips.

photo of five mk1 contact yoyos sitting on a rock

This release includes five all-new colorways for the contact, including two signature colorways for Mk1 team members Connor and Luis. Show your support!

All B-grades will be available here on the Mk1 Shop the week following the release for a discounted price.