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A Path Long Traveled

🎂 Special Note: It’s Jack’s birthday today! Use coupon code PATH19 to get 19% off of the Mk1 Path. Nov 3rd only. 🎁 Get an Mk1 Path / Get a b-grade Mk1 Path

Jack Hudspath was the first yoyoer I ever sponsored at Mk1Yoyos. Working on a signature yoyo design for him was always in the plans, but the prototyping process ended up being a long one. This is the story of the Mk1 Path.

A red Mk1 Path yoyo in a lawn with maple leaves of various colors.
It’s fall!

We started working on a first draft late in 2020. At this stage of prototyping the goal is to try lots of ideas, draw them quickly, get a sense of shape & size, and figure out the feel of the yo-yo. The general idea ended up being a bell shape (similar to Diffraction) but wider, with a little ledge in the cup to break up the shape. If you think of combining all of the Mk1 monometals at the time (Contact, Umbra, Diffraction) together into one object, you’ll get something like this image:

A 3d render of a pink and blue yoyo on a grey field.
I think I was still using Fusion360 back then.

We made the rims gradually broader and comfier, to grab some of the feel from the Mk1 Contact & Umbra, smoothed it out, and ended up with something that might have been a neat yoyo. One of the key features here was a 2nd “rim” in the cup. The cross-section shape of this was inspired by a maple copter- rotating, falling seeds that fall from maple trees. This ended up being the only element of the design to last all the way to production.

Later, we added a bunch of lines in the profile. I added a bunch of stuff to the hub and then removed it again. I drew the profile lines again until I was happy with them. They’re kind of a pain in the ass.

Close up a a rippled line in CAD software.
A nightmare for machinists.
A chat message: "It's now mathematically correct, which is even better than good"
Heart emoji

I ordered prototypes and they arrived in May (2021), around the same time the 2nd Umbra production run arrived. This version was called the “Fungus”, was 49.5mm wide, 55.6mm diameter, and just about 64g.

This prototype was one of the interesting ones to come out of my yo-yo design sessions. The profile lines were fun & interesting but were a bit on the extreme side. It felt really comfy to hold, was pretty durable, and felt powerful enough. It was great for 5a and seemed larger and broader than its specs would indicate. However, something felt a bit off compared to how Jack wanted it. Most of all, he wanted to change the cup. You may be wondering what happened here, since the production Path has an almost identical cup to this. Sometimes you try something and then the old thing was better all along.

The next version had a primary goal to update the hub, second, to unify the design language in the cup and profile. As we got into it, though, the diameter also came down a bit, and the width was pulled in slightly, making it slightly more compact instead of bulbous. I eventually dropped the profile grooves, since they were getting in the way of all the other changes, and I think we had both had enough fun with the first prototype’s grooves to really need them again.

A 3d render of a green and blue yoyo.
I had switched to FreeCAD by this point. This was rendered in Blender3D!

This intermediate version had a familiar shape (if you have a production Path), though less swoopy and more angular. After some tweaking, I ended up adding a diffraction/spyglass style cup, it looked good enough, and I ordered prototypes again. It was already 2022 at this point, and Jack had collected a bunch of feedback. One of the amazing parts about being deep into a design is how much a small diameter change can excite someone. The 2nd prototype arrived in March, so we put it to the test!

Close up wide angle shot of a red yoyo prototype spinning, attached to a yellow yoyo string. A kitchen is out of focus in the background.
Mk1 Path prototype v2

The play-feel was a hit right off the first throw, and it stayed that way. Wide, comfortable, slightly compact in diameter, and stable enough for jamming. However, we already knew the cup would have to change – this idea was mine, not Jack’s, and we picked it simply for the lack of other good ideas and the need to get prototypes moving. The turnaround on updating this design was relatively quick. The third prototype ditched the fingerspin cup, increased the axle size to 10mm, and maintained the same weight distribution as version two while changing the cup appearance drastically.

A silver yoyo prototype next to a red  yoyo prototype on a cutting mat, in front of a keyboard and USB cable.
Path v3 prototype on left, Path v2 prototype on right

This ended up being identical to the production version. The final testing & analysis of this was quick.

Five mk1 path yoyos in a 3d render with diffuse lighting.
Colorway concept renders

Now that we had the design locked in, we had to finish converting it from a yo-yo to a product for release. Engravings, colorways, stickers. Jack drew some art, and it ended up being one of the key “features” of the yoyo for me, being both fun and distinctive. The ledge in the cup & the large dome in the hub were used as canvases for the engravings.

art of an oblong little guy with feet and no hands. making a long long face
the little guy
Six Mk1 path yoyos, shown with their cup art. Cow, tree, clouds, and a little guy.
All of the Path colorways, other than raw.

The Mk1 Path (available here or at YoyoExpert) released in August of 2023, after two and a half years of design, prototyping, and development. Let us know how you like it!