Making a signature yoyo design is a lot of work. Instead of grabbing ideas from my brain and putting them directly into FreeCAD, I have to carefully extract them from someone else’s thoughts via regular communication channels, translate them into detailed specifications, draw them in FreeCAD, and then show the result to the other person to see how close I got.
Designing to Spec
For the Dynames, signature yoyo design of Max Choo, the design process began 2 years ago. We were in the middle of the success of the Mk1 Exia, a design that Max had a heavy hand in. For his signature yoyo, he wanted a monometal, wide, light, with a specific aesthetic that took some time to iron out. We had a core idea ready before too long, and the first prototype was based on our best effort at the time.
It was close, but needed two things to move forward. The rims were just a bit too sharp, and Max wanted to add a shiny bit in the profile, similar to the One Drop Format:C. I ordered a 2nd round of prototypes with these changes, in a gloss green that later showed up in the production run.
Production and Logos
I was very, very happy with the 2nd prototype, so I rushed that to Max for his final opinion, and started working on a set of colorways for a production order. The shiny aluminum strip allowed for some additional fun aesthetics, like contrasting anodized colors, and a mix of matte and glossy in the same profile. Most of the colorways are associated to a specific Gundam model, and the engraving is reminiscent of a Gundam design, though it’s a custom work that showcases the yoyo’s profile in the horns. This cool touch & the log itself were designed by Mk1 team member EOS.
As always, Max has a lot of yoyo tricks in his pocket. Please enjoy this 3 minute video with the Dynames!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Material: 7075 Al + stainless steel
Response: 19mm slim pads
You’ll be able to get the Mk1 Spyglass yoyo in the United States beginning on June 24th for $100.
The design of the Sliver, a new yoyo from Mk1 and Spiral, began with a threat.
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.
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:
Jamie sent me his version:
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
bro yes let’s make a GOOD slimline
Several months later (July 2020), Jamie sent me a file called “heck.x_t” which contained a yoyo design.
I sent back a revision where the rims were rounded over.
We didn’t even have a working title for the yoyo, having abandoned plenty of great ideas that were already in use.
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.
Later, they came in the mail.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!