One Drop Vanguard
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
December 29, 2015
What are the first things that come to mind when you read or hear the words “budget yo-yo”? For most it is probably something along the lines of, cheap (maybe in price or quality), safe and straightforward design, outsourced, novelty, maybe even plastic. Now, these are not bad things to have pop in your head… especially that last one. I do love a good plastic yo-yo. One thing that usually does not come to mind is the word innovative. Last time I can remember the word innovative being bantered about when referencing a budget yo-yo was when One Drop came out with the M1. That was when budget metals became a staple in the industry and “budget”, at the time, was a $60 yo-yo. Today, quite a few top tier yo-yos cost that much and you can buy a more modern design budget yo-yo for quite a bit less. Now yo-yo makers are setting their sites on the sub $50 market. At the same time there is a huge shift in nationalism sweeping the industry. The problem is, these two don’t always play nice. Manufacturers like General-Yo and One Drop take a great deal of pride in being American Made, CLYW has recently pulled their machining back to Canada because they wanted their yo-yos to be home grown, and the Japanese market has an ultra loyal fan base who is quick to snatch up much from the Land of the Rising Sun. The big problem is that one of the first things that seems to go when a company wants a true budget yo-yo is the home grown machining. CLYW and YYR both turned to China when they wanted to produce lower cost products. That is where the Vanguard is stepping in. One Drop wants to show that a true “everyday carry” yo-yo can be made “at home” and break that $50 price point. Now the question is, will the yo-yo be good product or will too many compromises need to be made in order to meet the desired price?
• Diameter: 55.9 mm
• Width: 41.4 mm
• Gap: 4.44 mm
• Weight: 67.5 grams
• Bearing: One Drop 10-Ball
• Response: Flow Groove Pads
This was not the yo-yo I was expecting when I first heard about the Vanguard. The design is pretty intricate for a budget throw. The organic/H-shape profile shows large rims with a step down transition to the rounded catch zone. In the catch there is a second, smaller transition before dropping to the step out near the gap. Quite a few of these are design features that we normally see in premium products. The cup is not as complex as the profile but still a little bit of a shock when compared to past One Drop designs. The inner walls have a gentile curve that extends from the rim to an angular cut near the floor. From there it is a small drop to the totally flat hub area… and I mean totally flat. There is no hub, no exposed axle, no curves or cuts, absolutely NOTHING. This is a first for a One Drop design. The finish is the standard Pyramatte finish that is used by pretty much all One Drop yo-yos. It gets the job done but I have discussed my small issue with it during humid weather. Overall, this design is stunning in appearance. As I said above, not what I expected from a $49 yo-yo.
The Vanguard is a heavyweight, not Downbeat heavyweight, but not a svelte spinning beast either. At almost 68 grams, the Vanguard is a stable, flowing player good for those that want to chill and relax.
Response and Bearing
The response is One Drop’s Flow Groove pads which have been a hallmark since being introduced back in that other budget yo-yo, the M1. The surprise for me was seeing the One Drop 10-Ball making an appearance. In the past they have used a lower cost bearing in their budget yo-yos. The higher end 10-Ball is definitely a welcome addition.
As stated above, this is not a speed demon by any means, and that is a good thing. One area where the budgets yo-yos shine is with new players. They are the ones buying the less expensive models in order to practice and learn on. It makes sense, you don’t give a 16-year-old a McLaren and expect it to come back pretty. The Vanguard is exceptionally stable, smooth, large, and easy to hit with the string. It has a healthy amount of spin that allows beginners the chance to make mistakes without having to completely start over. Now don’t just pass this off as a beginners throw. The Vanguard is also a good choice for those that just want to bang about on a throw and not worry about it. It is not a fast paced throw made for competitions, it is more of a relaxing throw and definitely one that I would pull out to when teaching others and more importantly the Vanguard is the one I would let the younger crowd try out of my case when I am at a meet up or a club.
One Drop set out with a purpose when they made the Vanguard. They wanted to show the world that a no compromise, budget yo-yo for the masses could be made in the US. Did they succeed, yes and then some. At $49 it is hard to pass on this yo-yo. Yes, they could have made it lighter and faster but that would not be the market for this product. Most players are not competition bound, so a high speed throw is not needed. At the end of the day they gave us another M1… another “metal for everyone”, all the while finding new and innovative ways of reducing the costs in order to accomplish their goal of keeping this budget yo-yo home grown.