Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
May 24, 2016
I think I have said this before, but I am a sucker for the odd ball, novelty yo-yos. When I first see one, I don’t care if it is going to play great, I don’t care about the design, I just want to get it in my hand and experience what the strange new thing has to offer. That is specifically why I require a minimum of a week of solid play before I even consider writing a review. No matter how horrible a novelty throw may be, I know that, nine times out of ten, it is going to make me smile on the first throw due to the shear lunacy of it. The funny thing is, some of these novelty yo-yos have gone on to become favorites of mine and even been daily carries for a while. Some examples being the One Drop Dingo and the ILYY St. Eel. Others have gone back in the box and left my collection in a hurry… I am looking at you IYYC Breathe. Today, I am focusing on a new novelty yo-yo, the Sengoku Masamini. As the name suggests, it is the pint sized sibling to Sengoku’s impressive Masamune. It caught my attention when the company posted pictures from the initial 10 piece run and I knew I had to review it when they said it was going to have a larger release in late May. With it finally here, it is time to see if it lives up to its larger sibling’s legacy.
• Diameter: 42 mm
• Width: 32 mm
• Weight: 65.5 grams
• Response: Slim IR Pads
• Bearing: Center Trac Bearing
First thing that I need to get out of the way, the Masamini is machined from 6061 aluminum alloy with steel weight rings instead of Alumigo Hard alloy like the Masamune. Julio decided that the design did not need the much more expensive alloy and instead passed the cost difference on to his customers. While it is still going to retail around $120, that is a far cry from the $200+ that the Masamune retails for at your shop of choice.
When comparing the two you can definitely see the family resemblance. Both are unabashed V-Shape designs with flat rims. The Masamini is quite a bit more compact, which is to be expected, but its rims are just as wide as the Masamune and are not as rounded off. This does cause for a tiny bit of discomfort, but not as much as you would expect. The cup has much thicker, steel rings under the rims which add quite a bit of heft to the yo-yo. The rings almost cover the entire inner wall of the Masamini but there is just enough peeking out behind them to show the inner wall that travels down to meet the hub less, flat floor. The Masamini’s finish is the same fantastic bead blast that covers the larger Masamune.
Okay, here is where it gets weird. The Masamini is a pocket sized version of an already existing design that ends up weighing almost a gram more than its bigger sibling. While it sounds like it should be a brick on a string, it is not. The Masamini is a zippy little powerhouse throw that is quite stable and spins for an impressive amount of time. One thing to keep in mind though, since it does weigh so much it can hit hard when returning to your hand.
Response and Bearing
The IR Pads in the Masamini are still an excellent choice, giving great binds and excellent spin when it rolls down the string. The bearing on the other hand is not one of my favorites and I found it actually held back the play of this yo-yo. The Masamini uses a Center Trac bearing that keeps the string away from the sides, and the response of the yo-yo. During play I noticed that my binds were slipping. The string was just not catching like it should and forcing me to exaggerate my binds in order to return it to my hand. I swapped it out with a flat bearing, in this case a General Yo AIGR bearing, and all my issues were solved. Others may not have the issues I had, but it needed to be mentioned.
For the record, all play was done with an AIGR bearing due to the issues noted in the “Response and Bearing” section with the Center Trac.
This yo-yo plays like a beast. It spins for quite some time and hits like a Mack Truck during play. It accomplished something that I was not expecting and plays as well as its full sized counterpart. It is fast and nimble on the string, never feeling sluggish during fast direction changes or when hopping from string to string. While it is a tiny yo-yo, it is still easy to hit thanks to the wide open V-Shape catch zone. This meant that I never felt frustration during some of my sloppier combos. Grinds are incredible thanks to the smooth finish. The Masamini effortlessly spun on my arm, hand, and finger during play and was super easy to control. Overall, the play is just as good as the Masamune, only in a much more compact, pocket friendly package.
This is one impressive yo-yo. I was not expecting the level of performance I got out of it and had chalked it up to “fun diversion” when first I saw the pictures. After swapping the bearing, I was treated with a solid playing throw that could hold its own with the big names in the bimetal world. Will you see it used in a competition… probably not but who cares. I have had this one for a couple weeks now and I am still smiling like a goof ball every time I pick it up and pull off a sick combo… and that is what it is all about.