YoYoFactory Nine Dragons
Reviewed by Chris Rhoads
July 14, 2016
I love it when companies think outside the box and try to add something new to the mix. In an industry such as yo-yos, there is only so much you can do to stand out. There are only so many shapes to work with and only so many materials at your disposal. It is the out of the box thinking that has brought us things like, metal bodies yo-yos, swappable axle systems, bi and tri metal designs… the list goes on. Some of this out of the box thinking has brought us novelties such as the Sengoku Masamini that I reviewed a couple months back. When I posted that review I was questioned for using the word novelty. It was thought that I meant it in a derogatory manner. That could not be farther from the truth. Novelty, to me, means original and unusual which are by no means bad things. If I had meant it in a derogatory way, I would have called it a gimmick. There is quite a bit of room between novelties and gimmicks. Today I am looking at YoYoFactory’s new product, the Nine Dragons. A yo-yo completely unlike any yo-yo I have ever used before. Could this be their best novelty design since the hub stack or will it end up being a gimmick used to drum up conversations about the company.
• Diameter: 58.9 mm
• Width: 49 mm
• Gap: 3.7 mm
• Weight: 82 grams
• Bearing: CBC Large Spec X
• Response: CBC Large Slim Pads
Right off the bat, the Nine Dragons is eye catching. It has a bright white plastic shells, referred to as “Dragon Shells”, that make up the profile of the yo-yo, giving the Nine Dragons V-Shaped design. Each shell is attached to the inner aluminum body by a C-Sized bearing that attaches to a tight bearing seat on the frame. Each Dragon Shell has an aluminum spacer that acts as the bearing seat and the response groove for the yo-yo. The cups are made up of the shallow aluminum body of the yo-yo. There is no IGR but the cups look to be perfectly tailored for finger spins since they are completely obstruction free and will gently guide the finger to the dimpled hub in the the center. The finish is a combination of blasted aluminum and finely textured plastic. It is comfortable to hold for the most part but the sharp edge of the shell does cause some discomfort during play. The first minor problem I had with the Nine Dragons design is that it is difficult to take apart. You can’t just grip the halves like a normal design, you have to push your palms into each cup and then twist. This leads to my second minor problem. There is a little bit of parts explosion going on when you take it apart. Overall, the design is interesting with some room for improvement if they revisit it.
There is no way to sugar coat this, the Nine Dragons is heavy. It tips the scales at 82 grams, making it one of the heaviest yo-yos reviewed by this site. The hefty nature of this yo-yo causes it to be slow and uncomfortable to play with. It hits hard on the initial throw and causes the slip knot to painfully bear down on your finger. It also has a healthy impact when it hits the hand which amplifies that sharp edge I mentioned earlier.
Response and Bearing
The response is YYF’s normal CT pad which works quite well, giving snappy binds. I was pleasantly surprised that YYF went with a flat bearing. They are known for championing the Center Trac bearing and have used them in quite a few of their throws.
The play is unique on this yo-yo. The outer Dragon Shells spin independently of the aluminum body. This allows you to grab it in mid air and have it not lose spin. It does not need a grind finish because it technically does not grind when you pop it up on to your finger, hand, or arm. The shells stop moving while the innards keep going. These pluses would make for a fun and unique experience but there is one problem. It just isn’t fun to play. The Nine Dragons is a slow and sluggish yo-yo on the string. The spin times are anemic, even after cleaning all the bearings so that they would give optimal spin. It is noisy to the point of frightening my pets and annoying my wife. Finally, it vibes like an off balance washing machine on all but the most perfect of throws. These issues are alarming enough that YoYoFactory had to make a FAQ page addressing most of the issues I have pointed out, assuring potential owners that it is “normal”. At the end of the day, the free spinning Dragon Shells are not enough to distract you from the rest of the Nine Dragons’ sub par performance.
I am always happy to see companies try new things, even when the results are a mess. All in all, I would have to say that the Nine Dragons is pretty cool on paper but ends up being a bit of a gimmick. I wanted to like this yo-yo and I wanted it to succeed. As is, I hope YYF goes back to the drawing board with this one because the current design is just not worth the $79 price of admission.