Duncan Yo-Yo Buyer's Guide

Duncan Yo-Yo Buyer's Guide
Bryan Jardin
Bryan Jardin

Different yo-yos serve different needs, and we at Duncan Toys take pride in our wide selection of quality yo-yos. Whether you are just learning how to play yo-yo, or are a world-class yo-yo competitor, we offer the perfect yo-yo just for you. We are certain we can help you find just what you are looking for in our 2020 Yo-Yo Buyer’s Guide!

Never played yo-yo before? You can’t go wrong with the Reflex or Butterfly XT models!


Reflex Auto Return

The Reflex makes learning the fundamentals of yo-yo play easier than ever! Featuring technology that makes the yo-yo return to your hand automatically after spinning for about 4-8 seconds, the Reflex will help you hone your yo-yo throwing, spinning, and catching skills to perfection. This yo-yo is especially recommended for kids under 6 years old because of how user-friendly it is: young yo-yo enthusiasts will be big fans of just how easy this yo-yo is to learn with, all the while developing key fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Butterfly XT

The Butterfly XT effortlessly bridges the gap between beginning and intermediate yo-yo player, which is just one of the reasons why we think it is the best entry-level yo-yo on the market today. Featuring a ball-bearing that allows for extended periods of spin time and a wide profile that makes this yo-yo sturdy and reliable, the Butterfly XT is a very versatile yo-yo in that it is accessible to even the most inexperienced beginner while also being capable of handling some of the more sophisticated intermediate (and even expert) level tricks with ease. We highly recommend this yo-yo for any budding yo-yo players ages 6 and up.

First Metal Yo-Yo

Metal Racer | Metal Drifter

As you continue in your yo-yo journey, you may find yourself wanting more out of your yo-yo than what you are currently getting: perhaps you want something that spins longer, plays more reliably, or is more durable. It sounds like a metal yo-yo is just what you are looking for! Due to its physical properties, metal lends itself very well to yo-yo design, allowing for optimization of spin time and other aspects of playability that will help take your yo-yo play to the next level. And, frankly, metal yo-yos are just some of the most satisfying yo-yos to play with: the way they spin on the string is just so much smoother than any others. Give one a try—you will see what we mean!

What is an “unresponsive” yo-yo?

The unresponsive yo-yo allows the yo-yo player to do any tricks they want; then, when they’ve finished, they simply need perform a “bind” technique to return the yo-yo to their hand. So long as the yo-yo player does not perform a bind, the yo-yo will remain spinning, even after tugging the yo-yo up! This allows for the yo-yo player to let their creativity run free and discover the wonderful world of string tricks, unhindered by a volatile and unpredictable yo-yo. If the responsive yo-yo gave you hours of fun, the unresponsive yo-yo will give you years of fun.

Interested in giving it a try? Read on about our selection of plastic and metal unresponsive yo-yos!

First Plastic Unresponsive Yo-Yo

Freehand NextGen

When you first get into unresponsive yo-yo play, it is inevitable that you will damage your yo-yo a little bit—maybe even a lot. For that reason, we suggest a plastic yo-yo as your first unresponsive yo-yo, because plastic yo-yos are a little more affordably priced, so that when your yo-yo takes a big hit, your wallet takes less of a hit. But just because plastic yo-yos are more affordable does not mean that they are lower quality! In fact, we take pride in our history of providing the yo-yo community with some of the most competitively priced yet highest-quality unresponsive plastic yo-yos on the market. Take a look at our selection of unresponsive plastics and start your voyage into unresponsive play off right!

First Metal Unresponsive Yo-Yo


As you progress in your unresponsive play, you might find yourself wanting a little more out of your yo-yo experience than what is provided by a plastic yo-yo. Although plastic yo-yos are certainly very capable, plastic as a material has its limitations. Whether you are looking for longer and stronger spin, less tilt and more stability, or an entry-level competition yo-yo, you can’t go wrong with any of our unresponsive metal yo-yos.

First Premium Bi-Metal Yo-Yo

Grasshopper GTX | Orbital GTX 

Yo-Yo players are always trying to innovate and optimize yo-yo design, constantly searching for ways to improve existing yo-yos or just find something entirely new: bi-metal yo-yos is a prime example of such an innovation. Made from two metals, one denser than the other, bi-metal yo-yos allow the yo-yo designer to optimize various facets of the yo-yo by giving them more freedom to distribute the yo-yo’s weight to various, key parts of the yo-yo. For example, some bi-metal yo-yos have stainless steel rings on the rims, which concentrates the most of the weight on the outer part of the yo-yo, promoting extremely long spin time, high stability, and low tilt during high-intensity yo-yo play, making bi-metal yo-yos very popular for competition. On the other hand, the bi-metal placement can be positioned in unique parts of the yo-yo, which makes for a unique and interesting user experience that simply cannot be replicated by a yo-yo made of a single material.

That said, producing bi-metal yo-yos is more costly, due to the manufacturing process being a bit more delicate and involved, which is why bi-metal yo-yos tend to be a bit more expensive and are usually considered more premium. If you are a serious yo-yo player, however, then perhaps a premium bi-metal yo-yo would be a sound investment for you to make, as bi-metal yo-yos spin performance is simply unmatched by other yo-yo designs. Duncan bi-metals are particularly excellent because we offer some of the most affordably-priced bi-metal yo-yos on the market while simultaneously improving the manufacturing process to bring you some of the highest-quality and premium bi-metal yo-yos on the market. Peruse our wide collection of bi-metals: we’re sure you’ll find something you will love!

First Freehand (5A) Yo-Yo

Freehand NextGen | Freehand AL

We at Duncan are strong supporters of all non-1A divisions, but freehand, also known as 5A, holds a very special place in our heart. We love freehand yo-yo players: we love their energy, their style, their individuality, and we believe that there is something special about freehand yo-yo play that helps yo-yo players think outside the box. Freehand yo-yoing works like this: instead of tying the string down to your finger, you simply affix the string to a counterweight instead, so that you have the ability to literally throw the yo-yo and counterweight into the air! By attaching the string to a counterweight, the yo-yo player opens up a whole new world of yo-yo trick potential and exposes themselves to a different dimension of yo-yo; one that is still largely unexplored and full of opportunity.

What makes freehand yo-yoing even better? Just how accessible it is to even the newest of beginners. So long as you know the fundamentals of yo-yoing (throwing, catching, and the basics of string tricks), you can learn how to play freehand! In fact, we recommended that beginning yo-yo players learn freehand because it helps accelerate the learning process and exposes the beginning yo-yo player to some fairly complex concepts in a very friendly way, making them all the better for it. We seriously, seriously, seriously love freehand, and we know you will to.

There are a few things that we think are desirable in a freehand yo-yo that you should know about when selecting your first freehand yo-yo. For example, due to the yo-yo player’s ability to let go of the yo-yo and counterweight, it is not uncommon that the yo-yo player will drop the yo-yo, causing some damage to the yo-yo. For that reason, it is important that a freehand yo-yo be durable: it needs to be able to take a few punches! Moreover, a freehand yo-yo should be able to handle some pretty extreme maneuvers with ease. With that in mind, we now gladly direct you to our line of freehand yo-yos that can roll with the punches while also being able to handle even the craziest of tricks! Start your freehand journey right: find the yo-yo that’s right for you.

All-time Classics!

Tournament | Butterfly | Imperial


Duncan has been around for a long time—like, really long. In fact, we recently celebrated our 90th anniversary, making Duncan the longest continuously operating yo-yo company in the world—by a long shot. Our history is ripe with yo-yo design innovations, legendary yo-yo players, and, of course, some all-time classic yo-yos that you simply must try. From the Duncan Imperial, one of the best-selling yo-yos of all time, to the Duncan Butterfly, the mother of modern yo-yo design, there is just so much history for you to literally get your hands on. Experience the yo-yos that made Duncan the original world’s #1!

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