Walter the pocket yo-yo

Walter is a curmudgeon.  An old man with a mustache who can’t help but taint everything with his weathered opinions.  He is the type of friend who you ask to proofread your homework, because you know he will hold back nothing in his critique.  His retort will lack modesty; he will condemn your rambling prose, because he believes you have potential beyond what you have failed to express.  He will make you aware of your own nclumsiness, and it will sting.  You may wonder if you could ever meet his expectations, and someday you just might, if you practice.  So please, don’t be afraid of Walter because he is honest and frank, he has your best intentions in mind.

The concept of the slimline yo-yo isn’t new or revolutionary.  Usually they are sharp, awkward and mediocre.  The sort of yo-yo that hampers its ability to do anything well because it is supposed to do it all.  The Gator Jam, for example, was a fun, odd little yo-yo that was wholly unpopular.  Because if you’re going to do single A, why not play with something that specializes in string tricks?  If you’re going to loop, well, you get the point.

But Walter isn’t about excelling or outperforming.  It will a be yo-yo that requires no thought.  The obvious choice when you aren’t in the mood to make a choice because, hell, it fits in your pocket, it matches your current outfit and it will carry you through your day with the utmost consistency.

Walter’s shape is being stolen from the great Tom Kuhn, whose Silver Bullet is a triumph of aesthetic.  Being one of the earliest incarnations of ball bearing and aluminum, the SB2 now seems quite antique.  Walter has more useable gap than the strictly ‘modified shape’ Silver Bullet.  He has a slight butterfly curve that is soft and round to ensure no sharp edges or discomfort in pocket or play.  His profile, a pair of rotund parabolas, is nothing extreme or even innovative.  Instead, Walter is a yo-yo to play with because he isn’t special or fancy, merely a reliable companion for those days when you’d prefer to think about your job or your schoolwork or the girl who you’re trying to court.  So please, don’t think Walter is an attempt to redefine or reinvent the slimline.  His shape is a modern, simple declaration of utility.

Inside we’ve got a lot of work to do.  Because I’nd prefer those who decide to pickup Walter not to have to worry about how well he is going to come back or how smoothly he will do triple kwyjibo when you’re trying to recreate Jason Lee’s Lakewood performance for your mother’s sewing circle.

Of course, in an ideal world Walter would be perfect right out of the package, in that magical zone between response and smoothness.  Not unlike the twelve to thirteen minutes you get out of a duncan pad when it feels like god has kissed your little plastic yo-yo and you could do any trick and end it with a flyaway.

But as is the nature of physics (damn you physics!), Walter will not be a miracle.  Likely, he will punish you for every mistake you make for say, fifteen minutes or so, and then gently convert to the magic zone mentioned formerly, thoroughly smooth, yet unquestionably responsive.  And you lazy and/or newbie types can sand it down until it is unresponsive and takes a triple bind to come back.  And those of you who don’t want to worry about it should be able to simply play with it day in and day out and have a nice tug response that lasts for a few months before you replenish the source of friction.

Equally important is the ease and simplicity of how you restore Walter to new.  I don’t want anyone sticking their fingers together with liquid silicon or ruining their mother’s tablecloth because the god damn squeeze tip has dried up on whatever goo aids his response.  So the intent is that Walter be tug return, beyond smooth and his response be easily rejuvenated.

There is little concrete being said at this point because, honestly, it is unknown exactly how these ambitious goals will be accomplished.  But the bar is set high because if he is going to be a curmudgeon, he must be consistent and reliably so.

There is a lot of work to be done.  The quest for simple usability is one of trial and tribulation.  Walter cannot have his flaws disguised by features or gizmos, because he has none.  His playability must be thorough and unfaltering, therefore all faults must be found and defeated in the prototyping stages.  There is a long road ahead until Walter can be packaged and in the hot little hands of the public, but like Walter, one must be patient and contemplative in their endeavors.  So alas, I will leave you with one final, resonating note: if any part of this rambling summary interests you, please don’t hesitate to send me an email to discuss further.  I am friendlier than Walter will ever be.

Excerpts from an early Walter sketch
Excerpts from an early Walter sketch

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