Yo-Yo - The Wonder Toy’s Beginnings
In 1928 Pedro Flores, a Filipino immigrant, worked as a bellboy in a downtown Santa Barbara hotel. In his spare time, he hand-carved a small disc toy he called the Yo-Yo. On his breaks he would go out to the sidewalk and show passersby his toy and the unique tricks that could be learned. It captivated those who saw it! Americans loved the simple toy and Pedro Flores did not remain a bellboy for long.
On June 9th, 1928, Flores set up the first American Yo-Yo manufacturing operation in the Granada Building in downtown, Santa Barbara, California. Within two years he was producing 300,000 Yo-Yos a day at a cost of 15 cents to $1.50 each and promoting the first ever Yo-Yo contests throughout the area.
The Yo-Yo Legacy Project Story
This project is a celebration of Pedro Flores and the 90th Anniversary of the Yo-Yo in America. It is also a tribute to my childhood love of the Yo-Yo and my lifelong passion for beautiful wood. How better to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of this wonderful toy than to create functional, desktop art with five historically significant Yo-Yos turned out of exquisite, exotic woods.
The warmth, texture, and pattern of the natural grain enhances the beauty and uniqueness of this art. The surfaces are smooth to the touch and “finished” to let us see the beauty once buried in the grain, concealed deep inside the tree. This gorgeous, hand selected wood celebrates the early production of wood Yo-Yos.
Our Exotic, Sustainable Wood Lineup
Each Yo-Yo, a functional piece of desktop art, is rough turned on computerized lathes to insure perfect balance. Next, there is a lot of hand shaping and sanding as well as the application of multiple layers of finish to produce each museum quality piece of art.
A solid metal fixed axle is then inserted into each disc and they are sent out for laser engraving of the date and logo on an Epilog Laser machine.
When they return, the two discs are put together, a string slipped on and each one is quality tested by the Legacy Guys to give you the experience of not only exploring the Yo-Yos visually and tactically, but also to play with them.
1928 Flores Yo-Yo in Bloodwood
This piece of art is the re-creation of Pedro Flores’ original Santa Barbara Yo-Yo. It has 1928 lasered on the front and the Yo-Yo Legacy Project logo on the back. It is the heart of the Yo-Yo Legacy Project and is created out of Bloodwood, one of the most beautiful exotic woods. The wood not only honors the 1928 Yo-Yo, but invites you to touch it, hold it and play it. It is “Functional Art” at its best!
The three-piece Yo-Yo collection, with woods so beautiful they take your breath away, could be considered the Trinity of the Yo-Yo Legacy Project. At the center, the Pedro Flores 1928, Santa Barbara Yo-Yo in Bloodwood. Next, the 1954 Duncan® Imperial® in Birdseye Maple. The Duncan® Imperial® name is iconic - there is no name that is more connected with the Yo-Yo's legacy than Duncan®. The Imperial® is a “gotta have”, so here it is. Third, is the 1958 Lundberg Butterfly® in Yellow Heart. The Butterfly® was created by Wayne Lundberg, a Duncan® Yo-Yo demonstrator.
Wayne Lundberg reversed the two Imperial® Yo-Yo discs, widening the gap to make it easier to catch the Yo-Yo on its string. This development changed everything. By allowing the Yo-Yo to be easily caught, it opened the possibility for endless tricks and super charged Yo-Yo competitions. The Butterfly® design dominates Yo-Yos to this day.
The five-piece collection includes the 1928 Bloodwood - Pedro Flores, the 1954 Birdseye Maple – Duncan ® Imperial ®, and the 1958 Yellow Heart – Lundberg Butterfly ®. Added to the three piece collection is the 1965 Wenge – Isaacson Ball Bearing. Our fixed axle Isaacson commemorates the first Yo-Yo ball bearing invented and patented by Milton Isaacson (US Patent 3175326A).
The ball bearing was the next revolutionary step in the Yo-Yo’s evolution. Every tournament Yo-Yo to this day is indebted to Milton Isaacson's forward-thinking advancement. Something so simple changed everything- silent, unseen and inconspicuous, but revolutionary – an “inside job."
The 2018 – String Rocket is our tribute to NOW! This contemporary competition Yo-Yo design, most often formed out of exotic metals or colorful resin, is produced here in Padauk. The Legacy Project chose Padauk, a beautiful wood with rich color and incredible grain, to recognize how far the Yo-Yo has come in 90 years.
But stand by, there is always more to come as players and designers continue to push the design and performance capabilities. The Yo-Yo Legacy lives on.
2 Days with the Legacy Guys
Come and work with us in our Minneapolis, Minnesota studio. We invite you to join us for a 2-day tutorial on Legacy Yo-Yo making and lots of “how we got ready for Kickstarter” talk. All expenses paid including airfare, lodging, meals and a lot of fun! While you are here we will make a full set of the Legacy Quintet from start to finish. You will have a blast chatting and spending quality time with a couple of lifetime woodworking enthusiasts. Who knows, you could get ready for your own Kickstarter Project! How cool is that?
Help us make the celebration of the Yo-Yo’s history in America a reality by clicking the "Back This Project" button at the top of the page. Any pledge you make brings us one step closer to delivering this exceptional art.
After all, we're in this together - thanks for putting your faith in us!
The Yo-Yo Legacy Collaborators
Risks and challenges
Receiving permission from the Duncan Toy Company was huge and encouraged us to keep pressing forward.
Another challenge was selecting the right wood for each of the reproductions. We believe we have identified the right woods and supply. If at the time of production a substitution is required, we will select a wood very similar in color and unique beauty.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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