Welcome to the review of the GN Yoyo Phoenix, the signature H-type yo-yo of Paul Zorovich!
OK, this is a yo-yo review that I have been meaning to get to for months. I picked up a GN Yoyo Phoenix right away right away when it launched back in April after following its development for some time. There was just something about the look of it that intrigued me, and it still intrigues me even now. It is easily one of the most unique yo-yos in my collection.
By the way, I am changing the format of the reviews a bit based on recent feedback. In the past I have tended to focus more on the positives rather than the negatives of each yo-yo. I have always tried to be honest in my opinions and I stand by every review I have done so far. However, in order to be more balanced I am going to start providing a pros and cons list of sorts. Hopefully everyone will find this more useful going forward.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the GN Yoyo Phoenix.
The GN Yoyo Phoenix
Paul Zorovich of GN Yoyo designed the Phoenix to be his own signature model. As you would expect, he designed it to his own tastes, which is more 5A style than 1A style. Thankfully, the Phoenix is still plenty of fun for 1A. Here is the official Phoenix blurb from Paul:
“As a 5A player, I prefer a sturdy yo-yo with plenty of weight. The Phoenix accomplishes this with its large size and fancy undercut to keep the weight reasonable, but sturdy. The H-shape of this yo-yo keeps it playing smooth and sturdy for a nice long, competition-grade sleep-time. Although the size and weight may look intimidating, the Phoenix is also incredible for both your technical and speedy 1A tricks”
OK, with that in mind, on to the review!
- Diameter: 59.5 mm
- Width: 45.4 mm
- Weight: 68.7 grams
- Response: Monkey Snot flowable silicone
- Bearing: Sice C, Buddha Whipple centering
- Material: 6061 Aluminum
Size and Weight
Well, let’s just get this out of the way: the Phoenix is a monster metal yo-yo. OK, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but at almost 60 mm in diameter and with a width of over 45 mm the Phoenix feels big. And it feels big because it IS big. The only metal yo-yo I have that comes close to the size of the Phoenix is my beloved YYWS Halyard. As one might expect with a metal yo-yo of such size, the Phoenix is also heavy. Thankfully the yo-yo design helps keep the mass down to some degree, but it still weighs in at almost 69 grams.
There is no doubt about it: you have to be OK with a big yo-yo if you are going to like the Phoenix. Those of you with bigger hands will probably appreciate its larger size quite a bit. You can check out the image below for a quick size comparison with some of my current core throws.
The GN Yoyo Phoenix is very much an H-type yo-yo. The large outer rims are punctuated by the distinct and sizable step down to the inner gap region. I suppose there is an argument to be made for the shape being an H/O-type hybrid. I say this because both the outer rims and inner region have a nice organic curve to them. In any case, the H-type shape is the prominent feature. Also, there is a rather nice undercut that forms the H-type step. This looks great and I assume also helps to reduce the overall weight of the Phoenix.
The organic shape of the inner gap region is worth pointing out. This is a design feature that allows the inner walls of the Phoenix to slope very quickly away from the inner gap. This gives the string a lot of clearance and minimizes interaction with the inner walls.
The cup side of the Phoenix takes a few steps down to a fairly sizeable inner bowl, punctuated by the small hub protrusion. In general I find the cup design attractive and I don’t have any real complaints.
Bearing and Response
The Phoenix ships with a Buddha Ripple centering bearing, which in general is a great bearing if you like centering bearings. I personally have gravitated away from grooved bearings, but the Ripple is excellent nonetheless. Response wise, the Phoenix uses MonkeyfingeR Monkey Snot flowable silicone that is poured to be slightly recessed. Since I also use recessed Monkey Snot as my own go to response system, I have zero complaints here!
And speaking of the play, let’s get on with it. The size and weight of the GN Yoyo Phoenix means that is not really a speed demon. That isn’t to say you can’t push it faster, but it does make it difficult to maintain a faster pace. After all, there is a hefty about of mass to push from string to string and change direction. Depending on who you are and how you play, this can be either a strength or a weakness.
If you like a more laid back feel, or at least if you aren’t looking for a yo-yo to keep up with something like a GSquared Hawk, then the Phoenix is great. The H-type shape also imparts a nice amount of stability to the Phoenix and offers a generous catch zone. Those features combined with the weight make the Phoenix feel easy to use . It never feels in danger of getting out of control. I could see this being nice for newer players.
If I had my choice, however, I would have made the Phoenix a bit smaller and a bit lighter. On more than one occasion the size felt like it got in the way. Let me give you a good and rather painful example of this. During my first few weeks of throwing the Phoenix, I made the mistake of picking it up right after putting down a smaller yo-yo (I think it was the YYR Sputnik). I performed a whip to Kamikaze mount and cracked my finger so hard on the Phoenix that I had to stop playing. Yeah I know, I am a wimp. The point is that having those few extra millimetres has taken me by surprise on numerous occasions. It can also be a bit of a challenge to slide a yo-yo of this size between the strings at times.
One oddity that I noticed with the Phoenix is that I struggle to have it reject the string as effectively as other yo-yos. Perhaps this is due to the significant string clearance (i.e. less wall friction for rejections), or perhaps it is just me. Admittedly, it could go either way.
A few other things to mention. Spin times seem decent, but there is a lot of mass to get moving and keep spinning. On the up side the spin is very smooth. Finger grinds seem fine with the Phoenix, and finger spins are doable as long as you don’t mind the center hub nub. There is an inner grind ring of sorts, but I find it too small to get my thumbnail into. Oh, and the purple and orange splash version I have is really great and looks amazing while spinning.
And that is about it, so let’s wrap up.
So, let me just say that I am really glad that bought the GN Yoyo Phoenix and it definitely has a place in my collection. I love its unique shape and look. If I am in the mood for a more laid back pace then the Phoenix is a great choice. I think if the size and weight were shaved off by 2-3% if would be even better, but it isn’t my place second guess Paul on his design. He set out to design a bigger yo-yo that fit his style, and he certainly succeeded in that. Also, the Phoenix is designed for 5A, something that I am really bad at, and judging it purely from a 1A standpoint is perhaps not fair.
In any case, I do recommend the Phoenix if you are looking for something different. But, and this is a big BUT, you need to understand what type of yo-yo you are buying. The Phoenix is probably going to sit more at the “just for fun” side of things for most throwers rather than the “need to go faster and compete” side of things. If you keep that in mind then there is plenty to enjoy about the Phoenix. If you are interested in grabbing one, GN Yoyo has them on sale for only $95 USD, which is less than what I paid!
Thanks to Mat B. for helping to edit this review. Also thanks to MonkeyfingeR Design for providing all of the Ape Hanger strings used for this and other reviews.
As always, enjoying your throwing!
GN Yoyo Phoenix Yay or Nay Summary
Please keep in mind that these are purely subjective. One thrower’s negatives are another thrower’s positives, and vice versa.
+ Stability: the H-type shape gives the Phoenix a hefty amount of stability.
+ String clearance: not much wall interaction, which helps the spin times.
+ Control: the weight and size make the Phoenix easy to control.
+ Catch zone: the shape gives the Phoenix a decent effective catch zone.
+ Unique design: there isn’t much out there that looks quite like the Phoenix.
+ Fun factor: there is plenty of laid back fun to be had with the Phoenix.
– Dimensions: the large size can get in the way at times.
– String speed: there is a lot of mass to push around.
– Inner grind ring: the inner grind ring seems a bit small to be functional.
+/- Spin time: seems about average versus other throws.
+/- Rejections: rejections seem less effective with the Phoenix than other throws, although perhaps that is just me and not the yo-yo.
+/- Finger spins: there is a decent inner cup bowl that can be used for finger spins, but I found it so-so versus other yo-yos. Plus you have to be OK with finger spinning around the hub.