OK, full disclosure time, boys and girls. I have to admit right up front that I know Jeremy “Mr. YoyoThrower” McKay personally, and that I count him as a friend among the throwing community. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to those of you who frequent the site since I have mentioned him in the past on several occasions. Nonetheless, I need to state that up front because Jeremy is the front man for King Yo Star, and that information might be pertinent for the review of the King Yo Star Pun that you are now reading. Not that I won’t be honest about the Pun, but never let it be said that I am not transparent about things!
There is a whole back story about how Jeremy came to basically be the driving force behind King Yo Star which was originally based in China, but I won’t bore you with the details. The main point is that it is now run out of Vancouver, Canada, and that has allowed me to get a glimpse into how yo-yos are designed and the creative process that goes into them. Pretty interesting stuff. I have also seen the prototype for the next throw from King Yo Star, and while I can’t say much about it I will say that I am quite excited to get my hands on a final version. It looks and feels great.
But I digress…on to the review of the Pun!
Here is the TL;DR summary for those that want it: the King Yo Star Pun is a great yo-yo for the price, offering a nice faster pace of play while still being decent for learning tricks. It performance-to-price ratio is really good, costing a significant chunk less than the throws it aims to competes with, and thus it is a great addition to the King Yo Star line up.
The King Yo Star Pun
The Pun is actually Jeremy’s own signature throw, designed by him to be a yo-yo he (and others) could use to compete with. The name was chosen because of Jeremy’s love of word play, which I can attest to after hanging out with him quite a bit. A natural paranomasiac, as King Yo Star likes to say it.
Jeremy and King Yo Star had a very specific strategy when it came to the Pun. They wanted to design a throw that would be good for a range of players. Newer players would be able to learn and grow with it, and more advanced players could compete with it. Here is the official statement from King Yo Star when I asked them about their vision for the Pun:
“This return top was design to be the perfect blend to handle both fast and hard competition play, while being rock stable so it can keep spinning through the process of developing a new trick or learning one!”
So there you have it. Time now to dive in and take a closer look to see if the Pun matches the King Yo Star vision.
The Pun Specs
- Weight: 66.1 grams
- Diameter: 54.02 mm
- Width: 42.99 mm
- Gap Width: 4.95 mm
- Bearing: Size C, center track
- Response: 19mm slim pad
The Puns are made from 6061 aluminum. Short and sweet!
Size and Shape
King Yo Star wasn’t trying to break new ground with the Pun. Rather, they wanted to use what was tried and true to design a great yo-yo that would be suitable for a range of play styles and skills. The size and weight of the Pun are right in the typical zone, although I suppose the 54 mm diameter might lean more on the smaller side of things. The end result is a yo-yo that sits comfortably in the hand and isn’t too heavy to throw. By the same token, the 66 grams of weight isn’t that light either, so there is enough heft to allow the Pun to give newer players a bit more to play with in terms of spin times (starting a bit heavier is always a good idea for newer players in my opinion).
The shape of the Pun is firmly in the W-type category. This might be good or bad depending on your shape preferences, although the W-type shape generally provides a great middle ground for stability, catch zone, and spin times. Nothing really special to mention about the shape of the Pun, but then again nothing to complain about either.
Here is the round up of usual suspects in order to give you visual comparison of the Pun with some other throws: the YYWS Armament (64 grams), the MFD Tri-B (64 grams), and the YYT Civility (69 grams).
The Pun comes with a variety of polished anodized surface finishes that are quite colourful and attractive (at least in my opinion). The finish is nice and smooth, and seems fine for finger grinds. No complaints here.
One thing of interest to note is that some of the Pun designs, notably the red/white/black Bacterium colourways, were actually anodized by MonkeyfingeR Design. As we all know (or should know) MFD is probably one of the best, if not THE best, in the business when it comes to anodizing. Being able to pick up a reasonably priced throw with MFD anodizing is a huge bonus, although the MFD anodized Puns do cost a bit more than the standard versions. Check out the image below for a comparison of the standard Purplenova Pun (that I used for this review) and the Bacterium Pun. I hope Jeremy uses MFD again in the future for some King Yo Star throws.
Bearing and Response
The Pun ships with a generic center track bearing, and your tastes in bearings will determine whether or not you like that fact. The purists among you that feel anything other than completely flat is heresy will probably opt to swap this bearing out posthaste. Those like that center track bearings will likely be perfectly happy with the Pun as is. I mostly played with the Pun using the stock bearing and it was absolutely fine. More recently however, I did try replacing this bearing with my current favourite brand du jour, the MonkeyfingeR REvolution bearing, and it made the Pun sing a sweet song.
The 19 mm slimline response pads seemed great and I have no complaints about them. They are there when you need them and stay out of the way the rest of the time. I generally replace the pads in all of my throws with flowable silicone that is recessed into the response groove, but I haven’t yet felt the need to do that with the Pun.
I have been tossing around the Pun quite a bit over the past month or so, and for all intents and purposes it is a great throw. I wouldn’t say that it stands out from the crowd in terms of performance, but bear in mind that my crowd is made up of some pretty solid yo-yos from the likes of One Drop, MonkeyfingeR Design, and YoYoWorkshop. Besides, not standing out also means that it isn’t doing any worse, and that is a good thing considering that the Pun retails for about half of what I paid for most the yo-yos in my collection.
The Pun seems to sit nicely in the middle of yo-yo characteristics. It doesn’t have quite the same amount of spin during tricks as some of my heavier throws, but it keeps up with most of my collection. Likewise I have some throws that are more stable, but I also have some that are less stable. The Pun isn’t all that floaty, but neither is it clunky to chuck around. It seems to strike a nice balance between all of the competing traits, and in the end the Pun strikes me as a great all-rounder. It can hang back a bit when learning although the Pun does feel like it tends towards the faster side of play. Oh, and returning to the spin for a second, I should probably mention that Jeremy did win the Sleeper Contest at the 2014 WCR competition with a 12 minute throw on a stock Pun.
As I said earlier, the Pun was designed to be a throw that one could both learn and compete on. Put another way, it is meant to grow with the skill of a thrower and be able to keep up with them every step of the way. As far as I can tell, it fulfills this vision…mostly. My gut feeling after using it is that it probably doesn’t span the entire spectrum of skill levels as King Yo Star had hoped it would.
The reason I say that is because I did try learning some new material using it, and while it was good for that I did at times find myself going back to a bigger or heavier throws for a bit extra spin and stability for certain tricks. Players that are very new might do better with something a bit heavier, but would likely progress quickly into the Pun’s turf. The other end of the scale is one that I can’t really comment on because I don’t compete, but Jeremy himself did mention to me that the Pun does eventually get outclassed by the more serious competition level throws. In any case, I feel that it is a great intermediate throw though and certainly will have a decent life span in terms of someone’s skill progression.
Let’s do a quick comparison to the Cyyclical Core Throws. Given its jack-of-all-trades sort of feel, the Pun is able to play the field a bit. The likely targets are the yo-yos in the Back to School, Wild Card, and Need for Speed categories. Those categories are currently dominated by some pretty solid throws. I think it fared the best in the Wild Card category because, like the Tri-B, it feels like it can handle multiple moods and play styles. Throwing them side by side, I still like the feel of the Tri-B more and so the Pun isn’t going to knock it out of my line up. Still, it is worth mentioning that the Pun does fit into multiple categories well, and for newer players that are still building up their collection this would be a significant plus.
So there you have it. The Pun is a great middle-of-the-road performer that was able to do just as well as many of the other throws that I own. Lower level players will find the Pun to grow with them as they improve. Higher level players will be able to push the Pun to far greater heights than me, and I think the Pun could handle it for the most part. And it is important to remember that the Pun is doing this at a price that is much lower than most of the yo-yos it is gunning for.
So, as I indicated above, the Pun isn’t trying to be cutting edge or revolutionary. Rather, it is trying to do what other throws do well. More significantly, it is trying to do what other throws do well for a very competitive price. The Pun retails for $65-75 and is designed to hang out with some of the cool kids that typically cost north of $100. I have enjoyed throwing the Pun around and I don’t see why others wouldn’t as well. Of course, that is very much subject to your preferences in terms of weight and shape and even cost. Some throwers like to spend top dollar and that is fine. For those that are looking for throws that are less pricey and yet still deliver some good performance, the Pun is certainly worth a look.
As a parting note, I must mention that the Pun seems to be one of the club favourites here at the local Vancouver Yoyo Club, which is encouraging to see. Given that many of them are far better than me, I take their opinions seriously when they say that they like the Pun.
As always, enjoying your throwing!