Just this past week I received a Tri-B in the mail directly from MonkeyfingeR Design (MFD), and for good measure MonkeyfingeR Ray was kind enough to chuck in a few extra products for me to review. Thus, you will be seeing a series of MFD reviews on Cyyclical over the coming weeks and months. And, for no particular reason, I decided that I would start by reviewing the Ape Hangers, the new hand made 100% polyester string from MonkeyfingeR.
By the way, I am calling this review a “First Impressions” article because I really haven’t had enough time with the strings to give any commentary on the longevity in terms of colour fastness and effective playing life. I feel like it will takes weeks (if not months) of playing to really get a good feel for such aspects and I plan on updating this review down the road with that information. However, there is still plenty about the Ape Hangers to talk about, so let’s take a look at them.
First off, I recommend that you watch the Ape Hanger promo video below that was published a week ago by MFD. It will serve to give you a nice introduction and some context to my review.
I quite like the packaging of the Ape Hangers. The 10-count bags of Ape Hangers use some nice UV-blocking black ziplocs, and MFD has packaged each of them to facilitate removing the strings one at a time in a tangle-free fashion, just as you saw in the video above. I suppose that this is a minor convenience because any thrower worth his or her salt has long since learned how to get strings apart without tangles, but I do appreciate MFD for thinking of this.
Currently the stock Ape Hangers come in three colours: orange, green, and yellow. There isn’t much to say here other than they all look good. The yellow is more of a darker yellow when compared to the bright neon yellow many of us are used to with other strings. The green is quite nice and fairly typical for a neon green string. The orange is phenomenal. It looks great and is easily my favourite of the three.
I should also mention that MFD, being the MFD we know and love, is all about customization and will happily create Ape Hangers in different colour combinations (with some limitations) provided that you order at least 100 of them at a time. If you are really into self expression with your yo-yo then you should appreciate having this option. My Tri-B shipped with a bunch of Ape Hangers that were customized to match the Tri-B, but I will save the pictures of those for the upcoming Tri-B review.
The Ape Hangers sell for $7 USD for the 10-count bags, or (obviously) $0.70 per string. This seems typical for higher end strings that are hand made. If you are already accustomed to purchasing such strings then the Ape Hangers won’t be much of a stretch or difference. If you choose to have MFD make custom strings a 100-count bulk pack will set you back $43 USD. That pushes the cost down to $0.43 a string and isn’t a bad deal assuming that you don’t mind a higher up-front cost. MFD states that Ape Hangers will last significantly longer than regular strings, which should make for a good value-to-cost ratio.
MFD claims that the Ape Hangers are super soft, and yes I can confirm that they are indeed very soft. After using an Ape Hangeron my new Tri-B this past week I do believe that they are the softest strings I have used thus far. That isn’t to say there aren’t softer strings out there because I haven’t done the appropriate leg work to confirm that. Nonetheless, the Ape Hangers feel great and have plenty of bounce. There is a slickness to them that makes string sliding more comfortable, and I haven’t noticed much in the way of string burn. One downside to this, however, is that the slipknot on your yo-yo hand can move around and spin on your finger fairly easily. For example, I happened to be doing some Skin the Gerbils the other day, and the double trapeze to my yo-yo hand consistently caused the skip knot to spin around my finger with the trapeze. From what I understand this is common with slicker strings, but I wanted to mention it anyway.
MonkeyfingerR Ray stated that the thickness of the Ape Hangers is slightly more than that of a regular string but not really enough to have it pushed into the thick category. I have a general impression that many higher end strings have slight more thickness in their “regular” sized versions, so the Ape Hangers aren’t unusual in that regard. For example, the YoYoTricks HighEnd Regular string that I often use also seems slightly thicker than regular string such as the Kitty Regular shown below.
When comparing uncut strings, the Ape Hangers have the same length as the Kitty Regular string at about 48″ (122 cm). This is about 3″ (7.5 cm) longer than the YYT HighEnd Regular strings used for comparison in this review.
OK here is the million dollar question. How do changes in string tension affect the Ape Hangers? It is pretty clear that all string makers, especially those of higher end strings, love to talk about their strings resisting changes in string tension during play. MFD is no different as you saw in the video above. But are the claims true?
I am a scientist by training and so anytime a claim is made my automatic urge is to set up an experiment to test it. Thus, I mulled over a way to test the tension resistance of the Ape Hangers and compare it to other strings. After some thought I came up with a little test method that I think helps with this, as shown below:
Brain Scrambler Tension Test
- I chose my two most used string brands and types to compare to the Ape Hangers: Kitty Regular 100% Poly and YoYoTricks Regular HighEnd Poly string. For this experiment I chose one of the orange Ape Hangers.
- Each of the strings was placed on one of my three Armaments (it is handy having three identical yo-yos) and cut to the same length.
- Each string was given three forward tosses, and on the third toss I did a quick Brain Scrambler with three revolutions.
- I reset the tension of each string.
- I ran a series of five forward tosses, and during each toss I did two Brain Scramblers with exactly five revolutions (Brain Scrambler was chosen because it is quick and easy to keep track of). This gave each string a total of five forward throws and 50 Brain Scrambler revolutions.
- I carefully unwound each yo-yo and slowly allowed each string to wind up on itself.
- I laid out each string and photographed them.
- I repeated steps 4-7 once more.
The results from the tension test are shown in the two images below (for both runs of steps 4-7). As you can see, in both cases the Ape Hanger exhibited less winding, and it does appear to have resisted the change in string tension more than the other two strings.
These is another interesting aspect to this as well. When trying to gently pull the wound up strings apart, the Ape Hanger and HighEnd strings each unwound with no trouble, indicative of their higher quality. The Kitty String on the other hand formed unwinding knots and required more force to pull apart.
By the way, I am not claiming that my above test method is perfect and without faults. For example, it doesn’t take into account how these strings would play after a longer break in period. However, testing inadequacies aside, it is great to see that the Ape Hangers are good at resisting changes in tension from the get go. I am going to keep playing with those three yo-yos and see what happens, although I won’t be keeping track like I did above so it won’t be a rigorous test. Also, please note that MFD is not claiming that the Ape Hangers have better string tension resistance than other strings out there, but only that the Ape Hangers have excellent string tension resistance in general. So far, what I have seen and experienced indicates that this is indeed the case.
Anyway, does any of this make a difference during play? Well as I am sure you can guess, yes, it seems to. After using the Ape Hanger on my Tri-B all week, I have already noticed that I was indeed able to go for a long time without needing to reset the tension as compared to the Kitty strings which I have on most of my other yo-yos right now. This was especially nice when working on slacks and suicides (which I am not great at normally), and I noticed that the Ape Hangers loops remained open most of the time giving me plenty of opportunity to hit the tricks well. Given that I generally struggle with many of these tricks at the best of times with Kitty string, it was nice to have the Ape Hangers working for me in this regard.
I started this review by saying I couldn’t yet evaluate the effective lifetime of the strings because I haven’t yet spent enough time with them. However, I can say that over the past week I have used my new Tri-B a lot, and thus far I haven’t felt any need to change the Ape Hanger that it came with. By this time a Kitty string would be getting lifeless and I would be considering changing. So, even though that is only a single data point, my initial gut feeling is that the Ape Hangers will indeed have a longer life span as claimed by MFD. How much longer remains to be seen, and I will keep you posted on that.
All things considered, I can say that the Ape Hangers are really great strings in my opinion. I believe that they are certainly worth a try if you don’t mind paying more for strings (assuming that you aren’t already paying more for higher quality strings). I am generally a believer in the “you get what you pay for” mindset, and the value-to-cost ratio seems to be in favour of the Ape Hangers in this regard. A Kitty string typically costs about $0.20 per string in bulk, and the Ape Hangers are $0.43 per string in bulk. If one goes through more than two Kitty strings in the lifespan of a single Ape Hanger then there is no question about the value of spending more for a better string like the Ape Hangers.
So should you switch from another high end brand to Ape Hangers? Well, I can’t make that call for you, but I do think that at the very least it would be worth checking out the Ape Hangers to see how you like them. Since I haven’t tried all of the higher end strings out there I can’t really declare that Ape Hangers are able to climb right to the top of the heap. From the discussions about strings on the yo-yo community sites I get the distinct impression that many throwers are quite monogamous when it comes to strings brands and loyalties run deep. Such subjective opinions means that what I think is great in a string might not be what you think is great, and you may not be convinced to switch even if you try them. But try them you should, even just once.
What I can tell you for certain is that I for one will be making the switch, although perhaps that isn’t surprising given that Kitty strings are my norm. As it turns out I have quite a few Ape Hangers that came with my Tri-B and I will swap all of my yo-yos to Ape Hangers as the current strings wear out. Once I have used up my current supply of Ape Hangers I don’t see why I won’t buy more, especially since I can customize the colours. They feel great, play great, and thus far MonkeyfingeR has really impressed me with the quality of their products in general. They may just have made a new convert out of me!
Enjoy your throwing!