Welcome to the joint review of the Sengoku Kenshin, the new mono-metal yo-yo from Julio Robles that uses high strength 7068 aluminum!
I don’t really know the detailed history about how Julio Robles founded Sengoku Yoyos other than he is from Mexico, spent some time living in Canada, moved to Japan, and then decided to create a yo-yo company. And while I am sure there is a lot more to the story than that, all we really need to know is that Sengoku is a thing and that Julio has quickly built a reputation for making excellent throws. Case in point is the Sengoku Kenshin that he was kind enough to send to me to review.
I am happy to also mention that for this review I won’t be flying solo. Jordan Blofeld from the throwing community and of YoChaos fame is once again joining me for a joint review. You will see his thoughts on the Sengoku Kenshin along with mine below to give everyone two perspectives on the yo-yo. Oh, and we each wrote our thoughts independently, and I didn’t see his comments until I combined them with mine just before publishing this review.
Let’s get on with it!
The Sengoku Kenshin
The Kenshin is the fourth yo-yo to arrive from Sengoku since Julio formed the company a couple of years ago and it has a few unique features compared to the other Sengoku throws. First, it is a mono-mental aluminum yo-yo, unlike the bi-metals designs that Julio has released so far. Second, and this seems unique in general, the Kenshin is machined from 7068 aluminum that reportedly has a strength to weight ratio rivaling some grades of titanium. The Kenshin is also the first Sengoku throw that I know of that is available in actual colourways versus solid colours.
Here is his official statement from Julio regarding the Kenshin:
“One of the main goals for Sengoku is to find the best material for a yoyo mass production. After researching with materials like 6061,7075 and Titanium, I think I found it. Aluminum 7068 is what I was looking for, and the Kenshin proves to be an asset in what I believe will be at least an uncontested superior replacement for 7075. The Kenshin is machined in China since a 7068 yo-yo made in Japan would run close to $200, and I decided to keep the prices affordable.”
So there you have it. Let’s dig in a have a closer look at the Sengoku Kenshin. Oh, and for this review, both Jordan and I used a standard solid colour Kenshin ($98 USD) rather than the special colour edition Kenshin ($118). This is important to note because the special colour edition ships with a Terrapin Delta bearing instead of the standard center track bearing.
- Diameter: 56 mm
- Width: 44 mm
- Weight: 63.8 grams
- Response Pad: Sengoku Katana pads
- Bearing: Size C centering (the special colour editions ship with a Terrapin size C Delta dry bearing)
JB: I’m quite partial to V shaped yo-yos. Not the most comfortable of shapes but it gives you the biggest possible catch zone and a lot of possibilities for weight distribution. The extremely low walls make it great to stop the string rub for off axis play but also means rejections don’t come as naturally.
JT: Even though I am drawn more to the O-type shape, I still like the simplicity of a good V-type and the Kenshin is no exception. In fact, “simplicity” is probably a defining characteristic of the Kenshin in general. Other than a couple of extra angled cuts at the top of the rim to round out the V-type shape, there are very few lines, grooves, or surface features of any kind both along the play side or inside of the cup. Perhaps the most striking thing about the appearance is the fairly thick rims, which I take as testament to the superior strength properties of the 7068 aluminum. [Update, May 17: as was pointed out to me elsewhere, this statement seems illogical at first glance, and I wasn’t very clear in what I was trying to say. What I meant by it is that putting more of a yo-yo’s mass into the rims, especially one that weighs less than 64 grams, means that the walls leading up to the rims must be correspondingly thinner. At some point the thick rims only become possible with stronger types of aluminum or other metals.]
Size and weight
JB: The Kenshin is a bit wider than I like – not that it’s a super wide but it does play wider than your average performance yo-yo. If you are attempting something in a dense mount, it can be hard to pass it through the strings. It’s not so wide that it’s impossible, just takes some getting used to. The weight plays into this too. It’s very light, which makes it very fast. This thing is built for speed so it can handle anything you throw at it.
JT: The size and weight of the Kenshin seem appropriate for what Sengoku was hoping to achieve in shooting for a light and nimble yo-yo. The most impressive aspect of the weight distribution is that a good chunk of the material is pushed into the thicker rims thanks to the aforementioned 7068 aluminum. This gives the Kenshin the stability of something heavier while still weighing in at under 64 grams and thus remaining zippy.
Response and Bearing
JB: The breakables are perfectly serviceable in the Kenshin and all Sengoku yoyos. Previous Sengokus came with Yoyorecreation DS bearings but this came with an unbranded center track style bearing. The pads are slippery enough at high RPM that they don’t snag but just grippy enough at lower RPM to bind tightly.
JT: The new Sengoku Katana response pads seem perfectly fine and allow for plenty of binding power without getting in the way. The center trac bearing in my Kenshin is very noisy, even after adding a touch of lube, whining and growling during play. This is only a problem from a audible aesthetic point of view because it plays just fine. As always, if you are not into centering bearings then it can be swapped out. Otherwise I think everyone should be fine with the included bearing unless you are very picky.
JB: For it’s weight class, the Kenshin is a great performer. Lot’s of rim weight combined with an overall light weight and wide profile means it’s very quick, reliable and easy to catch, It gets out of your way so you don’t have to worry about the yo-yo and can concentrate on nailing your tricks.
JT: The Kenshin is fast, far faster than I can take advantage of. At the same time, it doesn’t ever feel like it is out of control for me. Thanks to the extra rim weight that the 7068 aluminum can afford, the Kenshin is plenty stable and has a respectable spin time which is nice whether the pace is ramped up or down. This is definitely a throw that will appeal to those that like faster paced play, but anyone like likes a pure V-type shape will probably find plenty to love about the Kenshin.
JB: When the Kenshin was first introduced, it was touted that the 7068 aluminum alloy was similar to titanium in its possibilities but I don’t see it. It could be the design, but titanium can be very telling during play, especially with more extreme weight distribution designs and while the Kenshin is very good, it doesn’t feel like a titanium yo-yo. It does however feel uniquely solid and very powerful. The extreme, yet simple and safe design makes for a wonderful trick machine. I have no qualms with recommending this yo-yo to anyone, at any skill level.
JT: This is my first experience with any Sengoku yo-yo, and happily the Sengoku Kenshin was a great introduction. This is a throw that moves with purpose however, and players that like to run tricks at an increased pace will probably get more out of the Kenshin as opposed to slower paced players. Still, anyone looking for a good V-type shape wouldn’t go wrong by considering the Kenshin. Julio seems to have met his goal of creating a high performance yo-yo from 7068 aluminum for a decent price, and it is worth checking out.
As always, enjoy your throwing!