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What are the Different Types of Yo-Yos?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco

Yo-yos are available in a wide range of shapes, designs, and materials. With so many options available, it is difficult to decide which one is best for each individual. The most obvious difference among these toys is their shape. The Classic shape, also known as Imperial, consists of two semicircles with the flat sides facing each other. The Butterfly or Wing looks like an inverted classic, with the rounded part facing in.

Modified yo-yos are modern variants that combine characteristics of both models mentioned above. This type is the perfect choice for Rocking-the-Cradle and looping style tricks. People who are looking to buy only one type of yo-yo may find that the modified model is the best choice.

Boy playing with a ball
Boy playing with a ball

Most yo-yos are made of plastic, because it is both inexpensive and highly resistant to impact or other damage. Plastic also gives the most options for colors and designs. Wood is the original yo-yo material and is still widely used, especially in old-fashioned and collector items, such as in the case of those made of maple. Aluminum models are also available, but they're generally expensive and more difficult to use, and they are not recommended for novices.

The piece that connects the two halves of a yo-yo is known as the axle. There are different types of axles, but the most common is a fixed axle. Toys with a fixed axle are usually made of a single piece of wood, so there are no rotating parts.

Transaxle and ball bearing axle yo-yos have either a simple sleeve or one with metal parts inside to make them spin faster and better. For beginners, clutch axles are the best choice. They use centrifugal force to come back up after spinning.

There are essentially no differences when it comes to the string used in a yo-yo, although one that is part polyester usually won't wear out as fast. Weight is a consideration when choosing a toy, since it has an influence on performance. Most yo-yos are mid range (45-50 grams or 1.6-1.8 oz.), but shoppers can find models that vary in weight from super light (30-40 grams or 1.1-1.4 oz.) to heavyweights (60-70 grams or 2.1-2.5 oz.). When it comes to price, mass-produced yo-yos are relatively inexpensive and can be bought at almost any store that sells toys. Ones made of metal and those that are handmade, painted, or carved can cost quite a bit of money, and they are often only available through specialty stores.

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Discussion Comments


@Soulfox -- True, but I've seen some people pull off some incredible tricks with a fixed axle yo-yo. To me, that is more impressive than someone who uses a yo-yo that was designed to "cheat" a bit and spin longer than a traditional yo-yo.

And you can get some fixed axle yo-yos to spin longer by loosening the string around the axle a bit. Of course, that may be considered cheating, too.


If you want to do a bunch of tricks, get a yo-yo with a ball bearing axle. You can throw your yo-yo, engage that axle and have the thing spin for a very long time. Tricks are a lot easier to do if you have a yo-yo that will spin for as long as you want,

Of course, trade off is a yo-yo with a ball bearing axle tends to be more expensive than those without that feature.

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      Boy playing with a ball