Friday, 13 June 2014

Old but still Fresh - Part #7

There are yo-yos that are old, and then there are yo-yos that are old but still FRESH! Back in the day, Duncan Freehands (now known as Freehand 1s) were the throw to have. When the mould for the Freehands broke, players all over the world desperately seeked for any yo-yo that could replace the forever-gone Freehand 1s. One of the yo-yos that stepped up to the plate was the Buzz-on Element X. It had the same wide butterfly shape like the Freehand 1, but with an additional metal weight ring on the inside of the yo-yo halve.

The Element X was great back in 2003/2004, and it is still one of our favorite yo-yos today. Be it the SPR, or non-SPR version, if you can get your hands on an Element X today, do it with no regrets.

Buzz-on Element X

Buzz-on was a company that was setup by Dave Bazan (Bazan / Buzz-on, get it?) in late 2002 / early 2003 to cater to a growing Spinning scene the world over. With years of yo-yo experience under his belt, Dave decided it was time to take his expertise into the world of yo-yo development, and he released the Element X to a group of yo-yo players who were craving more from yo-yos.

Spinners wanted wider butterfly shaped yo-yos that were in the same vein as the Freehand 1. Renegades, Tigersharks, etc were starting to be more 'slimline' throws and were not cutting it for contest performance back then. The Element X came at a perfect time, filling the need for wide butterfly shaped yo-yos. The Element X is/was a great yo-yo back then and now, but it was not without it's flaws.

Technological Makeup

The Element X features a wide, rounded butterfly shape that made it comfortable to play and hold. Unlike the Freehand 1, the Element X did not have solid plastic moulded sidecaps, but featured thin plastic / paper side caps under thick metal weight rims.

The inside of the Element X features a small, thin bearing that was commonly found in older YoYoJam yo-yos, metal spacers (SPR kits came later on) and Duncan Friction Stickers. Friction stickers was the response of choice back in those days for it's reliable, grippy response, ensuring that with or without binds, the yo-yo would have a tight wind allowing for stronger throws.

The body of the Element X is like a combination between a Spintastics Eclipse and a Duncan Freehand 1. It has the smooth rounded body of a Duncan Freehand with the small bearing and spacer set up of a Spintastics yo-yo. Though the Friction Stickers needed to be replaced relatively often, it always ensured you got tight, reliable string wind-ups whenever you return the yo-yo to your hand.

Sizing Up

The Element X is a solid throw that is nicely weighted due to the metal weight rings. Using the regular thin bearing, thin spacers set-up, the Element X will play more to the responsive side as compared to a Duncan Freehand. Though the Element X is a great yo-yo, it is very hard to come by these days and competitors would definitely choose modern metal yo-yos over these for competition freestyles. But being solid, yet rather responsive is one of the charms of the Element X, and it is a throw that we keep coming back to every now and then.

As we have mentioned before, the Element X shares many characteristics with the Duncan Freehand. Here pictured together with the Element X is a Freehand Zero. Similar in looks, but slightly different in feel and performance.

The Bad

The Element X is good, but that does not mean it is flawless. When the Element X first came out, there was one big main complaint from various players. "Why does my Element X wobble/vibrate so much?" As the Element X features a thick metal weight ring that is pressed into the yo-yo halve, some yo-yos will have a very obvious vibration or wobble due to having 2 separate big pieces on each side. These 2 separate parts, combined with another 2 parts (on the other halve) makes some yo-yos less balanced and more prone to wobbles.

But, there is a way to try and lessen the wobble. It involves tuning the axle / nut on each halve and rotating them to see which position will have the least wobble, or sometimes, no wobble at all! Despite the fact that you may get a wobbly throw, if you knew how to go about fixing it, or if you got a perfectly balanced one out of the package, the Element X was as smooth as butter, and just plainly awesome to throw. Just thinking about it makes us feel like picking one up and playing with it. SO GOOD!


Just like previous throws that were featured on the 'Blast from the Past' column, the Element X is definitely one from an era that has come and gone. Today, the Element X is roughly 10 years old, yet it still remains as one of our favorite plastic throws. It could be due to nostalgia and not so much to do with performance, but if you ever have the chance and come across an Element X, you have to give it a go.

Today, the Element X is both a collectors piece, and an amazing yo-yo that signifies the start of an era where Spinners craved / demanded wider shaped butterfly yo-yos. Those were the days!

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