WOLF (G Squared)
Spins great. Stays on plane. Come back snappy. That's all I need in a throw. Comfortable in the hand, though I'm not crazy about the finish.
One of only two yo-yos in my collection I would describe as "buttery" (the other being my One Drop Deep State).
Plays very similar to my CLYW Chief -- if you own one, you probably don't need to own the other. A bit heavier in the hand and a bit more power in the throw.
G2 yo-yos are hard to find on a good day. I picked up this glitch edition at East Coast Masters.
Basecamp Navigator (YYF/CLYW)
Spins great. Stays on plane. Comes back snappy. That's all I need!
It took me a *long time* for me to get a feel for this throw. There were problems with the response, which made it far too grabby. Now that I've broken it in, it's one of my everyday carry yo-yos.
The play isn't too unique, but very, very solid. It probably plays most closely to my Shutter, but with a *lot* more power.
I got this yoyo for below half of retail. Not sure I would pay full price.
Top Deck (One Drop)
Ask anyone about their top yo-yo, and half will respond with TOP DECK!
I love this this thing. It spins forever, stays on plane, and comes back snappy--probably better than any other throw I own. The 7075 aluminum means it's strong enough to take a beating. This is the only yo-yo that I'm tempted to buy a second copy of.
What I'd change: I'm a big fan of the One Drop Side Effects system, and I wish this yo-yo had it. Also, I think that the engraving on the cup is incredibly ugly. Finally, the finish isn't to my liking--too shiny and grippy.
Three strikes against it, yet somehow it's still one of my absolute favorites. It's that good!
Spins great, stays on plane, comes back snappy--all I ask.
Plays very similar to my G2 Wolf, with a bit less power. I find myself taking this one with me out to the house more often for casual throwing. But when I'm learning something, go elsewhere.
Picked up this classic at East Coast Masters -- bought from the man himself, Steve Brown.
Gradient (One Drop)
This is the one and only "V shaped" yo-yo I've ever owned. I hate it.
Uncomfortable in the hand. Doesn't stay on plane. Very low power.
The finish is nice.
I paid very little for this yoyo (I was more interested in the spike Side Effects that came with it). Even so, I got it out of my collection as soon as I was able.
The Shutter sets the benchmark for modern mid-range yo-yos. And for good reason! It passes the basic test with ease: powerful spin, stable, snappy return.
The graphic is pretty ugly, which seems to be how YoYoFactory rolls. Mine has an incredible "diamond blasted" finish--one of the smoothest yo-yos I own. Unlike most of my other yo-yos, this one can accommodate both grinds and finger spins.
There's a lot of hate for the Shutter in the community ... mostly from overexposure (heh). The main "critique" seems to be that it's not terribly interesting, which is true. But there's something to be said for boring perfection, especially for new players. Also, the used market is flooded, which means you could easily snag one for around $20 ... which is an unbelievably good value.
Last note: A lot of new throwers find themselves torn between a Shutter and a Horizon. I'd go with the Shutter all day long.
2016 Benchmark H (One Drop)
This is the first and only Benchmark Series* yo-yo I've tried. At one throw, I instantly saw why they were so much cheaper than other One Drops.
This yo-yo feels cheap. Coming off the first throw, it has almost no power. The H shape means it's stable, but what good is stability if you can barely get it back to your hand? If something boring like the Shutter plays way above its price range, this plays way below.
I'll be looking to trade this guy out of my collection as soon as I can.
*The Benchmark Series is a whole thing. Google it, if you're curious.