The picture that OneDrop used for their 2014 Benchmarks line is amazing, and was incredibly helpful when I started yoyoing again. When I was a kid, as far as I knew there were two yoyo shapes: Fireball and Butterfly. When I stumbled upon the W-H-O-V of the Benchmarks, it made everything click. I'm the kind of guy that loves sorting and classification, and a line of yoyos that specifically set out to delineate the difference between the primary shapes is fantastic. The Benchmark project is one of my favorite things OneDrop has done. Watching the growth of the line from 2013, to 2014, and again to 2016 is amazing.
I've seen a few new people around lately that have been a little confused by what shapes are and what they mean. I thought I'd put together a little primer on shapes that expands on what OneDrop has done with the Benchmark line. Hopefully the four breakouts for W-H-O-V below can help anyone looking for a little bit of a base to build from regarding yoyo shape and how it can affect play.
The angular V-Shape is obvious at first look for most throws. I think of it as the base of the modern shape. They'll frequently have a relatively small curve or flat spot near the rim, but the profile is a nearly straight line to that rim. The straight profile makes them one of the more simple shapes, and likely one of the best shapes to start with since the wide angle makes it easy to land your first string tricks. The slightly-smaller rim size of most V-Shapes make them more angular, more responsive to tilting off-axis, and sometimes a little uncomfortable to catch.
Imagine a W-Shape as a swole V-Shape. The angular shape from the gap comes to a very obvious angle near the rim to shove even more weight towards the outside of the yoyo. The most recent ideal execution of this shape is Evan Nagao's signature, the YoYoFactory Edge. The W-Shape pushes more weight away from the center of the yoyo, making them more stable, and have a little more power on the throw.
If the W-Shape is a swole V, then the H is a stacked W. The H-Shape is a move to stack even more weight on the rims of the yoyo. The YoYoFactory Horizon and Shutter are both examples of H-Shape yoyos, as well as the YoYoFREAKS Pound and Sharp. One of the most obvious visual cues of an H-Shape yoyo is a very vertical angle before reaching the rim. Because of the relatively extreme weight distribution, H-Shape yoyos frequently become over-stable and very powerful on the throw. They'll resist changing their plane of play, and can sometimes feel a little sluggish or heavy on the string.
O-Shape comes from the term Organic, which refers to a shape that frequently utilizes a minimal amount of long curves through the profile. These throws hearken back to a time when power wasn't everything. An O-Shape yoyo isn't about maximizing the rim weight in order to coax out all of the spintime and stability you can get. They're frequently a design meant to emphasize a slower, more deliberate style of play. They're more impacted by string play and off axis play because of the height of the walls in the profile. The current holy grail of O-Shape throws is the Grail by A-RT. It's also what was used in what I believe to be one of the best yoyo videos of 2017. The Aesthetic of Freedom by Charles Haycock is what motivated me to get a Grail, and coincidentally why I became so heartbroken this December when it got lost in the mail on its way.
Variations of a Theme
I hope that looking at all of these categories and pictures imparted the idea that the shapes are more guidelines than rules. What I respect about the OneDrop Benchmark series is that they crystallize the primary characteristics that make up each shape. The Benchmark-W is very clearly a W shape, but a Terrarian has the W characteristics to an extreme. The Benchmark-O is the epitome of organic, but the OC or Monocle use that same mid-body weight curve with the addition of an initial curve to move the design away from the string.
Everything is unique. Everything is similar. It's a little like music; no two musicians will play St. James Infirmary the same, but you should still be able to hear the song in any rendition. If you're interested in any of the yoyos above, be sure to click through and take a look at the store pages or manufacturer's sites.
Most of these photos are not my own, and I linked to the origin or store page of most pictures here, but if you'd like anything changed or clarified please reach out to me and I'll make it happen.!