Review: Duncan HaymakerX

First, I need to give a little background before I dive into the review proper. During a family trip to Orlando early last December, Sean Perez told me that he had just spent a day doing a photo shoot for a new yoyo, and that I should get excited for a new Haymaker. I'd never thrown the previous version of the Haymaker, so I took his word for it and filed it away as something to look at down the road. When Duncan started releasing information about it the next month I was instantly intrigued, but again let it escape my mind that I was supposed to be excited about it.


When the HaymakerX released I was so deep into designing the Coyote and Scissortail that I was in a very "Little Guys" mindset. I was playing a lot of smaller brand throws and largely ignoring the behemoths in the industry that Duncan and YoYoFactory represent. The guys at the Barbershop started calling me Duncan because I would yoyo in the shop so much. That is how ubiquitous the Duncan brand is. YoYos may be niche now, but there is a huge population of people out there that remember getting a Duncan Imperial or Butterfly as a kid and learning tricks at recess. I was one of them. 

Because of all of this history, I had a lot of preconceptions about Duncan. I thought they played it safe. Everyone I'd talked to on the team was great, but the yoyos just didn't excite me. In an era of fingerspin hubs, axle nipples, and stability rings, I saw Duncan's major designs as primarily wing shapes with flat hubs. I just didn't know how something could still be so simple and command so much respect. 

As a celebration of National YoYo Day I took advantage of the 50% sale at Duncan. I ordered the throw that Sean told me to be excited about some seven months prior. Then, for the next 5 days, I waited for the delivery.

I've been wrong before. I would even say I've been frequently wrong. Boy, was I wrong about Duncan. I love the HaymakerX.



There are a few things that jump out at you immediately with this design. First, the profile is simplicity itself. It is a W-Shape, with a small step near the response and a nearly-straight wall to a curved and comfortable stainless steel rim. The hub is also simple; just a flat surface with a wall going into a ever-so-slight curve to the rim. When you make it to the steel, the simplicity stops. 

The rim is one of the more exciting things I've seen in YoYo design recently. It's flush, in both the cup and on the outside profile. There is a 45 degree angle in the cup before it goes straight to the edge of the rim and then curves back around to the outside. As soon as I got it in hand, I knew I had to try and sketch it to figure out how they fit the ring.

I don't have the guts to cut my YoYos in half like Jacob Gross, so until someone else does I won't know for sure how the ring is fit. There are two primary ways I can think they may be fit though. The first is the easiest; it's could be as simple as a near-90 degree angle that the ring is pressed into. It's the most likely, but also would add another gram or two of midweight. The second possibility is that there is some variation of two near-right angles on the inner diameter of the ring that is pressed into two receiving angles on the body. For this to work, the rim would need to be machined in two separate operations, which means more machining time and designing a method of work holding that would minimize the possibility of damaging the ring or failing to machine it to spec. It would have been a lot of work, but it would cut out some middle weight.

I wanted to get a little more information on the design process for this review, so I reached out to Duncan to see what they wanted to share. Bryan Jardin got in contact with me, and was awesome enough to answer a few questions about the design!

In the description for the HaymakerX, you mention how difficult it was to design the HaymakerX. How many prototype versions did you go through, and what was the largest difficulty in the designing process?
The designer previously worked for Duncan and his name is Kobe. He mentioned that he had the idea for a long time, and it worked perfectly after couple prototypes. The hardest part of this design is how to reduce the amount of b-grades -- that’s where they invested a lot of time and effort; mainly on the rims, not the body.
The steel rim is fantastic, but I can imagine it is a nightmare for production. What has your b-grade rate been due to fitting the rim? Were there any breakthroughs you’re comfortable sharing that helped smooth out the production process?
The b-grades for the HaymakerX is very minimal due to the rim revision. I would say less than 5%. The secret of this yo-yo is the assembly, it is very different compared to other bi-metals we produced.

The HaymakerX is a pretty major departure from the previous Haymaker. With the exception of the first step from the response, and the overall shape of the cup, there aren’t many similar characteristics. Were there any specific inspirations for changing the design so much?  Is there a specific aspect of the design that you are particularly proud of?

My answer might be far from your question but I’ll put it in a car perspective. We will see the same name over the years but different body design. That’s how I think about the old Haymaker vs the HaymakerX. The complete revision of HaymakerX is necessary, I always like to move on if the product needs some design revisit.  I didn’t design it myself, but working with Kobe is very inspirational. The talent, passion and the work ethics he put on this yo-yo is extraordinary, I think you can see it from the overall design and playability.

-Bryan Jardin


The playability of the HaymakerX was obviously an important factor in the design. The rim lends a unique design element to the throw and also helps in the weight distribution. On the string, the HaymakerX feels more even-weighted than you would expect. With the visual presence of the steel rim, you would expect it to be extremely rim weighted and overstable. In reality, I think quite a bit of the rim weight ends up being in the interface area, which means it has a little bit more center weight. It is stable, but not so much that you can't pull it off axis. 


I've also had a lot of fun with whips and rejections with the HaymakerX, which I'm attributing to the small step near the response. It is obviously nowhere near the size of a wall you'd get in an organic YoYo, but it has a little more presence than some of the other competition oriented shapes that we're used to seeing.

The cup is completely flat, so no concave angle to simplify fingerspins or convex curve to extend the axle. If you're comfortable fingerspining you should have no problem doing so on the HaymakerX, especially since there is a lack of engravings on the cups. 


Comparisons are a little difficult for me at the moment, as I'm on a bit of an extended trip and only have a few throws with me instead of my full collection. On memory, it plays a bit like the G2 Elite 2018. It isn't a speed demon on the string, but it handles axial and speed changes adeptly while remaining incredibly comfortable to play. It has a presence in play, similar to the G2 Banshee or the OneDrop Valor, instead of being so light as to hardly be noticed like the YoYoBrothers Heirloom or OneDrop+SF SK. The most recent revision of the Barracuda also seems like an apt comparison, although the HaymakerX does feel quicker on the string.


As an overall shape comparison, the HaymakerX and YoYoBrothers Heritage have an almost identical profile. The HaymakerX is slightly wider (57mm) and thicker (43mm), and obviously the weight (65.3g) and distribution is wildly different, but they feel the same in hand. It's a great example of how two things that have a lot of similarities on the surface can be extremely different in execution.


In two words: Buy it. I love my HaymakerX. It has been my daily throw since I received it. At the $65 discount price it was a no-brainer. At $120, it definitely merits thinking. If you find yourself with the money to spend and want something unique, you can't go wrong with the HaymakerX.


The questions and answers were edited slightly to improve readability, but the content was left the same. Thanks again to Bryan Jardin for answering a few questions!