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Astrojax Quicktip: Turning On the Lights

If you’re completely new to the world of Astrojax then fear not! For we have come to your anti-illumination aid by producing the following brief instructional for your videologically tutorialized ingestion. Did we make those words up? Yes. Yes we did. Enjoy!

 

27
Feb 2013
POSTED BY spindoctor
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The Breakdown of Astrojax Aqua

First Plus, then V-Max, and now Aqua?!  Has the world gone mad?!  No, not quite. We just want you to understand that we’re going out of our way to ensure that you have a complete and utter understanding down to the molecular lever of what makes Astrojax sets different from one another.  So, without too much fussing about, let’s stop with the chit-chat and get down to business breaking down those Jax!

History

Introduced in 2007, the Aqua was the first set of Astrojax ever to feature our infamous string-buds.  This distinction aside, these were also invented by Larry Shaw who after years of contemplation would eventually conclude that an entirely new form of liquid-based Astrojax might offer a different feel of play and break up the standard line with some increased variety.  The liquid core provided for a smoother overall orbit backed up by some pretty hefty scientific research that takes into account not only the velocity of the balls in orbit, but also the viscosity of the water within them.  If you don’t know what viscosity is, think of it as a measure of the ‘gooiness’ of a substance where water, running freely would have a low viscosity, honey or thicker liquids would have a higher viscosity. While we tend to leave that kind of science to greater minds than our humble blogging staff, it’s still interesting to note that even the most seemingly innocuous changes to Astrojax have a wealth of research put in before they’re made.  In fact, the Aqua was prototyped for over 3 years before being made available to the public!

Features and Distinction

Initially Astrojax Aqua was made available in three styles; Blue (pacific surf edition now discontinued and only available at US Astrojax), Glow, and Shiva (discontinued). Aquas are comprised of polycarbonate stringbuds and vortex with liquid cores housed within a phthalate-free PVC membrane. Stringbuds allow the end balls to flow freely on the string, opening up new realms of Astrojax play! Also popular with players is the woven string style, as opposed to the standard braided strings with other models.  The woven strings are also slightly longer, allowing for larger and slightly slower orbits (great for comprehending the path of orbits). 

More specifically, aside from the liquid core, the particulars included:

  • Ball diameter: 38mm
  • Height: 31mm
  • Length of string: 95cm
  • Non-toxic liquid that still tastes horrible (despite our best efforts)
  • Included one spare stringbud and also one extra long string (110cm)

 

For a more complete breakdown of the tricks for which Aqua is ideal, take a gander at the chart below!

14
Nov 2012
POSTED BY spindoctor
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How to Astrojax: Venus

We know, the abundance of resources we make available to you has you absolutely dizzy with excitement.  But don’t get *too* worked up, because we’re about to take you back to the basics with a showcase on how to perform the Venus!  Check it out below courtesy of TheFerrell

10
Oct 2012
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Why Teaching a Noob Astrojax Might End Your Life

(disclaimer: no dolphins were hurt in the making of this blog post).

We’ve all done it. Got excited about Astrojax, wanted to share it with someone in the world. You’ve practiced your wording (see: orbit skill toy), how to describe them. And then, the moment of truth. The moment that decides your fate, whether you live or die;

You hand over your set of Astrojax to the noob!

This is a critical moment. This is where the words start flying. This is life or death. Why? You’re about to teach a fresh face how to vertical orbit and you already know the ten ways it can go wrong.

You’ve done everything to prepare them (and yourself). You’ve shown them what a vertical orbit looks like. You’ve exaggerated the orbiting motion your hand does but that you don’t see. You’ve used very precise and exaggerated words that “when you do it, you are NOT gonna rotate your hand this big. It doesn’t take very much energy. Your hand orbits need to be so small I cannot see them. DO NOT DO BIG HAND ORBITS!!!”

Yeah, you yelled at them. 

Because you know.

We all know.

Once they drop the ball from their non-dominant hand, all… chaos breaks loose.

Because what they did was get excited. What they heard was pieces of what you said (“…do… big… hand… orbits!”)

And what they do next is… well, I think you know. And there’s no stopping them (it’s easier to punch a dolphin in the nose than try to stop them). They’re gonna huge-hand-orbit regardless of their IQ level and how much you explained not to. They’re gonna rubber-neck so as to avoid a small dent in their cranium (see: Astrojax Plus). You’re gonna dive behind the nearest sofa or bush or ottoman because you were standing too close even though you knew better! You too want to live and not become another victim of the mistress we call Chaos. But alas.

It’s inevitable.

Your fate is sealed.

Teaching a noob, any noob means abandoning all safety because in Astrojax, there are no guarantees. Especially when it comes to noobs. I have yet to meet the noob that can accurately vertical orbit on their first try. Show me a noob that can orbit like that and I’ll show you a man with a furrowed eyebrow of distrust. Because I don’t believe they exist. I think it’s the natural evolution of anyone who has ever picked up a set of Astrojax.

But alas, you were brave. You sacrificed your well-being for a greater cause. You taught someone new how to start playing Astrojax. You laughed with them as a smile spread across their face at the sheer craziness of their first chaotic orbit. And who knows? This sacrifice may lead to something grand. Sure, they may never buy or play with a set again. On the other hand, your commitment and sacrifice to that one individual may bring forth destiny. Destiny of a person who, after they take their first vertical orbit, becomes addicted and an avid Astrojax player and contributor to our community.

Worth it? You bet it is.

Just remember, once they release that first ball, run!

~~OceanJax :)

31
Aug 2012
POSTED BY OceanJax
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Astrojax: The Gateway Skill Toy

I consider myself a “Jack of all Trades, Master of Astrojax” kinda guy when it comes to the skill toy world.  Astrojax may be my primary focus, but I’m proficient with many other skill toys as well. Astrojax was the second skill toy I learned how to use (yoyos were my first), so I picked up a whole lot of others after learning Astrojax.  What I’d like to share with you today are the skill toys I’ve found easy to pick up after learning Astrojax.  Because Astrojax served as a ‘gateway toy’ of sorts, this seemed like a great opportunity to point out some other toys that you can cross-train with as you refine your skill toy techniques. As it’s not uncommon for a player proficient in one toy to gravitate toward another skill toy I thought this would be a fun post to share with you today.

First, let’s take a look at poi;

Poi is described as the art of spinning tethered balls in an artistic fashion.  Essentially, it’s the art of spinning stuff in beautiful patterns.  It’s got a very zen-like feel and if done to the right music, it’s a wonderful stress reliever.  The moves in poi are called “Patterns” since most (if not all) poi moves are continuous, so patterns develop.

Poi spinning is very easy to pick up especially if your jaxing style involves a lot of powerplay, or full-string, moves.  I don’t consider poi a “toy” but more like an “apparatus” or extension of one’s body movements.

One of the reasons why Astrojax relates easily to Poi is because, well, Astrojax can be used exactly as you use poi!  You can hold one end ball, and swing the two-ball end in the various poi patterns.  (Using Saturn balls can mimic a great set of light-poi as well). There are numerous instructional poi videos, but Playpoi.com has the best in my opinion (YouTube handle:  Meenik ) whereas he has the videos I use to learn new patterns/moves.  

Once you’ve learned how to spin poi with your Astrojax, you are ready to either pick up a set, or make a set of “sock poi” using two soccer-socks (or your sister’s knee-length socks) and a pair of tennis balls.  US Astrojax actually sell three great sets of Kite Poi (Poi with streamers on the end, two regular sized ones, and one set for younger children) and the Boing Swing can be used as poi (I use Boing Swing with extensions tied to them so I can make the spin radius longer).

Because Astrojax combines features of the yo-yo, juggling balls, the lasso, poi and many others and we’ve already taken a look at poi, let’s check out the 5A Yoyo style.

The 5A style of yoyo is also referred to as a “Counter Weight” style of yo-yoing.  In this style, the part of the string that is usually tied to your finger is tied to a counterweight. This allows one more degree of freedom and opens up a whole new set of tricks that can be done by manipulating the counterweight. I do not claim to be extremely good at this style, since I only can do the basics, it’s easy to see how many Astrojax moves can be incorporated into this style by looking at the professionals.

 

Notice how he basically starts with a horizontal Thriller move??  And then he proceeds to blow your mind!!

Now, what do you need to get into this style?  Well, for starters, you need a yoyo. Basically, you’d want a standard butterfly shape metal bearing yoyo.  (Sadly, Plastic bearings have a hard time with this style due to the small spin time)  After that, you need a counterweight.  Now what can we use…. wait a second, let’s use ASTROJAX!!!  (since, obviously, you should have a ball or two lying around)  Best way to put the ball on the string is to take the string off the yoyo, thread the yoyo-end through the center of the Jax ball and let the ball slide to the knot-side of the string.  Take the yoyo-end of the string and thread it through the loop at the knot end of the string.  After that, attach the string back to the yoyo.

Once again, I’d recommend looking up videos on YouTube on how to start the 5A style since there are others much better than I that can explain the basics.  However, when you start learning moves, look to practicing first with Astrojax since the string length and weight distribution are roughly the same as a yoyo.  The only difference is that you don’t have to worry about the throw, and landing the yoyo on the string.  Get the basics down with Astrojax, then transition to the yoyo.

These are two of the most prominent gateways to other skill toys. By taking the time to use Astrojax, you learn how to visualize moves and become creative.  This is very useful when picking up any other skill toy.  Through hard work and that big word called “perseverance” (that’s a big word for a non English major!) you can pick up any other toy you set your heart on! 

If you’re interested in learning a new skill toy, feel free to mention it in the comments section, or post it on the AP-Club.net forum under the “General Discussion Skill Toys” section, and I’ll be glad to share what I know.  For reference, here’s a list of the other toys I’m proficient with that I’d be happy to talk about.

Diabolo, Gyro-ring, Kendama, Shaker Cups, Juggling (3 balls/3 rings), Meteors, Flower stix/Devil Stix, Bolero (Mexican version of Kendama)

Until next time folks, this is Theferrell, signing out.

24
Aug 2012
POSTED BY USAstrojax
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How to Paint with Light

Ever wonder how photographs like the above are even possible?  I mean, what dark magic are these people using that allows them to create these brilliant light displays and what poor photographer actually sticks around to try and capture this forbidden alchemy before getting obliterated by the fireballs these wizards are throwing around?

Actually, there’s no wizardry here, just pure technological!  Sorry, thought that would work better but no matter, let’s take a look at how you can re-create this at home.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Camera
  • Light source (Flashlight, Boing, Astrojax Saturn)
  • Tripod
  • A friend to photograph or play while you photograph (or an exceedingly talented dog that will run around with a Boing in his mouth)
  • Imagination!

 

PRO TIPS:

  • Setting your aperture to a higher f-stop will give you a greater depth of field. This will allow more of the light to remain focused.
  • Having a flashlight handy to shine on your subject will help you focus your camera in the dark.
  • Compare different shutter speeds for best results. The longer the shutter is open the more light will be captured
  • Use a tripod to get clear and crisp photos. Although you can get some pretty crazy results if you twist the camera while holding open the shutter.

 

Painting/drawing with light as pictured above is actually accomplished by using a long/extended exposure on your camera. Having the shutter open longer allows the light trail to be captured on the image sensor. To achieve best results you should shoot with a SLR or DSLR. If you have a point and shoot digital camera you can set your camera to night mode to get comparable results. 

While this is the technical instruction for how to accomplish the light painting, we can’t provide you artistic direction.  That’s on you, so really push the limits of what’s possible and experiment!  Try photographing multiple subjects. Shoot a set of Astrojax Saturn and a Boing at the same time! Play with depth. Start off close to the camera at beginning of the shot and further away at the end of the shot.  See what kind of ambient effects you get shooting in the woods!  There are tons of ways to spice up your light painting so go crazy!  Using Boing (Large), the first photo above (1) was achieved by having four people stand perfectly still, while four people “traced” their silhouettes or outlines from behind!  Click on the third photo (3) to view sea creatures! A white LED Astrojax was used for the second photo (2), and a Boing Swing for the fourth photo (4). You are only limited by your imagination…

And when you’re done shooting some awesome light painting?  Don’t forget to head over to our Facebook page to show off what dazzling displays you’ve captured!  Because occasionally we’ll hold contests for photo submissions there as well where you can win free USAstrojax stuff!  Sweet!

22
Aug 2012
POSTED BY spindoctor
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Myachi – Way of the Hand Sack

What is Myachi?

If you have action figures, it makes an excellent body pillow for a G.I. Joe or Barbie.

If you’re a Jaxologist, it is one of the greatest skill toys ever created.

It seems like only yesterday (by yesterday, I mean 1999) that I received my first Myachi in my hometown of Salida, Colorado. It was summer. Fibark was in full swing. The sun was shining and the river roaring as people swarmed around vendors selling at marked-up prices. I was 17 years old and like any teenager with money, it was burning a hole in my pocket. Between $4 funnel cakes and $2 junk toys, I arrived at destiny; The Myachi guys. I was already familiar with hackysack and quite good at it. So when I saw these guys throwing down a version of hackysack that broke the rules (see: playing with hands) I knew I had to see what was going on. 

What I discovered opened my eyes to hackysack play and the world of skill toys in general. What I learned was:

  • You can bend the rules of a game if you’ll just bend your mind.
  • There are way more skill toys in the world than I could’ve imagined
  • I would look pretty lame in comparison to these guys when I try Myachi

 
And I did look lame. It was hard at first. These guys were total rock stars. But most importantly? They were supportive, positive, and they opened my eyes. I plunked down $10 cash (the price back then) and left with my very first purple crush velvet Myachi.

So what is Myachi? In short, it’s a hand hackysack. But the beauty of a Myachi is that it functions as a regular hackysack for like, you know, your feet. You can stall, kick, flick, spin it the old fashioned way, and now you can use your hands. There’s only one rule-

NO PALMS ALLOWED! 

Or more simply- using the back of your hand exclusively. The first thing you will learn as a Myachi noob is the lotus position. How to form and hold your hand the proper way in order to effectively use your hands with a Myachi. If you’ve played hackysack but are not familiar with stalls, then the next thing you will (quickly) learn is how to stall. That simple technique that everyone claims they can do but cannot (technique is everything in a stall). Stalls are essential in Myachi. It’s not all hits like in hackysack. Can you hit? Sure. It’s just not the predominant move. But eventually, you will learn how to catch or stall. When you start getting the hang of it, you will find that you feel (and look like) a ninja with this thing! Once you find your Myachi flow, you’ll find your body moving in ways and rhythms you may have never experienced before!

Below I’ve posted videos of some seasoned Myachi players (see: Myachi ninjas) so you can get an idea of how Myachi works because words just don’t do it justice.

Much like hackysack, the Myachi is formed on the ideal of community. There are many skill toys out there that are meant for solo-use. And while you can practice/play Myachi on your own, the real fun comes in getting a group and jammin’ together!  Learning new tricks. Showing off new tricks. Everyone laughing when someone gets smacked in the face “on accident”. It’s revolutionary and much like Astrojax, Myachi is open to new ways of play and interpretation based on the individuals playing. So, check out the videos and if you like what you see, click here to order your very own Myachi from USAstrojax!

 

 

 

 


08
Aug 2012
POSTED BY OceanJax
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Video Slowcase: An Intimate Look at Chris Manic’s Astrojax Skills in Slo-Mo!

Why slow case?  Because this video comes to you at a high framerate that’s been slowed down so you can catch every detail of Chris Manic’s performance.  

Straight out of NY circa 2008 when Larry Shaw, the inventor, invited some of the top players in the world to hang out, eat pizza, and showoff their skills.  Chris Manic, Cizrek, and Jason Simard made the trip where we all explored the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan to shoot some footage.  While we love shooting out in the open, our hunger to see Astrojax slowed down Matrix-style was satiated when Larry arranged to have quarter speed film footage shot in a New York film studio. Be looking for part 2 featuring Cizrek soon, but for now feast your eyes on what we captured!

On behalf of Astrojax fans worldwide, we’d like to wish
Chris Manic a Happy Birthday!

19
Jul 2012
POSTED BY spindoctor
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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Yo-Yo

It’s plain to see we have a certain fondness for Astrojax, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore our roots. Innovation is innovation whether that’s from your favorite tech company or your favorite toys. With that in mind, it wouldn’t behoove us at all to forget our roots and where our passion was born. That’s why this post will provide you a light overview of what it took to get from there to here aaaaand back again. (Couldn’t help it, too excited for The Hobbit) So without further adieu, here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the Yo-Yo.

1. Yo-Yo’s Have Been Around Since 500 BC

No, you didn’t read that wrong, the earliest known instance of someone playing with a Yo-Yo is from Greece where a painted vase dated from around this period that depicted a boy playing with one.

While historians still debate fiercely whether the boy was indeed walking the dog, the smug look on his face leads many to believe that he was performing something far fiercer, no doubt to entertain the throngs of smoking hot greek ladies cheering him on.  To be fair, toys were often gifted to the gods back then ceremonially at certain ages so it’s likely at least at that point that it was used less as a toy and more as an indicator of maturity.

2. Yo-Yos Return Thanks to an Increase in Friction

Certain tricks require that a Yo-Yo remain spinning freely at the end of its string like the absolute rebel boss that it is.  However, what allows a Yo-Yo to return when given that slight tug isn’t magic or some bizarre human/object peer pressure, but rather that for the brief instant the string is tugged, friction increases between the string and the axel which causes it to pop back up to your hand.

I know right?  Your head just exploded.  But, I’m not going to make it any easier on you because the actual science behind how what began as a string and a terra cotta disk operates is pretty astounding.  It’s a delicate balance between potential energy (whereby the yo-yo can fall to the ground or spin as it travels down the string and unwinds) and the kinetic energy generated by the gyroscopic stability of the action.  Or, more simply, science makes you look like an honest-to-goodness wizard as you get better and better so hooray!

 

3. There Are TONS of Yo-Yo World Records

No joke.  I’m not just talking about who has yo-yoed the longest or has done the most consecutive loop the loops, but insane records like this dapper gentleman:

 
This man just solved a rubik’s cube while a yo-yo was sleeping.  There are tons of other feats just like this and you can read more about people have the fastest throw-down time (which, I thought was an honor reserved for Vin Diesel), longest yo-yoing done while performing splits, and even the most yo-yo gravity pulls done while riding a rola bola here. And no, I don’t know what a rola bola is but it sounds very, very dangerous.  

 

4. The Word ‘Yo-Yo’ was Mired in Controversey

After a 1965 Lawsuit

Today with so much talk surrounding intellectual property, licensing, and trademarks, it’s hard to imagine this would’ve happened today, but in 1965 a federal judge ruled that the Duncan family could no longer retain the trademark to the term ‘Yo-Yo’.  Competitors had struggled to be successful without using the name and in this landmark case it was ruled that ‘Yo-Yo’ had become common language and as such, Donald Duncan’s trademark was no longer valid.  It’s pretty nuts to think that such a ruling could happen but hence the controversy.  
 
Sadly, the resulting legal expenses and other pressures forced the Duncan family to sell off the rights to Flambeau, Inc. later on to continue the sale of Yo-Yos having gained access to the associated trademarks and Duncan name.  And the rest?  Is history.

 

5. The World’s Most Expensive Yo-Yo was

$16,000 at Auction

No, we’re not talking about an adamantium, diamond-encrusted yo-yo forged in the Mines of Moria (last LOTR reference I promise), but rather, a fairly run-of-the-mill  yo-yo.  So why so expensive?  Because of one man!
 
 
That, dear friends, is our 37th president, Richard Nixon. County star Roy Acuff gifted Mr. Nixon a yo-yo which he then tried, but apparently wasn’t as good with yo-yo tricks as he was stirring up national controversies and thrilling generations of conspiracy theorists.  So, the president autographed it, gave it back to Acuff and upon his death it sold at auction for $16,000 which, if my math is correct would buy you just over 800 of our [YO]2Deltas. But, let’s be honest, at that point you might as well go ahead and order 1,000 because you wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself when you’re sipping champagne from crystal goblets with at your next mega-yacht party.  
 
 
What other strange Yo-Yo facts have you heard?
27
Jun 2012
POSTED BY spindoctor
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TRY THIS: Lolly Pop-Its

This is a game you can play with the Lolly move. If you are not familiar with the lolly, check out this video to learn how (it’s easy to learn, takes some time to gain complete control):

Ok, so you have your astrojax, your have your friends, and now you need some items you can knock down: bottles, cans, antique collectibles (ESPECIALLY those).

Set up the knockdown-ables, say on a fence or a wall. First player then proceeds to try to knock down all the targets as quick as possible. Person with the quickest time wins.

Or, set a (quick) time limit and see how many a player can knock down in the allotted time. Person that knocks down the most, wins.

Other variations:

  • pin-the-lolly-on-the-target style. Blind fold player, set a time limit and see how many he/she can knock down.
  • lolly-pigeon. One person throws up a can, other play tries to lolly-blast them out of the sky before they land safely on the ground
  • LOLLY. This ones fun! Basically the basketball version of HORSE. One player “shoots” (for example: an under-the-leg lolly to knock down two cans in a row), second player tries to replicate. If they cannot knock down the target, they get a letter. First one to LOLLY loses.

 

Those are some suggestions. Got any ideas of your own? Be sure to share them in the comments. We’d love to hear them!

~~ OceanJax :)

20
Jun 2012
POSTED BY OceanJax
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