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11 Different Types of Yo-Yos

Wooden yo-yos in different colors and shapes.

Is there any toy more classic than a yo-yo? And when we say “classic,” we mean it literally. These toys were around in ancient times. In fact, Ancient Greek artwork depicts people playing with yo-yos. 

We’d say that yo-yos have come a long way, but they truly haven’t changed much since then. But why should they? Their simple design can keep people entertained for hours on end.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t find variations. Sure, the basic design is more or less the same across the board. But yo-yos come in different shapes and materials.

They also come from different brands. Some work best for simple play, while others are designed especially for tricks. 

If you’re looking for the perfect yo-yo, take a look at your options below. You’ll find lots of different types to choose from. 

Different Yo-Yo Brands 

You’ll find plenty of yo-yo brands on the market these days. Some, like Duncan, are instantly recognizable. Others only have a name among niche groups.

In any case, all of these brands come with advantages and disadvantages. The right yo-yo brand depends a lot on personal preference. 


Duncan Toys Butterfly Yo-Yo, Beginner Yo-Yo with String, Steel Axle and Plastic Body, Colors May Vary

First, there’s Duncan, a toy company that has been around since the 1920s. Duncan specializes in yo-yos, and they have options for everyone from beginners to experts. Duncan’s yo-yos are lightweight and very user-friendly.

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They’re also very common. If you walk into a toy store that only has one yo-yo brand, that brand will probably be Duncan. 


MAGICYOYO Responsive YoYo K1-Plus with Yoyo Sack + 5 Strings and Yo-Yo Glove Gift (Blue)

MagicYoyo is a Chinese company that sells yo-yos worldwide. Their products feature impressive, flashy designs. Many of these yo-yos are made of metal, so they tend to be more expensive than other options.

However, they do work well for people who want to learn new string tricks. They’re designed for speed and balance. 

Throwback Skill Toys 

Black Purple Acid Wash with Silver Splash Canon Yoyo

Source: YoYoTricks

Throwback Skill Toys specializes in nostalgic toys that help people build their coordination. These toys include yo-yos, of course. They also include things like juggling balls and magic tricks. 

Their yo-yos include some designs for experts as well as some starter yo-yos. These designs feature comfortable weights, smooth metal, and different shapes. And when it comes to tricks and competitions, these yo-yos perform very well. 

They do cost more than some other yo-yo brands, though. Beginners may want to start with a simpler toy before moving on to one of these options. 

Other Brands 

You can find other yo-yo brands, too. After a certain point, you may swear by one brand or another. Or you might find that the brand of your yo-yo doesn’t make a difference to you. Either way, you have no shortage of brand choices. Other yo-yo brands include: 

  • YoYoFactory 
  • iYoYo 
  • Recess 
  • yoyofriends 
  • Sturm Panzer 

Know Your Yo-Yo Shapes 

Yo-yos also come in different shapes: standard, butterfly, and modified. Each one has its own strengths. Some work best for beginners. Others make great choices for experts who want to learn more advanced tricks. 

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The Classic Yo-Yo Shape 

Duncan Imperial Yo Yo Red

If we asked you to picture a yo-yo, you’d probably picture one with a classic shape. The classic shape yo-yo is the most standard type of yo-yo. It spins on an axle that’s perpendicular to the string and has a gap in the middle.

Classic yo-yos are typically made from plastic, metal, or wood, with the wood being either laminated or solid. 

Classic yo-yos don’t leave a lot of space between the two discs. As a result, they’re not the best choice for advanced tricks. A lot of expert yo-yo enthusiasts opt for designs with a wider gap. 

But classic yo-yos are a good starter option for beginners who want to learn some tricks before moving on to more advanced shapes. Classic yo-yos also tend to be cheaper than other shapes, which makes them an affordable option for newbies.

Plus, they make a good choice for those who don’t want to learn tricks at all. Some people just want to keep their hands busy. For that purpose, a classic yo-yo certainly does the job. 

The Butterfly Yo-Yo Shape 

MAGICYOYO Professional Responsive Yoyo V3, Aluminum Yo Yo for Kids Beginner, Replacement Unresponsive Ball Bearing for Advanced Yoyo Players + Removal Bearing Tool + Bag + 5 Yoyo Strings

Butterfly-shaped yo-yos have a wider gap in between the two discs. The discs themselves often have an outwardly flared shape. This yo-yo is one of the most common types. 

Both beginners and advanced yo-yo enthusiasts love this shape. Beginners love it for its simplicity. The wide gap and flared discs make the butterfly yo-yo easy to handle. A lot of people choose this option for their first yo-yo. 

Experts, meanwhile, love that butterfly yo-yos let them do tricks. More specifically, string-based tricks work very well with butterfly yo-yos. The simplicity and extra space give them a lot to work with, so they can practice and perfect their tricks. 

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The Modified Yo-Yo Shape 

Duncan Toys Hornet Pro Looping Yo-Yo with String, Ball Bearing Axle and Plastic Body, Blue with Yellow Cap

Modified yo-yos look a lot like classic yo-yos. They feature a narrow space between the discs. Just like with the classic yo-yo, the narrow space makes them less than ideal for string tricks. On the other hand, these yo-yos can work very well for looping tricks. Their discs are also more rounded than the discs of a classic yo-yo. 

Yo-Yo Materials 

Finally, yo-yos come in different materials. Which material is the best? That depends on your purpose.

When choosing your first (or next) toy, it’s important to know what you want to do with it. For instance, if you want a toy that is lightweight, easy for kids to use, inexpensive, and durable, then plastic may be for you. If you want something nostalgic, a wooden yo-yo might make the best choice. 

Plastic Yo-Yos 

MAGICYOYO K2 Plus Crystal Yoyos for Kids, Dual Purpose Responsive Yo-yo for Beginner, Replacement Unresponsive Bearing for Intermediate, + 15 Strings, 3 Bags,3 Bearing Removers(Green + Blue + Orange)

The most popular type of yo-yo, and the one you see most often in toy stores, is the plastic yo-yo. These come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and they are much less expensive than some other types of yo-yos. Plastic yo-yos are durable and can withstand being dropped multiple times without breaking.

If you plan to use your yo-yo for practice or just want a fun toy to play with, then a plastic yo-yo may provide exactly what you need. And because it’s so durable, it makes a good choice for beginners and kids. 

However, there are some disadvantages to using plastic as well. It doesn’t have a very good grip, so if you miss your throw and your yo-yo starts spinning on the string, it might go flying off your hand. Also, plastic yo-yos don’t have as smooth of a spin as wood or metal because they are more lightweight.

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However, if you’re looking for something fun and cheap that’s not too serious, then this might be the best choice for you. 

Wooden Yo-Yos 

Compass Rose Yo-yo - Made in USA

Wooden yo-yos can also make a great option for beginners. Some of the earliest yo-yos were made of wood. They are typically less expensive than metal yo-yos, although they can be slightly more expensive than plastic ones. Wooden yo-yos are also fairly light, which makes certain tricks that require speed easier to do. 

Like plastic yo-yos, wooden yo-yos are durable and can last for years. However, they may be more prone to chips and scratches. 

One downside to wooden yo-yos is that they can be difficult to string, meaning that some people may find it hard to use them when starting out. Because many wooden yo-yos come in a classic or modified shape, they often have a narrow axle and not a lot of space between the discs. Re-winding the string can become frustrating. 

Metal Yo-Yos 

Duncan Toys Metal Drifter Yo-Yo, String Trick Yo-Yo with Counterweight, Ball Bearing Axle and Aluminum Body, Colors May Vary

Metal yo-yos are the most expensive option, so casual players usually opt for wood or plastic instead. However, metal yo-yos are a popular option among those who enter yo-yo competitions. They’re sleek and impressive-looking.

Plus, they can withstand a lot of wear and tear. For someone who uses a yo-yo often, this durability is often worth the more expensive price tag. 

However, if you drop a metal yo-yo, it could get dented or scratched, and those flaws cannot be removed. That’s another reason why more professionals than beginners choose this kind of yo-yo. If you haven’t used a yo-yo in a while, you have a good chance of dropping your new toy. When just getting started, it’s best to work with a toy that can withstand a few rookie mistakes. 

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Metal yo-yos also have a high spin time. However, their extra weight can make them more difficult to control. 

Responsive vs Unresponsive Yo-Yos 

Finally, you can choose between responsive and unresponsive yo-yos. Have you ever noticed that some yo-yos are easier to work with than others? Part of that difference comes from the factors mentioned above, like the space between discs.

However, the difference also comes from responsiveness levels. Responsive yo-yos are the simplest, while unresponsive yo-yos take a bit of extra practice. 

Responsive Yo-Yos 

MAGICYOYO Pro YoYos for Kids Beginners Magic Yoyo V6 Locus Responsive Yo-Yo Metal Yo Yo w/ Yo-yos Pouch Glove 5 Strings Set ( Red Blue Silver)

Responsive yo-yos have more tension in the string, so it takes less effort for them to return to a person’s hand. A small wrist movement will be enough. These types of yo-yos are more popular among beginners because they have a quicker return time and require smaller throws. 

Unresponsive Yo-Yos

YOSTAR Yoyo Professional Magic YOYO T5 Plus Overlord, Unresponsive Yoyo Balls, Aluminum Alloy Metal Yoyo, Bonus - 5 Strings, Yo-Yo Bag, Glove (Blue Pink Gradient Yoyo)

Non-responsive yo-yos have a slower and smoother throw, but they present more of a challenge than responsive yo-yos. If the yo-yo is “sleeping” (dangling at the end of the string), it won’t come back to the hand with just a flick of the wrist. Instead, the person using it will need to re-wind it.

They also tend to cost more money than traditional responsive yo-yos. As a result, beginners often avoid them. 

So, what exactly is the benefit of unresponsive yo-yos? It’s the fact that they have a lot of options for tricks. Because they don’t return to the user’s hand right away, a person can perform tricks that require longer spin times. Take the classic “walking the dog” trick, for instance. For that trick to work, the yo-yo has to stay at the end of its string for a long time. 

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These yo-yos may not appeal to beginners, but a lot of experts love them. In fact, some people prefer them. 

Of course, many yo-yo enthusiasts own several options. Yo-yos are inexpensive overall, so a person can use different yo-yos for different purposes. 

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