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Buying Guides

  • Spinning Tops - Where to Start?

    The last 12 months in the skill toy world have seen an explosion in popularity in Spinning Tops, particularly in Europe. As with all great skill toys, the level of competition and sense of community has encouraged players to really push their props in to new, exciting, unexpected areas. At Oddballs we've stocked for many years the entry-level models from Duncan including the RipCord which completely removes the learning process of throwing a top - but just recently we were excited to get our hands on the Trompos Space range. These awesome Spinning Tops are manufactured in the EU by a mixed team of Pro Spinners and Designers to ensure each one is ready for complex tricks and sequences. Much like the 'Fixed' or 'Bearing' decisions that exist in Diabolos, the Trompos Space models come loaded with either 'Fixed' or 'Roller' tips.

    Fixed Tips lend themselves to more traditional tricks that involve having the Top shoot along the string when an appropriate string wrap is performed. These are sometimes referred to as 'String Traveller' Tricks. Learning this technique is only possible with a Fixed Tip Top - It could be a 'Necklace' Trick you want to learn or even the 'Cable Car'. For the beginner Spinner we recommend the Saturno Xtreme. It's a robust, aerodynamic shape that has great balance and will allow the thrower to develop their trick range. It includes everything you need to get started and the string and launcher can be easily stored inside the Top when not in use.

    Roller Tip Models not only allow the Top to spin for significantly longer, allowing even longer, crazier tricks sequences - they also make lasso and palm catching tricks much easier. In fact, we've seen the Trompos Pros perform the yo-yo trick 'Gyro Flop' with a Roller Tip Spinning Top. Using this type of Top does mean that 'String Traveller' tricks are no longer possible however, so it is a trade-off and you may want to think carefully about what style of tricks you want to learn. An Oddballs favourite in the Roller Tip department is the Jupiter - it's over-sized but has incredible balance and an internal weight mechanism which allows players to alter the centre of gravity - useful for certain tricks or playing styles!

    The learning curve with Spinning Tops is straight forward - however, Players do need to learn how to launch their tops first! Initially, this can be a little tricky - but there loads of resources on YouTube and Juggling.tv that explain the correct string wrapping technique and throw - A little perseverance and you'll have the world of Spinning Top Tricks at your finger tips!

  • Diabolo Sticks

    First things first! Get the right string length, even the best sticks in the world are going to difficult to use if the string is way too long or short. Put one stick on the floor, stand on it and bring the other stick parallel up to shoulder and tie off the string there (it’s also not an exact measurement, anywhere between chest and nose is fine)

    Right, back diabolo sticks. It’s a difficult choice for every aspiring diaboloist! Do I keep it old school with wooden sticks? Go heavy with Aluminium or light weight with Carbon fiber?

    Basic Wooden Sticks

    Everybody has their own preference. In my experience, the sticks are the least important part of the diaboloists kit, first the diabolo, then the string, then the sticks! That being said, having a nice set of sticks is a lovely thing.

    Almost all budding diaboloists will start with a set of basic wooden sticks, there is nothing wrong with them and some people will keep them from beginner to advanced, I played with basic wooden sticks for a couple of years, then had a fancier set of Henrys wooden sticks for another two.


    There are several reasons for people to choose different diabolo sticks (other than wanting a nice upgrade)-

    1. Strength - To an extent, Carbon fiber, Aluminium and other Diabolo sticks are stronger than wooden.
    2. Comfort - A nice foam or silicone handle is very comfortable to hold and catch for prolonged diabolo sessions.
    3. Size - Most other sticks are much thinner than wooden making grinds a lot easier (they also make a great noise!)
    4. Extra Tricks - More commonly used with Carbon fiber sticks (where the string goes completely through the stick and out the other end), though that’s pretty advanced

    Juggle Dream Coloured Ali handsticks


    The most common set to move to next (or start with for the lucky ones) are the Aluminium handsticks, these are by far the most popular set we sell! They are possibly the most durable sticks (they’ll bend but not break) otherwise the most popular are the Supergrind carbon fiber. These are great sticks under £10


    With time, and as you get to meet other Diaboloists you’ll get to try new and different types of sticks, everyone has their own preferences. I personally prefer Carbon Fiber sticks, my current favorite is the Play Deos, which are wider than most (about the same as wooden) making them a little heavier with a silicone handle which is lovely and grippy!

    You can find our full range of Diabolo handsticks here , enough to satisfy any diaboloists needs!

    Hope that helps, any questions please ask!

    Mat

  • What's the difference between Fixed and Bearing Diabolos?

    A question I get a lot in our Camden shop is, whats the difference between a fixed axle and a bearing diabolo? So here, I will attempt to answer!

    In Brief

    A fixed axle diabolo is where the center piece (axle) does not move.

    A bearing diabolo is where the axle free spins one way and is fixed the other much like a ratchet spanner. This allows you to add a lot more speed without the friction that would slow down a fixed axle.

    Note - Bearings will only work one way round!


    Fixed Bearing
    Ease at beginning Easier and will give you a better understanding of how the diabolo works Harder at the very beginning as it’s less stable at low speeds
    Ease in general Better feel for the diabolo. The tension is better for certain tricks Longer spin times allow you to work out more tricks, or get out of those annoying tangles
    Spin time Shorter- though with practice you can learn to speed up the diabolo with tricks Longer - once it’s going, it’ll spin several times longer than a fixed axle
    String Life Shorter - There is more friction Longer - As there’s less friction
    String bite/ yoyo (this is when the string all wraps around the axle) Will happen when the string is old, or too many wraps around the axle or technique Doesn’t happen.
    Impossible tricks! The gyroflop isn’t possible String climbs (due to tension) aren’t possible
    Easier tricks (this doesn’t mean they’re impossible, but generally a bit harder 2 diabolos and more Vertax/excaliber
    String climb tricks Slack whips and more complicated knots
    More advanced stick release tricks Grinds

    Final Thoughts

    A fixed axle is not better than a bearing diabolo and a bearing diabolo is not better than a fixed. They are just different, and personal preference and style comes into it a lot!

    Hope that's useful!
    Mat

  • Hula Hoop Buying Guide

    If you’re looking to buy your first hula hoop, you should consider a couple of things before jumping to the first one you come across. A little bit of research will always go a long way, and it is always a good idea if you want to buy the perfect one first time around.

    Finding Your Niche

    Whether you became inspired by a hooper in your local park, a circus performance, a friend or even a youtube video, you will always have your own immediate preference to style.

    You will inevitably collect a small menagerie of hoops by embarking on your own hoop journey, and you will find what works for your style and what doesn’t. By reading this guide you can begin to sift out the cream from the crop and rule out anything that won’t suit your size, shape or ability before you buy it.

    The first question you need to ask yourself, is “Why am I learning to hula hoop?”

    Maybe to add to another existing circus skill you may have, as a fun, new hobby, to perform at events, for personal fitness, or just to learn a new skill.

    Size Matters

    The general rule is the larger the hoop, the slower it will rotate. That’s why it is often best to begin with a larger hoop, it should stand at least to your hips; this way the slower movement makes it easier to learn. Once you have mastered some moves, you will find it much easier to pick them up on a smaller, lighter hoop.

     

    Fitness Hoops

    If you have been introduced to “grown up” hula hooping through the idea of hoop fitness then you will already be aware of the amazing results regular hooping can do for the body. Not only does it help strengthen your core, help with balance and physical self-awareness, but you can lose around 200 calories in 30 minutes of hooping.

    Of course hula hooping with a non-specific fitness hoop will have the same affect, but with the additional variety to learn complex tricks with more ease.

     

    Play Hoops

    Play by name and playful by nature, the ‘Perfect’ hoop is the only hula hoop that is made from tubing designed specifically for hula hooping. It’s a great all-rounder, whether you’re playing or performing with this light-weight hoop. It folds down to around 50% of it’s original size, which makes for super easy transport.

    There are two sizes of the Play hoops; one with tape and one without. If you choose to buy a ‘naked’ Play Perfect hoop, with no grip tape, it works well to stick a thin piece of around the inner side of the hoop if you want some added grip.

    If you want to read more about these hoops, you could take at our previous post, Loz Because on Play Perfect Hoops.

     

    A Hoop Summary

     

    As we mentioned above, you can buy collapsible hoops, as well as solid ones. Depending on how often you intend to take your hoop out and about will probably influence your decision. Travel hoops usually either come apart into separate pieces for easy storage, and ones that fold down into a smaller, more manageable sized hoop like the one mentioned above.

    Once you have become addicted to the art of hula hooping, then you may want to experiment with the more ‘flamboyant’ end of the hoop spectrum. Fire and LED are usually the next step for people who are serious about their hooping, they both make great performance hoops.

     

    Hoop Community

    If you’re entirely new to the hooping world, you will be pleased to know that there are ample events and workshops that you’ll be able to get involved with; or just turn up at your local park with a group of friends and start your own! Enjoy, and let us know which hoop you go for...

    See our full range of hula hoops here.






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