11 Best Yo-Yos for Kids (2021 Reviews)
The yo-yo has been around since ancient times. Adults and children alike have enjoyed the relaxing play of a yo-yo. Napoleon himself was known to have found the time to yo-yo even right before battles commenced.
Yo-yo skills help children learn how to become more persistent in the face of challenges and boost their confidence when tricks are mastered. Playing with a yo-yo improves hand-eye coordination while entertaining your child in an off-screen setting.
Whether your kid is a beginner or an experienced trickster, you’ll find a yo-yo just right for his or her skill level in our list of the best yo-yos for kids that follows.
- 2021’s Best Yo-Yos for Kids
- Our #1 Choice – Fun Express Mini Water Ball Yo-Yos
- Our #2 Choice – Duncan Butterfly XT Ball Bearing Yo-Yo
- Our #3 Choice – Black and Pink Shutter Splash Yoyo by YoYoFactory
- Our #4 Choice – Duncan Butterfly Beginners Entry-Level Yo-Yo with Travel Bag
- Our #5 Choice – Yomega The Original Brain
- Our #6 Choice – Magic YoYo SKYVA Jeffrey Pang Design
- Our #7 Choice – Duncan Super Tournament Yo-Yo
- Our #8 Choice – Duncan Reflex Auto Return Yo-Yo
- Our #9 Choice – Duncan Limelight LED Light-Up Yo-Yo
- Our #10 Choice – Yoyo King Double Agent Metal Yoyo
- Our #11 Choice – Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo
- Yo-Yo FAQs
- What is the Difference Between a Responsive and Unresponsive Yo-yo?
- What Types of Axles Do Yo-yos Have?
- What Types of Material Are Yo-Yos Made From?
- What are Return Techniques?
- What is the Difference Between a Good Yo-yo and a Cheap Yo-yo?
- What Do I Do if my Yo-yo is Unbalanced or Wobbly When I Throw it?
- What Types of Tricks Can I Do with a Yo-yo?
- Where Can I Learn Tricks?
- How Long Should the String Be?
- When Should I Change the String?
- How Should I Change the String?
- What Shapes Do Yo-yos Come In?
- Which Body Types are Best for Looping Tricks?
- What to Consider When Buying A Yo-Yo
2021’s Best Yo-Yos for Kids
Our #1 Choice – Fun Express Mini Water Ball Yo-Yos
Your child can start learning yo-yo techniques with Fun Express Mini Water Ball Yo-Yos.
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- Soft, training yo-yo design
- Finger hole for more natural grip
- Not a traditional yo-yo
- Adult supervision required
If your child isn’t quite ready for a real yo-yo, then these Fun Express Mini Water Ball Yo-Yos will be a great substitute. Children can squeeze, catch, and bounce the one-inch yo-yo ball at the end of the rubber three-inch cord. A finger hole provides a better grip for little fingers.
You can teach your child proper wrist action needed for traditional yo-yoing with these bright and colorful toys. They come in a batch of 24 yo-yos, so they make great party favors as well. Although the manufacturer says that these are suitable for children three months and up, adult supervision is required at all times.
Our #2 Choice – Duncan Butterfly XT Ball Bearing Yo-Yo
When your child is ready for tricks, there is nothing better than a Duncan Butterfly XT Ball Bearing Yo-Yo.
- Classic butterfly design
- High-speed ball bearing axle
- Wide body for string tricks
- Tricks can break the string
- Not for advanced tricks
The Duncan Butterfly XT Ball Bearing Yo-Yo is an excellent choice for beginners ready to learn tricks. This yo-you is a responsive bearing yo-yo with a classic butterfly design. The high-speed ball-bearing axle and full body make it easy to do basic to intermediate tricks. It has a Starburst response system and take-apart design.
The Duncan Butterfly XT Ball Bearing Yo-Yo is meant for budding yo-yo enthusiasts from 6 years of age and up. It weighs 0.16 ounces and is 6.8 x 4.8 x 1.8 inches. It is pre-strung and comes with two replacement strings. Depending on the type of trick being performed, the string tends to break.
Our #3 Choice – Black and Pink Shutter Splash Yoyo by YoYoFactory
There’s nothing better than the Black and Pink Shutter Splash Yoyo by YoYoFactory when your child is ready for an aluminum yo-yo.
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- Made from solid aluminum
- Unresponsive design
- Not for beginners
The Black and Pink Shutter Splash Yoyo by YoYoFactory has large SPEC bearings along with central and out ring grind capabilities. This solid aluminum yo-yo has an inner foil to provide for balanced weight distribution. It continues to have power and speed through long trick combinations.
The Black and Pink Shutter Splash Yoyo measures 55.83 mm in diameter and 44.33 mm in width. It weighs 67.5 grams. YoYoFactory suggests that children use their yo-yo when they are over the age of eight.
This yo-yo is expensive when compared to plastic or wood models. However, if your child is ready to work with metal, unresponsive yo-yo for advanced tricks, this would be an ideal model to purchase in 2021.
Our #4 Choice – Duncan Butterfly Beginners Entry-Level Yo-Yo with Travel Bag
Duncan Butterfly Beginners Entry-Level Yo-Yo with Travel Bag has a wide string axle designed for beginners.
- Comes with trick DVD
- Has a storage bag
- Designed for complicated string tricks
- Too lightweight for certain tricks
- Hard to wind
Duncan Butterfly Beginners Entry-Level Yo-Yo comes with a 50-minute Original Spin YoYo Tricks DVD with instructions on how to do 75 tricks. It also has a Flames N Games Travel Bag to store your yo-yo. The concentrated rim weight and inward-tapered shape make it easier to do complicated string tricks.
The Duncan Butterfly Beginners Entry-Level Yo-Yo has non-modular halves and a metal fixed axle. Although it is advertised for children five and up, it may be too lightweight for beginners to maneuver well. It’s also harder for a younger child to wind than some styles.
Our #5 Choice – Yomega The Original Brain
Yomega The Original Brain has a centrifugal clutch to help even beginners master tricks like Walk the Dog and Sleep.
- Auto-return clutch
- Low friction plastic bearing
- Three-month warranty
- String quality poor
- Harder initial throw needed
The Yomega The Original Brain has one of the most extended spinning auto-return times when compared to other yo-yo designs. It opens on the downswing. Then the clutch engages as the spin time slows so that it will return automatically.
With this design, even beginners can learn how to Walk the Dog and Sleep their yo-yo. The company recommends their product for children eight years of age and up. Because of the clutch, the initial throw needs more force than other yo-yos to generate the auto-return.
The Yomega The Original Brain comes with a three-month warranty and two extra strings. It is made of heavy-duty polycarbonate and has a low friction plastic bearing. The modular design makes it easy to unscrew the halves to untangle the string or lubricate the bearing.
It also has a see-through cap so you can watch how the clutch works. It weighs 50 grams, has a 2.5 mm gap, and measures 35.7 mm wide and 58.7 mm in diameter. It comes in blue, clear, and red.
Our #6 Choice – Magic YoYo SKYVA Jeffrey Pang Design
If you are looking for a yo-yo for finger spin tricks, then look no further than the Magic YoYo SKYVA Jeffrey Pang Design.
- Jeffrey Pang Design
- No injection markings to tangle the string
- Doesn’t bind as easily as some models
- Not for beginners
The Magic YoYo SKYVA Jeffrey Pang Design is made from durable polycarbonate plastic with no injection markings for a smoother spin. It is explicitly designed for finger spin tricks. The large spin cup catches your finger and guides it to the smaller spin cup to complete the maneuvers.
It has a Center Trac bearing and weighs 66.5 grams. It doesn’t bind as easily as other models, so more effort must be used to reel it in. It has a diameter of 58 mm and a width of 45 mm. Although suitable for children eight years of age and up, it isn’t designed for a beginner.
Our #7 Choice – Duncan Super Tournament Yo-Yo
The Duncan Super Tournament Yo-Yo is a replica of the 1960s Crossed Flags Yo-Yo design from Duncan.
- Made from high-impact wood
- Comes with a trick book
- More difficult to use than plastic yo-yos
- Does not pull apart to untangle string
The Duncan Super Tournament Yo-Yo is based on the Crossed Flags Yo-Yo style, specially designed for beginners. It is made from durable wood to withstand years of use. This particular set comes with a collectors box, and the Duncan Yo-Yo Trick Book first published in 1955.
This lovely wooden yo-yo is available in natural wood, blue, green, and yellow. Duncan suggests this particular model for kids ages six to ten. Its dimensions are 2 x 2 x 2 inches. The has a fixed axis and can not be pulled apart to untangle knots in the string. The painted yo-yos tend to have paint on the axle, making it more difficult to manage than it should be.
Our #8 Choice – Duncan Reflex Auto Return Yo-Yo
The Duncan Reflex Auto Return Yo-Yo sleeps for up to 8 seconds then rolls itself up because of its centrifugal clutch.
- Made from durable polycarbonate
- Starburst response system
- Not the best choice for tricks
- Shorter children may have a harder time with it
The Duncan Reflex Auto Return Yo-Yo is made from durable polycarbonate plastic to withstand the knocks associated with yo-yoing. It has a Starburst response system featuring a centrifugal clutch. The clutch activates the axle so that the yo-yo returns without tugging.
It can be taken apart to remove string knots. The Duncan Reflex Auto Return Yo-Yo weighs 0.8 ounces and comes in blue, green, and red. Its high-speed trans-axle provides a longer spin time.
The wide string gap makes tricks more comfortable to accomplish. This particular model is recommended for children between the ages of six and ten. It is available in blue, red, and green.
Because of its design, the Duncan Reflex Auto Return Yo-Yo is perhaps not the best model for tricks. Your child may also have more difficulty because of his or her height. The yo-yo string must fully extend for the auto-return to activate. If your child isn’t tall enough, the yo-yo will hit the ground before it reaches the end of the string.
Our #9 Choice – Duncan Limelight LED Light-Up Yo-Yo
Your child can put on a light show with the Duncan Limelight LED Light-Up Yo-Yo.
- LED lights
- Durable polycarbonate plastic body
- Ideal for looping tricks
- Four non-standard batteries required
- Stops lighting up when the batteries die
The Duncan Limelight LED Light-Up Yo-Yo will light up along with your yo-yoing child! The clear plastic body covers LED lights that blink and change colors as it spins. The plastic transaxle is replaceable. The polycarbonate body is rim-weighted.
The transaxle design is perfect for looping tricks. The yo-yo is made from transparent plastic and has red, blue, or green printing. Duncan recommends this yo-yo for children ages six to ten. It requires four non-standard batteries, which are included. Once the batteries die, however, the lights no longer work.
Our #10 Choice – Yoyo King Double Agent Metal Yoyo
The Yoyo King Double Agent Metal Yoyo provides excellent balance and long spin time, making it a great purchase of any yo-yo enthusiast.
- Made from aircraft quality aluminum
- Comes with wide and narrow axles
- The string must be installed
- Silicone response system
The Yoyo King Double Agent Metal Yoyo is made from anodized 6061 aluminum, the same type used in aircrafts. It weighs 66 grams and has a width of 41 mm and a diameter of 55 mm. The flared gap shifts the weight to the outside edge of the yo-yo providing longer, faster spins.
This yo-yo includes both wide and narrow ball bearing axles. It comes installed with a narrow C size bearing for traditional use. The wide angled C bearing is apt for non-responsive use. Both are made from durable plastic.
The yo-yo string must be installed. The Yoyo King Double Agent Metal Yoyo comes in black, blue, and green color options. The silicone response system provides very little response, meaning that a bind is needed to return the yo-yo.
Our #11 Choice – Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo
Go for the classic style with the Duncan Imperial Yo-yo.
- Unscrews for axle lubrication
- Ideal for looping tricks
- Hard for younger children to wind
- Not auto-return
The Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo has long and smooth spins. This classic style yo-yo is made of durable plastic and weighs 0.8 ounces. The modular design lets you unscrew the halves to apply lubrication to the axle or untangle the string.
The raised steel axle is ideal for looping tricks like Around the World. It has a narrow string gap and a Starburst response system. The Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo is available in a variety of assorted colors. Duncan recommends this yo-yo for kids that are at least six years old and younger than ten. The narrow string gap makes it more difficult for younger children to wind.
What is the Difference Between a Responsive and Unresponsive Yo-yo?
Responsive yo-yos return to your hand with a slight tug. Yo-yos that have narrow gaps are more responsive because there isn’t room for the string to sit on the axel.
Unresponsive yo-yos have a wider gap and will not return to your hand when you tug on the string. This type of yo-yo does not provide as much friction on the rope. Unresponsive yo-yos are best for more advanced yo-yoers. They allow more the performance of more advanced tricks.
What Types of Axles Do Yo-yos Have?
There are many types of yo-yos that have a variety of axles that alter how the toy functions. A yo-yo can have a:
- Fixed axle
- Starburst axel
- Ball-bearing axle
- Clutch axle
- Unresponsive ball-bearing axle
A yo-yo with a fixed axle has an axle that attaches to both sides of the yo-yo. The string then loops over the shaft as it spins inside the loop. A fixed axle can be made from wood, metal, or plastic. Starburst axles have a pattern of bumps around the spindle to create friction to catch the string.
A transaxle yo-yo has a plastic or metal sleeve that covers the fixed axle. The string goes around the sleeve, which lets the yo-yo spin faster. Steel roller bearing and nylon are two types of transaxles. A ball-bearing shaft has a sleeve with small metal balls inside.
A clutch axle harnesses the power of centrifugal force to return the yo-yo to your hand when the yo-yo slows down. The clutch closes and gets a hold of the spindle to come back up.
Yo-yos with unresponsive ball bearing axles do not wake up to return to your hand when you throw a sleeper. To get the yo-yo to return, you have to do a bind trick. This type of yo-yo is best for advanced tricks and can be difficult for beginners to use. Some yo-yos are hybrid in that they have more than one response system.
What Types of Material Are Yo-Yos Made From?
Yo-yos are made from plastic, wood, and metal. The original yo-yos were always made from wood. Nowadays, most yo-yos are constructed from plastic. Most yo-yos that are metal are made from aluminum. They are more expensive than wood or metal yo-yos and may be heavier.
What are Return Techniques?
Return techniques are how the yo-yo comes back to your hand after you have thrown it. The three main types are the tug, bind, and adjustable return. A tug return works on responsive yo-yos. It requires little more than a tug to call the yo-yo back up the string.
A bind return is needed on unresponsive yo-yos. Because these types of yo-yos have a large gap, a tug is not sufficient to get the string to catch the side and return. It is a more complex maneuver. Some more advanced yo-yos have adjustable responses, which means you can alternate whether you use a tug or bind return by activating some sort of mechanism.
What is the Difference Between a Good Yo-yo and a Cheap Yo-yo?
The difference between a quality yo-yo and a cheap one is in the placement of the string. A cheap yo-yo has its rope tied in a knot or glued directly to the axle, which means that when you throw it, it will immediately wind and return to your hand.
A good yo-yo has a string that loops around the axle. This way, when the yo-y is thrown, it continues spinning inside the loop even when it reaches the end of the string. To get the yo-yo to return, you must tug at the rope.
The energy generated from the spin from the throwdown is used to rewind it up. If you allow it to spin too long, it won’t return because the energy has been used up.
What Do I Do if my Yo-yo is Unbalanced or Wobbly When I Throw it?
If you are an inexperienced user, your throw might be crooked and weak, causing the yo-yo to feel wobbly and unbalanced. Work on your technique to see if that could be the problem.
If you are an experienced yo-yo enthusiast, your yo-yo may need tuning. This process involves adjusting how much of the axle is screwed into each side of the yo-yo.
What Types of Tricks Can I Do with a Yo-yo?
After you learn the basics of how to wind and throw down your yo-yo, there are all sorts of tricks you can work on mastering. A regeneration, also known as a regen, reactivates the yo-yo spin so you can continue without throwing again.
String tricks occur when the yo-yo sits on the string in a position called a mount. Moves, also known as transitions, are the technique used to switch the location from one string trick to another. Picture tricks are string tricks but without mounting the yo-yo. Instead, it just hangs at the end while the string forms a picture.
Grinds have the yo-yo coming in contact with the person doing the trick or other objects, usually by rolling. Slack string tricks are string tricks where a part of the string is left loose. Whips involve using the rope to lasso the yo-yo.
Lacerations are tricks where a loop of string lassos the yo-yo and a finger to make a trapeze-like mount. Suicides occur when a circle is dropped and recaught by the trickster.
Where Can I Learn Tricks?
A more advanced yo-yo enthusiastic can help you learn tricks to do with your yo-yo. You can also purchase trick books or DVDs for more ideas. YouTube has channels that teach skills from beginner to advanced as well.
How Long Should the String Be?
When the yo-yo is touching the floor, the top of the slip knot should be between one and two inches above your belly-button. This length allows for enough string to unroll the yo-yo while providing sufficient tension to bring it back to your hand.
When Should I Change the String?
If the string breaks, becomes frayed, or is dirty, it is time to change the string. A clean, sound rope will provide the best yo-yo experience.
How Should I Change the String?
To change the string on a fixed axle yo-yo, untwist the bottom end of the new line until it has a loop big enough to slip over the axle. You might need to wrap two loops over a transaxle yo-yo.
What Shapes Do Yo-yos Come In?
Yo-yos come in the imperial, modified, and butterfly shapes. The original yo-yos were designed with the imperial shape with a narrow string gap. Modified yo-yos are similar but have a wider string gap and more rounded edges. The butterfly design has the widest string gap.
Which Body Types are Best for Looping Tricks?
Classic and rim weighted yo-yos are the best looping designs. Butterfly models will not work as well for looping tricks but do better with string tricks.
What to Consider When Buying A Yo-Yo
When choosing the best yo-yos for kids, you should consider the:
- Age and coordination of the child
- Return system and axle types
- Construction materials
Age and Coordination of the Child
Yo-yos require a relatively high level of hand-eye coordination. Younger children may not have that skill yet and find yo-yos a frustrating toy. Beginning with a basic plastic or wooden yo-yo with a clutch axle to help with the return, would be a good idea.
As your child advances, he or she will probably want to do more tricks. Determining the type of methods your child wants to learn will help narrow the field when purchasing his or her next yo-yo.
Unresponsive yo-yos are easier to perform with than responsive ones, no matter the axle types. Some yo-yos are designed for looping tricks, while others are constructed with finger spin tricks in mind.
Return System and Axle Type
The type of return system and axle should be considered when purchasing a yo-yo. Beginners will do best with responsive yo-yos that have clutch axle harnesses. Intermediate and advanced users who wish to master tricks should be given an unresponsive yo-yo.
Bear in mind that no yo-yo has an entirely automatic return system. Some are more responsive than others, though. Some yo-yos use centrifugal force to pull back into the hand while others rely on the friction created from the string.
When choosing the best yo-yos for kids, you should take note that metal yo-yos are designed for more advanced users. They tend to weigh more and be more expensive. Many metal yo-yos are manufactured with a specific type of trick in mind. Some do well with looping tricks, others with string tricks, while still others with finger spin tricks.
Wooden and plastic yo-yos are less expensive. If you choose a wooden yo-yo, make sure the gap is sanded smooth so that the string does not catch and break. Depending on the type used, plastic yo-yos can be durable or fragile. Look for yo-yos made from polycarbonate plastic.