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Tom Kuhn Silver Bullet 2 (SB-2) - San Francisco era
Exhibit #3661
ColorTortoise shell
PackagingDisplay Boxed
ConstructionMulti-piece aluminum
Diameter57 mm
Width26 mm
Weight48 gm
OwnerRick Brough

In 1987, Tom Kuhn and Don Watson began research and development on a playable, high performance yo-yo to surpass the original Silver Bullet. After three years and the release of 39 pre-production prototypes known as the Turbo-Yo in the summer of 1990, the Silver Bullet 2 or SB-2 made its debut November, 1990. Based on the engraved year and serial number, the yo-yo in this exhibit was among the very first SB-2s ever released. It's quite possible that it was made by the same person or people who made the Turbo-Yo just a few months earlier.

The model was released in a polished aircraft aluminum version. And, in another first, it was also released in a tortoise shell version of black and bronze anodizing on the rims/inner face and a black anodized body on the outer face (shown). It was the very first anodized yo-yo model. Both versions had full engraving, including serial numbering and year of production. The yo-yo came in a blue display box that was Tom Kuhn-branded, along with a Flight Manual (user guide), accessories consisting of two weight rings, two gap adjusting screws, pack of strings, string gap tool, and a spare bearing.

One oddity of the yo-yo seen in this exhibit is that each halve has a ring of missing tortoise shell anodizing from its inner face (see Internals image). Tom Kuhn had no explanation for this. Interestingly, the rings appear to be covered with a clear coat of some kind; the aluminum itself is not exposed at all. It's unknown if this cosmetic flaw is found on other yo-yos from this release timeframe. One theory is that the rings may have something to do with the rack that was used during the anodizing process. For such a very low serial number, however, it is odd that something like this would slip through quality control. Any ideas or other examples of this out there?

See the Tom Kuhn postcard announcing the SB-2 in November, 1990.

The Silver Bullet 2 is still made today, albeit in polished aluminum only and by a different maker. It continues to use a size I ball bearing axle, just like the Turbo-Yo prototype and the original San Francisco-era release. It also has the same adjustable string gap.

Today, players take ball bearing yo-yos for granted. But, back in 1990, it was a very special experience to be among the first to try out a yo-yo that was so different and completely disruptive to the world of yo-yo play.

Original retail price: $75 US (about $150 in 2021).
Other Views
Side B, large
Comparison of 1990 and 1996 Tortoise Shell versions

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