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Duncan
Whistling tin, swirl, version 1 (holes)

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National Yo-Yo Museum
Chico CA

Duncan Freehand Original - Debut release
Exhibit #3953
TypeProduction
ShapeConcave )-(
AxleBearing
ColorGreen/Yellow
PackagingBubble Carded
ConstructionMulti-piece plastic
ResponseFriction Sticker
Diameter57mm
GapFixed
Weight66 gm
ConditionMint
Number Produced100
Date2001
OwnerRick Brough
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Invented by longtime Infinite Illusions (aka yoyoguy.com) associate Steve Brown, this original, debut Duncan Freehand was a butterfly ball-bearing yo-yo designed for off-hand tricks. It came with a weighted die that you attached to the free end of the string to act as a counterbalance (instead of looping the free end around your finger). This yo-yo was ideal for the new freehand class of tricks, where the string could swing free from your body, allowing for pendulum-like action. Of course, the yo-yo was also great for traditional on-hand tricks, too. Note that the yo-yo was made in the USA.

According to Steve Brown, a former Duncan employee, approximately 100 of these green and yellow Freehand yo-yos were made and then sold exclusively on the Infinite Illusions website in 2001. It was the yo-yoing world's first introduction to the Freehand yo-yo and to freehand play. Not long after this model was released, this same debut edition was auctioned off on David Hall's web site for $97 in September 2002 (about $150 in 2021).

If you are a collector of original Duncan Freehands (especially those still sealed in their original packaging), this particular yo-yo – in this color scheme – is ground zero: the start of the Freehand. What the Yomega Outrageous Yo from 1989 and the Tom Kuhn Turbo-Yo (and SB-2) from 1990 was to yo-yo play advancement, this first Freehand model was to a new style of yo-yo play known today as 4A.

The yo-yo in this exhibit was retailed exclusively by the Infinite Illusions website (aka yoyoguy.com) in April 2001 and quickly sold out. Soon after it was followed up by Freehands that had either a red, yellow, or blue body, but each having the same white side caps and the same logo print design/color. From these first four editions, Duncan has since capitalized on this money making machine by releasing an endless variety -- ad nauseam -- of body color/side cap color combinations and logo imprints over more than two decades.

The Duncan Freehand came with Duncan-branded Friction Stickers installed for responsiveness. It also came with an extra string, counterweight die, and basic freehand play instructions featuring Steve Brown.

Duncan re-released the model in this exhibit on February 18, 2022, in updated packaging, one clear dice counterweight, and one set of response pads. Also, some small, subtle changes were made to the side cap imprint.

Since this debut release, the Freehand has long been a major cash cow for Duncan, year after year. The "Freehand" brand has been released in a ridiculous number of versions and editions:

Freehand (plastic)
Freehand II (plastic)
Freehand Zero (plastic)
Freehand Metal Zero AL
Freehand Japanese (plastic, Hyper)
Freehand Magnesium 2004
Freehand Magnesium 2022
Freehand AL, 2013
Freehand AL, 2020
Freehand One AL, size A bearing
Freehand One AL, size C bearing
Freehand One Titanium
Freehand NextGen (plastic)
Freehand Pro (plastic)
Freehand Keychain (plastic)
Freehand One (plastic, 2021)
Freehand One Neo (plastic, 2022)
Freehand Two AL (2023)
Freehand Mini AL, size A bearing (2023)
Freehand Mini AL, size C bearing (2023)
Freehand Delrin (2023)
Freehand PC (polycarbonate, 2023)

At the end of 2021, Duncan once again moved backward by returning to the original Freehand. They re-released the "original" -- albeit slightly updated -- Freehand One for $24.99. Rather than wait for actual packaging, Duncan polybagged the first batch to capitalize on Christmas 2021 sales. It came in the usual red, yellow, or blue plastic body, each with the same white side caps, and the same all-black (not colored, like the original) logo.

Here we go again [long sigh]... and again, and again. Milk it for all it's worth.

Original retail price: $15 US
Other Views
Package front, large
Package back, large
Close-up of side A face

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Content by David W. Hall & Rick Brough