So the Pro-Z has arrived in Toys R Us stores just a little bit ago and I finally got around to picking one (More like 3) up today after some rave reviews on what it has to offer for the price. For those unaware, the Pro-Z is Duncan's first and only 'transforming' yoyo that is set up in the package as a narrow looper outfitted with classic Starburst response. In one sense, this could be Duncan's answer to the Raider...maybe. Using the specially made Mod Spacer inserts, your yoyo is transformed into a nice H-Shaped plastic with recessed Friction Sticker response (like the FH2010). They come in 4 colors, being white body/black caps, translucent lime yellow/green body/black caps, blue body/yellow caps, and red body/white caps. The ones that stood out to me were the lime/black and white/black. Wanting to get a matching pair for some 3A and 2A action, I picked up 2 limes and also wanting the black/white, I grabbed one of those as well as a 1A throw. Yup, I trusted Duncan in a quality product to throw down $24 for 3 of these.
One Pro Z in wing mode, the other in Looper mode.
Onto the review:
Look/Feel/Weight - Looper:
Though a completely different shape, this brings back memories to when I bought my Raider back in the day. It's less bulbous and actually has a very light wing flare to it with really high walls and narrow gap. The caps feel like FHZ caps, which is a nice changeup from the pogs the FH2010 has. I've never thrown/held an FHZ so I don't know how the plasic caps felt on it. Feels like a solid plastic and the 54g weight feels just right for me. I'm not the best looper but to me, this feels pretty zippy without being a piece of popcorn tied to a string.
Look/Feel/Weight - Wing:
Feels like a completely different yoyo. It actually feels like a dedicated wing shaped yoyo and not just a gimmick. The wide shape and the flat-ish rims make for easy snap-starts due to good grip. Also feels good in the hand. While it is only 60g (which is typically a bit on the light side or just making it to what I like), this actually feels pretty solid. It's zippy fast but it is also pretty stable. Probably due to it's skinnier parts and angular shape and wide-ish gap it feels like it has a little more meat on it.
Play - Looper:
As said, I'm not a looping expert but plan on learning some stuff with these. I can 1-hand loop with this and it is decent for what it is. However, it isn't quite ready for looping. Some recommend using a friction sticker over the starburst for added response. I may have to agree and may just get some stickers for these. Since the Mod Spacers sit over these in wing mode, there will be no interference in play. My loops were a little sloppy as it tended to sleep rather than immediately spring back when I did the forward pass motion. The gap on these are quite narrow, perhaps maybe narrower than a stock Raider or Fireball with really high walls.
Play - Wing:
While I didn't have high expectations considering the price point, I was actually a bit surprised how these play, smoothness-wise. There is little vibe but that can be tuned. Why I say this? One of my Pro Z's run smoother than the other. The one running more vibey was running smooth until I had taken it apart and reassembled it. After a quick tweak it is pretty smooth again for what it is. It's not a metal so don't expect that kind of smoothness. I do have a high tolerance for vibe however so I won't complain even if there's a little buzz going on.
Comparison of catch zones on FH2010 and Pro Z.
The catch zone is actually pretty wide on this, actually being a bit wider than even the FH2010. The walls are pretty low as well. The actual gap between the mod spacers could be a tad wider however but I'm sure some shims might fix that. The only downside I experienced (which I was able to correct) was some sloppy binds so I just binded closer towards the yoyo to fix that.
These do come a bit responsive out of the package (haven't opened the 3rd one yet). Of the 2 I opened so far, one was a tad more responsive than the other. However the bearing is starting to break in already.
Overall - Keep it or kill it?
Overall, I like these a lot! While they're no high end plastic, they are a good bang for the buck kind of yo that can play right up there. A good beginner yoyo as well since beginners can have 2 different kinds of yoyos in 1...so if they aren't sure of if they want to loop or string trick, they can try the waters on both. Also, this is a good yoyo for tinkerers. If one has a long enough bolt, one could use their mod spacers in their Freehands to make them wider, or to add pseudo recessed friction sticker response to their FHZ without actually risking damage throwing it on the lathe. With the 4 available colors, one can mix and match colors to make it their own...so you could have an all white Pro Z (ok, black spacers) and so on.
Too bad my bolt wasn't long enough...this would make an amazing superwide Freakhand yoyo!
Random note: My last visit to TRU was depressing. This was back in January. They only had 1 real yoyo on the shelf which was the red Freakhand I grabbed. Today when snagging my Pro Z, TRU has a solid lineup of Yomegas and Duncans...felt like the good old days around the boom. This is good because beginners can choose from a decent variety.