We know, the abundance of resources we make available to you has you absolutely dizzy with excitement. But don't get *too* worked up, because we're about to take you back to the basics with a showcase on how to perform the Venus! Check it out below courtesy of TheFerrell!View full article →
We're most humbled to find out that Dad Does, critical overseer of fine toys the world over have taken Astrojax and given them a glowing review! Not to mention, there's a bonus kitten featured! Check it out below and make sure you spend some time checking out Dad Does; There's a lot of great content there and we couldn't be more thrilled that they took the time out to work on their Jaxing skills!
Some clichés are absolutely true, so forgive me for saying this...but, we would not be here without you! In fact, US Astrojax was born out of the needs of a few Astrojax fanatics... Our humble beginnings have helped shape us into who we are today.
I fell in love with Astrojax in early 2003, opening a set of Saturn light-up Astrojax for the first time. Like many of you, I've always been a big kid at heart. I had never seen a toy like this and knew others needed to see it! In June of the same year, I opened an Astrojax kiosk at our local mall and introduced thousands of newbies to this cool, new orbiting skill toy. The distributor at that time used photos of my store to recruit other would-be Astrojax retailers. I didn't realize it at the time, but we were the "flagship" Astrojax store in America. It was a fun eight month ride until a distribution snafu left us high and dry, with no supply of Astrojax. Regretfully, I closed our store. Astrojax was suddenly hard to find.
In addition to my own personal sets, I had a very small supply of Astrojax left. I was always very active in the Astrojax forums and continued to stay in touch with the community, so word spread that "some guy in Ohio" still had Astrojax. They say love is blind, at least it will certainly make you do silly things. I loved Astrojax and didn't want anyone to go without, so I sent them free of charge to players I met in the forums. Needless to say, I learned quickly that buying something and then giving it away for free will cause you to go broke! After about six months of fielding emails and shipping Astrojax to new friends, I decided to create an Astrojax web store. US Astrojax opened for business in the fall of 2004!
I enlisted the help of my ever-cautious and slightly-skeptical wife. Being the supportive person that she is, she got behind her man-child husband and his crazy ambition. I'll spare you the Behind The Music stories of our difficulties, but I assure you we were a tiny "nobody" of a company trying to earn your loyalty and respect. So how does a penniless and struggling mom-and-pop online store bring something valuable to its customers? Our various cookie-cutter website designs were embarrassingly pathetic for years...so a cool web presence wasn't the answer. How about selection? Hmmm...all we had in our bag of tricks was three Astrojax versions and a few accessories. Well then, maybe advertising is the answer! Nope, we still don't have a budget for advertising! The answer? Treat people the way you want to be treated, always, every time. Our intentions have always been genuine, and you've reciprocated by supporting us and spreading the word, and we've grown to a small team of dedicated people. We're still struggling at times, but thanks to you we are growing.
If I could, I would reach my hand through cyberspace and shake your hand in gratitude. I know the US Astrojax staff shares this passion for our customers. You deserve our appreciation and to that end we strive to show it by serving you. Over the years we've answered tens of thousands of emails and we know many of you by first name, as friends in different locations around the world. We've increased our Astrojax selection with new versions and by offering a wide array of parts and even custom tuned Astrojax. Exclusive US Astrojax-only sets are available, and more will come. In recent years we expanded our skill toy offering to include yo-yo, juggling balls, poi and more. We go to great lengths to make sure orders are shipped the same day they are received, whenever possible (we need weekends too!). We've implemented a new program called Random Act of Kindness, and many of you receive something extra in your order at no charge...hopefully putting a smile on your face and making the world brighter for a few moments. Corny? Maybe. Sincere? Absolutely. All efforts to show our appreciation.
We've made improvements to US Astrojax, expanded the selection, and your positive word-of-mouth has helped us grow. But our best attribute should always be service. We'll continue to focus on this and I hope you will come along for the ride as we grow.
As we move closer to a decade of service, I would like to sincerely say thank you for your loyalty over the years. On behalf of my family and the US Astrojax Team, you have my word that we will continue to work hard to earn your support and serve you to the best of our combined abilities.
US Astrojax Team
Wow...you made it this far! Now that you've persevered through my story, how about a nice little reward to go hand-in-hand with my Thank You thoughts? I can't reach through my screen and shake your hand as I'd like to, but I can give something away for free. Place an order of $20 or more between now and October 5 and enter the code word ajcol as a coupon code. I'll make sure you get an Astrojax V-Max tossed in your order (I get to choose the color)!
So you’ve gotten down with the Astrojax PLUS and learned ‘em front to back on account of our in-depth breakdown. But now? What about V-Max? What makes them so grand amongst the vast sea that is Astrojax? Read on.
This set was designed by Alex Hochstrasser. Introduced in 2003, the V-Max moniker is used as short-hand to indicate ‘maximum velocity’. Initially V-Max was released in Ruby Red, Ice Blue, and Citrus Yellow in 2002. In '03, however, Emerald Green appeared briefly among a limited number of retailers. USAstrojax was the only source that carried them after 2004 and remaining supplies were depleted in 2010. A virtually impossible-to-find clear pink V-Max appeared in Japan in 2004.
Aside from its colorful origins, V-Max Astrojax stand apart from their orbiting brethren in a variety of ways.
For starters, V-Max is constructed of the same polycarbonate material you find in bulletproof glass. Also, it features a machined metal weight. V-Max carries similar dimensions to the Plus and Saturn versions, however, with a height of 27.5mm and a diameter of 33mm while weighing in at an acceptable 17g. The reduced friction makes V-Max ideal for faster moves.
Attached via pins to the string ends, V-Max are available with a Docking Station or within a Jewel Box. While the stock colors (Ruby Red, Ice Blue, and Citrus Yellow) are widely available with a silver string, a series of individual V-Max balls were created in 2004 called Imagine, granting half of each ball a chrome finish versus a clear colored finish on the other half. These sets appeared for a limited time and now are so rare they can only be found exclusively at USAstrojax either individually or as a full set of 6! These collectors’ editions are:
Also, it's worth mentioning that many players began 'frosting' the V-Max shells! At some point we'll likely give a how-to guide that outlines this process, but basically it involves gently sanding the surface of the shells with a fine grit sandpaper to grant a frosted appearance. Eventually players even began adding half V-Max shells to the clear shells of the Saturn edition! Regardless of your tastes, it's clear the V-Max lent itself quite well to customization. So much so that some players go absolutely berserk to tune V-Max balls with Plus or Saturn balls, even using string buds with standard Astrojax sets!
Now that you’ve got a better idea of where V-Max shines, check out this handy chart that outlines its strengths in the trick arena!
(disclaimer: no dolphins were hurt in the making of this blog post).
We've all done it. Got excited about Astrojax, wanted to share it with someone in the world. You've practiced your wording (see: orbit skill toy), how to describe them. And then, the moment of truth. The moment that decides your fate, whether you live or die;
You hand over your set of Astrojax to the noob!
This is a critical moment. This is where the words start flying. This is life or death. Why? You're about to teach a fresh face how to vertical orbit and you already know the ten ways it can go wrong.
You've done everything to prepare them (and yourself). You've shown them what a vertical orbit looks like. You've exaggerated the orbiting motion your hand does but that you don't see. You've used very precise and exaggerated words that "when you do it, you are NOT gonna rotate your hand this big. It doesn't take very much energy. Your hand orbits need to be so small I cannot see them. DO NOT DO BIG HAND ORBITS!!!"
Yeah, you yelled at them.
Because you know.
We all know.
Once they drop the ball from their non-dominant hand, all... chaos breaks loose.
Because what they did was get excited. What they heard was pieces of what you said ("...do... big... hand... orbits!")
And what they do next is... well, I think you know. And there's no stopping them (it's easier to punch a dolphin in the nose than try to stop them). They're gonna huge-hand-orbit regardless of their IQ level and how much you explained not to. They're gonna rubber-neck so as to avoid a small dent in their cranium (see: Astrojax Plus). You're gonna dive behind the nearest sofa or bush or ottoman because you were standing too close even though you knew better! You too want to live and not become another victim of the mistress we call Chaos. But alas.
Your fate is sealed.
Teaching a noob, any noob means abandoning all safety because in Astrojax, there are no guarantees. Especially when it comes to noobs. I have yet to meet the noob that can accurately vertical orbit on their first try. Show me a noob that can orbit like that and I'll show you a man with a furrowed eyebrow of distrust. Because I don't believe they exist. I think it's the natural evolution of anyone who has ever picked up a set of Astrojax.
But alas, you were brave. You sacrificed your well-being for a greater cause. You taught someone new how to start playing Astrojax. You laughed with them as a smile spread across their face at the sheer craziness of their first chaotic orbit. And who knows? This sacrifice may lead to something grand. Sure, they may never buy or play with a set again. On the other hand, your commitment and sacrifice to that one individual may bring forth destiny. Destiny of a person who, after they take their first vertical orbit, becomes addicted and an avid Astrojax player and contributor to our community.
Worth it? You bet it is.
Just remember, once they release that first ball, run!
So you've been breaking it down with the Astrojax Plus for a while now, but have you ever considered fully the complete breakdown of the Astrojax Plus? Well congratulations because we're about to hit you with a little AJ Plus 101.
For starters? Let's take a look at the history-
Invented by Larry Shaw in 1994, the Astrojax Plus stand apart from the rest of their tri-bally brethren thanks to the distinguishing fact that they were the first set ever invented. That's right- when you're slinging your Astrojax Plus around what you're actually doing is engaging in a bit of history as the original vision for Astrojax literally swings manifested in the palm of your hand. Exciting stuff huh?
Well, if you think that's exciting, you can imagine our elation (we being fine purveyors of all things skill toy and awesome) when we learned that NASA (yes, the same NASA that recently made headlines sending their little rock 'em sock 'em robot to freakin' Mars) took our baby along with them to the International Space Station as part of their 'Toys in Space' program. Which, to be fair has to have the most boring name ever. But I digress- please, allow me to continue my 'Putting Words On Your Computer Screen' program.
Now that we've gotten a bit of history, let's look at some of the features that make Plus unique compared to the rest of its tri-spherical family.
For starters, much like our earlier feature on the Breakdown of Astrojax MX, the Plus also are comprised of Polyurethane and feature a precision, metal weight. However, the weight in the Plus is different on account of being made of brass and also because it is machined rather than die-cast, allowing for smoother string flow. Attached using pins, the Plus are 27.5mm in height, weigh 18g, and have a total diameter of 33mm and are stowed away comfortably in a jewel case or dock. While currently available in red and blue, other colors may one day be a possibility as we're always looking for your feedback on the products you'd like to see made available in Astrojax land.
Now, the soft cushy material in Plus makes them positively ideal for beginners or those who favor bounce tricks. In fact, this was the set that I personally began with and they remain a personal favorite. Granted, it's a matter of personal taste, but the softer texture always seemed to give me an advantage, largely because I'm fairly clumsy, but hey, to each his (or her) own. Speaking of personal tastes, here's a handy breakdown of the tricks to which Plus is best suited:
So there you have it- a succinct breakdown of the Plus's majesty with a side of printable awesomeness if you so choose.
What's your experience with the Plus been like?
I consider myself a “Jack of all Trades, Master of Astrojax” kinda guy when it comes to the skill toy world. Astrojax may be my primary focus, but I'm proficient with many other skill toys as well. Astrojax was the second skill toy I learned how to use (yoyos were my first), so I picked up a whole lot of others after learning Astrojax. What I’d like to share with you today are the skill toys I’ve found easy to pick up after learning Astrojax. Because Astrojax served as a 'gateway toy' of sorts, this seemed like a great opportunity to point out some other toys that you can cross-train with as you refine your skill toy techniques. As it's not uncommon for a player proficient in one toy to gravitate toward another skill toy I thought this would be a fun post to share with you today.
First, let's take a look at poi;
Poi is described as the art of spinning tethered balls in an artistic fashion. Essentially, it’s the art of spinning stuff in beautiful patterns. It’s got a very zen-like feel and if done to the right music, it’s a wonderful stress reliever. The moves in poi are called “Patterns” since most (if not all) poi moves are continuous, so patterns develop.
Poi spinning is very easy to pick up especially if your jaxing style involves a lot of powerplay, or full-string, moves. I don’t consider poi a “toy” but more like an “apparatus” or extension of one’s body movements.
One of the reasons why Astrojax relates easily to Poi is because, well, Astrojax can be used exactly as you use poi! You can hold one end ball, and swing the two-ball end in the various poi patterns. (Using Saturn balls can mimic a great set of light-poi as well). There are numerous instructional poi videos, but Playpoi.com has the best in my opinion (YouTube handle: Meenik ) whereas he has the videos I use to learn new patterns/moves.
Once you've learned how to spin poi with your Astrojax, you are ready to either pick up a set, or make a set of "sock poi" using two soccer-socks (or your sister’s knee-length socks) and a pair of tennis balls. US Astrojax actually sell three great sets of Kite Poi (Poi with streamers on the end, two regular sized ones, and one set for younger children) and the Boing Swing can be used as poi (I use Boing Swing with extensions tied to them so I can make the spin radius longer).
Because Astrojax combines features of the yo-yo, juggling balls, the lasso, poi and many others and we've already taken a look at poi, let's check out the 5A Yoyo style.
The 5A style of yoyo is also referred to as a “Counter Weight” style of yo-yoing. In this style, the part of the string that is usually tied to your finger is tied to a counterweight. This allows one more degree of freedom and opens up a whole new set of tricks that can be done by manipulating the counterweight. I do not claim to be extremely good at this style, since I only can do the basics, it’s easy to see how many Astrojax moves can be incorporated into this style by looking at the professionals.
Notice how he basically starts with a horizontal Thriller move?? And then he proceeds to blow your mind!!
Now, what do you need to get into this style? Well, for starters, you need a yoyo. Basically, you’d want a standard butterfly shape metal bearing yoyo. (Sadly, Plastic bearings have a hard time with this style due to the small spin time) After that, you need a counterweight. Now what can we use…. wait a second, let’s use ASTROJAX!!! (since, obviously, you should have a ball or two lying around) Best way to put the ball on the string is to take the string off the yoyo, thread the yoyo-end through the center of the Jax ball and let the ball slide to the knot-side of the string. Take the yoyo-end of the string and thread it through the loop at the knot end of the string. After that, attach the string back to the yoyo.
Once again, I’d recommend looking up videos on YouTube on how to start the 5A style since there are others much better than I that can explain the basics. However, when you start learning moves, look to practicing first with Astrojax since the string length and weight distribution are roughly the same as a yoyo. The only difference is that you don’t have to worry about the throw, and landing the yoyo on the string. Get the basics down with Astrojax, then transition to the yoyo.
These are two of the most prominent gateways to other skill toys. By taking the time to use Astrojax, you learn how to visualize moves and become creative. This is very useful when picking up any other skill toy. Through hard work and that big word called “perseverance” (that’s a big word for a non English major!) you can pick up any other toy you set your heart on!
If you're interested in learning a new skill toy, feel free to mention it in the comments section, or post it on the AP-Club.net forum under the “General Discussion Skill Toys” section, and I’ll be glad to share what I know. For reference, here’s a list of the other toys I'm proficient with that I'd be happy to talk about.
Diabolo, Gyro-ring, Kendama, Shaker Cups, Juggling (3 balls/3 rings), Meteors, Flower stix/Devil Stix, Bolero (Mexican version of Kendama)
Until next time folks, this is Theferrell, signing out.
Hey all! OceanJax here.
It's summer and when I think of summer, I think of... well, a lot of things. Hot dogs. Especially hot dogs... mmmmmmm, hot dogs....
But when it comes to summer and skill toys, I can't think of two concepts that go better together (except for maybe hot dogs and summer, but I think we've covered that). The days are warm. The nights are cool. The hot dogs are fresh (why are we still mentioning hot dogs...)
What that all means is: It's time to play!
You already know that USAstrojax is your head-quarters for a vast array of skill toy fun, and I'm sure you are more than familiar with your favorite daytime skill toy. But have you had a chance to light up the night? And I don't mean with the midnight grilling of hot dogs (DOH!).
What I am talking about are light-up skill toys. Yes, USAstrojax has those too! From Boing balls to Saturns to Aqua Glows, you are sure to find the perfect nighttime companion to your skill toy repertoire.
My favorite? The Saturn Astrojax. The beauty of the Saturn series is three-fold:
Ah summer- nowhere in the world does it hold the enticing allure of pool parties, lemonade, and baseball the way it does right here in the U.S.A. That's why, in celebration of childrens' exodus from public education all over the country and in honor of our Independence Day (must...refrain...from making Will Smith reference), we're releasing not one, but TWO new, specially tuned sets of astrojax for the months of July and August!
What are they, you ask? Well, we're not quite ready to let the eagle out of the bag, but we will show you this black & white photo that will allow you to ponder the possibilities. So make sure you're checking back and stay tuned (pun intend), because a new color will be revealed each day over the next 3 days! And when it is? You'd better act fast because we're relegating these models to the vault at the end of August. We should mention our actual vault is located in Fort Knox and unless you've got Nicolas Cage on your side to hunt it down, these particular National treasures will be forever lost to the annals of history!
Tell us that doesn't put a horrifying T. Roosevelt smile on your face!
Personally I'm a huge fan of our more recently released Phoenix Jax. NO, it's not just because of all of the Avengers vs. X-Men hoopla lately and the return of The Phoenix….ahem, mostly, but they're just a great looking set of Jax.
Ask the Reader is a new, ongoing series where we'll be prompting you to respond and tell us what your opinion is on anything and everything skill-toy. Sometimes it'll be related to your favorite tricks or methods, and other times we're asking because our previously mentioned team of robot monkeys enjoy the validation of knowing the latest and greatest creeping out of our laboratory is on par with what you're looking for.
So, let's start simple and we'd like to know in no uncertain terms (meaning don't answer in binary, nerds) what types of custom-tuned color combinations would you like to see? We've got an amazing lineup, but to be fair there are millions of combinations out there and if the community calls for it, then by golly we'll create every single one of them!*
*Editor's Note: Josh, this is absolutely infeasible, remove this part of the post IMMEDIATELY. It doesn't even make sense accidentally and you're hurting the bottom line when you make outlandish promises that we can't deliver on or that, in this case, are literally impossible. Besides, you know how over-worked the monkeys already are.
**Supreme Writer of Awesomeness: Jim, I will not stand idly by while you trample on my dream of owning cornflower blue Astrojax. Unless you fire me. Then I will stand idly by while you trample my dreams.