The last few months have been a balancing act of a full time programming job and maintaining Luftverk. I look back at how I did things when I was traveling - I'd set up shop and design, release then ship products from wherever I was. Back then it was a challenge because of space. But now it's more of an issue with time. Realizing that I dedicate 8 hours of my day to work, 8 hours for sleep, an hour for a morning workout leaves about 7 hours to keep myself alive (cook), keep the S13 running, and also work on yoyo projects. All this in the statistically least affordable city in North America. To say it's been a handful would be an understatement, but at the same time it feels genuinely great to be so busy with new opportunities. When designing the Alpina, it was spread across an entire month instead of a week when I had more time - which also gave me headspace to work out smaller details.
This design was based roughly around the theme of what a one off yoyo designed by an engineer in the 70s would look like. I don't know what brought up this spark of inspiration, but it is likely due to my obsession with all things nostalgic. And something about that created some interesting challenges. What would the branding or engraving look like? What would the shape be like? How would it perform?
I thought of things like the shape - well being machined from billet, something about a very square profile always had a hand-turned look to it. This square profile also ensures a massive amount of weight on the rim. It is borderline unforgiving in it's amount power and spin. And again, the hub design is very square and billet machined looking. Simple geometric shapes takes a page out of the brutalist architecture design language found in the original Evora. It just feels period correct - without ever existing in the past. Something about that gets me excited.
Similar to the Silvia line, "XP" is short for "Experiment", and the numbers represent the diameter of the yoyos. This time around, they come in a standard 55mm, as well as a much smaller 47mm. To put things in perspective, a typical undersized yoyo is near 50mm. With the tiny diameter, and slim profile this makes the Alpina XP47 the ultimate fit-anywhere pocket throw. It is the only yoyo that Luftverk has released that fits in the coin pocket in my jeans. With that said, fixed axle performance is much greater on the XP55 due to its nice diameter. For the ultimate understanding of the differences in diameter I'd recommend purchasing both, which will also reveal a rather silly (but satisfying) easter egg too. I'll keep that a secret.
This brings us to the next unique feature of the Alpina - it was the perfect test bed for something I have thought about for a few years. A fixed axle "bearing blank" collar that would fit into a bearingized yoyo. I prototyped this bearing with a full width C bearing, but it felt way to unresponsive and lacked the snappiness of a true fixed axle. After testing a few widths, I found that near the "half-spec" size was the most optimal for those fast gravity pulls but still allowed a decent sleep time. I challenge anyone to find a yoyo that gravity pulls as satisfying as an Alpina with the bearing blank.
These are made from 6061 aluminum and anodized to prevent tarnishing and durability. They are also machined slightly oversized to prevent galling, or getting stuck in the bearing seat. You will be able to purchase these separate and they fit any yoyo that supports slim bearings (short height bearing posts). Each Alpina will include a large bearing, a half spec, and a bearing blank for you to experiment how each changes the play dynamic.
With the old packaging stock running low, I thought it would be a great opportunity to incorporate a redesign. Gone is the sleeve, but a beautiful grey/white split tone that signifies something very personal to me. The inside is still muted for that center-of-attention pop when you first open the box up. All accessories now include its own pouch for its accessories with a sticker designed after automotive OEM parts stickers.
Summing this run up - its been a mountain of work since not only was it two new throws, but a packaging redesign as well. I think including three bearing types for users will really show how different each will affect play. I personally have been switching from half-spec to the bearing blank a lot, and really feeling the difference between responsive bearingized vs response fixed axle. It's really cool to be able to differentiate the two. I love doing slimline projects because they manage to really let my creative juices flow. With the Alpina project, it is no exception.
Dropping Thursday, February 14th 10:00pm EST.
Includes Center-trac, Half-Spec, and Fixed Axle Bearing Blank.