Do yourself a favour
Get an Evo Kendama
It's been awhile since I've done a kendama review. Due to commitments at work and at home, my involvement at Honed Media has winded down quite some.
Don't get me wrong, I still love doing it - its just that the time it takes to test a dama and ideate how to frame my review is something I cannot afford today. Between my day job and running Cereal Kendama it's just a luxury I don't have.
That being said, when I spoke to Kyle of Evo Kendamas and we decided to do an exchange of product, I couldn't help but play the kendama with writing a review in mind.
To start, this is a custom hand-turned Evo in Kyle's very own shape. Nothing about this kendama is factory made, a rarity in today's landscape.
Let's get the aesthetics out of the way - this is a beautiful kendama. With the process that Kyle has, you are able to choose your colour of spectra-ply, burn lines and design of tama (natty of course).
I have always been skeptical about spectra-ply after a bad experience playing a premium one many years ago that chipped when I missed a j-stick. A simple glue fixed the chip but it was still something that I would rather have not experienced.
Nevertheless, with a review in mind, I knew that I had to go hard on this kendama in order to provide a fair assessment for the reader.
The review below will focus both on the durability as well as the playability of my Evo custom.
First off - durability. I tested the kendama by doing instas, taps and multiple j-sticks (which often results in a high amount of misses). Every time the ken would hit the tama and vice versa, I anticipated a chip - but it never came.
I even found that the spectra-ply did not dent in, which is not that common for a wood this porous. After jamming the kendama for 2 weeks straight, I was very confident of the durability of wood that Kyle used.
Note: I did not drop it on the floor, I don't recommend you do unless accidental.
When it comes to playability, the Evo shape is akin to a modern day kendama without a balance hole (although if you ask Kyle to add one it might be possible). I was really surprised to see lunars and other balance tricks have a grip similar to painted tamas.
This was caused by the uneven grain of the ash tama combined with the roughness of the spectra-ply - a recipe for the ideal natty tama.
In addition to that, I must say that all the stall points and the bevel match perfectly. I was able to land stalls with ease out of the box (there wasn't a box, figure of speech).
Overall, I was very pleased with the playing experience of this kendama.
Now onto value.
I clarified with Kyle that a kendama like this would cost roughly $100. This is pricier than your average kendama, however I would also comment that it is on a whole other league of its own. Think of it in the same league as GT2s where you are paying a premium for a unique and American made kendama.
The difference here however, if the personalized experience you get choosing your wood and talking to Kyle (who is an amazing human being).
All this being said - do yourself a favour, and get an Evo kendama. You may reach out to Kyle here.