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    Auction Finds

    Box with aliens, Ninja turtles & Mickey Mouse yo-yos

    I can’t remember the last time I picked up a yo-yo – I was never very good at controlling the thing – and it’s not often that I see them at auction. The last time was several years ago, when some wooden ones turned up.

    Recently, a box of plastic used yo-yos showed up, and a few stood out:

    Mickey Mouse in all ears

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in pink, lime-green, light blue and white, and ready to battle

    Two alien figures that looked like they were straight from a 1950s Mars movie (Around the perimeter: “In 1947, military unit of America Roswell was carrying dropper UFO and alien to Area: 51”).

    Black Mamba “ultra orbiting yo-yo.”

    A variety of yo-yos.

    Up-close look at a favorite childhood and adult toy – yo-yos.

    What was just as dramatic were the many candy colors of the yo-yos in the brown cardboard box: lime greens and blue and oranges and reds. There were so many that someone had obviously and intentionally collected them. Several of them had lighting mechanisms.

    Yo-yos on a whole are not worth much money these days, but their nostalgic value is priceless. The endless hours of attempting to keep the twin discs rolling without stopping is the stuff of childhood remembrances. I wasn’t sure of the age of the yo-yos in this box, but I could tell that they had been lovingly played with.

    The brightest of them bore the name Duncan, which is probably most associated with our Baby-Boomer relationship with yo-yos. However, the first of the toys were made in this country by a Filipino immigrant named Pedro Flores in the 1920s. His hand-carved wooden yo-yos – unlike those before where the string was tied to an axle – had the string wound around an axle. The term itself came from the Philippines.

    A variety of yo-yos.

    A full and colorful box of yo-yos.

    This new toy took off, sparking the interest of Donald Duncan, who bought the company and trademarked the name “yo-yo” in 1929. The toy was so successful that competitors started copying it and calling it yo-yo. Duncan lost the trademarked name in a 1965 lawsuit filed by the competitors. The courts ruled that the word had become part of the lexicon. The Duncan company was sold in 1968.

    The box at auction also held yo-yos made by Abbe, Klutz, Yomega, Champion and Imperial. One of the rarest yo-yos – if you could find it – is one from Flores’ production. The Museum of Yo-Yo History has a mint-condition Flores original in crackle paint from the late 1920s with an estimated value of $2,000. Here’s a red one from around the same time for $750.

    Most of the yo-yos at auction were newer and probably worth only a few bucks or nothing at all. Mickey Mouse was made in Taiwan and sold in the 1980s; it lights up. The turtle is Leonardo, 1989 (Spectra Star). Black Mamba was an Australian import from the 1990s. The Roswell alien UFOs sold around the 1980s. Also in the box was a Yomega X-Brain Wing, which was among the best sellers – not necessarily in price – on eBay.

    What’s your yo-yo story?

    A variety of yo-yos.

    A variety of yo-yos: Mickey Mouse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Leonardo, Black Mamba and aliens from Mars.

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