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[Review] Play (2013)

Started by The Void, 27 June, 2013, 15:23:04

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The Void

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pre-release model of the 2013 Play kendamas.

Play vs Mugen

Bonus points straight away for being white - my favourite tama colour. The paint itself was very glossy and shiny at first inspection. Lighthouses and Moon Landings seemed very tricky at first. But in a short period of time (a day or so), the paint seemed to wear in very nicely, and there was a feel of... well, not "grip", or "stickiness", but perhaps "softness" is the right word ... to the catches.

The paint seems to be very durable, and after 2 months of "Play play", there are no chips at all. Lots of dents, naturally, but it's been given a good bashing, so I have no problems with that.

Bagel Landing

The tama on my model is a touch heavier than the ken. I have never been a player to seek total perfection of weight balance between the ball and ken though. I only (thought that I) noticed a slight difference on some air tricks, but thinking about how I throw each one meant I could adjust with no trouble at all.

On the road

The string started to show signs of slight "fluffing" or fraying at the edges quite early on. However, it hasn't got any worse since then, and hasn't affected play. I may change it for an Oozora string at some point soon though.

When very new, there was a slight feel of "roughness" to the finish of the wood on the ken. Not enough to feel uncomfortable, but definitely noticeably different from the silky-smooth finish of, say, an Oozora. But it has worn in with time, and I can now barely notice it.

Country living

The ken is standing up to play well. There are a few light nicks to the cup rims here and there, but after a good while of heavy use, that's no worse than expected. The spike was almost completely unblunted after 2 months. I gave it a tiny bit of re-shaping the other day, and superglued it.

Reach for the sky

Early models of the Play suffered a bit from cross-piece slippage, but there's no sign of that at all on this new model.

2+ months of use. Black smudges on the cross-piece are from my hoodie pocket! Oops.

I'm really happy with the new models, and it's currently my weapon of choice. In fact, if you asked me to choose between this and a Mugen... I'd have a long think about my answer.

A very nice kendama. Well done Kendama Europe!
If you don't want to BUY MY BOOKS 😉, then why not ask your local library to order them in, and read them for free? That would help too. Cheers!


Thanks for the review Void! They were modeled after Mugen kendamas, were they not?

I was strongly considering of getting one, when will they release? Maybe I can pick one up at EJC..
Kendama Belgium!


So how does the older play model compare with this 2013 version? Are they similar or are the super different?


I'm interested in the answer to this as well, as I just ordered my first Play this morning before I read your review!


cheers for the review void! I also think that they are very well balanced compared to the old ones. and I like that the sarado doesn't move anymore and lowers to the perfect level.

it's my everyday practice kendama for balance tricks.

The Void

I'm told the release date is July 1st.

2011 Play: lower cross-piece: great for Lunars and Stilts, but not so great for Earth Turns and Jumping Sticks. The hole in the ball is fractionally larger than normal, and the bevel is smooth, not angled.[nb]There are some for sale on the BKA store.[/nb]
2012 Play: Standardised hole-size and bevel. Cross-piece is set better, but some models observed to still suffer from slipping.
2013 Play: Great!

All models have the same paint, as far as I can make out.
If you don't want to BUY MY BOOKS 😉, then why not ask your local library to order them in, and read them for free? That would help too. Cheers!


So the Plays play very similar to mugens?


Nice review! My white play is on the way <3

@The Void I thought that your favourite tama color is pink :D

The Void

Quote from: Misterwhang on 28 June, 2013, 19:17:18So the Plays play very similar to mugens?
I don't think I'd use that choice of words. Each brand and model has its own different feel, even if it's a very small difference that is hard to articulate. The paint on the Play does not feel the same as the Mugen paint. Both are really nice, but different.
Quote from: Yoda on 28 June, 2013, 22:59:57Nice review! My white play is on the way <3

@The Void I thought that your favourite tama color is pink :D
I'm sure you'll love it.
For visual effect, I'd probably say hot pink, but for "I want to do this trick", I'd choose white.
If you don't want to BUY MY BOOKS 😉, then why not ask your local library to order them in, and read them for free? That would help too. Cheers!


Nice review. I tried briefly the Play 2012 model and i really liked it, it felt very well balanced. After reading the review I need to put my hand on the 2013 ones :)
Spanish Kendama Champion 2010, 2012, 2014-16
Depth Perception is Overrated.


Is the BKA store planning on having any of these 2013 models for sale at any time?


We will probably bring some back from EKO at the start of August. Import tax and shipping costs make it more awkward for a non-VAT-registered company to bring them straight in. We'll keep you posted.


Played  on a play kendama today for the first time, it was one from a student of mine.

And I gotta say, they are real solid kens.
The grip on the ken is amazing, it feels really good.
And the tamma was great. DId not like the string do, felt funny somehow.

The balance between the ken and the tamma is really good, first try lunar, lighthouse.
Stilt took me 3 times, and I can;t land the trick that fast on my own kens.

I recomment buying these.. they are tight!

Kendama Europe

Hi Guys, we are very stoked about your great reviews and comments. It's great to know that people appreciate the progress and hard work that we put into those PLAY Kendama series.
For the new year 2014 you can expect some new Highlights, coming out from Kendama Europe. Stay tuned!
Kendama production and shop since 2008 at

Kendama - easy to learn, hard to master

the milky oolong

Just got hold of a purple Play kendama from my local juggling shop:

19.95€, straight out of the packaging it's immensely playable - just checking out the weight distribution landed a few Lighthouse Somersaults, Clifftop, and my first UFO in ages! No Lunars yet. I've been reluctant to get to grips with a Play kendama but this one at least is very promising from the first day's use. Only 'drawbacks' or things to note would be the slight roughness to the Ken, but I'm sure this will wear with playing. A kendama this good leaves me asking how more 'up-grade' kendama makers can justify such steep jumps in price (unless it's a pure material and work-time question). Great stuff, guys!

Clicks from Berlin
Kendama Berlin
German Kendama Open 2014: 1st Place Speed Trick, 2nd Place Knockout
German Kendama Championships 2015: 3rd Place Speed Trick
KEN FEST Hannover, 2016: 3rd Place KEN Battle
KENDAMA CLASH Berlin 2016: 1st Place Intermediate