Author Topic: Royal Kendama  (Read 11276 times)

Offline Kev

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Royal Kendama
« on: 02 February, 2015, 19:50:52 »
Hi everyone,

I wanted to give you my thoughts about the all new Royal Kendama and I started writing this, and (as is often the case with my posts, it turned into a bit of an essay) - but there's lots to say!

I've had my Royal Kendama for about a week now (in brilliant green) and wanted to share my 1st impressions with you.

[[[ Just as a background, here are my kendama tastes to give you something to compare to! *Skip this bit if you like :)

- As far as straight up daily players / competition kendama go, I'm a pretty much staunch Ozora fan (particularly the classic yellow, the naturals and the new white). Outside of competition models I also really enjoy my Krom Deluxe Invert Zebra and a 'Frankendama' I made myself from a Sweets green glitter tama (can't remember the model), and a custom treated Ozora ken (This was originally made because of the Sweets kens I've tried I find them just too light and thin at the spike for my taste - no disrespect to them, they're quality products but just not right for me). The single best kendama I've ever played was a well used pink Mugen owned by Void. ]]]

So anyway, back to the Royal Kendama!

In short, I'm seriously impressed by the Royal. It's really well made and feels great to play.


I don't have accurate enough scales to give you exact figures but mine feels extremely well balanced and is overall just a touch heavier in both ken and tama compared to my ozoras. So it's more in line with my Krom and my Sweets / Ozora hybrid. In my view this is a very good thing - it's definitely got that slight satisfying clunk-feel you tend to get with premium kendamas.

Obviously within the requirements of a competition approved kendama there isn't going to be anything hugely shocking about the design but I think anyone familiar with kendamas will notice the details and see that a lot of thought has gone into the shape. The things most noticeable to me are that the cup edges on the sarado have a slightly less steep angle when comparing to the ozora and the rim around the base cup is really quite different to the ozora, deeper, with a more rounded profile. The Royal kendama shape seems to make all the 'tama on ken' balancing tricks such as Clifftop, Slip Grip Special, Monkeys Chair, Wingwalker etc. all feel easier to me which is nice! Once in one of these positions the tama sits on the ken more stably than it does even on my favourite ozoras. The shape of the sarado is different to the Ozora too and actually quite Mugen like in my view.

Despite my loyalty to the Ozora, I actually think the Royal easily rivals it, and (I cant believe I'm writing this) *might* even better it. It's early days for me to commit to that statement fully but it seems to be taking the lead in my affections here at the moment - thanks to that little bit of extra weight / solid feel plus it's subtly unique shape and lovely overall feel.

I think the price is worth mentioning actually. In a way, the low price might have put me off initially as I'd wonder about quality (I must be honest, all the other kendamas I've tried at the cheaper end of the spectrum have always felt way too light and off balance but thankfully not so here, the Royal is really spot on and if you do a close up comparison you can see it is a unique properly designed product and not just another unique badge on a generic kendama (unlike *cough*  some of the cheap kendamas out there!). I thought / really hoped! that for Void to have endorsed it it must be worth a try. I'm glad to say it is.

Now, there are some things I don't like -

I prefer the Ozora style 'ribbon' / flat section strings to round section string, the Royal comes with a round section string which I will probably end up swapping at some point. That said, of all the round section strings I've tried, it's probably the most suited to me, (they often feel too thick and inflexible like rope, this one is quite narrow and flexible which are definitely good things. Perhaps it's just that I'm so used to Ozora string, nearly all kendamas seem to come with round section string these days :(.

Primarily the way a kendama plays is the most important thing and I can't fault the Royal on that front, but moving on to aesthetics (and this is purely a personal view) I'm not mad keen on the typeface / font used to write Royal on the 'dama. I am a bit fussy about this sort of thing though and of course it's just my taste. (I've never bought a Kendama Europe kendama because I don't like the logo - how shallow of me! (Although they play great, I just dont like the logo!)

For a new product though I guess it's important to have the name on there so people know what they are playing. In future, I'm sure these will get the reputation they deserve and I hope that the brand will become more recognisable among the players. I really do love the crown though - so if it was up to me I'd like to see the kendama with just that rather than the text too (transcending the language barrier there hey?!)

Finally, I would love to see a natural version, mainly because I love nattys in general but also as some of you know I work on a few limited edition customs too and I'd love to get to work on these without having to scrape them up first!

*Unknowns

At present it's too early to judge how the Royal will perform over time. I've simply not played mine enough to report on the paint durability and how that evolves (gets sticky etc. through use. All I can say is at present the paint reminds me of something between 2nd Gen Ozora paint (which is the one I'm most familiar with) and also the latest Play kendama paint (I only have one of these but it's as strong as an ox).

So anyone else got one yet? What do you think?

Oh and here's the all important pic!

« Last Edit: 02 February, 2015, 20:12:03 by Kev »

Offline shalafi

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #1 on: 02 February, 2015, 22:34:50 »
I haven't opened on official thread because I was waiting my Royal to be a bit more wear in, but I'll share my first impressions.

To put it in context: Me too, I'm a fan of Ozora, but I also like the Play and some Krom models.

For pure chance I've opened a Krom, a Play and a Royal kendamas all very recently. Of all of them, the Royal is the one I like the best. It is as well balanced as the Play, but the paint is not as slippery. The paint on the Krom is more sticky, but it is not BKA approved (most likely for that reason). I particularly like the feeling of the grain in the wood.

Do I like the out-of-the-box experience better than an Ozora? I don't know, I'd probably still prefer the Ozora, but not for a big margin (I'm with Kev here)

I find it to be a bit heavier than other kendamas I have, but well balanced, since both the ken and the tama are heavier. A heavier tama makes balancing tricks like birds easier (again, I'm with Kev here).

It is going to be one of my everyday kendamas, so I'll see how it wears in.

Now, the question: Since Void's picture is in the box as "Kendama Consultant" I'm wondering how deep was he involved in the creation of this kendama and what's his relation to Royal kendama.
« Last Edit: 02 February, 2015, 22:44:12 by shalafi »
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Offline The Void

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #2 on: 03 February, 2015, 13:21:30 »
Nice to hear your thoughts, guys, thanks. Really pleased to hear you both like it so much (admittedly at an early stage).
Now, the question: Since Void's picture is in the box as "Kendama Consultant" I'm wondering how deep was he involved in the creation of this kendama and what's his relation to Royal kendama.
Wow, you decide to quote what's written on the box, but can't even be bothered to get it right. How curious.  :P

Alright then.... Royal Kendama is an independent/separate company to me or the BKA. The Royal Kendama was tested for approval like any other kendama. I was asked if I wanted to be involved in the creation of Royal's model. We struck a deal[1], and I gave my input all along the way in the design process. We started with a couple of prototypes offered to us, and they just weren't good enough in my eyes. If a Royal Kendama had been released 18 months ago, it would have been what Kev calls "just another unique badge on a generic kendama". I'm very glad that RK allowed me to put my foot down and insist on taking our time to get a great, unique product out there. I'm really pleased with how it came out, and I hope others will be too. (If you have used a Royal Kendama and dislike it, please feel absolutely free to say so here - you won't be censored. Of course, more positive reviews are welcome too. ;) )

One reason I decided to agree to having my face on the box (actually, I was very against this at first!) was that I knew that RK were going to try to get their model out into the shops at a really good price. Speaking as a Brit, it's disappointing that the scene in this country is still burgeoning. I really hope that the RK being out there as a great product at a great price will help to improve this. Also, my involvement will hopefully allow me to put a little more time and energy into kendama promotion. I've been running events and promoting kendama for 7 years now and losing money all along the way. That had to stop.

Yes, the RK is slightly heavier than an "average" beech kendama. I like this a lot, and I'm pleased that it ended up like this. In the final batch of prototypes that we approved for production, on average, the tama was slightly heavier than the ken[2]. The same is true of the 4 that I have opened and used from the first run. It's a balance that feels good to me.

Right, well, obviously I'm involved in the project, so feel free to regard all that with as much cynicism as you like. I've had my say, so over to you all.... Hope you all love the Royal as much as I do.

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 1. Funny, I don't recall anyone ever directly asking [insert name here], [insert name here], or [insert name here] about their relation to their kendama companies. Mind your own business, thanks for asking.  :P My personal involvement with RK is a separate matter to my BKA involvement. But you may guess that I might be personally pleased whenever someone buys a RK.... but let me assure you that the retirement mansion is a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong way off yet.  :)
 2. Of course, wood is never absolutely uniform, so individual models may vary.
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Offline shalafi

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #3 on: 03 February, 2015, 13:47:46 »
Wow, you decide to quote what's written on the box, but can't even be bothered to get it right. How curious.  :P

I was quoting from memory, anyway "Design Consultant" :-P

I've been running events and promoting kendama for 7 years now and losing money all along the way. That had to stop.

I totally agree on that. Dedication and devotion is fine, but to a certain degree.

I was expecting that we were getting it at a discounted price as BKA members. If that is going to be the retail price it is indeed a VERY good deal.

Hats off to you for stopping them and make them take the time, the final product is definitely good and that will improve the sales as it is definitely not "just another unique badge on a generic kendama".

Is it going to be on stores only on the UK or also in other countries?
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Offline The Void

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #4 on: 03 February, 2015, 14:34:50 »
BKA price is a members-only deal which includes postage. But it will still be a good price in the shops. Worldwide availability, potentially. But that's enough from me here.
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Offline the milky oolong

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #5 on: 03 February, 2015, 17:29:04 »
Heavy like a KROM standard, chunky and full with a nice tama weight like a good PLAY, with a super-smooth finish I associate with Tribute models. Really enjoyable Kendama straight out of the box, though the paint on the tama is already chipped from one particularly nasty landing during a  bit of Swirl > Tap to Butterfly practise (on a quite spongy laminate floor), but no use crying over this.

The finish is great, the cups feel really nicely bevelled, and I find the string to be of a good quality. One thing I never quite understand about kendama design: would it not be possible to leave the inside of the sarado and the adhering ken surface rougher than the rest of the finish? It would mean a strip of about 1.5cm all the way round and inside. I tend to either get kendamas which are so smooth that I constantly have to readjust the sarado after a line, as there's so little friction between the two ken parts (KROM, especially the Deluxe stuff), or others (Ozora typically) where I feel like I could possibly break the thing in half just changing the set-up to lefty the first time. The RK I have is on the smooth side of this, not drastically, but does anyone else have similar experience? Would save me jamming bits of torn-up Metro tickets between the sarado and ken of all my favourite kendamas!

So, product 'image', logo, etc. I'd risk guessing that the designers are juggler folk, due to the 'cartoony' nature of the script and logo, seeing as that's a regular style for other juggling products. The whole thing works a bit more 'wacky' and less serious than the new packaging of the Kendama USA Pro Models, for example (which, nonetheless, I find very nice). I hope this decision might take away a bit of the 'too-cool-for-school' element that sort of dominates kendama at the moment, where some edits end up seeming a bit like an ultra-hip music video (and that's cool; that's what they're going for) - I think there might just be another potential group of clickers who would bring a refreshing 'daftness' and playfulness to the fore. Still, just from a personal taste perspective, I don't think I'd be attracted by the packaging to find out that this kendama is as solid and aesthetically pleasing as it is.

One more slight criticism (and these criticisms have little to do with the kendama's performance per se!) is one that might peeve [user]Void[/user], as, unlike many of us on the forum (myself included), he tends to read things through properly before acting/responding/asking questions: there's not good enough mention of the spare string and pearl on the box, and it's tucked away quite nicely in its folding matchbox thingy (nice work). I'm really glad that the RK comes with a spare string, as that makes a great kendama brand (we should ideally boycott brands who don't embrace this philosophy ahem ahem)  :P But the camps are still divided, and those used to buying KROM kendamas will have generally gotten used to not receiving a spare string (at least all those I've ever bought). Either pack the string differently or draw more attention to this generous little extra!
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Offline The Void

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #6 on: 03 February, 2015, 18:44:10 »
... there's not good enough mention of the spare string and pearl on the box, and it's tucked away quite nicely in its folding matchbox thingy (nice work).
I didn't know that was there! Ha ha ha ha ha! Thanks for letting me know! :D
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Offline donald grant

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #7 on: 03 February, 2015, 19:37:04 »
Had no idea about the string either!!  Luckily I didn't have the heart to put Void's picture in the recycling...... :)

Offline shalafi

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #8 on: 03 February, 2015, 22:13:13 »
Same here, I didn't noticed the extra string.
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Offline the milky oolong

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #9 on: 09 February, 2015, 19:18:33 »
So, point taken (what's the smiley for smug git)?

 :P
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Offline PikWik

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #10 on: 10 February, 2015, 22:50:46 »
i agree. a spare string and bead seems mandatory to me.

altho, i always restring with a different string anyway. but its still nice to have that extra string with a kendama.
gives a more "complete" feel knowing that you have that extra security in case a string frays/snaps.

Offline shalafi

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #11 on: 12 February, 2015, 11:40:36 »
So, my Royal is starting to wear in.

Somehow I managed to seriously chip the paint in one spot and it looks white underneath which surprised me. Worst part is that I don't remember how I did it, I guess it scratched against something in my bag, probably the metal part of a kendama holster. Except for that one, the paint seems to be holding quite well.

Anyway, now that I'm used to the slightly extra weight, I like it a lot, specially for tricks like birds. The paint is still a bit too slippery (a.k.a. too new) but it is getting a bit more grip with the use.

Also, I saw them on some online shops for 11.99 pounds. It is an amazing kendama for that prize.
« Last Edit: 12 February, 2015, 11:42:27 by shalafi »
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Offline nils

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #12 on: 13 February, 2015, 15:44:07 »
My short review: Royal came in today. Ken seems nice; lunar balance is good, and feels smooth all around. Tama, however, is not round. Shape reminds me of a kinder surprise yellow-ish plastic shell for the toy. This is no problem for lighthouse/lunar when placed around the hole, but if the ball is on its 'side', it will wobble in cups. Although cheap, tamas should be perfect spheres in my opinion. But :)
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Offline The Void

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #13 on: 13 February, 2015, 16:58:24 »
Tama, however, is not round. ... tamas should be perfect spheres in my opinion.
That's not the product I signed off. I agree. Your replacement tama is in the post, courtesy of Royal Kendama.
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Offline Royal kendama

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Re: Royal Kendama
« Reply #14 on: 14 February, 2015, 10:27:40 »
With any none perfect Royal kendama you will always get a free new one . We will do our up most to always make the Royal Kendama the best it can be . Bad feed back is very important to us .We will insure that all productions are very carefully inspected. Happy clicking from Royal Kendama. PS We are so delighted with all the positive reviews and so glade you are enjoying the Royal.
Thank you all.

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