Friday, December 30, 2011

Helium Rising

by Crazy Ivan

The other day, someone asked me to write a blog where I ranked all the non-Myachi Master players in order of freestyle skill.  What they wanted, essentially, was the top 10 Myachi players in the world that didn't work for the company.  I politely declined.

"Why?  You don't want to offend anyone?" the inquisitor asked.

"No... I just don't really know."

There are a lot of reasons why I wouldn't know.  I've met many of the avid Myachi players in the world, but not all of them.  There are certainly people who got into the game through a friend and practiced a lot and played for a really long time but never put up any You Tube videos, joined the forum or visited HQ.  It's entirely possible that all 10 of the best Myachi players in the world go to the same school in some little town in Mississippi, but we've never heard of them.

Now, if that seems unlikely, consider the case of Helium, a Myachi Maniac that I just met the other day.  He is a legit freestyler with a pretty wide range of skills.  And we're not talking easy tricks.  The dude has a clean Matrix Unleashed, a spot-on Jedi, a Clipper Delay to Gui, a Back and Forth Daredevil and an Instep to Duck.  And that's just a small sampling of what I saw out of him.

If I'd written a list of the 10 best freestylers last week (which is when I was asked about it), I certainly wouldn't have mentioned Helium from Toronto.  I'd never met him and didn't even know he existed.  But after he went toe to toe with me in MYACH today (we had to end our game at H to H after I successfully nailed him on a redemption shot), I've got to imagine he deserves some mention in that top 10 list.

But that's just the thing.  He was probably one of the 10 best freestylers I've seen that don't work for Myachi that I know are playing right now, but what about the hundreds of thousands of Myachis that were sold to people I never met?  What about all the talented maniacs that we got into the game back in Virginia Beach, Ocean City, Cocoa Beach, St. Louis, Knoxville, Miami, Branson or any of the hundreds of other places we've been.  Could it be that one of them is still into the game and pushing the envelope of what's possible?  Could it be that some Manaic that we met back in 2001 has been practicing for 2 hours a day ever since and has a whole repertoire of 6 Myachi tricks?

All I know is that we've taught millions of people to play over the years.  Even if they were all standing in front of me right now and throwing down their best freestyle tricks, I don't think I could pick out the top 10.

Oh, and hopefully I can update this blog with a little video of Helium shredding.  Check back with this post in the next few days...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Surviving Christmas

by Crazy Ivan

So it's happened once again; we made it through the Christmas season.

As you can easily imagine, the holiday season is a pretty taxing time of the year when you're in the toy business.  We do more than half of our retail sales in the final 6 weeks of the year so it's a time of the year that we both love and dread.  We love it because that huge chunk of sales is what keeps the lights on at the House of Skills all year, but we dread it because we know that it will be really hard work.

This year was a bit harder than most.  Our school outreach programs (the ones where we go and take over gym class for a few days) have been exploding in popularity and we continue to do a ton of private party work, so we had more demands on our staff than we usually do.  So we did what we always do; we hunkered down and crushed it.  There were a few really long weeks in there and a few really long days, but we all pushed a little harder and worked a little longer and before long, we made it out of the Christmas season alive.

And we sold a lot of Myachis.

We set a new sales record this year, which is something that we've done so many times in a row it seems routine at this point.  The Battle Paddles were such a huge hit that we sold almost every one we had in the country and are fast at work making more.  We crushed even our most ambitious projections and we made hundreds upon hundreds of new Myachi Maniacs (who will make thousands more themselves).

This week will be another huge one for us.  The week after Christmas is still huge here in NYC with all the tourists staying through for New Year's Eve.  Our major retail locations are still packed and we've got big things going on at HQ this week, so no rest for us just yet, but come January things will slow down, we'll all get a few weeks of vacation and we can finally put this year in the books.

Now, I don't need to tell any of our regular readers that all the extra hours over the holidays have kept me from fulfilling a few of my obligations.  This blog had cobwebs on it when I hopped on the other day.  The Trick of the Day video hasn't been updated in months.  The Facebook page has tumbleweeds blowing through it.  I have 6 trillion unread PMs on the forum.  I haven't checked our YouTube messages in weeks.  We haven't tweeted in so long that the coal miners are getting nervous (that joke was a real stretch, but someone out there will get it).  In other words, I've been online over the last few months about as often as I was in 1987.

But we made it through and the hardest part is in the rear-view mirror.  Obviously, I'm already starting to correct the problem.  I've still got a lot of work to do just to catch up, but the blog will be updated daily (or darn close to it) going forward and the Trick of the Day videos will make their triumphant return next week.  Perfect timing for a New Year's resolution or two...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Myachis That Changed the World: Number 4

by Crazy Ivan

It's been a long time, I know, but now that we've reached the end of this record smashing Christmas season, the blog shall rise again.  Sorry that there was such a long hiatus and that no information was provided about when the blog would reappear, but we're back and you'll be seeing daily doses of the Myachi Blog once again beginning today.

I can't thank you all enough for sticking with us for so long and being so patient with me during this extended blog-black-out, and all I can say is I hope I can repay your patience with fun, insightful and interesting content in the new year.  It's been a crazy couple of months and things are looking better than ever for Myachi so there should be no shortage of topics.

And now, by popular request, the next installment of our stalled series on the Myachis that changed the world:


In the last installment of this series, we talked about the Black Belt and it's nearly incomparable influence on the future of jammability.  Even now, the wideboarded Pakisacks we equate with the Black Belt are considered the pinnacle in yumminess to many a Myachi Maniac.  Many have expressed disbelief that the remaining Myachis on this list can outdo the sacks already highlighted.

And at first glance, that might appear true.  But I must again draw everyone's attention to the fact that in this list we're concerning ourselves only with the impact that each Myachi would have on future Myachis.  This isn't a list of the best jammers or of the most valued collectibles, though sacks belonging on both lists have thus far appeared in the series.  So despite the fact that on the surface, the following Myachi might seem an odd choice to outrank the Black Belt, but with a little explanation, I'm sure you'll understand.

 #4) The Fire Flower 

The Fire Flower has a lot going for it.  Many people prize it for it's cool look.  Floral patterns aren't usually really popular in the Myachi world, but this is one of the few that makes the exception.  Other notables are the Black Rose and the Blue Dragon, which incorporated Chinese dragons into the floral print to make it far more dragony than flowery.

Others prize this Myachi for its grip.  They start off as good jammers and quickly surpass good and get off at the exit for "spectacular".  They break in quickly and evenly and within a week of dedicated jamming they are some of the best production jammers to ever come out of China.  At the time they were made, they would have easily ranked in the top 10 all time jammers.

Still others prize the Fire Flower for its incredible rarity.  Among the rarest Myachis ever produced in China, this sack was created in an exceedingly small run of prototypes in an effort to test new fabrics.  Keeping in mind that a Myachi is considered extremely rare if we've made only 150 of them, there were only 25 Fire Flowers manufactured in all.  This was back in 2007 and they've steadily gotten more and more difficult to acquire.

The story of the series itself is rather unique.  Over the years Myachi has grown exponentially in volume.  Back in the earlier days, it was easy to be experimental with Myachi fabrics.  We were only making a couple hundred of any given fabric so even if it wasn't a great jammer or didn't look as good as we expected, we could still sell through the sacks by counting on collectors to pick up the slack from the jammers.

But by 2007 we were making Myachis by the thousands and there was a much greater risk in getting creative with untested fabrics.  The 3.2 series demonstrated that in the worst way when we committed to a huge run of Zoot Suits and Delta Forces, creating a massive series where a full third of the sacks were really tough to break in.

The series that the Fire Flower came in, often called the HF series (the initials of the Myachi Maniac who selected the fabrics) or the "Quarter" series because there were 25 of each of four fabrics for a total of one hundred sacks.  They were all experimental.  The Pig Skin was a tough leather that took a lot of effort to break in but eventually made it all worth while.  The Very Jerry had great grip and broke in quickly, but started getting pretty flimsy after a few weeks of jamming.  The Aztec had a great design and jammed pretty good right out of the gate, but it didn't break in very much and even after using it for a while, it still felt pretty "fresh-from-the-pack".

But the Fire Flower was the resounding success we were hoping to find in the series.  It was durable, jammable and abundant.  It had great grip and came in a wide variety of designs and vibrant colors.  It was a fabric that was destined from the first jam to replace the microsuede as the standard throughout Myachidom.  The Fire Flower was a lot of things, but the one we're concerned with here is a simple one: It was the first modern corduroy.

I have to say "modern", because it was not the first corduroy sack.  Some early examples of the fabric showed up along the way in Myachi history.  The Fudge Stripe, for example, predated the Fire Flower by more than a year and even that wasn't the "first" corduroy Myachi.  But the Fire Flower was made from a very specific type of corduroy with a thin, tough lining and narrow, shallow grooves.  It is an extremely common fabric so it's a wonder we hadn't made Myachis out of it before, but as soon as we jammed with it, we knew we would be making up for it.

The first series selected after the Fire Flower was series 3.0, largely considered to be the greatest series of all time.  Of course, since the 3.1 series was released at the same time and since together the two series contained only 12 sacks, in fairness these two series should be considered together.  This only enhances the status of that series as the best we've ever done.

One reason was the long awaited re-release of two extraordinarily popular Myachis that have already made their way on to this list (the Black Butter and the Calvin), but even more important was the introduction of 4 sacks of the same corduroy as the Fire Flower; the Highlander Blue, the Highlander Black, the Red Beard and the Black Beard.

If you need any evidence of the popularity of those four sacks, consider this.  Since then we've released two more sacks in the Beard line and at least 7 more in the Highlander line.  It has become the most commonly used Myachi fabric in the history of the game in the intervening years.  Consider that.  We were making Myachis for 8 years before we made the first sack out of this fabric.  Now, in only 4 years it has surpassed all the other fabrics that had so big a head start.

When it comes to influential fabrics, no Myachi compares to the Fire Flower.  That being said, there are still 3 more Myachis that we consider to be even more world changing.  You might have already guessed one or two of them, but to find out, you'll have to keep checking back with us for the next installment.