My first yo-yo was a Duncan Beginner, found at my grandparents house. I know it was cheap, or else it wouldn't have been in their house. Yo-Yos became popular during the Great Depression because of the simple fact that they were cheap and they were fun. My first "real yo-yo" was a Duncan Mosquito, from Walmart, purchased for the kingly sum of 7 dollars. No one buys an expensive yo-yo on the outset. These are, after all, toys. We buy them on a lark, just to see what all the fuss is about. More often than not we get what we paid for, but at least they are still some simblance of a yo-yo. Two of my most charished throws are dollar-store light up jobs (Batman and Cinderella). Yes, they play terribly, but they were gifts, and anyone that has ever received a yo-yo as a present knows how I feel. What is phenomenal is when somehow dirt cheap doesn't play like dirt.
Enter the Peterfish Luminator, available at Walgreens stores for 4 dollars. 4 dollars, a fifth of the cost of the basic YoYoJams we recommend to beginners. The Luminator is easily the best beginner yo-yo there is. Most importantly because it is cheap and because it is easily available. As much as I like telling people "Okay, go to YoYoNation.com, look for cheap YoYoJams, I recommend the Lyn Fury" I know that a fraction, if any, of the people I actually tell will actually do it. Finding a website and then placing an expensive online order is a hard pill for parents to swallow to buy something they figure a kid is going to give up in a few days.
A few weeks ago, I was doing a little throwing at the Orthodontist's office for a young girl. When I was finished the mother asked where she could get one. I paused, pulled out the Luminator, and told her "Well, you can get this at Walgreens for around 4 dollars." And as I walked off, doing some more tricks to show that the cheap yo-yos can do most anything the expensive ones can, I heard the woman remark to her daughter "well okay, let's go pick you up some of those for babysitting." It was a good feeling.
As far as quality, the Luminator fairs extremely well. It is somehow, and this must account for the pigs currently gazing at me from outside my second-story window, more smooth than many YoYoJams I've had over the years. It is light, which creates both an interesting throwing experience, and a tool to teach beginners a harder throw. It comes with a short string attached, which fixes the problem that right around every person has the first time they throw a yo-yo, which is the strong inclination to simply give the ground a black eye with the thing. But it includes a long string for when they're ready. Still, it is reasonably durable, surviving many kamakazi dives into the ground by an overzealous ladyfriend. It's everything a new yo-yoer could want in a yo-yo.
Somehow, I find myself throwing this guy more and more (along with my No-Jive and whatever metal). I don't know if it's the probably-too-light weight, the pogs that I've actually kept in, or the mentality that comes with the low price, but then Luminator is just plain fun. When I throw it, I get that giddiness that reminds of the first time I really yo-yoed a ball bearing model. It's a weird yo-yo, it's hard to predict, but it's got that goofy-colored-plastic-fine-to-break-who-cares-its-summer feeling that harkens back to the days before middle school. And that makes me happy.