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Author Topic: The Monark Top  (Read 16377 times)

the Earl of Whirl

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2009, 09:34:03 AM »

It is amazing all the effort that went into getting decent tops out there for people to spin.  Great work and thanks to all who worked so hard for the topspinning community!
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Mark Magyar

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Re: The Monarc Top
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2010, 11:21:59 AM »

I received the following from Dwight Paulson earlier today about the history of the Monarc top...

"Back in the early 70's after Duncan folded there were no tops to be had anywhere. A small group of us decided we would try and bring back the plastic top for ourselves and sales.   In having our Trick book published I ran into a fellow who also did plastic injecting  He in turn knew a tool and die maker.  Early in Duncan's start with tops they made a solid Imperial which was an excellent top. They made a couple of fine models the first year then quit because of the gluing problem. We used that model as a start and made a few modifications. Our failure was vision and money-- we had only a single cavity mold made. We liked the name "Monarc" or I did and all the rest went along with me.  We soon had a great top but also found lasting problems with gluing. We also found we could make all the tops we wanted but not cheaply as we could make one at a time, plus we had no one ready to wholesale or sell them. (I went off to Sweden with a mission to teach, and the other guys weren't much into top spinning.) The result was we made 7-8000 tops but the mold sat unused most of the time. In the 90's Toycrafters make an offer and we sold it to them and I think they are still making Monarc's but with about the same success we did. I have kept a few Monarcs around for my use and limited sales-- now mostly for memories!  Tops are a great business, but there is no way to make money without wide promotion.  Maybe they will come back again some day, but they are not easy to learn to wind and spin--then they are easy and fun. (I worked a couple of years for Duncan in the middle 60's as a demonstrator-- Mr.Spin-Top!  Lots of fun)  Anyway, that's where we are today."
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ta0

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2010, 02:18:19 PM »

Great recollections from Paulson: Thanks!

Quote
In having our Trick book published . . .
A spintop trick book? I don't think I have seen it.
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Mark Magyar

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Re: The Monarc Top
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2010, 01:54:59 PM »

Great recollections from Paulson: Thanks!

Quote
In having our Trick book published . . .
A spintop trick book? I don't think I have seen it.

This is the cover of the Monarc trick book that Dwight (Mr. Spin Top) Paulson mentioned. I received my copy of the book from Walt Watts. I don't know that much about the book so maybe Walt Watts can inform us better…
Some of you might have seen some of the illustrations in the Monarc trick book at
http://www.byron.com/itsa/tricks/ 
« Last Edit: February 07, 2010, 01:59:27 PM by Mark Magyar »
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ta0

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2010, 02:23:26 PM »

Nice! First time I see it. Walt (Don ?): do you have an extra you want to trade for?
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Watts' Tops

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2010, 02:57:50 PM »

Thanks, 8) Dwight for updating the Monarc top.  I had checked on the spelling and found that I was again wrong.
  I do, in fact have a # of Monarc trick books yet.  Maybe a dozen or so.  They are not  with me at this time and will not be until it warms up in the NORTH.  You will notice the price is 50 cents on the cover.  Due to inflation... and supply, the price will be a bit higher.  Ta0, I would love to make trades. :-*
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ta0

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2010, 05:30:02 PM »

Great! Put aside one for me. We can trade for "vintage" stuff or I have lots of Mexican tops  ;D
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Watts' Tops

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2010, 12:43:36 PM »

Will put one aside for you.  I also have lots of Mexican Tops.  We will get together on something in April. 8)
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MarkHayward

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2010, 11:27:51 PM »

The Monarch was my first top.  I bought mine directly from Don Olney at the 1992 International Jugglers Assoc convention in Montreal, or possibly the following year in Fargo ND.  Despite learning the basics of the throw from the masters (Don Olney and Dale Oliver) at the convention, it took me a year to be able to throw it with any consistency.  I wish I had thought of taping mine.  I just kept re-gluing it over and over until it was almost unplayable from the horrible wobbling.  I still have it, as well as several others.  Maybe someday I will clean it off and bring it back to glory.

I knew that Don bought the mold, but I wasn't sure from where.  I love it that the Monarch exists because top spinners decided that it should.  I think we should bring it back and get more made if for no other reason than to keep the great story and history going.  If a new batch were made with a distinctive plastic it wouldn't diminish the collectibility of the old ones either.
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Spinningray

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2010, 11:58:56 PM »

A blue Monarch was my first top. I bought it from the Toy Crafter in 1998. I threw my first boomerang with it. It came with a spare tip. It was the spare tip (and my grandfathers jewelers lathe) that inspired me to make my first spin top from a sycamore tree branch. It was very well balanced. I got lucky.

I also had troubles keeping my Monarch together until I discovered Gorilla Glue. I roughed up the plastic with sand paper at the seam to make sure the glue would stick. I put the glue into a small plastic cap and stirred in some water to activate it. The poured the water out as it doesn't mix with the glue. Then I used the glue as you would epoxy. Be sure to clamp the halves together so the glue doesn't push them apart as it foams up. I even made a weight ring for mine. My Monarch has never come apart since and I have bounced it off many hard tile floors. It is the foam that makes it work so well. Most glues and epoxies are hard and will crack. I would love to see more of them made.

« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 12:08:40 AM by Spinningray »
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ta0

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2010, 12:32:12 AM »

My first throw top was also a Monarch bought from Don in 1998 (and having the same age than Alan: he is just one month older than me. But I played carefully until I got the Sidewinder that replaced it, so that Monarch never cracked and it is still in very good shape.
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Watts' Tops

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2010, 02:57:27 PM »

Al,  Thanks so much for sharing the gorilla glue trick.  I have a few dozen tops that need just that including some original Monarc tops that have never been glued together. I have a few before the crown (M for Monarc) was added that I would love to have glued and stay.   We had a fit with the glue thing way back in the beginning. 
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Mark Magyar

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Re: Comparing Monarc to Sidewinder...
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2010, 11:14:59 PM »

My first throw top was also a Monarch bought from Don in 1998 (and having the same age than Alan: he is just one month older than me. But I played carefully until I got the Sidewinder that replaced it, so that Monarch never cracked and it is still in very good shape.

I would like to know others thoughts on the Monarc comparing it to a Sidewinder. The Monarc that I have spins a little smoother and stays on the string better a little longer when doing Crazy 8's etc... I haven't tried any trapeze tricks with the Monarc being afraid it might crack apart. The Sidewinder has a rubber O-ring to cushion impact so I've been using the Sidewinder for trapeze tricks. Just recently I twisted apart my Sidewinder and even though it doesn't come apart on impact there are still a few cracks on the inside of the crown were the two parts twist together. This is probably common though. (My Rip-Cord has cracks all on the side. It even has a crack on the end next to the point from all the impact.) Also just noticed on my Sidewinder is that the point is slightly crooked. With the point crooked on my Sidewinder this probably has alot to do with why it doesn't do string tricks as well as the Monarc that I have. I just ordered a steel point for my Sidewinder and hopefully that will improve it's performance.
But the Monarc is a splendid performing spin top for its time.
What an improvement from Duncan Imperial. I do like the Monarc.
As for replacing the Monarc with a Sidewinder? I'll have to wait and see how the steel point improves the performance of the Sidewinder...?     
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Watts' Tops

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #28 on: February 14, 2010, 04:18:01 PM »

Comparing the Original Duncan Imperial and the Monarc--equal.  The original Imperial was about the same weight and the Monarc.  The problem we ran into was the unavailability of the Imperial.  This was the reason for the Monarc in the first place. I still have a couple of original Imperials and use one of them regularly. :-\  If Duncan would dig up their original mold, we all would have a great top. ;D
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Herm

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Re: The Monark Top
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2010, 01:20:57 AM »

A very interesting thread.  I clearly remember my impression the first time I saw the Monarch tops.  Up till then the only tops I knew were the snap cap Imperial Duncan tops.  I think it was in the early 90’s when I first met Don Olney at his hotel when he was traveling somewhere in California.  I was traveling a lot during those times and was fortunate enough to meet up with him.  I remember Don opening his suitcase and dumping everything on the bed and my eyes just popped at all the bright neon pastel colored tops that covered the bed.  That was the first time I ever saw any quantity peg tops other than the Duncan tops and it was instantly obvious that they were a whole level above the Duncan tops in quality. 

But I didn’t play with the Monarch for long though.  They didn’t feel as fast and maneuverable as the Duncans and I thought the points should have been made with a different plastic because the string didn’t seem to take well with those points. And if you threw them really hard for a fast spin (and when I say hard I mean like fast ball hard) the points would burn your palm. They just didn’t spin as long as the Duncans and I felt they were unnecessarily heavy. On top of that they also had a slight unpleasant smell from the butyrate (I think) type plastic used.  Of course it was also possible I was too ingrained on the Duncan Imperials by then.  I could do all the tricks with the snap cap Duncans.  Although most likely that was also because I had always used a thinner size and weight string for the lighter weight Duncan so that it spun longer as you catch, flipped, and twirled the top around on the string.  So for me at that time the Duncans were light and fast and the Monarchs were slow and clunky.  And later Don packaged them with a flashy eye catching bright neon yellow nylon strings which just didn’t make sense to me at all.  You practically couldn’t regenerate the top with the nylon strings because of the lack of friction between the point and the string (although you could by using a “tourniquet” or “choke” type of technique) and you couldn’t safely throw super hard because you never knew when the top would unpredictably slip or snag on the soft, thin nylon string.  And I also remember that after a while the yellow dye from the string would leach out and stain whatever it had been touching leaving the string white.  But it didn’t matter at the time since hardly anyone was interested in regenerating or throwing hard anyways.  If they were they would have intuitively used the proper weight string.  The Monarchs were beautiful, colorful, solid looking, and a truly all American top. 

Later Don remade them with a different plastic.  For one thing they didn’t smell any more.  But then he also completely changed the top points.  I never asked him why he changed the top points.  I thought he could have kept the same shape but sharpen the tips more so they wouldn’t burn your palm.  His redesigned points seemed to be of harder plastic and the very sharp tip was pretty neat because it could spin for a very long time on a hard surface. But I thought the rest of the shape of the tip, to put it bluntly, was pretty bad and should have been done differently.  It was obvious whoever designed it only knew how to throw a top on the floor or onto their hands but never played much with it on a string.  I was glancing at the Monarch photos by Pulp and was surprised to see the elegant shaped point on the Monarch because I don’t remember a Monarch with those points.  However, a closer reading showed Pulp turned those points himself.  He may have just taken the Olney tip and re-modified it.  But in one of the photos you can see the entire original Don Olney tip (lying horizontally in the photo) and see that the notch is too shallow, too angular, and too sharp.

When somebody comes out with a new spin top I always look at the points.  Looking at the point will tell you whether the top maker is an advanced player or not; unless he just copies the standard Duncan tip.  In fact, in the late 80’s when Charlie Penton decided he wanted to make some large size wood tops for us he also made a metal point for it and like all first time top makers the point ended up looking like just a shallow angular “notch”, much like the Olney tips for the Monarchs.  It was as if making the point was just an afterthought, which it most likely was.  But then Charlie didn’t know any top tricks that involve using the string a lot and he was not aware about using the string to regenerate spin on a top. So if you look at the silhouette of his top point the notch was either too shallow, too angular and not rounded out, or with no “throat” to the point, or in most instances all of these shortcomings. As a result, too much of the point’s surface area ends up touching the string, or actually digging into the string, as it was spinning and so instantly slowing down the top.  And when the Spintastic tops first came out their points were also like that, i.e. the notch was on the shallow side with sharp corners and angles not rounded out. But it was understandable since Dale at that time hardly did any spin top string tricks and wasn’t anywhere near as good with the top as he is now. I made the same suggestion to Dale and later to the other new top makers: just copy the shape of the “Casper” or “Character” top point which I thought were ideal.  But nobody took the advice.  At one point in time I turned a few points out of wood dowels using a drill press and plugged them in the tops which worked pretty well as long as you didn’t throw them on the ground and blunt them.  Later Dale said he took my advice and added a little throat to the Spintastic top point but strangely he still kept the notch at right angles rather than smoothing and rounding out the angles to make a traditional looking point like the Duncans, the early Monarchs, and practically all the Latin-American plastic tops.  As a result the top couldn’t spin as long and freely on the string as it would have because the flange or notch of the top point was still rubbing against the string and robbing the top of its spin.  So the cheap, low quality, much maligned Duncan Imperial snap cap tops could still out spin and out trick them all.  (Of course, to be fair you had to balance and fix them up first.  But that’s another story.)  If you look you see the same examples with all the first time top makers.  For another example, a few years ago I found some spin tops from China in an Asian market that were obviously Premier brand rip-offs.  I call them Premier rip offs because the packaging and graphics were almost identical to the Mexican Premier packaging.  So I’m guessing Premier might have had a promotion a few years ago in China and the Far East. Anyways, the top bodies seemed identical to the Mexican top but the tips were so bad that the tops were practically unplayable despite the fact that the top body looked and felt identical to the Mexican version.  The tips were too stubby: the notches of the tips were too small, no “throat”, too angular, etc.  My point (?) is to show again that whoever made these points had no experience doing string tricks with a top. The only thing you could do with these tops were to throw them on the floor and watch it spin.  On the other hand, Walter Watt’s tops have very nicely designed “spears” to them and looking at it you just instinctively knew that whoever made them was a very experienced and expert spin top player.  There’s something about a properly shaped and fitted point that invites you to try it. 

If I seem to be making a big deal out of the points it’s because I think the point of a top together with the proper string is critical in making even a bad top into a good one. The top point is like the heart and soul of a string tricking top.  More emphasis seemed to be placed on the spin top body like the shape, the weight, material, etc., than on the string and point.  I think any top can play much better if fitted with the proper point and string.  Even the cheap lowly Duncan Imperial can be a formidable top.
By the way, in case anyone is curious, I haven’t used the Duncan Imperials for many years.  One reason might be that I got tired of using a string that I couldn’t use on other plastic tops.

But getting back to the Monarchs, my later generation Monarchs didn’t go to waste.  I found that because of the different plastic material used I could make good whistling tops out of them and they whistled for a long time (I think almost a minute?) because of the extra sharp point which allowed for a much longer spin.

By the way, I don’t mean to criticize Don Olney in any way.  He may not have been aware of it but I’ve always been pretty grateful to Don over those early years as he provided me different types of tops and he always generously shared his wealth of interesting information about tops as well as giving me any leads he had about tops and people who spun and collect them.  I followed up on almost all of those leads and I don’t think he realizes the results of the different paths he opened for me and I’m sure to others.  And I admired the way he still kept producing peg tops even though at the time I figured he most probably wasn’t making much, if any, profits from them.

Herman
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