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What is a fidget spinner?
Chances are good that you’ve recently seen someone – anyone from a child to an adult — spinning some strange object in their hand. It looked like a little propeller spinning in between their fingers…
They’re called fidget spinners.
For those who haven’t seen one, especially in action, they are really intriguing. Fidget spinners are handheld objects commonly made of plastic that usually have two or three bars and a central axis that is typically held between the middle finger and thumb. The bars are sent into a rotational motion when flicked, due to ball bearing seated in the middle of the axis.
Fidget spinners come in many different styles and colors and can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. They can be found anywhere, from broken and discarded in a children’s park to rotating in the hands of a CEO looking like some exotic gadget.
In this article, we will be explaining everything you need to know to understand this new craze, what fidget spinners are, how they work, how to find the right one for you (and even more).
A fidget toy... what's the point?
For people who fidget, like clicking pens, tapping feet, biting nails, or any number of (sometimes annoying) little habits, these “toys” serve a purpose by allowing them to channel nervous energy into a fun, safe, and inexpensive activity. Apparently, fidgeters find relief and comfort from these little doodads. Even people not considered fidgeters are reporting hand spinners as pleasurable.
Also known as hand spinners, they serve a similar function as traditional Chinese stress balls. They are reportedly of help to individuals that have trouble focusing, maybe from ADHD or even Autism. The act of flicking, the vibration, and the motion it creates from spinning are said to have therapeutic benefits that can help concentration.
Spinners may’ve originated as an offshoot of the wildly popular fidget cube, which is a tiny cube with buttons and switches designed for fidgeters. The fidget cube had a big kickstarter campaign and, after being cloned and counterfeited, left the door wide open for other products to follow in its wake. Effectively, the fidget cube popularized the notion that fidgeters are a niche market that was not being catered to. That sure isn’t the case anymore!
Why vaping and fidgeting go hand in hand
It seems like virtually overnight, every vaper and their mother went out and bought a fidget spinner. What is the connection between fidget spinners and vaping? We don’t really know how it all went down chronologically, but here’s our theory on how so many vapers got to spinning…
Most vapers are former cigarette smokers, and although they have since kicked that habit, they might still have a few left. Many vapers might notice that they fidget a lot when they are in places where they can’t vape freely. (Probably not as much as a smoker does).
Vaping lends itself to a bit of fidgeting too, whether it be adjusting your airflow, watts, or getting that atty to sit flush on your device. Spinners satisfy that need to fidget, in a unique and fun way. Even smokers have been known to enjoy flicking their Zippo just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
How do spinners work?
Spinners are manually operated mechanical toys that don’t require batteries to spin, although many of them now come equipped with LED lights. Each spinner one has a central axis that contains ball bearings (more on the bearings later).
To make a spinner work (spin), it only takes a flick of a finger. Most of the time, the spinner is kept in the hand, usually positioned in between the thumb and middle fingers. The flick is normally done with the index finger, but it can be spun with the opposing hand or however you want. It can spin forward or backward. Sometimes the spinner isn’t even in the hand of the user. Some people prefer the spinner on a table or desk, being spun using two hands – one to hold it in place and the other to get it spinning — which makes for faster and even longer rotation times.
Spin times matter
Spin times might not mean that much to you, but to some hardcore spinner enthusiasts, spin times are paramount. These people take pride in using the best quality bearings, most appropriate metals, and maintaining them for properly balanced spinning for extended intervals.
This may seem inconsequential, but when you get a spinner, you’d be surprised how quickly you want it to go faster and longer.
Granted, some people rather sit there and flick their spinner, and are satisfied just watching it spin, but the enthusiasts (and some people that just want to get their money’s worth) are constantly trying to push the limits of how long heir spinner can go for.
The average five-dollar tri fidget spinner might spin for about a minute or even two if you’re lucky. Apparently, the longest spinning times have been clocked upwards of ten minutes and came from Rotablade, a high-end manufacturer.
But don’t think that the high-end of the market is the only way to get long and fast spin times. There is video evidence of ten-dollar spinners clocking in some long spin times. The only issue really is that it’s more of a gamble, albeit a cheap gamble, to go with some random seller in some large internet marketplace.
If you are interested in the best possible spinning, with attentive manufacturers and a hungry community looking to buy up any second hand spinners, you would look to companies like Rotablade, Zerofeud, or Torqbar. These manufacturers are really serious about making high-quality spinners.
Best fidget spinners 2017
The Crimson Shuriken fidget spinner by Spinnables resembles a detailed looking Shuriken (Japanese made weapon). Made from high quality materials the Crimson Shuriken spinner is definitely an eye catcher and makes for a great rare collectible item. Spinnables also offer display stands should you want to display yours on your desk or mantelpiece.
The Aventador Stealth tri-spinner is one of the quietest fidget spinners on the market. It features super smooth R188 bearings, which can be easily removed and replaced. The Stealth is made from Black Gun Metal Finished Brass and features 95 grams of electroplated brass. This is a certainly one of the more premium fidget spinners on the market made by a rising US based brand.
The Stealth Spinners Titanium Allow spinner, has a gorgeous mirrored Rainbow finish. It is made from durable plated Titanium Alloy and when combined with the steel R188 bearings allows for a 6 minute plus spin time.
The Fidgeteer tri-spinner is one of the top rated and best selling fidget spinners on Amazon. It has a 5 minute spin time out of the box. This tri-spinner is a perfect first buy when looking for your new spinner!
The Nomad is an absolutely stunning tri-spinner made from premium quality Brass and Stainless Steel. This is one of the smoothest and longest spinning spinners you can get on Amazon. It’s quality high end build definitely warrants its price tag.
The Tyzest tri-spinner is a gorgeous copper made spinner. It spins very smoothly for up to 7 minutes given its hybrid ceramic and stainless steel bearings. The Tyszest tri is definitely a well-priced spinner you’ll be wanting to add to your collection.
This is a really unique fidget spinner. The WeFidget “the Bar”, is a small dual spinner with a great spin time. It comes it a lovely array of different colors (including a multi-color rainbow) and spins up to 5 minutes.
The Meecoo is a unique looking mini fidget spinner. This spinner measures just 1.22 inches in diameter making it one of the smallest around. It also features some high-quality TC4 Titanium and Brass materials.
Things to consider when purchasing a spinner
Just like in any hobby, people want to be able to express their individual personalities. Spinners have a wide range of styles ranging anywhere from your standard, tri fidget spinner design all the way up to ninja stars, the Batman logo and literally anything else you can think of. Some designs will be more comfortable to hold than others, but aesthetics can also play an important role in choosing the right one for you.
Depending on the materials and the bearings used, some can be more turbulent than others. Usually the faster ones with higher-rated ABEC bearings will be faster and louder, hence, more vibration. Other people rather have a quiet spinner that they can use anywhere. It all depends on what you are looking for, but you will have to find a medium between these two. Ceramic or hybrid ceramic bearings tend to be smoother and won’t give off as much vibrational feedback.
Typically the cheaper, plastic ones tend to be quieter and the heavier ones louder however you will find some high quality spinners that are just designed for discrete usage. They are usually smaller and would be the type of spinner that you would see a businessman using. An individual with special needs such as ADHD or Autism will probably prefer one with more tactile feedback.
While some enthusiasts are more concerned with spin times, people who fidget a lot are more concerned with fidgetability. In other words, it has to feel good in the hand and give off a decent amount of vibration. Instead of letting it spin for extended periods of time, these type of fidgeters enjoy the act of fidgeting and benefit more from a fidgetable design versus a long spinning one. Of course many people are looking for that perfect balance between figetability and long spins.
We will get into more detail about spin times when we get into cheap vs. high-end spinners…
One more thing that can’t be overlooked is ergonomics of your spinner toy. Some designs are more for looks, while others are made to feel comfortable when held. For example, there are many ninja star spinners that look awesome, but feel rigid and uncomfortable in your hand. On the other hand, many spinners now come with a bit of knurling on the edges and a concave shape on the cap where you place your fingers. All these subtle design features make them enjoyable to hold and use. Try to select a nice balance between aesthetics and ergonomics.
Often times metal spinners can make your fingers sore if you are flicking them all day long. Plastic, and wood seem to be better for the comfortability factor. Spinners are supposed to make you feel relaxed and comfortable, so ergonomics actually play an important role in the selection of fidget toys.
A cheap spinner will cost under $20 and is typically a 3D printed, standard tri fidget spinner. A middle of the road one can go for about $20-$40, and anything $50 and up would be considered high-end, and can go up to hundreds of dollars. However this is only the beginning…
As Twisted420 said in one of his most recent videos on spinners, “The rabbit hole goes deep!”.
High-end fidget spinners are not necessarily better, but are more rare and exclusive, just like high-end vape gear. You can still get a regular spinner for $20 that performs just fine. The real performance of a spinner is largely dependent on weight distribution and type of bearings.
Bearing in mind
There are so many types of bearings to choose for your spinner, and it can be very confusing. All you really need to know is that the higher the ABEC rating, the faster it will spin. The faster it spins, the longer it will go for. However, the faster the bearing, the louder it can potentially be.
Most bearings are made out of steel and contain tiny balls inside. However, there are also ceramic bearings which contain tiny ceramic balls which can make the performance of your fidget spinner a little bit smoother. They’re more expensive but require much less maintenance. The most common material is steel and ceramic, but some bearings are a hybrid of the two.
You might notice that most spinners contain not one, but four bearings. One inside the core, and one on the end of each bar. The bearing in the center is the only one that is actually working, the others are just there for weight distribution and overall aesthetics. If you took them out, you might notice that it won’t spin for nearly as long, due to the lack of weight.
Here is a good video that demonstrates how bearings have an impact on spin time:
508's vs H188 bearings
The most common type of bearing is a 508, and can also be found in rollerblade and skateboard wheels. The other type of bearing is called H188 and are faster, yet less stable due to their smaller inner diameter. These are typically found in high end spinners. Despite their impressive spin times, H188 bearings tend to be harder to clean and more expensive since they are not as common as 508 bearings.
Cheap vs expensive spinners
When you get into the higher end of spinners, here’s what to expect versus the cheaper ones:
Longer spin times
For the hardcore enthusiasts, spin times are crucial. The high end market has a variety of finely crafted spinners that can go for around five minutes or more. Typically the use of heavier materials such as copper and steel, paired with quality ball bearings, allow them to spin for longer than your typical five dollar 3D-printed plastic tri spinner that only has ABEC-1 bearings.
High end spinner makers take pride in the smoothness of their spinners, many of them utilize R188 bearings with higher ABEC ratings. Some of them might even have ceramic bearings. This in combination with a solid, well machined design can make for some smooth spinning.
Better machining quality
As we mentioned before, the machining process is essential to the performance of your spinner. High end spinners are usually made by the same CNC machining process used for most vape gear and as we have seen, there is a range of quality. Higher end fidget spinners are of no exception. The better the machining quality, the smoother and potentially longer it can spin for. Not to mention they look very attractive and feel equally nice in the hand.
Due to the use of higher quality materials such as aluminium, steel or brass, high end spinners tend to last longer than the cheaper ones made of plastic. As long as you take proper care of the bearings, or replace them as needed, these fidget spinners can potentially last you a lifetime.
Although there are tons of variety in the low and mid range spinner market, once you get into the high end world, the designs get even more unique and expressive. You will find more rare and creative spinners that might challenge your idea of what a fidget spinner is supposed to look like.
High end spinners are a bit more personalized which many enthusiasts take much pride in. They are usually made of exotic materials and have highly customized, original designs.
Different types of fidget spinners
Also known as simply bar spinners, this design consists of a single bar with a at least one bearing in the central core often with a bearing on each end. The advantage to this design is portability, since they are relatively tiny compared to your typical tri bar design. Their simple and understated design tucks away easily in any small pocket or bag, making them a big hit in the EDC community. Not to mention they have a unique look that stands out from the rest. Don’t let their size fool you, some of these little guys have been clocked at over five-minute spin times!
This is the most common design and is often referred to as a tri fidget spinner. It has three bars, and resembles a three-leaf clover. They contain at least one bearing in its core, and usually one seated at the end of each bar. There are however many tri bar designs that look more like a propeller or ninja star that only contain one central bearing, such as the Rotablade Tri-Stubby. Typically made of plastic, tri-spinners come in every variety: metal, wood and even leather!
With the success of the tri bar design, it was only a matter of time before some one created a quad bar fidget spinner. These can look anything like a tri spinner with an extra bar, to more sophisticated designs that resemble a windmill. The tri bar design also adds extra stability so you can expect smoother spins with a quad fidget spinner.
Wheel fidget spinners
Instead of having bars, these spinners are round, and are shaped like a wheel. Wheel fidget spinners and can look like anything from a wagon wheel, car tire or anything in between that is round. Another advantage to this design, since it is essentially just a wheel, is that you can set it down while it is spinning and watch it roll, which adds a whole new dynamic to spinning.
There is an enchanted world out there filled with exotic spinners that don’t resemble anything else out there. Just like this brass beauty pictured here called the Tri Moon — it’s one of our favorites in the office. And it’s made by a vape modder (Anatolian Mods).
There are so many types of exotic fidget spinners, it’ll make your head spin! Some of them are triangular, some round and others even asymmetrical. Others might even have tiny, free-spinning steel balls or gears embedded into the design. One thing they all have in common is their originality. Some of them could be small as a coin and are referred to as button spinners, while others are huge and can resemble a miniature medieval torture device. Many of these pieces are made of exotic metals such as Mokuti, Damascus Steel, Superconductor, Zirconium Alloy and Tungsten, to name a few.
3D-printed fidget spinners
With the onset of 3D-printing technology, fidget spinners couldn’t have emerged at a better time. You can actually download a basic design and have one printed within about an hour. All you need to do is pop in some bearings, and now you’re spinning.
If you’re just looking to print out some pre-made designs, there are tons of forums and groups on Facebook where you can download the blueprints. There are already entire communities and marketplaces revolving around DIY 3D-printed spinners where people can share their designs. Sites like Reddit and Pinterest have pages dedicated to the DIY fidget spinner making community.
You can’t print money, but spinners are one of the hottest commodities right now, and you can literally print them out! This could be a highly profitable business, especially if you are going to get into making your own original designs, or even if you start with a pre-existing template…
Where to buy fidget spinners
Before setting out on a quest to purchase your fidget spinner, you should determine which type you’re looking for and how much you’re looking to spend… Just try not to get hooked on buying them.
Why hand spinners are sold in vape shops
People that are trying to transition away from smoking or vaping altogether might find some relief from using one, instead of vaping or going back to smoking. Not mention many of these spinners are made by actual modders, using some of the same materials that we know and love such as copper, brass, titanium and steel using the same CNC machining process. JWraps, a well-known maker of mod skins is also getting in on the fun, bringing their original and funky designs to a whole new audience. Other vape companies like Cigreen, are also joining the fun.
Chances are your local vape shop has already got a bunch of these badboys in stock right now. Let’s be honest, vapers are fidgeters, whether its adjusting their airflow, wattage or getting their atty to sit flush on their mod. A large portion of the vape community has embraced these fidget toys with open arms. You’ll start to see these fidget toys filtering in your local brick and mortar and online vape shops, if you have not already. Vapers have been at the forefront of this trend.
Other places to buy fidget spinners
There are now many great sites popping up like Spinnables for example, that has a wide range of inexpensive spinners beyond your typical designs. There are even websites like Addictive Fidget Toys that allow you to customize the design, color and bearings for a reasonable price.
You also have places like 7-11, Target, Walmart and many small discount stores are starting to jump on the spinner bandwagon. We have yet to see them stocked in the bigger toy outlets…
Fidget Spinner Shops:
There are also Chinese marketplaces, many of which you might already know from vaping, such as Heaven Gifts, Gearbest, and of course, our good friends Fasttech.
International marketplaces like Ebay, Amazon, Etsy and Alibaba are filled with tons of vendors that have everything from inexpensive to exotic spinners for some decent prices.
Fidget spinner communities + resources
Much like what we have seen with vaping, or any hobby, communities are bound to form around things that people enjoy, like fidget spinners. There are already entire subreddits devoted to them, plus an array of forums, sites and social media groups on Facebook and Pinterest. These pages are devoted to people looking to pick out the perfect fidget spinner for themselves, or just browsing through available designs. Spinner makers can share their blueprints with each other and sell their products directly through these websites.
Enthusiasts can share reviews and talk about the latest upcoming products in these communities. There is also a lot of great guides and information on the cleaning and maintenance of fidget spinners and their bearings on devoted sites like Spinnermint, for example.
Great Communities and Resources:
Fidget spinner tricks
It shouldn’t be of any surprise that tricksters have been popping up in the spinner community… One of the most basic tricks is transferring it from one hand to another, or balancing it on one finger to the next.
More advanced tricks involve behind the back, under the leg and tossing the spinner in the air and catching it, all while it’s spinning. Some tricksters have even taken it to the next level by incorporating multiple spinners into their tricks.
Yet another trick that people do with spinners is called the warp effect. When you record it spinning and set your camera to under 30 frames per second, your spinner will look like it is going through series of fun house mirrors. It’s almost like a Snapchat filter, but in real life.
Online communities exist on YouTube and other forums and sites dedicated to spinner tricking.
The anatomy of a fidget spinner
This is the part that is usually press fit or screwed into the center of the bearing allowing you to place your fingers on it, providing free range of motion when you spin. Without these caps, you can still use a spinner, but might find it more difficult and uncomfortable.
This is the portion of the spinner that you flick with your finger to make it spin. Some hand spinners only have one bar, also known as bar spinners, while others have three, four or even more.
The bearing is located in the core and looks like a tiny metal donut, and contains balls inside that allow it to spin. Bearings can be made of metal, ceramic or a hybrid of the two. Bearings are rated by ABEC, so essentially the higher the rating, the faster and ultimately longer it is going to spin for. The outer bearings are there for aesthetics and overall weight distribution which allows it to spin for longer periods of time.
This is the central core, where the bearing is seated and is usually covered by two caps on each end where you place your fingers.
Now that you know everything there is to know about fidget spinners, we recommend you try one out and see what all the fuss is about. They’re relatively inexpensive, so it won’t be a huge investment, and you never know, you might enjoy it. However, you’ve been warned, they are extremely addictive! If you find yourself fidgeting a lot, you might benefit from a fidget toy, especially a spinner. We were all skeptical too when we started investigating this new craze but found ourselves getting hooked right away. Once you’ve tried one, it’s truly hard to put it down.
Take the spinner challenge, try one out and if you don’t feel the sudden urge to buy one then they’re probably not for you. Consider them as a gift for a young child, teen or even a loved one who has been known to fidget.
Stay tuned as we continue coverage on this emerging industry…