REVIEW: Innova Champion Toro


Say what you will about the new Innova “burst” logo, and how it feels a bit like a step back from the classic, coming-of-age swoop logo, or how it’s just an amalgam of the various logos and symbols that Innova has accrued over the years, but its simplicity and application to the Toro is masterful, both figuratively and aesthetically.

Innova’s stark departure from the industry’s increasingly intricate stamp design trend seems to be working, imbuing the user with a sense of provenance and uniformity that reeks of seniority.

It’s bold. It’s rough around the edges in so much that you could easily make a stencil of it and start tagging the disc chargers at your local course. (Enemy of my enemy?)

The Toro, too, is bold and simple. A disc with a rather clearly-stated purpose: Get a Zone in Vinny’s hands.

I kid, but only sort of.

Yes, the Toro arrives as a rather deft Zone clone in the midst of the stable approach discs’ 15 minutes of fame. (Thanks for that, Kastaplast). But that isn’t the whole story here. The Zone ceases to be a Zone once it’s birthed from another factory, in that company’s proprietary plastics, cooling and curing in the temperate zone of wherever that factory may be.  The magic’s in the sauce, not in the wing.

And so therein lies the question you came here to find the answer to:  Is this the Innova Zone?  Not exactly.

Yes, we’re talking about flat, beadless, 4-speed approach discs.  Yes, they are similar in the hand, at least when it comes to the quasi convex-ness of the lower wing.  But the Zone and the Toro don’t seem to share the same balance.

The Zone is a bit more herky-jerky.  It wants to fight out of forehand torque from the moment it breaks free of your oppressive grip, turning on the proverbial blinker far ahead of the mid-point of its flight.  The Zone also feels smaller than the Toro…because it is.  By one-tenth of a centimeter.

In fact, when you take a deep dive into the technical specifications of the Zone, the Zone OS, and the Toro, you start to recognize the telltale signs of corporate espionage.  It’s plain to see that the Toro is a slightly-tweaked Zone and that the Zone OS has adopted conveniently-updated specs that are nearly identical to the Toro, save the beefier fade claim.

This is all a part of the industry’s evolution from exalting “meme discs” to forcing consumers into ritualistic cults revolving around overstable approach discs.  Looking at you, Berg nerds.

At some point, every manufacturer is just going to have a “clone” of everyone else’s molds and the customer is just going to be choosing which plastic blend to fill their bag with.  That is until some pro-tour man-child gets all bigot-y on the Facebook account they share with their spouse and DG Twitter starts lighting up like a Willie Nelson concert.

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I say again.

But I digress, as I often do.

The flight numbers on these discs do differ, but let’s not get caught up in some long-winded bullshit about whatever those calculations actually represent.  We can understand, as a community, that these are direct competitors.  They are the Camry and the Accord.  The Ballpark frank and the Oscar Mayer wiener.

The Toro is fun and predictable, like those dudes cracking IPA’s before the two-minute warning on Sunday morning.

To put it succinctly, and to cut through any poorly-researched analytics I might offer on this occasion, we can just say that the Toro is both a bit more manipulable and forgiving than its Discraft counterpart.  It tolerates some forehand torque, but not too much.

Trust me, this thing will go pretty damn straight if you spank it, giving the Toro a bit of range that only very specific runs of Zones in very particular stages of wear are known for.

But therein lies the the one big con of the Toro:  It’s usefulness.  If you’re looking for something that’s going to fight out of any angle or speed you force-feed it, the Toro might not be the best bet – especially for folks looking for a forehand approach disc that will be experiencing serious pop.

What makes the Toro a bit squirrely with the forehand is precisely where it shines for backhand throwers.  Smooth releases come easy.  Speed control is no problem.  The disc slides out of the hand masterfully from just about any angle.  The Toro can lay softly in the meadow like Ferdinand the Bull, or it can annihilate all of the ceramic wares in your entire shop, all by slightly adjusting the backhand angle and spin speed.

REAL TALK:  The Toro is in my bag currently, but in a highly competitive series of slots.  It’s vying for air time against a Lone Star Copperhead, two vastly different Innova Gators, and an Armadillo – also from Lone Star.  That being said, it offers a valuable stepping stone between the Gators and the Copperhead, and I haven’t found a reason yet to swap it out.