Jim’s Kites

More kite reviews - see also the previous Kite Reviews page and page 3

Duck Face

From G-Kites, this happy character is nearly 6ft tall.  It is a completely soft kite, and packs away into almost nothing.  It is quoted as flying in winds from 5 to 20 mph, but is much happier in smooth winds up to 10 mph, when it will fly very happily.  Outside this range, or in gusty winds, it does not fly well.  It always gets a smile from onlookers, and is good value at $70 direct from G-Kites.

Phoenix Tail

Designed by Robert Brasington and made by New Tech Kites of ripstop nylon with carbon spars , this is a bowed kite, like the rokkaku.  Measuring 59” by 53”, it flies nicely in light to medium winds and its cut-out design is very eye-catching.  Although it is sold under this name, the New Tech web-site calls it “Phoenix Rising,” and shows a quite different kite as the “Phoenix Tail.”  Robert Brasington confirms that Phoenix Tail is indeed the right name for this design, so perhaps New Tech will correct their site and remove the confusion.   That web-site, by the way, is next to useless, as it gives very little information about the kites and some of the photos are very poor. The list price appears to be $49.90; I bought mine from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is currently selling at $39.90.

Martin’s Legs

Named for its designer, Martin Lester, this soft parafoil-type kite is made by New Tech Kites.  It is about 6.5ft long, and very amusing as the legs kick constantly in the air.  All that’s missing is the football!  It is very easy to fly, comes complete with line, and packs away into a small bag that you can take anywhere.  There are two larger sizes available, made by the designer, but the largest is $2200.  This size is a bargain at $55, from WindPower Sports, who can get the larger ones for you too, if you want.  If you want a reliable novelty kite, you can’t go wrong with this.

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HQ Rokkaku

These small (47”) rokkaku are beautifully made by HQ Kites, with mostly appliqued patterns and strong materials to last a long time.  They are ideal for anyone wanting an inexpensive kite that looks good and is fun to fly in a wide range of conditions (in the video they are mostly flying in lively winds at around 20 mph).   Rokkaku are not usually flown with a tail, but they will sometimes fly more stably with one and some people like to add one or two anyway for extra impact.  The Gecko, Soluna and King Tut versions of this kite are still available, but the Illusion design seems to have been discontinued.  Any of them, however, is worth having, although my personal favourite is probably the Gecko.  They come complete with line, and in a plastic case that is much more sturdy than some others.  I bought my latest one from Picture Pretty Kites, where the price is $53.

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ITW Powerfoil 5

If you like simplicity and convenience, a small parafoil kite is hard to beat.  They will pack away into a very small space and can be taken anywhere.  There is nothing to assemble, so they can be in the air in almost no time.  Into the Wind describe this as “the best parafoil in the sky,” which I think is a little exaggerated.  It is an attractive small kite, and flies well, but is not particularly special.  It comes with line and a 9ft streamer tail as in the photo.  I replaced the original tail with a 20ft tube, seen in the video, which adds to the spectacle and also helps stabilise the kite in a strong wind. The Parafoil 5  measures 1’11” by 2’ 7”, and the wind range is quoted at 5 to 30 mph.  I have flown it successfully in more than this, and it flew very well, without showing any sign of stress.  Price (2011) is $39 direct from ITW.

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Butterfly Genki

This large (12.5ft wingspan) and beautiful kite from Premier Kites looks magnificent in the air.  It is designed to fly in winds from about 2 mph, when few other kites will leave the ground.  To achieve this, however, it is necessary to remove the tails, which means the kite is then less stable, so the wind needs to be very steady, which light winds rarely are.  In slightly higher winds, the kite flies very well with the tails attached.  My sole complaint with this kite is the price, which I think is excessive at around $255 or more from most sources.  I bought mine from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is listed at $249.
















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912.5ft wingspan) and beautiful

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Red Oval Roller

This magnificent kite was one of the earliest I bought, and I am not sure if it is available any more, as it seems to have disappeared even from the dealer I purchased from.  If you see one anywhere, my advice would be to buy it immediately.  It is a beautiful kite, quite big at 86” high by 68” wide, and extremely well made of ripstop nylon with Skyshark carbon spars.  It is bowed, like a rokkaku, and flies extremely well in winds from about 3 mph.  In higher winds it pulls very hard, and I would not fly it in anything more than about 15 mph.   It is, or at least was, made by Premier Kites, so if you are interested you could enquire from a Premier dealer.  The price was very reasonable at $139.95.

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Exotic Bird

There are many kites made to resemble birds, and this, from Premier Kites, is one of the larger ones at over 9ft wingspan.  It is very stylised rather than trying to imitate a real bird, but none the worse for that.  It is easy to assemble, and flies well in quite a wide range of conditions.  It has a tunnel keel, which is supposed to help stabilise it, and it seems to do a good job.  The higher this kite goes, the happier it seems to be.  It is quite strongly made of ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars and available in several colours.  The list price (2011) is $87.50; I notice they are currently on special at Picture Pretty Kites for $53 - a real bargain.

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Le Frog

Despite his slightly French name, Le Frog was designed by Jim Rowlands in England, and is made by Premier Kites.  He comes in three sizes, and this is the middle one at 14 feet. The kite can fly either alone or as “line laundry” attached to the line of another kite.  So far, I have always flown it alone, and in a steady wind it flies very well.  I have attached a small drogue to the “feet” to provide a little more stability, but it’s not really necessary.  Often I can tie the kite to an anchor and leave it all day.  It is, of course, a soft kite (no spars), so it packs away into a small bag and weighs very little.  If you get one, look out for the two small zips on the feet - designed to aid in deflating the kite, they need to be done up for flight.  You can buy this from most Premier dealers; I got mine from Windstar Kites, who are very enthusiastic about this kite.  Their price is $199.  Premier’s list price (2011) is  $249.95.

Quilted Strata Delta

Designed by Barbara Meyer for Premier Kites, this is a double-keeled delta, which flies in a very stable fashion in winds from about 7 to 18 mph.  It could fly in less wind, but that would mean taking off the three magnificent matching tails which come with it, so there is little point.  Two of the tails are 38ft long, and the centre one is 46ft.  The kite itself has a 10.5ft wingspan.  This is a beautiful creation, and involves a lot of work to make.  I haven’t counted, but I estimate there are five or six hundred pieces of fabric sewn together in all.  Most people love it, but I find the colour scheme vaguely unsatisfactory.  Maybe it’s a bit too pink-and-purple for my taste, and somehow it doesn’t stand out against the sky as well as it could.  But I  am getting used to it, and it’s a lot of kite for the money, and very easy to fly.  Rolling up the tails is not so much fun!  Mine came from Kites and Fun Things, but most Premier dealers will have them.  List price (2011) is $219.95

Bee

This soft kite from G-Kites comes complete with line, so you can be in the air almost immediately.  Unlike many soft kites, it is not fussy about wind conditions, and flies extremely well.  It is almost 6ft tall, including its “sting” and stands out really well in the sky.  There are not many kites designed to look like insects, but this one certainly looks the part.  It packs away very easily in the small bag provided, and is totally trouble-free.  I can highly recommend it for your first venture into soft kites, and at a price of $70 it is good value direct from G-Kites.  You may see similar-looking ones on eBay, from Chinese dealers.  My advice is to avoid them, as they are vastly inferior and you will be wasting your money.

Sun, Sea, Sky

This type of kite is known as a della porta, and it is flat, not bowed.  This one was designed by Jon Burkhardt for Premier Kites, and is big - almost 5ft across and with a total length of around 80 feet.  It is not the easiest of kites to fly, but in good conditions it will stay up all day. The bridle is adjustable, but it is sometimes tricky to get it right.  The kite is made of rather heavy-duty ripstop nylon with carbon spars, so should last a long time.  It has only two spars (each in three pieces) to assemble, so can be launched quite quickly.  As with the Quilted Strata Delta above, rolling up the tail is not my favourite thing.  I bought mine from Into the Wind, where the price (2011) is $199.  Premier’s list price is $219.95.

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Hoffmann’s Amulet

The Amulet comes in two versions, Amulet 1 and Amulet 2.  The kites are designed by Rainer Hoffmann and beautifully made by HQ Kites, from ripstop polyester with fibreglass spars.  Is this the perfect kite?  It certainly ticks a lot of boxes.  The quality is great, the kite is big (20ft long by 2ft wide) and bright, and fills a lot of sky.  It is extremely quick and easy to assemble, and very quick to pack up and put away.  When packed, it is very small and light.  Most importantly, it flies like a dream - just hold it up and let it go!  It doesn’t pull hard, so is manageable by an older child, but much more likely to appeal to adults, I think.  The kite is actually bowed, but the bowing is permanent, so there is nothing to adjust.  It’s hard to find fault with this, and if I had a star system I’d certainly give it five out of five.  See video 3 for a view of both versions of the kite flying together.  The usual price seems to be around $130;  I bought mine from Air Play Sports, where it was $109.95 at the time, but enquire from your HQ dealer.

12ft Patchwork Delta

This is a big kite, designed by Kathy Goodwind and made by New Tech Kites.  It has a 12ft wingspan, but also a very low aspect ratio, which means that it is tall as well - just 3 inches short of 8 feet.  It looks good, and like practically all deltas, flies well.  It has, however, been made down to a price, as the quality is definitely not as good as that of some other New Tech products or similar-sized deltas elsewhere.  When my kite arrived, it was missing an end-cap on one of the leading-edge spars, not a sign of good quality control.  There are no tail attachment points sewn in, so you will need to make your own.  Kites this size exert a lot of pull, but the line attachment area is only lightly reinforced, and the attachment points (three for various wind conditions) consist of small eyelets such as are found on much smaller kites.  The velcro-type fastening which holds the spine rod in place is sewed onto an un-reinforced part of the tail.  On my kite, this came unsewed on the third flight, and tore the kite fabric.  I have now modified the fastening.  The recommended top wind speed is 20mph, but I shall not risk mine in anything over 15mph.  The price, from Air Play Sports, was only $92.95, and for that money it is a lot of kite.  However, I cannot recommend this unless New Tech Kites fix the faults.  

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Dark Angel Seraph

The first kite I have bought direct from the designer, this was designed and made by Robert Brasington, of Tasmania, Australia.  It is five feet high, so not a big kite, but it looks stunning in the air, whether against blue sky or cloud.  It is extremely light, and packs away to almost nothing, yet looks strong enough to last a long time.   It is simple to assemble, and flies without any problem at all, producing only a light pull.  According to the designer it is an easy kite to stack, and I would love to see a whole lot of them flying together.  The price of $145 includes postage to anywhere in the world.  I am a little puzzled by the name, as my dictionary indicates that “seraph” is one type of angel, so the middle word seems redundant.  I think of it as simply Dark Seraph.

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Zenith delta

The Zenith has a low aspect ratio, so the shape is a little different to that of most deltas.  It has a 7ft wingspan, and is 5ft tall.  It is strongly-built from ripstop nylon with carbon spars, and is designed to fly high and pull strongly.  The keel is another unusual feature, being a cut-off “pocket” type which helps give stability and prevent overflying.  The kite has no tail attachment points, so if you want them you will have to sew your own.  Zenith is a good flier, but mine seems to get little use, mainly because it is a bit boring.  However, I saw a video on YouTube of one modified by having 40 black ribbon tails sewn to it.  This looked stunning, so maybe I should give it a go with mine.  The kite is $90 (2012 price) direct from G-Kites.

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Brooxes Box

Box kites usually require a lot of wind, but this one is a rhomboid shape which provides a greater lifting surface and should fly in lighter winds.  The quoted range is 5 to 18 mph, but I have found it needs more like 7mph to leave the ground.  I don’t like the method of fixing the spars, which consists of bent pieces of plastic hosepipe which don’t always stay where they should.  It is hard to get the kite properly tensioned, and it is not particularly stable when in the air.  The kite is also a bit time-consuming to assemble, and I do not fly mine as often as I thought I would.  If you really want a box kite, this is worth considering, but you might be better to choose something else.  The price (2012) is $52 direct from G-Kites.


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Rocky Mountain Delta Conyne

The delta conyne is an amalgam of a delta and a box kite, and combines some of the advantages of both.  This one, from Into the Wind, is not big, at 7ft 9in wingspan, but it is an attractive and reliable flier.  It was almost the first kite I bought, and is still flown regularly.  It is sturdy, very easy and quick to assemble, and flies well in a wide wind range, quoted as 5 to 25 mph, although at the upper figure it is a little stressed.  There are four tail attachment points, so you have great scope for hanging things such as spinners as well as tails.  It has good lifting ability for its size (in the video it is flying with a 15ft Melon Tube tail), and is ideal as an all-round kite for use by an older child or adult.  Like all of ITW’s own-brand kites, it comes in a very strong case which will last as long as the kite.  It is good value at $55 (2012 price) direct from ITW.

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Cephalopod

Part of a series of interesting “line laundry” items designed by Willie Koch for Premier Kites and inspired by strange underwater creatures, the Cephalopod is quite big, at 89in long and 35in diameter.  It therefore needs a fairly big kite to lift it.  Items like this are usually flown just a few feet off the ground so as to be easily visible but not lose their impact.  This is a well-made piece and inflates easily in a reasonable breeze.  It revolves fairly rapidly, depending on the wind speed.   I usually pair this with my Sea Pineapple below from the same series, and they look great on adjacent kites. Both can be highly recommended.  I bought mine from Into the Wind, where the price is $95.

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Sea Pineapple

This is from the same series of Premier Kites “line laundry” items as the Cephalopod above.  The size is similar -  88in long and 30in diameter, but this one revolves more slowly and is a little more solid-looking.  It also probably needs a little more wind or a slightly more powerful kite to lift it.  Its impact is greatly increased when it is flown alongside the Cephalopod or even, with a big enough kite, from the same line.  This also came from Into the Wind and is a little cheaper at $79.

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Shannon Roller

Although this kite, designed by Kevin Shannon, is a roller, it is quite unlike my big Red Oval Roller reviewed above.  That kite is bowed, whereas this one has a moulded dihedral fitting for the spreader spars.  That makes this very quick and easy to assemble.  It is not large, at 5ft by 4ft, but the colour combination ensures that it is very noticeable.  It is a kite that is much happier being actively flown, rather than being anchored.  As I usually fly multiple kites, this meant that I rather neglected this one for a while.  Recently, however, I have used it a lot when I have little time and want to fly just one kite.  It is great fun, and sometimes very playful in changeable winds.  It can occasionally perform complete 360-degree loops and happily keep on flying.  Well-made from ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars, it is $110 (2012 price) direct from G-Kites.

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Radian delta

I bought three of these G-Kites deltas specifically to fly together.  Their bright colours light up the sky on even the dullest of days.  The Radian comes in four colour schemes and two sizes.  Mine are 7ft wingspan, and the other version is 9ft.  The kites are well-made in ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars, and plenty of reinforcing where needed, so they should give good service.  Like all deltas, they are easy to assemble and to fly.

The tails are included in the price and come already attached to the kite.  This is good choice as a beginning kite for an adult or older child.  The 2012 list price is $38 direct from G-Kites, but I was lucky enough to pick up mine at the old price from Into the Wind.

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French Military kite

This simple kite is basically a triangular box with wings.  The design is based on one used by the French army in the early part of the 20th century, in a larger form and with multiple kites, to lift observers and send signals.  It is available in four colour schemes and comes as standard with a 4ft rectangular tail which I feel looks vaguely ridiculous and adds little in the way of stability to the kite.  I fitted mine with a 35ft streamer, which gives the kite a lot more style and improves its flying considerably.  This is quite a small kite, measuring 3.5ft wide and tall.  Assembly is very easy and it is quite a fun kite to fly. The 2012 list price is $42 direct from G-Kites.  If you want the streamer tail, which I would highly recommend, it is $19 from the same source.

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Astral Glide

Not a big kite, this, at 80in by 40in, but it looks stunning in the air.  Designed by Ron Gibian, it is made by Premier Kites in ripstop nylon with carbon and fibreglass spars.  It is a double-bowed kite like the rokkaku, but very simple to set up and to fly.  It doesn’t have a huge pull, and can fly in a wide range of wind speeds.  There don’t seem to be a lot of these around,  but it is certainly worth consideration by anyone who enjoys flying rokkaku as something just a bit different.  I am very happy with mine.  I bought it from Kiteworld in England, where it was on special.  Enquire from your nearest Premier dealer - the list price (2011)  is $104.95.

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Squid

Like the Astral Glide above, this kite is designed by Ron Gibian and made by Premier Kites, and from the same materials.  The Squid is bigger, at 10ft long including the tentacles, and is not as simple as its sister kite.  It has no fewer than 8 cross-spars and the same number of ribbons to tie them to the spine.  Then there are 8 tension cords to be adjusted to put the right amount of bow in the sail.  And before you do that, there are two flexible spars each to support the tail and the head.  Altogether it takes quite a while to set up, even supposing you don’t get the complex bridle lines tangled, which will add considerably to your problems.  BUT, the good news is that it’s all worthwhile.  Once assembled, the Squid flies easily and well, and looks fantastic as it swims through the air in search of prey.  I won’t fly this every day, but when I do, I know I shall enjoy it.  It’s ideal for someone wanting an attractive show kite and not in a hurry to get it in the air.  This also came in the clearance sale from Kiteworld, but check with your Premier dealer.  List price (2011) is $129.95.

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Thunderbird

From Colours in Motion, this bird is just over 8 feet across and 6 feet high.  It reminds me somewhat of my big Sky Birds, although the wings are less pointed, and it flies almost as well in light or fairly high winds.  It is very simple to assemble, and strongly made.  It doesn’t need an extra tail, but I have now fitted mine with two black 27ft fuzzy tails to match the Sky Birds when they fly together and to make a bit more of a show in the air. If you can find one, this is a good kite to have.  This was another bargain buy in the clearance sale at Kiteworld in England.  

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Flag kite

This is certainly no ordinary flag - in fact, it looks more like a pillow-case open at the front, but it flies surprisingly well.  It comes complete with a matching drogue which spins away merrily and adds to the stability of the “flag”.  On its first flight, my kite went up at the first attempt and flew steadily for the next three hours.  The original was designed by Peter Lynn, and larger versions can be bought direct from the PL factory to your own design.  This one, measuring 5ft by 3ft, is made under licence by Premier Kites, and apart from the design here, comes in the flags of a number of countries.  Unfortunately, New Zealand, which is Peter Lynn’s home and mine, is not one of them.  The flag kite is strongly-made and the design is not printed but fully appliqued on both sides.  I bought mine in the clearance sale at Kiteworld, and I am not sure if the skull and crossbones design is still available, as it is not shown in the Premier catalogue.   You may find your own country’s flag at your Premier dealer, and the list price (2011) is $52.95.

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Fled

The Fled is an unusual kite, specially designed to lift cameras or line art in light-wind conditions.  It is made from ripstop nylon with carbon spars, measures 5ft by 6.5ft, and is available in three colours.  It is very simple to assemble, just needing the two-piece spreader bar to be inserted and tightened with velcro fastenings.  It is a bowed kite, so the bow needs to be tensioned and then it’s ready to go.  The bridle is a very simple two-line one, and the kite flies easily.  It doesn’t look particularly exciting, and is probably not a kite you would buy unless you need its lifting capabilities, in which case it is invaluable, doing the job in winds too light for many other kites to even leave the ground.  Made by, and available from, G-Kites, the Fled has a 2012 list price of $125.

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Sojourn

A Robert Brasington design produced by New Tech Kites, the Sojourn is a very attractive cellular kite that flies easily in winds from about 7mph. It measures almost 4ft by 4.5ft, and is made from ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars.  There is a 26ft tail included in the price.  It takes a few minutes to put together, but assembly is not difficult.  The supplied bag is not very good and you’ll need to replace it.  The quality of the kite itself is fine and it is reasonable value.  Mine cost $66.90 from Picture Pretty Kites.

See more reviews on page one and page 3

LL Rok

The name stands for Little Light Rokkaku, which is a very apt description of this kite.  Little, at 32 inches by 40 inches, and very light, at only two ounces, this kite flies in breezes almost too light to be felt.  It’s the kite I reach for when nothing else will fly, and it rarely lets me down.  It is the only kite I have which was actually made in America.  The design is by Jon Trennepohl and Tom Marshick, and it is produced by Sky Burner Kites. The sail is sewn from polycarbonate fabric by Pam Kirk and Mike Dennis of California and the kite is sold through Kites and Fun Things for $75.  This kite can easily be flown in train, and I have now bought two more to add to the one I had.  It is normally made to order, and you can choose the colours you want.

Turtle line laundry

This cute character is five feet across, was designed by Meik Schlenger and comes from Gomberg Kites.  It is made to order in colours of your choice, and comes complete with a stabilising drogue and a bag.  It needs a medium-sized kite to lift it, say an 11ft delta or something similar, and inflates very easily in a moderate breeze.  There is a 10ft version if you prefer something bigger, but this one makes a big impact on the beach or wherever you are flying.  If you like to add line laundry to your display, this is a good item to have.  I found it moved around a little too much in a lively breeze, so I tied the drogue to an anchor placed further up the beach, which worked well. It is available direct from Gomberg Kites for $140.

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ITW Malay

The Malay is a colourful kite from Into the Wind which is a great alternative to the normal diamond kite.  It is quite big at 4’ 7” by 4’ 11”, and flies extremely well.  It doesn’t need a tail, but in unsteady winds will do better with one.   There are two designs, known as Sunrise and Sunset, and both are shown in the video, flying on one line.  The Malay is well made from ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars, and comes in a very strong case which will last at least as long as the kite.  The price (2012) is $59 direct from ITW.

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