Jim’s Kites

Yet more kite reviews.  See also the previous pages one and two.

Angel

This amazing kite was designed by Mike Delfar and given a special award for innovation by the American Kitefliers Association.   It is made by Premier Kites in ripstop nylon, with lightweight carbon spars.  It will fly in extremely light winds.  Although the makers quote its range as 6 to 16 mph, I have found that it will stay aloft in only 2 or 3 mph and float happily for hours.  It is quite large, with  overall measurements of 62” wide and 112” long, but has very little pull and would be safe for a child to fly.  When mine arrived, the pockets for the upper spreader bar were too small to take the spar and I had to sew on new pockets.  Also it lacked end caps on some spars, (I think these are essential) and the instructions were incorrect - not unusual with Premier’s kites.  A drawback to the kite for me is that I do not want to take out the leading-edge spars between flights (tricky and time-consuming), which means I had to have a special bag made to accommodate the kite.  This aside, I’m very happy with it and would recommend it to anyone wanting an easy-flying kite that is quite different to anything else out there, but ONLY if Premier fix the problems I mentioned.  List price (2012) is $129.95; I bought mine from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is available for $119.90.

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Dazzle delta

From G-Kites, this 9ft delta is available in three colour schemes; this one is called Jazz.  I am very impressed by its ability to fly very smoothly in extremely light winds, when most of my other kites are grounded.  It is quite well made, from ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars, but not as well reinforced as some of my other deltas.  It should, however, give good service and is value for money.  It comes with the two wing-tip tails, which add to its attractive appearance, probably give a little more stability, and certainly don’t detract from its low-wind ability.  List price is currently $46, direct from G-Kites.

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Ghost delta

The name Ghost applies really to the white version of this kite, as it apparently gives a very ghostly appearance when flown at night.  The Ghost, from G-Kites, is available in six colours and two sizes.  This one is 7ft wingspan, and there is an 11ft model.  Like all flowtail-type kites, this flies very well and easily in winds from about 5 to 15mph or more.  The sail is made from ripstop nylon and the tails from lightweight taffeta nylon, and the spars are fibreglass.  The Ghost is well-constructed, and you really can’t go wrong with something like this, although it is not the most exciting of kites.  Available direct from G-Kites at $80 (2012) for the 7ft version and twice that for the 11-footer.

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Dragon Diamond

If you like diamond kites but want something a bit different, this kite should fit the bill.  Designed by the Hespeler brothers and made by Premier Kites, it is a real eye-catcher whenever it flies. It is large, 65” across and nearly 19ft long including the tail, and the design is bright enough to shine on even the dullest day.  It is fully appliqued, not printed, and the kite is made from ripstop nylon with carbon and fibreglass spars.  It flies in a very stable fashion, much more so than most diamonds.  Although I no longer own this kite, I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants a fun kite that is easy to fly.  It’s not for young children, however, because of its size; in a strong breeze it will develop quite a pull.   The list price (2012) is $59.95 from Premier dealers.

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Batzilla

A great value kite made by Into the Wind, this scary-looking fellow has a wingspan of 4ft 8in, and is made of ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars, so will stand up well to a lot of wear.  It flies very well, and is suitable for children of all ages, from about 5 to 95 or more.  I have two of them (see video.)  The first time I flew them, the only other two people on the beach (both over 70) asked if I could get one for each of them!  The kite comes in a very strong bag, with 300 feet of top-grade braided Dacron line, so is priced extremely well at only $19 direct from Into the Wind.

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Shadow delta

This is a simple, but attractive, delta design with a 7ft wingspan, made by G-Kites.   It has the usual ripstop nylon/fibreglass spar construction, and is supplied with a nylon bag.  There are many such deltas on the market, but this one represents good value and looks very attractive.  It stands out well in the sky, thanks to the black outline.  There are four colour schemes available - this one is called Sunburst - and the wingtip tails come already attached.  I have three of these kites which I fly together, but as a single kite it is ideal for anyone wanting an inexpensive introduction to kite-flying.  It is certainly very much better than any of the “no-name” brands you may come across, and is only $30 direct from G-Kites.

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Sky Delta

These kites from Premier Kites are almost 7ft across, and almost 12ft long with the permanently-attached tail, so they are big enough to make quite an impact in the sky with their bright colours.   They come in a plastic, not fabric, bag.  They are easy enough to fly, and designed mainly for older children, I imagine.  They are not strongly constructed, however, and I don’t know if they will stand up to a lot of use.  The sail is of the usual ripstop nylon, and the spars are fibreglass, but very thin.  The spine rod, especially, I think is too fragile; it is too flexible, and it is not well-secured to the kite, being held only by the end pockets and the bridle.  On such a kite at this price, I would expect the spine to be sewn into a tunnel as on most deltas.  I can’t really recommend this kite, and suggest that something like the same-sized Shadow delta (see above) is much better value.  I bought my Sky Deltas from Picture Pretty Kites; the price is $34.90.

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SYMPHONY 2.2     by guest reviewer Tony Travaglia

This is a rather hard pulling, two line soft stunt (or power) kite from HQ Kites.  Easy to carry in a small bag, easy to assemble by just unfurling it, it will fly in 6 knot winds and have very little pull but above 10 knots it will unleash a pull that will really give you a workout. In fact I have flown in 20 knot winds and have been toppled with the pull it generated. Amazing fun and easy to pilot, but not for the beginner. It will execute tricks such as dipping the wing onto the ground and then soaring up to the zenith, into a figure of eight and then a loop. If you do crash it is relatively easy to launch it into the air without help by pulling on one line until the foil turns itself back into the wind to lift into the air again.  And there are no sticks to break, so crashes are not a big problem.  I would rate this kite for construction a 9/10 and flying ability 10/10. If you like a hard pulling kite this is the one, it pulls like a horse in winds above 10 mph.  Available from Into the Wind at $120 (2012 price).


Size    6 foot 11 inches  x  2 foot 7 inches.


Macaw

A wonderful inflatable kite from Premier Kites, designed by Steffen Gaubatz, the Macaw has a wingspan of 9.25 feet.  Although it will fly on its own in a suitable wind, it is much more easily flown with the aid of a lifter kite, which does not need to be very big.  In the video, it is being assisted by a 9ft Dazzle delta in a light breeze.  The kite is very well made and easy to fly if you avoid tangling the 30 or so bridle lines which help give it its shape.  The wings have a parafoil-type structure, and a mesh opening in the body allows it to inflate in the wind quite easily.  If this kite is not big enough for you, there is also a huge Mega Macaw version with an 18ft wingspan!  The standard one has a list price of $269, and mine came from Picture Pretty Kites where it is $242.

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Houterman’s Star Box    by guest reviewer Tony Travaglia

It was a very nice day, sunny and a blue sky. so without further ado we set off to the park and flew the 48 inches x 32 inches Houtermans Star Box kite from HQ Kites.  The wind was only about 7 knots and was very fickle where we usually fly but we did try. The Star Box is easy to assemble although the spreaders at the ends of the kite one has to watch. One set popped out of its sockets so to make sure I am going to clip them together with a bit of elastic, not the flat but the round type and that will ensure that the spreaders are not lost if one has a crash or a heavy landing. Even though the wind speed was low the kite lifted easily into the air and settled at a good angle of flight. The wind dropped, so off to the beach to try our luck there. There the wind was around 12 knots and very steady. The Houtermans Star Box lifted straight up into the air, flying steadily and without a waver to either side. The flight is exceptionally steady and settles at a high angle flight attitude. This would be one of the steadiest kites I have flown and is a pleasure to watch.  Flight stability 10/10.  Construction 9/10.  The panel colours are wonderful as can be seen in the photograph.  List price is around $240.  This one came from Picture Pretty Kites.


Wacky Worm

I’ve never seen a worm with legs, but someone at HQ Kites apparently thought that this would be a good name for the kite.  I think Crazy Caterpillar would better describe it.  It’s designed by Rainer Hoffman, who is also responsible for the Amulet kites reviewed on the previous page. Like the Amulet, the Wacky Worm is well-made and very easy to assemble and fly.  It is just a little more fussy about wind conditions than the Amulet, but given suitable conditions it will fly happily all day.  The constant movement of the legs makes it very eye-catching, and there is nothing to wear out so it should go on running through the air for a long time to come.  Highly recommended as an affordable and easy to fly novelty kite. Mine came from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is $86.99

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Tuxedo Bird

This very smart-looking fellow comes from Premier Kites, and seems to be a variation on the Thunderbird reviewed on the previous page, but without a keel.  (The instructions enclosed were actually for the Thunderbird.)  It is certainly an attention-grabber, with good detailing of the bow-tie, handkerchief and even gold cuff-links!  It is also a good flier, and is almost as quick as an ordinary delta to assemble - there is just one extra rod to insert to hold the shape of the tail.  The build quality is good, and the materials are the usual ripstop nylon with the spars being carbon and fibreglass.  The kite has a wingspan of 8.5 feet, so is big enough to stand out well even when flying quite high.  The list price is $54.95, and mine came from Picture Pretty Kites.

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Rudi delta

A variant of Premier Kites’ standard line of 8.5ft deltas (which they strangely call 9ft deltas), Rudi is an amusing and eye-catching design.  Like the Tuxedo Bird, it has no keel, in order to avoid spoiling the design.  The kite flies easily, is well-made from ripstop nylon with fibreglass rods, and like all deltas is simple to assemble.  One unusual point is that the leading-edge spars (the ones in the wings) are partly-removed to allow easier storage of the kite.  It is important to ensure they are pushed fully to the rear end of the pockets before launching, or they might work their way out in flight.  List price is $62.95, and this one was from Picture Pretty Kites where they are $56.

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Cody Pro

This box kite by New Tech Kites is modelled on the famous design by an American, Samuel Cody, over 100 years ago in England.  The original was much bigger, and designed to fly in train (multiple kites on one line) for the purpose of lifting military observers in a basket suspended under the kites.  This version is almost 5ft across, and made of ripstop nylon with fibreglass spars.  It is very easy to assemble and to fly.  It flies at a high angle, and although it moves around a bit is a very solid and reliable flier.  It is one of the better New Tech products I have flown.  My friend Tony Travaglia has a bigger Cody, but his cost more than four times as much as this one, so I think I’ll stick with this for now.  My only slight complaint is that the colour scheme does not stand out particularly well in the sky, and no alternative is offered.  I bought this from Picture Pretty Kites, who have it for $56.

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Sun Oak giant delta conyne

This kite is a rarity, as it was actually made in the USA, in Muncie, Indiana.  It is nearly 14 feet across, and is the biggest delta conyne available, as far as I know.   It is no longer in production, but there are a few still available if you call the maker, Richard Langdon, on 812-338-3561 or email him at rlangdon@netsurfusa.net. It costs $240 and there are colour choices.  The kite is very strongly made and built to last.  The fabric is a heavy-grade ripstop nylon, and the spars are fibreglass, with the exception of the spreader which is made of wood.  I’m not sure of the reason for that, but it works very well anyway.  The kite flies very steadily, and naturally has a lot of pull.  It is great for carrying a lot of tails, and makes a big impact in the sky.  Sun Oak recommend 200lb line, but in a stronger wind I think 250lb or 300lb is more suitable.  It’s a great kite, and if you want a big kite that is dependable and easy to fly, this should be on your list to buy before they all go.  It has quickly become one of my favourites and I fly it often, usually with several tails.

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Multi Kite

A great design from HQ Kites, the Multi Kite is ideal for the person who wants only one kite but can’t decide between a single-line or two-line one. This serves as both.  It is basically a very easy to fly two-line soft stunt kite, but has clips at the ends of the lines which quickly attach to a single line also provided.  It can then be hand flown or tied down and will happily stay in the air all day.  Revert to two-line flying, and it becomes more interesting.  For a child, or a total beginner of any age, it is a perfect introduction to two-line flying.  Even I was able to handle it without effort at the first attempt, although I have yet to do any more advanced moves.  The attached 40ft tail adds greatly to the impact of the kite, and slows it down to make control easy.  The kite is completely soft and there is nothing to break, so even if you crash it would not do much harm to the kite or anyone unlucky enough to be under it.  The kite and lines come in a very sturdy bag, and the whole lot weighs very little and can easily be taken anywhere.  Altogether a lot of fun for not a lot of money.  It should be available from most HQ dealers; I bought mine from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is $47.90.

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Crazy Tube tail

A wonderful kite accessory from HQ Kites, the Crazy Tube tail (centre in the photo) is 33 feet (10m) long, with “bubbles” that are 15” diameter, and looks fantastic flying behind a medium or large kite.  I bought one and liked it so much that I immediately ordered two more!  They fill a lot of sky, and receive many favourable comments from onlookers.  They are much better value than some other large tails, and I can strongly recommend that you buy one if you have a kite that will lift it.  In a good breeze, that would probably be anything from a 9ft delta upwards.  If you have a kite with plenty of pull but not suitable for a tail, then try attaching a Crazy Tube or two to the line as line laundry.  The tails are well made and should stand up to a lot of air-time.  Mine came from Picture Pretty Kites, and they are $55 each.

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Double Lifter sled

This kite comes from Skydog Kites, but I have no idea why they called it Double Lifter.  It is a standard sled design, similar to the ones available from several other companies.  The quality is good and the design very colourful, and the kite flies well, coping nicely with quite changeable wind conditions.  There is no assembly required - you just take the kite out of the bag, which then becomes the drogue tail, and attach the flying line. Launching is simple, and the kite pulls quite hard so should cope well with bigger tails or with lifting fairly large items of line laundry.  There are four tail attachments if you want to ring the changes.   I flew this and a Powersled 24 from Premier Kites, and the performance of the two was almost identical.  This is not surprising, as the design of the two kites is almost the same. I did find that the drogue on the Double Lifter tends to close up from time to time in variable wind, so I will try different tails next time I fly this kite.  It comes with a spool of flying line rated at 110lbs, but this is twisted, not braided, and in any case not adequate if you are flying in strong winds.  The sled probably needs 200 or 250lb braided line.  The Double Lifter is good value at $79, and mine came from Into the Wind.

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Skydog 7ft Pirate Rokkaku

Part of Skydog’s new “Big Dog” series of larger kites, this is the biggest rokkaku commercially available at a reasonable price.  It is made in two styles, this and one with the Skydog logo.  Since the price is the same, I see no reason to give the company a free advertisement and recommend the Pirate version!  The kites are very similar to the Premier Kites rokkaku reviewed elsewhere on these pages, although the Premier one is slightly smaller.  The major difference is that the Skydog kite has fibreglass spars, as opposed to the lighter carbon ones in the Premier rok.  This makes the bigger kite a little more flexible, and therefore, I feel, slightly better at adapting to wind changes and able to handle somewhat higher wind speeds.  The slightly heavier Skydog kite needs perhaps a little more wind in order to fly.  It will still perform quite well in about a 5 mph breeze, so there can be no complaints in that area.  Once in the air it flies steadily and has a good deal of pull, which means it can lift a lot of line laundry or carry a camera aloft.  It seems well-made and should last a long time.  Mine cost $98.95 from Picture Pretty Kites.

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Pterodactyl

Designed by Carsten Domann and made by Premier Kites, this is a large creature with a wingspan of 11ft (3.3m).  Contrary to appearances, it is very easy to assemble and to fly.  It will take off in a light breeze and soar peacefully, but when the wind increases, its wings start to flap realistically and it sets off in search of prey!  It looks fantastic, and flies so reliably that it should be considered by anyone who wants a kite that makes a real impact every time it’s flown.  Premier are cutting their range of good kites, and this may well be on their chopping list before long, so get in quickly if you want one.  List price (2013) is $179.95, but it may have increased as Premier have not published a 2014 catalog.  Currently available at Picture Pretty Kites for $164


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Cube Kite

A clever design by Ralf Maserski, the Cube Kite is really an illusion.  Although it gives the appearance of being made up of seven cubes or boxes, it is actually a flat kite, or rather a slightly bowed kite.  It is 92 inches by 54 (230cm by 130) and so big enough to fly high and still be noticed.  It flies rather well, but is definitely not quite as simple to assemble as the advertising might lead you to believe.  The cross spars are already attached, but there are three upright spars, one of them in three sections, to insert, and no less than TEN bowlines to adjust before the kite is ready to fly.  None of this is difficult or particularly time-consuming for anyone who is experienced with bowed kites, but my example came with no instructions and would certainly have baffled someone new to kites.  This is poor, as there are no instructions on Premier Kites’ website either, where they supply instructions for many of their other kites.  The Cube is made in a blue and purple colour scheme as well as the orange and yellow one that I have. It is well-made and good value.  Mine came from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is $99.95.

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More reviews to come!  Keep checking back.

Dimension Delta

This is a brilliant kite but unfortunately it is, I am told, no longer in production.  It is based on a design by Michel Gressier and was made by Colours in Motion and distributed outside Europe by Premier Kites.  There may still be a few available if you look around.  It is a big kite, with a wingspan of almost 10ft (3m) and a length of over 32ft (9.9m).  It is quite simple to assemble, and flies very easily and stably.  It pulls hard when the wind gets up, and the recommended line strength is 250lb.  It looks magnificent against a blue sky, and is different from any other style of kite.  I am surprised that there are not more of these beautiful kites around - my video of it appears to be the first and only one on Youtube.  At a list price of $117.95, the Dimension Delta offers amazing value.  Mine came from Picture Pretty Kites, who may be able to get one for you.

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Rainbow Totem

Almost 10ft (3m) tall, and 20” (50cm) wide, this colourful item from Premier Kites makes a big impact wherever it flies.  None of the pattern is printed, it is entirely sewn.  The kite takes a few minutes to assemble, as the  spine has to be joined and inserted, and then seven bow-lines need to be connected.  The kite came, as with the Cube above and several other kites from Premier, with no instructions, which would have been confusing for someone unused to bowed kites.  However, it is not really difficult to assemble, and once it is done the kite is eager to fly.  It needs only a light breeze to launch it, and flies very well.  Considering its size, it has little pull, so is very manageable.  The Totem packs away to a small size and is very light, so it’s easy to take anywhere.  The list price is $169.95; mine came from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is $153.

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Skyfoil 15

This kite was produced by G-Kites to fill a gap caused because the Sutton Flowform 16 (reviewed earlier) is no longer in production.  It is, like the Flowform, an entirely soft kite (no spars) and packs away very small so is easily transportable. It flies nicely, is easy to launch, and will lift a camera in suitable wind, which is what many people will use it for.  However, the quality of construction is not great, with the stitching leaving a lot to be desired.  The tail shown with it is recommended by the makers, but costs extra, making this not as good value as it might be.  List price is $125, with the tail adding another $30, direct from G-Kites.

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Ultrafoil 15

Like the Skyform 15 above, this kite was designed to replace the now-defunct Sutton Flowform 16.  The Ultrafoil,  however, has been considerably modified by the designers, Ray and Jeanne Merry of Cobra Kites, and is not just a copy of the Sutton kite.  It is extremely well made; all seams are strongly sewn, and the vents on top and bottom surfaces are mesh-covered for strength and stability.  It is way above the Skyform as far as quality of construction is concerned; the fuzzy tail shown is also included in the price, which at $125 is the same as the Skyform’s without a tail.  In terms of flying ability, there is less of a difference, although again the Ultrafoil has the edge.  It launches very easily and its flight is stable under most wind conditions.  It looks very attractive for recreational flying, but will probably be used mainly by those who wish to lift a camera with it. The kite is produced by Into the Wind, and comes in a very strong carrying case (which could have been a bit larger) and, as I mentioned before, complete with tail.  Altogether very good value, and you can buy it direct from either the manufacturer or from Cobra Kites.  There is also a smaller version, the Ultrafoil 9, at $89.  A bigger version, the 30, will arrive in about July 2014.

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Aztec Delta

A beautiful flier, this is a big delta with a wingspan of 14ft (4.67m). It’s at its best in fairly light winds, and has enough pull to lift a lot of tail or line laundry.  It matches well with the Dimension Delta (see above) which has now been discontinued, and I fear this may be going the same way, as the maker seems determined to weed out most of the best kites from its catalog.  The large keel on this kite adds to its stability, and it really is a pleasure to fly.  List price was $149.95 in 2013, and Picture Pretty Kites is showing stock at $139.95.


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Krah Krah

The unusual name of this kite represents the sound made by a raven, after which the kite is modelled, apparently.  From HQ Kites, it was designed by Arno Gradwohl.  It’s quite big at a length of 89” (227cm) and is very distinctive with the separate “cut-out” piece in the middle.  Krah Krah will fly in very light wind, from about 3mph (5kph) but is equally happy when the wind increases.  It’s well made, like most HQ designs, and easy to handle for anyone.  I enjoy flying mine by hand, rather than tying it down, and it’s a lot of fun always.  Mine came from Picture Pretty Kites, where it is $132.

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Kinetic Jewel

Rainer Hoffmann designed this intriguing kite, which is made by HQ Kites.  Although it’s not a large kite, with a length of 46” (117cm), it’s certainly an eye-catcher as it revolves in the air.  It needs probably about 8mph (13kph) wind to work successfully, but once it starts twirling around it becomes the centre of attention.  It has a fairly narrow wind range, and I’ve found that over about 12mph (19kph) it starts to get overpowered. The tail comes with it, and is necessary to provide stabilisation.  It’s a very attractive novelty kite, but one for adults rather than children.

Available from Picture Pretty Kites at $48.99.

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Orbit Brogden Diamond

This beautiful kite was originally designed by Charles Brogden more than 100 years ago, and has been re-interpreted and brought up to date in this stunning iteration by the Hespeler brothers.  It’s a big kite - 8ft (2.4m) wide and tall.  It flies very well, in a suggested range of 6 to 18mph (10 to 30kph.)  It has quite a pull in the upper part of that range, and 250lb line is recommended.  Assembly is a little more complicated than with the average kite, but not difficult, although it was made more so because of the faults mentioned below.

The designers deserve a lot of credit for their creation, but the one I received was let down by the manufacturer’s poor quality control.  The bridle was not properly tied, some of the tension lines were not tied, one of the bow-lines was just bundled up and not attached at all, and some of the stitching was very poor.  These are not things one expects in a kite costing $180.  The bag supplied with it is also too short to hold the kite when the cross-spars are all inserted, which is how I want to carry mine.  This means I have to buy or make another bag.  These points are not enough to make me regret buying the kite - in fact, I would like to get the other version of the Brogden diamond, which is called Music Man, a less stunning but amusing design.  I bought my kite from Into The Wind, where, as mentioned, it cost $180.  See also Picture Pretty Kites.

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Trilobite

This is an amazing design by master designer Ma Qinghua from China.  I bought what may have been the first one sold outside China in October 2014, and was amazed by its performance (see first video.)  Since then, I’ve bought several more in different sizes, and they are among my most-flown kites.  The majority of what are sold as “soft kites,” or “inflatable kites,” are not really kites at all, rather they are line laundry, depending on a lifter or “pilot” kite for support.  The Trilobite is a true kite, and flies extremely well.  It also, of course, looks great, and in the past two years has become enormously popular, to the extent that various groups try to out-do each other in setting “world records” of the greatest number of Trilobites flown together.  This started from a joke I made in a video of my (then) six Trilobites, and then an eight-kite “record” that my friend Carl and I made.  It has since become a little ridiculous as people take it so seriously, but it gives an idea of the passion with which fliers regard this kite.  I have nothing bad to say about it, and would recommend anyone, experienced flier or not, who wants an easy-flying, fun and attractive soft kite to get one of these.  It’s now available in many colour schemes, or you can choose your own (which is great!) and a range of sizes, from a very manageable 7 sq m up to ones that need a team of people to fly them.  Definitely this is one of the very best new kites in the past few years, and is not at all expensive compared to other soft kites available.  Do NOT confuse this with the “Trilobite” sold by Peter Lynn Kites, which is (to my eyes) ugly and expensive, and needs a pilot kite to keep it in the air.

There are now several other kites developed from this design - the Tadpole, Frog, and Ladybug, all of which are excellent, and fly even better than the Trilobite.  None of them has caught on to the extent of the Trilobite, strangely, but all can be recommended.

The best place to order them is Weifang Kaixuan Kite Factory.  See their store on AliExpress, or email monica@kaixuankite.cn for really top service (her English is very good, so no communication problems.)

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