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Goof-Proof Meets Green Giant

Goof-Proof Flying-350 Wide.jpg

Well, the punk felt lucky today, so after Carol and I got back from some shopping midafternoon, we threw Dash and QBit in the back of the 4Runner and went down the hill to the park to fly a couple of kites.

But not just any kites. In the past few months I managed to score a Hi-Flier Goof-Proof Kite and a classic RB Toys Green Giant kite. Both are collectible, but like I said, it was a beautiful day and I was feeling lucky. I was lucky, actually, since I got both of them back to the house without damage or drama.

The Goof-Proof Kite is rare but not legendary, and most people have never even heard of it. It’s listed in the 1977 Hi-Flier trade catalog but not in the 1987 catalog. It’s a 36″ plastic bow kite with a twist: There’s no bow. The cross stick is in two pieces, and the pieces attach to the vertical stick with an injection-molded plastic connector that provides about 15% dihedral and a single mount point for the string. The dihedral makes a bow unnecessary, and the single mount point makes a bridle unnecessary. You tie your string to the plastic loop at the center of the connector (which pokes through the plastic sail at the kite’s center of balance) and that’s it. Done. Goof-Proof.

Goof Proof Connector 500Wide.jpg

I don’t have a lot of experience with single-point kites, and what I’ve had has been marginal. The problem is that the bridle and the bow are the only real adjustments you have on a two-stick kite. You’re at the mercy of the wind and the kite’s designers. In this case, the kite did fairly well in the very light and intermittent wind we had in our late afternoon. It was unstable without a tail, but 4′ of tail did the trick and didn’t weigh it down very much. (Kite tails are about wind resistance, not weight.)

I paid $25 for it, and I’ve told people for years not to fly classic kites. But having done that, I went back to the car and did something even nuttier: I flew an original 1972 RB Toys Green Giant promo kite. I don’t have to describe the kite in detail. If you want to know more, read the larger article on them, linked above. It was the first time I’d flown a kite like that since 1987. I hadn’t imagined it: They fly better than almost anything else I’ve ever had. But having paid $50 for it (and considered it a steal at that price) actually tossing it into the air was crazy. 41 years is a long time, and I don’t know how well the plastic center connector keeps on a decadal scale. (RB Toys didn’t expect they’d be flying forty years after manufacture!)

1972 Kite With Jeff-500 Wide.jpg

I had another insight while the Green Giant was in the air: That little camera we found in the bushes a few months back might be just the thing for kite aerial photography. I’d have to make a mount for it, and I would need a bigger and ruggeder kite than I have right now. But remote control really isn’t necessary if all you want to do is take video. Start the camera, launch the kite, and let it run as long as the kite’s in the air. I’ll read up on it, and when time allows I think I’ll try it.

When time allows. Aye, there’s the rub.

4 Comments

  1. I wonder if one could 3-d print the various specialized plastic pieces (not the skin, obviously) and make reproductions of these kites that could be flown (and wrecked) with impunity?

    -JRS

  2. Lee Hart says:

    Congratulations on letting them take to the air, Jeff! Kites are meant to fly. I am no fan of antiques that never see the light of day; chairs you can’t sit in, dishes you can’t eat off from, clothes you can’t wear…

    One of the early issues of MAKE magazine had a quickie kite camera. Basically a disposable camera, some bent wire to hang it on the string, a little sail to carry it up to the kite, and a stop to hit the shutter button.

  3. […] to think that 3-D printers like that will soon make one-off repro of small plastic parts like the ones at the center of kites practical. I guess the challenge is somehow getting the precise shape of the part into a file. If I […]

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