Thebest Hi-Flier productapart from kites, however, was their $1.29 Spinwinder kite reel. Inever had one myself,but I watched a kid use one once down at Edison schoolyard, and it madewinding string around a lumpy stick look pretty sick by comparison. Thedevice was a red plastic spool with a handle, and through the handlewas threaded a metal rod that bent into a crank at the bottom (with aball-shaped wooden knob to grasp) and at the top into a loop thatcurved down level with the spool. You wound your line on the spool, andthen threaded it just so over the bar and through a loop on the end toyour kite. As you cranked the handle, the rod spun around and wound inyour kite, placing your line neatly and tightly on the spool! The onlydownside was that letting line out in a hurry was problematic (andcould be hard on the knuckles!) which is why I still use a "hose-reel"style reel when I fly. Nonetheless, the Spinwinder remains a cool gadget. Irecall sketching a clonemade from a coffee can, but never got around to building it.
Aless common Color Glow design in plastic was the Pegasus kite, showing a flyinghorse against a striped background, in either red or blue. Hi-Flier promokites in plastic exist but are rare. (I've seen only one, for Dutch Boy paints.) I have a photo of a "Hi-FlierJet" kite in dark blue plastic from John Nauer, and have seen the samedesign on eBay in paper.
UNSAVORYAGENTS » Hillary’s Flying Monkeys
Ilusted after these, andevery so often (usually after Aunt Kathleen had given me a dollar forno good reason) I would buy one. In the period I was flying them theyhad a very simpleart design: Just colored paper (usually green and white) withrelatively small drawings of jet aircraft, helicopters and things. Thephysical design was diabolical: Each end was kept at very high tensionby two cross-sticks that were slightly too long to fit inside the paperbox portion, and had to bow a little. The paper was thus tight as adrum, and tore very easily. (This may be why I don't see many assembledones on the auction sites. Nobody wants to risk destroying a35-year-old kite that might fetch fifty bucks!) The photo of a newerkite below (in the Hi Flier "space warp" design) comes from PeterLamonica, and is of a later art design,with four color printing on white paper, rather than the earlier blackor blue ink on colored paper. Peter hasn't flown his yet and doesn'tintend to!
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It'sunclear when Hi-Flier's Decaturoperation ceased (our best guess is 1988 or so) but the paper kitebusiness in general is now long extinct. Even the ad/promo kites thatused to be Hi-Flier's bread and butter are now made of plasticsomewhere else (generally China) and fly poorly if they fly at all.(There's one exception: which many of ussaw as the "Green Giant kite" during periodic boxtop campaigns forfrozen veggies as long ago as 1987. They flew beautifully, though theyhave not been made for quite a few years.)
People say “this is a Manhattan Project, this an Apollo Project”
Hi-Flier didverywell, and was sellingtwenty millionkites a year at a time when there were only seven million kids ofkite-flying age in the country. Sellers understood the nature andeconomics of paper kites when he said that "...a kite not caught in atree is like an ice-cream cone not eaten." By making them inexpensive,he knew his little "consumers" would just go back to the dime store andbuy another when the trees took their inevitable due. (Quoted from .)
Sorry, those are science projects
Every so often today I see aplastic diamond promo kite being handed out somewhere, but the kitesare too small and too unstable to fly well. The only good plastic promokite I've ever seen in recent years was a that was a"boxtop" offer in the early 1990s. It was actually a five-point kitewith plastic tubular sticks fitting into a molded plastic hub at thekite's center. The hub had a 15" dihedral angle, making itsomething like a bow kite without a bow. The string attached to a loopon the moded hub, and itflew beautifully in very light winds with neither bridle nor tail. I'vewritten a short article about it, and the company that created it forthe Leo Burnett advertising agency. Alas, we won't be seeing any moreof those, but they stand as some of the best mass-producedkites I've ever worked with.
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I've seen some references to "E-Z Fly Kites" in some old Depression-era Hi-Flier invoices offered to ephemera collectors. There was a company called Kilgore Manufacturing Co. in Westerville Ohio . (scroll down) and made cap guns well into the 1980s. My guess is thatHi-Flier bought the E-Z Fly kite product line circa 1930, but I'vefound nothing direct to support it.