As for materials, there's a lot of stainless steel. Good strong, attractive looking stuff for kite reels that doesn't look out of place in the 21st century. However, high-impact plastic and shaped, polished wood also appear in these designs. Not for the line-holding reel itself, but for the mounts and grips.
All reels are on an axle, with a handle or knob(s) to wind on line. A large proportion of all these kite reels also have a lock of some sort, to prevent further rotation when you've got the kite where you want it.
Here are some other features that might be spotted on the more expensive reels...
- Ball-bearings for quiet and almost friction-less operation.
- Variable-drag brake to limit the speed of the line when letting-out.
- Padded rests and grips for comfort during those long flights.
- Shoulder strap for comfort, particularly with the biggest kites.
When the weather's good and you have the time, it's great to get out with a kite or 3. But what about on bad weather days? Then it's time to pull out...
"Kites Up!" - my downloadable kite-flying board game! Apart from towing indoor kites, doing a spot of imaginary flying is the next best thing :-)
I've been using the term 'big kites'. But really, anything as big as or bigger than our MBK Dowel Series kites would be more convenient to fly on one of these reels. Wing-spans of more than 1.2 meters (4 feet) in other words.
I love my home-made winders, but a shiny wide-diameter steel contraption would certainly get a kite down quicker! Not to mention improving my image as a serious kite flier, if I was concerned about such an aspect :-)
Fancy Kite Reels, Plus Variations!
Is your idea of a typical reel a simple drum on a stick, with a flange to hold the line in? Some of these fancy reels from China can look quite outlandish in comparison!
After looking at a whole bunch of images of these, I'll just list
a few of the more intriguing ones, in the form of text descriptions...
Oh, by the way, Chinese manufacturers seem reluctant to actually give names
to their kite reels! A catalog or serial number is about it, it seems.
So I'll just list these as Reel 1, Reel 2 and so on. The last one, which does have a photo, is a real eye-popper!
Reel 1 A spoked, stainless steel design, mounted on a
formed steel tube with padded rests. On the end of each spoke is a
U-shaped piece which serves to hold the line. For rigidity, 2 thin steel
rods run full circle around the perimeter of the reel, on both sides of
the U shapes.
Reel 2 Gold anodized reel, or perhaps it's brass. Deep
flat flanges, drilled with numerous holes to save weight. Not to mention
saving money for the manufacturer! Mounted on simple steel tube, with
Reel 3 Pure-white high-impact plastic reel, with a small
number of sturdy spokes and a solid wall to hold the line in. A
pistol-grip in the same plastic material holds the axle for the reel and
also has a steel fitting which feeds out the line. This design appears
to have a trigger built into the grip, to lock and un-lock the reel. The
trigger is the same white plastic.
Reel 4 A solid circular plate has 2 shapes punched out of it, forming a hand-grip. Somehow
a drum with solid walls is mounted on the hand-grip and is free to
rotate around it. A very clean and compact kite reel actually! Perhaps
not practical for the very biggest kites though.
Reel 5 A real mixture of wood and steel this one. Eight U-shaped pieces of steel are mounted around the perimeter of a wooden
wheel, with large holes drilled in it to save weight. This composite
reel is then mounted on a polished wooden pistol-grip. A small steel
fitting feeds the line out. A bit bizarre really, and not what you would
call a thing of beauty!
Reel 6 Another cut-out design. This time, a solid steel
band rotates around the perimeter of the circular plate. On the band are
mounted U-shaped pieces of steel, with 2 thin steel bars forming the 2
rims and connecting the U-shapes. OK, so a picture would be handy...
Reel 7 A rather spidery-looking reel with 10 steel spokes
and a garish green plastic grip. The grip, plus the steel feed-out bit
look a lot like one of those butane stove-lighters. No wheel in the
middle, just the spokes attached to the axle housing. The U-shapes on
the end of the spokes are quite small in this design.
Reel 8 Similar to number 7 except for a curious knobbly
hub with holes in it, made of the same plastic as the pistol-grip
handle. Large U-shapes on the spokes, in several different colors for
reasons known only to the manufacturer!
Reel 9 This one resembles a large spider! 12 steel spokes
mounted on a small metal disk, which in turn is attached via the axle to
a slim polished wood handle. Rather small U-shape steel pieces on the
spokes hold the flying line in place. No reinforcement around the
perimeter! Just those spokes sticking out in all directions. It's
Reel 10 And finally, the most amazing, impressive piece of
stainless steel kiting over-kill you might ever see... There it is
below, complete with what looks like a disk brake like the ones on your car! When these kite reels were initially offered, they were asking for $600 each. Gulp.
For the kite-flier who has everything
For the kite-flier who has everything
As mentioned earlier, there's another alternative to towing indoor kites if it's just not possible to fly outdoors...
"Kites Up!" is my downloadable board game. It's a PDF file which has all the documentation for the game plus images for all the components. Tokens, cards, the board itself and so on. Anyway, just click that link to see more info :-)