Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Sting-A-Ree and Gazabo

Not all of the Gayla kites had long lives like the Baby Bat and Sky Spy. In fact, most did not. The Gazabo and Sting-A-Ree are 2 such kites. I believe the Sting-A-Ree was manufactured through most of the 60's coming to an untimely death in 1974/75. From what I have found and what I remember, The Gazabo was around for maybe 3-4 years from 1974 to 1978.

The Sting-A-Ree was a diving/looping nightmare. It was nearly impossible to fly in high winds as it would take on what I referred to as looping momentum. Generally it flew making huge side to side sweeps across the sky. But in high winds, these sweeps would turn into loops, which would continue until the kite finally crashed into the ground. Unless you were lucky, it would usually split right down the tip to the keel. Later, I found that giving it slack during a looping frenzy would break it's momentum. But it was a lot work to keep in the sky and  something I was willing to take on only as a change of pace from my regular kite flying habits.

In my collection I have a 1965-1969 example and a 1974. These kites came in 2 colors, Blue with a yellow keel and yellow with a blue keel. Both of mine are yellow with a blue keel. As with the other  kites I have discussed the Hang Card was made with a 2 color (black and red) process until 1972/73 when it was switched to 4. The 1974 model I have is especially rare as it was the only year it was made using the paper reinforcement on the keel instead of the grommet. In 1976, this kite made a brief return with the addition of a 50' tail and was called the Tailey-Ho. I think this kite may have been produced for 2 or three years and then it went away as well. Both the TH and the SAR are highly collectible.

The Gazabo is a strange kite. First off, what the hell did Gazabo mean?(I didn't have access to the internet then, here!). Secondly, Why did it cost $1.50? It shared the exact same 45" wingspan outline as the Sky Spy. I wasn't sold, so I never bothered to pick one up. The closest I ever did come to owning one as a kid was a time when I noticed one stuck in one of the lower hanging power lines in our neighborhood. I was pretty sure I could get it with our telescoping pool cleaning pole. I grabbed some rubber gloves and headed out to the backyard to grab the pole. My old man about pooped his pants when I told him what I was up to. Needless to say, I never made it to the kite with the pole. I have an example of the very first year this kite was produced in my collection. It is the only one that I have seen come up for auction on the internet in the last 3 years.  I paid more for this kite than any other. However, I have bid more for other kites and not won. I think I saw an example with a post 75' hang card, but that site is no longer available. This kite was the forerunner to the Fantazma Gordo, the Flutterburt Butterwink, and eventually all of the Gayla print kites that are made today.