As I'm waiting for responses to several of my inquiries before deciding what to buy, I've been looking back over the process that got me to this point.
Since I'm just getting back into kiting after a very long absence, a sensible choice would be a good quality mass-produced kite, it would probably have more flying capability than my skill level could make use of. But, although I don't have a lot of stuff, I do like the gear I do have to be top quality and don't mind paying for it. So it was clear from from the start I'd be looking for a rather expensive boutique kite.
As usual when I'm shopping for gear I spent days researching the possibilities; scouring the web reading reviews and forum threads and watching videos. That along with the help of the many comments to my questions in a thread here and in another forum has clarified things considerably. So I'm looking for a solid polyvalent kite with first-rate build quality, light to moderate pull, moderate speed, responsive but not twitchy, that doesn't require huge inputs to perform. Fortunately there's a lot of great kites out there that fall into that category. Unfortunately I'm not able to fly any of them.
As I continued to explore the various options I realised that there was another strong factor that I had never considered in my dozen or so previous kite purchases: aesthetics. Of course I wanted an attractive kite but other than that the looks weren't an overriding factor. But there's more to it than just the look of the kite, namely the flight aesthetics. As I watched more videos, some kites looked to me like a hooked fish struggling to escape when doing tricks while others looked like graceful highly-trained dancers ( I really enjoy watching good dance! ). Perhaps the art that I've been doing in the 12 or so years since I stopped flying has had an influence.
Regardless of where it comes from, I've realized the aesthetics of both the physical appearance and flight characteristics are very important to me. The appearance aspect has eliminated some fine kites like the Transformer from consideration , and left me unenthusiastic about the Vendetta and some others. There's still a lot of great kites with acceptable if not exciting looks such as the JJF Excalibur UL, but the one kite that stands out is the Alphakites TNT. To me it's exceptional in both the looks and flight characteristics.
However its high cost is making me hesitate. (That and the fact that Alphakites hasn't responded to my email inquiry!) It's 50% more than the Excalibur and triple the price of a serviceable JJF that's available. Is it worth it to me? I'm not sure. Meanwhile I'm still looking around to see if I can find anything else that stands out.
Hopefully Alphakites and some other vendors will get back to me soon so I can stop cogitating and get flying soon.
Thanks for reading.