Monday, October 22, 2012

The Baby Bat aka the Bat Kite

Growing up in the seventies, we referred to the "Baby Bat" as a Batkite. I once socked a kid in the gut for calling it a "Baby Bat", and he deserved it! The Baby Bat was not a "Baby" kite. It was great in strong winds and easy to get to tip over making roaring dive bombs. It was definitely my favorite in 25-35 mph Santa Ana winds!

My collection includes a number of these. The earliest I have is a 1964-66 gem. As far as I can tell, Gayla made just a few changes to this kite throughout the Sixties and into the seventies. The earliest ones have red sticker eyes with the pupil being shaped like a football. These were later replaced with circular eyes. The Hang Card changed as well. The top of the card on the 1964 is cut to match the outline of the printed design. On the back is the date 1964. This cutaway design is abandoned soon after as can be seen by some of the examples I have included at the bottom of the page. One more change is made to this Hang Card in 1969/1970. The words "World Altitude Record Kites 33,531'"  are written on the Hang Card from this time and later. The reason for this is that a kite flying team from Gary Indiana High used a Gayla Kite train to set the kite altitude record in 1969. This is a key in identifying manufacturing years for kites with the black and red ink Hang Cards.  This same Hang Card is used until at least 1971.

To the right is an example of a 1971-73 bat, This was the first time the "bloodshot" was added to the eye stickers.  As you can see, this one has Fluorescent yellow eyes. I recall these eyes were also printed using red ink. Year identification is possible due to the expiration date on the special offer(June 30, 1973). At this time, the kite is still manufactured using a vinyl like plastic material with a hard plastic keel  grommet for attaching the line. However, this would be the last year of this design. I don't own a sample of a bat kite made during the 1973/1974 era, but I do have some other models from that year, and they all have a paper keel reinforcement for the line attachment and use a thinner Mylar like plastic. I have seen one on ebay and it had different eyes as well. The eyes were larger than in '72, but they did not spell Gayla in the eye veins, like they do for all of the models made after 1975. This same hang card is used through the end of 1974.

From 1975 through the early 90's, the Hang Card you see to the right is used. This kite is kind of an odd ball one in that the keel sticker is marked 1973, yet the Hang Card reads 1975. My guess is that there was an overproduction of these stickers and some were used right on through 1975. Either that or Gayla Co. really didn't care that the same template was being used to print the stickers years after the date on the sticker had passed. This could also be the reason why every Hang Card  manufactured from 1975 on has the year 1975 printed on it. However, there are still some ways to tell the difference between a '75-'81 Baby Bat and one from the later years. The first way to tell is by the length of the wing span. At some point after 1981, Gayla reduced the wing span to 42" on all of the entry level Delta kites. As you can see, this one says 4 ft. Another way to help identify the year is by examining the keel sticker. The words "Baby Bat" and a year are written on the keel until at least 1977. Near the bottom of this page, I posted an example of a post 1981 keel sticker. Personally. I view these 42" wing span kites as inferior and much less desirable than the 70's and before models. These kites were made of an inferior quality, which explains why the eye sticker glue fails over time. The one cool thing that Gayla did do with these later year kites was to use a broader range of colors for the keels. The only keel colors I can recall used before '77 were yellow and white. They also used different colors for the actual kite as well.  Here is a link to an example with  yellow eyes. These were used for the production of a red Baby Bat.

I will try my best to rank Baby Bats in terms of desirability and rarity. Obviously, this is very subjective.
1. The rarest Baby Bat is the 1973 with none Gayla Eyes. I have seen just one of these pop up on ebay over the last 3 years
2. 1971 - 1973.  These are my favorites as these were the first kites I flew. I loved the loud flapping these thicker rubbery kites made in high winds.
3. Pre to 1964. Not sure how long they produced these in the packaging with the  1964 date. I have seen more than one come up for auction over the last few years.
4. 1975-1981
5. 1965-1971, with Black and Red Hang Card.
6. 1982 and later. Unless it is a non black bat, I can't see paying more than $6 for one of these.

There may have been some produced before 1964. I have seen an example of a larger version of this kite called "The Bat" which was sold in a box. That kite recently sold for $225! If you have any more information to share, please do. All of my info comes from memory and recent observations.  Thanks for reading!

My next blog will cover Sky Spies and Sky Raiders!

Post 1980 Baby Bat

Yellow Eyes, 1970-72 Baby Bat

'65-69 Bat
1970-72 Baby Bat

A Colony of Bats!

Back of  a 1975 Baby Bat

1965-69 Baby Bat