The New Zealand Kea is the only mountain parrot in the world, and widely thought to be the most intelligent bird of all time – and perhaps the most destructive, as Kea are famous for destroying anything made by man. But now Simon and the team at RPM are making Keas, and they won’t destroy anything except your PB.
The Kea has a bright orange flash of colour under its wings, and it’s very playful, extremely curious, and has absolutely no fear of humans.
The Kea golf disc is a low-glide, blunt-nosed, mid-height, small-diameter, very overstable, beaded midrange disc with a flexible raised flight plate. It has been inspired by the flight-path of the classic beaded Gator. In creating the Kea, Simon, Jackson, Woody, and the team at RPM wanted to make a proper medium-range disc with low glide and a strongly overstable flight shape.
Designated officially as model “MR2”, the Kea was approved by the PDGA on Thursday 22nd February 2018, and is legal up to 176 grams.
Kea In the hand
Kea feels big and beefy due to its unusual square-shaped leading edge and 12.8mm wing width, which compares closely to the Gator at 13mm. Kea’s leading edge is even blunter, however.
It feels large, but Kea is just 210mm in diameter; the smallest size possible for a legal golf disc.
Kea has a very thin flight plate, and it is noticeably flexible. Ordinarily I do not like such flexibility in a flight plate, but in the Kea I do not mind it – and that is mainly due to the very chunky and solid nature of the wing itself, which is very difficult to bend with thumb pressure. This gives the disc a far more rigid and solid feeling than the flight plate flexibility would suggest.
Magma plastic versions of the Kea have a stiffer flight plate and are incredibly grippy. Each plastic version of the disc appears to be the same shape, unlike the Ruru, where Strata versions are flat-tops. So, it’s going to be down to hand-feel only, to decide which Kea is right for you, as the flight shapes seem to be consistent across the range.
The leading edge is extremely blunt, with a ~7mm purely vertical section – which ensures the low glide and short range nature of the disc. Above the wing, the leading edge curves until it goes completely flat, and then the flight plate bulge begins 2/3rds of the way from the leading edge to the inner rim.
This creates a sort of thumb-track-like line, which is a little reminiscent of the old Discraft X-Clone, if you are ancient enough to remember that overstable driver. It is not so pronounced, or so far from the leading edge, however.
This thumb-track-like line allows the thumb to naturally sit along it, at the strongest part of the wing, which enhances the solid feeling of the disc, despite the very thin flight plate – which is a feature designed to shift as much weight as possible into the rim, to make sure the disc is as stable as possible.
The bead is 1.5mm tall and ~3.5mm wide – and Simon says it is a feature which increases the consistency of release. The Innova Star Gator, which is a beadless version of the classic Gator mold never found the same fame as the beaded item. For reference, the Mortar is actually a beadless Gator too, made with different plastic, by Innova, for Hyzerbomb.
Simon says he almost always fan-grips the Kea, to further enhance release consistency.
The flight plate is reminiscent of the RPM Ruru putter; having a small flat section in the middle, roughly 60mm across, before it rolls gently down to the thumb-track.
One thing is certain; you will never mistake a Kea in a blindfolded disc challenge – it is unique in feel and shape, and is unmistakable in the hand.
Kea In the Air
This is a chunky, low-glide, very overstable disc which will hold into a strong headwind, and still fade out. It will take all the power you can give it, and it won’t turn over on you. And if a headwind causes it to turn, it’s coming back pronto.
I hesitate to use the phrase “utility disc”, as I have no hard definition of what that might be, but I do think many reviewers will call it one, such is its stability.
It is almost certain you will not throw long with a Kea.
Kea doesn’t climb into a headwind, due to its low glide, and it holds its line. Thrown flat and hard, Kea flies straight and then fades strongly, with some skip-action depending on the landing surface.
My first throw with the Kea was on a 65-metre (215 ft) hole, to a protected green, with a right to left quartering tail wind coming over my right shoulder. So a 45-degree spike hyzer was shaped up, and thrown high, way out over the OB road, where it was lifted and pushed, and speared downwards, landing 50cm from the basket, bouncing, and ended up touching the pole. So – pretty easy to predict, then!
Not suitable for absolute beginners
More throws quickly confirmed this is a deeply overstable midrange, and thus not at all suitable for brand new players, as it will tend to fade straight out of the hand.
If the Dynamic Discs Lucid Justice is the “pure beef” of midrange golf discs, then I’d call the Kea “beef junior”.
More beef for experts
Not as ridiculously overstable as the Lucid Justice, the Kea will permit advanced throwers to create some fairly strong flight shapes. In a forehand, the Kea resists the extra torque and lower spinning speed by creating straight flights with strong fades with only small skips.
When thrown out wide and high with hyzer and allowed to fade with the wind, it’s not uncommon for Kea to be arriving almost perpendicular to your line on the basket. The disc has a very strong sideways fade to it, especially so when given sufficient altitude.
Trying to throw power anhyzers with the Kea is tricky, as some pretty extreme angles need to be obtained, and the disc needs to be sent out with fairly extreme nose-down attitude to prevent it rapidly fighting out of the anhyzer, and entering directly into high-fade mode.
More success can quickly and easily be found when using less power and more anhyzer, and letting the lower airspeed of the disc provide even more overstability, to fight hard and land flat, at a true medium range, after flying a pretty radical shape.
Not a disc for any kind of distance work, you will most likely never lose a Kea, as you won’t ever be trying to throw it over a canyon, or a lake.
Mold quality and visual appearance
The molders at RPM are becoming seriously talented as time goes by. The 30-disc box containing my Keas, also had a bunch of Rurus and Kahus, and going through them trying to figure out which of them I was going to keep for myself was very difficult indeed because every single disc was unique and special in some way.
Swirled, splattered, and burst items, some with metal flakes. Many with opalescent pearly sheens, and wicked metallic colours. RPM is knocking it out of the park with their latest runs of discs. They’re now easily equal to, and in many cases superior to even the best looking discs we are importing from Europe and the USA.
The Kea stamp is very attractive with its Maori-inspired motif, and it aligns nicely with the Ruru, Kahu and Tui stamps. Stamps are single-coloured, while some have silver or champagne metallic foils.
I was lucky enough to get some rare 40 Years of NZ Disc Golf stamps on the new Kea, Ruru and Kahu; respective signature discs for my old mate, Bob “Polecat” Gentil, NZ’s only disc golf Hall of Famer, plus good buddy James “Jaguar” Smithells, and of course our good friend, and New Zealand’s 14x National Champ Simon “Falcon” Feasey from RPM.
New Zealand has a long and rich disc golfing heritage, and I’m super-stoked RPM are celebrating it with this dedicated signature series. It is important we acknowledge the long history of the sport in Nu Zild, as it’s easy to think of disc golf being a relatively new sport. But it has been building for a long time now, and it’s entirely down to guys like Bob, James and Simon the sport is where it is today.
Is always a tricky one. Giving Kea a 5 3 0 3 is about as close as I can get to describing the flight shape. I’m tempted to give it a 4 on the fade, but if I did that, the Justice would need to be described as having 5 fade, which I think actually does the Justice, err, justice. :P
Needless to say, it fades hard, and it fades early. Only the most powerful throwers will be able to maintain a straight shot with this thing – or lesser players will need a dramatic headwind to straighten it out for them.
A very exciting new midrange disc indeed, which challenges the best overstable mids in the world for a rightful place in your bag. For me, the Kea slots in very nicely between my Pain (4 4 0 4) and my Justice (5 3 0 4) and into my bag it goes. I’ve got a good feeling about this disc, and I think it will become a staple for many golfers.
We have Keas available for purchase, at 21 NZD which is currently ~15.35USD. Get in quick before the First Run (“1R”) is gone!