by Nick Robinson
Edited by Ilan Garibi

classic paper planes

Hinkler Books, 64 pages, 6"x9”, spiral bound, softback.

Aimed at “Clever Kids: 7+, Juniors: 5-7 years”, this boxed kit includes 25 sheets of paper and a spiral bound booklet. Author Dean Mackey is curator of the online paper airplane museum with over 800 “free” paper airplane designs linked in it. Some are his own, most are other people's scattered across the web. He should therefore know his business! The book contains 20 simple designs, mostly traditional. Interestingly, the designs use A4 paper (some use “square A4" paper!) – one wonders if the designs transfer neatly onto US letter size.

As always, the designs are given new titles, but you’ll recognize most if you’re a planes enthusiast. The diagrams are formally arranged in grid layout and squeezed somewhat tightly onto the printed page, so the instructional text is small and hard to read. The folding lines are somewhat clunky and amazingly, no distinction is made between valley and mountain lines. It's clearly been illustrated by a "jobbing" illustrator who doesn't know origami. We are in the new century are we not?

paper plane museum

The spiral bound format lends itself well to origami instructions, allowing the page to lie flat. It’s a shame the booklets never match the box size (the box cover shows roughly how large the book is) so you often feel slightly conned when you open the box. However this is true of almost all boxed sets. I guess it’s a phase the publishers are going through, where “added value” is the key, rather than a quality book. Once you’ve used the paper and thrown the box away, the booklet itself is a little underwhelming.

Worth buying? At $14 (on ebay) it’s probably fun for younger children, although there are no tips on how to get the best flight from your plane. Probably for real enthusiasts only, so save your money, unless you have lots to spare!