RPM Tara Iti: Next generation control and feel at 10 5 0 2
He rongo pai, e hoa ma - Good news, everyone! As RPM continue to refine their design and mould creation processes, each new disc makes tangible advances in control and hand-feel.
It is a fascinating journey RPM are on: rapidly becoming a well-recognised international brand, with some of the highest quality golf discs, with the coolest effects and prettiest swirls in the industry. I often quip that if Innova or Discraft were producing swirly Atomic, the disc golf world would be losing their collective minds over them.
Introducing Tara Iti – The Fairy Tern This is Aoteroa’s rarest bird, sadly. And so the 6,500 discs marked 1R (First Run) and date-stamped 3-23, are 160 times more common than the bird it is named after. Click the DOC image below for more info. From launch day (Friday 14th April) Tara Iti is available in Atomic (solid colour and swirly), Cosmic, Glow, Strata, and stunning Platinum plastics.
Filling a Gap With just 12 disc golf moulds before Tara Iti, RPM had only 11 gaps to fill, and Tara Iti sits squarely above the Huia which is also a “5 0 2” disc, but 3 speed slots lower, at 7. Don’t let the PDGA’s poor vernier calliper skills deceive you; the wing of the average Tara Iti is just 20.2mm in size, and not 21mm as published here: https://www.pdga.com/technical-standards/equipment-certification/discs/dgfd3 It’s worth noting the often unrecognised fact that the act of filling a gap always results in the creation of two brand new gaps. :) Birds of a feather: X 5 0 2 Huia has more than a skin-deep relationship to Tara Iti. Both feature a slightly deeper rim at 12mm. Teebird for example is 11mm. Now, 1mm might not sound like a lot, but it’s a 9% increase, which is easily detectable in anyone's hand.
This means, that for my fairly normal fingers, both Huia and Tara Iti are excellent forehand discs, because a decent portion of my forefinger pulp isn’t hanging over the rim into empty space. This is a specific and intentional design feature to ensure forehand players will feel instantly comfortable with the Tara Iti in hand. Conveniently, the extra depth also simultaneously increases confidence in the backhand grip. Another feature shared with Huia is a near-vertical inner rim which ensures my grip on it feels positive. Some drivers have slightly outward slanting inner rims, which decreases my confidence gripping them.
Then there is the flared bottom rim, which will instantly feel familiar to Huia throwers. Due to the verticality of the inner rim, and the steepening ramp of the bottom of the wing, the bottom of the rim fits very snugly into the crease of my index finger joint. These things, coupled with the shifted outward bottom parting line results in a superbly consistent grip on every new Tara Iti, regardless of any flashing – which is nil to minimal.
The 20mm rim size is easy to grip, for normal size adults. It leaves the hand with consistency due to its shape, size, and superior bottom rim consistency.
How Tara Iti flies
This is a stable and controllable driver;
a genuine 10 5 0 2. In no wind, Tara Iti requires substantial power to fly straight for a significant time, and those capable of 120-metres will certainly get the accuracy they crave, the length they need, with the stability they want, coupled with a forward-pushing fade. It is not as beefy as a new Champion Thunderbird, and is more like a faster Star Thunderbird, I think. It’s worth noting Tara Iti is 1mm deeper than a Thunderbird. That millimetre makes a real difference, too. Glide is excellent when proper nose angle is applied, and slight hyzer releases result in long gentle hyzer flights for the duration of flight. My Atomic test Tara Itis are not turning for me at all, when I apply 100-metres of power to them. I feel like I can lean on it hard, with everything I’ve got, and it won’t turn over. This is true for forehand shots as well, where the tremendous glide allowed me to reach places I thought were reserved for speed-13 drivers. It manages to hold straight for a good distance even with the reduced spin speed of my FH throw. Every time I mistakenly applied a little anhyzer at the release, Tara Iti was able to fight out of it quickly, and assume a straight flight. Apart from pulling out of a slight anhyzer, the high speed portion of the flight seems to be remarkably honest, with practically zero deviation from the angle of release. And it’s for this reason the Tara Iti impressed me with its stability under full power, and its forward fade. Most drivers tend to be veering dramatically off their thrown line at the end of flight - some even arriving perpendicular to the line of play. It is certain the most powerful throwers will extract a little turn from Tara Iti, but even throwing into a 15km/h headwind, it was holding flat for me and fading as expected. Nice!
The Tara Iti makutu – The Fairy Tern magic And it truly does seem a little like magic to me: It's a driver which is reliable almost instantly, and is easy to control, yet it flies fast, and has good glide. I can see this replacing my once-trusty Snowline Ballista into a headwind, and any time I think I can't get there with a Teebird.
Added to my bag
After throwing a solid yellow, and a grey swirly Atomic Tara Iti for just a few rounds, I already feel genuinely comfortable with it – which is something of a surprise, as this seldom happens to me with a new disc. The last time was in November 2016 with Simon’s prototype Ruru, which I loved from the very first throw.
The Tara Iti shape and size seems perfect in my (decidedly average) hand, and the smooth Atomic plastic has that super tacky feel when my fingertips have just the right amount of moisture. (I’m a finger licker, not a dirt rubber.)
Just as the Atomic Ruru feels fantastic in my putting grip, the combination of the features and benefits I describe above make Tara Iti an easy-add to my bag.
The Stamp In keeping with the other native fliers of New Zealand, the Fairy Tern stamp looks exactly like it should. Featured at right is white Atomic with a spin dye from Bryce Collier @foureyedyes.
Stability of the various plastics
It seems there is little between Atomic and Cosmic. I personally prefer Atomic and so I selected two Atomic discs for my bag based on their parting lines, which were ever-so-slightly lower – only juuuuust detectable by eye when placed against other Atomics on a table.
And so there are slightly more overstable Tara Itis if you want them.
Vortica & RPM-sponsored player and absolute crusher, Ben Schikker, says the grippy Strata base plastic items are very long, will turn nicely, and are exceptionally glidey. Strata thrown hard and flat can become a very long roller Ben reports he's getting some slight turn from his Cosmic and Atomic discs. Glow gets some turn at high power too, and may not fade back at the end. RPM's Simon Feasey has said there are "XG" versions of only the Cosmic discs in the First Run, and they have a distinct pop-top and lower parting line, so look out for those if you're looking for a less stable item.
The birth of a new RPM bird
If the first test discs from a newly created mould do not immediately produce the results a designer is looking for, their low-cost options are somewhat limited. Material can only be removed from the existing parts (there are 3) of a mould, and not added. This adds mass to the end product.
After first hatching, Tara Iti was just 11mm deep and flying with too much understability for the team at RPM, with flight numbers of 10 5 -3 1.
And so Tara Iti was gently machined again; with a small removal of rim material, adding 1mm of rim depth, which added about 2 grams of mass. This resulted in a fast-flying, stable, and easy-to-grip driver with Flight Rating of 10 5 0 2.
Due to the second round of machining on the mould, the lower parting line is fortuitously moved outward around the diameter of the bottom rim. This means that even if a tiny amount of flashing exists, it can’t engage with your finger, so the feel is super-premium in your normal distance grip (see below).
The Flight Plate
A new approach was taken in CAD, resulting in a Flight Plate the team can be truly proud of. It is a picture of symmetry, as seen below. In fact, a little bird told me this same flight plate may be used as the top half of another new driver in the near future.
Quality of manufacture
As with all new RPM discs it’s easy to see the crew really care about their product; the Tara Iti mould parts have been hand polished until no machining marks or scratches are visible with the naked eye. Inspecting them closely with my 10x Loop shows just how beautifully made these discs are.
Holding an Atomic Tara Iti up to the light is like holding a plastic mirror.
There is practically no parting line flashing to be found on Tara Iti. This is important, because in aeronautic terms, the leading edge of the wing IS the wing.
RPM continue to huck it out of the park with their colours in both Atomic and Cosmic. The swirly Atomic and Platinum are simply beyond what other manufacturers can achieve for the mass market. They are real demonstrations of the injection moulder’s art.
I often challenge customers to detect a difference in quality between a Swedish-made Latitude64 Grand Trust (made with their “NexEdge” and “NexFeel” processes), at $40, and a Kiwi-made Atomic Takapu which we sell for just $26. The comparison is extremely favourable to RPM, even if the prices were the same. Verdict BUY NOW!
Kia tika te rere - Enjoy the flight!