I own Montana 5,6 and 7 series kites, not the 9 I'm afraid but it won't be so much different. I do not own the 9 because they are not discounted yet.
They are very high lift kites and have real lofting potential. When the wind is onshore at a beach, they're great fun and easy to fly and jump with. Whilst snowkiting in mountains, I feel like I'm in danger of being lofted all the time because of the gusty winds. They have good depower but become unstable when depowered as all open cells do.
If you don't want to jump or you're flying in anything other than onshore winds at a beach, buy an Apexx. The Ozone open cell kites are unreliable because the plastic things keep on popping off.
Germany still has some good deals on open cell kites. I picked up 2 Montana kites from Germany recently for a cracking price. No one buys open cell kites anymore, so don't pay anywhere near RRP.
I don't believe any kite has a cult following but the Montana does with me
but only in an onshore wind.
Yes, Montana would be a good choice for a beginner but only in absolutely clean winds otherwise you will be lofted. Your inflatable won't loft you.