Noahguide, rstaight, and mikechell - Although I'm helping a friend and wanted to get others opinion on the subject, personally I'm a kit guy. I started with an Orvis kit in the early 1970's. I had no experience and didn't know a good vice from a bad one. Hell, I barely knew what a vice was! By the way, that vice was a Thompson A model and it actually served me for over thirty years until it literally fell apart. I tied from 2/0 down to #22 with it and while it didn't handle the extremes particularly well, it worked. I started in the era before the Internet and You Tube and learned from books and a couple of close friends. Over the intervening decades I've spent thousands on better tools, better materials. I have more stuff than I'll be able to use up in my lifetime and I'm still buying more. That's what we do with any hobby we're serious about isn't it? But that kit got me pointed in the right direction. It gave me a solid foundation to build on. I still have the powder blue maribou that came with it. Never found a use for it but I won't part with it either as it's a symbol of my tying roots. To some extent I equate fly tying with fly fishing. I wouldn't tell someone wanting to take up the sport to go out and buy a top quality rod and reel. That'd be a waste of serious money if they didn't enjoy it. I'd point them toward one of the reasonably priced combo sets and let them get the experience of fly fishing. Once they're hooked, they'll have the experience and knowledge to make more informed (and costlier) choices.
I suspected my initial post might generate some interesting and, at times, passionate responses. Thanks to all who have chimed in.