Pen Review: ystudio Portable Brassing

The ystudio Portable Brassing is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

 

While the fundamentals of how a fountain pen works are well established and there aren’t much significant changes, the appearance of a pen, and the add-on features can vary drastically. In this review, I’m going to cover the details of a pen that’s an interesting representation of the designs that focus on simplicity. It is the ystudio Portable Brassing.

IMG ystudio Portable Brassing - 3

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: ystudio Portable Brassing
Nib: Stainless steel medium nib
Filling System: International standard cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (10/10):
The ystudio Portable Brassing fountain pen comes with one of the best packagings in my pen collection. The wooden box is protected by a strong cardboard sleeve. Lifting the lip open presents a booklet and a piece of sandpaper. The sandpaper is provided to purposely remove the black coating on the pen to add more character to the pen, if the user prefers and chooses to do so. The pen and the wood pen tube are securely placed underneath. The quality of the packaging materials and the attention to details are outstanding. It’s hard to find another pen within the same price range that offers such a great package. Even many pens in the higher price levels cannot compete.

2. Pen Design (7/10):
The ystudio Portable Brassing fountain pen is designed to work seamlessly with the wood storage tube that’s provided. Therefore, I will go through both the pen and the tube in this part of the review.

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First, the pen. The design definitely focuses on simplicity. The pen is fairly long and slim, and the brass body makes it quite heavy for its size. Personally, I’m not very into its slim profile, but I really appreciate the decent weight. Both the cap and barrel are hexagonal, so that the pen won’t easily roll around. The snap cap is easy to use, and being a snap cap, it can freely rotate on the pen, making it easy to align the sides with the barrel. Since the cap and barrel share the same dimension, this pen cannot be posted at all. Also, that means there is no smooth transition from the barrel to the grip section. While the cap and barrel have the same matte black coating, except for on the edges, the grip section simply shows the colour of the brass materials. The bright and golden tone of the brass grip section makes a great contrast with the rest of the pen. The stainless steel nib is gold plated, making sure that the colour scheme is kept consistent. Overall, when uncapped, the shape of the ystudio Portable Brassing fountain pen reminds me of a pencil. Personally, I like the clipless, simple, and modern design, but the slim profile and the thin grip section are not my favourite. As mentioned before, a piece of sandpaper is provied, and it can be used to remove the matte black coating on the pen, in order to give it a less pristine look.
Even though I don’t necessarily agree with all of the design aspects of the pen, I can see that the build quality of the pen is nevertheless outstanding. I think the provided pen tube doesn’t live up to the same expectation.

IMG ystudio Portable Brassing - 1
The wooden pen tube has a screw-in cap and a barrel. The top of the cap has a rectangular cut out, which is to let the top of the pen cap to go through. Once the pen cap is inserted, the user can secure the pen cap there by using the provided string. This design lets the pen have enough protection inside the pen tube, and doesn’t move around freely. However, I find the design not really practical. First, the pen doesn’t really sit completely securely inside the tube, and the inside of the tube not only doesn’t have any padding for protection, but also stays unpolished. Secondly, the goal of the design is that when the user wants to use the pen, the tube barrel can be removed, presenting the pen, so then the pen can be pulled out to use. However, this process takes a considerable amount of time to complete, which defeats the purpose of using the snap cap mechanism. Without the tube barrel, the pen body may also have the risk getting loose, especially if the user chooses to use the provided string to tie the pen tube on the outside of a backpack, or some other places that wouldn’t be ideal for protecting the pen. I think the idea of a pen tube is cool, but the implementation is poorly done.

3. Filling System (7/10):
The ystudio Portable Brassing fountain pen uses the international standard cartridge/converter filling system. There isn’t anything special about it. The provided converter works very well, and holds a decent amount of ink. But compared to the nicely finished metal pen body, the plastic converter doesn’t have the same feel of the premium quality. Also, the converter is not threaded. Personally I always prefer to have a threaded international standard converter, for its added safety to hold on to the nib unit.

4. Nib Performance (8/10):

A stainless steel medium nib is equipped on this pen. It writes reliably and has no hard start or skipping issue out of the box. But my biggest complaint is that the writing experience is uninspiring. The ink flow is very conservative. The nib is not very smooth, but it doesn’t provide any pleasant feedback either. It’s just a dry nib that writes like the same on almost any type of paper. For me, that’s not good enough. But if you are specifically looking for a nib that is fairly reliable, and has a drier ink flow, maybe this pen is a good option.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (8/10):
Being an international cartridge/converter filling fountain pen, the ystudio Portable Brassing is very easy to clean. However, since the matte black finish can be damaged, if anyone wants to keep the finish as pristine as possible, it’s probably a good idea to store the pen carefully in a pen case or a pen pouch.

Summary:

Packaging: 10/10
Pen Design: 7/10
Filling System: 7/10
Nib Performance: 8/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 8/10

Total: 40/50

The ystudio Portable Brassing fountain pen carries an interesting design. It has a very modern look, with quality construction and the simple but reliable international cartridge/converter filling system. For its writing performance, it can be a good choice for a daily writer. However, I personally find the writing experience with the nib not very interesting. Considering its price and what it really offers, I think a large portion of the investment goes towards the packaging, the provided pen tube, but not the pen itself. Combined with the slim profile and thick grip section, it’s not the ideal pen for me.

 

The ystudio Portable Brassing is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

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Pen Review: Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst

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For more details, please visit the following related pen reviews:

Pelikan has a lineup of premium fountain pen inks called the Edelstein. Since 2012, a new colour gets introduced every year, called the Ink of the Year. Starting in 2015, Pelikan also releases a special edition fountain pen with the matching colour, in the Classic M200/205 line. The 2015 special edition colour is the Amethyst. This review is going to go over the details of the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst.

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Basic Information:
Fountain Pen: Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst
Nib: Stainless steel fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Special edition

1. Packaging (9/10):
The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst has a simple but adequate packaging, just like any other regular production Classic line fountain pens. There is actually a version with a special packaging, which includes both the pen and the Ink of the Year ink bottle. In comparison, this box seems much more plain and simple, but it’s still a great one.

2. Pen Design (9/10):

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The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst is a beautiful pen. The overall shape and structure of this pen is identical to the ones that I have reviewed in the past (M200 Black, M200 Café Crème, M200 Demonstrator & M205 White-Silver), but what makes it stand out is the beautiful frosted purple resin. It’s a demonstrator fountain pen, which shows the piston mechanism inside the barrel, the nib inside the cap, and the amount of ink left in the reservoir. But unlike some other clear demonstrators, such as the Lamy Vista or the Pelikan Classic M200 Demonstrator, or the one with the matte surface, the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur, the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst is polished outside, but frosted inside. I really enjoy this wonderful approach. Combining with the silver coloured trims, this pen is very attractive. I really wish that the same finish can be made available on the M805 model.
Other than the special finish, the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst shares the same design aspects as the other M200/M205 pens. The cap twists off, and posts deeply and securely onto the end of the barrel. The lightweight resin ensures that the weight balance is always excellent, no matter whether the cap is posted or not. The nib unit is interchangeable, so that this pen can be fitted with any M200/M205 stainless steel nib, or M400/M405 14K gold nib, which is one of my favourite features from the Pelikan Classic and Souverän lines of fountain pens.

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Being a lower level model from Pelikan, the M205 Amethyst is not perfect. The seam lines are visible on the grip section. And compared to the metallic cap top from the Souverän line, the plastic cap top looks a bit out of place, considering that the rest of the pen is constructed by either the translucent purple resin, or the silver coloured trims.
Despite the imperfections, I think the Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst has a great design for its price.

3. Filling System (10/10):
Just like any other Pelikan Classic M200/M205 that I have reviewed, the piston filling mechanism installed here is flawless. It has a decent ink capacity. The piston operation is very smooth. And the whole translucent barrel serves as the perfect ink window. If you like a coloured demonstrator, there is not much else to ask for.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

The stainless steel nibs from the Pelikan Classic line always have high performances. Personally, I think they are among the best in their category. This fine nib doesn’t have much special. It is rigid and it doesn’t offer any significant line variation, but it always writes without any disruptions. Right out of the box, hard start or skipping problems don’t exist on this nib. As a good option for a daily writer, its reliable performance is the key.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst doesn’t take much effort to clean. The piston operation is smooth and effective. The nib unit is removable for easy access to the ink reservoir. Furthermore, the piston seal is tightly fit, so that unlike what I have experienced with my Omas Ogiva Alba, no ink gets trapped behind the piston seal. Within its price range, there isn’t much else that can compete. The resin used to make the pen will of course see some normal micro-scratches during the daily use. But other than that, there isn’t much to worry about. The build quality of the pen is excellent.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 9/10
Filling System: 10/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 47/50

The Pelikan Classic M205 Amethyst is Pelikan’s first special edition release that matches the corresponding Edelstein Ink of the Year, and it’s a great one. The M200/M205 model is on the small/medium side for a pen, but it is easy to handle and great for carry around. Other than a few seam lines that are not polished off, and a few decorations that are less fancy compared to the gold nib Souverän model, this pen has a lot of great features. The translucent and frosted purple cap and barrel look amazing, and the smooth piston filling mechanism only makes it even better. Being a special edition and for what it offers, I think it falls into the right price range. No matter if you choose the M205 Amethyst, or any other version from the Pelikan Classic lineup, it will be a great writer.

 

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

Pen Review: Pilot Prera – Light Blue

The Pilot Prera – Light Blue is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

 

Pilot nibs are often well made and are in high performance, no matter if they are the lower end stainless steel nibs, or the much more expensive gold ones. The one to be reviewed this time is an entry level fountain pen from Pilot, the Pilot Prera – Light Blue.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera – Light Blue
Nib: Stainless steel medium nib
Filling System: Pilot proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

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From what I have heard, it seems that even with the same Pilot pen model, there can be quite a variety of different packagings. Therefore, what I have may not necessarily be what you will receive. My Pilot Prera comes with a metal pen case, and I think it is one of the best pen cases in this price range. The top of the pen case has a large cutout, with a transparent cover. The pen can be seen clearly and is securely placed. In addition, a Pilot CON-50 converter is provided in the packaging. Compared to the other fountain pens in the same price range, the Pilot Prera has one of the best packagings offered.

2. Pen Design (9/10):
The Pilot Prera is fairly small in length. Compared to two popular economical compact pen models, the Kaweco AL Sport and the Pilot Metropolitan, the Pilot Prera always falls in the middle, whether it is capped, posted, or not posted. I personally don’t often post the caps on my pens, but I do find that the Pilot Prera has an excellent weight balance when the cap is posted. And the cap posts very securely. Without posting, the pen is quite short but still very much easily usable.

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The Pilot Prera Light Blue is a demonstrator fountain pen. The grip section and the barrel are transparent, so that it is very clear to see the feed and the converter/cartridge inserted into the pen. For this version, the two end pieces of the pen are in transparent blue. The cap has one silver coloured ring on the bottom of the blue end piece. On the top of the cap is a silver coloured flat finial, with the pen clip right underneath it. On the other side of the cap is another silver coloured cap band. The cap snaps to close. The closing action is very responsive and it gives a clear click sound. It is a very well designed cap. However, it’s not perfect. One complaint that I have about the cap is the decision to use a white inner cap for a demonstrator pen. The inner cap occupies a large space in the cap, and personally, I think it looks very inconsistent against the rest of the pen. Secondly, the printed dots and letters also don’t look that appealing on a demonstrator. I think it would be a much better choice if they are engraved, or maybe not added at all.
The Pilot Prera is very comfortable to hold. The grip section gets slightly narrower as it goes towards the nib, and it is long enough for the fingers to grip onto it firmly and comfortably. Several silver coloured rings decorate the grip section and the pen barrel. With the addition of the stainless steel nib, it’s a very good looking entry level fountain pen. Again, my biggest complaint is about the strange looking inner cap.

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The Pilot Prera Light Blue looks and feels well made. The parts are well polished, and the assembly shows the precision and the attention to details. Compared to the previously reviewed Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur, the Pilot Prera Light Blue does not have very obvious machining marks or excessive glue filled. When looked closely, some seam lines can be seen on the grip section and the pen barrel, but the pen surface is very smooth. Even though it’s only an entry level fountain pen, the build quality is outstanding.

3. Filling System (6/10):
The Pilot Prera Light Blue comes with a Pilot proprietary CON-50 converter. The CON-50 converter does not hold a lot of ink, and it’s difficult to make a full fill. The opening of the converter is quite wide. Therefore, it’s very easy to make an ink splash when removing the converter, if there is any ink left inside. The converter itself works well and has a good build quality, but there’s nothing special that makes this proprietary converter better than the international standard ones.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

All of my Pilot fountain pens have great nibs, and this one is no exception. The stainless steel medium nib on this Pilot Prera Light Blue writes better than many others of higher price points. The nib writes reliably right out of the box, and does not have any hard start or skipping issue. It writes consistently regardless of the paper quality. It’s a stiff stainless steel nib, therefore there is basically no line variation. But the excellent writing performance with the moderate ink flow make the Pilot Prera Light Blue a great daily writing pen.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
Even though the Pilot Prera Light Blue is a demonstrator pen, I actually don’t find much issue with the cleaning and maintenance. The cartridge/converter filling system is quite easy to use. The clear plastic pen body seems to be fairly stain resistant. The inside of the grip section will make contact with the ink filled. But I haven’t seen any staining so far.
Meanwhile, the plastic used for the Pilot Prera Light Blue is very scratch resistant as well. The material feels well polished and the weight is decent in the hand, as far as the plastic is concerned.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 9/10
Filling System: 6/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 43/50

The Pilot Prera Light Blue is one of the best offerings available in its price range, in my opinion. It’s a great upgrade from the entry level Pilot Metropolitan, having high quality pen material, a better converter, and a more comfortable pen design, while keeping the high writing performance.
The construction of the pen is solid. The build quality is very high, perhaps even better than many other pen models that are much more expensive.
The Pilot Prera Light Blue is a great compact size demonstrator. For anyone who is looking for a great daily writing pen, the Pilot Prera Light Blue may be worth checking out.

 

The Pilot Prera – Light Blue is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

Pen Review: Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

I like demonstrator fountain pens. Even though they are not the most practical finish of a pen, because of the risk of seeing ink staining or the difficulty of thorough cleaning, I still love to see the internal mechanism of a fountain pen, and how it operates. Therefore, I started looking for good demonstrators. I purchased the Lamy Vista, but the design doesn’t interest me that much. I also have the Pelikan Classic M200 Demonstrator. I enjoy the fact that it is a piston filling pen, which makes the pen looking much cooler than cartridge/converter demonstrators, in my opinion. However the gold coloured trims are not my favourite. Also, considering that it’s a lower end model that uses a stainless steel nib, and its fairly small size, this is not my perfect demonstrator. The pen to be reviewed this time is another demonstrator that I was very interested in trying out, and it is the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur
Nib: 14K gold medium nib
Filling System: Platinum proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Limited edition, now regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

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The packaging that’s provided for the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is simple but adequate. The pen box is in white and made of strong cardboard. What’s interesting is that the box is in an oval shape. The top lifts open, then the pen is secured by a ribbon, on the base of the pen box. The whole colour scheme is around silver and white, which matches extremely well with the pen itself. In addition, a Platinum cartridge and a Platinum converter are provided. I don’t like the idea of proprietary cartridge and converter formats, but I appreciate that they are provided in the packaging.

2. Pen Design (8/10):
The Platinum 3776 Century is a classic cigar shaped pen. It offers several different colour versions, from the simple black body with gold coloured trims, to clear body with silver coloured trims. The offerings range from regular production models to limited editions. The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur started as a limited edition of 2000 numbered pieces. After the first 2000 releases, the Nice Pur became part of the regular lineup. There is no functional difference between the two versions. It’s only that the limited edition pens have the number marked on the pen cap.
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is a nicely sized pen. It’s about as long as the Pelikan Souverän M800/M805 when closed. When the cap is posted, the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is slightly shorter, which I find that easier to handle, compared to the sub-flagship model from Pelikan. Without the cap, it is quite a bit shorter than the Pelikan. The pen is mostly made from resin, therefore it doesn’t really have any problem with the weight distribution.


The reason why I chose the Nice Pur over the others is because of its unique finish. The grip section of the pen is clear, but the cap and barrel are frosted. Therefore, it is easy to see the feed, while the other internal components are visible, but only vaguely. I think it works well aesthetically and functionally. For example, the converter can only be vaguely seen inside the barrel, but when inked, the colour of the ink and the ink level are still easy to tell.
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur also uses the technology called the “Slip and Seal” mechanism, which is supposed to keep the ink from drying out in the pen, for a long period of the time, when the pen is capped. From what I understand, essentially the inner cap is spring loaded, rather than fixed. When the cap is screwed back on, the edge of the grip section makes contact with the end of the inner cap. Then as the twist action continues, the inner cap is pushed in, and the spring is pressed, making the seal tighter. It’s a fairly simple mechanism that the users may not even notice, but I think it’s definitely great to have.
There are many grooves on the cap and barrel, and they are evenly distributed. The grooves are not as frosted as the surface of the pen, making the alternating stripe pattern very cool looking. Also this gives an interesting texture to the pen, but not uncomfortable to the hand. There are silver coloured rings on the grip section, and near the two ends of the pen, followed by the wide clip and cap band that are in the same tone. Finally, the 14K gold nib is entirely rhodium plated. The shiny silver coloured trims blend in seamlessly with the frosted and white demonstrator pen body. In comparison, the previously reviewed Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium, which is in the same price range, doesn’t have the same level of design consistency.

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The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is not perfect, of course. While the overall build quality is excellent, there are a few cases where I think platinum can do better. First of all, there are obvious seam lines on the grip section, which I assume are the result of the manufacturing process. It is easy to see and even easier to feel. Personally, I think any manufacturer must pay attention to the details like this and polish the obvious markings. They make the pen look and feel cheap. Secondly, there are markings left inside the grip section, which seem to be scratches. I’m not sure what the cause is, but since the grip section is clear, this kind of imperfections really damages the overall appearance of the pen. Last but not least, the end piece of the barrel appears to be glued on, but the application of the glue was poorly done. I can see so many bubbles at the joint section between the two pieces, and the glue looks to be excessive at a few places. Compared to the first two issues, this one looks even worse.

3. Filling System (7/10):
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur uses the Platinum proprietary cartridge/converter filling system. As I have mentioned many times before, I do not like proprietary cartridge/converter filling systems, especially when the special design is not absolutely mandatory. Regarding the Platinum converter, it looks and works very similarly to the international standard converters, even though they are not interchangeable at all. The converter holds a decent amount of ink, and fits very securely in the pen. The converter does have a decent build quality.
Platinum actually sells a small adapter, which is able to let the Platinum fountain pens use the international standard converters. Personally, I have not yet tried this adapter. I appreciate that Platinum is willing to to make such a tool. However, I still think that Platinum should provide it by default in any of the pens beyond the entry level prices, or even better, just start to implement the international standard format on all of the offerings.

4. Nib Performance (8/10):

My Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur has a 14K gold medium nib. Right out of the box, the nib has no issue with hard start or skipping. Compared to the 14K gold nib from the other brands, this one has a relatively flat top surface. The nib has a decent amount of springiness, but there is no line variation. As a medium nib, it has a large amount of tipping, but still writes with a lot of feedback, which is more than what I prefer. The ink flow of the nib tends to be on the more conservative side with most of the inks that I have tried, which may contribute to the nib’s feedback. In my opinion, if anyone is looking for a drier flowing pen, and would like to use it for the everyday writing, it’s not a bad choice. Personally though, I would like to use the nibs with a more generous flow.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (8/10):
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is a demonstrator pen, and demonstrators generally need more care regarding cleaning and maintenance. I don’t use this pen with any ink that tends to stain, and so far I haven’t encountered any staining issue. It’s a cartridge/converter pen, so that at least the pen barrel won’t make contact with the ink.
There are certain things to be aware of though. After filling the pen in an ink bottle, the ink may get trapped near the end of the grip section. Aesthetically that’s a bit annoying. When capping the pen, the ink may then get transferred to the inner cap. Then because of the “Slip and Seal” mechanism, the ink could get further into the gap between the cap and the inner cap, as the inner cap moves. By that time, it becomes difficult to clean up. Another issue that I have encountered is that, the grooves on the cap and barrel tend to collect quite a lot of dust. It doesn’t impact the pen’s usability, but it’s something to be aware of, since it’s also not very easy to clean.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 7/10
Nib Performance: 8/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 8/10

Total: 40/50

The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is an interesting demonstrator fountain pen. it introduces many refreshing designs, while keeping the overall styling still very classic. The nib writes consistently and it is well performing. Personally, I prefer more ink flows and a smoother nib. Regarding this, the Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur does not meet my expectations.
For its price, the pen has an acceptable build quality. But at the same time it’s not that hard to find manufacturing details that are not paid with full attention.
The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Pur is worth checking out, if you are looking for a decently sized fountain pen that writes reliably, and perhaps best for the occasions when the paper quality isn’t too great, or when it’s ideal to have the written page dry out quickly. The demonstrator body makes it easy to check the ink colour and ink level, and the frosted finish makes the pen even more attractive.

Pen Review: Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium

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Most of my daily use fountain pens are gold nibs in fine or medium, and the nibs are mostly rigid. However, occasionally I purchase the other varieties, when I find the options interesting enough to try out. The pen to be reviewed this time is a pen that I don’t use often, but still enjoy using it when it is in the pen rotation. This pen is the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium
Nib: 14K gold soft extra fine
Filling System: Pilot proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (7/10):
The pen box that comes with the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is similar to the one from the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque. Just a simple but strong cardboard box that shows the pen in a clear and straightforward approach. Other than that, there is nothing fancy. It is not the most interesting looking packaging for the pen in this price range, but it serves its purpose just fine.

2. Pen Design (6/10):

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The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium has a decent length. When closed, the length is similar to some commonly seen flagship/sub-flagship pens such as the Lamy 2000 and the Pelikan Souverän M800/M805. The cap of the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium posts fairly deeply and securely, making the length of the pen when posted shorter than those two mentioned earlier. Because of the lightweight resin construction, this pen is not heavier at any particular point. With or without posting, the weight distribution is quite balanced.
The whole body of the pen is black, decorated with silver coloured (rhodium plated) trims. There are two thin rings near the two ends of the grip section. One ring decorates the end of the barrel. On the cap, two cap bands are used, followed by one more ring on the other end, and the clip right beneath it. In addition, a silver coloured disk is placed on the top of the cap.

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The nib of the Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the pen. Apart from how it writes, the shape of the nib is already quite special. Unlike the commonly seen “conventional” nibs, the Pilot Falcon’s nib is near a triangular shape. It has a narrow nib shoulder and the two tines are long and narrow. If looked sideways, it’s easy to see that the nib is not one smooth and flat piece. Instead, the front is higher than the end of the nib. Also the nib feed has a smooth surface instead of having many cutouts. The engravings on the nib are simple, just the “14K-585” indication of the gold content, the Pilot branding, followed by the “<SE>” marking, representing that it is a soft extra fine nib.

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While I don’t find any issue with the build quality of the pen, and it has no problem during the use, to me the aesthetic design of the pen is poorly executed. First, the pen looks loaded with trim rings, but they have inconsistent widths. Also, the clip’s straight lines and sharp corners do not seem to match well with the curvatures of the pen body. Personally, I feel that the appearance of the pen is no where near fancy. I don’t find it that classic looking either, because of the special nib shape, and the unbalanced feel brought by the widths of the rings in proportion to the size of the pen. For the pen’s weight, I don’t like it either. Personally I prefer my pens to have a bit of extra weight. The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is certainly very comfortable to use, but just feels too light and cheap in the hand.

3. Filling System (6/10):

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The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium has a Pilot proprietary CON-50 converter. When I reviewed the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque, I gave it a score of 7/10. In the Pilot Vanishing Point, a proprietary converter can hep design the pen’s push button mechanism to always work reliably. However, the Pilot Falcon doesn’t deserve that extra credit. The Pilot CON-50 converter doesn’t hold a lot of ink. The tight fit on the pen and its wide opening make it hard to remove, but easy to cause ink/water splash upon removal. In such case, using a proprietary converter doesn’t offer much benefit to the users.

4. Nib Performance (10/10):

This is where the main selling point of the Pilot Falcon is in my opinion. This nib is marked as a soft extra fine nib, and it is definitely the case here. Out of the box, this extra fine nib writes surprisingly smoothly. Since the nib is really fine, it does give a hint of feedback, but it’s not uncomfortable. What’s even better is that, this 14K gold nib offers semi-flex. The long nib tines are able to react to the pressure applied, in order to separate and give a much thicker line on the paper. They are also able to quickly spring back, when the pressure is released. The line variation is quite obvious, particularly since it is an extra fine nib.
With flex writing, the feed is very capable of controlling the ink flow. Unlike the Omas Ogiva Alba’s extra flessibile nib, which has a very wet ink flow, the Pilot Falcon writes much drier, but I rarely encounter any railroading problem. The feed always catches up with just the right amount of ink.
Extra fine nibs, especially the ones that are really fine, such as this one from Pilot, are usually not in my regular rotation. However, the smoothness of this extra fine nib, the well managed ink flow, and the decent amount of line variation, make it wonderful to use.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is mostly made of resin. Other than the normal micro-scratches from the regular use, I don’t see any obvious issue with the pen. The best way to protect it would be to store it in a pen case and carry it around in a pen pouch, which can keep the pen from any significant wear and tear.
Being a cartridge/converter filling pen, the Pilot Falcon is easy to clean.

Summary:

Packaging: 7/10
Pen Design: 6/10
Filling System: 6/10
Nib Performance: 10/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 39/50

The Pilot Falcon Black/Rhodium is not the best looking pen in its price range, but certainly provides an affordable option for the flex writing with a modern fountain pen. And the performance of the nib is outstanding. For me, this pen is not often in my pen rotation, but its soft extra fine nib adds more varieties to my pen collection, and the quality of the nib make it one of the best choices as a modern flex pen.

Pen Review: Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque

The Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque is currently for sale. (SOLD)

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

When it comes to the parts that construct a fountain pen, perhaps it’s common to expect a pen barrel as the main piece, a cap that prevents the ink from drying out, and of course, a nib. For fountain pen designs, often the refresh is focused on the decorations on the pen, or a colour scheme change. In comparison, it’s not very frequent that there is an innovation on the structure design. And it’s even more difficult to have one that actually works well. But the pen model to be reviewed today is a real example that such innovations are definitely possible and can be successful as well. The pen is the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque
Nib: 18K gold medium nib
Filling System: Pilot proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Package (7/10):

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The Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque is presented in a simple package. The black cardboard box has a cutout on the top, and then covered by a transparent film. This conveniently shows the fountain pen, which is secured in the box. An ink cartridge and the Pilot CON-50 converter are included in the box. I always appreciate it when the converter is provided in the packaging, because then I don’t have to worry about finding a spare converter or buying a new one, in order to use bottled ink. It makes a great user experience. What’s also provided is a metal sleeve. It is to be installed to serve as a protective cover for cartridges. I don’t use cartridges so I don’t need to use this sleeve, but I appreciate that Pilot provides it in the box by default.

2. Pen Design (9/10):
This is where the Pilot Vanishing Point stands out. Unlike what’s usually to be expected from a fountain pen: a cap, a nib, and a barrel, the Pilot Vanishing Point doesn’t have a cap. The 18K gold nib is retractable and can be hidden in the pen body. On the back of the pen, a button is clickable to extend/retract the nib unit. On the other end, a spring loaded door is installed inside the pen body. When the nib is retracted back into the pen, the door is automatically closed, in order to prevent the nib from drying out. Once the click mechanism is triggered, the nib unit extends and pushes the door open, so then the pen can be used. For ballpoint pens, a click button may not be fancy at all. But for fountain pens, which usually require a pen cap to prevent the nib from drying out, the click mechanism and the retractable nib are features that are not commonly seen.

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Since the Pilot Vanishing Point doesn’t have a cap, the pen clip has to be relocated. It is placed at the grip section of the pen. In fact, the clip’s two sides are concave right at the grip section, so that the fingers can have a firm grip on the pen. The placement of the clip may look strange to many users, but it does serve its functional purpose well. When the pen is clipped, this configuration makes sure that the nib is still pointing upwards, therefore reducing the risk of ink leakage. Unfortunately, the design may not be suitable for some users. Depending on how anyone grips the pen, the presence of the clip may be uncomfortable. Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much. However, I wouldn’t complain either, if the pen doesn’t have a clip at all.
The length of the pen is very decent. Whether with the nib extended (so that the button is pushed in) or retracted, the length is similar to a capped Lamy 2000, longer than a Montblanc Meisterstück 149 that is uncapped and not posted, but shorter than many common small to medium sized fountain pens with posting, such as the Pelikan Souverän M400/M405 and the Pilot Metropolitan. Because of the metal body and lacquered barrel, the weight is on the heavier side for its size, but definitely comfortable in the hand.
Considering the streamlined shape, the metal trim, and the lacquered barrel, some may worry that the pen is too slippery to grip. Fortunately, that’s not the case here. The lacquered barrel and the metal plating are smooth, but not too slippery. In fact the “Blue Carbonesque” finish gives the pen a bit of texture, which also helps the fingers to hold the pen firmly.
Overall, the design of the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque is modern. The silver coloured trims are clean and shiny, which match well with the blue barrel, but also offers great contrast with the “Carbonesque” pattern as well. It’s a regular edition pen, but I find this finish quite unique.

3. Filling System (7/10):
Proprietary cartridge/converter filling systems are not my favourite, because the user has to stick to the brand and continue purchasing the proprietary parts. However for the Pilot Vanishing Point, I consider it as an exception. The push button mechanism here actually pushes the end of the converter, or the end of the metal sleeve that protects the cartridge, in order to extend the nib unit. For this mechanism to work properly, here a Pilot CON-50 converter is provided. It is integrated into the whole mechanism. It is going to be extremely difficult to ensure that the push feature always functions properly, if the pen doesn’t use a proprietary converter, which has the exact dimensions that the pen designers would like to see.

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The Pilot CON-50 converter fits firmly on the nib unit. There is an agitator inside the converter, which is supposed to help make sure the ink is carried to the feed, rather than staying at the back of the converter. While there isn’t much issue with the converter itself, combined with the nib unit, I find that it does have many areas for improvement. First, once the converter is installed onto the nib unit, it’s very difficult to check how much ink is left. There is only a very narrow section left, that is not covered by the nib unit. It helps if the ink level is running extremely low, but it doesn’t offer much information, when there is more left. Secondly, I find that the converter tends to stay too tight in the nib unit. When I try to remove the converter, often I have to pull it very hard. It can cause ink/water splash, if there is ink left inside, or if the pen was just flushed, but not yet fully dry.

4. Nib Performance (8/10):

This Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque is equipped with an 18K gold medium nib. The nib writes very well right out of the box and writes very smoothly.
Being an 18K gold nib, it has a lot of bounce, which makes writing much more enjoyable for me, compared to the usually more rigid 14K gold and stainless steel nibs. The nib doesn’t provide any line variation, but with the moderate to generous ink flow, it’s very suitable to be a daily writer. One thing that I find quite interesting is the placement of the tipping on the nib. For most of my pens, the tipping is placed with about the equal amount above and underneath the end of the nib, or with a bit more on the underside. However, the tipping of the Pilot Vanishing Point medium nib is heavier on the top side. When I first look at it, it seems a bit strange. But soon I find that it makes the writing very smooth at almost any angle, especially when the pen is held at a steeper angle. The ink flow is still normal and there is enough tipping material to make contact with the paper.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (9/10):

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Being a cartridge/converter fill fountain pen, the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque is fairly easy to clean. However, I do find one small issue. The nib unit pushes the spring loaded door open, in order to extend the nib out. During this process, the nib feed makes contact with the door and therefore transfer some ink to it. Later when the pen is filled with a different ink colour, the old ink on the door may get transferred back to the nib and feed, so that the first few letters written down could have an interesting mixture of colours. Unfortunately, the whole mechanism here is not easily accessible to clean.
Otherwise, the pen is easy to maintain and take care for. The lacquered body is very scratch resistant and the metal trims are easy to wipe clean and polish.

Summary:

Packaging: 7/10
Pen Design: 9/10
Filling System: 7/10
Nib Performance: 8/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 9/10

Total: 40/50

The Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque is a great offering to the users who would like to enjoy the smoothness of a fountain pen, but prefer the convenience of a ballpoint. The great nib performance and excellent ink flow make it a good choice as a daily writer. The push button mechanism that extends/retracts the nib makes it super easy to use, especially for quick writing. Meanwhile the placement of the clip and the spring loaded door ensures that the risk of ink leakage or nib drying out is reduced to the minimum.
Among the collection of fountain pens that I have, the Pilot Vanishing Point Blue Carbonesque introduces good innovations on how fountain pens can be designed differently. The design may not be ideal for everyone, but it’s definitely a pen model that is worth checking out.

Pen Review: Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White

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I have reviewed several Pelikan Souverän M400/M405 fountain pens in the past, and most of them are excellent daily writing pens. But in my opinion, none of those colour versions are as beautiful and unique as the one that I am going to review this time. This pen is the Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White.

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Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White
Nib: 14K gold fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

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This is a regular edition fountain pen and there is no special packaging. But what’s been presented is excellent. The pen box uses solid cardboard, and the white Pelikan pen pouch gives the pen the extra protection. It has pretty much everything that one should expect from a regular edition packaging. The build quality and attention to details are adequate for the price of the pen.
2. Pen Design (9/10):

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The Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White shares the same size and structure as the other M400/M405 versions, such as the ones that I have reviewed before (M405 Black-Blue-Silver, M400 Black-Green, and M400 Black-Red). The pen is in the small to medium size range. But with a light weight construction and a cap that can be easily posted, the pen is quite comfortable to hold, no matter whether it is posted or not. Since I already have a few of the M400/M405 fountain pens, then why would I want to also get this version? It’s because of the colour scheme. The Tortoiseshell-White has the white cap, grip section, and piston knob. The gold plated trims mix well with the overall light coloured pen. However, my favourite design is on the barrel. It’s the light green, yellow, and brown coloured stripes. Unlike the other regular edition colour stripes, which are the green, blue, red, and grey (Stresemann), the Tortoiseshell-White has everything. It is multi-coloured, with no two stripes being the same. The barrel blends in very well with the rest of the pen. The light green and yellow tone is the perfect match with the white resin. For all of the current offerings in the M400/M405 line, the Tortoiseshell-White is my favourite. If there has to be something that I don’t particularly like, then it has to be the trim colour. I enjoy the gold-plated clip and rings here, but silver coloured trims is always my preferred choice. What else do I wish for? If this finish can be made for the M800/M805 and the M1000/M1005 models, that would be a dream come true.
3. Filling System (10/10):

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If you are looking for the best implementation of a piston filling mechanism, then Pelikan is the brand you would like to look at. Even though the M400 model is not Pelikan’s flagship product, the pen still has one of the best piston filling system on the market. The operation is easy and smooth. The ink capacity is high. And the removable nib unit makes it easy to complete a thorough cleaning. Specifically for this Tortoiseshell-White finish, the light coloured barrel stripes find the perfect balance between showing the beautiful patterns on the barrel and serving as an ink window. Among the pens that I’m aware of, that are lower than or in the price range of the M400/M405, I find that no one offers any filling system implementation that is as great. Many of them can’t even compete in any one of the features that I just mentioned.
4. Nib Performance (9/10):

Just like the other regular edition M400/M405 fountain pen, the M400 Tortoiseshell-White is equipped with a 14K gold nib. For this pen I selected a fine nib. The nib writes well out of the box and writes very smoothly. The ink flow is very generous. This 14K gold nib gives a little bit of line variation. It is a bit bouncy, but it’s no way near any nib that offers flex or semi-flex writing. Similar to the fine nib on the previously reviewed M400 Black-Red, this fine nib is on the wider side of its nib size designation. But other than the concern with the line width, this nib is a good choice as an excellent daily writer.
5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
Being just another version of the standard M400 model fountain pen, this M400 Tortoiseshell-White is as durable as the other ones that I have reviewed. With the same high quality piston filling mechanism and the removable nib unit, there is no problem with the pen cleaning either. One thing to mention is that since this pen uses white coloured resin, when the pen is getting ink fills from ink bottles, the white grip section may have contact with the ink. Compared to the other pens that use darker materials, any ink residual can be easily seen. However, fortunately I find that wiping the ink off the grip section is fairly easy. And the ink doesn’t seem to cause any staining so far, as long as I try to clean the grip section right after the ink fill.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 9/10
Filling System: 10/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 10/10

Total: 47/50

The Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White is so far my favourite model in the M400/M405 lineup. I like the finish so much that if it is available on the larger M800 and M1000 size, I will be very happy to get them. Other than the beautiful finish, this pen is not much different from the other standard M400/M405 versions. The design is classic and the performance of the pen is consistently high. Considering its small to medium size and light weight, it’s a great pen to carry around and a wonderful daily writer.

 

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.