Pen Review: Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red

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

When it comes to the Pelikan Souverän series of fountain pen, often the versions with the green or blue stripes appear. These colours can be found in many different pen sizes. Particularly, the Black-Green model is available in M300, M400, M600, M800, and M1000, which essentially is the entire regular production line of the Souverän series. There are also other coloured models that have a solid presence in Pelikan’s regular lineup. The Black-Red is one such model.

IMG_0085

Basic Information:

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

1. Packaging (9/10):

IMG_0043IMG_0049
The Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red is a regular edition pen. And it comes with the standard packaging for the Pelikan Souverän line. It’s a fairly large box that can be opened by lifting the top cover. The fountain pen itself is well protected in a white Pelikan pen pouch. The design and the materials used for the packaging is adequate for a pen of its price range. I always wish that for different pen models and colours, there can be a bit of variety. But I don’t have much to complain here considering the high build quality.

2. Pen Design (8/10):
The Pelikan Souverän M400 Black-Red has the same dimensions and weight as the two other ones that I have reviewed in the past, the M405 Black-Blue-Silver and the M400 Black-Green. The pen is of small to medium size, and the light weight makes it easy to handle, no matter whether it’s posted or not. The threads on the pen are smooth and they are not sharp. The cap posts securely, and the pen body is well polished. It is not difficult to tell that this is a well built fountain pen.

IMG_0012
What’s different for this version of the M400 fountain pen is the colour scheme. The pen is decorated with red stripes on the barrel. Considering that I already had two M400/M405 at that time, the red stripes was pretty much the main reason why I bought this pen. The stripes are not monotone; with different angles, there are a variety of shades of red reflecting on the barrel. Combined with the gold-plated clip and trim rings, this pen offers a warm feeling. And the contrast between the red stripes and the black resin really makes this pen stand out.

IMG_0092
The Black-Red design is currently available on the M400 and the M600 model. Unfortunately the M800 Black-Red seems to be already discontinued. However if that pen ever gets reintroduced, it will be an easy purchase decision.

3. Filling System (10/10):
Pelikan makes a lot of piston filling fountain pens, and the brand knows how to make it well. This M400 Black-Red has the same high quality piston filling mechanism that can be found in the other M400/M405 pens that I have reviewed. It’s smooth. It’s efficient. It has a fairly high ink capacity. The transparent caps between the stripes serve as the ink windows. I find no other pen model that also has such a great filling system within its price range.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

The 14K gold fine nib on this pen writes very well. I did not have a very great experience with the fine nib on the M400 Black-Green that I reviewed, but this one writes without any of the issues that I had before. It writes very smoothly without any nib adjustment. My only concern about the nib is that it writes more like a medium nib. I find that Pelikan’s nibs tend to be on the wider side of the nib size designation.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
I do not find any issue that makes this M400 Black-Red difficult to be taken care of. The materials used to construct the pen is durable, and the pen design ensures that cleaning this fountain pen can be quick and easy. With a piston unit that runs smoothly and a removable nib unit, any fountain pen ink can be effectively flushed out of this pen.

Summary:

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

Total: 46/50

Perhaps the most iconic design of the Pelikan Souverän fountain pens is the green stripes. But the red stripes here can be equally as beautiful, if not more. Personally, I enjoy the writing performance of the Pelikan Souverän M400/M405 fountain pens, and recommend them as excellent daily writers. This M400 Black-Red adds a great colour scheme to the lineup and I really hope that this option can be available on the larger M800 and M1000 sizes.

Pen Review: Pelikan Classic M200 Café Crème

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

Pelikan in the recent years have been releasing special editions in the Classic M200/M205 line, mostly related to the Pelikan Edelstein Ink of the Year, or as re-release of past special editions with slight tweaks. While having a special edition that matches with the ink of the year is a cool idea, reintroducing old special releases doesn’t sound that interesting to me. However, this isn’t always the way that Pelikan releases new pen finishes. The Pelikan M200 Café Crème is one good example that has a brand new colour scheme and is quite well received.

IMG_0034

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pelikan Classic M200 Café Crème
Nib: Stainless steel medium nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Speciel edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

IMG_0051
The Pelikan Classic M200 Café Crème uses the standard Pelikan packaging for the Classic line. There is nothing that is special for this model. It’s the same box that is used by my previously reviewed M200 Black, M200 Demonstrator, and M205 White-Silver. It’s a cardboard box that can be pulled open. Inside there is a white pen pouch that protects the pen. Considering the price of the pen, the packaging here is adequate. Pelikan’s gift box for the Classic line offers elegant designs, high quality accessories, and does not take a lot of spaces.

2. Pen Design (9/10):
This special edition Pelikan Classic M200 Café Crème shares the same pen construction as the other M200/M205s that I have reviewed before. The resin body makes the pen quite light. The length and width of the pen are both about average. It’s not a big pen, but still comfortable to hold in the hand. The weight balance is well executed no matter whether the pen cap is posted or not. These small to medium size M200/M205 fountain pens offer a good balance between usability and portability.

IMG_0058
The biggest highlight of this special edition is the colour scheme. What’s featured here is a cream coloured barrel, with a dark brown/chocolate coloured ink window. The grip section, piston knob, and cap are made from resin in the dark brown colour. This subtle yet still unique dark brown resin is quite a good choice, in my opinion. Along with the gold-plated trims, the pen represents the “Café Crème” theme well and has a warm feeling. The colours used here are not simple repetition from another version. Instead the whole colour scheme is more or less fresh, and easily distinguishable from the other ones in the lineup.

3. Filling System (10/10):
Pelikan’s piston filling system always works reliably. This pen’s piston mechanism is no exception. It’s smooth and efficient. The barrel holds a lot of ink and the large ink window helps the users check the ink level of the pen without any difficulty.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

The gold-plated stainless steel medium nib on this pen writes well right out of the box. It doesn’t offer much line variation but still has a lot of springiness. The nib is very smooth but not over polished. I don’t find much issue with hard start or skipping. It’s the perfect candidate for daily writings.

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

IMG_0041
Just like any non-demonstrator version of the Pelikan M200/M205 fountain pens, this M200 Café Crème is easy to handle when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. The nib unit is removable, making it very convenient to access the ink reservoir for the detailed cleaning. The piston unit is smooth and powerful enough to clean ink out of the pen quickly.
The resin construction may make the user feel that the pen is light and fragile. But the material is actually quite durable. Other than the normal micro-scratches, I don’t find much extra wear and tear on the pen.

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

Among all of the special edition Pelikan Classic M200/M205s that I have, the M200 Café Crème is one of the my favourite. While most of the special editions are just different shades from the spectrum, with a single colour used for the whole pen, or just a different colour on the barrel with the rest of the pen unchanged, the Café Crème has a set of carefully selected colours and actually carries a theme. The choice of colours is up to the personal preference, but at least I really like the cream and dark brown coloured resin used here.
The Pelikan Classic M200/M205 is a good line of pens that offers excellent writing performance, high ink capacity, and relatively affordable prices. In my opinion, this M200 Café Crème is a perfect example to demonstrate what a Pelikan entry level piston filling pen should look like. With the tasteful colour scheme, it’s not just a great daily writer, but one of my favourite Pelikan fountain pens.

Pen Review: Lamy 2000

There are many new fountain pen models every year. Some of them are just a refresh of colours used, while the others have new designs. There are also designs that had never been significantly changed. These are the classics that often have a large number of followers, and the designs have stood the test of time. The pen to be reviewed this time is one good example of the pens in the classics category. It is the Lamy 2000.

IMG_0005

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Lamy 2000
Nib: 14K gold fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (7/10):
Just like any Lamy packaging that I have seen so far, the pen box of the Lamy 2000 provides adequate protection to the pen, but it looks underwhelming. The design is towards saving the space, saving the material used, and let the focus stay on the pen.
However as one of Lamy’s most iconic designs, this pen deserves a more delicate packaging, in my opinion. Personally, I can understand the simplicity design. But I still don’t really appreciate what’s provided here. I feel it’s not enough for a fountain pen of this status and price range.

2. Pen Design (9/10):

IMG_0015
The Lamy 2000 speaks both classic and future at the same time. It has a high performance gold nib and an efficient piston filling system. It shifts away from using traditional pen materials, but instead let Makrolon and stainless steel form the streamlined shape of the fountain pen. The overall matte finish and the contrast between the grey and silver tones create a piece of writing instrument that is not only looking elegant, but also comfortable in the hand.
The Lamy 2000 features a snap cap. The capping mechanism provides a solid feedback when the cap is closed/removed. The pen has a good weight balance with or without posting the cap. Without posting, the pen is still long enough. With the matte stainless steel grip section, the Lamy 2000 is comfortable to hold. Since the surface is not polished to a mirror like shine, it is easy to have a firm grip on the pen, and there are no threads to be found. The hooded nib design is not commonly seen on modern fountain pens. This design integrates well aesthetically, as the streamlined shape of the pen extends naturally all the way to the nib.

IMG_0001
On the other end of the pen, here it comes one of my favourite designs on the Lamy 2000. The piston knob is perfectly integrating into the shape of the pen, and it is easy to see how great it is engineered. When the piston knob is screwed in, the gap between the barrel and the piston knob is incredibly thin. It is quite difficult to see where that gap is, making the pen look wonderfully simple and elegant. At the end of the grip section, there is also a narrow gap. The grip section is removable, and can be screwed off to gain access to the nib unit and the ink reservoir.

IMG_0010
My Lamy 2000 is equipped with a 14K gold fine nib, plated with platinum. The nib is quite tiny. With the hooded nib design, the nib cannot be very large. Even though usually I prefer the appearances of pens with large nibs, this design of the Lamy 2000 doesn’t really bother me.

3. Filling System (9/10):
The Lamy 2000 utilizes the piston filling system, and it has a great one. The piston filling mechanism integrated into the pen is not only working well, but also aesthetically pleasing. As mentioned earlier, the piston knob is perfectly fitted as the extension of the barrel. The piston operation is smooth, and the ink reservoir has a good capacity. With the installed fine nib, I think the amount of ink that this pen can hold is quite generous. On the barrel and near the grip section, there are four clear stripes. These are the ink windows. When the pen is filled in full, these ink windows can hardly been seen. However, when the ink level gets lower, the ink windows start to reappear and can show the colour of the ink used. Other than Pelikan’s piston implementation, this is one of the best that I have used.
While this piston filling system works really well, it is not perfect. The grip section is removable, so that the ink reservoir can be accessed. However, the ink reservoir is quite narrow, making is a bit difficult to lubricate the piston seal through the chamber. It seems that it’s not very straightforward to remove the piston mechanism either. Regardless, I really enjoy the piston filling system on the Lamy 2000.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

Many of the Lamy fountain pen models share the same nib configuration, whether in stainless steel or gold. That is the nib that’s been used in the Lamy Safari, Al-star, Studio, Dialog 3, etc. But the Lamy 2000 doesn’t use this same nib design. This pen uses a small nib that fits only on the Lamy 2000 series. For the one in my collection, I picked the 14K gold fine nib. Other than being very rigid and have no springiness or line variation, I like everything else about this nib. The fine nib writes true to its size designation, and have a fairly wet flow for a fine nib. It’s very smooth right out of the box, and there has been zero issue with skipping or hard start. It is such a perfectly tuned nib, particularly good for daily writings. Thanks to the snap cap, the Lamy 2000 is an excellent choice for taking quick notes as well.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
The Lamy 2000’s pen body is made from mainly Makrolon and stainless steel, and both are very strong and scratch resistant materials. After long period of uses, my pen is still able to mostly keep its original look and feel.
The grip section of the Lamy 2000 can be removed, therefore gaining direct access to the nib unit and the ink reservoir. The piston unit seems to be difficult to remove, but the operation is smooth and effortless. Cleaning the pen is a fairly simple task.

Summary:

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

Total: 44/50

The Lamy 2000 is a classic fountain pen that has been an excellent choice for more than 50 years. Its modern styling and strong performance make it frequently appear on many people’s recommended fountain pens or wish list.
It has a very balanced weight distribution. The snap cap opens easily and can be posted without making the pen too back heavy. The generously flowing 14K gold nib, the smooth piston filling mechanism, and the precision of the manufacturing, all can be found in the Lamy 2000.
Personally, I think the Lamy 2000 is one of the best offerings in its price range. It is a pen to be expected to work well all the time, every time.

Pen Review: Sailor 1911S Color Blue

In the fountain pen community, the Sailor fountain pens are often recommended for people who are looking for reliable nibs, especially the nibs that have finer grades, because such nib grades are not as easily found from the western fountain pen brands. As I was searching for a good pen with a very fine nib, I decided to pick up this Sailor 1911S Color Blue.

IMG_0005

Basic Information

Fountain Pen: Sailor 1911S Color Blue
Nib: 14K gold hard fine nib
Filling System: Sailor proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (7/10):

IMG_0010IMG_0011
Sailor’s packaging for this pen is adequate but unexciting. The pen arrives in a dark blue hard shell box, wrapped by a white paper sleeve. The colour of the box is actually quite similar to the colour of the pen. Opening the box, the pen is secured by a ribbon trying to make sure that it doesn’t move around freely. Lifting the top layer presents additional ink cartridges, a converter, and documentations. Everything needed for this pen is included in the packaging, and the sturdy pen box gives good protection to the pen. But aesthetically, this box doesn’t do anything for me. It’s just a generic pen box that’s not very expensive or difficult to make, and doesn’t have too much design thought into it.

2. Pen Design (7/10):

IMG_0021
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue has a classic cigar shape. The main body of the pen is in blue, hence the name of the pen. The two ends of the pen and the grip section are in black. Then pen is decorated with gold plated trimmings. There is one ring near each end of the pen. Another ring is at the end of the grip section. I really like this colour scheme and the placement of the coloured pieces, because no matter whether the pen is closed, posted, or not posted, it always has a symmetric black-gold-blue-gold-black colour pattern.

IMG_0007
One of my biggest complaints about this pen is its length. When closed, the Sailor 1911S Color Blue is similar in length against pens such as the Pilot Metropolitan, Aurora 88, and Pilot Falcon. And it is slightly longer than some other pens, such as the Aurora Optima and Pelikan Souverän M400. However, without posting, the Sailor 1911S Color Blue is shorter than all of them. For some of them, the Sailor 1911S is actually significantly shorter. In fact, it is still the shortest pen when posting the cap for all of them. The pen’s grip section is actually quite comfortable to hold, and the weight balance is excellent with or without posting the cap. But its short length more or less forces me to keep the pen posted. Personally, posting a pen has never been my preference.

DSC_0001
This pen is equipped with a 14K gold hard fine nib. The engravings on the nib is quite complex. But the patterns are pretty and the engravings are very clear. I would hope that the nib can be partially Rhodium plated. But the monotone gold nib fits well with the trimmings of the pen.

3. Filling System (7/10):
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue utilizes Sailor’s proprietary cartridge/converter filling system. I’m in general not interested in any proprietary filing system, because that means I will have to look for the spare part of that specific brand, if the converter is no longer holding up.
The Sailor converter has a large opening. It does fit very securely once it’s installed onto the pen, more securely than many of the international standard converter filling pens. Unfortunately, this converter is not very effective when it comes to having a quick full fill. It actually doesn’t hold a lot of ink either. For a fine nib pen, this is not as much of an issue, for pens with broader nibs. The users may be forced to refill this pen quite frequently.
One thing I did notice is that if I fill the ink directly with the converter, instead of through the pen (with the converter installed), then have it pushed onto the nib unit, the ink can actually work its way to the tip of the nib quite quickly. I’m not sure about how Sailor designs the feed system, but inks seem to flow more easily here. Comparing to many other pens of mine, in fact, there are only two other non-Sailor fountain pens in my collection can make the ink work its way down this fast. They are the Montblanc Bohème Blanche and the Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Tribute to the Mont Blanc Classique, and both happen to be cartridge only fountain pens. Personally I really enjoy filling the ink directly through the converter, because then I don’t have to dip the pen into an ink bottle, then wipe the nib and the grip section clean.

4. Nib Performance (7/10):

Before I purchased this pen, I have heard that Sailor has really high quality finer nibs, and the nib grade tends to be one level finer than the western counterparts. Therefore I chose a hard fine nib with the expectations that it will write finer than my western extra fine nibs and still give a fairly smooth writing experiences.
Overall, my experience with this nib is mixed. It writes right out of the box and there is no hard start or skipping issue. The line width is really narrow, but it is exactly what I expect it to be.
What I’m not satisfied with is the ink flow. For down strokes, the ink flow is generous. In fact it’s more generous than what I expected from a fine nib, and I definitely enjoy this. But the up stroke and side strokes are quite dry in comparison, with a lot of feedback. The ink flow gets significantly reduced. The pen writes, but the overall experience is not too great. After using the pen for a bit and trying different inks, I decided to smooth out the nib a bit. It’s a lot smoother now, but the down stroke still gives way more ink than the writings in the other directions. I had high hopes for the nib, but it’s not yet what I fully expected to see.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (9/10):
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue is small and lightweight. The build quality of this pen is very good. The attention to detail is even better than many other pens of higher prices. My only complaint here is that on the grip section and barrel, I can still see some seam lines not polished off, likely from the manufacturing processes. These places, plus the threads on the grip section, tends to accumulate grease or ink residual, making the pen look not as good.
Even though the pen uses the proprietary cartridge/converter filling system, I do appreciate that cleaning is usually very easy with pens using cartridges or converters.

Summary:

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

Total: 37/50

The Sailor 1911S Color Blue is a quality fountain pen with a classic design. However its small size is the main reason why I rarely use it. Its weight balance is actually very good with the cap posted. But when the cap is posted, the edge of the cap sits right on my hand. This often makes the cap loose when I write with it.
The nib is also not so exciting. Overall it writes just fine. But the differences of the ink flow between the down stroke and the other directions, plus the amount of feedback from the nib, make the writing experience not so enjoyable.
For the price range that the Sailor 1911S Color Blue falls in, I can’t really recommend this pen. Even though it has a gold nib, the nib is rigid and I don’t really see any advantage it has over other stainless steel nibs. There are also many good selection of finer nibs from other manufacturers. Perhaps it will be more interesting to the users with smaller hands. But this pen is not what I personally would like to use for long writing sessions.

Pen Review: Omas Ogiva Alba Green

I have already reviewed the Omas Ogiva Alba Violet (14K gold fine nib, extra flessibile) and the Omas Ogiva Alba Orange (18K gold fine nib). This third pen of the Omas Ogiva Alba collection needs no further introduction: the Omas Ogiva Alba Green.

IMG_0112

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Omas Ogiva Alba Green
Nib: 18K gold medium italic nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Limited edition

1. Packaging (10/10):


Omas offers elegant packaging for this limited edition fountain pen. The box uses strong and thick cardboard for good protection and velvety fabric inside. The choices of colours and materials are well thought of. It is exactly what to expect from a limited edition pen like this.

2. Pen Design (8/10):

IMG_0006
All three pens (Violet, Orange and Green) in the Omas Ogiva Alba collection are identical in the shape and size. The only differences are the colour of the pen, and potentially the choice of the nib. Just like I previously reviewed, the Omas Ogiva Alba Green has a very decent length, comparable to flagship pens such as the Montblanc Meisterstück 149 and the Pelikan Souverän M1000. But the width of the pen is shorter, making this pen large but still very comfortable to hold. I prefer to use this pen without posting the cap, since the pen would be a bit too long for me. However, because the cotton resin used to make this pen is a lightweight material, the Omas Ogiva Alba Green is actually quite light and even posting doesn’t make it too back heavy.
For this pen, the colour is quite unique. It’s a green with a bit of blue tone, and the translucency is perfect. It shows the internal mechanism well, but not yet a full demonstrator.

IMG_0109
I acquired this pen not just because I wanted to complete the limited edition set. This pen has an interesting nib that none of my other pens have, the 18K gold medium italic nib. The engravings on this nib is the same as the one on the Omas Ogiva Alba Orange. The patterns are simple but beautiful.

3. Filling System (6/10):
Just like the other two that I have reviewed, even though this pen has a piston filling system and holds a large amount of ink, I still don’t like it very much. The piston operation is stiff and ink tends to get trapped behind the piston seal and dries up there. Later I was advised how to disassemble the pen to fix all these problems, which really gave this beautiful pen and the other two another chance to shine. But I would like the scores to reflect the pen’s original condition, especially if any fix is difficult, or may potentially void the warranty.

4. Nib Performance (4/10):

I got this pen with the hope that the medium italic nib can be fun to use and occasionally bring some interesting characteristics to my writings. However this nib did not deliver. I know that it wasn’t my fault, because I have used other italic nibs or stubs, and did not have as much issue writing with them. But this nib was difficult to use. It didn’t really put any ink onto the paper for some of the inks that I had tried. For the ones that did have a better ink flow, I still couldn’t let the nib write consistently. Eventually, I had to have the nib adjusted to have a better writing performance. Again, the score here is to reflect the original state of the nib, and it is not what I would expect from any pen of this price.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (7/10):
Without some careful work that will likely void the warranty, this pen is hard to be maintained. The nib unit is not easily removable, causing several maintenance issues. The stiff piston cannot be lubricated, and the trapped ink cannot be reached and cleaned. These issues made the pen more and more difficult to use, especially during filling and cleaning.
The cotton resin used for this pen is a fairly durable material. I have used this pen, and the other two in the same collection for quite a long time. And I haven’t really seen much wear and tear. It of course needs good protection if it is to be carried around, but not much else needs to be taken care of.

Summary:

Packaging: 10/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 6/10
Nib Performance: 4/10
Pen Cleaning: 7/10

Total: 35/50

The Omas Ogiva Alba Green is a beautiful fountain pen with quite a unique colour and pen body material. The decent size and balanced weight make it a pen that’s comfortable to hold. Combined with the Violet and the Orange models, these three limited edition pens really make a wonderful collection. Unfortunately, comparing to the other two, this pen’s 18K gold medium italic nib was quite disappointing. In addition, similar to the other two pens, the piston mechanism in this one was also hard to operate. These issues kept this pen from my pen rotation for a long time. It is possible to disassemble the pen to fix the piston problems and have the nib adjusted. But it is not very easy and certainly not a good experience for any fountain pen beginners. Doing such fixes may cause the warranty to be no longer valid. For a pen in this price range, I expect to see no issue at all.

Pen Review: Pelikan Classic M200 Black

When I just started using fountain pens from Pelikan, I stayed with the M200/M205 and M400/M405 model size for quite a while. One reason was because the larger models are fairly expensive. And I didn’t know how much more those ones could offer. Another reason is that these smaller sized pens do fit my hand very well. Therefore, as I was trying hard to grow my Pelikan collection, I picked up this Pelikan Classic M200 Black.

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Pelikan Classic M200 Black
Nib: Stainless steel fine nib
Filling System: Piston
Production: Regular edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

IMG_0018
The Pelikan Classic M200/M205 line offers one of the best packaging in its price category, in my opinion. This M200 Black has the same box and accessories as the two other pens I have reviewed in the past (M205 White-Silver and M200 Demonstrator). The box is sturdy and the small pouch inside offers good protection for the pen.

2. Pen Design (8/10):

DSC_0005
The Pelikan Classic M200 Black shares exactly the same length and shape as the two pens that I have reviewed before. The main difference here is the colour of the pen. Being a regular edition pen, there isn’t anything particularly outstanding. The cap and barrel are in black, and the trims are gold plated. Just like the M200 Demonstrator, the stainless steel nib is gold plated, so that it matches with the rest of the trims. Black and gold is quite a classic combination for pens. It makes the pen suitable for many professional settings or formal occasions.
On the barrel near the grip section, there is a build-in ink window. It is in dark green and when the ink is filled in full, it is not very easy to be seen. I really like this design. It is both very functional, and doesn’t have too much impact to the overall appearance of the pen.

3. Filling System (10/10):
I often have no problem with Pelikan’s piston filling system. The ink capacity is great and the piston operation is always very smooth, even on the relatively entry level Pelikan piston filling fountain pens. It works even better than some of the more expensive non-Pelikan ones.

4. Nib Performance (8/10):

Comparing to the M205 White-Silver and the M200 Demonstrator, this M200 Black is equipped with really the same nib, except that it is in the fine size. The nib performs quite well and there is nothing that needs to be fixed. However I do find that this nib is not as springy as the other two stainless steel Pelikan nibs that I have reviewed. Therefore I have to take one additional point off. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent nib that performs well on all kinds of paper. There isn’t much unique character to it, but it just writes without any major issue.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
Cleaning this Pelikan Classic M200 Black is very easy. The piston operation is efficient and effective. Inks can be flushed away quickly. If the ink tends to be not easily washable, then the nib unit can be removed to gain direct access to the ink chamber. The pen is made from resin. As long as it is taken good care of, I don’t expect anything more than the usual micro-scratches.

Summary:

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

Total: 45/50

If I can only choose one piston filling fountain pen, I will find it difficult to pick any particular model, but that pen is surely from Pelikan. Even on the entry level models, Pelikan puts a fairly decent piston mechanism there. It’s the smooth operation and maintainability that make me keep coming back to the wonderful Pelikan pens.

DSC_0003
The M200 size is on the small-to-medium side of fountain pens. For its size, the pen offers excellent ink capacity, along with a well performing stainless steel nib. There isn’t anything to complain about this pen. For its price, the pen offers good features and a consistent writing experience. But this pen is not my favourite pen, just because I find the appearance of the pen a bit too plain. Certainly it’s great for any professional setting, but I expect something more than the classic black and gold. Nevertheless, if this classic styling is what you are looking for, and you are interested in a smaller sized piston filling fountain pen, you may want to give the Pelikan Classic M200 Black a try.

Pen Review: Lamy Al-star CopperOrange

For anyone new to fountain pens, one commonly discussed topic is what a good beginner fountain pen is. Several pens are frequently mentioned: Lamy Safari, Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Prera, etc. In this review, I’m going to go over the details of another popular beginner fountain pen, the Lamy Al-star CopperOrange.

IMG_0004

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Lamy Al-star CopperOrange
Nib: Stainless steel medium nib
Filling System: Lamy proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Special edition

1. Packaging (8/10):

DSC_0007
Lamy’s design language is form follows function. And simplicity is the key design element. This is also reflected on Lamy’s packaging design, which is minimal material and space consumption, but still with sufficient protection and interesting features. The pen box is not much bigger than the pen itself, and its is made from lightweight but sturdy hard cardboard paper. On the box, there are multiple cutouts, so that the pen’s colour can be shown without checking the label on the box or even opening it.
Inside the box is just the pen itself. A piece of paper is inserted in the clip. The paper is wide enough, such that with it installed onto the clip, the pen won’t rotate around inside the box. A Lamy cartridge is sitting in the pen barrel. A cardboard ring is placed onto the pen, in front of the barrel piece, so that the cartridge inside won’t be accidentally punched in.
Other than these small accessories used to keep the pen intact, there is no piece in the packaging that doesn’t serve a functional value. The packaging takes minimal space and everything can be recycled. What you paid for is more on the pen rather than a fancy packaging. Lamy Al-star’s special editions use the same packaging as the regular lineup. Personally, I think this is a good decision from Lamy, considering the price of the pen, which is still around the entry level pricing.

2. Pen Design (10/10):
The Lamy Al-star line has a classic design. And there isn’t much that I dislike. The overall length of the pen is decent, which is similar to several other popular pen models, such as the Pelikan Souverän M800/M805, Montblanc Meisterstück Classique, Pilot Vanishing Point, and Lamy’s flagship line, the Lamy 2000.
If you know the Lamy Al-star fountain pen, chances are you may have heard of the Lamy Safari line as well. The shape of the two models are very similar, except that the Al-star has a wider cap and barrel, plus that the grip section is translucent. The Al-star has more of an aluminum construction, which feels great in the hand. The pen is lightweight. The cap can be posted securely onto the end of the barrel. Doing so doesn’t make the pen too back-heavy, but personally I find it too long when posted.
The Lamy Al-star, along with the Lamy Safari, are famous for their triangular grip section design. When I use the pen, I find myself holding the pen exactly like what the triangular section wants me to hold. However, anyone who is interested in this pen should try one in person first, since it may not fit everyone’s preference.

IMG_0013
On the barrel, there are two cutouts that serve as the ink window. This is a welcoming feature, as I don’t find it available on many cartridge/converter filling fountain pens.

DSC_0003
The Lamy Al-star CopperOrange uses the stainless steel Lamy nib that can be found in many other Lamy pen models. The only marking on the nib are the Lamy name and “M” designation for the medium nib. One feature that I like about this pen is that the nib can be easily pulled out, so that a different nib can be installed, if the user wants to replace a broken nib or simply prefers a different nib size. The spare nib can be quite easily sourced.

3. Filling System (8/10):
Considering that I in general prefer the piston filling mechanism, this is a high score for a proprietary cartridge/converter filling system.
The Lamy Al-star CopperOrange accepts the proprietary Lamy ink cartridges. It also can have the Lamy Z24 converter installed. Unlike the Z26 converter that is equipped on the Lamy Studio, the Z24 converter has two “fins” that can be inserted into the slots available on the Lamy Al-star, so that the converter can stay very securely on the pen.
The converter holds a fair amount of ink for its size, and combining with the two ink windows on the barrel, I think this filling mechanism works well and the design around it is well thought of.

4. Nib Performance (7/10):

This pen has a stainless medium nib, which is the same as the perviously reviewed Lamy Studio Wild Rubin. There isn’t any issue with skipping or hard starts, and the nib writes well enough right out of the box. However, there aren’t much special characteristics about this nib. It’s not the smoothest. It doesn’t have the best ink flow. But it writes well enough, with a drier ink flow, and the performance is reliable and consistent. Perhaps that makes it a good daily writer.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (10/10):
The Lamy Al-star CopperOrange is easy to clean. The cartridge converter flushes the ink out of the pen considerably efficiently. I haven’t found any issue with cleaning this pen so far. The metal construction also makes the pen fairly durable. The coloured surface may get scratches over time, but the body itself is very durable. In addition, the self-serviceable nib is a welcoming feature.

Summary:

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

Total: 43/50

The Lamy Al-star CopperOrange special edition is one of my favourite offerings from Lamy. The colour of the pen is so perfect that I wish more pens are made in this shade of orange.
In my opinion, the best feature of this Lamy Al-star CopperOrange is its beautiful orange colour. This is one of my favourite colour and I couldn’t really say no to it, when I first saw the pen. This shade is not too bright, and has a very warm feel. I really wish more pens can be made with this beautiful shade.
The Lamy Al-star line is a slight step-up from the Safari line, which the pen body is made from plastic instead of aluminum. The metal construction makes the Al-star look more refined. Being lightweight, its length is still very decent and even if it can be a bit back-heavy, posting the cap still makes the pen very usable.
Lamy uses proprietary cartridge converter filling system. However the design here works really well. The converter stays securely on the pen, and maintaining the pen is really easy. Even the nib can be quickly replaced.
The pen uses the standard Lamy stainless steel nib. Personally I feel it lacks character but the performance is consistently well. The ink flow is on the drier side, which many users may find it ideal as a daily writer.
Overall, I like this pen. What I may try is to replace the stainless steel nib with a gold nib, just to see if the writing performance can be better. If so, it will be one of my favourite writers.