Fun Find #1: Retro 1951 Tornado Umbra Orange Rollerball

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Retro 51 Umbra Orange Rollerball

Sometimes a pen finds you more than you find the pen. That was exactly the case with this Retro 51 Tornado Umbra Orange Rollerball. I was browsing on the Pen City site, and found that they have a “Shop By Color” feature (great idea!). When I filtered for “orange,” this was one of the pens that popped up. Since I’d never seen a Retro 51 in a translucent acrylic, much less an ORANGE translucent acrylic, I had to order it.

Translucent Orange Acrylic

When the pen arrived, it looked even better in person than it did on the website. The acrylic shimmers and displays wonderful depth. I think it looks a little like jello salad, which made me love it just a little bit more. I really like how you can catch a glimpse of the branding on the refill and the internal threading through the body of the pen.

The familiar Retro 51 elements are here as well. Like that wonderful knurling…

Retro 51 Knurling

And the immediately recognizable open-design clip that’s both cool looking and functional…

Retro 51 clip

The pen body’s color is reflected in the twist mechanism’s finial for one more pop of color…

Retro 51 Orange finial

The Retro 51 REF-5P black refill that came with the pen is reliably smooth and dark. Writing my rough draft of this review on Staples Arc notebook paper was a really enjoyable experience. That paper and this refill seem to be made for each other.

I’ve since seen some other acrylics— red, blue, and white— and though they look very cool, too, my heart belongs to this orange version. Sadly, none of the acrylic versions appear to be easy to find, but the folks at Retro 1951 have hinted on Twitter that more acrylics may be introduced. Or should I say “re-introduced.”

Translucent acrylic

That would be as sweet as— well— jello salad.

Soft Landing: Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip Ballpoint

Thank you to JetPens for supplying this Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Ballpoint pen for review. I was not compensated monetarily or in any other way. I am allowed to keep the pen. This review reflects my personal observations and experiences with the pen.

(Click on any image for a larger view.)

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Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

I probably told this story before— how years ago I picked up a pack of Jetstream Sport ballpoints from one of those office supply stores, ripped open the package in my car, scribbled on some scrap paper, and heard the angels sing. THIS was the ballpoint experience I’d been looking for my whole life.

This is not hyperbole.

In junior high, I’d squirrel away lunch money to buy pens from the school’s bookstore, always to be disappointed by the tepid performance of my purchase. I scouted the aisles at Woolworth’s for new and promising offerings. For awhile Papermate pens satisfied my desire for something that wrote better than the light streaky ink in the ubiquitous BIC line of pens. The quest continued throughout college and beyond, with only fair to middling results.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

And then, decades later, I found the Uni Jetstream. Hallelujah.

Uni Jetstream ballpoint

The oil-based ink in the Jetstream line hits the ballpoint pen trifecta of darkness, smoothness, and solidness. In short, pure ballpoint joy. There’s no drag, and very little white space in your writing (really, none to the naked eye). The 0.7 mm tip glides across paper and lays down a wonderfully dark, tight line. There’s nothing remotely wimpy or washed about this ink. Other very good oil-based inks have since hit the market, but my heart belongs to the Jetstream. Because—you know— angels singing. You don’t easily forget that moment.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip

So we’ve established that the ink in this Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint is superb, but here’s what make this particular model so special. Two words- GEL GRIP.

Holding this pen is like coming home and putting on your comfortable clothes— broken in jeans, your favorite sandals, a soft t-shirt. Clothes that make you say, “Ahhhhhh.” Clothes that soften the hard edges of your day. The addictively squishy grip on this Jetstream provides perfect comfort, as well as traction, for your fingers. It’ll make you wonder why all pens can’t be this comfortable.

Brushed metal body

The body is made of brushed metal—black in this case—which gives the pen a polished and classy look. The knock is solid with absolutely no wiggle, and there’s not a hint of rattle from the 0.7 mm refill. It’s a very solid, well-made pen. The clip—perfectly springy and tight—complements the matte look of the pen. There’s not one misstep here.

Disassembled

Jetstream branding and clip

One thing to note— the gel grip attracts dust and tiny fibers so the pristine look of that beloved grip doesn’t last long. BUT, there is a simple solution. I periodically clean the grip on my pen with a strip or two of scotch tape. Fast and simple. Works like a charm.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

The world can be a hard place. Your pen doesn’t have to be. The Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint pen gives your fingers a soft landing while you experience the luxuriously smooth and dark Jetstream ink.

Yes— you, too, can hear the angels sing.

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The Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint is available at JetPens for $16.50. Along with the black body/black grip version reviewed here, the pen is also available with a pink or silver body. Both of those versions feature white grips. Refills are available in black, blue, and red for $1.55. JetPens offers free shipping for all orders over $25.

I [heart] you: Pelikan M205 and Levenger Shiraz Ink

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Pelikan M205
Rhodium trim, Steel nib

This pen purchase resulted from a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast where both Brad and Myke sang the praises of their Pelikans. That same day, someone on Twitter mentioned a sale on the Pelikan M205 at Fountain Pen Hospital, so I called it a sign and ordered one. What can I say, my arm was twisted. By fate.

Right around the same time, I was ordering some refills from Levenger, and decided to add a bottle of their Shiraz ink to the order. Both orders arrived on the same day so the obvious choice was to fill one with the other.

Hoo boy, do I love this pair.

Just like peanut butter and chocolate (or chocolate and peanut butter), the Pelikan M205 and the Shiraz ink are two things that work perfectly together. I’m always looking for reasons to use this particular combination, even though I’m someone who leans heavily towards “traditional” ink colors— black, blue-black, blue, brown, and dusty green. The Shiraz looks exactly as I hoped it would— not pink, not red, not purple, but SHIRAZ. It’s not waterproof, for those who care. I love the way it pops on a page without being obnoxious. Simply gorgeous, with a bit of shading. This is an ink that’s kicked me out of my “conservative” rut.

Levenger Shiraz

M205 vs. Lamy 2000
An understated pair for size comparison: Lamy 2000 vs. Pelikan M205

The M205 is one of my smaller (5″ capped; 4-7/8″ uncapped; 6″ posted) and lighter (a mere 14 grams overall) pens, but is an absolute joy to hold and use. It’s a piston filler which makes filling and cleaning fast and easy. The medium steel nib (the only option on this sale pen) is smooth and juicy, but without any flex. This is a very classic looking pen— devoid of any real bling— but who needs bling when you perform this well?! It’s understated and unassuming— a real classic.

Pelikan M205 medium steel nib

Pelikan clip/beak
Pelikan clip/pelican beak

The “pelican’s beak” clip is iconic and suitably springy. The caps band simply states “PELIKAN” and “GERMANY.” I have the black body version, but there are others available— red, taupe, white. Since I’m prone to making sure the pen and ink color complement each other, black is probably the best choice for me, anyway. Everything goes with black. Well…yeah…and also with white. And taupe.

Pelikan M205 ink window

The smoke-colored ink window lets me know when my beloved Shiraz is “down a quart.” I enjoy watching the ink slosh around as the level changes.

This is, admittedly, an entry level Pelikan pen, and there are many prettier and more expensive models available, but for everyday use, the M205 suits me just fine, and it’s been a great way for me to dip my toe in the shallow end of the Pelikan pool.

Pelikan logo

I’m irrationally smitten by the Pelikan logo on the cap— a mama pelican with her chick. Such a sweet pair looking at each other with affection— exactly the way I look at my M205 filled with the Shiraz ink.

Pelikan M205

True love forever.

Shiraz heart

 

 

Setting Sail With the Monteverde Regatta Fountain Pen

The fine folks at Pen Chalet sent along a Monteverde Regatta fountain pen for review purposes. I was not, and will not be, otherwise compensated. This review reflects my own experiences, observations, and opinions.

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

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Monteverde Regatta Fountain Pen

We happen to live fairly close to the Erie Canal so in the summer Lock 20 is a favorite hang-out. If our timing is right, we can see everything from small motorboats to celebrity-worthy yachts to large and small sailboats. No matter the size, sailboats always fascinate me— all those ropes and masts and sails look like a recipe for a supremely tangled mess. Which is why I’m the landlubber and they’re the sailors.

Monteverde Regatta fountain pen

Despite my lack of boating experience (unless eating “Chips Ahoy!” cookies counts), I can appreciate the decidedly nautical looks of Monteverde’s Regatta fountain pen. With alternating bands of carbon fiber and yellow resin, the Regatta sports a look that calls to mind the colorful signal flags used during sailing competitions.

Regatta's carbon fiber bands

The Regatta checks a number of boxes on my “what I love in a pen” list. Box #1— carbon fiber. Though difficult to capture with my camera, the two carbon fiber bands (one on the cap and one on the body) are smooth and glossy— almost holographic in looks. Really sharp. Really classy.

The carbon fiber bands are bordered by knurled accent rings, which checks Box #2— knurling. Usually you’ll see knurling in the grip area of a pen, but using the knurled rings between the carbon fiber and resin bands is a cool looking detail.

Regatta black steel nib and magnetic cap

What else do I love in a pen? A magnetic cap, and the Regatta has an excellent one. The base of the cap is lined with a strong magnet that makes capping, uncapping, and posting an easy and satisfying experience. CLICK! Capped. CLICK! Posted. This is not a wimpy magnet. Your ears will tell you that. Box #3— magnetic cap. Check.

Monteverde Regatta

At 50 grams (32 g body, 18 g cap), this is a heavy pen. (Don’t drop it overboard!) Posted, I find the weight shifts a little bit too much to the back of the pen. I do sometimes write with it this way, but I don’t recommend it for long sessions. Typically, I use the pen unposted and find it well-balanced and easy to use for letter and journal writing. There’s still a nice heft, but nothing that’s too hard to handle. There is a bit of a step down from the body to the section that could interfere if you tend to grip your pens on the high side. For me, it’s not an issue, and I find the tapered grip to be comfortable.

Unposted Monteverde Regatta

Unposted, the pen is comparable in length to a Retro 1951 Tornado rollerball, so if you’re used to writing with one of those, you’ll know that writing with an unposted Regatta won’t be a problem.

Black steel nib

The black steel nib (medium, in this case) completes the look. This one is smooth and wet. Every now and then, at the beginning of a writing session I’ll experience a hint of a hard start, but once it gets going, it’s excellent. Monteverde nibs are quite easy to swap which means that you can have one pen and multiple nibs for different writing experiences. I happen to have a 1.1 mm black stub on hand that I’ll swap in in the future. I love when a nib swap isn’t a federal case, and that’s true for this pen.

Dismantled Regatta

The Regatta is a cartridge/converter pen, with the converter included. I’ve loaded it with Iroshizuku take-sumi for this review because Pilot’s black is a perfect match for the carbon fiber, knurled accents, and stealthy nib.

The Regatta is also available in red/black and black/black color schemes, and also as rollerball and ballpoint pens, so I have no doubt that there’s a Regatta that’ll float your boat. <groan>

Monteverde Regatta

Personally, I love this particular color combination. One meaning of a yellow and black signal flag is “I want to communicate with you.” What a perfect message for this pen.

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The Monteverde Regatta fountain pen is available from Pen Chalet for $100. Shipping is free on orders over $50. Use the code PENCUP for 10% off any purchase. Thank you to Pen Chalet for providing this pen for review.

Feeling lucky? Pen Chalet “Pen Cash” giveaway is back! Enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards redeemable for any item on penchalet.com including fountain pens, ballpoint pens, inks, refills and more. The first place winner will receive a $50 “Pen Cash” Card, second place winner a $25 gift card. Both gift cards are redeemable at www.penchalet.com and can be used to buy something for yourself or you may give them away as gifts. Click HERE to enter!

Chasing the Winter Blues: Lamy Nexx Opal with Lamy Turquoise Ink

My friend Elaine, at JetPens, sent along a Lamy Nexx Opal and Lamy Turquoise ink cartridges for review purposes. I was not, and will not be, otherwise compensated. This review reflects my own experiences, observations, and opinions.

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So we’re officially sick of winter. The freezing temperatures recently caused a sprinkler head to burst in an atrium at work causing it to dump 65 gallons of water per minute before it was turned off. (Fun day.) We’ve had ice and ice pellets and a heap of slushy snow. Then bitter cold. Then more cold. We’re done. Well, I am, anyway.

The students are on Spring Break for two weeks, but I’m not. I’m seriously craving a getaway to a warmer climate, a poolside chaise lounge with a good book, and maybe a swim-up bar. And sun-warmed crystal clear blue water.

Lamy Nexx Opal

Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end, but that’s what this pen and ink combination reminds me of— a sun-drenched beach with turquoise waters like the ones in Tahiti or The Maldives. The color of this perfectly paired Lamy Nexx fountain pen and turquoise ink is a cheerful, tropical blue— just the thing for someone who’s wearing fingerless mittens INSIDE THE HOUSE.

I feel just a little bit warmer when I’m using this pen. (Yes, it’s my imagination, but I’m going with it. When it’s 8 degrees, you’re allowed to go a little batty.)

Lamy Nexx fine nib

But it’s not just the color that makes this a fun pen. The fine nib is admittedly plain, but is notably smooth making it a true pleasure to write with. The great thing about Lamy nibs is that they can be easily swapped between the Safari, AL-Star, Vista, and CP1 models. In the mood for a stub instead of a fine nib? Just swap in a new nib. Super simple.

Grip comparison
Grip comparison: Safari vs. Nexx

The molded rubber, triangular grip fits my hand perfectly— even more so than the molded plastic grip on the Safari, AL-Star, and Vista models. A lot of folks shun those models because of that grip which forces you to hold the pen in a very specific way. The shape of the Nexx’s grip feels less severe and might work better for those who dislike the hard plastic grips on those other models. The rubber material means that it grips your fingers while you grip the pen. There’s just no slippage.

Lamy Nexx triangular body

The aluminum pen body starts out as a soft triangle that gradually transitions to a more rounded shape as it approaches the grip area. It’s a unique look and a fun detail. The Nexx is definitely lightweight— just 18 grams (12 g body, 6 g cap)— so it’s great for long writing sessions as there’s simply no chance of hand fatigue from holding a heavy pen.

Lamy Nexx vs. Lamy Safari

Despite its lack of heft, the Nexx feels durable and ready for anything your day throws at you (even a sprinkler head failure!). Made of aluminum, rubber, and plastic, this is a pen that can handle life’s hard knocks.

Nexx cap & lanyard loop

The Nexx’s cap features a prominent aluminum clip and a lanyard loop that extends beyond the top of the cap. As much as I love my pens, I’ve never had the urge to wear one around my neck, but if you’re looking to do that, the Nexx is your pen. The clip is a bit stiff, but certainly usable. I routinely clip mine in one of my Nock Co. pen cases without a problem.

Turquoise
Opal Lamy Nexx and peacock Nock Co. Hightower case— definitely made for each other

The cap posts securely, despite the uniquely shaped barrel, and doesn’t wiggle off while in use (a pet peeve!).

Posted pens

The Lamy Turquoise ink pairs perfectly with this pen. The color is fresh and vibrant and exhibits some nice shading, even with this fine nib. It really is a breath of fresh air in these gloomy end-of-winter days, and reminds me that azure summer skies and warm breezes will eventually get here. It is the color of hope.

Lamy Turquoise ink

I’m chilled and chapped and a little bit cranky, but summer is coming. Summer is coming. Until then, I’m chasing those winter blues with this pen and ink prescription. The Lamy Nexx Opal and Lamy Turquoise ink— a combination that’s good for what ails ya.

P1030633

Take the cure.

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You can find both the Lamy Nexx fountain pen and Lamy Turquoise ink at JetPens. The pen retails for $30.50, while a pack of 5 cartridges sells for $3.75. (Free shipping on all orders over $25.) Thank you to JetPens for providing both for review.

Everyday Carry Giveaway: Revisiting Ian Schon’s “The Pen Project”

I’ve been thinking of revisiting some of the pens I reviewed in the past to see how my original opinions and experiences have held up. Ian Schon handed me the perfect opportunity to do just that by sending along one of his aluminum “The Pen Project” pens.

Since I already own one of Ian’s pens (I backed his Kickstarter project) and it’s still going strong, THIS pen will end up in the hands of one of my readers. Yes, this is a follow-up review AND a giveaway. (Thank you, Ian.)

My EDC tools
My EDC tools. (Mmmmm…lobstah!)

When Brad Dowdy (Sir Pen Addict) recently asked for EDC pen recommendations, I tweeted “The Pen Project” without a moment’s hesitation. I reviewed this pen back in October 2012, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s been in my front pocket almost every day since I received it. And on the odd day when I forget to carry it, I feel a little bit undressed— like when I forget my watch or earrings. Shudder.

Fisher pressurized refill

I wrote the rough draft of this review in my sloppy, “just get it down” handwriting on plain old office supply cabinet paper because this is a pen primarily designed to be used on the fly— when you need to sign for a delivery, make a quick note in your pocket notebook, or jot down some directions. This pen shines in its ability to remain unobtrusive until you need it, then work without fail, thanks to the Fisher pressurized refill. I’m probably not going to sit down, pull out my best paper, and write a letter with this pen (the refill is quite good but not my hands down favorite), but for my “throughout the day” needs, it’s simply perfect.

Brass set screw

As noted in my original review, Ian’s pen is compact, but extends to a comfortable size for writing when the threaded cap is posted. It’s meant to be used, not babied. Mine is starting to pick up some fine surface scratches and dings— a bit of character— from living in my pocket with coins and keys and a tiny Leatherman tool. That said, the pen has held up extremely well considering the length of time I’ve been carrying it. (If only I looked so good.)

Posted pen

Ian now offers three versions of his pen, which he describes as follows:

  • Aluminum (DSGN #0001)– $58.00; Machined and finished in small batches with a high level of precision and care from American sourced materials. These weigh 1 ounce.
  • Black Anodized (DSGN #0001B)– $64.00; These aluminum pens are anodized by a local (MA) vendor and have a very  uniform look and smooth feel.
  • Titanium (DSGN #0001T)– $320.00; These are made from domestically sourced grade 5 titanium, which is precision machined and finished by hand. The set screws are made by one of the oldest screw manufacturers in Massachusetts and are hard gold plated. These weigh 1.8 ounce. LIMITED RUN of 200 pens. 

Take a peek into Ian’s website and workshop HERE. (I always enjoy Ian’s videos.)

My original review, which includes details for changing the refill, etc., can be found HERE.

Machined detail
Machined detail

The minimalist/timeless design, quality materials and workmanship, and perform-through-anything refill makes this my go-to EDC pen. That was true in 2012, and it’s still true now.

My pen and the giveaway pen
The well-protected giveaway pen and my well-used pen

Now for the fun part…the GIVEAWAY!! YOU can win one of Ian’s aluminum pens (DSGN #0001)!!

  • Open to US and International readers!
  • Leave ONE comment on this post—maybe tell me about YOUR favorite EDC tools.
  • The contest closes on Wednesday March 19th at 11:59 pm.
  • All names will be placed into a New England Patriots cap (these ARE Massachusetts born pens, after all), and my impartial husband will pick the winning name from the hat on Thursday March 20th.
  • The winner will be contacted by email and will have one week to respond with a mailing address. In the event that there is no response within a week, a second name will be drawn from the same hat.

May the EDC pen gods be with you!

Ian Schon graciously donated the pen for this giveaway. I was not compensated in any way, and this review reflects my own experiences with Ian’s pen. 

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EDITED TO ADD: WINNER ANNOUNCED!

A name has been pulled from the New England Patriots cap and it is……

jmreekes

“I would love to win this. My EDC pen is a Kaweco Al Sport rollerball & at work lately it’s been a Render K. Work EDC varies between a Render K & one of about 7 Retro 51 Tornadoes”

I’ve contacted the winner by email. Should I not receive an address within one week, an alternate winner will be selected.

Thanks to all who commented!

Set Them Free: A Pen Purge

Years of buying and trying out all kinds of pens led to this…

Pen cups

And this…
More pen cups

Pen miscellanea

Looking around at the various pen cups in my office, I decided it was time to take action (quickly, before I changed my mind). A pen living in a dusty mug is not a happy and healthy pen so I knew I needed to find them brand new homes.

Free pens!

Luckily, because I work at a college, I have a steady flow of students who are thrilled to test-drive and adopt my cast-offs. They’re amazed to be offered free pens and often admit to having a bit of a pen addiction themselves. So we bond a little bit as we discuss our particular likes and dislikes. A few ask, “Why do you have so many pens?” I briefly explain that I have a clinical condition known as “hyperpenopathy”, which might be completely made up, yet very real.

Before long, the pen herd has been thinned. It’s a bit like when vultures swoop in and pick a carcass clean, but in a good way.

Post-purge

I’m happy to see my surplus pens and pencils put to good use before the ink has fossilized and the erasers turn to dust. It really is a win-win situation.

uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball

Sometimes, though, I find MYSELF rooting through the pens I’VE JUST DECIDED TO GIVE AWAY, when one of them catches my eye. Such was the case with this uni-ball Vision Elite 0.5 mm orange rollerball. Something about seeing it get picked over made me want it back. So I snagged it, and have been using it ever since for jotting quick (orange) notes, and for checking off to-do list boxes.

uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball

Reduce.

Reuse.

And, if you’re me, reclaim.

That’s MY kind of “ink joy.” (With apologies to PaperMate)

Ink Joy pens

Do you ever give away pens? Do you trade with friends? [Hmmmm...maybe we should do this!] Do you donate to a favorite school or program? Do you set them free in the wild? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.