Too fine?! The Pilot Metropolitan/Lizard/Fine nib

I’ve been a fan of the Pilot Metropolitan since its introduction, and have a handful of the medium nibbled versions in Black/Plain, Gold/Dot, Silver/Zig-Zag, White Tiger, and Purple Leopard. (Might’ve gone a LITTLE bit overboard there, but they ARE kind of addictive in a I-must-have-one-of-each kind of way.)

P1040228

As you’ve undoubtedly read in numerous other reviews, the Pilot Metropolitan really is a phenomenal value. For just $14.50-$15, you get a very solid, superbly performing pen, along with a squeeze converter and one cartridge. It’s the real deal at an amazingly low price. The metal body has a very nice heft (26g overall; 17g body, 9g cap) that is equally pleasant to write with posted or unposted. The snap-cap issues a satisfying “CLICK” when you cap the pen and posts without a hint of wishy-washiness. Rock solid, is what the Metropolitan is. Obviously, I’m a bit of a Metro groupie.

The complete package
The complete package

SOOOO, when Pilot recently introduced the Metropolitan with a FINE nib, I added the Taupe/Lizard model to a JetPens refill order to boost myself up to the $25 free shipping threshold. The pen arrived last week and I’ve been spending time with it ever since. I decided to forgo the cartridge, and instead filled the converter with Pilot’s Iroshizuku tsukushi (horsetail), which is a good match for the lizard pattern accent band. The lizardish body band is a deep brown that blends well with the taupe body. Others, you may have read, are not exactly head-over heels in love with the animal pattern models, but I think most of them are kind of cool and not too gimmicky looking.

Lizard pattern

There’s a faction of Metropolitan fans that’s been crying out for a fine-nibbed version of the Metropolitan but I wasn’t one of them. The original models, available only with Pilot’s medium nib— which is equivalent to a western fine— suited me well. But I was curious. Thus the order.

Like every Pilot fountain pen, my Lizard Metropolitan started RIGHT up, without a skip or stutter or hesitation. Pilot pens do not disappoint. The line it put down is supremely sharp and crisp, and felt even finer than the nib on my Kaküno (also fine and also from Pilot). In fact, it felt a little TOO fine, a little too sharp. Not scratchy, but sharp. VERY sharp. Hmmmm.

Fine nibbed Metro

I’ve been a fine/extra-fine person forever, and only recently branched out into broader nibs, but something in me has changed. I’ve gotten used to the buttery smoothness of those broader nibs and the way that the wetter/thicker line of a medium or broad nib brings out the shading properties of many inks. Writing with such a needle-like nib felt weird. Not bad, just weird.

I kept thinking, “It’s not you, it’s me.” “You’re a really great pen, I’m just not into you.” I did not say these things out loud because that would be weird. But I thought them. (Still weird, isn’t it?!)

BUT…that’s not the end of the story. For the past few days I’ve been using this particular pen when writing in my Field Notes (California State Fair and Night Sky editions) and my opinion took a 180-degree turn. The super-fine nib suits the Field Notes paper perfectly. Whereas a medium or broad nib would be an inky mess on Field Notes paper, with this Metro, there’s little to no feathering and just a TOUCH of bleed-through. And you know what? When I went back to writing on my Rhodia pad, I liked the way it felt on that paper, too. Very precise. Very crisp.

In Field Notes
In Field Notes, w/ Iroshizuku tsukushi

Initially, I thought the Metropolitan’s fine nib was TOO fine, but a little time and the right paper changed my mind. It’s probably not a pen I’ll use for letter writing, but for writing out my daily work and home lists, journaling, and jotting down appointments in my homemade Field Notes calendar, it’s just the ticket. It’s also another “candidate” pen for my conference later in the summer (low cost, yet still a great writer).

Metropolitan fine nib

The Pilot Metropolitan— fine pen, fine nib, fine price.

And I am, it turns out, fine with all of that.

So I picked up a broad……..nib.

Never say never. Though I thought I would forever be an extra-fine/fine woman (we’re talking nibs here), watching all of those SBREBrown pen review videos (that man loves him some B, BB, and even BBB nibs), and receiving letters from friends who swear by juicy, fat nibs, I cracked. I had to explore.

VP Raden with broad nib

Goulet Pens recently ran a “Spring Cleaning” 20% off promotion on a number of items, including the Pilot Vanishing Point nib units. What a perfect time to branch out a bit. When the broad VP nib unit arrived, I popped it into my beloved and sparkly Raden VP (thanks, Dan!), loaded it from a sample vial of Noodler’s Turquoise (thanks, Joe!), pulled out some Tomoe River paper and let it fly.

Hoo boy. VERY nice.

I kind of get it now. Maybe I MORE THAN get it now.

VP Raden with broad nib

While I won’t be using broad nibs for my everyday writing— my handwriting is just too small for that— I can totally see myself transitioning to them for letter writing, when I can use my Tomoe River or Clairfontaine Triomphe paper, and when I really like seeing how an ink shades.

Granted, the Vanishing Point broad is, since it’s Japanese, more like a European medium, but still. I’d stepped away from my comfort zone and had to admit that it felt…well…comfortable. Wonderfully smooth. Nicely juicy.

(This keeps sounding dirty and I DO NOT MEAN FOR THAT TO BE HAPPENING.)

Raden VP with broad nib

Getting back to my point (and my G-rating), all I’m trying to say is that it’s cool to take a pen body that you love, and swap in some different nibs for a completely different writing experience. The VPs are great for this, as are, of course, Lamys and TWSBIs. I see that Richard Binder offers Vanishing Point pen bodies (even the new metallics) separately, so I may go that route when I decide to spring for the cool looking green metallic. That’ll save me about $60. Since I own a range of nib units to swap in, why buy another complete pen?

VP nib unit and Lamy nib

When I ordered the broad VP nib unit, I also picked up a Lamy broad nib as these are crazy easy to swap in and out of several Lamy pen models. And when I recently purchased my Edison Nouveau Premiere Cherry Blossom with a medium nib, I tossed a fine and a 1.1 mm stub into my shopping cart, as well. One gorgeous looking pen, three different writing options.

So have fun. Experiment. With nibs, I mean.

Business Class: Pilot FriXion Biz Erasable Gel Pen

This Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Biz Gel Pen was provided by JetPens for review purposes. I was not compensated in any way other than being able to keep the pen. This review reflects my experience with the FriXion Biz.
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Pilot FriXion pens
A FriXion sampler

I’ve been purchasing Pilot FriXion erasable gel pens since the their introduction in 2008. The first model I purchased had ink that was a bit washed out and a barrel design that looked an awful lot like Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. It’s fair to say that I wasn’t exactly blown away by that pen. But despite this iffy first impression, I’ve stuck with the line, and have sampled many iterations of FriXion pens. It’s a product that keeps me coming back for more.

Pilot FriXion Biz

Over the years, the barrels have become more refined and the ink a bit richer in color. I always have a few FriXion pens stashed around my home and office. It’s one product that I’ve consistently used for the last six years, so Pilot must be doing something right.

Refill comparison: 0.5 mm vs. 0.7 mm
Refill comparison: 0.5 mm vs. 0.7 mm

When this Pilot Frixion Biz Gel Pen arrived from JetPens, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I was perfectly happy with my plastic barrel FriXion pens, but this newest version IS really good looking. The pen, as received, was loaded with a 0.5 mm black refill and I have to say that the line wasn’t as dark as I like, and even seemed a bit lighter other 0.5 mm FriXion refills I’ve used. To remedy this, I went to my treasure chest of refills and popped in a 0.7 mm black refill. What a difference. Since that swap, I’m having a hard time putting this pen down.

The 0.7 mm refill lays down a visibly wet (yet quick drying) line that’s a solid black— much better than that wimpy 2008 ink. The writing experience is super smooth. I’d even go so far as to call it “fun.”

Disassembled Pilt FriXion Biz

The metallic pen body is a gorgeous blue, and has a well-balanced heft. Weighing about 24 g (vs. 11.5 g for the plastic retractable model), the pen feels substantial— a definite upgrade from that lightweight “tattoed” first pen. I’ve been throwing the Biz in my purse for the past few weeks, and have it out on my desk all day, but the body has yet to show a nick or a scratch. It looks brand new despite the fact that I’ve been using the heck out of it AND haven’t babied it at all.

FriXion clip

To deploy the writing tip, just slide the clip down until it clicks into place. Repeat the action to retract the tip. The mechanism works without a hitch.

FriXion spring

When you unscrew the “nosecone” to replace the refill, the little spring STAYS PUT instead of popping out and falling on the floor causing that familiar “did my dog eat a spring?!?!” panic. My dogs and I appreciate that little detail.

Hidden eraser

The “eraser” on the Biz model is hidden under a small screw-on cap that gives the pen its clean look, but also means that you have to unscrew this cap to erase your mistakes, rather than quickly using an already exposed eraser.

Uncapped eraser

In my previous review of the FriXion retractable plastic body pens, I went into considerable detail about how the eraser works. You can review that post HERE. In that review I also note that you’ll want to let the ink dry completely before attempting to erase to avoid smudging. The good news is that the ink dries very fast, so this isn’t much of an issue. Erasures with any FriXion pen are quite clean— a huge leap forward from those awful Papermate “erasable” pens that rubbed away the paper rather than the ink. I use FriXion pens all the time in my planner and daily work and home logs because things are always changing and occasionally I make a mistake (ahem). It’s so satisfying to easily erase ink.

Erasing FriXion ink

That said, because the ink is temperature sensitive [see my "hot car" experiment at the end of that old post]— meaning that it will disappear in hot conditions— this is not a pen to use for official or critical documents. So feel free to use this Biz pen throughout your business day, but be mindful of where you’re using it. Like, don’t sign an important contract or a birth certificate.

You may be wondering, do I want to pay a premium price for the FriXion Biz when I can get a plastic retractable FriXion for $2.50? Well, I look at it this way. You can fly coach or you can fly business class. Both get you to your destination, but for the additonal money you get an upgraded experience. The Biz gives you that FriXion upgrade with its cool metallic colors, matte finish, concealed eraser, and nice heft.

Pilot FriXion Biz

Some days, it’s nice to travel in style.

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The Pilot FriXion Biz is available at JetPens for $33.00, where you get FREE shipping on all orders over $25.00. Thank you to my friends at JetPens for providing this pen for review.

Embrace the Darkness: Pilot Iroshizuku take-sumi

Many thanks to the fine folks at JetPens for sending along this bottle of Iroshizuku ink. I was not otherwise compensated, and this review reflects my experiences and observations with the ink in my pen and on my paper. Your results and opinions may, of course, differ.

When a bottle of Iroshizuku take-sami (Bamboo Charcoal) showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of JetPens, I immediately knew which pen I’d fill. I recently outfitted my Matte Black Pilot Vanishing Point with a black-plated 18K nib/converter unit, so I all I needed to complete the stealthy trifecta was a superb black ink, and here it was.

Iroshizuku take-sumi

In my previous job of 14 years, I was required to write in black ink (ballpoint, but still) all day, every day. So you’d think that I’d run screaming for the hills now that I’m free of that SOP-dictated requirement. Funny thing is, I still like and use black ink, and am always on the lookout for a particularly good one.

Iroshizuku writing sample

I already have a few Iroshizuku inks (kon-peki and fuyu-gaki…both luscious colors) so I was pretty sure take-sumi would get high marks for good behavior. And it does. In this Vanishing Point with its fine nib (Japanese fine, so it’s like a western EF), take-sumi goes on wet, but dries quickly— easily within ten seconds, even on Rhodia paper. It’s smooth and consistent— a very solid black. Solid in performance AND in looks. It’s not a grey black, not a watered down black. Is it the blackest black ever? Probably not, though I haven’t jumped too far into the black ink pool. I’d consider it to be an excellent black— surely the best I own. (How many times can I say “black”? A lot, apparently.)

Smudge test

I don’t regularly expose my hand-written pages to liquid so waterproofness isn’t something I really care about, but in the name of science, I “spritzed” my page.

Spritzed Rhodia page

So, yeah, don’t do that.

"Get to work!"

I don’t have a big collection of inks (though the pull to acquire more is strong), and I’m admittedly drawn to colors that look like the a glass of fine wine or the sea or a freshly sliced persimmon, especially when I’m writing letters and have time to appreciate an ink’s shading and depth and freshness. But there are plenty of times when I just need need to get stuff done, and black ink has always been just the thing for flipping on the “get to work” switch in my brain.

Pilot Vanishing Point Black Matte

It’s easy to love ink colors that pop off the page, but loving a black ink takes a little more work. Packaged in that gorgeously iconic Iroshizuku bottle, take-sumi impresses with its lovely darkness. It’s like the night sky. Usually you take it for granted, but every now and then you look up and think “wow.”

Back of the bottle

I’m smitten.

The Pilot Prera: A Review AND a Giveaway

NOTE: The Pilot Prera fountain pen reviewed here was provided by JetPens for review purposes and to facilitate this giveaway. The opinions expressed in this review are based on my own observations and experiences.

PILOT PRERA— it’s fun to say because of the alliterative Ps. So, using the letter P, let’s take a look at this pen:

Prera in pocket
Prera in pocket

PETITE and POCKETABLE
The Pilot Prera is a compact and lightweight pen. Made of sturdy plastic, and weighing in at just 15 grams, this is a pen that you can tuck into your pocket and go about your business without feeling weighed down. Unposted, the Prera is a little on the short side for me, so I almost always use it posted unless I’m jotting a really quick note. Even though this isn’t a large or heavy pen, it would be a mistake to consider it a lightweight when it comes to quality.

Pilot Prera vs. Lamy 2000
The Pilot Prera vs. the Lamy 2000; the Prera measures 10.8 cm uncapped, 12.1 cm capped, and 13.4 cm posted.

PRECISE
The word “precise” is defined as “marked by exactness and accuracy of expression or detail,” and that particular definition absolutely applies to this pen. One of the best features of the Prera is the slip cap that snaps on with a very satisfying click— like there’s a tiny bit of vacuum drawing it into place. (My imagination, no doubt, but that’s what it feels like.) Once in place, the cap stays put and doesn’t wiggle free. There’s an inner seal in the cap that helps keep the nib from drying out, and I’ve had no hard-starting issues after a day or two of non-use. The cap also posts securely and hasn’t ever worked loose while I’m writing (pet peeve!).

Fine, fine line
Oh, so fine. (Pilot black cartridge on Clairfontaine grid paper)

The fine steel nib on this Prera is super crisp— even finer than the EF nib on my Lamy 2000 and the F nib on my Pilot Vanishing Point. I’d judge that it lays down about a 0.3-0.4 mm line. Despite being very fine, the nib on my pen behaves wonderfully. It was quite smooth to begin with— with maybe just a hint of feedback— but seems to be getting even smoother with use. I’m seriously impressed with how small I can write with this pen and how crisp my letters are. If you’re into bold strokes and ink shading, this is not your pen. But when you’re  in the mood for detail and tiny writing and a fine, fine line, the Pilot Prera fits the bill perfectly.

Pilot Prera fine nib

PLUMIX
Not so sure about the ultra-fine nib? Well, I’ve heard that the Pilot Plumix medium flat italic nib can be swapped in for a change of pace. If you’re in the mood for italics, go for it!

POP
Oh, the color— lime green in all it’s shiny glory! What’s not to love?! I particularly like that the section is the same eye-popping color as the pen body. It’s a stunner. You’ll have no problem staying awake at work or in meetings with this color in your hand!

Lime green!

POLISH
The chrome accents on the pen add just the right amount of polish to the Prera’s body. From the well-placed accent rings, to the clip and the mirrored end-cap, the look is both shiny and classy (in a lime green kind of way). There’s enough metal for interest but not so much that it detracts from the high-intensity color. Well played.

Mirror finish

Prera clip

PROPIETARY
The Pilot Prera takes Pilot’s propietary cartridges and a CON-20 or CON-50 converter. No big deal, just something to be aware of.

Pilot Prera & cartridge

PRICE
Coming in at $49.50, this is a fountain pen that’s neither inexpensive nor overly pricey. For the price, though, I have to say I wish it came with either the CON-20 or CON-50 converter, instead of just a Pilot cartridge. The price is easily justified by the pen’s build quality, but throwing in a converter would up this pen’s value in my book. Still, it’s a great pen from a time-honored company at a fair price.

And NOW, for the best “P” of all…

PRIZE!

YES, JetPens has graciously offered to host and administer a giveaway so that one of my readers can win their very own Prera, exactly like the one shown in this review!!

The prize!
All of this pop and polish can be yours!

HOW TO ENTER:

1) Subscribe to the JetPens newsletter  by clicking on the Contest Entry Link below and entering your email address in the “Newsletter” box on the bottom right of the entry page, if you haven’t already done so. New subscribers will receive a confirmation email. Be sure to follow the directions in that email in order to complete the newsletter sign-up process.

2) Enter your email address on the same Contest Page to sign up for the giveaway.

3) Cross your fingers and hope that the pen gods smile on you!

CONTEST ENTRY LINK

(As the contest is sponsored and fulfilled through JetPens, it’s open to US residents only.)

GOOD LUCK to you, and THANK YOU to JetPens!!

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WINNER UPDATE: JetPens selected Alex Hammond of Indianapolis as the winner of the Pilot Prera. Congratulations, Alex! Stay inked!

Uncaged: The Pilot Metropolitan Animal Prints (White Tiger, Violet Leopard)

Pilot Metropolitan Leopard and Tiger

I had every intention of passing on the new Pilot Metropolitan Animal Print editions. After all, I already own one of the black, silver, and gold models, and that seems like plenty. But then I watched Brian Goulet’s Ink Nouveau video and once he hit the White Tiger and Violet Leopard versions, my resolve dissolved. I hopped on over to the Goulet Pens site and placed my order asap. Good thing, too, because by the next day, both of those models were sold out. (At the time of this posting, they’re back in stock.) Seems I wasn’t alone in my new-found enthusiasm for two of the new colors.

Violet Leopard & White Tiger, posted

Squeeze converter
Included squeeze converter (or upgrade to a CON-50 converter which is available separately)

Both pens arrived in short order and were very WELL protected. (If you haven’t ever ordered from the Goulets, you need to do so, just to experience the awesomeness of their packaging. And the complimentary Tootsie pop.  And the bookmark and sticker. And the hand-written note. Their packages are a great example of customer service done right.) I filled the White Tiger pen with Waterman Serenity Blue, via the included squeeze converter, and have been using this pen as part of my current rotation ever since.

Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger

The White Tiger pen is a wonderful pearly white—a color that I wish I could find on more pens. (Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.) I’m not sure that the look really comes through in my photos, but, trust me, it’s pretty. The purple, too, is hard to capture with my camera, and looks a little more navy in my pictures than it really is. The color is actually a very dark purple— a blackish purple that looks really rich, really beautiful. It’s definitely darker than it looks on the Goulet Pens site, and that’s fine by me. I have very few white pens and no other purple pens, so these are great additions to my fountain pen collection, just for the colors alone.

Leopard and Tiger patterns

As for the “animal print” bands that accent the pens, I like the White Tiger a little better than the Violet Leopard pattern. Really, each pen would look fine without this accent— maybe even classier?

Nibbage

As I mentioned, I’m already a happy owner of a few Metropolitans so I knew that I was getting a solid, good-looking pen with a smooth, fairly stiff, medium nib—medium being the only nib option. Because it’s a Pilot, the medium nib runs finer than a European nib, so I’d peg it closer to a fine, especially on my favorite Rhodia paper. With a brass body and cap, the Metropolitan has a substantial feel which belies its $15 price tag. The cap snaps on with a satisfyingly solid click, and posts easily and securely. I find the pen equally well-balanced whether I’m using it posted or unposted. I’m impressed every time I pick one up. And I’m always thinking, “Fifteen bucks?! Really?!”

Metropolitan Leopard & Tiger

The Pilot Metropolitan is the perfect pen to toss into a backpack or purse, or to tuck into a pocket. This isn’t a pen that you need to baby because it’s fragile or so pricey that you’re afraid to take it out and about. The Metropolitan is a pen to use throughout your day—wherever that day takes you.

As Tony the (orange) Tiger would say- “THEY’RE GREAAAAAAT!”

Leopard & Tiger Metropolitanss

Which got me thinking— what about an ORANGE Metropolitan with little black tiger stripes?! C’MON Pilot, DO IT!!

Color Burst: Pilot Petit Pens

Just so you know: These pens were sent to me by Jetpens for review purposes. They were a fun surprise that perked up a kind of icky day. I have not been otherwise compensated, and I promise to tell it like it is.

Pilot Petit Pens

Last week was draining- lots of running around both days and evenings- and I was running on fumes by the end of the week. When I feel like this, the world goes kind of grey, and I just feel like sleeping. It’s dark by 7:30 pm which doesn’t help my sagging spirits. When I ripped open this little surprise package from JetPens, my mood instantly lifted. PENS! COLOR! Who needs to nap now?! Not me!

Pilot Petit pens, uncapped

These adorable pocket-sized pens by Pilot truly POP with color. The Petit pen series comes in three styles and eight colors. I was happy to sample each style and five of the colors. Measuring 4.2″ capped and 4.9-5.2″ posted (depending on style), these pens are super portable and just really, really cute.

Available as a Fountain Pen (Petit1), Mini Sign Pen (Petit2), and Brush (Fude) Pen (Petit3), there really is something for everyone. Whether you’re writing, lettering, drawing, illustrating, brainstorming, or just doodling (me!), you’ll have a blast loading the pen with ink and putting it to paper.

Clear feeds

The Petit1 Fountain Pen features a clear feed that mesmerizes me. To load up the pen, it’s as easy as removing the protective yellow cap from the cartridge, popping the cartridge into the body of the pen, then watching the ink draw through the feeder tube and into the feed. Here…take a look:

Petit1 disassembled
Prior to inking

Ink on its way to the feed
There’s the ink on its way to the feed

Inked pen
Fully inked feed

Cool, huh? This fascinated me every time I inked one of these pens. Easily amused? Possibly. But I don’t own any other pen that lets me watch the ink travel from the cartridge to the nib.

Petit1 Pens in Blue-Black, Baby Pink, and Clear Blue

The Petit2 Mini Sign Pen features a firm felt tip (medium) and is loaded with ink the same way as the Petit1 Fountain Pen. Here’s a look at the inking of the Apricot Orange pen:

Uninked Petit2
Uninked Petit2

Petit2 disassembled
Petit2 disassembled

Ink heading to the felt tip
There goes the ink!

Fully inked Petit2
Fully inked Petit2

Petit2 Apricot Orange
Apricot Orange Petit2

And because I can’t seem to stop, here are a few photos of the inking of a Petit3 Brush Pen:

Petit3 before inking
Petit3 sans ink

Apple Green ink on its way
Apple Green ink on its way!

Inked Petit3
Ready to go!

Apple Green
Petit3 in Apple Green

So the colors are cool, but how do they write?

I tried out the fountain pen first (blue black) and LOVED it. For such an inexpensive pen, it writes great- smoothly and solidly. Sure, the nib is plain and quite stiff, but the line is crisp and I haven’t experienced a single hard start or skip. The flow is generous, but not a gusher. Truly just right.

Petit 1 Fountain Pens
Petit1 nibbage

Though I’m partial to the fountain pens, the other two models are just plain fun. The Petit2 Mini Sign Pen has a firm felt tip that feels like it’ll stand up to a lot of use without going mushy. The Petit3 Brush Pen is a bit softer than the Petit2, but is still quite firm as far as brush pens go. It’s possible to get some line variation from the Petit3 model. I usually write quite small, but I can see myself using these pens to brainstorm or sketch; anytime I want to write a bit bolder.

Visible ink supply
No need to guess how much ink you have left

What else do I love? Well, the visible ink supply, the caps that SNAP on securely, and of course, the price. At $3.80 for Petit1 and $2.90 for the Petit2 and Petit3, the price is low enough that you can sample a few styles and/or colors without dinging your wallet. A pack of three refill cartridges runs $1.90, and the same cartridges fit all three pen models. Mix and match or color-coordinate. Have fun!

In Episode 80 of FPtv, Tim Hofmann spoke about “penvangelism”- spreading the fun of fountain pens to others. Tim practices “penvangelism” by having some inexpensive pens on hand to give out to curious friends and acquaintances. After writing with the Petit1 pens, it dawned on me that they’d be a really cool way to spread the fun of fountain pens and to enlighten the uninitiated. A fountain pen gateway drug, perhaps?!

In addition to the colors shown here, pens/cartridges are also available in black, red, and blue. These would be my usual conservative choices, but wow, I’m loving that Apricot Orange. The body and grip are made of smooth and sturdy plastic. The clip is a little fragile and the grip can be a little on the slippery side, but this is just nit-picking.

My husband walked into the kitchen when I was doodling with the pens and asked, “How much are those?” When I told him, he said, “Then why do you have to spend [insert much higher price here]?”

Hmmmm…he kind of had me on that one.

Petit Pens

Color me impressed.

Winner: Pilot Hi-Tec C Maica (0.4 mm, Blue-Black)

P1010904
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica

The fine folks at jstationery.com sent along the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica for review (a fun surprise!). When I opened the package and took a look at the branding, I said (and I quote), “Oooooo, nice!” I have plenty of the basic Hi-Tec-Cs floating around, but not a single Maica. A a blue-black Maica, no less! How did they know that I’m on a blue-black kick lately?

Because I’m so familiar with the normal (basic) Hi-Tec-C (who isn’t?!), I was interested in comparing the Maica to that base model, and here’s what I found.

Hi-Tec C basic vs. Maica
Top: Maica (blue-black); Bottom: Basic (black)

As you can see in the side-by-side comparison, the Maica pen body is longer, just a bit thicker, and I can tell you that it’s slightly heavier. Though still plastic, the Maica feels more substantial. Whereas the basic model is clear plastic and faceted, the Maica is round and colored to match the ink. Having a colored pen body makes it easier to select the ink color you want, and who doesn’t need a little color added to their day? (Should I say “color” again?) Because of the “upgraded” body, I like holding and using the Maica model over the basic model. One point for the Maica.

Hi-Tec-C caps
Hi-Tec-C caps

The hue of the transparent Maica cap also mirrors the ink color, and sports an embellished jewel-shaped “crown” on its end. The basic cap is no-nonsense, and makes the pen brand and tip size very clear as that information is printed on the cap’s clip. The Maica cap doesn’t have a clip, but instead, sports a little plastic loop that’s for…ummm…what IS it for? A lanyard? Not sure. Truth be told, I’d prefer a clip over the molded loopy thing. One point for the basic.

Hi-Tec-C caps
A view of the end of the caps

Hi-Tec-C grips
Grips: Maica on the left, basic on the right

As far as the grips go, I’d call it a wash. Though they differ in design, neither is particularly grippy. I don’t have a problem holding onto either model, though, and really don’t have a preference either way. The writing tips (and refills) are identical. Both are needle-like and lay down the ultra-crisp line that is so well loved by Hi-Tec-C enthusiasts. So let’s give each model a point here.

So what’s the score? Ah yes, two points apiece.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C's
Posing pens

Time for a tie-breaker, and that tie-breaker is PRICE! Surprisingly, the more substantial feeling, nicely colored and slightly embellished Maica costs a mere $2.25, whereas the basic Hi-Tec-C runs $0.55 MORE at $2.80. That may not sound like much, but if you buy all twelve Maica colors, that’s a savings of $6.60 (math whiz!). I can’t quite figure out why the upgraded model costs less than the stripped down version, but I’ll take it.

So, folks, we have ourselves a winner.

Hi-Tec-Cs
The Maica comes out on top, despite the loopy thing

Icon: Lamy 2000 (Makrolon)

Pen & Ink
Lamy 2000 & Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo

This pen flew under my radar for quite awhile. Since I have a bunch of Lamy Safaris and a few AL-Stars, I didn’t really see the need for a pricier Lamy. Silly me.

Lamy 2000
Not a Safari

A recent stream of positive chatter on Twitter perked up my pen ears, and I did my usual deep-dive into reviews and even a little digging into the history of the pen. The more I read and watched, the more my interest grew. The more I watched and read, the more I realized that this is a very different Lamy than the ones I already own. While the Safaris and AL-Stars are perfectly fine, well-made, fun, and colorful, the Lamy 2000 is a true icon.

Posted pen
Not an AL-Star

In continuous production since 1966, this is a pen that is gorgeously understated- looking both modern and vintage at the same time. Its subtlety is dazzling, its nib superb. I was immediately blown away by its looks and performance, and could easily see why this pen has been around, virtually unchanged, for 47 years and counting.

The pen’s features are SO well-integrated that I opted to use little red arrows to point them out. Like I said, subtle.

Piston filler knob
Well-hidden piston filler knob

Piston filler slightly open
Piston-filler knob opened just a hair

Because the pen is a piston-filler, bottled ink is required, and luckily I had a drop or two on hand. (Or a liter.) I filled it with Iroshizuku’s tsuki-yo (Moonlight) which is, in my opinion, the perfect ink for this perfect pen. They belong together. Forever and ever.

The pen body contains a very faint ink window so that you can keep an eye on the ink level. The red arrow will help you out.

Ink window
Ah, yes…THERE it is.

The spring-loaded clip is made of brushed stainless steel, as is the section, whereas the rest of the body is made of Makrolon- a high-tech polycarbonate material. I don’t know what that really means, but I have learned that Makrolon is durable and feels great in hand. There’s a matte, VERY finely ridged feeling to the material- smooth with just a hint of texture. I love it.

Stainless brushed clip
Stainless steel, brushed clip & a closer look at the Makrolon

LAMY branding
The branding is, you guessed it, subtle.

Maybe my favorite part of the pen is its 14kt gold, platinum-coated, hooded nib. I ordered an EF and am thrilled with how it writes. The line is fine, juicy, and exceptionally smooth.

Sweet EF nib
Simply perfect. EF and juicy.

Breather hole
Breather hole

I’ve read of some not-so-happy 2000 owners having less than stellar writing experiences, so it appears that there may be some nib inconsistencies. I ordered my pen from The Goulet Pen Company where each Lamy 2000 is QC’ed in-house prior to shipment. If my pen is any indication, they’re doing a great job weeding out the occasional dud. (Thanks, Drew, for inspecting and approving my pen!)

The slip-on cap is held in place by tiny ears, and feels very secure. The ears bother some “princess and the pea” type folks, but they in no way interfere with my grip, so are a non-issue for me.

Nib & ears
How the cap stays on

I enjoy my Lamy Safaris and AL-Stars in all their colors, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Lamy 2000. What a design. What longevity. What an icon.

—–

For Stephen Brown’s video review of this pen (the one I studied over and over), click here.

For an amazingly complete 4-part history of the Lamy 2000, click here.

Medicating With Pens: Namiki Raden Vanishing Point

Namiki Raden Vanishing Point
Just what the doctor ordered

If there’s ever a month that requires a pen pick-me-up, it’s February. And this last one was particularly grey, in weather and in mood. One of our beloved pups (11 year old Boo) has been struggling a bit so we’ve been extra-anxious about him, which made the colorless skies and raw winds that much harder to bear. Basically, we’re raw nerves in need of brighter days.

Raden VP
Mmmmm…shiny colors

Rather than cope with…ummm…”substances,” I’ve turned to pens. Well, one pen in particular– the Namiki Raden Vanishing Point that I picked up used from Dan Smith back in January. With it’s black lacquer body and heavy sprinkling of gorgeously shimmering abalone chips, the Namiki Raden Vanishing Point is good for what ails ya. It’s stunning, but not flashy. Colorful, but not blingy. The teal, purple, pink, azure, and emerald abalone chips almost look like they’re floating beneath the surface of the deep black body. When you consider the fact that each chip was placed by hand, it’s impossible to not be impressed. Mesmerizing, is what it is. Just like a starry starry mid-summer sky.

Wow.
A stunner

The pen came with a medium nib, but I found that it had a bit of “tooth” to it, so I made the decision to purchase and swap in a “Binderized” medium nib unit. A pen this good-looking deserves a stellar nib. And stellar it is. A “Binderized” nib is tested and tuned by Nibmeister Richard Binder…not customized, but optimized. Simply put, Richard Binder works magic with nibs. Magic.

Binderized medium nib
18K gold, rhodium plated, nib-o’-perfection

And let’s not forget that this is a Vanishing Point, which adds another level of coolness. By clicking the rock-solid knock, the nib is deployed or retracted, just as easily as with a retractable ballpoint pen. Click. You’re writing. Click. You’re not. Dead simple.

VP Knock
That’s one heavy duty knock

I filled the pen with Pilot Iroshizuku’s kon-peki (Ocean Blue) which works beautifully with the abalone accents. It’s a match made not in heaven, but in the ocean. Very soothing. Which is great because remember? Raw nerves?

Iroshizuku kon-peki
Ink as tranquilizer

I will admit to a bit of a break-in period with regard to the clip placement, but all is well now. I have a pretty typical grip, I think, so if you don’t, you might want to try one before jumping into the Vanishing Point pool. That’s one quirk with this pen that might be a negative for some.

Clip placement
Try before you buy

I can’t resist. Let’s take another look at those colors…

Rhodium accents & abalone bits
Rhodium accents and abalone bits

Another view
And again

So this pen did the trick, and beat back the February blues. Apparently the Namiki Raden Vanishing Point is my drug of choice…and without the co-pay.

Raden VP

But you know what REALLY cured me? Little Boo, back on his feet.

Boo

Some things are more important than pens.

——

Check out another review of the same pen at Gourmet Pens.

Want to know more about this fabulous ink? Check out Brad’s review.