Under My Radar: ACME Stiletto Rollerball

The scene is a familiar one. I receive a gift certificate and a bit of birthday money and the next thing you know I’m steaming up the case of pens at our Scandinavian Design gift shop. I don’t quite have my nose pressed up against the glass, but almost.

This time, though, before I could get into another epic mental wrestling match with myself over which pen to choose, the sly owner (who is clearly onto me), blindsided me with a pen that I’ve NEVER NOTICED before. How is this possible? I have supersonic pen-seeking radar and have purchased a jillion pens from this place and yet I missed these?! Clearly, I’m slipping.

Hmmmm.

In my defense, they WERE tucked to the back of the case, behind a more prominent display of ACME Crayons. They’re very slim. And in a clear tube. And may have been hiding.

Meet the ACME Stiletto Rollerball, Frag model (Designer: Giovannella Formica).

ACME Stiletto Frag

To be honest, my immediate reaction was “nah.” Too skinny. I do like (or have gotten used to) beefier pens and this one is just 0.3″ in diameter. A mere wisp of a pen.

But then I held it, and my opinion starting easing. Hmmm…nice heft for its size. The striped lacquer feels substantial, and the stripes have just a hint of texture. This is a slender, but not a fragile (fra-gee-lay!), pen. Interest is spiking.

Posting end
Posting end

When I went to do a test-doodle (required) I realized that the cap simply pulled off AND WAS MAGNETIC, and that it could be MAGNETICALLY POSTED.

Posted pen
Posted pen

Well take my money.

I’m fairly certain the body is lacquered brass, as this seems to be the metal of choice for ACME pens. The trim is chrome. The capped pen measures 5.8″ and the posted size is 5.9″. And as I said, this is a very narrow pen, so clearly not for everyone. It’s also clipless and very rolly, so if that annoys you, move along.

Magnetic cap
Magnetic cap

As I doodled, the sleek, skinny feel started to grow on me, but it was that magnetic cap that reeled me in. It *SNAPS* into place with strong magnetic conviction and stays put. I could play with that thing all day. Very convenient, too, as there’s no excuse to NOT post the cap. It’s so easy and so addictive (in a magnetic pen cap sort of way).

Disassembled

The liquid ink refill is #5888, which is longer than the standard ACME refill, but writes the same. Black. Smooth. Consistent. The rollerball tip puts down a medium 0.7-ish line on my Rhodia dotPad. As I’ve clarified in previous reviews, liquid ink is subject to a bit of spread, more so than gel ink, but I don’t find this to be much of an issue as long as I’m writing on fairly decent paper.

P8126 vs. longer 5888 refill
Refill comparison: P8126 (standard) vs. 5888 (long)

There were a few other designs available— one with pop art flowers, one with stripes that ran the length of the pen, and one with pink, blue, and yellow hexagonal dots— but I liked the red, blue, green, and white stripes on the Frag model. It looks a bit nautical to me.

P1030498

Packaged simply, in a clear tube that’s plugged on both ends, this is a minimalist pen in the best sense of the word. It’s sleek, simple, playful…

Stiletto packaging

…and magnetic.

ACME cap

Happy Birthday to me.

Compare and Contrast: Kaweco Classic Sport Liquid Ink Rollerball

In last week’s post, I wrote about the ACME Eames Chairs Rollerball. This week’s pen is ALSO a rollerball, so I thought it might be an interesting exercise to compare the two. While there are a number of similarities, there are also some key differences, so let’s take a look.

While I purchased last week’s pen at a local shop, this “gently used” Kaweco Classic Sport Rollerball was sent to me by JetPens. It happened to arrive close to my birthday— a happy coincidence. It’s not a birthday without a new (or “new to me”) pen!

PACKAGING
Kaweco tin

Each pen comes packaged in a cool tin, which is probably my favorite type of pen box because I know it’ll last virtually forever. Both tins have hinged lids, but the relief graphics and lettering on the Kaweco tin really make it pop. For a relatively inexpensive pen, this is an impressive package that has an appealing, somewhat vintage, look.

MATERIAL
Kaweco Classic Sport Rollerball

The ACME Rollerball is a brass and lacquer pen, while the Kaweco is plain black ABS plastic, with just a bit of accent branding. The plastic is sturdy and durable, great for pockets and purses and backpacks. While I’m very careful with my ACME, the Kaweco is the perfect on-the-go pen. Does the plastic get scuffed up a little bit? Sure, but this is a pen that’s meant to be carried, so if it suffers a ding or scrape, that just means that it’s out doing what it was made to do. I love the ACME, but it’s more likely to live a pampered life than this rough and tumble Kaweco.

CAP and POSTING
Uncapped Kaweco Classic Sport

My ACME Rollerball sports a snap cap, while the Kaweco features a threaded cap. Both caps post deeply and securely by pushing them onto their respective pen bodies. The ACME sports a good-looking clip. The Kaweco is clipless, though an optional slide-on clip can be purchased separately. Since I tend to tuck this “everyday carry” pen in a pocket, I’m fine without a clip. The Kaweco’s faceted body keeps it from rolling away on a desk, so a clip isn’t needed for that purpose. But, as I said, if you’re happier with a clip, there’s one available.

Posted pen

As for posting, it really is a must for the Kaweco as the unposted pen is very compact at a mere four inches. This is, for me, usable in a pinch, but posting the cap makes for a much better writing experience. For those with larger hands, posting is a necessity. The ACME feels a bit top heavy when posted, so I usually use THAT pen unposted.

REFILL
Disassembled Kaweco Classic Sport

The refill in this Kaweco has no branding or markings but it’s the exact size and shape as the ACME 888 Safety Ceramic Rollerball refill in my ACME rollerball, which, incidentally, is also the same as the Retro 51 branded refill (or the Schmidt P8126, for that matter), which means you’ll get the same writing experience in all of these pens. These refills contain liquid ink, not gel, so there’s the potential for a tiny bit of bleed or feathering depending on what paper you’re using. I have to say that I tend to prefer gel ink over liquid ink, but as I rule, I enjoy either one more than ballpoint. Gel is just a bit crisper and predictable, but my qualms with liquid ink are very, very minor.

The one thing that I’m not crazy about with the Kaweco rollerball is that the refill rattles a bit inside the pen. I don’t mean that writing tip wiggles— that’s actually very solid— but that you can hear the actual refill rattling a bit when you move the body of the pen. Hearing this always makes me think that the cap is coming unposted from the back of the pen, but it’s not. Though not a huge deal by any means, it’s something that makes the Kaweco feel less solid.

PRICE
This Kaweco Classic Sport is available for $21.00 at JetPens, while I paid $69.50 locally for the ACME rollerball. Obviously, we’re talking plastic versus brass. Since you get the exact writing experience with either pen, it comes down to a matter of personal taste and intended use.

Kaweco emblem
I’m a sucker for that Kaweco logo!

If you’re looking for a cool, compact solid writer, the Kaweco Classic Sport is a great option. It’s super handy and ready to take on anything the day may throw at you. The ACME is a looker, but not something I want to treat lightly. Some days— actually MANY days— I have so much vying for my attention that the last thing I need is pen angst. So, for me, the ACME is better off at home and in controlled environments, whereas the Kaweco is ready to hit the ground running.

The ACME’s like visiting a museum. You have a good time, and see cool stuff, but there are rules. On the other hand, the Kaweco is like a day at the beach where you boat or swim or play ball. No rules, just fun.

The choice is yours.

Kaweco emblem

I choose…….BOTH.

Sitting Pretty: ACME “Eames Chairs” Rollerball

For Christmas, I received a gift certificate to our local Scandinavian Design store. Despite that fact that the store is packed with a ton of cool stuff, there was no doubt that I was going to put it towards one of the capped ACME rollerball pens— but which one? Even before I stopped at the store, I was mulling over a few options— Nancy Wolff’s “Dogs” and “Cats,” Lurinda Spear’s “Quote,” and Ayse Birsel’s “Write.” Since I had a kitty that was quite ill at the time, I was sort of leaning towards the cat pen. Oh, the mental energy and steam I put into pen decisions! If it could be harnessed, I’m sure I could power a small office building.

Once in the store, though, the choice became even harder. Karim Rashid’s “Orange” spoke to me, and I kind of fell in love with the old-school typewriter key graphic on Michael Doret’s “Qwerty.”

But then I saw the “Eames Chairs.” Hmmmmm. More pondering.

Eames Chairs Rollerball

I have no doubt that the saleswoman— who was outwardly very patient and helpful— was probably ready to scream into a pillow while I fondled pens and mulled over this epic decision. (It’s not a lie to say that I’ve picked out a new car faster than I chose this pen.)

In the end, I couldn’t resist the “Eames Chairs” design. After all, I love to sit. Simple as that.

ACME Eames Chairs Rollerball

The ACME website has this to say about the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames: CHARLES and RAY EAMES are ranked among the finest American designers of the twentieth century. They are best known for their ground-breaking contributions to architecture, furniture design (the Eames Chair), industrial design and manufacturing, and the photographic arts. The legacy of this husband and wife team includes more than 100 films that reflect the breadth and depth of their interests and the integrity of their vision. Theirs was a design collaboration in the deepest sense, and all their work, whether graphics, film or furniture was a product of their collective design process and philosophy. These products are approved and certified by the Eames Office, which is dedicated to communicating, preserving, and extending the work of Charles and Ray Eames.

Once I researched the couple a bit more, I was even more pleased with my choice. They sound like they were really cool people. And, again, CHAIRS.

A couple of special touches made me fall completely for this pen. The center band is etched with the simulated signatures of both Ray and Charles— a sweet little detail.

Ray Eames
Ray Eames

Charles Eames
Charles Eames

The pen’s snap-cap sports a “wheel and spoke” design that adds just a little pop.

Uncapped Eames Chair Rollerball

This rollerball is made from brass that’s silkscreened with the “Chairs” design, then coated in lacquer and clear coat. I do tend to baby it a bit as I’m afraid of scratching the design and that would make me crazy. The pen measures 5-1/3″ when capped, 4-7/8″ unposted, and 6-1/8″ posted. It’s a substantial pen so I tend to use it unposted, though the cap posts solidly and does not shift the balance too drastically.

Chairs

From the “autographed” center band, to the fun little design on the cap, to the “just right” taupey background color, and, of course, THOSE CHAIRS, this was clearly the pen I was meant to take home.

Loaded up with the ACME 888 Safety Ceramic Rollerball refill, you can expect a wet dark solid line that’s very much like writing with the Retro 1951 rollerball. The pen comes packed in a hinged tin, fitted with a dense foam insert, that’s perfect for storage and display. My pen lives in the tin when I’m not using it. (Refer to “scratching phobia” noted above.)

ACME tin

Pen in tin w/ pamphlet
Pen in its tin case, with the included ACME pamphlet

“Take your pleasure seriously,” Charles Eames is quoted as saying. Oh, I do. I surely do.

Just ask that saleswoman.

Eames Chairs

Teal and Purple Friday: ACME Crayon Rollerball in New Colors

The new ACME colors

My local source for the ACME rollerballs emailed me just before Thanksgiving to let me know that the two newest colors— teal and purple— had finally arrived. She’d given me a “heads up” a number of weeks prior to this, but every time I stopped in the store, the story was the same— nothing yet. But now, just in time for Black Friday, the pens were in stock.

Teal & Purple ACME rollerballs

When I bought my first ACME Crayon— a red one— I had no intention of acquiring the entire collection. But little by little, I picked up each color until I owned a full set, including the retired colors. There’s something irresistible about these hefty brass pens. The design is pure nostalgia, with colors straight from that big box of kindergarten crayons. The slightly matte body is textured to feel like the paper wrapper on your favorite crayons. These are pens that conjure up memories and tug at your heartstrings. (Can’t you just hear the hiss of the radiator in your elementary school classroom? Or am I the only old one here?)

Well-polished

A collection slowly sprouted up, as collections tend to do, and I knew I’d have to pick up the two newest colors to round out the set. So— on Black Friday— after lounging around the house most of the day and lunching on plates of Thanksgiving leftovers, we ventured out to our small Scandinavian Design gift store and picked up this pair. Other than groceries, that’s all the shopping we did that day.

Exploded view

The ACME rollerballs take the Schmidt P8126 refill and it’s good one— dark, smooth, and consistent. The ink does have a tendency to feather just a bit on some papers. I wrote the rough draft of this review in a Clairefontaine spiral notebook and you can see (if you click on the above photo) that the letters aren’t perfectly crisp, even on this excellent paper, due to the liquid nature of the ink. But I like the pens enough that I’m willing to overlook what some may call a flaw.

BUT, if any amount of feathering makes you crazy, there IS another option. Just as the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 ballpoint refill works in the Retro 1951 Tornado rollerballs, turns out it ALSO works in these ACME pens. Mike Dudek, of The Clicky Post, turned me onto these refills and they really are excellent— one of the best ballpoint refills out there, in my opinion. It’s always great to have options.

Teak and purple rollerballs

So my Black Friday— well, my Teal and Purple Friday— was a quiet one. No doorbusters. No waiting in line for hours. No midnight madness. Just time spent relaxing with my husband, lounging in a cozy chair, eating tasty Thanksgiving leftovers, and, of course, playing with these new pens.

ACME Rollerballs

My motto: A day without pens is like Thanksgiving without the turkey.*

*One year my grandmother made roast beef. It was weird.

Classic and Classy: Sheaffer’s Sagaris Rollerball

The folks at Sheaffer provided me with this Sagaris Rollerball pen for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated, and the review reflects my own experiences and observations.

Sheaffer Sagaris Rollerball
Sheaffer Sagaris

I get a nostalgic feeling when I think about the Sheaffer brand. I was a bit (maybe more?) of an oddball kid and was particular about my pens and pencils as early as junior high school. We regularly bought our school supplies at Woolworth’s— usually the garden variety stuff that suffered from iffy performance. Somehow I got my hands on a yellow Sheaffer NoNonsense ballpoint pen, and that became my pen of choice for years. I remember bugging my father to bring home new refills from the swanky luggage/jewelry/pen store near his downtown office. Ah, memories.

Sheaffer Sagaris
Brushed chrome with chrome trim

Fast forward a number of decades, and my collection is starting to reflect that early Sheaffer love. I picked up the Taranis fountain pen at the DC show and LOVE that thing. This year I also acquired a vintage Sheaffer Lady Balance, as well as a stainless steel NoNonsense fountain pen that reminds me of my junior high pen. Sheaffer’s been around for 101 years and I’ve been a fan for…well…a healthy percentage of those years.

Sagaris branding

The branding on the Sagaris is subtle. “SHEAFFER” is engraved on both sides of the polished chrome center band, and the pen’s clip sports Sheaffer’s white dot of quality. Both ends of the pen are polished to a mirror finish which provides just the right amount of visual interest.

P1030187

P1030185

The cap sports a nicely springy clip and snaps onto the body in a substantial way. I think the flared part of the plastic section is what makes the cap seat so tightly. That part of the section is my one bugaboo with the pen. It’s not exactly in my way, but I find that I notice it when I grip the pen. It’s sort of in the sweet spot of my grip, but doesn’t really cause a problem when I write. It’s just there. I rest my forefinger on it and I’m off and running.

Sagaris section

The Sagaris takes the Sheaffer Slim Rollerball refill which is very smooth, dark, and consistent. This is a liquid ink, so much like a fountain pen, the performance of the refill will vary depending on the paper used. The rough draft of this review was written on Rhodia paper and lookes great. I’ve also had very good performance from the refill on plain old copier paper. But be aware that, unlike gel ink, rollerball ink may feather on some papers.

My only other complaint is that the Sheaffer refills are available only in blue and black and in a medium width. Personally, I’d prefer a finer option. Poking around a bit for other refill options, I found that Levenger sells a compatible 0.5 mm rollerball refill in black, blue, and red. I’m planning to spring for a pack of these to give myself the option of going finer.

Size comparison
Size comparison: Sheaffer Sagaris rollerball vs. Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen

The Sagaris has a nice weight but is not heavy. I generally use the pen with the cap posted and find that this feels nicely balanced in hand.

Sheaffer Sagaris

Packaged in a gift-worthy box, the Sheaffer Sagaris rollerball sports clean good looks. Available in seven finishes, there’s a look to please just about anyone. The Sagaris line also includes ballpoint and fountain pens, so there are plenty of options to choose from. The look is classic and classy— perfect for home, office, or school.

Sheaffer Sagaris

The Sagaris line carries on Sheaffers’s tradition of quality that hooked me as seventh grader and keeps me coming back for more. You can’t argue with that kind of history.

Hmmm…I wonder if I can still get my father to spring for those refills.

Local Fare: More Pens by Bob

Now that the holidays are approaching and we’re entering the hardcore craft show season, Fred and I are making the rounds of the area shows. A few weekends ago we stopped at a nearby firehouse in hopes that my favorite local pen people would be there— Bob and Virginia Lenhart of RJL Enterprises. You may recall that I happily stumbled upon Bob’s handmade pens back in April at the same firehouse. Those pens remain favorites—the magnetic caps are STILL fascinating to me—so I was hoping that they’d be there for the fall show. AND THEY WERE! (Were you in suspense?)

Magnetic pens
My April purchases

Why I didn’t take pictures of their table is beyond me. (Next time, I swear!) I guess I get so flustered by the pens! What’s cool is that Bob displays acrylic blanks next to some of his finished pens so that you really get to see how much the acrylic is transformed by the talents of the penmaker. While we were chatting, a woman stopped by the table and marveled at all of the choices and colors and styles. She ultimately walked away with a magnetic capped rollerball pen, much like the one I purchased last time. Good choice, wise lady!

Even though I love the magnetic pens, I wanted to pick something different this time, so a pen decision had to be made. Trying to pick out one of Bob’s pens is like going to an animal shelter and trying to pick out ONE kitten. YOU JUST WANT TO TAKE THEM ALL HOME. They’re all so colorful and polished and obviously made with great care and  love. (The pens, I mean, not the kittens.) Did I want wood? Or a colorful acrylic? Something with a stylus? Ballpoint? Rollerball Fountain pen? Hmmmmmm.

What to choose. What to choose.

Honduran Mahogany pens

I eventually settled on a rollerball and fountain pen pair made from Honduran Mahogany. The pens are identical twins when capped, and are highly polished and coated so that they look and feel like fine furniture. SMOOTH.

Chrome accents

Honduran Mahogany Rollerball and Fountain Pen

Trimmed with chrome and black accents, the look is simple but eye-catching. The grooved grip area makes the section much grippier than a plain metal section, and the clip is great-looking and wonderfully springy. The rollerball takes a Schneider Topball 850, or a Staples brand Avant gel refill, while the fountain pen takes a standard cartridge or converter. Both write like champs. Bob obviously loves what he does, and wants to share his handiwork and love of pens, so his prices are more than fair. I paid $44.95 for this pair, which is a super deal.

Acrylic ballpoint

I also walked away with a gorgeous acrylic ballpoint that takes Parker-style refills and has been to and from work with me every day since. The acrylic is a summery swirl of yellow/orange and green and is a real mood booster. As the days get colder and darker, it’s nice to have some things that bring warmth and sunshine to mind, and this pen does just that. With a Private Reserve EasyFlow 9000 refill (my favorite—thanks, Mike Dudek) installed, it lays down a smooth dark line that’s pure ballpoint joy.

Shimmery acrylic
Shimmery acrylic— even better in person

We saw a lot of really cool crafts that day—from wooden jewelry boxes to soft fleece pillows to leather belts—but my heart will always go with the pen guy. Maybe that’s because Bob puts so much heart into his pens.

The new trio
Still life with pens and Nock Co. case

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Though you may not be lucky enough to have a “Bob” in your backyard, Bob’s pens can come to you. Check out his website at pens4youonline.com. There’s free shipping within the USA!

This is not a sponsored post. I’m just a happy repeat customer.

Moods & Options: Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus
Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (or Ti, for short)

I regularly prowl Kickstarter for interesting pen projects, and try to get in as early as possible to get an Early Backer Reward. When I saw the write-up and introductory video for the Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (clunky name, sweet pen) by Chadwick Parker & Joe Huang, a couple of details grabbed me right away. (I just accidentally typed “write away,” which, maybe, is what I SHOULD say.)

#1: Titanium. Titanium through and through- from tip to tail (as long as you don’t count the tip of the refill and the stylus end). I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about titanium when I backed this project, but I knew that this pen would be strong and a bit hefty. Which it is. It sure is.

#2: Bead-blasted finishes. I love a matte finish on a pen, so seeing this pen offered in bead-blasted matte black and matte silver, as well as highly polished chrome (potentially too fingerprinty for me), drew me in a little deeper.

#3: “Most refill friendly pen ever!” Once I read that, I knew I was a goner. The number of refills that fit into this pen is as long as your arm (so to speak), and that was truly intriguing to me. I’m a bit of a fickle pen person, and my pen mood swings wildly from day to day, and sometimes, even within a day (or an hour). Knowing that I could swap in a bunch of my favorite refills (from Pilot’s Frixion, G2, and Hi-Tec-C Cavalier gel refills, to the hybrid ink Jetstream, and even a Montblanc Fineliner) meant that one pen body would last through my many pen mood swings.

#4: Bonus–> Stylus! I’m on some sort of iDevice a million times a day and having a great stylus sounded awesome, if only as a way to cut down on smudgy, fingerprinty screens. And if I could use it to draw and jot “handwritten” digital notes on my iPhone and iPad, all the better.

So I backed the project, and waited a few months while Chadwick & Joe updated us throughout the entire pen manufacturing process. Their dedication and unwillingness to settle for anything but a superior product became evident as they documented their progress and even fessed up to the occasional hiccup. The project was delayed a bit when they noticed that caps and bodies bead-blasted in different machines were not perfectly color-matched, which caused them to refine the process to correct the problem. “Good enough” is not good enough for this team.

So the pen arrived a little bit late, but who cares? The Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus delivers, which is all that matters.

The pen came loaded with a Pilot G2 0.5 mm refill, but I swapped in a Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier 0.4 mm refill and wrote away. Then I decided I wanted to try a Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill, and that fits perfectly and writes great, too.

Ti G2 0.38 mm refill writing sample
Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill in use

The clip is sturdy (titanium, too!) and just flexible enough to clip the pen to your pocket. I’ve been doing this for weeks without an issue. The branding is super-subtle- just a a small, boxed Ti on the clip.

Ti clip
Ti clip and branding

Here’s a peak at the stylus, which, by the way, is the best stylus that I’ve used to date. Not too squooshy, not too stiff, and very responsive. I love the pen almost as much for the stylus end as I do for the pen end. Should you not WANT a stylus, the stylus can be replaced with a flat end cap, but really, why would you want to do that?!

Stylus
Just right

Here are a couple of shots of the pen posted and unposted…

Posted pen

Unposted

With the cap posted, the pen is WAY too long for me, so I always use it unposted. Not an issue for me, but something to keep in mind.

The “grip” area features three grooves, but quite honestly, I can’t really feel them when I hold the barrel. Personally, I don’t find the barrel to be slippery, but, again, something to consider.

Ti grip area
Ti’s grip

It’s getting late so let’s sum up…

Pros:
Titanium
Hefty! (38 g, when loaded with refill)
Excellent stylus
Choice of finishes…matte AND polished
Wide, wide range of compatible refills
Sturdy clip

Cons:
Very long when posted
Ummm…nothing else, in my opinion.

Want one? Even though the Kickstarter campaign is over, they’re now available at bigidesign (as are the aluminum and pint-sized counterparts). This is not a sponsored post. Chadwick and Joe only know me as Backer # whatever. I’m just really impressed with this pen.

Finally a pen that has as many refill options as I have pen moods. And THAT’S saying something.

Novelty: The Retro 51 Tornado ZAG Limited Edition

Back in the 90′s, my cousin and I took a road trip to Maine. As we were backing out of the driveway, my aunt waved and shouted, “No novelties!” (?????) I guess she was thinking of us as little kids, when we were prone to blowing our allowances on Super Balls, Silly Putty, and good luck trolls. So throughout our drive up the coast, whenever we stopped at a gift shop, we’d hold up touristy lobster-covered objects and ask each other, “Is THIS a novelty?” The joke just didn’t get old.

Though the days of trolls (I had quite the collection) and enormous pencils and crazily twisted drinking straws are behind me, I AM still drawn to the occasional novelty. Enter the Retro 51 Tornado ZAG Limited Edition rollerball.


Better than Silly Putty

I’ve written about the Retro 51 Tornado before, but the ZAG has a surprise twist that made it irresistible to this pen collector. Like all Retro 51 pens, the packaging is both unique and fun.


Doesn’t that bike remind you of your childhood?


Words to live by

The box is clever, but the packaging doesn’t end there. The pen is tucked inside a very cool metal tube (that sort of pops when you pull the top off). How novel!


The whole shebang

But that’s not the REAL novelty. Nope.

The build quality is superb, and I especially love the knurling at the end of the pen.


Twist this to extend and retract the rollerball

But that’s still not the novelty.

So what is it?!

(drumroll)

The ZAG GLOWS IN THE DARK.


A very novel pen novelty

With its cool packaging, smooth rollerball performance, obvious build quality, AND its glow-in-the-dark trick, I could not resist the Retro 51 Tornado ZAG Limited Edition pen.

Just don’t tell Aunt Dot.

——-
You can find the ZAG at:
Jetpens.com
Daly’s Pen Shop

Pleased To Meet You: TUL Pens by OfficeMax- A Review AND a Giveaway!


Meet the TUL family

Our local OfficeMax store closed a number of years ago, and since then, I’ve lost touch with the brand. So when a representative offered to send me a set of the latest generation of TUL pens, I jumped at the chance, especially because the offer included an additional set to give away. I’ve been test-drivingwriting them for most of the week, and can wholeheartedly endorse the TUL line.

Here are the players:


Medium point, black ink


Medium point, blue ink


Medium point, black ink


Fine tip, black ink

To be honest, in the past I’ve shied away from store-brand pens because of performance issues, but OfficeMax’s TUL line changes that. All of the pens in this line are stellar performers, and easily match the quality of comparable Uniball, Zebra, Pilot, and Sharpie pens. TUL pens ARE the real deal.


See?

I’ve been particularly taken with the smooth dark line of the retractable ballpoint, which is tricky to get right, judging by the number of so-so ballpoints that are on the market. The super-affordable TUL ballpoint is the one that I’ve been reaching for since it arrived. The ink is just that good. The smooth rubber grip makes it easy to hold, and I really like the clean and simple lines of the pen. It’s minimalist in looks, but certainly not in performance.


Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The fine-line marker pen, with its clear cap, dimpled black grip, and simple branding also appeals to me. No gimmicks, just a precise line that doesn’t feather or bleed. Very nice. The fiber tip feels quite sturdy, like it’ll easily hold up for plenty of sketching or note-taking.


Top to bottom: Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The retractable gel pen is very simple looking, with a black body matching the extra-long smooth black grip. Again, the gel ink writes great. No skipping. No smearing. No complaints. Same goes for the capped rollerball…the black liquid ink is perfect making bolder lines and bolder statements.

Lest you think all of this pen goodness comes at a premium price, check out these links to OfficeMax.com for the good news:

Ballpoint
Gel
Rollerball
Marker Pen

Superior performance AND pricing. Great looks and super smooth inks. That’s TUL, by OfficeMax. Check them out at your local OfficeMax store or online.

My only disappointment is that it doesn’t appear that the boxed set featured in this post & giveaway is available for purchase. (Hint, hint, OfficeMax!)

I know what you’re saying…yeah, yeah, yeah, but how do I WIN a set??!! It’s as simple as the design of the TUL pens:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Wednesday 10/31/12 (Halloween!). One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of all four TUL pens. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of November 1st. OfficeMax will ship the pens to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.
5) GOOD LUCK! Hope you win this Halloween treat!

TUL pens, I AM pleased to meet you. This looks like the start of something good.

Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Retro 51 Tornado: Vintage Metalsmith Lincoln

I NEVER WIN ANYTHING! Welllllll…until now! I recently took a stab at a photo captioning contest on the Retro 51 blog and…amazingly…won! Me! The never-winner! The prize? One of the new, very cool Retro 51 Tornado Rollerballs- Lincoln (Antique Copper) model. Oh, I had been eyeing these, and now one was on its way to me. Just knowing this polished up a plain old Thursday into a much shinier day.


Killer packaging

The pen arrived on Saturday and it’s a beauty. The antique copper design looks truly vintage. Sort of modern vintage. (The best of both worlds, really.) Even the clip and knurled twist mechanism look like a well-worn penny. The finish is smooth, much smoother than it appears in some promotional photos, where it almost looks rough and rusty. I like the classic lacquers (have a couple), but this is a fresh departure…very sharp.


“Life Is Too Short To Carry An Ugly Pen”


Clip & knurling

Of course, the packaging is killer. As you can see above, the box I received has the “man on scooter” graphic, which I particularly enjoy because it reminds me of my sweet Vespa. The inner “tube” is bright orange and blue- classic Retro 51 stylin’. (The tube says “Please recycle” But I can’t imagine anyone throwing away this packaging.)


The complete package

The liquid ink/rollerball lays down a bold, solid line- very smooth. I DO wish that there was the option for a finer rollerball point, but this one is fine when I’m in the mood to write BOLDLY.


Rollerball writing sample

I did swap out the rollerball for a fine point Parker ballpoint refill, which is a nice option. I found that I had to turn around the spring (which is slightly tapered), so that the narrower end of the spring points towards the back of the pen. Otherwise, the spring catches and the tip doesn’t deploy/retract smoothly. Reversing the spring solves this little issue. The Parker refill isn’t Jetstream quality, but it’s a perfectly good option, especially for a finer line.


Retro 51 Tornado refill options


Ballpoint refill writing sample

Oh- and I almost forgot to mention that the fine folks at Retro 1951 sent along a t-shirt as an added, surprise bonus– very cool! Who knew Retro 51 t-shirts existed? Well, we do now! (I wore mine IMMEDIATELY.)


Retro 51 t-shirt

I love my prize, and not just because it’s the only prize I’ve ever won. To me, I hit the Retro 51 JACKPOT.

Check out the rest of the Vintage Metalsmith line here. They all look vintage…AND modern…and very cool.

A couple of additional notes:
Though the Vintage Metalsmith Rollerballs are not yet available at JetPens, they do offer a great collection of the Classic Lacquers, as well as a few other special editions here.

While rooting through my treasure chest of refills last night, I discovered that the Schmidt refill P8126 (Short Body) is a perfect finer point rollerball option for the Tornados. It probably runs around 0.5 mm and has made this pen absolutely perfect. SO perfect, in fact, that I quickly ordered a handful via Daly’s Pen Shop.

I think that covers it!