Saturday, February 20, 2021

Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen review


There is a lot of talk about a cheap and very good fountain pen, the Pilot Metropolitan. So I decided to try it out as it was a good deal online. I ordered it and the packaging was a nice surprise. I usually don't care much about the way the fountain pen is presented, and the boxes usually are put to storage in a drawer but, for an affordable pen it was surprising to receive it like this.
The box came in a nice gift bag with Pilot name on it and some creepy animals. 
My box came with a brown snake print which is not the print and color of the fountain pen. This is a small minus, and I do not know if this happens because of the retailer or Pilot not match the box to the fountain pen theme. 
I also saw these fountain pens coming in plastic see trough cases.
I bought the leopard blue / purple fountain pen (more purple than blue). The color and finish are nice, even though I am not a big fan of animal patterns. But this makes an interesting combination between a classic shape and a more bold design.
The body and the cap are made out of metal and feel nice to the touch. The nib section is made out of plastic and has a tapered shape.
The nice and fine lines of the body are interrupted in the middle by the print and a chromed ring that delimits the cap from the body. Pilot Japan is printed right above the ring.
The cap is a pop fit and I find it secure enough. Though the pop is not very satisfying.
pilot mr
The thing that might put off people is the steep step between the grip section and the barrel. In certain hand positions, it might be problematic, but this wasn't the case for me.
I do not like to cap fountain pens but if you do then don't worry as it caps very nice and secure.
This version takes international standard cartridges, which is a plus (proprietary is a no-no).
The nib is not very decorated, just Pilot Japan and the letter M. The Medium nib writes very fine and it is smooth. I didn't do anything to it, just as it came it writes well. You can get it with a fine as well.
I appreciate that Pilot created a fountain pen that is affordable without cutting too many corners. The Metropolitan writes well, it has a classic shape that appeals to many people but with a twist of modern prints colors and designs, a body made out of metal and, this version at least takes international cartridges. A small drawback is the fact that it only comes in two nib sizes, Fine and Medium. But because the fountain pen is for general use "entry level", I consider it to be just fine.
More recently I have seen a very big price increase of the fountain pen locally. Probably people are more interested in Pilot's Metropolitan Fountain pen.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Parker 51 fountain pen reissue 2021

I have just seen that Parker will reissue the famous model 51 in 2021. The rumor about a reissue of the Parker 51 appeared in late 2019, and now you can buy it from several online stores. So if you are interested in old news stay tuned :D

This is not the first reissue of the fountain pen, a previous special edition was released around the year 2000 with 2 pen variants.

The new Parker 51 is a redesigned model inspired by the original. And I am happy to see that Parker is capitalizing on its own success. Because many fountain pen manufacturers have over the years filled in the void left by Parker. At the same time, Parker has reasons to thank them as they kept the style in the hands and hearts of users.
The new Parker 51 comes in a good range of colors similar to the traditional ones and two. The stainless steel one is the budget option priced at around 90 - 100 eur and while the gold plated cap is about three times the price of the first. The gold plated cap Parker also has an 18K gold nib and the cap is not smooth it has some grooves giving it a more refined look.
Both variants, the stainless steel cap, and the gold plated cap have bodies made out of resin. the only part which is not resin is the joint of the body which is metal and thus should increase the durability of the body.

The cap now screws in, compared to the original one which was a snap cap. It is a bit of a trade-off, you probably will bet a better seal but it will not be as friendly with taking quick notes. I am not saying it is a good or bad thing, I am just saying it is a bit different.
The most iconic feature besides the look is the hooded nib which was kept. The nib as mentioned previously is steel while the gold cap version has an 18k gold nib. They come in size Fine or Medium.
The filling system was updated to a converter.


  

I am very curious about what hardcore fans of the old Parker 51 have to say about these new releases, and if they would get the new models. The originals are considered very reliable pens, very good writers. A workhorse fountain pen that will last several lifetimes, and at the same time it has the appeal of owning a part of history, the original and not a reissue. Time will tell if these will lift up to their own name.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Uni Jetstream ballpoint

This review will be about the Uni Jetstream ballpoint pen. I do believe this is the best ballpoint pen on the market and I encourage you to give it a try, even if you are not a fan of ballpoints. I think you will find enjoyment in using it.
"In 1887 Niroku Masaki founded the company UNI in Tokyo Japan. In 1979 it became the UNI Mitshubishi Pencil. The name UNI comes from the word unic."
The company has in its portfolio a variety of rollers and ink pens. The Jetstream is part of the "hybrid" line, combining the technology from ballpoints and from rollers. It writes more like a roller and the writing is water resistant.
There are multiple pens in the Jetstream line but I will be talking about the SXN 101 which is available in size 0.5 and 0.7 mm line width.

The writing sensation offered by the Jetstream is incredible. It is smooth, it writes consistently, no hard starts and no skips and it keeps up all the time. I would say the most important thing for the pen is the writing experience. I am using the 0.5 mm version and it feels very nice. 
The pen is nothing fancy but it feels good in the hand.  It is all made out of plastic, the body is translucent and has the color of the paste inside. The Jetstream is available in a number of interesting colors besides the standard blue, black and red. 
The grip is made out of rubber, and it has a very pleasant feel. It is long-lasting, it is smooth and hard at the same time, and it is very solidly attached to the body, there is no movement. The drawback of it is the fact you can not see the level of the refill.
I can't say that the clip is the most solid, and it feels like it is going to break without too much effort but it is reasonable for the price you pay. I would like it to be a bit stronger as this is a reusable pen, but taking into account the pen costs just a little more than a refill in case it brakes you can just get a new one. The action of the mechanism is very solid and feels good when used.
As I already mentioned this is a reusable pen, the tip unscrews thus allowing you to change the refill.


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Seen on the screen, Christmas mood

This is not the traditional Christmas movie, it is Bad Santa 2.
In the opening scenes, Billy Bob Thornton is writing his goodby notes on a, what seems to be, a pizza box with a Parker Jotter pen.

It is a red plastic barrel Jotter pen. It is not very clear but I think it is the translucent version.

In a very messy kitchen between empty bottles and a lot of trash

Billy Bob Thornton is using the Parker Jotter to note down his last wish

Of course, he doesn't go through with his plans, as it would be a bit depressing for a Christmas movie and also very short.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

I wish you all a wonderful time beside the loved ones Take care, stay safe and enjoy the holidays.



 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Faber Castell lead grade and a bit of history

I stumbled upon a catalog from Faber Castell which I consider to be very interesting, "Product Knowledge Manual".
The catalog starts with a short history of the company and its line. I like that the history was detailed and well documented.

I encourage you to read it but I will give below a short version presenting the important moments, so be aware, spoilers will come. 
-In 1761 Kasper Faber produces a pencil in Stein and sells it in a market in Nuremberg. 
-Then his son Anton Wilhelm Faber takes over and the workshop becomes A.W. Faber. After the business is taken over by Georg Leonhard Faber, but he doesn't do too well, as the business goes through rough times (political and economic difficult period). 
-The son of Georg, Lothar von Faber takes over and develops the business.
He develops the modern quality pencil, sets the length and different grades of hardness that remain valid today, also it is the first time to produce a hexagonal section
The pencil is labeled A.W. Faber, becoming the world's first brand pencil. Also, he expands and founds a branch in New York, and subsidiaries in London, Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg.
-Wilhelm von Faber, the son of Lothar runs the company for a while. 
-After Wilhelm's death, his daughter Baroness Ottilie von Faber marries Count Alexander zu Castell Rudenhausen. Lothar before his death through his testament assured that future generations will have to keep the Faber name. So after the marriage of Ottilie and Alexander, the family name became Faber - Castell. At this time the company became Faber-Castell.
In 1905 the green Castell pencil range is launched, with a new product logo "Tournament of the jousting Pencil Knights"
-Roland Graf von Faber-Castell, son of Ottilie and Alexander succeeds 
-Followed by his son Anton Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell ran the company until 2016
-After his death, the company was taken over by a board of directors of which Countess Mary von Faber-Castell is part of


Indeed an interesting history. So between 1839–1896, Lothar the 4th generation of Faber's running the pencil business standardized what today is a Faber Castell pencil, the basic shape, and the lead hardness grade. In 1905 Alexander, the 6th generation made the traditional Faber Castell green.

They tell us that "the ideal writing pencil (for example in office) is the medium degree of harness so-called HB, while the school student's pencil has a B hardness degree.

I always thought that a #2 pencil is the equivalent HB, but apparently, it is B.
1     2     2 1/2     3     4
2B  B      HB      H   2H

Faber Castell offers the model 9000 pencil in 16 degrees of hardness, which is awesome. Also, in the manual the diagram of the mixture between clay and graphite for all the hardnes's.

It is interesting as we can approximate the mixing of the two components to get the different hardness. Just at a glance, you can see around the HB is an inflection point where the increase of graphite in the composition is less and less. I mean that between a 2b and 4b the formula seems to be very similar. 
Based on this graphic the composition rounded up to an integer. The b - 8b is increasing the graphite by an increment of 2 percent. 
Also, the HB is not a 50% mix of the two but 66% of graphite and only 34% of clay.
This is true of course for Faber Castell as the hardness of the lead is not standardize, so different manufacturers can produce the HB pencils a bit different.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

World record for sharpening pencils

A very interesting section can be found on speedrun.com on sharpening pencils.
For those of you who don't know, speedrun is a site where you can compete with other people via the internet in different challenges. For example, you can compete to finish a certain level of a game in the shortest time possible. It is not important the score, the execution, or anything else. You only have to obtain the fastest time possible.
You will find classic games like Mario or Wolfenstein, but also there is a section for sharpening pencils.
There are multiple disciplines in pencil sharpening, from sprint to marathon.
Sharpening 10, 69, 100, 420, 1000, 1500 and 6942 pencils.
The most competitive scene is the sprint with 10 pencils. The world record for sharpening 10 pencils is 3 minutes and 51 seconds, at this moment at least.
If you fancy being a world champion here is your opportunity.  In case the 3'51" proves too hard to beat you can opt for the marathon, in category 1500 there is only one time at the moment registered and for 6942 pencils there is no competitor. So this will guarantee a spot on the podium, indifferent of the time.

glhf = Good luck and have fun

For those of you who are more a board game type of player, there is a section In Real Life, which means exactly that. Sharper as fast as you can with a real sharpener, some real pencils.
The real life professional pencil sharpeners manage to beat the virtual time by a landslide. The competition is dominated by the USA in first and third place, and every other place, while Canada bringing home the silver.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

fountain pens in Dark series on Netflix s1e8

 Continuing the Dark binging this weekend I have spotted in season 1 episode 8 two nice fountain pens. This time the action is further back in time in 1953, and the camera doesn't show too much to be able to recognize easily what pens are in the picture.

The first fountain pen that appears in the shot is a classic looking cigar shape pen that resembles a Pelikan, but it is impossible for me to tell if indeed it's a Pelican or what model. We can only see the shape, the trim on the cap, and on the body, but the clip and nib are not visible.
The shot doesn't last too long and it presents the fountain pen on top of a case file.

The second fountain pen is used by a young boy to do math.
Again I can't really say what the young boy is using, but it seems to have a hooded or a semi hooded nib, gold color. It could be a Pelikan MK model but I think all of those were snap cap while this cap was screwed on to the body by the boy. Also, Montblanc nr 32 has a very close appearance but the logo on the cap is not present.

The cap has gold trim and the clip is also golden and looks flat, it could be different but in the pictures, the clip is not seen very well. The clip is connected with a golden metal part to the cap.
The body does not feature any trims, and the top part of it looks to be in a slightly different color

Another wild guess about the fountain pen is Lamy 27, it has the gold trim, it has the screw cap. In the end, it is guesswork as it is hard to see details, as no closeups are available.


Being so far back the director might intentionally omit such closeups just to be safe, and not mess up the story with products that were not available to the consumers back then.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Rotring Isograph in Netflix Dark series

Best possible things to do on a rainy weekend? I started watching the german series Dark on Netflix. It is quite an interesting TV Show. It is a bit difficult to keep up with the plot, being a time travel movie. But in the end, it is worth it. By the second season, everything starts to be clearer.

In 1986, Charlotte is analyzing and keeping track of the birds that are dying.

In the middle of the forest, Charlotte is drawing and writing in the journal all the details with a Rotring 2000 Isograph in 0.25 mm size.
Rotring Isograph is a technical pen that uses pigmented ink. Being a technical pen it comes in all the possible sizes from 0.1 mm to 2.0 mm and everything in between. It uses refillable cartridges.

It is nice that the producers of the show have gone to the length of finding correct writing instruments for the period of time presented, and not only that, but they used such an iconic product.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Rotring polimer leads

When it comes to polymer leads Rotrings are the ones I love. They are average-priced but exceptional writers. The leads write very smoothly, and it's hard to emphasize this enough. I do not have problems with the leads breaking under pressure, but this is usually not a problem anymore with modern half-decent products. If you haven't written using the Rotring leads I recommend giving them a chance.  So I give them 10 out of 10.

When rOtring introduced its first mechanical pencil, of course, it had to come up with the leads for it. So in 1979 when the Tikky was introduced to the public the first polymers from rOtring came to market as well. The leads came in a package that resembled the 2 mm.
In the catalog, rOtring specifies that the leads are resistant to breaking, and they come in size 0.3 / 0.5 / 0.7 and have different hardness levels.
As you can see back then rOtring was marketing their sizes differently 0.3 instead of 0.35 nowadays and 1.0 instead of 0.9 nowadays.
As I used rOtrings a little bit later down the line I did not use this first model but I don't remember the early leads to be that resistant as it was not unusual for the pencils to get clogged up. 
rOtring catalog 1980 Romania 

A new design of the lead box was released in the later years. I do not know exactly when the new design was launched to the market but it was before 1990. Most likely the formula changed as well as the package. The leads were not any kind of Polymer but a hi-Polymer.
The new lead boxes contained 16 leads divided evenly into two compartments that. The compartments were independent and each had its own cap, even though the caps were connected to each other.
rOtring catalog 1990
Sometime before 1996 rOtring changed the packaging of the leads again. The big change is the fact that rOtring in this period transitioned from the old labeling of sizes to the modern labeling. I mean that the previous size 0.3 was marketed as 0.3 / 0.35 mm, and the 1.0 changed to 0.9 / 1.0.
In addition to the size, color coding was added to the label. And of course, the number of leads in the package was reduced to 12 pieces instead of the previous 16.
The box kept the same design and color.
rOtring catalog 1996

In the early 2000s, a new package was introduced. A more modern design, where you slide the access door to access the 12 leads that are inside. The dual compartment was forgotten. Also, the dual-labeling of the size was dropped in favor of 0.35 mm and 0.9 mm. This is the way rOtring codes the sizes even today.
rOtring catalog 2005
Another change happened in 2008 when rOtring added the Tikky name on the label. Also, the article number was changed. This makes me believe that the product itself suffered a change, or maybe it was just integration in the Stanford article system.
rOtring catalog 2008