Saturday, July 10, 2021

Beautiful fountain pens in Dark series season 3 (origins, nuclear plant)

 The German Dark series on Netflix has showcased very beautiful fountain pens over its run. I have managed to see all the episodes and I came across a very interesting looking one. I can't manage to find who is the manufacturer. If you have suggestions the comments are just below :)

The first fountain pen that I have spotted in Dark season 3 is the following one. A very interesting long and probably gold nib

The second fountain pen I have spotted is arguably an even nicer fountain pen, with a unique look. It has a very classic shape, black color, with gold trim. Especially the gold circles on the cap/barrel are quite unique and nice looking.

Tha same fountain pen is featured later being used to write in a journal.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Jinhao 51A fountain pen

jinhao 51a fountain pen parker stile
I wanted to get a hooded nib fountain pen, and after some window shopping, I picked the Jinhao 51A, with an acrylic barrel. It is pretty clear, from where the pen takes its inspiration.

The pen took some time to arrive as I ordered it from Aliexpress. The pen made the long journey among friends, so I will share another two pens in the short future after I spend more time with them.

parker style jinhao 51 acryl marble

The Jinhao 51A comes with a small price and a big look. I paid around $5 for the acrylic version. You can buy the fountain pen with in different barrel options. It is offered in with a plastic body, translucent and opaque, wood, or acrylic. All the body types are offered in different colors. Also, buy it with the hooded nib or with a more traditional* nib. There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to aesthetics, but the hooded nibs are only available with a Fine nib. I found the white black acrylic to be the most interesting looking, so I ordered it. It has a very classic and traditional form, but the acrylic makes gives it an interesting allure while keeping the "classy" look at the same time.

* I always thought that the traditional style nib is the hooded one. I consider them traditional because when I was growing up this style of fountain pens was very common, I would say they were the standard.

jinhao 51a grip nib marble barrel black white acryl

The grip section of the fountain pen is made out of black plastic for all the models, only the barrel differs. The grip is comfortable. It is thick enough and due to the fact it is smooth, you can hold the fountain pen however you like. If I write for longer periods of time, the section can become a bit greasy, offering less grip. The nib is hooded but a bit bigger than I expected it to be.

jinhao fountain pen converter 51a

Between the grip section and the barrel, there is a metal ring that gives the fountain pen a nicer look, a bit more elegance. The interior thread of the grip section is metal, while the barrel has the thread done in acrylic. From time to time, fine pieces of acrylic end up on the metal thread of the grip section. I am not saying it will not hold up for many years, though.

jinhao metal thread

It would be nice to have the barrel coated with a metal liner, but for the money I paid, I will place this minus in the category good enough.

The look of the barrel is the highlight of the pen. It is made from a very nice acrylic, for not a lot of money. This model black white has in some parts amber hue. To me, the colors look like marble. 
brushed cap jinhao 51a

Compared with the pen from which it draws its inspiration, the Jinhao 51A has a very similar size and diameter. 

jinhao disasambled

The cap is made out of brushed metal and has an interesting pocket clip. The look of the clip is not a copy of the Parker, giving the pen its own character. The cap is very secure on the body, giving a click-like feel when pushed in all the way. After using the pen for some time, the plastic grip section has a spot that lost its shine due to the cap, which rubs on it to create a seal. Though it is not very visible.

If you pay a bit of attention, you will see that the finial and clip are a lot shinier compared to the rest of the cap. While the cap has a brushed look to it. The finial is connected to the cap with a screw on the inside. I do not know how well the screw will cope with the ink and humidity.

hooded nib jinhao

The fountain pen writes well. The nib doesn't scratch, it feels ok on the paper. The tines were not perfectly aligned and because the nib is so small it is stiff and hard to tune them. I would describe the nib to feel more like a pencil, offering feedback to the user. It puts on the paper, a dry line and I guess it makes sense as these pens are designed as everyday writers, on general purpose paper, where a wet and broad line would not do too well. 

The sweet spot of the nib is rather small. Reverse writing is possible, offering an even thinner line and less ink. It is not overly scratchy, and compare with other nibs, it could be cataloged as usable.

jinhao converter

The fountain pen comes with a converter of ok quality. I appreciate that the Chinese fountain pen companies offer a converter, even though the price of the pen is very low. Even though I am very satisfied using cartridges, there are a lot of people who prefer converters. The pen is compatible with international size cartridges, short or long.

I have tested it extensively for about two months, and  I enjoyed using it. The look made me go back to it very often.
The writing experience was not perfect out of the box. It had some ink starvation problems, especially putting down fast lines, the ink would stop coming out. I aligned the tines of the nib for a smoother and better writing experience and spread them, so it would be a bit wetter. I also swapped the converter with an international ink cartridge because the ink wasn't flowing very well. It has a capillarity effect, creating pockets of air inside. The converter needs an agitator to prevent this from happening.
When I replaced the converter with a long international ink cartridge and spread the tines a bit, I had issues with too much ink coming out and burps. I had instances when I hold the pen in the fist, the air got hotter inside and started coming out and making the pen burp.
I took it a few days at the office, and standing on the table in the sun it burped ink in the cap. It happened to me with other fountain pens but this felt a bit more dramatic. This happened while it had a large international cartridge that was half empty. My Loom has the tendency to burp when paired with large international cartridges.
I tested it with a standard international cartridge, and it works a lot better. But testing it with the nib in up position and holding the barrel in my fist small air bubbles come out. I believe that the materials used are conducting the heat from the hand too well.
After some trials and errors, the pen works very well. I use only international short cartridges now, though.

One thing that I appreciate is the cap which creates a good seal, and the ink doesn't dry. I had it sitting for 2 weeks, and it wrote from the first attempt. I consider this to be very impressive, as the pen has a friction cap.

All in all, I am happy with the fountain pen and how it writes, I will stick to international short cartridges in the future. Even if it is not a perfect writer, I would recommend it, especially if you like the style. You can choose from a variety of materials and colors.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Bic Matic Mechanical Pencil

A very iconic mechanical pencil, the Bic Matic.
I had several of these as a kid, I see them all over, in movies or as promotionals. This Bic Matic has a clear hexagonal barrel and a green clip. I like you can get the pencil in a multitude of colors, transparent barrel and colored trims or colored opaque barrels. 
The tip of the pencil is completely made out of plastic and has no metal sleeve. It is a thin and long pencil. In its thickest point, right where the black front sections meats with the barrel the pencil is 8.2 mm thick. From tip to eraser it has 15.1 mm in length. Comparing it with a Tikky which is 9.4 mm wide and 4.3 mm long.
The clip is a nice lime green. It has the Bic logo on it, the model name and size, and very weird it also has HB #2. I know that the pencil is intended for children, school supplies but labeling the hardness on a mechanical pencil seems to be strange at least.
You can get the Bic Matic in size 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9, but the first two sizes are more readily available while 0.9 is harder to find

There is a model which has a rubber grip, named Bic Matic grip. On the package, it states that it is for extra comfort.
Bic's are disposable products, but I am sure you will get enough of use out of these pencils. Even though it is disconcerting when you see in shops boxes of 40 pieces or you see that 1 Bic pencil last as much as 2 and a half would pencils :)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Baoke pen

This is not a known name, but you will find here and there reviews mostly of fountain pens over the internet. It is a Chinese brand, usually found on eBay but I found this pen in a local shop. It intrigued me as it was rather cheap and it seemed like a nice pen at the same time. The Baoke B33 1.0 (I guess 1.0 is the thickness of the refill) 

The pen is inspired by Parker Jotter, I wouldn't call it a copy but the design definitely has some Jotter vibes.

The body is a very nice plastic that has a soft feeling, giving it a more premium feel and look. The plastic didn't deteriorate over time, as I have this pencil for a couple of years. I do not use it very often, it stays at the office most of the time and I use it to take notes, sign stuff if I don't have other pens on me, or lend it to colleagues.

The barrel is on the thinner side, but it is a nice size for short sessions. 

The upper section has a metal sleeve to give a more sturdy and premium look, underneath if you force it off you will find plastic.

The clip is strong and secure, as well as the mechanism which has a good feel.

The refill is Parker style, and it writes ok, no complaints here. The color of the ink is a nice blue. And I would rate the writing experience above average from what you would expect from a Chinese pen cheap ballpoint pen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Faber Castell Shark mechanical pencil

shark mechanical pencil

 Shark week presents Faber Castell mechanical pencil :)

Quite an interesting and fun design for a mechanical pencil, and not as scary as you would think based on the title of the post. The pencil caught my eye and I had to take it home with me.
It is completely made out of plastic, the barrel and the front section are made out of translucent grey plastic, which are contrasted by the over the top rubber grip in a nice light blue color.
shark mechanical pencil
The plastic used in the pencil is a bit on the flimsy side. So even though the pencil has a retracting metal sleeve, I would not carry it in a pocket.
The grip feels nice in the hand. The grooves give you a good grip. The front end flares a bit out, and the top end of the grip ends with an original fish eye, mouth, and teeth. In general, these kinds of grips do not cope well with the passing of time. But in this case, I don't know which will outlive which, the body of the pencil or the grip. 
The clip doesn't offer the impression of security or durability.
To refill the pencil you can take out the eraser like you would on most of the mechanical pencils out there or you can remove the plastic endcap entirely and get access to the lead reservoir.
The printing on the pencil is minimal. It is an off-white Faber Castell and the logo and beneath the name "Shark Pencil" and the size.
Overall this is a nice pencil, not necessarily because of the quality of the build but because of the intriguing design. I like the unique style, the balance of the colors, and the aerodynamic or hydrodynamic look.

Inspired I guess by the pencil I have watched a lot of shark movies, from classics like Jaws to newer releases like The Reef, Open Water series, Bait 3d, and a few others.

Friday, March 19, 2021

PVC in erasers, Faber Castell Erasers comparison

Recently I have spent more time reading about Radon, VOC, and products that contain harmful ingredients. If you try to eat more eco-product also take a look at the stuff that surrounds you. Inside our homes many if not all the surfaces release compounds in the air that are not necessarily good for our health. The first step would be to limit the toxic materials or use them as sparingly as possible and if the space allows for a mechanical ventilation system I would suggest you look into it, as it is a very good way of reducing the concentrations of pollutants to low levels.
If what you eat matters this should matter as well. 
Most if not all of the products that are made out of plastic and have a rubbery/soft texture contain harmful chemicals that enter our bodys. The easiest method for these substances to enter our body is licking/chewing (sounds funny but many children chew on erasers/pencil etc), but there are other ways and a lot more products that we use daily.

Moving on to the stationary... I have come across an article, China Testing School Erasers
You can read more in the article. Long story short, they have tested for products meeting the toxic materials present in the erasers and the concentrations.

The brands that were part of the test wee:

The complete report is in Chinese, so I can't understand more than the pictures tell me.
Tombow Mono Plastic Eraser, Muji Plastic Eraser, Uni Plastic, Pilot Foam, Radar, Pentel Hi-Polymer,  Faber Castell Dust Free plus many more use PVC in their composition. Some have really high values, but I will not try to interpret those. The highest numbers are beside UNI, Pilot, Radar, MONO.
The article recommends using PVC free.

So here I am, testing three Faber Castell erasers, not for toxic materials but on their performance in doing their job. Two of them are PVC Free Erasers (the top row erasers from the first picture) and the third is the Faber Castell Dust Free eraser. 
The Dust Free 18 71 21 is a very good eraser, praised by a lot of people and widely used. It erases ok, and leaves very little residue behind. This makes it a favorite. Also, the black color helps to hide the dirt accumulated on it. This will be the control, representing the PVC erasers.

The white PVC Free eraser came with a protective paper cover while the green PVC Free eraser came in a very basic plastic wrap. The white PVC Free has all the writing on the paper cover, while the green has the information printed directly on it. 
I have tested to see how the erasers do, with classic lead and with polymer lead. All of the erasers did very well erasing the pencil marks completely without any effort.
Even though the results are similar, the feel is very different.
The Dust Free is grippy in a nice way, not wrinkles in the paper grippy, and it flexes a lot, leaving little to no residue behind.
The white eraser leaves a little more residue compared with the Dust Free, but still, small quantities compared with other erasers. The residue tends to clump together but there are definitely a lot of small particles.
The Pvc Free green eraser seems to be a bit stiffer than the white Pvc Free. You can feel it in hand and when you use it. It has a plastic feel, sliding over the paper more. It leaves more residue but the residue tends to stick to the eraser (or not break off).

In conclusion, I would say get a PVC Free eraser. It won't be a huge difference in erasing performance. 
I am sure that PVC erasers will not cause that much harm, compared to other pollutants we encounter daily but it is good to limit as much as possible your exposure to them. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Lamy present in Capitan America Civil War

Watching the marvel movies again I saw in the movie Capitan America Civil War that Capitan America likes Lamy inks.
On the desk, he has a Lamy ink bottle, and some fountain pens I assume even though the fountain pens can't be identified by the shoots.
I have to say the look of the Lamy ink bottle works really well with the somewhat modern office design.

In the same movie Tony Stark "Iron Man" offers Capitan America a set of fountain pens to sign a document.

These fountain pens look more like dip pens. Cool look but I can't figure out who makes them.

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.