Parker Vector Navy Body Fountain Pen

22 07 2014
I can't wait to get a good solid grasp of stylized drawing of my dog. I'm guessing it will look like a bunch of triangles trying to bite everything and projectile vomiting water

I can’t wait to get a good solid grasp of stylized drawing of my dog. I’m guessing it will look like a bunch of triangles trying to bite everything and projectile vomiting water

A recent ramble into my local pen store revealed that Alan had gotten his hands on some new-old stock of Parker Vector fountain pens. I wasn’t necessarily intending to buy another fountain pen, but how could I resist a good deal?

The answer is I can't resist. I think I may be in the grasp of the pen mafia.

The answer is I can’t resist. I think I may be in the grasp of the pen mafia.

By the packaging design, I was going to guess late 80s, but the markings on the cap indicate that this Parker hails from 1993. The barrel is plastic with metal accents—the grip, the bit you post the cap on, and the clip.

Do you make a Hawkeye joke, or a Green Arrow joke? NEITHER, because this pen is navy. Except on a cloudy day, when it apparently turns photogenically black.

Do you make a Hawkeye joke, or a Green Arrow joke? NEITHER, because this pen is navy. Except on a cloudy day, when it apparently turns photogenically black.

The plastic Vector is a thin, simple, everyday pen that nevertheless sneaks in some pleasing repeat design elements. I see it and I think “school pen.” There’s even a spot on top that’s got to be for either writing your initial on or for being perplexingly distracting from the dark navy/silver motif.

"F" for the grade you'd better not make when using this pen

“F,” for the grade you’d better not make when using this pen

I can’t help setting my expectations low when a fountain pen clocks in around $15, but in this case it wasn’t needed—the nib is nice! There’s definitely a sweet spot to it, moreso than some other pens I’ve picked up lately, but it’s got a wonderful tactile flow on that sweet spot. No skipping, no hard starts. That kind of reliability is exactly what you need in a school pen. The only major downside: proprietary cartridges. But these cartridges are huge! How washable is this washable blue ink? I think that will be an experiment for another day.

Man, I wish I had affiliated links of some sort. I spend enough money on Amazon Prime, they ought to throw me some kickbacks. Instead, I fuel my pen addiction with mindbending amounts of voluntary overtime. Hooray!

Man, I wish I had affiliated links of some sort. I spend enough money on Amazon Prime, they ought to throw me some kickbacks. Instead, I fuel my pen addiction with mindbending amounts of voluntary overtime. Hooray!

If the Parker Vector they put out today is as good as the Made-in-the-USA model they put out in 1993, then it’s a pen worth getting. If you live anywhere near Office Supplies & More, see if Alan has any of these left. If not, you can gamble with what’s on Amazon.

 





Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown

27 06 2014
It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she's currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW EVERY SINGLE THING stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she’s currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW ALL THE THINGS stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

This pencil was the very first item I put on my JetPens wishlist nearly four years ago, when the madness was just beginning to take hold, back when more than ten dollars for any one item seemed exorbitant, luxuries beyond the comprehension of my budget. Onto the wishlist this went, a maybe-one-day dream, until to my surprise I opened the bubble mailer to see that JetPens had sent me this sample to review. Inside the clip, I see the year stamped “2006.” I think I’ll consider this both a birthday (June 24th) and belated high school graduation gift (2006). Thank you JetPens for providing this sample!

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

The body is shiny aluminum, specially treated (so I’m hoping it will prove durable). The accent is rubber, like the grip. The whole thing looks fantastically executive, in spite of being a magnet for fingerprints and little debris specks.

Subtle "0.5" label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Subtle “0.5″ label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Guess what happens when you post the cap? As you push down and it snaps into place…THE LEAD ADVANCES. Either right now you’re hearing a choir of dragonfly angels singing joyful hallelujahs, or you’re thinking, “DUH, why would it not?” Hypothetical second person, it only takes one pencil in your life where that’s not the case to turn such an intuitively expected bit of design into a delightful surprise.

It looks like it's got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

It looks like it’s got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

If you grip low (like on the nose cone), then this design won’t suit you, but for me the grip falls right in a goldilocks zone of comfort. The rubber has just the right amount of contour, and the material is neither too smooth nor too tacky. The pencil itself has a well-balanced heft to it, with or without the cap posted. Feels like I should be penciling in some significant or substantial things.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Technically, there’s an eraser. Practically, I would save it for only the most dire of erasing emergencies. If lives are somehow on the line, and erasing is the only thing standing between you and certain death. The eraser is the lead stopper; to get to it, you have to unscrew the grip from the body. Remember this when the time comes.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It’s lead! What more can you say? The sleeve holds the lead securely, and the cap keeps the whole stabby lead situation from escalating into puncture wounds if you’re reaching in somewhere blindly to retrieve this pencil.

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

The Tombow Zoom is a simultaneously shiny and classy mechanical pencil that seems to hit just about all the right notes. Thanks again to JetPens for providing this sample!

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown at JetPens

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – all models at JetPens





Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7 mm – Navy Body

29 05 2014
Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Either the Uni people listen or they came to the same logical conclusions their customers do—there should be a fancy Jetstream multi pen, there should be D1 Jetstream refills—VOILÀ! Both of these things, in the same pen. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample.

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

The body is metal (type unspecified), the paint job that same enchanting metallic finish typically reserved for bumper cars. But classy. Like a Ferrari bumper car.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Up top, we’ve got some of the most subtle multi pen markings I’ve ever seen, coupled with what I’ll assume is a curious homage to Legos. Sure, you are a fancy businessperson now, but your heart hasn’t forgotten how crucial the carefully collected gem panel was to the city-defending death ray you had Lego Anakin Skywalker man. Or whatever it was you used your Lego gems for.

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala's extra hairstyles?

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala’s extra hairstyles?

The knocks are so smooth, strangely smooth if you’re used to multi pen components that are pressed inward and down to deploy. They are extremely satisfying to manipulated, and probably guaranteed to drive coworkers crazy. At least they won’t drive you crazy—they never fail (not in my experience so far, no getting stuck, no randomly undeploying, just solid mechanisms).

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

I do question the comfort of the all-metal body, especially in the grip area, particularly if you like to grip hard. I have to catch myself when I’m writing to readjust away from a death grip, lest I press the pen uncomfortably into the base of my thumb. Maybe adding a regular grip would do nothing to alleviate this, but an Alpha Gel Grip? What you’d lose in svelte aesthetics you’d gain in heavenly grip comfort. Maybe if I suggest it enough times, it will be reality. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Looks like for now, this will remain but a dream.

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message could go in here too?

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message would fit?

Moreso than the Uni Jetstream 4&1 multi, these refills rattle when writing. When I pick the pen up and put it back to the page I can hear it, enough to be noticeable. Not quite enough to drive me up a wall yet, but given the choice I’m inclined to go for a quieter writing experience. Or, there are some sounds that are soothing to hear when you write, like the gliding of a nib as it lays ink on the page. Refills rattling is not one of those pleasant sounds.

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I've experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I'll keep my mouth shut

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I’ve experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I’ll keep my mouth shut

The performance of the refills is satisfying. The colors are rich, and above all stay off my hands. The black seems to perform best of the three colors, but that might just be my imagination. Is it as good as a regular Jetstream? Perhaps not on the most microscopic, nitpicky level, but it’s much smoother and more satisfying than any other D1 ballpoint refill I’ve tried so far. Is there a bulk discount on these refills? I have a lot of mini ballpoint pens I’d like to upgrade.

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Is this the best multi pen your $45 can buy? I guess it depends on how much of your childhood was dedicated to Legos. This is the sort of pen that would make a great gift to receive, but might not necessarily be a pen body you clamor to buy for yourself. The D1 refills that this body brought to pen existence are another matter entirely, and I strongly advise you to stock up and retrofit as many little pens as possible.

Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7mm – Navy Blue Body at JetPens





Ink Drop Soup: Shout out to Michigan!

23 05 2014

If you follow my Twitter, you’d have pieced together that I recently visited Michigan. For those of you not familiar with Michigan, it is a state made up of two landmasses (one shaped like a mitten, one shaped like a shark) that borders “lakes” so large you will frequently refer to them as oceans. There are waves. There is sand. There are shells. There is water stretching out to the horizon. What more do you need to qualify as an ocean?

Is it salt? I have salt. Here, I'll give you some salt.

Is it salt? I have salt. Here, I’ll give you some salt.

I had originally planned to lobby for a Lake Michigan circle tour (or perhaps half circle tour, cutting back across the lake by ferry), with the nefarious pen-related goal of visiting the Anderson’s pen store in Wisconsin, but it was still solidly winter when we got north of the 45th parallel. There was snow. Snow in May is a terrifying prospect for a North Carolinian.

Hiiiii, random Michigan lady! I assume you are a Michigander because you were appropriately dressed for the weather. I envied your coat, as I had to double up with discount hoodies and my running windbreaker. Plus a hat and gloves I got from a hardware store in Mackinaw City. I wasn't trying to film you; you just got in the way of my southern wonderment of snow.

Hiiiii, random Michigan lady! I assume you are a Michigander because you were appropriately dressed for the weather. I envied your coat, as I had to double up with discount hoodies and my running windbreaker. Plus a hat and gloves I got from a hardware store in Mackinaw City. I wasn’t trying to film you; you just got in the way of my southern wonderment of snow.

On the pen related front and entirely related to this trip, are any quality pen makers doing anything with pen bodies and Great Lakes stones?

I have a lot more where these came from

I have a lot more where these came from

Between the fossils and the striped agates and whatnot? I’ve seen Great Lakes stone jewelry, but what about a nice fountain pen with a stone set on top of the cap? If anyone needs stones to test on and want someone to review the result, I have an excess of both rocks and opinions.

 

I’m trying to get my reviewing rhythm back up to speed (I have more responsibilities now at work, which is exciting but has curtailed my ability to work on reviews in my downtime), and we are within 10 reviews of 200! Which means a giveaway! Of lots of things I’ve acquired! Hooray! Also, the Triangle Pen Show is coming up (next week?) and I will be there (mostly Friday) so look on my Twitter and if you’ll be there, feel free to find me and say hi! That’s about all the pen news that’s fit to print for now. Soon, reviews.

 

 





Ink Drop Soup: Someone Buy Me One (HMM RULE/ONE Kickstarter)

16 05 2014

This Kickstarter for the HMM RULE/ONE is so close to almost funded with six days to go…and it looks so sweet…look at it!

It’s magnet close (a feature that was added thanks to backer feedback), and the refill is Uni 0.38! And it’s black anodized aluminum. And you can use it like a bookmark thanks to the teardrop shape. And you can put in a lanyard loop. UGH I WANT ONE. Someone else go fund this thing all the way so maybe one day I can get one when I’m not so poor.
 
EDIT: they’ve reached their funding goal! …and I went ahead and backed them anyway. Ramen dinners and cool pens ahoy!
 

HMM RULE/ONE by HMM PROJECT on Kickstarter





Daycraft Animal Pals Notebook – “Aberdeen” Movie Edition Whale and Greenie

12 05 2014

I think Daycraft has nearly perfected the art of making almost unbearably adorable notebooks. Their latest offering is part of a tie-in with the movie Aberdeen. Why don’t we get sweet movie tie-ins in America? T-shirts and Happy Meal toys don’t count.

I think the movie is out now? Someone tell me if it's any good

I think the movie is out now? Someone tell me if it’s any good

I love Daycraft’s polyurethane—it’s so smooth and high quality, so well constructed. The embossing used to create the baleen whale plates, the cutaway for the blowhole, the stitching and cutaways for the chameleon—all brilliant details. These are wonderful stylizations.

If I had enough Animal Pal notebooks I could have made a looping chain of pockets in pockets in pockets!! Alas, opportunity missed

If I had enough Animal Pal notebooks I could have made a looping chain of pockets in pockets in pockets!! Alas, opportunity missed

A bookmark is pretty standard, but for some reason I was surprised to find a pocket as well. I guess I’m used to pockets only being present when there are elastic closures; it was a pleasant surprise (though it does create a slight bump in the back cover; life is full of trade-offs). Bonus: movie postcards!

I'm pretty sure #1 and #3 are the same. Oops.

I’m pretty sure #1 and #3 are the same. Oops.

Tell y’all what. The first three people to translate for me what these postcards say, I’ll figure out how to mail you that postcard. One postcard per person. Leave a comment indicating which # postcard above you are translating. One and three are, looks like to me anyway, the same. So, eh, once 1/3 and 2 are translated, the next person to leave a comment saying I want the last one can have the one that’s left.

Animal shapes!

Animal shapes! A tail, perhaps?

The paper is cream-colored with pale orange animal patterns on it (ears, tails, paws). The performance is standard Daycraft—does well with ballpoints, gels, felt-tip pens, pencils, but not so hot with liquid inks like fountain pens and rollerballs (unless you’re using the magical Rorher & Klingner Scabiosa ink, which I really need to review, on account of the magic).

Are my performance standards for liquid ink on papers too high? It's possible.

Are my performance standards for liquid ink on papers too high? It’s possible.

See? Fountain pens are doing okay on the animal print parts, except there’s kind of a weird pattern happening in the ink. Outside of the animal print, there’s a little feathering. It’s not the worst, but I’m picky. I’ll no doubt be happier using gel pens and other less particular instruments of writing.

Quick, someone go see Aberdeen and tell me if there are any catchphrases associated with Greenie. And then I can use that as the caption instead. Or, be lazy and just not.

Quick, someone go see Aberdeen and tell me if there are any catchphrases associated with Greenie. And then I can use that as the caption instead. Or, be lazy and just not.

If I could go back in time with these notebooks, I’m pretty sure I would have been voted coolest child in school. I don’t know how children vote for their superior peer leaders these days, but if it’s still based on the adorability of stationery products, then these notebooks are instant winners.

Animal Pals Notebooks – Greenie and Whale Special Edition at Daycraft





Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set

7 05 2014

 

Pen is Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven't reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Pen contains Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven’t reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Kickstarter has launched quite the Renaissance of pen bodies, mostly focused around the popular Hi-Tec-C refill (and why not, with all the colors and sizes it comes in). Now, I don’t keep my finger on the pulse of the Kickstarter pen community (because if I did, I’d be broke and buried in a mound of Hi-Tec-C bodies) but I don’t think I’ve seen another pen body on Kickstarter so prominently featuring wood. But then, I don’t pay much attention.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn't looking at pens.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn’t looking at pens.

The look is Ikea-chic, hip and minimalist, the aluminum in a tasteful matte finish, the sustainable bamboo luxurious. The Eco-Essential utensils are lightweight, but strong. It looks and feels like a quality product.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Customization begins at the cap. Do you want a flat top (with logo), or would you like a capacitive stylus? I prefer the flat top, as I’ve got no end of capacitive styluses in my life, but I appreciate the option. And what color accent would you like? I’m partial to this deep, beautiful blue.

I will admit, sometimes when I'm posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly

I will admit, sometimes when I’m posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly, especially on the pen

Both the pen and the pencil have twist-on posting/closing caps (one full revolution to open and close, about a quarter revolution to post). The grip unscrews just below the threads to either access the pen refill or pencil insert (which you can pull out to put more lead in, or you can also pull off the knock button on the outside end which honestly seems a lot easier and likely more what they were intending). The pen refill, I will note, is a tight fit when you’re screwing the grip back onto the body, but it will go back to being flush with the grip. Just keep tightening.

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

The pen is almost like air in my hand. Because everything is so lightweight there’s little difference for me between writing with it posted and unposted. Sometimes I think I’d like for the grip to be knurled, for better grippability; other times I’m pleased with the smoothness and wouldn’t have it any other way. The grip lines up perfectly with my hands such that I’m not on the threaded ridge, but your grip may vary. The only thing that would make me happier would be if this were a silky-smooth Jetstream refill, because my love of Jetstream knows no bounds.

For as much as you'd pay for this pencil, I'd expect significantly less critical flaws

For as much as you’d pay for this pencil, I’d expect significantly less critical flaws

Now, as much as I admire the pen, I do have some unfortunate things to point out about the pencil that lead me to suspect it was envisioned as more of a matching afterthought than its own stand-alone product. Post the cap on the pencil. Congratulations, now you can’t advance the lead. That’s pretty crucial for a pencil. Yes, I could just not post the cap, but then why bother even having the threading? Why include an option that renders the pencil practically unusable? The only advantage to not posting the cap is then you’re less likely to accidentally use the stylus as an eraser, since there’s no eraser on the pencil. The pencil is beautiful, but the functionality is lacking. This is the result of asking, how do we turn the Eco-Essential pen into a pencil with the fewest structural changes possible? And I get that. Keeps costs down I’m sure. But the end product suffers for it. Are there self-advancing lead mechanisms that would work in this body? Perhaps design a special knock-cap for the pencil?

 

So pleasing to hold and behold

So pleasing to hold and behold

Go for the pen, especially if you’re a Hi-Tec-C refill fan (like I mentioned, it also takes Pilot G-2 refills but we know how I feel about the G-2). The Eco-Essential is an attractive and professional pen body. I kind of want to crash a fancy business scenario just to bring this pen with me. Anyone got any important board meetings I can drop in on? I have a suit and impressive array of office supplies, which I’m pretty sure is all you need.

The pencil, on the other hand, I would pass on, unless you just really want a matching set. If that’s the case, it will match quite beautifully.

Thank you to ISHUJA for providing this sample set for review!








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