I’ve been meaning to pick up the Fanthom for a while. Of course, I’ve also been meaning to review at least one of the many Pilot FriXions I have lying around, and that has not yet happened. We’ll just have to go with what I’ve got.
The pen body is a hard, lightweight plastic, with no actual grip to speak of—there are small recessed ellipses where a grip might be, but don’t be fooled—it’s just more hard plastic. For those of you looking to build up your writer’s callous, look no further.
Uni does get one major design factor right, above and beyond the standard set by Pilot’s FriXion: the eraser is the cap, and thus, the eraser is always accessible. Pilot, for some reason, puts the eraser on the bottom of the pen in every FriXion model (except for the FriXion Ball Knock and the FriXion color-pencil-like pens) so that you cannot actually use the eraser with the cap posted. Points to the Fanthom in the eraser category. However, this does mean that as you are erasing (which, if you note the tests above, does require some persistence and occasionally some force), you are wearing away at the cap.
You can see some flat spots forming on the cap, which will only get worse with continued use. But I think it’s more of an aesthetic issue than a structural one; I’ll let you know if I manage to erase a hole in the cap.
Ink flow is pleasantly consistent. Very rarely, I’ll get less than a millimeter’s worth of railroading when I start a letter, but this happened so infrequently that I only noticed it upon close scrutiny. The ink itself has a sort of opaque, pastel, milk- or chalk-like quality to its color. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve seen it in all the Pilot FriXion models as well. I rather like it, but I suspect that this is due to some quality that makes the ink erasable, and that means that you won’t get a true and vibrant black from a pen in the current generation of erasable models from either brand.
How well does it erase? On par with the FriXion, which is to say, leaps and bounds better than the erasable garbage peddled back in the 90s. I had some difficulty on the Behance Dot Grid paper, but on other papers I’ve been able to get all the ink off the page without grief or strife. Or, I should say, I get all of the ink on the page to undergo the heat-based chemical reaction necessary to make the ink no longer visible. The ink is still on the page—just stick your paper in the freezer, and it will come back in time. Maybe don’t use this ink to write sensitive or offensive things? When you tilt the paper in the light, you can see the ink you’ve “erased”, but for note-taking and other standard writing purposes not taking place in sub-freezing or boilingly-heated environments, the Fanthom ink erases quite well enough to easily be written over.
The Fanthom is a good start for Uni-ball. What I’d like to see are more/better body options, as the current grip is far from comfortable. Picture it: Uni-ball Fanthom Alpha Gel Retractable Gel Ink Pen. You know it would sell like squishy, erasable hotcakes.