Pentel Tradio Pulaman & Stylo “Fountain Pens”

19 02 2014
What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

Time to write the Tradio review that I thought I’d already done. The  nomenclature of these two pens is screwy from top to bottom; I think the Pentel policy is to arbitrarily switch what is called the Tradio Pulaman and what is called the Stylo on a regular basis in accordance with some arcane and esoteric ritual. The black, refillable Tradio I have is called Tradio PulaMan; for 50 cents more you can get what, according to JetPens, is the exact same pen, but called Tradio Stylo. Meanwhile, the disposable brown model I have says “Pentel Stylo” on the clip; JetPens’ disposable is called and labeled “Pentel PulaMan.”

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

The disposable is a very simple, retro sort of design, while the refillable model is a much more modern and attractive affair. Basically, everything I said about the Tradio TRF100 design, minus the black pearl coating. This black is a nice, solid-feeling matte black.

These are no so much "grips" as just the sections where you grab the pen...not exactly much went into the grippability of these sections

These are not so much “grips” as just the sections where you grab the pen…not exactly much went into the grippability aspect of the grip

The smoky translucent grip of the refillable gives something of a clue to the biggest baffling mystery of the naming of these two pens: clearly you can see a feed in there. But rollerballs also have feeds; that doesn’t magically make them fountain pens.

Maybe they're like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the "nib" they meant?

Maybe they’re like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the “nib” they meant?

This is what they’re calling a nib, such that these things may be called fountain pens. But I don’t think they’re fountain pens any more than a chimpanzee can be said to be a human. They’re similar, they’ve got a common ancestor, but you are dealing with two different branches on the tree. This is some kind of chisel-tip thing, some sort of hard-tip brush or marker-like thing. There is this plastic assembly where the felt/marker/brush tip comes out through the middle…if I were to describe it in terms of a fountain pen, I’d say imagine a nib made of plastic, and instead of a breather hole and slit replace that with some kind of long thin felt marker strip connected to the feed and then devolve into sheer madness and that’s about what it’s like.

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

So how do they write? The refillable is leaps and bounds better than the disposable. The disposable is scratchy, catches on the page, and creates little splatters of ink (you can see some in the writing sample). The refillable is much better, but takes way too long to dry. My hand is a mess. This handwritten review is a mess.

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

But maybe it’s more of an art pen.

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that like, absorbs and distorts pretty much anything you put on it

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that absorbs & distorts pretty much anything you put on it

More suited to smaller drawings, I think, but maybe I’m too baffled by the false fountain pen-ness of it to truly appreciate its use.

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

The disposable is a bust. The refillable is something worthwhile, but with slow drying times is not a lefty-friendly pen. I may use its rich black ink to draw, but I won’t be using it to write

Pentel Tradio Pulaman Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink – Allegedly identical to the above linked pen but costs 50 cents more??? at JetPens

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen – Brown Body at JetPens (same as the pen I have here that has Stylo on its clip)





Sharpie Stainless Steel Pen

2 02 2014
I think I keep getting lazier and lazier when it comes to the length of these writing samples.

I think I keep getting lazier and lazier when it comes to the length of these writing samples.

If I remember correctly, I got this special Sharpie Pen for $2 at Wal-Mart when it first came out, which is as good as saying I punched a leprechaun in the face and a unicorn rewarded me for the deed with this Sharpie Pen, for all the replicability of getting one of these at $2 again. The real crime is that I didn’t buy more of these when they were that cheap.

I need to utilize more eclectic used books as backgrounds

I need to utilize more eclectic used books as backgrounds

Much to my surprise, I haven’t actually done a full review of a Sharpie Pen yet. So let’s start with the deluxe fancy brushed stainless steel barrel model, why not. The simple metal is attractive, and has held up pretty well so far. The branding has only just started to wear away.

Look at that. Are you dying inside? I'm dying inside a little. The cap. Should snap. Securely. And symmetrically. In place.

Look at that. Are you dying inside? I’m dying inside a little. The cap. Should snap. Securely. And symmetrically. In place.

The only big complaints I have focus around the cap area. The cap is secure—a little too secure. It takes a bit of force, both hands, to get the cap off. Maybe I’ve just got a case of the noodle-arms but this is an unusually tenacious cap, both in terms of taking it off and snapping it back on. But posting? Another matter entirely. The cap doesn’t snap on, it merely presses on, and can very easily end up askew (though it’s not at risk of falling off).

Quite streamlined with the cap on, perilous plastic precipice with the cap off

Quite streamlined with the cap on, perilous plastic precipice with the cap off

Watch out for that hard ridge above the grip. The textured rubber is very secure to hold, but I have to be wary or I end up with that terrible ridge pressing into my thumb. Maybe if you have a normal grip, unlike myself, then it’s no problem.

Felt tip? Marker tip? Tippity tip top tip? Nomenclature is confusing.

Felt tip? Marker tip? Tippity tip top tip? Nomenclature is confusing.

I think my tip has gotten a little bent over time (WOW that sounds like a real medical problem)—luckily the Sharpie Pen is refillable. The whole tip, grip, etc. is part of the refill that gets replaced. The darkness of the black is more of a dark charcoal gray, especially when compared to, say, supersmooth solid black ballpoints (like Jetstream or Vicuña), or the black of a Parker rollerball refill, or any number of black gel pens. But you want some fast drying? Get on this Sharpie Pen. I just did a color sample comparison, Vicuña vs. Sharpie, on the page I wrote this review on, did a little more writing, and bam!—little Vicuña ink spots on my hand, on the page. The Sharpie Pen ink? Gets down, stays down, right where you put it. No problems with smearing, no smudging, no Sharpie ink on my hand, no bleed through. It’s a nice tactile marker-tip-like pen that’s pleasant to write with.

That feeling you're feeling? Probably it is attraction. It is ok. Give in.

That feeling you’re feeling? Probably it is attraction. It is ok. Give in.

This may not be the right Sharpie Pen body for me personally, but it looks great and the writing is dynamite. If you’re looking for a classy Sharpie Pen, here it is.

You can find the Sharpie Stainless Steel Pen in many big-box office supply stores, at my local pen store (Office Supplies and More), and as an Amazon add-on item. JetPens has the matching permanent marker version, so maybe eventually they’ll carry the pen too!





Billet Pen & Marker

21 01 2014
I think you can imagine what writing with a Sharpie looks like. It's big and it bleeds through the paper

I think you can imagine what writing with a Sharpie looks like. It’s big and it bleeds through the paper

I’m sure you all remember this little Kickstarter you helped successfully fund? Thanks to Cliff at Billet Pens, I now have one of the pens and one of the markers to take for a spin. Thanks to Cliff for providing these free samples!

Background image is from a set of three by Chris Simpson titled "Zen Garden" ... the framed set was lying around the house, seemed like it could be a suitable background

Background image is from a set of three by Chris Simpson titled “Zen Garden” … the framed set was lying around the house, seemed like it would be a suitable background, as I don’t have real rocks readily available in my life

The Billet Pen comes in a simple box—nice enough to be functional, especially if you’re gift-giving, but well within the range of something you can dispose of and not feel bad (this is a big problem for me. I have a lot of boxes I don’t want but feel too guilty to get rid of). There’s also a slip with some helpful safety information about these magnets. Do not eat the cap, kids, and especially don’t eat two of them.

more word

Matte Black finish pen, Electric Blue finish marker

These pens are solid, from the appearance to the feel of the aluminum, from the magnets to how snugly everything fits together. There’s no clip, but I go back and forth on the clip issue—on my pens that have them, I wish they didn’t, and the ones that don’t tend to make high-speed rolling escapes off the side of my desk. No way to win on that for me. The pen is a little shorter than the marker—both bodies are the same length, but the marker cap is longer. The caps aren’t interchangeable between the pen and the marker; the pen cap has a special rubber plug and the marker a special inner cap to keep their respective refills from going dry.

dljk

I need to invent more reasons in my life to use Sharpie-type markers

The refills themselves aren’t really the focus—the Hi-Tec-C and the Sharpie marker both are solid writing options. As for the writing experience, both the pen and the marker hold their refills firmly in place. There’s no play, no wiggle, just perfect writing. The grip for the marker is the grip on the Sharpie refill. The pen grip is a two-part aluminum construction: an adapter and a tip. The adapter is perfectly machined to the width of the Hi-Tec-C refill, and if you unscrew the grip at the adapter’s meeting point with the barrel right behind the O-ring that seals the cap, you won’t be able to pull the refill out the back (there’s a flare at the tip of the refill that is wider than the ink part of the refill). You have to unscrew the tip section to get the refill out. I’m thinking the adapter/grip section is thus interchangeable so that, further down the line, other adapter sections can be made suited to other refills that are thicker or thinner than the Hi-Tec-C.

sdf

The whole magnetic world is your pen cap holder. By the way that pen/marker diameter is about 1.5cm, for those who like to keep score of those things

These magnetic caps are pure sciencey forces-of-nature fun. They stay perfectly put while you write. Easy to absentmindedly snap on, easy to take off, but strong enough to stay on in the normal course of use. You can tap it on the page; it won’t knock the cap off (unless you’re particularly violent). Even pushing the cap down on the page, bending it away 90 degrees from the body with just the edges touching, the cap will still snap back onto the body when you lift it (best do this trick slowly though). And though the magnets can’t hold the entire pen to your refrigerator or other suitably magnetic surface, it will hold the cap. Magnets, yo. More fun than should even be allowed.

sdf

Magnetic more like magneato

The aluminum is smooth, and lovely to hold. The pen has weight, but isn’t too heavy. The barrels are thick—about the size of a Prismacolor marker—much thicker than your average pen body. And that’s a good thing! Variety is the lifeblood of the pen world (that said, if you don’t like big barrel pens then these babies are not for you). These pens are well made (in the USA), simple, but undoubtedly satisfying.

Billet Pens and Markers available in several finishes at Billet Pens

 

Note: the giveaway winner tells me he’s had some issues with the tip coming loose on the pen, which I haven’t had any problem with (this is why multiple pen reviewers and multiple pen opinions are important!)…if any of you have or have not had this problem, let me know! And if you do have this problem, see if Loctite helps any? I’m always told I need to put that on anything that might rattle loose on my motorcycle…





Ink Drop Soup: Billet Pens and Markers – Kickstarter & GIVEAWAY!

8 12 2013

When it comes to Hi-Tec-C pens and Sharpie markers, you’ve got two quality brand lines there with almost endless color choices. With so many colors to choose from, you can never have too many pen bodies to put them in—and just in time for the gifting holidays there’s a new pen body on the Kickstarter scene—the Billet Pen and Marker.

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

The body is anodized aircraft grade aluminum, with five basic body colors (red, black, purple, machined/silver, and matte black) and several laser engraved options. This Kickstarter is going fast, because the creator, Cliff, wants to get these pens out in time for those who make Christmas their #1 gifting holiday—multiple reward tiers are scheduled to ship on the 18th of December. I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too—the 18th?!? What is this, Chinese factory magic? No, Cliff is a careful engineer and has been working on this project well in advance, stockpiling the pens needed (using a slower laser) to make sure that what he offers will be ready in time.

Two solid choices for refill types

Two solid choices for refill types; Hi-Tec-C Billet body comes with black, red, or blue option refill

Reasons I’m excited about this pen:
+ Thicker barrel body. Some people like slim and slender barrels—they’ve had their pens made time and again. It’s time for something I can wrap my meathooks around and actually write with for a while, and these look like just the solid-sized pens for the job.
+ Magnets. Magnets are always exciting. Unless you swallow two or more of them, in which case magnets are an emergency.
+ Attention to detail. I asked Cliff if he had made considerations to ensure that the refills wouldn’t dry out after a week, two weeks, a month, or more of not being used, because I have had some problems with Hi-Tec-C refills in alternate bodies going dry if I’m not constantly using them. The Billet pen has a special rubber plug, and the marker has a special inner cap to keep them from going dry.

Did I mention the excellent price? It's excellent.

Did I mention the excellent price? It’s excellent.

This Kickstarter ends Monday, December 16th at 2:59am EST, so get on it!!! That’s not very many days, and the project only has to get to $5000 to be funded! Don’t deny me this pen because you were feeling Scroogey :)

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THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

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To sweeten the spirit of things, Cliff is offering to give away a Billet Pen to one lucky winner! If you win, you get your choice of any of the pens being offered on the Kickstarter! Your rules as follows:

1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, December 16th at 2:59am Eastern Standard Time. Sadly, this contest is only open to U.S. residents (but not to worry, internationals, you can get one of your own if you back the project on Kickstarter).
2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. I will hand number the entries because that’s just how I roll. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
3. I’ll post the contest winner the morning of Monday, December 16th. Winner must email me as soon as possible! There’s a link to my email at the top right sidebar. I’ll forward your info to Cliff so he can ship you the pen of your choosing!

Good luck! And thank you to Cliff of Billet Pens!





Mini Review: Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink

1 02 2013
This drawing is from 2010!

This drawing is from 2010!

In honor of Hourly Comic Day, I wanted to give a little shout-out to my HCD pen of choice, the Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen.

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

It pairs well with my Rhodia Dotpad No. 12 for the perfect quick-sketch experience.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I'm still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I’m still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

Though a little dark, the gray is perfect for rough sketching and shading, and the black is sufficiently dark for inking and borders. There is a little give in the brush tips, but not so much as to be unruly or unwieldy for a brush pen novice.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Though I would prefer a lighter gray, the big winning factor for the Tombow Fudenosuke is convenience. I only need to grab one pen and my Rhodia dotpad, no keeping up with multiple pens. The tips do wear down over time, and as they near the end they get dry, but you more than get your money’s worth before that day comes.

If I draw anything sufficiently neat this year, I’ll add it to this post! Happy Hourly Comic Day!

 
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink at JetPens
Rhodia DotPad Notepad – Black Cover – 3.25″ X 4.75″ – 80 Sheets – 5 mm Dot Grid at JetPens

 

 





Office Supplies and More – Sharpie GIVEAWAY!

28 01 2013
My local pen store!

My local pen store!

Perhaps you recall mention of my local pen store, Office Supplies & More. I was in there the other day telling the owner, Alan Cohen, about the Pentel Libretto giveaway I was doing, and he decided he wanted in on giving away something too, so he hands me two Sharpie items, fresh out of the box.

Two original Sharpie fine point markers and two Sharpie gel highlighters

Two original Sharpie fine point markers and two Sharpie gel highlighters

I love the store, in spite of Alan’s refusal to get an online presence going, so for all you old-school types, if you’re ever anywhere near the capitol of North Carolina, swing by the town of Chapel Hill and hunt down the store: 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd, Timberlyne Shopping Center, Suite Q, Chapel Hill, NC 27514. The selection is huge, spanning high end to low end, pens, pencils, fountain pens, and a huge trove of Clairefontaine and Rhodia products. If North Carolina just isn’t in the cards for you, Alan has booths at multiple pen shows. This year he’ll be at the Baltimore show in March, the Atlanta show in April, the Raleigh show in June, the D.C. Supershow in August, and the Ohio show in November. Heck, if there’s something you specifically want him to bring to the show for you to buy, here’s the store’s number: 919.929.8595 — he’s got some of the best prices on pretty much everything.

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THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

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  1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, February 11th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Since I’ll be sending this myself, and I’m not made of loot and dough,and Office Supplies & More is pretty much never going international anyway, I’m limiting this contest to U.S. residents only. Sorry!
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Make any kind of comment—but only one comment! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. Because my blog doesn’t seem to number the comments on its own yet, and I STILL don’t will probably never have time/the willpower to fix it, I will again hand-number all the entries in Photoshop (or GIMP, or on my tablet or cell phone or somehow) like I did here. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Tuesday, February 12th. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.




New Premium Line of TUL Pens from OfficeMax — and GIVEAWAY

3 12 2012
Four for one special!!

Four for one special!!

This review would have been brought to you sooner, but someone decided to make vanish my original sample package. Whoever you are, I hope you weren’t expecting pens in that box. I hope whenever you so much as look at a pen you are filled with an unending sense of guilt that haunts you all your days.

Given that it's the premium line, I would have put them IN a line, but that just didn't fit nicely in a picture

ADMIT YOUR GUILT OR BE CURSED FOREVER, MYSTERY THIEF

So, I too was contacted by OfficeMax to see if I’d be interesting in taking their new premium line of pens for a whirl. As always, I am thrilled for the opportunity to test some new pens. Also, something about a giveaway? We’ll come back to that.

From top to bottom: marker pen, rollerball, gel pen, ballpoint

From top to bottom: marker pen, rollerball, gel pen, ballpoint

I like the general design of this TUL line (confession: I am not at all acquainted with the previous line so I can’t really compare the two). These pens don’t try too hard; they adhere to basic, minimalist designs that stick to a general theme while giving each pen a unique look.

The ovals are another good element

The ovals are another good element

Design-wise, the gel pen is my favorite. I like the long grip, and the color accents are just enough to let you know what the ink color is while not detracting from the simple, stolid office theme. The capped pens (marker and rollerball) have hard plastic that I’m afraid might be prone to crack over time (similar to the Platinum Preppy). The ballpoint would be better with a longer grip section, like the gel pen, but I’ll survive.

Here's where all the important parts come in.

Here’s where all the important parts come in.

The marker pen is smooth, and the only bleedthrough I had was on the drawing portion. The rollerball was a little inconsistent (or character-filled, if you prefer), and was probably my least favorite of the bunch just due to that and the occasional odd sensation of the ball rolling not quite properly. If I’m going to have character-filled lines, I prefer to have them coming from a fountain pen, when I can have whatever color ink I want. The gel pen was smooth, bright, and consistent, all good. But my favorite, by and far, was the ballpoint pen. It was dark and smooth to the point that it took me completely by surprise. I think I’ve finally found a pen that performs close enough to a Jetstream that I can keep on my desk, but not be too distraught if the pen walks away.

If I ran an office, I'd order them

If I ran an office, I’d order them

Suggested retail prices range from $1.99 (single pens) to $20.99 (12-pack). Not bad at all.

TUL Marker Pen from OfficeMax

TUL Rollerball Pen from OfficeMax

TUL Gel Pen from OfficeMax

TUL Ballpoint Pen from OfficeMax

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THE GIVEAWAY RULES!

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Now for the part you’ve been looking forward to: the giveaway! OfficeMax is generously providing a sample set directly to one lucky reader here. Your rules as follows:

  1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, December 10th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Sadly, this contest is only open to U.S. residents.
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Make any kind of comment—but only one comment! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. Because my blog doesn’t seem to number the comments on its own yet, and I STILL don’t have time/the willpower to fix it, I will probably just hand-number all the entries in Photoshop like I did here because this is the kind of solution that sane people come up with. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Tuesday, December 11th. Winners will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar. I’ll forward your info to OfficeMax so they can send you your pens!

Good luck, and thanks again to OfficeMax!

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.








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