Mini Review: Playing Favorites

27 03 2011

For some reason, I decided to go through my pens, and for every brand where I owned two or more products, decide which product of that brand was my favorite. First, let’s meet the contestants. For brands where I only owned two products, I put both in the picture here, except for Tombow–I forgot to put my Apro Airpress in this picture. IT IS TOO LATE TO FIX THIS NOW.

Disclaimer: I am tired. But I am doing this mini-review anyway.

Here are your contestants. From left to right: Tombow, Kuretake, Platinum, A. G. Spalding, Tachikawa, Sharpie, Zebra, Pilot, Uni-ball, Pentel, and Sailor.

I proceeded to make drawings with the winning favorite of each brand, in an order that is completely incongruent with the picture above.

First up: Kuretake. Your winner:

The waterbrush wins! The waterbrush also is incapable of making art by itself. We are all very saddened by this.

Next, Tombow. Like I said, I forgot the Apro Airpress, but don’t worry; it wouldn’t have won anyway.

The Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen wins! This is the pen I used for my first hourly comics day. Its performance on that day earns it this coveted winning spot.

Platinum was a category of little contest–between the fountain pen and the sign marker, in spite of a broken cap, the fountain pen takes home the victory.

If only your plastic weren't so brittle, Platinum Preppy, you'd win other contests of my heart, instead of merely beating out a marker pen that I have no use for.

Tachikawa featured a battle between two different colors of the same style of scratchy, paper-fiber clogging and collecting fountain pen, and the far superior comic dip pen nib and holder. Sorry, frustrating fountain pens, crow quill wins every time.

I also enjoy how this reminds me of a baseball bat. (Ink used is Noodler's Bulletproof black)

In spite of being the most thick-writing “fine” nib fountain pen I’ve ever marked a page with, the delightful style of the A. G. Spalding mini fountain pen gives is a leg up over its mini-ballpoint brother. Ink used is a Rotring cartridge, because the one it came with was even worse, even wetter. Dear A. G. Spalding: THIS IS NOT A FINE NIB PEN. Please stop living in denial.

What a suave and adorable little fountain pen! It has some problems, but nothing that sheer adorableness can't overcome. This is also the working principle behind cats.

Sharpie has put a lot of effort into its products, especially in their willingness to innovate in the past few years. What I’m saying is, blah blah blah I like the Sharpie pen, and though I prefer the grip on the retractable pen, it worries me too much that I’m going to accidentally deploy the pen in my bag. So, the Sharpie Pen with Grip takes the Sharpie category.

Around this point, you may notice that my desire for some much-needed rest started to creep into my drawings.

I think we already knew that the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip 0.3mm blue-black gel pen was going to take the Zebra Cup. None of my other Zebra products even made it to the competition picture, because they were not competition.

I'm excusing this poorly drawn nonsense due to having done some decent doodles on the actual review of this pen.

I own three types of Sailor fountain pen, and yet, the cheapest remains my all-time favorite. In fact, it may be my favorite pen out of all pens. Every time I make a JetPens order, I try to remember to throw another one of these pens into the order, because they have allegedly been discontinued, and one day there will be no more. I’ve tried refilling one of my Sailor Ink-Bars so far (with much mess), but the ink I used (Noodler’s Bulletproof black) just isn’t the same and doesn’t dry as fast. :( Sailor, why would you cancel my favorite pen? Whyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Sailor Ink-Bar, you are the winningest winner of everything that has ever won my heart.

Now we get to the final three categories–also some of the biggest three sources of pens in America. For each brand, I had trouble deciding which writing utensil within each of these final three categories would be declared my favorite.

The Pilot semi-finals: Pilot Plumix italic nib fountain pen, Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me 4 component multi pen (3 mechanical pencil components, 1 eraser), and the Pilot Fineliner

It was a tough call, but ultimately this Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me multi pencil won the day with its stylish body, complement of pencils, and onboard eraser.

Not winning: my attention span for this task

Uni-ball also had a trifecta of star products. The decision, again, was quite difficult.


In the end, my love of the smoothest, butteriest ballpoint pen just edged out the wonderment I hold toward the Kuru Toga. But only just.

So rich and smooth and creamy and delicious.

Good things allegedly come in threes. Three great pen companies, each with three great contenders for favorite product…that makes nine. So that adage is a useless lie.

The Pentel semi-final was dominated by art products: the Tradio Pulaman "fountain" pen, the Jolt (with Pentel's Stein blue lead), and the Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy

Due to my continuing lack of mastery of the Pocket Brush Pen (my fault entirely), the win ended up going to the much easier to master (or at least seem competent with) Tradio Pulaman.

Unfortunately, by this point, I could only draw something weird.

And there you have it. Favorites (as of the time of this writing) have been declared! Many pens came very close, and really, just about every one of the pens I own is pretty terrific (except for the Sharpie Liquid Pencil–but that is a review for another day). Let’s have a round of applause for all our contestants, and an extra round of applause for the actual winners. Yay!

Your winners! Also pictured, your losers! And my cold coffee! And my breakfast plate! Hooray!




12 responses

28 03 2011

One heck of a mini-review! I really like the AG Spalding.

28 03 2011
No Pen Intended

Haha, thanks :) Yeah, “mini” is a bit of a misnomer…

The AG Spalding is great for carrying around in a jeans pocket to keep a fountain pen handy, but two things about it: 1) Not a fine nib. They lie. Get a cartridge other than the AG Spalding cartridge to put in–something with ink that’s a little thicker, less free-flowing. I’m using a Rotring cartridge, and even that is still rather wet. Unless you like your fountain pens to write very wet, then don’t change a thing. 2) I often find the metal body likes to come a little bit unscrewed–never to the point of falling off, but I often have to tighten the body a smidge when I pick the pen up to write. I still love the little guy, but it’s important to be honest about the shortcomings.

28 03 2011

Not a problem for me. I found out that I dislike very fine nibs so a M should be fine and I like wet nibs so that’s also good. Oh, maybe it’s an European F.

28 03 2011

As always, I really enjoy your reviews. Your writing has a character that matches your drawing: casual and playful but always quite insightful about the subject. You’ve inspired me to pick up some new pens, yet again!

28 03 2011
No Pen Intended

Thanks! :D Also, hooray for new pens! I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy mine :)

28 03 2011

Mini Review? A Maxi review if I’ve ever seen one!

I love your sketches, and your taste in pens is impeccable. :)

28 03 2011
No Pen Intended

Yeah, at some point reality took a sharp turn away from my idealistic vision of a quick, simple little post. It’s like I tricked myself into doing a real review by pretending it was something else; if only this worked all the time, I’d make it my updating strategy.

:) Glad you like the sketches and the pens. The drawings were fun to do (even if I did want to fall asleep about 55% of the time I was drawing them)…this might be a good exercise to try again in a year to see if my feelings are still the same on favorites–and to hopefully add some more brands to the roster.

4 04 2011

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I’m tired! Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh, poor me, I’m tired! Ruck up NPI! It’s a hard-knock real-man’s life reviewing pens and we have no need for mamby-pamdy excuses of fatigue here! No Siree! We’ll write til our fingers crack and assess said writing implements until our eyes bleed! AND WE WILL LIKE IT! Now chug a couple of Red Bulls, swallow those No-Doz, crank the Def leppard and let’s keep working!

4 04 2011
No Pen Intended


Once, I had a caffeine pill and four shots of espresso within a ten minute window. My heart hurt for about 5 hours afterward. I’ve been trying to stick to tea since then…it’s not very effective, but it is slightly less physiologically concerning.

7 04 2011

Was the Jetstream ballpoint a .5 or a .7?

7 04 2011
No Pen Intended

It was a .5 :) I have a .7, but I prefer the .5

28 02 2014
Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm | No Pen Intended

[…] since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years […]

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