I get accused by my friends of only writing about pens I love (which I am somewhat guilty of; I want to tell you about pens I think you should have!)…uh…which is why I decided to review the Pilot Choose gel pens I have. Um, sorry Pilot. Let me say, I admire the fact that Pilot has SO MANY products. I think it shows a commitment to innovation that they’ve developed all these different products and brought them to market, and I admire the breadth of the products they offer, from high-end to low-end. They’ve got some real hits, but with this many products, you’re guaranteed to have some misses.
Design-wise and aesthetically speaking, I have no complaints. This is a fun and simple stick pen at a great price. The overall look is clean and pleasing, and I like the look of the pearlescent caps with the colorful bodies. Lots of ink, clearly visible. No grip, but the tip unscrews, so I assume there’s some theoretical universe where you could just buy refills to put in the body. Feels lightweight but pleasant in the hand.
I especially love the caps. The translucent colored-plastic ends make it easy to tell which color you’re grabbing from a cup full of these pens, and for people who are color-blind or can only see in monochrome, the ends are labeled with the color name and tip size. And, if you get maybe six or so of these together in a circle, the semi-teardrop shaped caps will look like a flower! A really haphazardly colored flower. The kind that monochromatic-sighted five-year-olds might color.
But when it comes to writing, I’ve thrown these pens in cold storage (/unused pen drawer-age). Why? Disastrous mess! The tips have an annoying and persistent habit of gathering excess ink around the tip and then unleashing these collections in the form of blobs, such as might be found on the page, or somehow, inexplicably, all over my hands. That’s the part I don’t quite understand. After using the blue-black pen for the writing sample, I had blue-black ink all over BOTH hands in patterns I could not explain. Some terrible form of blue-black magic, I’d wager.
I’ve gotten used to having enough pens where this ISN’T a problem that I no longer tolerate pens that leave my hands horrendously messy. Maybe if I were doing a bunch of EXCITING HANDS-ON ART, then yes obviously I’d get over a bit of mess. But writing a letter shouldn’t leave me looking like I’ve been taking painting lessons from Jackson Pollock.
Seriously. Look at this. Look at it.
This is a left-handed nightmare. Look at the drawings; once I got ink on my hands, I ended up putting smudgespots of ink all over the drawings. That’s a big no-no. I can’t abide a pen that does that. And I don’t mean to kick a pen while it’s down, but it’s not waterproof either, as is claimed. MAYBE….maybe the blue-black was just so egregiously bad…but no, you look at all three pens, and you see ink mess around the tips of all three, and I had bloblems in the writing sample with the blue-black and the brown (and probably will have them with the violet, too, if I keep using it). Even if I just got a bad set, it speaks to poor quality control in this line that would make buying this pen a gamble, albeit a very inexpensive one.
There are a couple of good things though! The (often inconsistent, occasionally somewhat streaky) writing was crisp on the page. Once the ink was down and dry on the page, which didn’t take long, I didn’t have any problems with the ink being picked back up on my hand from the paper. And the colors are nice! The violet’s a bit more the color orchid than it is violet, but it is vibrant. The brown’s more of a tea-brown than a dark brown. The blue-black is a nice one; the blue has just the slightest hint of tealness to it that I really enjoy in a blue-black. So maybe I’ll get the ink out of the pen somehow and use it to paint? That’s about the only way these pens will see much action from me, I’m afraid.