Noodler’s Ink Piston Fill Flex Nib Poltergeist Pumpkin Orange Fountain Pen

29 06 2011

With Noodler's Bulletproof Lexington Gray

I’ve never had a flex nib fountain pen before. It’s safe to say that if it seems like I have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s because you have divined the truth of reality: I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to anything regarding flex nib fountain pens. Actually, it’s just the nib part where my facade of knowledgeability falls apart, so we’ll save that for last.

I know what orange looks like. I know what a pumpkin looks like. I can only assume the rest of this comes from a poltergeist.

I love this color, in spite of the fact that it looks like it was achieved through pouring liquid microwaved plastic tiger figurines into a pen mold. The silver goes nicely with the orange and black. This will be a perfect Halloween/October pen. Eye catching without being sickeningly kitschy, as most Halloween-themed or -related things tend to be.

Have you ever had a set of Craftsman screwdrivers? With the nice, solid plastic and the REALLY WEIRD SMELL? If you have, then you know exactly what a Noodler’s Fountain Pen smells like. If you haven’t, go sniff the Craftsman screwdrivers at your local hardware store. I have no problem with this particular scent (I thought it was just the quintessential “screwdriver tool” smell), but I have seen some unpleasant comparisons made between the smell of this particular material and the smell of some unsavory human expulsions. You might want to see how you feel about the smell of Craftsman screwdriver handles before you seek to purchase any Noodler’s fountain pen—it’s one of the top complaints I’ve seen against them (note: the screwdriver I’m using for comparison smells 10 times more strongly than this pen does, and the pen’s smell does fade with time).

NOW we can open the pen

The construction of the pen is pretty simple, which I think makes this a nice starter pen. Cap screws on and off, no problems. If you don’t like clips on your pen, the very top of the cap screws off so you can remove the metal clip. No problems twisting the piston, though I do wish there were some solid indication of when you’ve screwed the piston as far down as it will go—as is, you just feel an increased amount of resistance that makes you think, “I could twist through this…but I’m pretty sure I might destroy the pen.”

FACT: I didn't know the clip could be taken off until about a minute before I wrote the sentence revealing that fact to you all

The cap posts comfortably, gripping the body of the pen well below the piston (no Twsbi-like worries of piston-twisting-while-in-the-process-of-cap-removal here), and doesn’t add much to the length of the pen. Though the body is some kind of plastic (a “celluloid derivative” according to the Noodler’s website), it’s a little bit weightier than typical cheap plastic, making this pen a light-to-medium weight. You’ve also got some nice little slotted plastic windows flush with the body of the pen, so you can tell when the ink is getting low.

I am clinically incapable of keeping the nib of an inked pen clean. Also, no, this picture is not upside-down, you are.

Here’s the part that makes the difference. The nib. It’s stainless steel, which my Wikipedia-grade knowledge tells me is generally pretty inflexible. The workaround? A slit that goes all the way up the nib (or at least as far as I can see) seems to do the trick that would otherwise be accomplished by a regular-style nib made with a more flexible metal (like gold? I guess? I don’t know; I’m too poor/cheap to have any gold nib pens).  My handwriting up there isn’t so great, but I think the logistics of left-handed push-writing might never be meant to work with a system of pressure-based line variation. Seems like I’m just destined to be digging the nib into the paper far more than is healthy. But you know the magical land where that doesn’t matter? DRAWING ON STRATHMORE DRAWING PAPER!

This gray is a bit dark. I've since reloaded the pen with J. Herbin's Gris Nuage, which is much better for the artistic potential of this pen. But this isn't an ink review, so we won't dwell on this point.

No fancypants nib scroll designs, but who cares. I have plenty pretty nibs, if that's what I want to look at.

The line variation is EXCELLENT. With a nice shading ink? That’ll likely bump this pen into the serious art tools—fountain pens category (an elite team currently consisting of my Rotring Art Pen, Lamy Vista EF, Sailor Ink Bar, and a Lamy Al-Star EF). Especially with the right kind of gray, you can do a light touch for the construction lines to get a pencil-like light gray, then use a heavier hand to get darker final lines. That characteristic also makes this pen a contender for a good bar/out-and-about sketch pen. No skipping, no scratchiness, heck, aside from the peculiar smell, I can’t think of anything (yet) to complain about on this pen. We’ll see how it stands up to the abuse of being carried around constantly before I ultimately pronounce this a Good Deal of a pen, but all signs currently point toward it being worth the money I paid for it, and then some.

By the way, other colors exist, if pumpkins aren't your thing

I do have some bad news; as of the time of writing, every color of the Noodler’s Flex Nib fountain pen is sold out. They went like gangbuster hotcakes—I was lucky to get this one (many thanks to Tom at Goldspot Pens for saving one for me)—but hopefully more will be available in the coming months (Noodler’s willing, that is). Keep an eye out for Noodler’s Ink Piston Fill Flex Nib Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens, pre-order if the option becomes available, but don’t give up. I think this fun little pen is worth it.




11 responses

1 07 2011

Hah what a coincidence. Initially I wanted to get a Pumpkin but I ended up getting a Lapis instead. I’m happy I made that decision. I think the blue looks better. I wish the pumpkin was bright yellow instead. Anyway, the real coincidence is that I also used Gris Nuage in mine. I wish I’d used another ink though, a grey ink isn’t particularly suited to a flex.

I’m not an expert but when using the flex, press on the downstroke and relax pressure on the upstroke.

2 07 2011

Nice review! I think my experience with the Noodler’s Flex has been like yours: pretty darn good. No problems with feed/railroading, and the only day that I noticed the smell (the screwdriver smell is an apt descriptor) was the day I took it out of the package. In fact, I think I notice the ink-smell (Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, which I tried in it first and adored, has a noticeable smell–not bad, but I know it’s there) much more than the pen.

Mine is currently filled with Iro Tsuki-yo, but what you said about the Gris Nuage makes me wonder if this pen is finally the real home for my Iro Kiri-Same. Thanks!

2 07 2011

Nice review. I got Mr. Pumpkin because all the other colours were gone, gone, but I’ve grown attached to him and he writes and draws beautifully, thus far, with Noodler’s Brown 41–smooth sailing.

3 07 2011
Sheryl C

Enjoyed your review – we’re in agreement on all the points you mentioned. I bought a red Vulcans Coral from Goulet Pens and put Noodler’s Lexington Gray in it to try as a pencil-like sketch medium under watercolor washes – it’s perfect! Great line variation (I’m a lefty too).

26 08 2011
10 pens later, part 2: flexy - There's that

[…] Noodler’s Ink Piston Fill Flex Nib Poltergeist Pumpkin Orange Fountain Pen ( Tweet Comments (0)>Tag: Fountain pen > Parker Vacumatic > Pilot (pen company) > Sheaffer « 10 pens later, Part 1 […]

1 10 2011

“though I do wish there were some solid indication of when you’ve screwed the piston as far down as it will go—as is, you just feel an increased amount of resistance that makes you think, ‘I could twist through this…but I’m pretty sure I might destroy the pen.'”

You don’t have to worry about destroying the pen by over-unscrewing it. The end is meant to come off for easy maintenance, and if you pop onto the Noodler’s channel on YouTube (InkNeedLastForever) you can see Nathan doing just that to show you how to fix your piston when it wears out.

If you’re curious, Nathan seems to be strongly of the opinion (read: he’s fanatical about it) that the end user should be able to maintain his/her own pen cheaply, efficiently, and in such a way that it’ll last at least a century (I’ve got a century old pen that is fairly simple and easy to maintain, and I can see it easily lasting at least another).

4 10 2011
No Pen Intended

:) Makes sense, and I definitely appreciate that end-user-friendly sentiment…..I just assume that I’m always going to break something (to my credit, I have utterly destroyed a cheap Zebra fountain pen)….I’m a bit better now that I’ve successfully taken apart and put back together several of my fountain pens.

20 11 2011
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