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 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).
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.