Pilot Vanishing Point Yellow Body Broad Nib Fountain Pen

27 03 2012

For some reason, my scanner and Photoshop colluded in a conspiracy to make this ink look much more bright blue than it looks in reality. I was powerless to stop their scheme.

It ain’t easy being left-handed.

I resisted the Pilot Vanishing Point for quite some time. Every time I’d pop in the local pen store, I’d always scribble with the Vanishing Point kept on display, and every time I’d leave without one. Didn’t like the look. Didn’t like the clip. But here we are. I blame the particular shade of warm yellow, because as soon as I held it and saw it up close, I had to have it (once payday rolled around). Here’s a tip for whoever’s in charge of these things at Pilot: the fight would have been over months earlier if I’d been pitted against a turquoise Vanishing Point. Special edition color perhaps? Think about it.

CLICK (that sound you hear is a thousand ballpoint click pens weeping in the presence of their god)

I don’t know what to say about the general aesthetic design of the pen. It gives me feelings; I just can’t quite understand what they are. It’s simple. I like simple. I like this pen, but at the same time there’s some nagging thing; I wish I could say more but something about this design doesn’t visually balance perfectly, and I can’t put my finger on what I’m even going on about. Let’s just focus on the yellow: this is a warm and wonderful yellow. Nice weight, though not as heavy as the Lamy Dialog 3 (that will, I promise, be a review for another day). Feels solid and well built.


What’s the big deal about this pen? It’s retractable. “So is this,” comes the inevitable reply from your average non-fountain-pen-person, as they whip out some cringeworthy retractable offering. “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND,” you are legally required to shout, as you knock their plastic abomination from their hands into the depths of a conveniently-located nearby furnace, “THIS IS A FOUNTAIN PEN AND IT IS RETRACTABLE.” It makes a big difference, being able to click (and it is a mighty click), write something, click, and throw the pen back down without having to worry about it drying out, while still being able to use a fountain pen. This means I can use a fountain pen at work, where emergency situations require that, if you’re jotting something down, you have to jot it down NOW and keep moving. You don’t have time to unscrew caps, to make sure they’ve been put back on properly and whatnot. “Why don’t you just NOT use a fountain pen in those kinds of situations?” you may wonder. Look, buster, if we followed that kind of thinking, we’d still be living in trees, eating termites off sticks, and covered in hair.


If you’re right-handed, I’m pretty confident you’ll have no problems whatsoever with the writing of the Vanishing Point. You are free to skip ahead to the next picture. If you’re left-handed, like me, it would greatly behoove you to extensively test this pen out in a store before you buy it. I’ve been trying just about every writing angle and grip combination I can conceive of, but short of learning to write mirrored right-to-left across the page, à la Leonardo da Vinci, I am unable to figure out how to get an ideal and consistent performance out of this pen (as is abundantly obvious in the writing sample above). Of course, as I’m typing this up I’m also scribbling phrases with the pen, and it’s being unusually well behaved right now. I don’t know if there’s some kind of breaking-in phase that I’m having to endure here or what. I’ll have to return to this pen in a later update, perhaps in a few months, and see where things stand. Hoping it’s a phase, and that I won’t have to shell out extra buckos to get the nib ground.

Normally I am a fan of miniatures, but the line of absurdity has to be drawn somewhere

Clips and nibs do not belong on the same end of the pen together. They belong on opposite ends, the way Thoth intended. But then on pens like this and the Lamy Dialog 3, you’d have the nibs pointed down in pockets, just tempting fate to leak onto shirts and all over pockets. So onto the nib end it goes. The clip gets uncomfortably in the way of my natural grip. But my natural grip is wrong, HARRUMPH, and the clip is just ever-so-perfectly situated for the heavenly-ordained ideal tripod pliers grip.

Fun fact: this nib will sometimes squeak on the paper when writing, like a little metal mousey

The nib really doesn’t seem to go along with the rest of the pen, but given that I didn’t buy this pen for the beauty pageant factor, I’ll let it slide. It does its job.

Why did I turn the nib unit around? It's a flippin' mystery

Once unscrewed, the nib unit slides right out. Very simple. Takes Pilot cartridges (for which it has that silver cover pictured….for inexplicable design reasons….given that no one sees it) or converter (comes with both, in a fancy leatherette jewelry-like box). Given that I find Pilot cartridges to be some of the easiest to refill, and that it comes with a cartridge and a converter, I’m not too bothered by the brand-specific cartridge requirement. This isn’t exactly an entry level pen. We’re beyond cartridge wars at this point. It doesn’t take a standard international cartridge? I don’t care.

This review, and all you need to know about the Pilot Vanishing Point, can be summed up in four words: WORKING RETRACTABLE FOUNTAIN PEN. That’s it. Everything else is minor details and quibbles. It’s not perfect, but it remains the only click retractable fountain pen. I’m not going to sit down and draft out  a copy of the Constitution with it, but for quick-jot notes, it’s by and far the best.

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pens (including my wonderful yellow) at Goldspot Pens



25 responses

27 03 2012
Shangching CH (@bakanekosan)

Thank you for a review on VP. I have contemplated on this pen for awhile now, but unsure whether I should acquire one. I have heard from friends that it is a pen that needs to be tried prior to the purchase. Now with your review, it confirms that I need to drag myself to a store to seek one out, before I can make a more accurate decision. :)

27 03 2012
Shangching CH (@bakanekosan)

Oh, I forgot to mention, though you said that you are having trouble finding the right way to use the pen, your sketch still looks wonderful!

28 03 2012

“to the clip end it goes”, you mean? i am still hesitant about getting this one exactly because of the clip. mmm. -ponders more-

28 03 2012

oops sorry I just realised on second glance, that the NIB is one the that shifted position. my bad.

28 03 2012

I feel like have to point out that your right-handed writing is still a lot better than the native right-handed writing I’ve seen from many college students. So maybe that’s more of an option than you think it is if you can’t come to better terms with this pen using your left hand.

29 03 2012
Gentian Osman (@Gentian)

I recently got a VP in Fine and love it. I agree it is a pen you have to try in person because it doesn’t suit everyone. I would try a different ink. I did notice it does not write as well with drier inks so I’d try something a bit more free flowing. I am also left handed but didn’t have any trouble but I know my grip is a bit different from a lot of left handers.

30 03 2012

I love yellow fountain pens for some reason. I’m sorely tempted to buy a VP but they’re a bit expensive for my pocket and I’m afraid that if I take it to work it would be lost or stolen or broken by some ignoramus who thinks it’s a ballpoint pen. On the other hand, due to the retractable nib, it would be great for office use.

30 03 2012

I have a fine VP. It was my second serious fountain pen after I bought the TWSBI 530. I use it mainly for note taking when working/studying. I tend not to use it for prolonged writing these days since I have some others to choose from but I am glad to have it.

Even though I have a converter (con 50) I use cartridges due to holding a lot more ink. I am guessing the metal casing covering the cartridge is to add support to the mechanism. Without it, pushing down may be too much pressure for the cartridge.

In my biased opinion, it has form and function but I can easily understand why people have problems with it.

TWSBI have made there own retractable fountain pen. It looks suspiciously like the VP

30 03 2012

Grammar error – Twsbi have made their own version

31 03 2012
1 04 2012
No Pen Intended

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT??? Wh-where? Where do I get one? Is it terribly expensive? It’s soooo beauuutifuuuul!!!

2 04 2012
Monday Morning Review Round-up « European Paper Company

[…] No Pen Intended: Lamy Pico Pocket Size Extendable Ballpoint Pen & Pilot Vanishing Point Yellow Body Broad Nib Fountain Pen […]

6 04 2012
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7 06 2012
Ink Drop Soup: Raleigh Pen Show « No Pen Intended

[…] may recall my early vexation with my otherwise lovely Pilot Vanishing Point—so it was no contest as to which pen I’d pick for my very first customization of a nib. […]

3 10 2012

For whatever it’s worth, I purchased two of these last week and while they’re quite nice, I discovered the nib on one to be rotated 10 or so degrees off center resulting in having to place my index finger over the clip to write well with it. The other was fine, however, but if I hadn’t had a second one to compare it to I would’ve thought it was due to my being left-handed and just not holding it right. That wasn’t the case. So hopefully anyone who buys one in the future will read this and know to check the nib for alignment if they believe there’s a problem with it. On the other hand, I’m new to FP’s and for all I know this may be fairly common occurrence.

19 10 2012
No Pen Intended

Hm! Odd; I would think with the clip and all that all the Pilot Vanishing Point nibs need to be aligned in a certain way. Try writing to Pilot/Namiki; they have great customer service as far as I’ve experienced w/questions on my Vanishing Point (I have the matte black and the finish was coming off all the way thru to the barrel in spite of being well cared for in a special fountain pen case)

3 08 2013
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[…] Convenient Fountain Pen: Pilot Vanishing Point […]

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[…] Wood Ballpoint, Zait Olive Wood Fountain Pen, Pelikan M150, Parker Rollerball, Sheaffer Taranis, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Prera, Kaweco […]

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[…] on nearly any paper); the Super Quality style used on the Plumix, Penmanship, and Prera; and the gold Vanishing Point nibs). This nib is new to me, and it’s pretty great. The sweet spot is […]

12 11 2014

I’ve got the squeak and a slightly rotated nib on my Pilot VP in the same shade as the pics and still love it. A slight dent in the end where the nib pops out bothers me, but doesn’t seem to have affected it. It’s my main pen for all my work in the office where i jot down a couple dozen sticky notes and whatnot while i’m on the phone. I couldn’t ask for a better daily use pen for on-the-go note taking. About four years ago I was gifted a Pilot VP in black with a medium nib that was too wet for my microscopic hand writing, so it hasn’t seen enough love. With two though I can swap out the bodies as the mood strikes me, which was my main reason for going with Lamy before. So retractable AND swappable? Bonus.

5 06 2015
Thomas Xavier

i got the exame same pen (color & all!) but with a steel F nib. I wish the feedback had more personality and I think the 18K option really does aid with a touch more spring for that pleasant sensation.

The Flip side is that its almost trivial to purchase standalone nib units so indecisive people like myself can experiment!

28 03 2017
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[…] surprised to fit (one at a time, of course!) a Rotring Art Pen, the Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, a Pilot Vanishing Point, and even a Lamy Al-Star (though that was really pushing the limit, and might wear down the elastic […]

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