Pilot Falcon – Red – Rhodium Trim – Soft Extra Fine Nib

30 11 2017

Am I trying to accomplish feats of miniature, or am I just being lazy about making a written portion of the review?

For a pen I’ve kept quite regularly inked, I haven’t said much about the Pilot Falcon. I wasn’t looking for a Pilot Falcon when I bought it last year. Pretty sure I was helping Crazy Alan set up the tables at the Baltimore Washington International Pen show last year when I saw this bright red pen I hadn’t seen before and went, “What is this? What do you want for it? Put it on my tab.” I haven’t been much of a fine/extra fine fountain pen user of late—I want big bold nibs that really show off my inks. But I went for this soft extra fine anyway.


Look at it! How could I not?

Fantastic, warm, firetruck red

I’m always a fan of the Pilot aesthetic. Solid, attractive colors with minimalist decoration, dependable pens that are well made. The clip is sturdy; the rhodium bands on the body, cap, and grip look sharp; and the decorative cap band gives it a subtle, unique flair. And the metal disk on top of the cap doubles as a mirror.

Admire my blue-ringed clip-on iPhone macro lens

This weird nib. Let’s talk about this weird nib. I was hoping the Pilot website would have some sleek explanation of how the curvature of the 14K gold nib exactly creates the physics required to produce a soft, semi flex writing experience, but no. So, to make one up, the angle of the metal creates a quantum tectonic microshear in the fabric of space, time, and human decency that makes for a nice, springy nib. There’s line variation to be had for you lucky ducks blessed with the ability to write all flexxily, but for the rest of us it’s just nice to write with.

And periodically attempt to make fancy flexxy writing with

What has made this pen so essential to my life is how well it pairs with my Hobonichi. The monthly spread pages have small boxes. Small boxes require small writing. Perfect for the soft extra fine nib. The Falcon is lightweight and comfortable, with threads that don’t get in the way of my grip style. My go-to ink choice has been Rohrer & Klingner Salix iron gall ink, but I might get in on this Scabiosa and Salix mixing I see the cool kids doing online.

I gaze at myself in my fountain pens until I become one of the cool kids. Is it working yet?

The only thing I’d like to see from the Falcon is Falcons in colors besides red and black. Dark purple? Turquoise/aqua/minty blue green? Warm cheesy yellow? Feel free to make any of these, Pilot. You know where to find me.


Pilot Guilloche Vanishing Point (2016 Limited Edition)

6 10 2016

As long as Pilot keeps coming out with limited editions that I like, we’ll make this particular mini review a yearly tradition. The design isn’t as flashy as last year, but the ombre fade of the Twilight Limited Edition would have been hard to beat. Taking a different direction entirely was probably the best choice.

This year will focus on a complete lack of color altogether

Again, as in at least the past 3 years, the limited edition comes in this honking big box. The details on the box match the pen design, this year being black with guilloche pattern imprint. On to the main attraction:

Cue either seductive music or carnival music, depending on how the phrase “main attraction” has you feeling

Because I intended to make this VP a daily use pen, the clip had to go. I tried using it with the clip on for about half a day, and it just wasn’t working out. Once I wiggled the nose cone off, I was surprised to see something slightly different than what has heretofore been beneath modern VP nose cones.

See the difference. Dare to compare. What conspiracy have I uncovered?

This is the only limited edition VP that I’ve clipectomized so far. Is this a limited edition thing, or is this a change in Pilot’s Vanishing Point design thing? Too soon to tell, but if this is permanent, I may change my clipless VP decorating game plan.

Gentle lighting brought to you by the only sun-facing window in my house, conveniently located next to the red dog bed

I love the guilloche pattern. It’s like my pen is wearing a sweater. The texture provides excellent gripability and makes it more visually interesting than some simple black. The standard limited edition comes with a medium rhodium-plated 18k gold nib, but I got mine from my local pen store with the black-ionized 18k gold nib in fine, for maximum cool factor. Sunglasses are sprouting from my eye sockets as we speak.

It hurts but that is the price you pay to be ineffably cool

I highly doubt the Guilloche will be as sought-after or worth as much money as the 2015 limited edition, but 2015 was unexpected gangbuster hotcakes. The 2016 is a cool, classy limited edition, that sips martinis and generally exists somewhere in the aesthetic crossing of James Bond and Mr. Rodgers.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen – Mint – Medium Nib

10 07 2016

Remind me to upload a scan of this sample later, rather than a picture of it

If you have a very good memory, you’ll recall that I’ve reviewed the Kaweco Sport before. Years ago, in fact. So why am I reviewing a Kaweco Sport again? Well, it’s the Skyline edition with different colors and this one has a clip and it came in a different box all the way from Australia.

It's pretty much an entirely different pen

It’s pretty much an entirely different pen

First off, a general update on the durability of the Kaweco Sport — my original survived a trip through the washing machine without damage and without coming open/putting ink all over my clothes. When the feed broke (for no apparent reason) after 5 years of service, Kaweco saw my Instagram post and got me in contact with their customer service, who sent me a new feed/nib/grip assembly. Great customer service. Very durable little pen.


Cool container, Kaweco

I don’t know if this is the box specific to the Skyline edition, or perhaps specific to a certain geographical distribution area, but this is a cool box. Matte black, stealthy metal tin. Much nicer than the tin my Liliput came in.

Kaweco Skyline is evolving! Kaweco Skyline has learned clip. It's super effective!

Kaweco Skyline is evolving! Kaweco Skyline has learned clip. It’s super effective!

This pen also came with a clip. When I bought my original Kaweco Sport, I could have ordered the clip separately. Maybe I will. I still can. I’m glad this one came with a clip–it’s sturdy and secure, and help makes the pen easy to find, clipped to the side of a pocket rather than lost in the bottom of a bag. It’s not a clip that will be easily or accidentally knocked off.


Believe me, I tried

The color scheme is refreshing. I prefer silvery accents to gold, so this is more up my alley. And it pairs nicely with the soft mint blue. Can mint be blue?


I say yes.

The Kaweco Sport is lightweight, being plastic, and pretty comfortable for a compact pen, with its round, slightly curved-in grip. The flat sides on the octagonal cap don’t dig into my hand when I’m holding the pen in my horribly abnormal grip. There is definitely a sweet spot to this nib, and for most of the handwritten version of this review, I’ve been falling off it.

Look close and witness the madness

When it’s on, it’s good stuff. Nice flowing tactile nib. But when it’s off, what a pain. My overwriting angle may be partly to blame. But I probably won’t be entirely satisfied until I’ve fiddled with this nib. Your out of the box experience may vary. Oddly enough, I seem to have little to no problem when I’m using it to jot a quick note, be it at work on a post-it, or on the back of a receipt while on the side of a mountain on a motorcycle trip. It’s just this more longform stuff that brings out the less cooperative aspects of this nib.

Here’s where I’d put a good converter, IF THEY MADE ONE

The biggest drawback to the Kaweco Sport is the lack of a good converter option. The pen takes standard international cartridges, but the body is too short for a proper converter. There’s a squeeze converter available, which doesn’t hold much ink and isn’t the most convenient thing to use, and a mini twist converter that similarly fails to get the job done.

Competitively priced entry level fountain pens, left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco Sport Skyline, Platinum Preppy, Jinhao 599A, Muji Round Aluminum Fountain Pen, Pelikan Pelikano, Pilot Penmanship, Sailor HighAce Neo

A selection of competitively priced entry level fountain pens, left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco Sport Skyline, Platinum Preppy, Jinhao 599A, Muji Round Aluminum Fountain Pen, Pelikan Pelikano, Pilot Penmanship, Sailor HighAce Neo. Most expensive pen in this pic: the Kaweco

The Kaweco Sport (without clip) used to cost $15 when I bought my first one, which made it a competitively priced entry level fountain pen. The higher that price goes, the harder it is for the Kaweco Sport to remain in that category. It doesn’t have much competition in the compact/pocket size entry level fountain pen front, but for how long? At least you know the money gets you something durable backed by a responsive company.

Every day carry. Or at least every other day carry

Every day carry. Or at least every other day carry

All in all, the Kaweco Sport remains a decent little fountain pen well suited to everyday carry. The Skyline colorway is a welcome addition to an enduring product line.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen – Mint – Medium Nib at NoteMaker

(Notemaker provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)

Lamy Dark Lilac Fountain Pen and Ink

2 05 2016

I could have reviewed the nib, but ive already swapped on a slightly crisp stubby italic that I ground ahead of this pen’s arrival, which gives you no insight into how it writes right out of the box

A review for the much anticipated Lamy Dark Lilac Safari doesn’t need to be long. Here it is: just buy it. Unless you hate purple, or purple murdered your parents outside a movie theater forcing you into a life of vigilante justice against purple-jacketed villains, then you can pass, but everyone else? You probably ought to get this pen, and the ink to go with it. I hate triangular grips, and I still think you should get this pen.

Heck, I might even get this pen again

Ultimately this is still a Lamy Safari, and my opinions about the Safari haven’t really changed (though it’s no longer the sole best contender for a beginner fountain pen, not since the Pilot Metropolitan hit the streets). But I will tell you what makes this particular Safari a winner among all other Safaris.

I recommend pairing this pen and ink with a Rhodia Ice pad for maximum cool factor

I don’t know if the success of the Pelikan M205 Amethyst led them to this conclusion or if Lamy came up with this one all on their own, but special edition pens can be made in colors other than green. With fantastic results! I couldn’t ask for a more perfect shade of purple.

I could ask, but no one would be able to give it to me

The entire pen is finished with the same matte texture as you’d find on the charcoal Safari. It’s a wonderful texture that doesn’t show fingerprints the way the glossy finishes do, and adds comfortable grippability to the plastic body.

I’m going to sleep now and dream of this most perfect purple

The black nib, clip, and finial seals the deal. Silver accents would have been too showy. The stealth scheme lends the pen an ineffable air of coolness.


Lamy ink is one of my favorites for everyday use — it’s vibrant, it shades, and it’s fairly quick drying. The only downside to Lamy ink is the limited selection of colors available — or, that was the downside, prior to the arrival in the past few years of matching special edition inks. Now I have the purple I’ve wanted to exist since I first learned about Lamy inks. Bonus? The ink has a golden sheen.

This pen and its matching ink are everything I hoped for. My only problem is that they didn’t come out with it sooner.

And Tobi’s only problem is that the ink isn’t meat-flavored

I got mine from my local enabler, Crazy Alan’s Emporium. He might have some in stock if you give the store a call. Otherwise you can find this pen for however limited a time at any fine retailer where Lamys are sold, but not yet sold out. 

Pilot Twilight Vanishing Point (2015 Limited Edition)

19 10 2015

I wasn’t expecting to get this pen today, and yet it had only been in the store ten minutes when I got there. It knew I was coming, and rushed to meet me there, I’m convinced. Pretty sure that’s some form of fate, destiny, or other predetermined grandiose excuse for buying pens when I don’t need them. This is my first limited edition Vanishing Point, and without ever meaning to it appears I’ve become a small collector of Vanishing Points.  

sweet marmalade ive figured out how to add captions from the wordpress phone app


There isn’t much to review at this point; it works just like all my other Vanishing Points. The main differences are this one came in a fancy box:



And that fancy box has a little drawer:


To hide things in

And all the usual retractable goodness comes wrapped in a wicked cool color fade


I think kids these days are calling it ombre, which I thought was how you pronounced the Spanish word for man or dude or something heck I really don’t know Spanish

The purple is a warm, luscious shade filled with sparkles


I would also accept a pen entirely this color

Which then fades to an icy blue (which I admittedly am less enthusiastic about, such is my deep and unending love of purple)


It’s a nice blue, it’s just not purple but what can you do

And each pen of the series is individually numbered. 


So if you see anyone else with pen 1880 they’re either lying or they stole my pen

It’s a beautiful pen up close, and perfect colors for winter (which we seem to have skipped right into in my weather zone, so I guess I ought to ink this up now)


each picture in this post is a game of spot the iPhone

It’s a pleasing pen, and I hope this is only the beginning of more Vanishing Points in this coloring style. 

Pilot Kakuno – Fine Nib – Black Body / Light Green Cap

12 05 2015
Don't ask me how to pronounce "Kakuno." I promise you however I'm saying it is wrong.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce “Kakuno.” I promise you however I’m saying it is wrong.

I’ve had various color combinations of the Pilot Kakuno languishing on my JetPens wishlist for a while, but it took being stuck home sick in a syrupy haze of cough suppressants for me to actually decide to order one. Which I ordered from my Amazon Prime, for whatever reason.

The reason was money

The reason was money

Although I picked everything about this pen based on what option was cheapest on Amazon at the time, I like the dark grey and lime green combo. The color is fun without feeling childish. Not that there’s anything wrong with childish—this is designed to be a kid’s pen. But the design isn’t aggressively elementary school; it’s a minimalism that holds a broad appeal.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

There’s no clip, but the Kakuno is hexagonal and the cap has an unobtrusive little nub to help discourage the pen from rolling away. The grip is shaped in a roughly triangular hexagon, with all edges (if you can even call them that) quite rounded—the guidance from the grip is subtle and comfortable. The pen itself is lightweight, yet the plastic feels reassuringly sturdy, as far as this price point goes. It’s no luxury resin, but it’s also not some cheap, fragile crap.

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Here’s the most unavoidably adorable part: the face of the nib. Literally. A smiley. face. (unless you have one of the soft body colors; then it’s a winky face) — it’s another point of guidance for the novice fountain pen user: if the pen is smiling at you, then you’re holding it right (or at least not upside down). Maybe not everyone is confident enough in their adulthood to rock out such a happy pen on a regular basis. I’m not here to judge you. But it’s really only noticeable to others if you point the face out. Or if they stare at your hands obsessively.

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

To be on the safe side, I probably wouldn’t take this pen as my prime writer in a Serious and Professional Meeting of Important Business, but right now it’s my favorite no-worry knockabout pen. I toted it around on a trip to the mountains. I’ve thrown it in countless bags, back pockets, and cup holders. It writes reliably, neither too wet nor too dry, and the fine nib is perfect for everyday use. The performance of the nib itself was surprisingly pleasant (not sure why I was surprised, I should have known Pilot wouldn’t let me down), a sort of tactile feel on the page without any scratchiness or sharp edges.

Impulse purchase yours today!

Impulse purchase yours today!

If you’re looking for a specific color or nib size, JetPens has the full selection. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and aren’t picky, you can likely find a Kakuno on Amazon for under $10 (right now, the winning combination is a fine nib White Body Soft Blue cap with free Prime shipping, clocking in currently at $9.46).

Pilot Kakuno — medium and fine nibs in multiple colors — at JetPens

Pilot Kakuno Fine Nib Fountain Pen Black Body Light Green Cap at Amazon

Zebra V301 Fountain Pen

7 04 2015
Works as a dip pen!

Works as a dip pen!

The first time I bought a Zebra V301 Fountain Pen was July 2011. It was utter rubbish, I decided to attempt to take it apart for reasons unknown (some vague notion of fixing it, no doubt), and basically obliterated the pen beyond all hope of ever functioning.

It was 2011. Things were different then

It was 2011. Things were different then

So what would possess me to buy such a piece of crap again? Poor decision making / it was there / it was only $5 / being sick makes me impulsive

Thanks a lot, upper respiratory infection plus allergies. Like the several bags of discount candy I bought yesterday, you've once again led me astray

Thanks a lot, upper respiratory infection plus allergies. Like the several bags of discount candy I bought yesterday, you’ve once again led me astray

The Stainless STEEL Barrel (so the packaging claims) with black plastic accents makes for a simple, rugged looking pen. The cap snaps on hard (perhaps a little too hard) to close, and snaps a little more easily to post. When closed, the cap stays still. When posted, the cap spins around freely. There’s not much weight that would send it needlessly spinning around, but it’s a bit vexing.

Tubes of metal

Tubes of metal

The pen body is of a comfortable thickness, the grooving and shaping of the grip is nice, and the whole body is very lightweight. I bet it would be a nice long haul writing experience, if the pen actually wrote.

This is not how a fountain pen is supposed to work

This is not how a fountain pen is supposed to work

You know when Cruella DeVille, in 101 Dalmatians, tries to write a check and her fountain pen doesn’t work? And she shakes the pen, shouting, “Blast this pen, blast this wretched, wretched pen!” That’s me right now. Except Cruella actually got ink to come out of her pen. The V301, for the most part, operates on an entirely inkless philosophy.

I tried to find a video clip of Cruella and her pen, but all the clips I found that were NOT two minutes long consisted of Cruella blasting her pen onto other Disney characters. Fetish? I don't know. I don't want to know.

I tried to find a video clip of Cruella and her pen, but all the clips I found that were NOT two minutes long consisted of Cruella blasting her pen onto other Disney characters. Fetish? I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

I put in the ink cartridge. Nothing. Let it sit, capped, nib pointed down for a while. Nothing. Tapped it on the page. Nothing. Eventually I took the ink cartridge out, smacked that on the page, and got ink on paper. Then I dipped the tip of the fountain pen in the ink sitting at the lip of the cartridge and was able to write for a little while. It’s a shame, because the writing felt great for a cheap pen—no scratching, just a very tactile workhorse type of nib. Then the dipped ink ran out, the pen fitfully managing a few more scribbled lines and frustrated expletives before giving up entirely. The pen seemed to work best when writing with the nib upside down, though whoever finished the nib wasn’t in on that plan because the nib is very scratchy upside down. Just so we’re clear:

When you're up, you're up, and when you're down you're down, except when you're a Zebra pen you're in a perpetual existential crisis

When you’re up, you’re up, and when you’re down you’re down, except when you’re a Zebra pen you’re in a perpetual existential crisis

Metal to the sky is right side up. Feed to the sky is upside down. The pictures on JetPens agree with me. But the instructions on the back of the V301 packaging state:

Gently hold your pen with the nib facing down and properly balanced when making contact with the paper.

What do they mean, exactly, nib facing down? Is it really possible that they designed the mechanics of the feed such that the pen only works upside down?? It can’t be. How could it?!?!

Note the dot of ink spreading onto the page as I held the pen there? That did not happen with the nib facing up.

Note the dot of ink spreading onto the page as I held the pen there? That did not happen with the nib facing up.

Other gems from the packaging include:

Your new fountain pen will become a personal writing instrument as the nib of the pen adapts to your personal writing style. For this reason, we recommend that the fountain pen be used only by yourself.

No, I don’t think, if you’re using your steel nib with the appropriate pressure, short of writing with it for a hundred years it will really make that much of a difference in the shape of the nib. Other people can use your fountain pens as long as they know what they’re doing. And as long as you’re using a pen that writes.

Zebra Pen guarantees the performance of this writing instrument. If it fails to perform properly, please return it to Zebra Pen Corp. for repair or replacement.

Why would I spend more of my own money to mail Zebra this terminally dysfunctional pen? I could literally use the money it would cost to ship this pen to buy a working low end fountain pen from another company (for example, Pilot Varsity, Platinum Preppy). Zebra, you need to take this pen back to the drawing board because whatever you’ve done, it’s something very wrong. Perhaps it’s the (what seems to be) felt-like mechanism in the feed. That part is garbage. Throw it out. Re-evaluate your life choices.

Fountain pens really aren't that hard you guys

Fountain pens really aren’t that hard you guys

Bonus, this trainwreck of metal and ink takes proprietary cartridges! ZEBRA, WHY. This pen is the price-point opposite experience of the Paperchase Wonderland Cartridge Fountain Pen I found at Target. For only $4.99 plus tax, Paperchase knocked it outta the park. A near-perfect beginner fountain pen. The V301? Possibly a diabolical plan by Zebra to keep the masses from ever falling in love with fountain pens, pushing them to pursue a life only of ballpoints, gel pens, and rollerballs.

No link today because I don't want you to even think of wasting your money on this thing. Though, for the record, I got mine this time around at a Walgreen's

No link today because I don’t want you to even think of wasting your money on this thing. Though, for the record, I got mine this time around at a Walgreen’s

For five bucks, I don’t want a pen I have to mess around any with. It doesn’t have to be life-changing, it just has to write. For the second time now, this pen fails to meet the basic functioning definition of a pen.