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.

INK SHALL NOT PASS

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.

THE FACE OF AN EVOLUTIONARY WINNER

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