Ink Drop Soup: Billet Pens and Markers – Kickstarter & GIVEAWAY!

8 12 2013

When it comes to Hi-Tec-C pens and Sharpie markers, you’ve got two quality brand lines there with almost endless color choices. With so many colors to choose from, you can never have too many pen bodies to put them in—and just in time for the gifting holidays there’s a new pen body on the Kickstarter scene—the Billet Pen and Marker.

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

Image credit goes to Cliff/Billet Pens for all these images

The body is anodized aircraft grade aluminum, with five basic body colors (red, black, purple, machined/silver, and matte black) and several laser engraved options. This Kickstarter is going fast, because the creator, Cliff, wants to get these pens out in time for those who make Christmas their #1 gifting holiday—multiple reward tiers are scheduled to ship on the 18th of December. I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too—the 18th?!? What is this, Chinese factory magic? No, Cliff is a careful engineer and has been working on this project well in advance, stockpiling the pens needed (using a slower laser) to make sure that what he offers will be ready in time.

Two solid choices for refill types

Two solid choices for refill types; Hi-Tec-C Billet body comes with black, red, or blue option refill

Reasons I’m excited about this pen:
+ Thicker barrel body. Some people like slim and slender barrels—they’ve had their pens made time and again. It’s time for something I can wrap my meathooks around and actually write with for a while, and these look like just the solid-sized pens for the job.
+ Magnets. Magnets are always exciting. Unless you swallow two or more of them, in which case magnets are an emergency.
+ Attention to detail. I asked Cliff if he had made considerations to ensure that the refills wouldn’t dry out after a week, two weeks, a month, or more of not being used, because I have had some problems with Hi-Tec-C refills in alternate bodies going dry if I’m not constantly using them. The Billet pen has a special rubber plug, and the marker has a special inner cap to keep them from going dry.

Did I mention the excellent price? It's excellent.

Did I mention the excellent price? It’s excellent.

This Kickstarter ends Monday, December 16th at 2:59am EST, so get on it!!! That’s not very many days, and the project only has to get to $5000 to be funded! Don’t deny me this pen because you were feeling Scroogey :)




To sweeten the spirit of things, Cliff is offering to give away a Billet Pen to one lucky winner! If you win, you get your choice of any of the pens being offered on the Kickstarter! Your rules as follows:

1. To enter, just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Monday, December 16th at 2:59am Eastern Standard Time. Sadly, this contest is only open to U.S. residents (but not to worry, internationals, you can get one of your own if you back the project on Kickstarter).
2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. I will hand number the entries because that’s just how I roll. The Random Integer Generator at will be used to pick the number of the winner.
3. I’ll post the contest winner the morning of Monday, December 16th. Winner must email me as soon as possible! There’s a link to my email at the top right sidebar. I’ll forward your info to Cliff so he can ship you the pen of your choosing!

Good luck! And thank you to Cliff of Billet Pens!


Premier Pen P1 Black

14 09 2012

More Kickstarter glory!

I was never a particularly great fan of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C line—I enjoyed a few iterations in the line, but the basic model’s aesthetics failed to tickle my fancy. But I still wanted to be one of those cool cats that’s in love with the Hi-Tec-C, so I dropped Jacksons to get in on the Premier P1 pen Kickstarter campaign, and here we are.

Worth every little Lincoln I paid for it.

This is a sexy, professional pen. I feel like I need to move to the big city and land a corner office just to be the kind of with-it young person who should be using this pen. At the very least, I ought to buy a briefcase and quit wearing jeans to work.

I may look like a hobo, but my pens are classy

I don’t even know where to start with the design love. This is as minimalist as it gets—no branding on the body at all—and it matches my Kaweco Liliput. The finish is as smooth as satin.


The weight is wonderful. The maintenance is simple. The only problem is figuring out what to do with the cap when you’re writing, as there’s nowhere to post it.

The cap would probably fit up your nose or in your ear, but that is neither professional nor a good idea, and will likely end with you in dire need of medical attention.

No rattling, no movement of the refill—the P1 was perfectly machined to hold its Hi-Tec-C refill in place.

Like an aluminum glove

The effort was undoubtedly worth it—Steve Black’s attention to detail in this project has turned out a fantastic body for a great refill that I can now properly appreciate. Bravo, Steve! Well done!

If you missed out on this Kickstarter, keep an eye out on the Premier Pen website and sign up for the mailing list to be notified when the P1 starts selling to everyone!

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen – (0.4mm Black & 0.3mm Clear Blue)

9 03 2012

After "Slim Knock," I was going to write the colors and tip sizes. And then, as I posted this picture, I realized I forgot to do that. woooopsss

I’ve had the vague intention of reviewing the basic Hi-Tec-C/G-Tec-C4, but when you’ve got a plate full of pens, some of them fall by the wayside. I’ve been especially hesitant due to how underwhelmed I was by the basic body—given that there are so many other micro-tip options with nice bodies—and wasn’t eager to jump into some Hi-Tec-C-bashing. It’s a popular pen. Don’t want to get on the bad side of the most popular pen in school. They’ll Avery-label me a social outcast, and I’ll have to eat lunch by myself in the cafinkteria.

Look at these precious li'l guuuys!

I liked the look of the Slim Knock enough to pick up a black one, and ended up liking that so much that I went back for a clear blue. Note: these pens aren’t just slim, they are downright diminutive—unless you have delicate little carny hands, you will feel like a giant around these pens.

Fee-fi-fo-fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman? Be he clean, or be he stink, I'll grind his bones to make my ink.

For some people, slim pens are prohibitively uncomfortable. Usually, that’s me. Not on this one. I cannot figure out how the Pentel Slicci feels too thin, but the Slim Knock (which seems to have approximately the same diameter) doesn’t. Maybe it’s the long rubber grip? It’s a mystery. All I know is I often find myself throwing a Slim Knock in for my daily arsenal, while the Sliccis stay home.

Hi-Tec-C Prime. The pen that spurred a thousand redesigns.

A star to Pilot for body design. I’m not going to use this pen to write the next great American novel (or even the next great American novella), but it looks slick, and it’s more than comfortable enough to keep around for everyday note-jotting in the office.

Never run with an exposed-tip pen, kids. You could put your eye out.

I preferred the 0.4mm for writing, and the 0.3mm for sketching. Both have good, consistent ink flow; no blobs or other inkly aberrations. For writing, I had no scratchiness with the 0.4mm. (disclaimer: smoothness at the microtip level is not the same as smoothness in normal and bold pens. If you’re used to above-0.5mm pens, you may think a lot of microtips are scratchy. You just need to accept the fact that not every pen can be like a bowling ball slathered with canola oil) The 0.3mm, however, skirts the line, and has moments, when writing, that it dabbles in a touch of scratchiness. Don’t go for the 0.3mm if you’re getting these pens to write with. However, if you’re looking for a little sketch pen to lay down your preliminary construction lines, then we’ve found a winner, especially with the clear blue. Sketching doesn’t magically transform it into an ever-smooth pen, but for some reason, I just didn’t seem to have much of a problem at all with the 0.3mm when drawing. If there’s scratchiness while I’m dropping down these doodles, I’m not noticing it like I was with the writing.

Let me needle-point out the Slim Knock's main flaw

Minus fifteen points from Pilot for post-dry smudge. None of the lines themselves are smudged, but even though the ink was dry, it was picking up onto the side of my hand, and getting redistributed onto the page (especially noticeable in the white areas). I’ve had the same problem with the Pentel Energel. Pens, why? You have to stop doing this to me.

Branding is informative, without being obnoxious, showy, or boring

Hopefully, Pilot will continue adding more colors to the Slim Knock line. I’d like to see every regular Hi-Tec-C color in Slim Knock style.

Unfortunately, just about every color of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock is sold out at the time of this writing. So, put it on your wish list, and snap some up as soon as they’re back in stock.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Black at JetPens

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Clear Blue at JetPens

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto 5 Color Multi Pen – Pen Body – Clear Black with ERASER (& other stuff)

23 03 2011

Gaze into the eye. Ignore the other terrible drawing. You see only the eye.

So the title was going to get all kinds of unruly; here’s your full title: Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto 5 Color Multi Pen – Pen Body – Clear Black with Three 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Components, 0.5mm Black Multi Pen Ink Cartridge, and ERASER COMPONENT.

I’d been collecting some Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen(cil) components before in my quest for the perfect multi pencil, but previously I was unimpressed by the ink cartridges (also, negatively impressed on several occasions, but let’s stay positive), and the mechanical pencil components didn’t swing my opinion one way or another since the additional ink components couldn’t carry me away from my previous multi-pen(cil) love. The body options for the Pilot Hi-Tec-C multi pen, I admit, are much more extensive and much nicer than what’s available for the Uni-ball Style Fit (which has recently added a few bizarre polka dotted options in a misguided attempt to bring something interesting to the table), but the pencil components were close enough to identical that the presence of a Jetstream component kept my loyalty with the Style Fit. Not anymore.


Ladies, gentlemen, individuals not constricted by societally prescribed gender, THAT IS AN ERASER. It is an eraser, and it is coming out of that multi pencil. We have seen the promised land. Our hopes, prayers, and animal sacrifices have been answered.

The finest plastic that three dollars and seventy-five cents can buy

The addition of an eraser, in spite of a lack of a satisfying pen component, puts the Coleto multi pen line in front running for Best Multipencil. Let’s take it from the top.

or the tips. from the tips. whatever.

I decided to go with the 5 component body—I wanted 3 pencils, the eraser, and figured it might be worthwhile to throw a pen in the mix (it wasn’t).

Unlike the Style Fit, disassembling the Coleto mechanical pencil component was not an esoteric challenge of obscure pentuition—just pull the long silver tube away from the plastic. Ta-da.

In hindsight, it would have made aesthetic sense to put the pen component opposite the clip. TOO LATE FOR SENSIBILITY NOW

It doesn’t fall apart, but it comes apart as easily as I think a component should. The eraser comes already in the metal sleeve. I haven’t gone through it yet, but we’ll see how long the eraser lasts and how easy refilling ends up being. The ink component is totally discardable—ok, maybe I’m being too harsh, but for me it ranks far below the Signo DX style ink cartridge and the Jetstream cartridge. If I can find a way to shove one of those in here instead, I’ll do it. We will henceforth refrain from commentary on the lowly ink cartridge and my infinitesimally low opinion of it.

The components drop down into spring-loaded tubes, then the lid snaps shut on top, securing the components in place. It’s very easy to rearrange components, swap them in and out of different bodies, and devise new orderings to try to get around the aesthetic nightmare all those plastic wings create. Score one point for convenience.


I wish there were a better way to differentiate between mechanical pencil components than a bit of Sharpie, but it’s all I’ve got.

Even though the plastic wings look odd and unpleasant, they are kinder on the thumbs than the wings of the Style-Fit, and advancing the lead seems much easier. Switching between deployed components isn’t always as smooth as I’d like; it doesn’t seem like pushing down on a new component always automatically makes the other component pop back up, and I’ve occasionally had trouble getting the component to stay down after I first push it (but once it’s in place, I haven’t had one retract while in use). I haven’t had any problems with the lead slipping back into the barrel, or at least haven’t had any vague hallucinations of such being a problem (one of which had to be the issue I was having with the Style Fit mechanical pencil components).

I am especially pleased with the performance of the eraser—I wouldn’t use it to clear out big areas, but it’s perfect for fixing lines in a quick sketch. The only drawback is having to overcome the learned urge to flip the entire unit around when I want to erase something. Once I learn to not do that, I think use of this multi pencil will be even easier, since I won’t be wasting time flipping the unit constantly (we will assume I’m going to be making a lot of little mistakes).

This is how smooth and beautiful it's SUPPOSED to look

The only mark against this multi pencil set up is that all these pencil and eraser components rattle around for some reason. When I fill the barrel with all these colorful, sleek little pen components I don’t get the rattling. And the only mark against the five-body model in particular that I have is that, unless I want to put another pencil in, I have no need for 5 component slots. This particular 0.5 mm black pen had no redeeming features that made it worth keeping in the mix, and it detracted from the otherwise uniformly wonky visual set-up the pencils and eraser provided. I found the grips on the barrel unobtrusive but …useful? I don’t know; I don’t really tend to have a particular need for a grip, but for those of you that do, this model does have a grip where the Uni Style Fit does not.

In going for a pure multi pencil, the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto line has everything I’ve been looking for: convenience, ease of use, comfort, nicer component bodies, and above all, AN ERASER. If you’ve been trying to put a bunch of pencils together in a single house of plastic, jump on the Coleto; it’s the best option I’ve seen so far.


It's coming for you, like a doofy-looking starfish in search of a hug.



Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto 5 Color Multi Pen – Pen Body – Clear Black at JetPens

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen – 0.5 mm – Mechanical Pencil Component at JetPens

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Multi Pen – Eraser Component at JetPens