Yoropen Z3

13 04 2015
Writing samples will be tiny for a while, until I can get my computer/scanner set up again. I'll be using my Doxie Flip scanner and hoping it will be good enough

Writing samples will be tiny for a while, until I can get my computer/scanner set up again. I’ll be using my Doxie Flip scanner and hoping it will be good enough

The ever unusual Yoropen! It’s been a few years since the first Yoropen undulated into my life. And now here we are, this silver phoenix born again through the fire of Kickstarter. Thanks to the folks at Yoropen for sending this free Z3 to review.

Box not pictured, one because it looks just like the box on the Yoropen website, two because after moving I'm not 100% sure where I put the box

Box not pictured, one because it looks just like the box on the Yoropen website, two because after moving I’m not 100% sure where I put the box

The Z3 is an executive pen and comes in a tasteful box to match—nice enough that you’d never have to hide in shame when giving it as a gift, but not so nice that you’d feel like you couldn’t throw it away, if you’re not of the box-hoarding persuasion. Included with my sample pen: 1 proprietary cartridge, and 1 mold to turn other refills into Yoropen-compatible refills.

Grip colors available are black, blue, and reddish

Grip colors available are black, blue, and reddish

The grip is made of comfortable, dust-collecting material. Once you start using it, it will never be fully clean again. The grip is adjustable, making the pen suitable for both left- and right-handers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where I want my grip twisted to so as to facilitate the correct grip positioning.

I think I'm holding it correctly. I think I followed the instructions...

I think I’m holding it correctly. I think I followed the instructions…

To get the full ergonomic benefits of the Yoropen requires some grip retraining, which allegedly will take you about five minutes. I didn’t really time it, but my cursive handwriting of this review did look a lot better by the end.

The end of that clip is just inviting my cat to walk up and chew on it while I'm writing

The end of that clip is just inviting my cat to walk up and chew on it while I’m writing

The cap snaps securely on the end, the clip a tilde floating in the wind. But closing the pen, the cap is very particular—it only goes on one way, in such a way that it pushes the nub of the clip’s end into the grip.

The mystery of the dented grip was quickly solved thanks to Scooby Snax and menthol cough drops. Or maybe it was simple logic.

The mystery of the dented grip was quickly solved thanks to Scooby Snax and menthol cough drops. Or maybe it was simple logic.

Every time I put the cap back on, I have to remind myself that pushing the clip into the grip is correct. This creates a dent in the grip, which is more aesthetically annoying than really having any functional impact.

This is actually the Zebra Surari refill I molded, not the refill it came with. Shhh, they look the same in the pen

This is actually the Zebra Surari refill I molded, not the refill it came with. Shhh, they look the same in the pen

It’s surprising how little pressure is needed to get the Yoropen refill to write. It isn’t a particularly dark or striking refill, especially when applying so little pressure. But it flows smoothly and leaves marks on the page.

Top refill is a Zebra Surari multi-pen refill molded to fit the Yoropen. Beneath, the actual Yoropen refill. Finally, a Jetstream multi-pen refill being molded in the actual mold

Top refill is a Zebra Surari multi-pen refill molded to fit the Yoropen. Beneath, the actual Yoropen refill. Finally, a Jetstream multi-pen refill being molded in the actual mold

New to the Yoropen Z3 (as opposed to previous Yoropen models) is a little plastic mold (shipped with the Kickstarter pens, currently available on the Yoropen website with each plastic refill ordered, plans in the future to be included with pens sold from the site). This little bit of plastic opens up a world of possibility. The idea is to take any similarly proportioned plastic refill and bend it into a Yoropen refill shape. It doesn’t work perfectly (the writing tip end doesn’t get bent far enough down, compared to the Yoropen refill), but it works well enough to get the newly molded refill into the Yoropen. You may have to finagle a bit, and physically encourage the refill to go where you want when you put the pen back together, but in the end I got mine to work. I first molded a Surari multipen refill (not sure how long it actually takes, as I just left it in the mold for a few days). Next, I went to mold a Jetstream refill and broke the plastic tip off the mold. Oops. The mold still works though, and as long as I keep the broken-off tip I’ll still be able to line up refills to put the Yoropen bend in at the correct distance from the pen tip.

All the pieces

All the pieces

I’m not used to using a ballpoint with such an incredibly light touch, and with a super-smooth refill in it? Smoother than buttered skates on oiled ice. It’s like first learning to write with a fountain pen all over again. You know how you’re supposed to write with your whole arm, not your fingers? The Yoropen is comfortable yet controllable enough for me to actually start doing that. I haven’t adapted quite as well to any other pen that demanded me to change my grip style (tripod style is typically a disaster, and every five years or so it used to be that I’d buy a PenAgain and soon remember I can never write right with it).

Ordinarily I don’t go for the idea of spending top dollar on a ballpoint pen (that money’s for fountain pens), but with a comfortable design and the ability to mold super-smooth refills to fit? That just might be worth it.

Yoropen Z3 Black Ver. 02 at Yoropen Inc.





Ink Drop Soup: A Couple More Kickstarters

8 04 2015

Everywhere, all the time, Kickstarters! I have a few Kickstarterized pens in the wings waiting to be reviewed, but in the meantime, here are a couple more new Kickstarter pens you can choose to throw money at and see what happens.

The Patriot Pen

Image from The Patriot Pen Kickstarter Page

Image from The Patriot Pen Kickstarter Page

Inspired by GUNS! Aside from the Space Pen Bullet pens, I don’t know too many pens with designs so overtly tributary to weapons. Are there any sword pens? Do they still make Bond-style pens that are actually guns? Would such a pen gun sticking out of my pocket be considered open carry or concealed carry?

The refill for the Patriot Pen is a Pilot Dr. Grip, which hasn’t come up much (if at all) in any other Kickstarter pens yet (but maybe I’m just not paying attention). The product description seems to walk a fine line between hyperbolic satire and needless genderization (as Bic has yet to learn, pens aren’t piloted by genitals) with lines like “the testosterone boosting power of manly gear,” “every man needs gear that not only works well, but also testifies of his complete studliness,” and “ensure that every onlooker will know you are a man with real mettle.” WILL MY GENDER CHANGE IF I USE THIS PEN??? In the name of coolness, that just might be a risk I’m willing to take.

The Patriot Pen by Dimond Point LLC on Kickstarter

*****

The Umigi Pen

Not umagi (possibly some type of anime?) or unagi (definitely a type of delicious sushi), but the Umigi Pen features a unique shaker mechanism: shake down to deploy, shake sideways to retract. All the other shaker writing utensils I’ve seen so far in my life have been mechanical pencils (shake to advance the lead, but no way of shaking to retract anything). I’m not one to normally watch many videos online (I am just weird that way and like reading things / looking at pictures), but the three 30-second shorts videos under the “fun stuff” section brought a smile to my face. And since you don’t have to change the way you’re holding the pen to deploy and retract, this apparently makes the Umigi Pen more convenient for those with physical challenges. A.k.a. making pens more accessible for everyone! The goal for the Umigi Pen is much further away, but the backing cost of getting an actual reward is WAY lower than possibly any other Kickstarter I’ve seen. The Umigi Pen (blue ink color) for $5??? It’s worth $5 just to throw down and see if it can be done.

The UMIGI Pen on Kickstarter





United P2: Pocket Pen

7 02 2015
Time to kick another starter!

Time to kick another starter!

What I have here today is a prototype model of the United P2 Pocket Pen that just launched on Kickstarter. I’ve spent a few weeks throwing it in pockets and bags, I’ve showed it off to nearly everyone I work with, I’ve lost it for almost a week in someone else’s car before finding it again, and I’ve scribbled my fair share of notes with it. Now, my memory is a bit hazy, but this just might be my favorite compact ballpoint pen.

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

Aluminum body. Stainless steel cap. Machined awesomeness

It looks part lava lamp, part minimalist rocket. It feels fantastically smooth to the touch, the finish some kind of mix between metal and silk. I’ve left it unprotected, free to jangle against keys, pocket knives, coins, and yet still I can’t find any signs of a scratch yet. I haven’t tried chucking it across a roughly paved parking lot or tried dropping it from the top of a five story building, but I’m not sure I’d want to. I like this pen too much to take the abuse quite that far.

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

I was worried about a small cap on a pocket pen, but it works

The cap (machined out of solid 17-4 stainless steel bar stock) and its locking grooves are machined so precisely that when you push the cap on, air has nowhere to go, thus requiring the hole in the top of the cap. When you pull the cap off, the air being sucked back in as you pull makes a little pop! when the cap is free. The result is a very secure cap that is nevertheless easy to remove and incredibly fun to play with.

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

If you grip your pens at the very absolute tip of the pen, this might be a problem, but everyone else will be okay

Not sure what I was expecting the first time I pulled the cap off, but this wasn’t it. This was something altogether strange and different. This looked like a candle, with the writer’s flame of a ballpoint tip. I was a bit skeptical. But then I followed the groove of the pen and was pleasantly surprised with the result.

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

I need to work on having a more photogenic grip

For my hand, the prototype is the perfect size. The weight of the pen gives it presence in the hand, but the comfortable way it’s balanced makes the weight almost unnoticeable. The refill included, a medium Schmidt, is nice and smooth in its own right. But the United P2 is designed to take a D1 refill. You know who makes a D1 refill? Do you?! UNI BALL. THE ANSWER IS JETSTREAM. THE ANSWER IS I CAN HAVE A FANCY LITTLE JETSTREAM REFILL POCKET PEN AND A CHOIR OF PENLY ANGELS SHALL SING ABOVE MY HEAD. Ok put that thought on pause. Brad Dowdy has discovered (as I did once he pointed it out and I tried swapping the refill) that the Jetstream refill is too skinny. I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP YET. RESEARCH MUST BE DONE. But I’ll have to come back to this. I’m holding out hope.

UPDATE from the inventor himself:

“Also for the record, the production pen WILL accept all D1 refills. Currently the prototype doesn’t accept some refills because the coating thickness is a little too thick which in turn made the hole size a touch smaller than it needs to be.”

HOPE RETURNS!

Everyday carry approved

Everyday carry approved

Tweaks are already planned for the production run vs. what I have here in the prototype. The pen will be a little larger, both in length and in diameter. Personally I’m fine with the prototype size, but I have medium sized hands. It would be nice, down the line, to perhaps have “large” and “small” size options for the United P2. No one size will be perfect for everyone, but it would be nice to have a choice. I worry that a larger pen wouldn’t fit nicely in the pockets of my fitted jeans. The production run pen will also have a smaller cap hole, which I didn’t have a concern about either way. Finally, the production run will have the press fit cap on the back end of the pen flush with the pen body. It sticks out so slightly on the prototype that I didn’t even notice until I saw this improvement listed, but that update is a good idea. Don’t know when I’d need to stand the pen upright, but just in case.

There are still 28 days to go and already the United P2 has reached its (admittedly easy to attain) funding goal. The makers of this pen have successfully completed a Kickstarter project before (a small brass spinning top that looks really cool and I really want one now, thanks a lot research). If you’re interested in this pen, hop onboard.

United P2: Pocket Pen by Dylan Polseno on Kickstarter





Ink Drop Soup: Yoropen, Back Again!

27 08 2014

Remember the Yoropen?

This pen probably has more in common with some species of tropical, exotic bird than it does with other pens

It took about 8 minutes of scrolling back through my media library to find this

I mentioned when I reviewed it that there was a metal version. Little did I realize at the time that Yoropens had been pretty much discontinued since about 2008/2009, operations shut down…but they are back, and trying to get started up again through Kickstarter.

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

The Z3 is an updated version of the old metal Yoropen (the Z2) in a big way: instead of requiring only special, odd, proprietary ink cartridges, the inside has been redesigned to be able to accommodate generic refills after they’ve been bent appropriately by an included mold.

Image

Image from the Yoropens Kickstarter

I’m excited to see the new Yoropen Z3 in action, and Yoropen has reached out to me to send me one to try once it’s ready; keep your eyes open for a review in the future. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is live if you’re looking for a different pen from a company with previous success that’s trying to get back in the game.

Yoropen Z3 on Kickstarter





Ink Drop Soup: Someone Buy Me One (HMM RULE/ONE Kickstarter)

16 05 2014

This Kickstarter for the HMM RULE/ONE is so close to almost funded with six days to go…and it looks so sweet…look at it!

It’s magnet close (a feature that was added thanks to backer feedback), and the refill is Uni 0.38! And it’s black anodized aluminum. And you can use it like a bookmark thanks to the teardrop shape. And you can put in a lanyard loop. UGH I WANT ONE. Someone else go fund this thing all the way so maybe one day I can get one when I’m not so poor.
 
EDIT: they’ve reached their funding goal! …and I went ahead and backed them anyway. Ramen dinners and cool pens ahoy!
 

HMM RULE/ONE by HMM PROJECT on Kickstarter





Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set

7 05 2014

 

Pen is Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven't reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Pen contains Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5mm black refill. Can you believe I still haven’t reviewed the basic Hi-Tec-C? Not yet anyway.

Kickstarter has launched quite the Renaissance of pen bodies, mostly focused around the popular Hi-Tec-C refill (and why not, with all the colors and sizes it comes in). Now, I don’t keep my finger on the pulse of the Kickstarter pen community (because if I did, I’d be broke and buried in a mound of Hi-Tec-C bodies) but I don’t think I’ve seen another pen body on Kickstarter so prominently featuring wood. But then, I don’t pay much attention.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn't looking at pens.

It is okay to drool. My cat does it all the time. But she usually isn’t looking at pens.

The look is Ikea-chic, hip and minimalist, the aluminum in a tasteful matte finish, the sustainable bamboo luxurious. The Eco-Essential utensils are lightweight, but strong. It looks and feels like a quality product.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Can also be used as emergency Olympic Rings. If you pretend that orange is yellow.

Customization begins at the cap. Do you want a flat top (with logo), or would you like a capacitive stylus? I prefer the flat top, as I’ve got no end of capacitive styluses in my life, but I appreciate the option. And what color accent would you like? I’m partial to this deep, beautiful blue.

I will admit, sometimes when I'm posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly

I will admit, sometimes when I’m posting it takes me more than one try to align the threads properly, especially on the pen

Both the pen and the pencil have twist-on posting/closing caps (one full revolution to open and close, about a quarter revolution to post). The grip unscrews just below the threads to either access the pen refill or pencil insert (which you can pull out to put more lead in, or you can also pull off the knock button on the outside end which honestly seems a lot easier and likely more what they were intending). The pen refill, I will note, is a tight fit when you’re screwing the grip back onto the body, but it will go back to being flush with the grip. Just keep tightening.

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

What other refills might fit this body? How the heck does the little spring included to adapt the G-2 cartridge to fit even work? These are mysteries for another day

The pen is almost like air in my hand. Because everything is so lightweight there’s little difference for me between writing with it posted and unposted. Sometimes I think I’d like for the grip to be knurled, for better grippability; other times I’m pleased with the smoothness and wouldn’t have it any other way. The grip lines up perfectly with my hands such that I’m not on the threaded ridge, but your grip may vary. The only thing that would make me happier would be if this were a silky-smooth Jetstream refill, because my love of Jetstream knows no bounds.

For as much as you'd pay for this pencil, I'd expect significantly less critical flaws

For as much as you’d pay for this pencil, I’d expect significantly less critical flaws

Now, as much as I admire the pen, I do have some unfortunate things to point out about the pencil that lead me to suspect it was envisioned as more of a matching afterthought than its own stand-alone product. Post the cap on the pencil. Congratulations, now you can’t advance the lead. That’s pretty crucial for a pencil. Yes, I could just not post the cap, but then why bother even having the threading? Why include an option that renders the pencil practically unusable? The only advantage to not posting the cap is then you’re less likely to accidentally use the stylus as an eraser, since there’s no eraser on the pencil. The pencil is beautiful, but the functionality is lacking. This is the result of asking, how do we turn the Eco-Essential pen into a pencil with the fewest structural changes possible? And I get that. Keeps costs down I’m sure. But the end product suffers for it. Are there self-advancing lead mechanisms that would work in this body? Perhaps design a special knock-cap for the pencil?

 

So pleasing to hold and behold

So pleasing to hold and behold

Go for the pen, especially if you’re a Hi-Tec-C refill fan (like I mentioned, it also takes Pilot G-2 refills but we know how I feel about the G-2). The Eco-Essential is an attractive and professional pen body. I kind of want to crash a fancy business scenario just to bring this pen with me. Anyone got any important board meetings I can drop in on? I have a suit and impressive array of office supplies, which I’m pretty sure is all you need.

The pencil, on the other hand, I would pass on, unless you just really want a matching set. If that’s the case, it will match quite beautifully.

Thank you to ISHUJA for providing this sample set for review!





Ink Drop Soup: Billet Pens Kickstarter Electric Blue Update

10 12 2013
A most glorious color!

A most glorious color!

Just a quick update to the giveaway and Kickstarter for Billet Pens & Markers — there’s now an electric blue option! It’s currently limited to 10 pens and 5 markers, so if you were holding out hoping one would appear, here it is!








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