Pentel Tradio Pulaman & Stylo “Fountain Pens”

19 02 2014
What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

Time to write the Tradio review that I thought I’d already done. The  nomenclature of these two pens is screwy from top to bottom; I think the Pentel policy is to arbitrarily switch what is called the Tradio Pulaman and what is called the Stylo on a regular basis in accordance with some arcane and esoteric ritual. The black, refillable Tradio I have is called Tradio PulaMan; for 50 cents more you can get what, according to JetPens, is the exact same pen, but called Tradio Stylo. Meanwhile, the disposable brown model I have says “Pentel Stylo” on the clip; JetPens’ disposable is called and labeled “Pentel PulaMan.”

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

The disposable is a very simple, retro sort of design, while the refillable model is a much more modern and attractive affair. Basically, everything I said about the Tradio TRF100 design, minus the black pearl coating. This black is a nice, solid-feeling matte black.

These are no so much "grips" as just the sections where you grab the pen...not exactly much went into the grippability of these sections

These are not so much “grips” as just the sections where you grab the pen…not exactly much went into the grippability aspect of the grip

The smoky translucent grip of the refillable gives something of a clue to the biggest baffling mystery of the naming of these two pens: clearly you can see a feed in there. But rollerballs also have feeds; that doesn’t magically make them fountain pens.

Maybe they're like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the "nib" they meant?

Maybe they’re like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the “nib” they meant?

This is what they’re calling a nib, such that these things may be called fountain pens. But I don’t think they’re fountain pens any more than a chimpanzee can be said to be a human. They’re similar, they’ve got a common ancestor, but you are dealing with two different branches on the tree. This is some kind of chisel-tip thing, some sort of hard-tip brush or marker-like thing. There is this plastic assembly where the felt/marker/brush tip comes out through the middle…if I were to describe it in terms of a fountain pen, I’d say imagine a nib made of plastic, and instead of a breather hole and slit replace that with some kind of long thin felt marker strip connected to the feed and then devolve into sheer madness and that’s about what it’s like.

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

So how do they write? The refillable is leaps and bounds better than the disposable. The disposable is scratchy, catches on the page, and creates little splatters of ink (you can see some in the writing sample). The refillable is much better, but takes way too long to dry. My hand is a mess. This handwritten review is a mess.

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

But maybe it’s more of an art pen.

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that like, absorbs and distorts pretty much anything you put on it

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that absorbs & distorts pretty much anything you put on it

More suited to smaller drawings, I think, but maybe I’m too baffled by the false fountain pen-ness of it to truly appreciate its use.

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

The disposable is a bust. The refillable is something worthwhile, but with slow drying times is not a lefty-friendly pen. I may use its rich black ink to draw, but I won’t be using it to write

Pentel Tradio Pulaman Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink – Allegedly identical to the above linked pen but costs 50 cents more??? at JetPens

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen – Brown Body at JetPens (same as the pen I have here that has Stylo on its clip)





Pentel TRF100 Tradio Fountain Pen – Black Pearl Body – M nib

4 02 2014
If I were to guess, and this is just a guess, I'd say this is J. Herbin Vert Pré. It is a very limey green (by which I mean lime-like, not archaic-derogatory-term-for-Brits-like)

If I were to guess, and this is just a guess, I’d say this is J. Herbin Vert Pré. It is a very limey green (by which I mean lime-like, not archaic-derogatory-term-for-Brits-like)

Fun fact: up until I received this pen, I would have sworn I’d already reviewed its felt-tipped older brother, the Tradio Pulaman “fountain pen” marker. Somewhere I’ve got the pictures, and the writing sample; I just never did the actual review. I keep wanting to reference a review I haven’t even written yet, and for that, I apologize. I’d also like to thank JetPens for providing this sample (and this lovely green J. Herbin ink cartridge) for review.

Snap cap, the second most convenient fountain pen type, besides the completely monopolized retractable.

Snap cap, the second most convenient fountain pen type (the first being the completely monopolized retractable)

I’ve got to break down this design three ways: the basic overall design, the black pearl coating, and the wonderful little window. Design: all thumbs up. Simple, attractive, modern work of pen designing art. Look at that cap. Look at the window.

So sleek! Such curves!

So sleek! Such curves!

This might be my favorite part. You can see the nib! There it is! Hi! Wave at the nib! I wish I could see all of my nibs even when capped—the nib is the quintessential fountain pen part!

See the seam on the cap? Don't lie; you totally do

See the seam on the cap? Don’t lie; you totally do

This black pearl finish is where I start to have mixed feelings. It feels smooth. It looks cool. But it makes the seams on the cap stand out more (they’re smooth, as smooth as with the matte black body on my Tradio Pulaman), and stand-out seams can cheapen the look, no matter how well they’re smoothed. Also: smooth surface picks up skin debris like you paid it to collect every discarded cell. We’re talking mad crazy. This is fingerprint/handprint city, in a way that the matte surface definitely isn’t. If you’re a stickler for cleanliness, this might drive you insane.

Why not shiny black pearl grip? Why the discontinuity?

Why not shiny black pearl grip? Why the discontinuity?

Black grip combined with the black pearl body? Not sure how I feel about that. Two toned nib? Good choice. The cap posts securely (though I’ve read of problems with similar models) and is almost necessary for so lightweight of a pen. It feels like it could just float out of my hand.

Says "IRIDIUM POINT Pentel" on the top, but that wasn't quite as attractive as this close up turned out to be

Says “IRIDIUM POINT Pentel” on the top, but that wasn’t quite as attractive as this close up turned out to be

On exceptionally smooth Clairefontaine/Rhodia papers, a problem emerged: this nib has got undeniable butt cheeks, the result being times where the ink doesn’t want to get on the page, as capillary action is holding the ink up in the crack instead of bringing it down to the where the cheeks touch the page. It happened so bad on the S in “Smooth” on the writing sample that I had to go back and write over it again until ink happened or there would have been no S at all. I busted out my eye loupe to confirm, and sure enough:

Cheeks, people; two of them.

Cheeks, people; two of them.

The cheeks weren’t a problem while handwriting this review in cursive on Leuchtturm 1917 ruled medium notebook paper. It’s been a good tactile nib on this paper, no flow problems, but I know I won’t rest until I’ve smoothed out that butt.

Not only can you see less cheekiness, you can also see where I got too close with the camera and got ink on my lens

Not only can you see less cheekiness, you can also see where I got too close with the camera and got ink on my lens

One micromesh buff stick and some lapping films later, and I’ve got the butt cheeks toned down. And now, I’ve got a very smooth tuned nib. Aw yeah.

The competition; the compatibility

The competition; the compatibility

At this price point, the Tradio is in direct competition with the Lamy Safari. The Tradio line can’t compete on color and nib options (there’s only medium nibs, and only a handful of colors, though I did find that the Tradio Pulaman body and cap are fully compatible with the fountain pen bits), but the Tradio has two big advantages going for it: no proprietary cartridges (takes the standard international cartridges) and rounded grip (as in, not faceted-sculpted-telling-you-how-to-live-your-life-and-grip-your-pen-type grip).

Carry it around, it won't weigh you down

Carry it around, it won’t weigh you down

The Tradio TRF100 is a decent, very lightweight plastic body beginner fountain pen. Some simple nib smoothing may be needed to achieve peak performance, but for me this pen will find a comfortable home as a knock-about work pen.

Pentel TRF100 Tradio Fountain Pen Black Pearl Body at JetPens