Mini Review: Another Look at the Platinum Preppy

4 04 2012

Eye-numbingly brilliant

I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up on the Platinum Preppy for a while now. Was my initial review too harsh? I don’t know about that—it accurately reflected my feelings at the time. But now I have a few more feelings.

This is the worst plastic, against which all other plastics are compared.

I still stand by that sentiment: this is unforgivably terrible plastic. It cracks, even when living a gentle, docile life in a pen case. Even with the tape, the cap doesn’t stay on. The pen then dries out, and becomes completely useless. The fact that people will use this pen as an eyedropper strikes concern into my heart every day, and each night I go to bed wondering who among our kind has had the rage of shoddy plastic turn against them, leaving ink everywhere.

Maybe the pen did better this time around because I couldn't clean out all the dried ink?

For whatever reason, I did not have the writing problems I had before. No fuzzing or feathering. No atrocious bleedthrough on everything I wrote. I would like to recant my previous assessment of the fineness of nib: just as it is a fine nib in this writing sample, it was a fine nib before; I don’t know what my previous problem was on that front. The yellow was a tad scratchy on non-Clairefontaine paper, but this is still just a $3.30 refillable fountain pen, so I’m not expecting miracles.

Since the Sailor Ink Bar has left this world, I am forced to acknowledge the inferior Platinum Preppy as heir to the low-cost throne

It’s a decent, cheap, absolute entry-level starter fountain pen that is, most importantly, refillable (though only with special Platinum cartridges). I’m not nutso about this pen, and please know that I worry about you if you’re using one of these as an eyedropper, but I’ve come around to more enthusiastically admit that this pen is pretty alright.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens at JetPens

Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – in Brown, Purple, & Dark Purple Ink

7 05 2011

Maybe if I bemoan the terrible color quality in these scans enough times, the scanner will shape up. Also, maybe it will stop making mysterious smudges even AFTER I clean the glass. Or maybe I am just dreaming.

I’ve apparently decided that this week is gel pen week. And not just gel pens, but gel pens that I’ve had for a while and then also forgot about for a while. At least this story will end somewhat happier than the previous review this week.

Look at em sitting there, acting like they are all peaceful and whatnot.

I got these pens when I was on a color kick, buying up as many sources of brown and purple ink as I could find. I’d heard a lot of popular openion favoring the Slicci, so I felt pretty good about ordering it.

Lined up like civilized office products.

I’m gonna get this out right out of the gate: the barrel is too small for my hands, and I can barely stand it.

Another pen where, in some theoretical universe, you can just buy refills for the barrel. I would rather buy other barrels for the refill.

The small barrel is a plus for some people, especially those with small hands. But for me, it feels like I’m writing with a little knitting needle. I don’t really know what to say; the slim barrel seems pretty integral to the design. It’s not Pentel’s fault that I have big hands (or at least, not small, delicate hands). It would be nice if there were a bigger barrel option, because I like most everything else about this pen. I’m thinking of trying the Slicci multi pen in the hopes that it has a comfortably wide barrel.

Shiny! Spacey! I mean like space-age, not like these pens cannot pay attention.

Whew. Glad to get that off my hands. Now I can get into what I like about this pen. Design: not the typical bright white and cheerful color minimalist scheme I typically go for, but I like the metallic theme. Simple, consistent, and, I can’t say this enough, shiny. Gotta love shiny.

And though I like the colored metallic on the ink refill, I am a bit disappointed that the dark purple and regular purple have the same metallic purple on their refills. Visual cues are useful. It’s only a matter of time before I take these pens apart, mix the refills around, and end up putting the wrong refill in the wrong barrel. THIS IS A TRAGIC SITUATION THAT COULD EASILY BE AVOIDED.

Ability to take off into the skies may not be included.

The translucent purple plastic on the caps is also the same on both purple pens. Of course, the opaque plastic differentiates the colors effectively, so THANKFULLY we won’t have any catastrophic cap switching conundrums. While we’re on the cap, I will note I was surprised at the amount of paper the clip was able to hold. Plastic clips always make me nervous, as I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before I break them. I figure they can’t hold much paper or they’ll instantly break into little pieces. So maybe this isn’t an impressive paper capacity on the Slicci’s part so much as it is a reflection of how rarely I use plastic clips on paper.

Also of note: even though these pens are so thin, both in barrel and tip, they still feel sturdy. This is why I compared them to knitting needles rather than toothpicks; I don’t feel like I’m in danger of breaking this pen, just that it’s too uncomfortably small.

Sharp-tipped and conspiratorial. What are they plotting? What inkly mischief do those rollerballs portend?

What I was really impressed with when it came to the Slicci was obviously writing quality. The colors were very rich, I daresay even delicious, and great for sketching. For writing, I’d rank them only as being at the acceptable standard for what I consider a good pen, as I had some issues with a weird semi-scratchy feeling on the tip of the pen several times when writing. I don’t know if I was writing at an odd angle, or if perhaps some small fiber or dust was getting caught in the very tip of the pen, or if microscopic kittens were being generated by the friction of  the pen on the paper and their tiny atomic claws were snagging the page; I just know that I had this issue with two out of my three pens. The motions of sketching, however, didn’t bring this tendency out.

What I’d really want more of these pens for is for colorful doodles and drawings. Writing quality, for me, wasn’t extraordinary enough to earn the Slicci a top spot in my writing pantheon (especially not with this barrel), but these colors are fantastic, and I want more of them. Perhaps I’ll try to find a different barrel that these refills might fit in, or I’ll give the Slicci multi-pen a try. The sketches, using all three pens together, just came out looking so nice! Think of what bring and fantastic things I could draw with the full range of colors. But the multi-pen doesn’t have all the colors that the full-size regular Slicci pens have. I need a bigger barrel, Pentel! You’re killing me here.

The colors also go nicely with a wide range of environments, like your desk, or, pictured here, nature.

Good pen, great sketcher…but me and the Slicci…we’re just physically incompatible. Sorry, baby. It’s not you, it’s me. :(
Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Purple Ink at JetPens

Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Dark Purple Ink at JetPens

Pentel Slicci Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Brown Ink at JetPens

Pilot Precise V5 – Extra Fine in 5 Colors

1 04 2011

I should have just made this page all sketches and leprechauns. Who needs words, anyway?

It is apparently disclaimer week for me, because I have a disclaimer for this post as well: I am currently traveling (probably at a speed of around 65mph), and had to do my pen pictures from my cozy little bus seat. So, if the picture quality is somewhat lacking this week, please blame the poor suspension system of this vehicle I’m sardined into.

Black! Red! Green! Purple (I swear it's purple)! Blue! Also...Maryland? Probably Maryland.

I picked up the 5 pack of these (for once, a set of pens easily available at probably any major office supply retailer but NOT on JetPens) so we can get all the colors out of the way in a single review. I loved drawing with this pen–ink flow was perfect, though when writing I did feel some slight friction drag. This might be a left handed thing, since I’m pushing the pen across the page rather than pulling, but this is why buttery-smooth writing pens make such a big difference to me. I also didn’t have any problem with ink getting picked up off the page, carried around, and deposited elsewhere on the page via the side of my hand.

You can easily tell the pen colors apart based on the body. This is the only nice thing I have to say about the body.

My only problem with this pen (aside from the slight (ever so slight) drag while writing) is the body. Look at it. It looks like the 1990s distilled into a single writing instrument. I mean literally, I’m pretty sure I have some of my mom’s POWERFUL BUSINESSWOMAN pens from the 1990s, among those several old Precise V5 or V7 pens, and they look exactly the same. This is a cylinder with a clip on it. It also has no grip, for those of you who find grips crucial. This model is primarily for the purpose of having a pen that makes its marks well, but has such a cheap aesthetic that, if it walks out of your pen cup in the hands of a coworker, it’s no big deal.

IT'S WHAT'S INSIDE YOU THAT COUNTS. BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP. Except with pens. Being a pen is like being in a beauty pageant that never ends.

There is one design element I like: the colored tips. Those are pretty neat-looking.

My judgments against this pen are completely superficial, which is good–I feel like a lackluster exterior is much easier to fix than a pen that looks neat but writes like crap. And I know there are several other Precise V5 models–I think I’ve seen a nicer looking retractable version on the shelves that would be worth checking out. As long as it writes as nicely as this model. But that will have to be another review!

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm in Blue-Black and Purple

11 02 2011

Look at all this delicate lineage. Not hereditary lineage, I mean...actual...lines. Lineination. Linetasticality.

I figured it was high time to get back to basics, basics being defined as metaphorically chewing your ear off (typing your eyeballs off?) with tales of pens I absolutely love. Why, hello there, Zebra Sarasa Push Clip; I do believe you qualify for this.

This week, reality has decided that the best way to nearly accurately represent the color of the pens is for the paper to Fine. We'll say it's a premature salute to a silly holiday. That holiday being known as Pinksgiving Dayween.

The Push Clip gel pen is one of the cheaper gel pens JetPens offers, but don’t be put off by affordability–this is a great pen. The body is a lightweight plastic with a rubber grip–pretty no frills in this department. I haven’t been able to beat these up long enough to give you an idea of what kind of durability this plastic holds, but c’mon. This pen costs $1.50. It could break after a month and I’d still feel like I was getting my money’s worth (for the record, I’ve had these about a month, but they do not seem on any kind of course toward breaking).


This pen has two big draws for me, the first being a dead giveaway in the name–the clip.

I don't actually recommend doing this.

I normally don’t use pen clips because I’m afraid I’ll break them. They always seem so fragile and plasticky. The exception to this is clips with hinges, like the Push Clip here–these pens are made for clipping. And that, my friend, is just what I do with them. I clip them on my books, my fingers, my face, my wallet, whatever. I’m sure I’ll eventually break one of these clips trying to push the boundaries of just what I can and can’t clip these pens onto, but the pen will still be useful, and if I really want the clip it’s not much coin off my purse to get another one.

The second stand-out feature of this pen is just what you’d expect from a pen–how it writes. This 0.3mm gel pen writes thin, but never feels scratchy. It isn’t jetstream-butter-smooth, but I’ve never felt my writing performance hindered by the fact that this pen is an 0.3mm rather than, say, an 0.5mm.

No stabbing, no blobbing, and no roughhouse mobbing.

I love using this pen, for writing and sketching. When I write, my handwriting looks almost halfway decent, and the thinness of line is excellent for sketching, shading, doodling, and just generally making marks on the page. I’ve never had the ink skip or blob or call me bad names. I especially like the use of the ^ shape for the tip of the pen, rather than a | shape. This is just a personal preference (/accidentally stabbed myself with a Hi-Tec-C-once); there are certainly uses for needle-tipped fineline pens. Uses which I will surely expound upon when I’m reviewing a needle-tipped pen. The main thing I like about the ^ shape is that it feels sturdier, like I can use this as a workhorse kind of pen. I have no problem quickly jotting things down with this pen–nothing in the micro-tip construction slows down the writing process. I feel like this can be a problem with some micro-tip pens, but it’s not a problem here.

The ink comes in very rich colors that accurately match the accents on the pen itself (though I would disagree with Zebra; this is more of a fuchsia or heliotrope than a purple). The plunger makes a very satisfying click. Nothing rattles when I write. I…I’m trying, really I am, but I can’t think of anything I don’t like about these two pens. If you like pens of 0.5mm and below, and don’t already own a Zebra Sarasa Push Clip, you really need to evaluate your life, and fix this situation.


Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Purple at JetPens

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Blue Black at JetPens