Tag Archives: fountain pens

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Lamy AL-Star
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black
  • Review Paper: Doane Writing Pad

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Specs:

  • Description:  The aluminum cousin of the Lamy Safari
  • Nib: Steel nib, Fine, interchangeable
  • Material: Aluminum body with plastic triangular grip
  • Filling Mechanism: Proprietary cartridge/converter system
  • Weight: ~22 grams filled (Cap – 10g, Body – 12g)
  • Measurements: 6.1″ closed, 6.7″ posted, 5.2″ unposted, 0.5″ diameter
  • Ink Capactiy: ~1ml
  • Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy AL-Star (not this matte black one I’m writing the review with) was the second fountain pen I had ever purchased. It’s surprising that it’s taken me this one to review one. The AL-Star is nearly identical to the Lamy Safari, except it’s made from aluminum. I’m definitely a huge fan of the pen (I have three of them…) so enjoy the review!

Appearance & Packaging:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

If you’re familiar with the looks and packaging of the Safari, you’re not going to be very surprised here. The AL-Star looks the same, but is ever so slightly wider in diameter than its plastic counterpart. It also has the love-it-or-hate-it signature Lamy triangular grip. Being right handed with a normal tripod grip, I find the pen to be very comfortable.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The difference between the Safari grip and the AL-Star grip is that instead of matching the body, all of the AL-Stars have a smoky transparent grey plastic grip, regardless of the color of the pen. I think the dark plastic looks great in pretty much every body combination (the sandy metallic tan doesn’t look so great in my opinion). I absolutely love the modern design that Lamy employs throughout their entire product line, and the AL-Star is no exception.

 

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star takes Lamy’s proprietary cartridge/converter system. For the price range ($37.00), it makes sense for the pen to have a C/C system. I’ve said it in other pen reviews, I really don’t mind the C/C system because it allows me to change inks more frequently. The AL-Star has an oval-shaped window in the body that allows you to see how much ink is left in the pen as well.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star takes the interchangeable steel nibs that are seen across most of Lamy’s product line. They can be hit or miss, but they’re really easy to swap out. The steel nibs aren’t bad writers at all, and are definitely in the middle of the road in terms of smoothness and flow. I like the interchangeable system, because it allows you to try new nib widths with a relatively low barrier to entry, and makes the pen very versatile as well. I found Lamy’s nib system to be hugely helpful in the beginning of my fountain pen journey. It really helped me to dial in my nib preferences without spending big money on a pen with a nib I may not be crazy about.

Feel:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy AL-Star definitely has a more premium feel than the Safari. It’s slightly heavier too. The aluminum has a nice tactile feel, and it’s nice to pick up something that’s cool to the touch (at least in the winter it is…) that warms up in your hand. The fit and finish of the AL-Star is also top notch. I used to write with my Safaris and AL-Stars posted, but lately I’ve been doing so with the cap off. The pen is definitely a bit long at 6.7″ posted, but it’s not horribly off balance should you decide to post while writing.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star also has the triangular grip section as seen on the Safari. I personally find it to be comfortable, but others with non-standard grips may find it to be unbearable. The grip does enforce proper grip, and the nib is always going to be lined up properly with the page when you’re using the grip. Again, this helped me out quite a bit in the beginning of my fountain pen days. The feel of the body is nice, but the aluminum is not quite as durable as the Safari. The finish is definitely prone to showing wear, and I’ve heard stories of people denting the body of their AL-Star with abuse. I don’t mind when pens show wear, but if you baby the pen, I’m sure it will hold up just fine.

Pros:

  • Great design
  • Swappable nibs
  • Affordable price range
  • Premium feel over the Safari

Cons:

  • The grip isn’t for everyone
  • Aluminum construction doesn’t mean better durability

Conclusion:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

I love my Lamys quite a bit, so I may be slightly biased. The AL-Star is a winner in my book. Swappable nibs make the pen very versatile. The minimalistic design and clean aesthetics really resonate with me as well. The triangular grip may not be for everyone, but it can really help out beginners develop a proper fountain pen grip. I have around 6 Safaris and 3 AL-Stars, and I’m definitely going to continue to add them to my collection. I would definitely recommend this pen to anyone.

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About these ads
TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

TWSBI Mini Fountain Pen in Classic Review

TWSBI Mini Classic
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun
  • Review Paper: Kyokuto Cambridge 

Specs:

  • Description:  An affordable, easy-posting piston-filler from TWSBI.
  • Nib: Steel nib, Fine
  • Material: Plastic with metal accents
  • Filling Mechanism: Piston Filler
  • Weight: ~20 grams filled
  • Measurements: 4.60″ closed, 5.55″ posted, 4.25″ unposted
  • Ink Capactiy: ~2ml
  • Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

Admittedly, I had written off TWSBI for a while. After a continuously cracking 540 and an inconsistent medium nibbed Vac700, I figured I’d hold off on TWSBI until they worked out some of the kinks that were widely experienced with their products. After seeing their many improvements from the 540 line to the 580 line, and the new Mini model, I had to give TWSBI another shot. The Classic color scheme (black and clear) made it that much easier to pull the trigger. Read on to see if the TWSBI Mini holds up to it’s competitors!

Appearance & Packaging:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

Unboxing a TWSBI pen is always a treat. The packaging is very “Apple-like”. It’s a white plastic base, encapsulated in clear plastic. The pen is suspended above the base on two pedestals. The plastic box is surrounded by foam and safely packed into a brown cardboard box, adorned with the red TWSBI logo in the middle. It’s really a great presentation. Onto the pen itself…The Mini is a sharp looking pen. The Classic has a black grip, cap and piston knob, with a clear barrel. It’s an awesome looking combo. My favorite part is the black grip section, that usually drives me nuts trying to keep clean on a demonstrator.

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The Mini is small, but not too small. I love the demonstrator barrel and the black with chrome accents. The red TWSBI logo on the cap adds just a splash of color that works well with the overall aesthetic of the pen. It’s a great looking little pen, and it looks awesome loaded up with some Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

I was pretty nervous for this part of the review. My first TWSBI 540 didn’t even write out of the box, and my Vac700′s medium nib skipped more than it wrote a solid line. I’m happy to say that there are zero issues with the Mini’s fine nib. It’s a bit on the dry side, but that’s not a complaint. It’s silky smooth and lays down a nice fine line. The nib on the Mini is a little bit smaller than the 5X0 and 700 series.

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The nib is a good size for the pen, and doesn’t come off as too small (I’m looking at you Kaweco Allrounder). It’s definitely one of the smoother steel nibs I have used. Before TWSBI entered the scene, a piston filler in a sub-$100 pen was a rarity. The piston operates smoothly and efficiently. It’s easy to get a full reservoir of ink, and it’s fun to fill too. A great nib and an awesome filling system…so far, so good.

Feel:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The TWSBI Mini is a smaller pen (I mean, it is called the Mini), but I wouldn’t call it miniature. Unposted, it’s a bit too small to comfortably write with. The coolest part about the feel of the mini is how the pen posts. The cap actually screws onto the back of the pen, making a super secure post that doesn’t interfere with the piston knob. The screw cap greatly helps in improving the rigidity of the pen while writing. Posting the cap makes the pen an ideal width for me. Balance is great and it’s not too light or too heavy. If you are familiar with the Sailor Sapporo, you’ll be right at home with the Mini.

They’re practically identical in size, weight, and proportion when both pens are posted. My one issue with the feel of the Mini is the metal ring at the bottom of the grip, closest to the nib. The ring has a slightly sharp edge to it, and the way I grip the pen results in some discomfort over time. Choking up on the pen a bit solves the issue, but it’s not ideal for me to change my grip to use a pen. Other than the metal ring, the TWSBI Mini feels great in hand.

Pros:

  • Improved design (grip ring) prevents cracking
  • Great looks
  • Unique packaging
  • Smooth, consistent nib
  • Great value

Cons:

  • The grip’s metal ring prevents cracking, but it may be uncomfortable for some.

Conclusion:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

I would say that I am 99% happy with my TWSBI Mini. The nib is much better than the last generation of TWSBIs I’ve owned, and they have added a metal ring to the grip to prevent cracking (although it’s a bit sharp). The Mini’s great looks and feel, coupled with it’s affordable price make the Mini an awesome pen for both beginners and collectors. The Mini did a great job at changing my mind about TWSBI. The Mini is a great little pen, that I would definitely have no hesitations recommending. Good show TWSBI, good show.

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Pentel GraphGear 500 Review

Pentel Graph Gear 500 0.3mm Pencil Review

Pentel Graph Gear 500
0.3mm Drafting Pencil

- Handwritten Review -

Specs:

  • Description: An affordable, entry level drafting pencil with a solid grip and weight
  • Tip: 4mm pipe, 0.3mm lead size
  • Weight: ~11 grams
  • Measurements: 5.5″
  • Color Options: Brown – 0.3mm, Black – 0.5mm, 0.7mm – Blue, 0.9mm – Grey (Check them all out at JetPens!)

Handwritten Review Scans:


Intro/About:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

Big thanks to JetPens for sending me over a Pentel Graph Gear 500 for review! I don’t use pencils all that often, but when I do, I definitely enjoy a good drafting pencil. The GG500 is my first 0.3mm pencil, and so far, so good. Enjoy the review!

JetPens Banner
Check out JetPens for tons of awesome Japanese pens and stationery. Free shipping on orders over $25, and hitting that is pretty easy with all the great stuff they have. So thanks again!

Appearance:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

The GG500 is a pretty nice looking pencil, especially for the price (under $6.00). The 0.3mm model is brown plastic with chrome accents. The knurling is nice looking and high quality and there are four rings through the grip that visually break up the knurling nicely. The tip of the pencil is thin, making it appear a bit longer than it actually is. The clip is a bit short, but it does get the job done. I’d be wary about leaving something with a such a pointy tip in my pocket though. The GG500′s brown and silver color scheme gives off an almost vintage vibe. I like it.

Construction and Feel:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

The Graph Gear is solidly built and definitely has a nice weight to it without being too heavy. The grip is solid and sturdy and there’s no wiggle to be found in the tip. The body is plasticky, but at $5.50, it’s to be expected. It’s the lightest of the three drafting pencils I have, but there’s no hand fatigue when using it. The width is on point with most drafting pencils as well. I’d love to see a wider pencil with a knurled grip, something akin to the Levenger L-Tech would be awesome.

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review

The GG500 definitely feels like it could be more expensive than it is. I’m totally happy with both the build quality and feel of the pencil. I forgot to go into the knurling before, but it’s pretty nice. It’s very comfortable – enough “bite” to hold on to, but not enough to feel like you’re taking sandpaper to your fingers. I’m a fan of using a mechanical drafting pencil over the regular wood case ones, and the construction and feel of the GG500 really back that up.

Writing Performance:

Pentel Graph Gear 500 Drafting Pencil Review
Foreground to background: GG500, Uni Shift Pipe Lock, Uni Kuru Toga Roulette

The Graph Gear 500′s 0.3mm lead is my first 0.3mm pencil. I’m using the lead that came loaded in it (which after looking it up is Pentel Super Hi-Polymer HB Lead). I prefer something a bit softer, that produces a darker line. My comfortable range is between 2B and 4B. This HB lead is getting me by just fine until I place an order for some darker ones. The 0.3mm lead is surprisingly sharp. I’m assuming there isn’t too much surface area to make a large flat spot, dulling the lead or requiring rotation. That being said, the pencil does tend to cut into the paper a little bit, and snag more than my 0.5mm pencils tend to do. The longer 4mm lead pipe stays out of the way of what you’re writing/drawing, and is meant to make use with a ruler easier. I’m sure the sharpness can be remedied by a softer lead, and I’m looking forward to trying some out in here.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Solid construction
  • Comfy grip
  • Tip stays out of the way

Cons:

  • The HB 0.3mm lead can dig into the page a bit

Conclusion:

Pentel GraphGear 500 Review

The Pentel Graph Gear 500 is a solid entrance into the world of drafting pencils. At $5.50, it’s definitely worth a try. There are no major moving parts in the tip, which means no wiggle in the lead. I’m happy with the look, feel, and construction of the pencil. It definitely holds up to both my Uni Kuru Toga Roulette and Uni Shift Pipe Lock, both of which were three times the price.

Thanks again to JetPens for sending this over to review, check out their site for more info on the pencil!

Gallery:

Disclaimer: This pencil was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by JetPens. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review 1 - Version 2

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler
Black / Rose Gold Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

Specs:

  • Description: A modern recreation of the iconic crescent filling pen from the turn of the 20th century.
  • Nib: 1.1mm steel stub
  • Filling Mechanism: Patented crescent filler
  • Weight: ~31g filled, 19g uncapped
  • Measurements: 5.6″ closed, 6.5″ posted
  • Color Options: Halloween, Mocha, Zebra, Black, Spearmint (Check them out here!)

Handwritten Review Scans:


Intro/About:

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review 2

Huge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a Conklin Crescent Filler over for review. The Conklin Crescent Filler is a modern remake of a vintage classic. The crescent filler is a unique hybrid lever filler that sets the pen apart from it’s modern counterparts. I opted for the 1.1mm stub nib and the black and rose gold finish.

In addition to sending over the pen, Ron is offering a 10% discount code to the readers of the blog. To receive the discount, enter the code “edjelley” in at checkout to take advantage of the offer! The code is valid until February 15th, 2014.

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Appearance & Packaging:

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review 3
The black chased finish with the rose gold accents looks great. The cap band, clip, and crescent filler button are all rose gold and they really look great against the black textured finish. The back of the pen is flat, while the cap is rounded off providing a nice visual contrast. The pen looks awesome and does a great job of staying true to its vintage counterpart. My only disappointment is how the nib looks. On the non-stub models, the nibs have a gold accented Conklin logo and a crescent-shaped breather hole. I admit, I didn’t look into it before ordering – but Id like to see the nibs all the same across the board, regardless of the size.

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review 6

The pen has some nice packaging. It comes in a rather large gift box  with a white silk-like lining, contrasting the dark blue outside of the box. While it’s nice to open and look at the first time, I wish pen manufacturers would roll the cost of extravagant packaging back into the pen. The box is large, and will take up quite a bit of room in storage, but once again, I wish that I would be paying more for the pen and less for the box.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review
I chose the factory 1.1mm stub nib. It’s nice and smooth, but I feel like the feed may have a bit of trouble keeping up with the flow. When I first uncap the pen and start writing, it lays down a nice wet line. As the page goes on, it seems to dry out a bit. I have only tried one ink in the pen (Stipula Verde Muschiato) and it could very well be that. I feel like the stub could be a little but more crisp though. It’s more than acceptable for a steel nib, but the $156 price tag is well into gold nib territory. I’d be happy to see a gold nib, or something better than a regular steel nib. It’s hard to hold it in high regards when it’s the same price as a Lamy 2000 and more expensive than a Vanishing Point / Namiki Falcon.

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review

The crescent filling system is really what makes the pen stand out from other modern pens. Sure there are tons of piston fillers, vacuum fillers, and cartridge/converter pens, but the crescent is something different. The same crescent filler is seen on the vintage pens by Conklin, and it still works the same way. To fill the pen, you must spin the circular “bead” until the slot in the bead is lined up with the crescent fill button. Once they’re aligned, you submerge the nib into the ink, push down the crescent, and when you release, the sac decompresses, causing a vacuum that sucks ink into the pen. It’s basically a fancy lever filler, but it works very well. The pen holds a good amount of ink and it’s very easy to fill. I suspect that cleaning the pen out may be a bit of a hassle though. If it’s anything like my vintage lever fillers (I’m thinking it will be), it might be hard to get all the ink out of the internal sac. Overall it’s fun to fill, and writing performance is decent, but there are so many other options in this price range that I much prefer.

Feel:

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review 4

The Conklin Crescent Filler is a solid feeling pen. The grip is smooth and comfortable. The chased black finish adds some nice tactile feel to the pen, which is a welcomed touch. The crescent filler itself is solidly seated in the pen, with no wiggle or give. The spring loaded clip is nice and sturdy as well. The only potential issue I could see is the position of the bead that locks the crescent filler in place. When writing, it hits just in the spot where my thumb and index finger meet. It’s not uncomfortable, but some may find it to be a bit intrusive. The pen is capable of posting, but the cap is heavy and it makes the pen too long and too back-heavy for me to comfortably write. The pen is already a good size for me without posting, so for me it’s not necessary. The chasing on the pen adds some, but not too much texture. It’s definitely in the middle of the road as far as weight goes – being 19g with some ink in it.

Pros:

  • Great vintage design
  • Crescent filler works very well
  • Nice packaging
  • Black/Rose Gold combo is awesome

Cons:

  • Price
  • Feed may have trouble keeping up with the stub nib

Conclusion:

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen Review

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about the Conklin Crescent Filler. The stub writes well, and it looks awesome, but the value just isn’t there for me. $150 can buy a lot of pen, and the price range can get you something with a gold nib. The vintage look, feel, and filling system are all cool and I’m glad the pen is in my collection. The Conklin definitely wouldn’t be my first purchase in the $150 price range, but it’s definitely a cool pen and I’m glad to call it mine.

Thanks again to Ron over at Pen Chalet for sending this over to review, if you’re interested in buying it, check out the product page here, and don’t forget to enter the code “edjelley” at checkout for 10% off of your total order. Even though I may have had some criticisms with the pen, it’s in no way Pen Chalet’s fault – Ron was always quick to respond to emails and was very informative. I’m sure this also applies to his customer service – it was a pleasure to work with them! Note: the discount code is not just for this pen, but the whole site – they have some great stuff!

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Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by Pen Chalet. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!

January Fountain Pen Loadout

My January 2014 Fountain Pen/Ink Loadout

January Fountain Pen LoadoutLeft to Right:

  • TWSBI Mini Classic – Fine Nib – Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun
  • Sailor Sapporo Black/Rhodium – Medium Sailor Magellan Nib – Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses
  • Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black – Fine Nib – Diamine Aqua Blue
  • Kaweco Dia2 Black/Rhodium – Fine Nib – Kaweco Aubergine
  • Pilot Vanishing Point in Gun Metal//Matte Black – Medium Nib – Private Reserve Ebony Blue
  • Lamy 2000 – Binderized Medium Nib – Rohrer & Klingner Salix

January Fountain Pen Loadout

Notes: I just did a whole bunch of pen cleaning, and this is what made the cut. The TWSBI Mini is relatively new, and I’m very impressed with the improvements they’ve made in construction and build quality. I’m really liking it so far, expect a review really soon. I decided to do some experimenting and switch the Sailor Sapporo’s EF nib with the Sailor Magellan’s Medium nib. Admittedly, I had a pen cleaning accident and dropped a metal ring from the Magellan down the sink. The nib fits great on the Sapporo, so I’ll probably be switching those back and forth as I see fit. The Imperial Black Pro Gear hasn’t been inked up in a while, so it’s nice to have it back in rotation. I think I’m going to send this one off to a nibmeister to get smoothed a bit. I’m really liking the contrast between the all black pen and the Diamine Aqua Blue. The Kaweco Dia2 is growing on me, I wasn’t a huge fan of it’s aluminum counterpart, the Allrounder. The pen looks much better in black and I really like look of the two cap rings. I loaded up the Private Reserve Ebony Blue for an ink review, and the medium nib in the Vanishing Point was a good candidate. My favorite combo here is the Lamy 2000 loaded with Salix. Great pen and great ink, I may have to add a bottle to my collection.

January Fountain Pen Loadout

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January Fountain Pen Loadout

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