Tag Archives: japan

Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Custom 74
Fountain Pen Review

- Handwritten Review -

Specs:

  • Description: A nicely balanced demonstrator at a reasonable price with a great 14k gold nib.
  • Nib: Fine, 14k gold, rhodium plated
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter – CON70
  • Weight: ~23 grams
  • Measurements: 5.50″ closed, 6.25″ posted
  • Color Options: Blue, Clear, Orange, Purple, Smoke – See them here!

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-7I’ve been interested in the Custom 74 for quite some time now. The $150(ish) price range has a ton of options, and it’s always good to try out another pen in the range. I feel as though $150 is the middle ground in the fountain pen world and some of the best pens are around that price. I have a Custom 823 with an architect grind that cost around double the 74, so I was very happy to check its little sibling out when Pen Chalet offered one up for review. The Custom 74 is a gold-nibbed demonstrator style fountain pen that fills via Pilot’s high quality pump converter – the CON70. The pen is a great looking work horse, and at $160 it makes a great entry into the mid-level price tier.

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-5

Huge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a Pilot Custom Heritage 74 over for review. I’ve had the Custom 823 for a while now (and love it), and I am happy to report that the Custom 74 is just as great!

logo

Appearance & Packaging:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-1

The Custom 74’s packaging leaves something to be desired for those who want a really nice presentation. It’s a cheaply-made box with a viewing window in it, displaying the pen. It’s not nearly as ornate as the fabric-lined box that came with my Custom 823, but it gets the job done. Personally, I file away packaging should I want to sell the pen so the smaller, the better. The pen itself looks great. The translucent blue resin has a smoke-colored grip and tail cap. The silver trim nicely compliments the rest of the pen. The clear body allows you to see the premium CON-70 converter inside which has nice chrome accents. The large chrome portion of the converter adds a nice pop to the pen, better showing off the brilliant blue color of the pen. Overall, it’s a classically inspired design that looks great.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-8I opted for a fine nib on my Custom 74. Being Japanese, the nibs tend to run a size finer than Western Pens. The fine nib on this pen is very, very fine. It has a fair amount of feedback, but it’s not scratchy or annoying. The ink flow is generous and consistent. If you push the gold nib a bit, there’s some nice cushion. It is by no means a flex pen, and line variation is slim-to-none. The pen will put down more ink when pushed slightly harder though. I actually prefer to write with a little more pressure with this pen. Ink flow, as mentioned before is pretty much middle ground. Even though the line it lays down is very fine, you can still see some shading. Overall, I’m happy with how it writes. Especially the fact that the fine nib can be used on cheaper paper due to its fine-ness.

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-3

As for filling, the CON-70 is a pump style converter that holds a fair amount of ink. It feels substantial and adds a nice amount of weight to the pen. Considering it is inside the pen, it adds a great balance. To fill the CON-70, you submerge the nib into the ink, and repeatedly press the button on top of the converter. The ink draws up easily and quickly. It’s reminiscent of how the old Parker Vacumatics fill with a button.

Feel:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-4The Custom 74 is nicely sized. It’s a perfect medium – nicely weighted and nicely sized. The plastic is high quality and I have no worries of the pen cracking. The injection molding is nicely finished too. There are no visible seams and the construction and fit of the parts are all top-notch. The pen really feels like it is worth the price. I think Pilot consistently nails it in quality and construction of their pens, from the $5 Metropolitan to the near-$400 Custom 823. The 74 fits nicely in the middle. The cap is capable of posting, but it makes the pen a bit too long for my liking. The pen practically disappears in hand. I definitely like how it feels.

Pros:

  • Great 14k nib
  • Solid construction
  • Demonstrator doesn’t look cheap

Cons:

  • None!

Conclusion:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74 Fountain Pen Review-1The Custom 74 is a solid workhorse pen. It’s priced right, at $160. I really like the CON-70 converter – it holds a ton of ink and looks great through the transparent body of the pen. The 14k gold nib lays down a very fine line with a bit of nice feedback. I’ve used the word “middle” a lot in this review, and I feel like it’s been appropriate. The Custom 74 would make a great alternative for those looking at a Lamy 2000 or Vanishing Point, but want something that looks a bit different. In my opinion, it would be just as great of a choice as either pen. You won’t be disappointed if you chose to get one!

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!

Gallery:

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!

Nakaya Neo Standard Fountain Pen Review

Nakaya Neo Standard
in Kuro Tamenuri Finish
Fountain Pen
Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-tamenuri Unboxing

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki
  • Review Paper: Maruman Mnemosyne B5

Specs:

  • Description:  The Nakaya Neo Standard Writer (with clip) fountain pen is one of my grail pens that I recently purchased. Hand made in Japan.
  • Nib: 14k gold, Soft-Medium nib adjusted by John Mottishaw of Nibs.com
  • Material: Ebonite with urushi lacquer in kuro tamenuri (black over deep red)
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge/converter system
  • Weight: ~28.8 grams filled
  • Measurements: 5.92″ closed, 7.00″ posted, 5.38″ unposted, 0.59″ barrel diameter, 0.41″ section diameter
  • Ink Capactiy: ~0.5ml
  • Price: $550 from Nibs.com

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-Tamenuri Medium Soft Nib Fountain Pen Review

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-Tamenuri Medium Soft Nib Fountain Pen Review

Well, I’m finally getting around to formally reviewing the pen after having it for about two months. Did I mention that this was my number one grail pen? Well, now I have it. Finally. I sold a bunch of other pens from my collection, and I’ve been saving up for a while. $550 isn’t an easy price to swallow, but I’m glad I finally got the pen. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with Cary of FountainPenDay.org and check out his awesome collection of Nakayas. Initially I had wanted a Piccolo or a Naka-ai, but the Neo Standard’s size and shape won me over. The pen is perfect for my hand, and the day after seeing his collection, I placed the order via phone to Nibs.com. The pen showed up a short two days later. Enjoy the review!

Appearance & Packaging:

12070212515_01a6e5a5b7_k

First, the box. The Nakaya comes in a soft Paulownia wood (thank you for the correction Mr. Calhoon!) wood box, protected by a really cool rice paper outer box. The inside of the wooden box is lined with red velvet. Held in place by a ribbon of velvet, is the pen itself, wrapped in a silk “kimono”. The presentation is simple, yet refined and definitely matches up to the price of the pen. It’s definitely different from any of the other pens I have purchased, and it’s definitely not a throwaway. I really like the presentation, so much that I keep the box out on my desk.

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-tamenuri Unboxing

The pen itself is a work of art. Its simple lines and deep red/black finish has an incredible amount of depth to it. It may seem simple at first, but it’s all in the details. There are many, many layers to the urushi lacquer, and looking closely in the right lighting you can really see how the finish builds on itself. The pen appears to be black, but at the edges, the deep red finish peaks through. Both the nib and the clip are gold,  which adds a nice visual contrast to the overall look of the pen.

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-Tamenuri Medium Soft Nib Fountain Pen Review

The nibs design is very nice as well. It’s not too complex or cluttered, and the ornamental design is visually pleasing. The heart-shaped breather hole is a nice departure from the standard circle. I absolutely love the simple, streamlined design. It’s totally understated and could easily go unnoticed by the untrained eye. I think that this may be part of why I love the pen so much.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-Tamenuri Medium Soft Nib Fountain Pen Review

I should always put the filling system first, but I always forget to do so. The Nakaya Neo Standard employs a cartridge/converter filling system. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I really don’t mind the C/C system at all. Many people view it as a cheaper alternative, but I don’t mind the lower ink capacity. The included converter is very high quality (as expected) and there were some Platinum brand cartridges thrown in the box, which I haven’t used. The nib is where the magic happens. I opted for a 14k gold, soft-medium nib adjusted to a flow of 8/10, with a normal writing pressure and angle. John over at Nibs.com did an amazing job with the nib.

Nakaya Neo Standard Fountain Pen Handwritten Review

The 14k soft nib is by no means a flex, but it adds a wonderful cushion to your writing, making it seem both pillowy and smooth. You can get a tiny bit of line variation, but it really just puts a lot of ink onto the page when you push the nib. The pen has a generous flow of ink that’s capable of producing some really nice shading. The line width of the Japanese medium is perfect for my handwriting. It’s not too narrow, yet wide enough to really show off the color and properties of an ink. The Nakaya Neo Standard is an absolute pleasure to write with. There’s a bit of audible feedback from the nib, which can trick you into thinking the nib is scratchy. I put some headphones on, and it’s buttery smooth. I really love the way the pen writes.

Feel:

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-tamenuri Unboxing

Feel is another category where the Nakaya blows the competition out of the water. The urushi lacquered ebonite is one of the smoothest surfaces I’ve ever touched (not kidding). It’s expertly applied, and I can honestly say I like holding the pen just as much as I do writing with it. The contour of the barrel on the Neo Standard is amazingly comfortable. I’d say it fits like a glove, but I wish I had gloves that fit my hand this well. Seriously. It’s glassy smooth, light, warms to the touch, and is very comfortable and balanced in hand.

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-Tamenuri Medium Soft Nib Fountain Pen Review

The step from the body to cap threads to grip is gradual, and doesn’t get in the way. The grip on the Neo Standard is just about an inch long, with a slight taper. It’s very comfortable, and allows for a variety of grips to be used without discomfort. The pen feels so great in hand, it’s kind of hard to believe. Watch out Lamy 2000…

Pros:

  • Attention to detail
  • Amazing soft, springy nib
  • Urushi lacquer is glassy smooth
  • Body shape is really comfortable
  • Looks awesome

Cons:

  • High barrier to entry ($$$)
  • Diminishing returns for writing performance

Conclusion:

Nakaya Neo Standard Kuro-tamenuri Unboxing

I parted with several other pens to get this one. Do I miss them? Absolutely not, the Nakaya has done a great job of filling the gap and then some. The Nakaya Neo Standard is functional art. It’s constructed and finished perfectly. There’s not a single flaw on the pen. It’s very, very comfortable to hold and I love the way the finish looks. The soft-medium 14k gold nib is super smooth, with only a hint of audible feedback. I feel like the Neo Standard was made specifically to fit my hand, it’s that good. The pen comes in at a hefty $550. At first, it was a bit hard to swallow, but with some careful planning and selling, I was able to purchase my grail pen. I mentioned in the CONS section that there may be some diminishing returns in terms of writing performance. Be on the lookout for an article regarding that in the near future. Seeing some Nakayas in person only made me need to have one even more. The pen is truly amazing, and it’s the crown jewel of my collection. I will 100% be adding another Nakaya to my collection.

Gallery:

Kuretake Fudegokochi Grey – Brush Pen Review

Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen Review Grey

Kuretake Fudegokochi

Grey Brush Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Paper: Kyokuto FOB COOP B5 Dot Grid

Specs:

  • Description: A nice brush pen, made for highlighting, but gets really nice line variation and gradient.
  • Point: Fine, artificial brush tip
  • Material: Plastic with clear ink window
  • Refillable: Yes

Handwritten Review Scans:Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen Review Grey

The Review:

I’ve been having so much fun with this thing, you have no idea. It’s almost like a flex nib fountain pen, but has a smoother feel. It’s definitely a different writing experience than what I’m used to. It’s such a far way off from my normal fountain pens or gel pens, but playing around with the Kuretake Fudegokochi lead me to pick up a bunch more brush pens to play around with. I don’t know what prompted me to get the grey version, but I’m glad that I did. The line width is a bit thicker than the “superfine” version, but not quite up there with the medium sized brushes I’ve used before.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen Review GreyFor around $3.00, the pen writes great. The brush tip has great control and getting the line width you want only takes minimal getting used to. The entire barrel is full of grey ink, and the pen will last a while. There’s a large ink window so there’s no guessing how much you have left inside. The pen body feels like a standard rollerball, visible feed and all. The clip is nothing crazy, but it is metal (as opposed to plastic). My favorite thing about the Kuretake Fudegokochi is the many different writing styles that are possible. My regular small caps looks great with the variation, as does more ornamental cursive. If you haven’t tried a brush pen, and like flex nibs, I highly recommend checking it out.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen Review GreyPros:

  • Unique writing experience
  • Gives great line variation and gradient
  • Cheap for what it is
  • Good tip control – the line width is easily controlled by pressure

Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen Review GreyCons:

  • Availability (it’s currently and often sold out on JetPens.com)

Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen Review GreyRecommendation: Yes, it’s super fun to play around with and adds some line variation to everyday handwriting.

Related Reading:

Sailor Sapporo Fountain Pen Review

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 7The Sailor Sapporo
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

Specs:

  • Description: One of the smaller offerings from Sailor, but posted this pen is quite comfortable. Classic looks and styling paired with an awesome nib make this pen one of my new daily carries.
  • Nib: 14k rhodium-plated gold
  • Body: Black resin
  • Trim: Rhodium
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge/Converter
  • Weight: 19.5grams
  • Measurements: 4.9″ closed, 3.5″ open, 5.6″ posted
  • Ink Capactiy: ~1ml

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 5
I picked up this pen from the Fountain Pen Network Classifieds for a great price. It’s my second Sailor, this time in an extra fine nib. At first, I thought the EF was going to be too fine for my liking, but I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s been my go-to pocket pen since it’s arrived. Since I purchased it for only $55, I don’t mind if it gets bumped around a bit. The pen was already “pre-loved” when I received it, so apologies for the scratches in the pictures. I tried by best to polish them out, but maybe this is a good thing. If you throw your shiny resin Sailor into your pocket or bag, watch out because it will get scratched up. Anyway, onto the review. This pen is really, really great.

Appearance & Packaging:

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 13
Packaging is going to be left out of this review. Why? Because my packaging for this pen was a plastic bag, some bubble wrap, newspaper, and a Canada post shipping box. A quick Google shows that the pen comes in the standard Sailor pen box with a few cartridges and a converter. The box is high quality than a throwaway, but it’s nothing unique or exciting.

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 12

The Sapporo is definitely on the smaller side of the spectrum when dealing in modern fountain pens. If you wish to include vintage, then this pen lies right about in the middle. It’s pretty close in size to the TWSBI mini – when capped or posted. The Sailor Sapporo is right at home in a pocket where it takes up minimal room. When unposted, the pen is a bit too small to comfortably write with for me, but when posted it’s perfect. The pen is on the lighter side and it’s very well balanced. Only the lightest touch is required to lay ink down on the page, even from this extra fine Japanese nib. My Sapporo is the black resin model with rhodium (silver) trim. It’s a classic looking fountain pen with all of the details that are to be expected on a larger and more expensive pen. There’s a double cap band with engraving, a stamped gold nib with beautiful detail work, metal internal threads inside the body, and much more. It’s a great looking and performing pen in a highly portable package. 

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 8
For a pen that lays down such an incredibly fine line, it’s very smooth. There is a bit of feedback from the nib, but this is to be expected from something that writes a 0.2mm-0.3mm line. The nib puts ink on the page with no hesitation and minimal pressure. You can now count be in as part of the super fine Japanese nib fanclub (most likely headed by Mr. Brad Dowdy at PenAddict.com). I really really like how the nib looks too. The stamp / engraving on the nib is some of my favorite out there. I love the anchor and the scroll work. From the second I saw a Sailor nib, I knew I needed one in my collection (now I have two…). If you’re looking for an extra fine nib that writes well, look no further. Also worth pointing out is that this pen/ink combo is my standard for writing in Field Notes. While they’re not always fountain pen friendly, the extra fine nib and the pigmented ink don’t bleed through the page and dry quickly without feathering. The ink also tends to last forever due to the thin line requiring minimal ink to write.

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 9
The filling system in the Sailor Sapporo is a standard cartridge/converter system. There’s nothing new or exciting about the system, but it works. It doesn’t really bother me how the pen fills, and I don’t mind that there’s no piston. I tend to change inks frequently, so the smaller capacity in the converter is actually welcome in most situations. The EF nib has great “gas mileage” and a full converter lasted around two weeks. Many modern Japanese fountain pens use the cartridge/converter system, but Sailor does offer a Realo model of the 1911 that is a piston fill. It definitely tacks on a decent chunk of money to the price, and I feel that the ink window detracts from the way the pen looks.

Feel:

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 15
I touched on this a bit before, the Sailor Sapporo is a pretty small pen. It’s on the lighter side but it is very well balanced. While I don’t have one to compare it to, it’s almost identical in specs to the TWSBI mini. It’s a few millimeters longer than a Pilot Vanishing Point (with nib extended) and pretty close in size to a Parker Sonnet Cisele (both pens posted). I decided to show the pen next to a Lamy 2000. It’s a fair bit smaller when capped, but when posted they’re quite comparable. The larger exposed nib on the Sailor makes the pen feel larger than it is.

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 17
The grip on the Sapporo is comfortable with a slight flare before the nib. The diameter is comfortable in my medium sized hands (check the Kaweco Sport review for reference) and extended writing is no problem. I got through the handwritten review in one sitting with no problems. The pen is well suited for a pocket carry, but it comfortable enough to be a full time pen. Writing without posting the pen is a bit uncomfortable for me, so take note if you do not like to write with the cap posted. If you plan on using just the pen and putting the cap aside, you’ve been warned, it’s just a hair over 3.5″.

Pros:

  • Surprisingly smooth EF nib
  • Good weight and balance for extended writing
  • I always enjoy writing with it
  • Pocket friendly

Cons:

  • May be too small for larger hands – check out the 1911 and Professional Gear series
  • Price is a bit high for what it is

Conclusion:

Sailor Sapporo Extra Fine Fountain Pen 10
I’m really, really enjoying this pen. BUT, I don’t know if I’m biased because I only paid $55 USD for it. This may be part of the reason why I like it so much. At around $155 new, this is no impulse purchase. There are many other pens in the price range, including the Lamy 2000, the Pilot Vanishing Point, and many more. It’s definitely getting into the higher end pen price range. It’s really hard for me to recommend this pen over the Lamy 2000, but some people will prefer it. It’s a solid performer that I’ve been carrying every day (about a month straight at the time of writing) since I’ve received the pen. Here’s my advice: If you can find one second hand at a reasonable price, 100% pick it up, you won’t be disappointed. Make sure to check the Japanese direct retailers (engeika.com, kendo_karate on eBay, ratuken.com) because they usually have better prices on these pens straight from their country of origin. There are tons of options in the $150 price range, and this may not be my first choice, but it certainly isn’t a bad one by any means.

Recommendation: Second hand – absolutely. Brand new at $155 – do your shopping carefully!

Related Posts:

Zebra Sarasa, 0.7mm – Gel Ink Pen Review

I’ve been throwing around the idea of adding different types of pens to the site. While I use a fountain pen probabaly 90% of the time, there are other pens I carry. I’ve reviewed a few different gel pens, next up in the non-fountain pen department is the Zebra Sarasa – 0.7mm in Dark Green.

Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm Gel Ink Pen Review 4Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm
Gel Ink Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Paper: Rhodia DotPad

Specs:

  • Description: One of the standard big store offerings, in 0.7mm
  • Point: 0.7mm, conical tip
  • Material: Plastic with rubber grip
  • Refillable: Yes
  • Measurements: 5.35″ closed, 6.0″ posted, .35″ grip diameter

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

After hearing many good things about the Zebra Sarasa, I put the pen on my to-buy list. After coming across a multi-colored 10 pack at Staples for only $5.00 – it was an easily justifiable impulse buy. Done deal. Unfortunately it was between Bold (1.0mm) or Medium (o.7mm) and there were no finer offerings, so I opted for the Mediums.

Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm Dark Green Gel Ink Pen Review 14Appearance:

Packaging was nothing crazy, as is the trend with most cheaper pens. It is worth noting that the 10-pack came with a heavier (but by no means durable) plastic carrying case. It’s nice to keep all of them in the same spot instead of throwing them into a pen cup. The Sarasa looks like your standard, every day retractable pen. The plastic body is tinted grey, giving the pen a less intense appearance (which I like). The rubber grip is soft and comfortable with minimal texturization going on. Unlike the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and the Uni Signo DX, the Sarasa is completely plastic and rubber, including the tip of the pen (which is metal on the other two aforementioned pens). The pen is very light and the barrel diameter is not too thin and not too wide, making it very comfortable to hold and write with. The Sarasa is just slightly thicker than the Uni Signo.

Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm Dark Green Gel Ink Pen Review 10

Performance & Ink:

This is where the Sarasa shines. I really, really like the way the Sarasa writes. The ink is super smooth, and highly saturated. I’ve mistaken the dried ink on paper for a fine/medium fountain pen several times. The pen lays down a nice, consistent line of ink with no globbing and dries relatively quick on Rhodia. The ink is archival quality, so you don’t have to worry about it ruining paper or disappearing over long periods of time. The fast-drying quality makes this a great option for lefties as well. It’s much smoother than the Hi-Tec-C’s I’ve used, but the writing surface of the pen is wider (0.4mm v. 0.7mm). The way the ink goes on the page is similar to how a Lamy fine nib writes, which I happen to like. The Sarasa comes in a broad range of colors and widths, so there’s something for everyone.

Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm Dark Green Gel Ink Pen Review 11Pros:

  • Super smooth
  • Many options
  • Fast drying
  • Archival ink
  • Could pass for a fountain pen (in writing)
  • Widely available

Cons:

  • It’s very light
  • I really can’t find any more cons…

Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm Dark Green Gel Ink Pen Review 8Conclusion:

There’s a reason that this pen keeps getting mentioned on blogs. That’s because it’s great. It rivals the much-hyped Pilot Hi-Tec-C in terms of smoothness and writing experience, and it’s giving my #1 gel pen (Uni Signo DX) a run for its money. I need to get my hands on some of the 0.4mm versions, ASAP. On top of being widely available, there are plenty of options and colors. Definitely check this one out.

Recommendation: Yes, 100%!

Related Reading: