Review: Daiso Fountain Pen

The Numbers:
Weight: 15g
Length (capped): 133mm
Length (uncapped): 123mm
Price: SGD$2 from Daiso
Body Material: Metal
Nib Material: Stainless steel
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge
Colours: Silver and white

Intro:
Daiso is a international chain of 100 yen shops. Locally, anything found in their store is sold at SGD$2 each. There was a craze that swept the local fountain pen community recently when it was discovered that Daiso carries fountain pen. I remember seeing many “public service announcements” on the community Facebook group informing members which branch has stock of the fountain pen. I picked up two of these pens on a whim. Let’s see how they stack up against other super cheap fountain pens.

Spoiler Alert! I don’t like it.

Packaging:
The Daiso fountain pen comes in a regular blister pack. It reminds me of how toothbrushes are packaged. Simply rip the packaging apart and retrieve the pen from the rubble. The packaging provides absolutely no protection whatsoever to the pen. My pen comes with its cap slightly bent out of shape, not enough to prevent usage but enough to irk me.

Performance:
The Daiso fountain pen is white with a pearlescent finish accented with silver rings around the barrel and a silver clip. It is a slender pen, slightly on the shorter end of pens that I own but not a pocket pen. It isn’t so slim that I would consider it a skinny pen but it is definitely not a girth-y pen. It is fairly well made. There were no blemishes right out of the pack, other than the dented cap. The finish is well chosen because it wouldn’t pick up nicks and scratches easily.

The silver clip is a fairly standard affair, it is rectangular tapering to a narrower point and finally ending with a blob to ease slipping the clip over paper and the like. It is rather tight and stiff but completely serviceable. The cap pops on and off only with a deliberate pull or push, so no worries of the cap coming loose accidentally.

The grip is a black plastic that tapers gently towards the nib. It ends with a metal washer just before the nib. The grip is smooth and slightly narrower than I would prefer it. There is a short step between the barrel and grip. It isn’t significant enough to have my fingers complain about it.

The Daiso fountain pen takes a standard international cartridge but it doesn’t fit any of my standard international converters. The grip section is just too narrow to fit my Kaweco squeeze converter and my Faber-Castell converter. With a little force, I got the pen to take my Pelikan short international cartridge. If only they made the entire pen just a little wider so that it could fit the converter but as it is the only recourse is to re-use the cartridge as a converter.

The stainless steel nib comes in only one size. It writes like a medium and is a rather wet writer. However, it hard starts. Every. Single. Time. You pause between sentences. Once it gets going it is fine and it keeps up fine but it doesn’t take much inactivity before it hard starts again. The nib isn’t particular smooth, it has a very slight feedback in certain directions but for $2 I guess nobody can expect much from the pen.

Conclusion:
As a $2 fountain pen, the Daiso fountain pen provides a lot of value but I can buy Jinhao 599 that comes with a converter at the same price. Even at such a cheap price, there are better options for a fountain pen. I’d suggest skipping the Daiso fountain pen and get yourself a Jinhao 599 instead.

On that note, I am going to announce that I am giving away a white and silver Daiso fountain pen. The silver would be a brand new unopened pack while the white would be the pen that I’ve just reviewed. This giveaway is open to both local and international readers. All you have to do is tell me in the comments below which you would prefer. I would totally understand if nobody wanted the white one. The giveaway ends 1st September 2016.

Pros:

  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Hard starts
  • Only takes cartridges
Posted on August 26, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Noodler’s General of Armies

Noodler’s General of Armies is a rather odd shade of green. It goes down dark and saturated for the most part but it dries to a rather muted green-blue. Though it is green-blue, it is not quite teal. I must say I don’t enjoy this colour at all. It shades slightly going from a grey-green to a dark green where the ink pools. The ink has blue pigment settling at the bottom of the bottle, shaking the bottle doesn’t seem to help. If you are looking for a unique shade of green, check Noodler’s General of Armies out.

Similar Inks:

Posted on August 23, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Galen Leather iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover

My thanks to Zeynep of Galen Leather for sending me this iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover. I have previously reviewed Galen Leather’s Leather Field Note cover. Do check it out if you are interested. Field Notes not required.

Galen Leather makes hand crafted leather goods for various analog and digital tools. They have leather notebook covers of different sizes among other leather goods. It ranges from those that fits the Field Notes memo books all the way to a large Moleskine notebook. Today I am reviewing the Galen Leather iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover, what a mouthful.

I particularly enjoyed Galen Leather’s design of the iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover. I got this in the brown leather. Like the Field Notes cover, the leather is thick and the edges are burnished. The stitching is tight and the leather cover is well made. The vegetable tanned cow leather is smooth to the touch and tough. Dragging a fingernail across the cover wouldn’t scar the leather. The cover comes with a thick elastic band to secure the cover. The elastic band is stitched directly onto the leather so it is not replaceable once it gets stretch out. I would love Galen Leather to take that into consideration in future designs of their covers.

The leather cover lay flat easily and it stays in place because the leather is heavy enough to weigh itself down. Inside, on the left you can find a large pocket with a strap across it, a black elastic that functions as a pen loop and two card slots. There is also a large pocket just underneath all that. On the opposite side you can find a similar large pocket and a black elastic band. Though it might seemed simple, it actually is very versatile. You can choose to secure your main notebook by slotting the front or back cover into one of the large pocket and keeping another notebook in the opposite cover. Alternatively, you can secure your notebook using the black elastic band and keep your iPad Mini (as the name suggests) in the large pocket. The pen loop is stretchy enough to fit my widest pens like the OMAS Arte Italiana among others. However unlike the Field Notes cover, having a thick notebook in the cover and a pen in the loop doesn’t hinder the closing of the cover in the slightest. The small pocket can hold an iPhone or a smaller A6 notepad while the card slots will hold cards without any problems

Two notebooks secured

All loaded up

Like most fountain pen users, I am not a fan of Moleskine notebooks in general so I paired the leather cover with my Hobonichi Cousin. My Hobonichi cousin fit easily inside regardless I had the back cover inside the large pocket or secure it via the black elastic band. I tried it with a A5 Muji notebook and it wasn’t a problem with that too. I suspect that the soft cover of my notebooks is the contributing factor. A hard cover notebook might only be able to fit via the black elastic band. Don’t quote me on that because I don’t have a hard cover notebook handy to give it a try. Loading the leather cover up will make for a very heavy carry. By itself, the leather cover isn’t the lightest one given its thick leather. However, it would give ample protection to both your analog and digital devices.

Hobonichi and iPad Mini loaded up

I love that Galen Leather have taken into consideration that we are people living in the modern age. There is no escaping our devices, so they made their leather goods to accommodate both analog and digital. The Galen Leather iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover costs $65 USD excluding shipping, for all the options that this cover gives you, I think this cover is a steal at this price. My thanks once again to Galen Leather for sending me this iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover.

Posted on August 19, 2016 and filed under Stationary, review.

Review: Lamy Charged Green

Lamy Charged Green is one of the two limited edition inks of 2016. Unlike Lamy Dark Lilac, Charged Green is next to useless to me. It is way too bright and light for any purpose but as a highlighter ink. Why would Lamy make such an ink? I really have no idea. The ink would work only in wetter nibs. Can you even read the words on the written review?

Similar Inks:

Posted on August 16, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche

The Numbers:
Weight: 30g
Length (capped): 134mm
Length (uncapped): 125mm
Body Material: Resin and metal
Nib Material: 18K Gold
Filling Mechanism: Standard international cartridge and converter
Colours: Various

Intro:
My thanks to Gautam for loaning me his pen for review.

Graf von Faber-Castell is the big sibling of Faber-Castell. They carry the high end stationary which includes fountain pens. In general Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pens are gold nibs fountain pens with snap caps. They tend to be #5 sized nibs as well. Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is no expection.

Performance:

Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is mostly cylindrical except the cap. The cap is mostly straight but it flares outwards at the top of the cap. The cap, grip, clip and end finial are made of polished metal making this pen one finger print magnet. The clip is spring loaded and is shaped with an upward curve at the tip. It is easy to slip the clip over most items.

The cap pops open easily and closes with a click. The cap can be posted on the barrel but it changes the balance of the pen drastically. Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is well balanced maybe a little front heavy because of the metal grip when it is unposted. When the cap is posted, it makes the entire pen very back heavy.

The barrel is made of black precious resin and has been engraved with a chevron pattern and then polished, giving it a unique texture and look. The pattern makes the Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche looks eye-catching but yet understated at the same time.

Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is a slim-ish fountain pen. The grip is no different. Though the grip is long and concave just the way I like it, I found the grip too thin. I am always gripping the pen too tightly for fear I lose control of it. I would much prefer the pen to have a wider grip or maybe a heavier grip section so that the weight might ground the pen in my hand.

Like all Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pens, the Guilloche takes standard international converter and cartridges. For the price that one of these Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is going for, it might be pricey for a cartridge / converter fountain pen. However, the cartridge / converter filling system is one of the most reliable and require the least amount of maintenance. I don’t consider it a negative point that an expensive pen doesn’t have a “special” filling system.

The nib of the Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is a wonder. It is smooth and has great flow. If you pair it with a wet ink, it would be writing on glass smooth. Even when I had initially filled it with OMAS Green, an ink on the dry side, it wrote beautifully. The nib carries the Graf von Faber-Castell logo front and centre, along with the nib size and the carat. It isn’t the most elaborate design out there but it is still a beautiful nib.

Conclusion:
The Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is a great writer but the silm grip would be a problem for some. The nib more than makes up for the annoyance of the grip. However the price might give me pause to get one for myself. The Guilloche older sibling, The Intuition Platino Wood is speaking to me instead.

Pros:

  • Smooth nib and great writing experience
  • Understated design

Cons:

  • Finger print magnet
  • Slim grip
Posted on August 12, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Pilot Pensemble - 5 pen roll

Pilot is a pen company, I’m sure everyone knows that but do you know that Pilot also makes a range of pen storage accessories. Pilot has a series of pen cases known as the Pensemble (Pen and ensemble). They come in a few different varieties, a single pen roll, 3 pen zipper case, 5 pen roll, a 3 pen combination roll and 5 pen combination roll. Pilot also has a premium range of pen storage products known the Somes Collection which costs a whole lot more.

I was ordering some items from Amazon Japan so I threw in the Pilot Pensemble 5 pen roll into the cart. I paid about SGD$80 including international shipping for it. The Pilot Pensemble comes in a grey box and protected by a soft dust bag. This was a little more packaging than I had expected but it made the pen roll feels like a premium product.

The Pilot Pensemble is made of high quality calf hide on the exterior and pig suede on the interior. (Do note that pigs are considered unclean by some faiths, so handle the pen roll with care and sensitivity. This pen roll might not be suitable for everyone to use.) I must say though I feel a little bad about buying a calf hide leather product, the leather feels really really soft, supple and luxurious. The interior feels just slightly velvety and soft. I do not worry about my pens getting scratched by pulling the pens in and out of their slots. The stitching is tight and nicely done. This is a high quality product by Pilot, I am impressed.

The Pensemble comes with 2 larger pen slots and 3 regular sized ones. The thickest pens I own fit into both types of slots easily. Length wise, my OMAS Arte Italiana Art 2015 Liquid Green fits in the pen roll nicely. After 2 months of constant use, I found the clips of my pens do cause depressions on the interior suede. That isn’t serious since the pen roll is here to protect the pens. The pen clips are protected by flaps of the same pig suede. However the centre most regular pen slot do lack the clip protection because the flap doesn’t really want to stay down over the clip. It curls up slightly but after rolling the pen roll the neighbouring flap would help keep the flap down. The Pilot Pensemble lays flat on the table, allowing easy access to the pen slots. Holding my pen roll with the pens facing downwards and shaking it slightly, my unclipped pens still stay in their pen slots. The texture of the pig suede provides enough friction to hold the pens in their slots. Once the pen roll is rolled up and secured via the leather string, it is a small and compact pen case.

My only complain is the pen roll is clearly meant for the right handed people of the world of which I am not a member of. The leather string that’s used to secure the pen roll close starts from the right. Personally I am very inclined to unroll the pen roll with my left hand, I would always end up with the pens facing downwards. Though none of my pens have actually fallen out, it is still rather unsafe for my peace of mind if nothing else. I know it is quite impossible to hope for a left handed version but lefties out there do take note when getting a pen roll.

The Pilot Pensemble as my very first pen roll is an excellent product. 5 pens is a nice little number to carry around. Though the nature of the leather doesn’t provide as much protection from falls as a hard case like Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 6 might, this pen roll is the perfect pen case for daily knocking around in my work bag. Do note though that if you are not careful you might get ink on the interior of the pen roll. The suede stains with ink easily and it might not be easy to clean it out. Also be careful with what cleaning products you use with leather products, I managed to wash the shine and oil out of my pen roll. My carelessness aside, the Pilot Pensemble is a pen roll I recommend wholeheartedly.

Additional Reading:

Posted on August 9, 2016 and filed under Case, review.