First Review of my First Pen
In the first post I told you about the pen that started it all. Well, this is the pen, and this is the review. I thought it fitting to make this the first pen I write about!
The Safari should be nothing new to most people, but in case you’re a newbie (welcome!) or have simply forgotten (for shame!), here’s a refresher!
The Quintessential Fountain Pen
The Lamy Safari is the fountain pen for beginners and experts alike. Newcomers will appreciate its brightly coloured exterior and learner’s grip section, and experts will appreciate the utilitarian design and easily interchangeable (and obtainable) nibs.
Lamy is a familiar word to many a pen enthusiast, mainly for their style and low prices compared to other pens of this calibre. Every pen is dripping with quality, and shows off German engineering from the crown of the cap, to the very end of the barrel. Lamy is the name for unique, modern pens. One only has to try the iconic Lamy 2000, or handle one of the pens from the luxurious Dialog range to get a feel of what the brand is all about. Function over form is the core of the Lamy experience, but that’s not to say their pens aren’t good looking.
The Lamy Safari – A history lesson
The Safari’s history stretches all the way back to its introduction. The year was 1980, and Lamy had just unveiled its latest pen, the Savannah Green Safari, designed by Wolfgang Fabian. It would mark a turning point in Lamy’s history, as previous to this their main focus was business style, high class pens. The Safari was targeted towards middle/high school kids, and the pen was met with great success. Everybody loved the Safari, and since then many more colours and iterations have been introduced, from the ultra rare Flame Red, Terracotta Orange, and Lime, to the common colours we have today, including Blue, Red, Yellow, and Black.
Standard fare for a Safari is a small box, with a cardboard sleeve suspending the pen inside. Inside the pen is a cartridge, and the small cardboard collar is what prevents this cartridge from getting pierced during transit.
The Lamy Safari typically comes in a small box
Note the cardboard collar, a protective measure to prevent inking whilst in the box
Other forms of packaging exist in a blister pack, with the pen uncapped and presented, and the cartridge separate from the pen along with a handy carrying pouch.
Charlotte says: The carrying pouch is kind of too big for the pen but not big enough to hold several. Reminds me of a sunglasses pouch. (You can probably guess I don’t use mine)
The pen is light, there’s nothing heavy about it. It is large though, especially when posted. People with smaller hands will love it unposted, however, so it really is anyone’s pen.
Measurements are as follows:
- Body – 10g
- Cap – 7g
- Together – 17g
- Capped length – 140mm
- Uncapped length – 130mm
- Cap length – 65mm
- Posted length – 167mm
- Width at widest point (base of cap) – 15mm
- Clip length – 65mm
- Clip width – 13mm
- Left/Right handed – Both
- Body Texture – Gloss, but some models are matte (LE grey with black clip, charcoal, old colours)
- Crown details – Modern pens have a matte plastic cross (typically black), current LE pens have coloured crowns, but older versions can be found with glossy dot crowns
- Materials – Chrome (nib, clip), ABS plastic (body, grip section, cap), plastic feed
- Filling system – Cartridge/Converter. Built for Z24 converter, but also fits Z26. Lamy T10 cartridges only (proprietary design)
- Retail price – Approx. $40.00AUD
- Available colours – Standard colours (dark blue, red, yellow, white, black, pink), plus new LE colours released yearly
- Cap system – Pull type
- In production – Yes
- Other features – Grip cutouts, ink window
- Markings – Large “LAMY” on lower section of body, “GERMANY” on very end of body
- Number of pieces – 5 (cap, body, grip section, feed, nib)
- Removable nib/feed – Yes
The Good, The Great, and The Best
The Safari is a low level fountain pen with high level features. When people ask what pen they should start out with, I am always there to recommend a Safari. But why? Well, for many reasons.
First, the price. At $40.00AUD these are sort-of cheap, but that’s the price you pay if you’re unwilling to go a bit further. eBay and other sites often have these up for $10.00 or even less, making them less expensive than a packet of awful ballpoints that won’t last nearly as long. Before you head to a store and drop $3.00 per pen on a Papermate or Uniball, save your pennies and go buy a Safari. You get a whole lot more pen-per-dollar!
Second, the design. All Safari’s are made from ultra strong ABS plastic (the same stuff Lego is made from). Anybody who has stood on a piece of Lego often think three things:
- That freaking hurt man!
- Wow, that Lego is some sturdy stuff!
- THAT REALLY HURT MAN!
And it’s true, stepping on Lego does hurt, and yes, the plastic is very strong! In fact, I’ve seen people who have accidentally run over their poor Safari with their car, and then picked it up and written with it straight after (though the pen does look a teensy bit flatter than before).
That’s durability for you, and if I was going to Bear Grylls it up in the Amazonian jungle for three weeks, I would take one of these along to fend off mutant dragonflies whilst simultaneously making notes on the event. So they can take a beating!
The clip is a notable piece of awesome too. It’s a solid piece of shiny chrome metal, and is near indestructible; curled up in a paperclip-esque fashion and taking up almost the entire length of the cap. Theres a raised portion at the end to make clipping a breeze, and it all comes together to make a very attractive pen.
And then there are the things you tend to take for granted on such a pen. The ink windows on the pen’s body show you just how much longer you have to write before refilling. The nibs are interchangeable, and Lamy sell one of the widest ranges of nib widths out of any company. You get the standard sizes like extra fine, fine, medium, plus unique nibs like obliques and stub italics in sizes up to 1.9mm.
Overall, the design of the Safari is all about function, with some good looks thrown in. Not so scary a kid can’t use it, but not so basic as to turn off the enthusiasts.
Charlotte says: I really like the modern design. Reminds me more of an Asian pen rather than a European one.
Now… The Not So Good…
The Safari doesn’t have a lot of bad points; rather minor niggles. I personally think it is a perfect pen for me, but one must be cautious when purchasing the perfect pen, so I’ll tell you what SOME people find annoying, to better help you guys make an informed decision!
In a broad sense, the grip cutouts are fantastic for those who really want to learn how to use a fountain pen properly. Young people, and newbies to fountain pens will love this. But they aren’t for everyone. Again, speaking broadly, maybe Lamy could have brought out a standard grip section as an option for those who have already found their grip, love the Safari, but their grip conflicts with the grooves. I, for one, learned how to write with the Safari, so my grip is very suited to those grooves, but some find them restrictive. So, you may want to consider how your grip will fit with the grip section, but I suppose Lamy wasn’t targeting the high end market with this pen!
The filling system is C/C (aka Cartridge Converter). This is a boon for those who love to write and run out of ink often, they can just slap in a new cartridge from their desk drawer and continue writing, but for those who like to go uninterrupted, the cartridges are a tad small. Of course, to each his own, but 0.5mL of ink is not really enough for long writing sessions. I rarely run out of ink in any pen because I don’t write four novels a day, or colour in blank sheets of paper corner-to-corner for fun, but you’re limited in terms of choice of filling systems for this pen. You can use the converter (a converter with a piston, that lets you use bottled ink) if you wish, but this decreases your ink capacity even further. I think the best choice is to have either more than one Safari on your person, or save up and buy a piston filler with a higher capacity, such as the Lamy 2000.
There are also the nibs, which write on the dry side and tend to be quite wide. Let me explain: Fountain pens come in, typically, two varieties. There are Eastern pens, like those from Japan, and Western pens from Europe. The biggest difference between them you need to remember, is that a Medium nib on a Western pen is more like a Broad nib on an Eastern pen. To summarise, Western pens tend to write lines that are wider than their Eastern brethren.
Now, that means that if you really want a fine line, you’ll probably be a little disappointed by even an Extra Fine nib on a Safari, but broad line enthusiast are easily pleased with these nibs!
Also, they tend to write dry, which means that not a whole lot of ink comes out of the nib, which can lead to breaks in the line when writing faster, also known as skipping. This can be remedied by doing some maintenance or using a faster flowing ink, but fast writers who aren’t confident in these areas will probably have to choose a different pen. Again, this is not to say that anyone who writes fast should just disregard the Safari, as you have to write pretty damn fast to get this pen to skip, but perhaps visit a pen store and try a display pen out, or ask a friend if you can try theirs!
Charlotte says: There is nothing bad about this pen!
A point on the nib
Lamy nibs are steel, which often means that they will not be as smooth as premium, gold nibs. Don’t buy into this myth, it simply isn’t true! Lamy nibs are a category of their own. To put it in layman’s terms, writing with a medium Lamy nib is like writing with a very nice pencil; it’s smooth and writes consistently well, but with a tiny bit of friction. They’re also very solid nibs, so pressing down won’t affect the experience too much (as long as you don’t exert enough force to murder your table).
Lamy uses the same nibs across most of their pens, from the lowly Safari, to the high priced Studio, so you are getting a great nib no matter what pen you buy!
You’ll have great fun writing with a Safari.
Charlotte says: I’ve always been very impressed with these nibs. I prefer using fine nibs as I find medium just a bit too thick.
All in all?
I love the Safari. It’s a perfect blend of good looks and writing pleasure. You either love it, hate it, or have a secret fondness for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a great pen. A true “writer’s pen”, you can take this one with you anywhere without fear of breaking it; great for those of you who love to travel, and love to write. It’s available in a huge range of colours, and a wide array of nib widths. What are you waiting for? Buy one today!!
Available on eBay for cheap (check out international sellers!), or within Australia at places like NoteMaker for around $40.00 AUD
Charlotte says: I mainly use Asian pens but this one is amongst my favourites.
+ Great looking
+ Great writing
+ Extremely sturdy
+ Comes in heaps of colours and nib sizes!
o The looks aren’t for everyone
o Nibs write a little wide and dry (may be a positive for some!)
– Grip section restricts you to writing one way
– Cartridges are proprietary, and are a little small