There are few pens stranger than retractable fountain pens. They’re like a contradiction; fountain pens are cumbersome and complex by design, so why bother making one retractable? Well, I think it’s mainly because they can, but also because doing so forms one of the most iconic and unusual writing instruments in recent memory, whilst also making something so hopelessly practical that it’s a wonder why Pilot are the only ones to mass market such a product.
The Vanishing Point (VP from hereon out), or “Capless” as it’s known in some countries, marries the writing pleasure of a fountain pen, with the convenience of one-handed operation. Slip it from a breast pocket, click the button, and begin writing in one swift motion, and with one hand. What is considered by some to be a gimmick in fact enhances the whole experience of an entirely extraordinary pen, one that even without the capless mechanism would be fantastic in its own right.
So, it’s a noteworthy product, and one that I can wholly recommend; something I hope to show you in this review.
About a week ago the guys at Pen Chalet contacted me to see if I would give an honest review of the Pilot Knight fountain pen. I’ve been a long time fan of Pilot pens in general, so naturally I said yes.
I know a bit about the Knight, but in particular I know that this pen houses the same nib assembly found on the cheap 78G, the mid-range Prera, and a few other sub-$100 Pilot pens. I think it would be suitable to see how the Knight stacks up, and just give you my thoughts on this pen in general.
Now n Then contacted me recently, wondering if I’d like to get my hands on their Eco Essential pen and pencil they successfully funded on Kickstarter. Of course I said yes.
Now n Then comes from Ishuja, a group of three guys with some pretty interesting product ideas. Based in Taiwan, the three of them put their heads together to make some beautiful pens. Their latest, the Retro Essential pen, well exceeded the funding goal last month, so go check out what they’ve been doing lately on Kickstarter here.
The Eco Essential pen was funded mid-last year, and the pencil a few months after that. It’s obvious that people love the cool design and modern functions of these pens, and they’ve consistently raised many times their goal figure for their projects. So, are they deserving of all this support? Let’s see.
Check out the video review below, and read on to see my detailed thoughts on this set.
That special day involving a fat man and a few billion chimneys (and a lad named Jesus I hear) is less than a month away, and I’ll bet you’re stuck for gift ideas. Even if you’re not, take a look at my Christmas gift guide to grab some last minute stocking stuffers, or something special for your significant other.
Please note that the prices here are general guides and apply mostly to Australia, but I’ll try to list stuff that’s available all over the world too!
CHEAPIE (Under $10)
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Ink Pens ($3.30USD, JetPens): In a world filled with pens both brilliant and terrible, it’s hard to sift through the crud to find true gems. The Hi Tec C is one of those gems. Well constructed, smooth writing, and available in a dizzying array of tip sizes and colours, this is a favourite of pen-users the world over!
Palomino Blackwing 602 ($4.95AUD, NoteMaker): Whether they’re true to the, now extinct, original or not, these are some of the best pencils going round. If I reach for a pencil, I reach for my Blackwing almost every time.
Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil ($7.50USD, JetPens): I said I reach for my Blackwing almost every time. The rest of the time I reach for my Kuru Toga. This pencil separates itself from the pack with solid construction and a mechanism that rotates the lead as you write, so you’ll never have a sharp edge and writing is always smooth.
Pilot Varsity ($3.00USD, JetPens): For such a cheap fountain pen, these really do pack a punch. Smooth nibs, quality construction, and great ink colours make the Varsity a cheap intro to fountain pens! (see my review here)
Rhodia Bloc Pad #13 ($5.95AUD, NoteMaker): I cannot recommend this cheap notepad enough, as it’s Rhodia (my favourite) and is so perfect for so many things. Fountain pen users, you owe it to yourself and your pens to use Rhodia! See my Rhodia Notepad post here!
One reader, Gordon, has let me know that many cheaper pens such as the Varsity can be purchased cheaply in Australia from www.JustWrite.com.au Thanks Gordon!
It’s no question that some of the best fountain pens made today are coming out of Japan. Quality and materials beyond most anything ever seen, and nibs that go finer than fine; Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor are Japan’s “Big 3″ pen companies, the ones to go to for a writing experience like no other.
But why? To understand the reason why Japan is one of the best places for writing instruments, you have to look at its history. Over the course of the last century Japan has become a central hub for technology and innovation. This translates to improvements in design, manufacturing, and overall quality of products across the spectrum. If you buy a TV these days, chances are you will be looking at Japanese brands. The same goes for cars, phones, computers, almost any piece of tech you can think of.
Now most people may not associate the term “modern technology” with something as archaic and (perhaps incorrectly) basic as a fountain pen, but the two have blended together significantly over the past 50-60 years to produce futuristic “classic” fountain pens that exhibit the feeling of a vintage writing instrument and the features of a modern piece of technology.