Monday, April 16, 2018

OHTO MARUTA SHARP MECHANICAL PENCIL REVIEW

Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
I rarely review pencils here (I probably should've picked a different name than 'The PENCILcase Blog'!), but that doesn't take away the fact I can often enjoy a nice mechanical pencil, leadholder or even woodcased pencil from time to time! The one we're looking at today is quite an interesting one: the Ohto Maruta 2mm mechanical pencil! Thanks to Papier & Stift for sending it over!

Why is it interesting? Well it's basically a mechanical pencil, disguised as a woodcased pencil. I suppose the reasoning behind this design is quite simply to create a different aesthetic. It could also be a sneaky way to trick die-hard woodcased pencil users into buying a mechanical one, although I doubt that?
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
The Maruta, which is Japanese for 'log', looks and feels like a generic jumbo-sized woodcased pencil with a round profile, silver ferrule and pink eraser. But push the eraser, and a 2mm pops out from the front! 

For a 10$ pencil, Ohto put a surprising amount of effort in the details. This genuinely looks like a woodcased pencil from afar. All the metal parts are nicely machined and have a satin finish. The tip of the pencil is actualy 'sharpened' into a cone, which transitions into the metal tip. The wood received a clear coat of laquer, and the brand and model name are stamped in brown paint near the ferrule. The overall product is simple and clean, just like the average #2.
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
Top to bottom: unsharpened Blackwing 602, Ohto Maruta, Lamy Lx, Lamy 2000, David Hayward hexagonal leadholder.
In terms of size, the Maruta is short for a pencil, but normal sized compared to other pens or mechanical pencils. It measures 13.6 cm (5.35") without the lead extended. The diameter of 1 cm (0.39") is comparable to the dimensions of a jumbo pencil, which makes it easier and more comfortable to grip than a normal woodcased pencil.

It's lightweight, but not as light as a pencil due to the metal parts at the front and back of the pencil (It's slightly back-weighted, but not to the extent where it's actually noticeable in use). The wood has a very nice, smooth satin finish. While this is nice to look at, it's a bit slippery in the hand.
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
As I already said, the machining on the metal parts, such as the 'ferrule' is actually really nice, especially for a 10$ product. Everything fits nicely, but the metal push button does rattle quite noticeably. The button can be pulled out to refill leads (or you can just push a new lead in from the front), and the eraser can be replaced.
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
The knock mechanism advances the 2 mm lead by approx. 1.5 mm each time. The lead has little to no play inside the metal tip. Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
As far as the writing goes... The choice of 2mm leads is useful for drawing or sketching but I also like to write with pencils like this because the leads are available in a wide variety of grades (I prefer HB or B for general writing, a balance between smooth, dark lines and point retention). The Maruta comes with one HB lead in the pencil, which I found kind of soft for HB, and rather dark. I swapped it out with my favourite 2mm lead: Staedtler Mars Carbon HB. Of course there's plenty of other lead options, you could even get some coloured leads in this size to play around with! 
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review
For just under 10 euros (via Stift & Papier) which translates to about 12.5 USD), the Ohto Maruta is a fun pencil that won't break the bank. It's very well made (Japanese quality!), especially given the price. And I like that it takes 2mm leads, which is something else from the usual 0.5mm mechanical pencils. 

Note: This product was provided by Papier & Stift, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.
Ohto Maruta Sharp mechanical pencil review

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

EDISON PEARLETTE FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
The Edison Pearlette had never been on my radar before. I like the design and shape a lot, just the way I also think the full-sized Pearl is one of Edison's best designs, but I kept telling myself that the Pearlette would be too small for my taste. 

But then when they came out with the three new production colors (completely wiping the old material options off the table to freshen things up), I must say that Canyon trail brown... it looked damn fine! When I came by the Scrittura Elegante stand at last year's Tilburg Pen Show, I couldn't resist. 
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
Seeing it in person, really shows the beauty of this little pen. I tried my best with the pictures in this review, but there is nothing like seeing that chatoyance (I know some people dislike using this word, does someone know a better alternative?) in person. Believe me.
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
The Pearlette is -as the name suggests- the little sister of the Edison Pearl. In my opinion, the Pearl is the best design by far from the US based pen maker. But unfortunately the Pearl isn't part of their regular production line, and can only be bought as a custom pen (which adds significantly to the pricetag). 
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
The pattern in the material never really lines up. Yes, that's a minor nuissance...
Designwise, the pearlette is a simple cigar-shaped pen with pointed cap and barrel finial. The design is completed with an elegant, curved clip that ends in a teardrop-shaped tip. As is common with 'bespoke' pens (Ok, Edison production pens aren't exactly bespoke, but they definitely fit the category in terms of design and overall appearance), there's relatively little trim or detailing to speak of. It's a clean and fuzz-free pen.
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
L to R: Kaweco Sport, TWSBI Mini, Pelikan M805, Edison Collier, Edison Pearlette, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
The elegant and petite design, the stunning yet classy Canyon Brown acrylic, and the fact that it actually fits my hand perfectly... This is a fun little pen! Make no mistake though, it IS small. Probably too small for some people. It measures 12.8cm closed, and 11.8cm uncapped. It's relatively thin too, at an average of just 8mm around the section, where it loses quite a bit of girth because of the relatively large step. The all-acrylic construction keeps the weight low as well, with a total of just 15 grams. 
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
For me, it JUST fits my hand without dissapearing, but it's quite a bit smaller than I'm normally used to. I can write comfortably with it, in part due to the nicely shaped section which keeps my grip close towards the nib. The step is noticeable, but I never found it bothersome or uncomfortable. 
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
Smaller pens in general are somewhat out of my comfort zone, and so is the steel #5 JoWo fine nib. The nib has the stock JoWo design with a few flourishes and the two-tone plating, and the Edison logo is laser-engraved in the middle. Designwise, these are not my absolute favourite, but it's not exactly an ugly nib either.

It lays down a crisp, line. But due to the relatively rich flow, it's still close to a western medium. Being a fine nib, it gives some feedback when you write, but it's pleasant. It's a reliable, skip-free writer, but the steel nib has relatively little character (I generally prefer #6 nibs, which I find tend to have a bit more character to them.).
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review
Every production model from Edison comes at the same price of 160 EUR (via Scrittura Elegante)/169 USD. On one hand that's not cheap for a steel-nibbed pen, on the other hand it's an affordable step into the world of 'bespoke' pens, or at least the closest thing to it! 
Scrittura Elegante
Scrittura Elegante is a sponsor of this blog. I received a discount on the purchase of this product, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.
Edison Pearlette fountain pen review

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MONTBLANC MEISTERSTUCK 149 FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
Something strange happened: I bought a Montblanc! I'm generally not THAT big on MB pens, but still this felt like quite a milestone in my collection. You see, the Montblanc Meisterstück 149 is kind of an icon. It's a must-have for every real collector... or at least that's what they tell you!

To some extent, I definitely agree. The 149 is the ultimate depiction of a fountain pen. Ask anyone to draw a fountain pen from memory, and you'll get something like this. Hell, there's at least a dozen brands that decided to eh, well... 'mimic' the design of the Montblanc Meisterstück fountain pen, I guess that says plenty.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
Montblanc's Meisterstuck line (including the classic 149) achieved its luxury status and name recognition all across the globe. This is largely due to their excellent marketing that has established their 'high-end' status as a brand. But it's also just because of the great aesthetics of their pens. You see, the Montblanc Meisterstück is kind of a crowd pleaser. It's a simple, black resin pen, gold trims (also available with platinum and rose gold trim, but the yellow gold started it all), and well...not much more.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
On the outside there's of course the white star logo, and some decorative bands, including the triple band around the base of the cap. But other than that, it's a clean and clutter-free design. The simple cigar shape is easy on the eyes. Even for a large pen like this, nothing about the design feels extravagant or out of place. It's timeless and elegant, chic but not gaudy.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
It's this delicate balance that makes it so attractive for a wide audience, especially for business people that want a classy pen. But of course that white star has also become a symbol for luxury and wealth, so everyone will see that you just spent a ton on a fountain pen. Depending on the situation, I guess that can be both good and bad. In my case, I think this 'status' associated with Montblanc detracts a bit from the overall experience. It's perhaps a bit too much of a class symbol instead of just a nice pen. 

But to get back to the point, the Meisterstück is a classy yet simple pen. So much so, that it may actually seem a bit boring, I guess? With all the colorful and over the top flashy pens that are on the market these days, I'm sure that 99% of us pen addicts would much rather like to see Montblanc use different and more exciting materials. If you ever saw Sarj's (aka. the one man pen show) Custom-made 149 in Omas Arco brown celluloid... oh boy that's something else!
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
L to R: Pilot 823, Pelikan M800, Pelikan M1000, Visconti Homo Sapiens OS, Montblanc 149, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
However, one thing is certain: when it comes to size, the 149 is far from boring. This is a truly oversized pen, measuring in at 14.7 cm (5.78") capped, and 13.2 cm (5.2") uncapped. With a width of around 1.6 cm (0.63") at the widest point, and 1.3 cm (0.51") at the section, it's a pretty fat pen.

Because of this girth, the 149 will be a bit too large for a lot of people. In terms of usability, I feel like the 146 does a better job at being a comfortable and versatile writer, with a more reasonable diameter while remaining a comfortable length (The 146 is actually not much shorter than the 149!).
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
The 149 has gone through countless iterations throughout the years. The early versions were coveted for their softer nibs and ebonite feeds, and some versions also had a metal piston mechanism. Later versions came with plastic mechanisms, but the current models are again equipped with a metal mechanism. In terms of durability that's a huge plus, but the weight of the pen also benefits from this. The 149 weighs 32 grams in total, and the barrel is slightly more substantial because of the mechanism. It doesn't throw off the balance, but it's just enough to let you know you're writing with a large pen. Same as with the Pelikan M800 and M1000, that metal mechanism makes the 149 feel more premium and durable, even though it's still a resin pen.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
What it's all about for me is the nib. Dennis (from La Couronne Du Comte) showed me a couple different 149's with different nib sizes, but it was quite an easy choice. I obviously went for the biggest nib he had in stock, which is this fantastic double broad! 

The #9 (which is MB language for a #8 size nib) two-tone 18k gold nib looks and writes fantastic. It may be my favourite part about the entire pen. The design of the nib face is classy and somewhat vintage-esque (The imprint design has remained largely the same throughout the years), and it's partially rhodium-plated to accentuate the design.

If I'm being really picky, perhaps the plating could've been done a bit more precise. The rhodium layer doesn't always perfectly align with the stamped design. But that's a minor detail, and you really have to look at it with a magnifying glass to see it.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
Going for the BB nib was an obvious choice. I had tried a 149 with BB nib from a friend (Hey Marco! Check him out on Instagram!) and was immediately sold on the lush, wide and stub line characteristic this stock nib provides. The way these nibs are ground is quite interesting. The shape of the tipping material is almost identical to what you'd expect from a stub, instead of the usual round shape. Line variation is perhaps not as pronounced as with a 'real' stub. But on the other hand it is smoother and a bit more forgiving about the writing angle. The ink flow is rather heavy, which is good for a wide nib like this. Because of the size of the nib, it has a tiny bit of springiness, just to give the writing experience a 'cushioned' feel. It's definitely not a flexible nib by any means though. 
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
Overall, this is by far the best Montblanc nib I've used so far. Others were a bit inconsistent (a medium that wrote like a fine, and vice versa), but this one was exactly the way I expected it to be. The stub-like character makes it a bit more special and fun to write with than a normal round nib, which is a welcome extra on a pen in this price range. 
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
The 149 is a great pen. It's ultra-classy and stylish, and the writing experience has been nothing short of amazing. It writes like an 800 euro pen should, and then some. The fact that they still offer 'novelty' nib sizes, including a range of obliques and double broads, is also quite interesting for those that like something a little more exciting than fine or medium.

Yet I'm still having mixed feelings about the 149. I'm glad that I now own a Montblanc, but at the same time I don't feel like I need more of them. There are so many wonderful brands out there with more exciting designs and less jaw-dropping prices. It's a great pen, but it's not a pen that'll speak to everyone's imagination.

The Montblanc Meisterstück 149 retails for 775 EUR (yellow or rose gold trim) or 805 EUR for the platinum trim version (MSRP of 935-985 USD in the US), which is undoubtedly a lot of money. A lot of 149's are sold on the second hand market for a fraction of the cost. In this case, buying used is a great option if you want to make it a bit less painful for your wallet, but you have to know what to look for (and you should always be wary of fake Montblanc products that are unfortunately very common!)
Note: La Couronne Du Comte is a sponsor of this blog. This product was bought from LCDC with my own funds, and I was in no way solicited or influenced in the making of this post. This post does not contain affilate links.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen review
I guess I'll never learn to NOT use light inks for my written reviews...