Sunday, April 22, 2018

QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!

QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Some may disagree with me, but I think Lamy has been on a great run in the past couple years with their annual Safari and Al-star releases. The last three special editions have been rather consistent in terms of what we could expect: a bright and colorful new Al-star color, and a contrasting dark and subtle Safari.
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Yet this year I think they outdid themselves on the combination of the two! The All Black met some criticism that it's not different enough from the standard 'Umbra' Safari (judge for yourself from the picture below), but I love how it came out. Over the years I've come to enjoy more colorful materials and finishes (If you've been following this blog since the beginning, you'll know that I used to be quite exclusively into monotone pens!), but I will still grab for the subtle and subdued colorways when I can. 

The All Black is indeed very similar to the Umbra, but especially side by side there's a difference to be noticed. The Umbra isn't really grey either, it's more like a really dark brown. I tried my best to show the very nuanced difference in the picture below. In any case, both are simple and office-appropriate, colors. Whether you choose the Umbra or All Black, both are sleek pens suited for everyday use, without drawing too much attention to your pen.
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Umbra (used, so the finish has become glossier over time) on the left, All Black on the right.
As much as I like the subtlety of the All Black, the Vibrant Pink also grew on me in the past weeks! Pink and black match exceptionally well, so I think they did a great job putting these two colors together. Yes, the pink may be a slightly girly pen, and it may turn heads in the meeting room. But heck, why not! Want a pink pen, just go for it! For what it's worth, I think they went with a classy shade of pink, more like magenta, not Barbie-like hot pink.
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
As I said, Lamy has been pretty consistent over the past three years, there's quite a noticeable trend when you put the most recent Safaris and Al-stars next to each other! Continuing the trend, the All Black received the same matte finish as its direct predecessors, and the Vibrant pink is again a very vibrant (well, duh!) and fresh color, ideal for spring!
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Put them side by side, and you'll realise just how much Lamy loves red and pink!
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Of course along with the new special edition pens, come new special edition inks. Well almost... Remember last year's debacle with the Pacific blue 'special edition' ink that was just Lamy Turquoise in a slightly different packaging? Well they haven't learned from their mistakes over in Heidelberg, because this year they tried the same trick with the All Black ink! It's just the regular black ink, again in an ever-so-slightly different cardboard box. Not cool Lamy! 
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Fortunately the Vibrant Pink ink IS a new color, and it's a strong release too if you ask me! Just like the Dark Lilac ink -that I obsessively hoarded as much as I could- Vibrant pink is a nice shade that is plenty saturated and quite legible. The saturation gives this ink a fantastic green-gold sheen, just like Dark Lilac... I'm smitten! 
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Dat sheen tho!
Overall, I'm quite pleased with what Lamy came up with this year. The Safari and Al-star special editions continue to grab my attention each year, and both the pens are affordable enough to continue buying them. The price point they are at makes them excellent collectibles, and on top of that they are also just really good pens for everyday use.
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Yes, the All Black ink was a bit of a dissapointment. I secretly expected a grey ink to accompany it, which oviously didn't happen. But perhaps this means we can hope for a re-release of the awesome Griso Grey as next year's special edition (still my all-time favourite color!) with a Griso Grey ink? At this point all we can do is guess, but it would be pretty awesome!

The Safari All Black retails for around 20 EUR (30 USD), and the Al-star goes for 27 EUR (37 USD). The ink is 2 EUR for five proprietary Lamy cartridges, or 11 EUR (12 USD) for a 50ml bottle. Both the pens and inks are decently priced, but especially the Vibrant Pink ink is hard not to recommend at this price point. The All Black ink can be ignored, save your 12$ for next year's release...
La Couronne Du Comte and Penworld are sponsors of this blog. I received a discount on the purchase of these products, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, nor was I otherwise compensated monetarily. The opinions shared in this review are completely my own. This post does not contain affilate links.
QUICK LOOK: LAMY SAFARI ALL BLACK & AL-STAR VIBRANT PINK SPECIAL EDITIONS!
Bonus picture, just look at that magnificent green-gold sheen!

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