Thursday, May 3, 2018


Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
Whew, this was a difficult review to write! The Namisu Ixion has probably been one of the most talked about pens in our community in the past couple months, and received a lot of criticism from bloggers and customers alike. I wanted to look at things differently, without drawing hasty conclusions or being influenced by other people's opinions. So here is my review...

When Namisu announced the Ixion on kickstarter June or August last year, I jumped on it faster than...well, fast! The rest of the kickstarter went less fast unfortunately, to the frustration of a lot of backers. It's Kickstarter of course, delays are to be expected. You buy a product that doesn't exist yet, and there are still a million things that could go wrong before it hits the shelves. However, it didn't help that Namisu is notoriously bad with their communication. 

Having worked with them in the past, their communication has always been so-so, I knew what to expect. But in the end they always came through with great products, which I think is the most important part. Imagine the opposite: a smooth-talk company that doesn't deliver in the end... Hah! THAT would be bad! [Cough, Visionnaire, cough].
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
Simple but practical packaging: just a nylon sleeve 
A few months later than expected, the pens were sent out (still, not the worst delay I've seen on Kickstarter). What followed was a strange mix of happy customers, problems with nibs, lost packages,... Just generally, the entire project seemed cursed. 

While I don't want to ignore the issues that this kickstarter faced, I also don't feel like letting it impact the entire review. So let's focus on the positive stuff for now: In the end Namisu did one thing exceptionally well...they made a great pen!
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
The Ixion is a bit of a departure from Namisu's traditional ultra-minimalist philosophy. It's still a simple design, but the combination of clipless faceted cap and round -slightly tapered- barrel is already a bit more elaborate than their earlier products. They also went for an interesting design choice with the finials, making them out of separate pieces (in either aluminium, brass, steel, or titanium) that slightly protrude from the cap and barrel. It's an interesting combination of shapes and subtle details, that I  think works very well. As some suggested, it's not too uncommon from the Kaweco Perkeo, although the Ixion has a more modern look with their metal construction.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
Something I don't really understand, is how this is their most affordable design yet. Given the more intricate and complex design than for example the Namisu Nova, it would seem more expensive to manufacture... But hey, more pen for less $$$, you won't hear me complain! Ok Scratch that, I did the maths wrong! The Ixion is actually ever so slightly more expensive. Although compared to their other products (like the Nova), the markup is still relatively small considering the more intricate production process.

Traditionally, Namisu utilizes four different metals for their pens, of which we can find three here: aluminium, brass and titanium (perhaps copper is still to come at some point?). Technically, steel is also used, but only for the finials and grip section. The brass and titanium pens received a stonewashed finish, which is excellent for hiding scuffs and scratches from daily use. The aluminium is available in a variety of anodised colors (red, blue, grey or black), and the finish is smooth and even. It is worth noting that the anodized finish will wear down with use, especially at the threads, but that's normal.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
Branding on the side of the cap of the aluminium version...
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
Branding on the finials of the titanium and brass versions
As for those finials and sections, on the brass and aluminium versions, you get the choice between black anodized aluminium, brass or stainless steel trims. The titanium version comes with matching titanium trims, although you can buy additional sets of finials and grips to mix and match whatever way you like. All the options combined, this makes for a nice bit of customization.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
L to R: Ensso Piuma, Namisu Orion, Namisu Nova, Namisu Ixion, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
The Ixion is an average-sized pen, measuring 13.5cm (5.31") closed, and 12.8cm (5.04") uncapped. With a maximum diameter of around 1.5cm (0.59"), the ixion has a rather stout appearance. With the steel or brass finials, the aluminium pen is a bit heavier than what you'd usually expect, coming in at 39g (vs. 30g for the version with aluminium trims). The titanium and brass pens respectively weigh 45g and a hefty 85g.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
In the hand, this is perhaps one of the most comfortable Namisu pens yet. It's not overly long but it does post if necessary. The section has a comfortable taper, and a slight lip at the end. The threads on the brass and titanium pens are stonewashed so they are smooth and unobtrusive. On the aluminium pen, they are sharper and more noticeable. There's no step behind the threads. Whereas the Ensso Piuma still spans the crown for most comfortable metal pen I've used to date, the Ixion does come close.

To cut costs, the ixion didn't come with a converter (or cartridge), but they do fit international type carts and a standard Schmidt converter did the trick.

As for the writing experience; well they are stock Bock #6 nibs in either steel or titanium (or gold, if you want to pay the premium). My experience with Bock nibs is quite good. Of the 20+ nibs I've used from their make, only one or two (usually broader nibs) had some issues with skipping or hard starts.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
Bock nibs, not all of them equally straight or symmetrical, yet all of them write without any issues
Both on the Ixion Kickstarter comment section, and on other blogs, I came across a lot of complaints about the nibs. Because I didn't have any issues with my three pens, I was rather surprised by this, so I asked around as much as I could to learn other people's experiences.

The verdict? I don't know.

There are so many factors that can alter how, if at all, a nib writes. The geometry of the nib itself is one thing, but the assembly, the ink that's used, the paper, even the way you hold your pen... These are all seemingly small things that matter, so it's very hard to pinpoint exactly where things go wrong. There's definitely some quality control issues that circulate throughout various brands, so in the end, it's partially luck that will decide if you get a 'good' nib or not. On top of that, maybe a dud for one person might be the perfect nib for someone else?
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
The titanium section is stonewashed, while the brass and steel sections have a lightly brushed finish
So probably Bock nibs just suit me and the way I write. They are a bit bouncy (at least in recent years they have been, probably due to a change in the production process), and provide just the right amount of feedback. They have a good flow, especially with a wet and lubricated ink. The wider nibs (medium or broad) occasionally suffer from some skipping or hard starts. But again, a good ink choice solves this problem in my experience.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review
In the end I'm quite impressed with the product Namisu delivered. It's on the same quality level as the other Namisu pens I own, and the pricing is fairly similar. Even after the Kickstarter, when the Ixion becomes a standard model in their lineup, the pricing should still be rather competitive with similar products from other brands. I paid 30 GBP (38 USD), 38 GBP (49 USD) and 55 GBP (70 USD) respectively for the aluminium, brass and titanium versions, which was at a 40% Kickstarter discount. (Final retail prices will presumably be around 50 GBP, 64 GBP and 92 GBP respectively)

I think Adrien and Maria -the peeps behind the brand- were overwhelmed with the scale of the kickstarter (which outdid any of their earlier projects). But still, that doesn't take away that Namisu's communication has to improve for them to be able to keep their customer base happy. I kept following the comments on the kickstarter page, and I'm already seeing a positive evolution, with people getting replies to their emails and receiving replacements where necessary.

Note: This product was bought with my own funds. 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 affiliate links.
Namisu Ixion fountain pen review


  1. Thanks for the review Dries - like you, I'm pretty happy with my Ixion (though not the delays and lack of communication). One comment re the nibs, if I may: I have several (mostly Kickstarter) pens that use the same nib unit as the Ixion, so I'm quite familiar with Bock nibs and enjoy them very much - but the EF nib that arrived with my Ixion was scratchy, with badly misaligned tines. I couldn't fix it, but Namisu were kind enough to send a replacement - which also had misaligned tines, but this time not beyond my capacity to repair.

    It looks to me like Namisu are the 'victims' rather than the perpetrators of their nib problem: Bock was (apparently) very late filling their order, and appear to have delivered a much higher proportion of duds than usual. Perhaps Bock were so overwhelmed by their *own* workload that they let their usual standards for QC slide?

    Whatever the story, the Ixion *is* a wonderful pen - and I appreciate your impartial but appreciative review!

    1. Yeah, I definitely agree with you on this. It must've been an order of something like 3000-5000 nibs. In such a short notice, Bock probably skimped on the QC a bit... Let's hope they can pull themselves together and make sure that doesn't happen again in the future (although it's probably too optimistic to imagine a world without faulty nibs haha)

      Anyway, I'm glad you like your Ixion as well! Write on!