Sunday, April 4, 2021

REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITIONS (2021)

REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
In the almost 8 years of existence of this website, I seem to have succeeded at - subconsciously - ignoring one of the most ubiquitous and widespread 'beginner' fountain pens on the planet: the Lamy Safari

Ok, I have done 'quick look' posts on some of the previous special editions throughout the years, but I've never actually made a complete and in-depth review about it. Despite that, the Lamy Safari has played an immense role in my pen journey throughout the years (and still does so today, as my father and I share a mutual hobby of collecting old special edition Safaris!), and it embodies a lot of what I seek in a true 'workhorse' pen. I guess, because it's so ubiquitous, the Safari is just a pen I've always taken for granted.

So today, while we take a look at 2021's Terracotta and Savannah special edition Lamy Safaris - two colors that immediately got me very excited! - I'll go a bit more in-depth on why I like this pen so much. Before we dive deeper into some of the details of the new Safari special editions, I'd like to thank sponsor of the blog, Penworld, for providing these pens for review!

REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
Unfortunately, EU customers don't get the same pretty packaging as the American and Asian regions (Why Lamy?), so enjoy this gratuitous detail shot of the cap finials instead!

Let's start at the beginning: the Safari is a textbook example of a love-it-or-hate-it design, but that's also what makes it so interesting. The Safari goes at the Bauhaus design with an extra dose of brutalism and modernism (strong Oscar Niemeyer vibes) added to the mix: pronounced flats and angles, exaggerated proportions,...

REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
... absurdly large 'paperclip' clip,
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
... and in-your-face branding on the back of the barrel. And yet, somehow, there's something strangely attractive about it.
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
The Safari has of course seen every single color of the rainbow over the years, but only two are true grail pens for the wintered Safari collector. Like so many Lamy Safari aficionados, my dad and I never found the two OG Lamy Safari colorways, Savannah and Terracotta (the two original colors released in 1980). To be honest, they may be a bit too grail-like, as prices for the original Savannah and Terracotta go insane on the second-hand market. That is, if you'd even find one for sale! Against all odds, Lamy seems to have actually listened to what the pen community wanted to see, so I'm VERY excited to see a re-release of the Savannah and Terracotta. Heck, for once they might really be listening, as we even saw rumors of a new colored 2000 (though I'll refrain from getting too excited about that just yet... they can still botch it like they did with the Bauhaus release!).

The argument you can hear left and right that this re-release will have a negative impact on the collectibility of the highly sought-after originals? I don't think so. True collectors will know how to spot the differences ('Germany' marking on the bottom, slightly different finial, etc), and the originals are so hard to find, I think this will just create even more awareness and demand to track those down...

In terms of how close the colors actually are to the originals? Well, I - unfortunately - don't own any of the originals, but from the few comparisons online, it seems that the Terracotta is quite spot-on, while the Savannah looks to be a touch less olive-green than the original (though in real life, it certainly looks olive-green to my eye). 
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
The Safari is a medium-sized pen, fitting in perfectly with some of my other favorite starter pens, like the Pilot Metro, and TWSBI Eco. The Safari measures just shy of 14 cm/ 5.5" capped, and retains a comfortable size of 12.9 cm/ 5.1" when uncapped. It weighs just 17 grams in total, thanks to the all-plastic (ABS), injection-molded construction. The cap posts securely and rather deep (it covers the entire 'LAMY' logo), which - together with the light weight - makes this one of the more comfy pens to use posted.
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
The section is nice and long, and transitions seamlessly (well, not seamless, but without a step... You get what I mean!) into the barrel. The diameter of the section is a bit tricky to translate into numbers, but it roughly tapers from 12 to 10 mm towards the nib. Talking about the section: just like the general design of the Safari, the section is quite controversial.

The pronounced triangular profile definitely favors a more 'traditional' tripod grip, so that's certainly something to keep in mind if you tend to hold your pen in a funky way. With my - fairly standard - grip, the Safari has always clicked very well. Even though shaped grips are typically regarded as a beginner feature, I still enjoy the controlled and precise grip it provides.
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
The firm - but fairly quiet - snap cap, as well as the ink window through the barrel, are both useful features to have on a workhorse 'EDC' pen. Additionally, I find the Safari beats the AL-star (another controversial debate!) due to its sturdy and durable injection-molded ABS construction. Especially the matte finish on the Savannah and Terracotta (and many other Safari colorways), is particularly good at hiding signs of wear and tear, though they do become shinier over time! In contrast, I'm always a bit nervous about putting a dent or scratch in the thin aluminum construction of the AL-Star.
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
Lamy nibs are well-known to provide a subtle amount of pencil-like feedback while you write, which I actually enjoy. They are very responsive, reliable nibs with a well-balanced ink flow. I especially enjoy the fine nibs, which lay down a nice medium-fine, crisp line of ink. In the grand scheme of things, Lamy's nibs aren't exceptional in any way, but they do what they have to do without hesitation, and they're easy and cheap to swap out, too. Certainly another reason why the Safari makes for a reliable workhorse pen!
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS
While I'm still a bit ashamed that it took me this long to do a full review of the Lamy Safari, I'm fairly confident that my general sentiment on them hasn't really changed in all those years. Ok, I may have found the last two years of the Safari special editions (the Pastel and Candy trio's) a bit lackluster, but the re-release of the iconic Terracotta and Savannah are a perfect way to reaffirm my love for the bold and playful - perhaps a bit fugly - workhorse of a pen that is the Lamy Safari. Yes, I think it still absolutely deserves its status as one of the best affordable fountain pens on the market.

The Safari Savannah and Terracotta comes in a choice of fountain pen, roller, and ballpoint, but not the mechanical pencil. In Europe, the special edition fountain pens retail for 20.9€ (at Site Sponsor Penworld, use discount code 'pencilcase' for 10% off!), which is about one euro more than the standard colorways. Overseas, the US price seems to be the same regardless of the color you choose, although you do pay more across the board, just under 30$.

Note: Penworld is a sponsor of this site. I received a discount on this purchase, which enabled me to 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 affiliate links.
REVIEW: LAMY SAFARI SAVANNAH & TERRACOTTA SPECIAL EDITION (2021) FOUNTAIN PENS

Sunday, March 28, 2021

REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
Despite being incredibly active in releasing new special editions and unique colorways - it seems like every week they make a cool new pen I want! - Leonardo's product catalog is more or less established around two main product lines: the Furore (or Furore Grande), and the Momento Zero (or Momento Zero Grande). Of course, that's not including the handful of limited editions (like the Cuspide, Messenger, or Speranza), though even those often take strong design cues from pens like the ever-popular Momento Zero. 

But the pen we're taking a look at today - a limited edition that's yet to be officially released, mind you! - brings quite a different look to the table through the introduction of a fully faceted design: the Leonardo Tredici! My thanks go out to the people at Leonardo Officina Italiana, for giving me the opportunity to check out this pen well in advance of its launch! 
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
The Tredici appropriately gets its name from the Italian word for 'thirteen', the number of facets on the pen. Though the Tredici is unmistakably a Leonardo design (put it side by side with the Momento Zero, and the kinship is easily spotted), it does bring a more angular, tapered, design style to the table, whereas the Momento Zero and Furore are a bit more gently curved and rounded. 

The lack of decorative trim rings on the back of the barrel or section, the fine rolling wheel clip, and the three cap rings, together with the faceted design of the Tredici, make for a pen that - in my opinion, at least - embodies the 'vintage' styling that many Leonardo pens try to capture, even better. The comparison with an old Omas paragon wouldn't be too far off either, I think?
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
The Tredici wouldn't be a true Leonardo pen if it wasn't for some bright and colorful materials. So for this limited edition (70 pens for each color), it'll be available in two distinct acrylic resins: Hawaii, and Arlecchino (Harlequin). Both materials have already made an appearance on previous Leonardo pens. The Hawaii is of course a tried-and-true staple among many of Leonardo's pens, and it never fails to impress me with its complex mix of blue and brown hues, pearlescence, and translucence, all mixed in through the striped acrylic material. 
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
The colorful yellow/orange/green flecked Arlecchino material (an acrylic recreation of a celluloid Omas used to use back in the day) is a bit less common and tends to only be used for limited editions. Being partial to orange pens, I quite enjoy the eclectic and vibrant mix of solid colors in the Arlecchino, but it's certainly a love-it-or-hate-it material! 

While I think there's something to be said for both colorways (both will definitely turn heads!) I'd also like to see the Tredici in a different - more muted - material choice, as the emphasis on the faceted shape is perhaps a bit lost in the 'busy' patterns of these two materials. 
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
Since these are pre-production pens, there are a few (small) details that I was told would still be addressed before final production: While the thirteen facets on cap, barrel and piston knob align fairly well (the cap has triple-start threads, so only one orientation will align them), it's not absolutely perfect. The faceted trim rings on the cap will also be fine-tuned a bit in the final production, making them sit more flush and aligned with the surface of the cap. These are relatively small details, but making them perfect is key (and shows a keen eye for detail from Leonardo), as the facets are of course the centerpiece of the Tredici's design!

L to R: Pelikan M805, Leonardo Furore, Furore Grande, Momento Zero Grande, Tredici, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
The Tredici is slightly shorter than the Momento Zero Grande and appears a bit skinnier as well (partially due to the strongly tapered shape). Though with a capped length of 14.8 cm/ 5.83", and an uncapped length of 13.3 cm/ 5.25", it still certainly classifies as a large pen. The Tredici weighs just 25 grams, which makes it very lightweight and nimble, especially for a rather large pen like this. For those that prefer an even larger pen, the Tredici can be posted very securely, and the cap doesn't add any noticeable backweight. 
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
For the Tredici, Leonardo went with a traditional hourglass-shaped section (very similar to the section of the Cuspide, but narrower) as opposed to the stepped design on the MZ. Just like the rest of the Tredici, the section is on average about a millimeter narrower than the Momento Zero. While that's a relatively minute difference in thickness, it is indeed noticeable in the hand. The section on the Tredici is decently long, and the threads are shallow and unobtrusive. Though in terms of comfort, the Tredici does take a slight hit with a fairly sharp drop off towards the barrel, which I did notice in my grip. The Momento Zero Grande has a similar step, but the rounded trim ring on the edge makes the MZ gentler to the touch.
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
Under the hood, you'll be greeted by a 14k gold nib (no option for steel nibs, as is the case on most of Leonardo's Limited Editions). Leonardo made a complete switch to JoWo last year, so that's what you're getting here, regardless of the nib width you choose. I tried out both a regular medium and one of their 'elastic' (read: soft, not flex) fine nibs. The 14k gold nib is backed up by Leonardo's own ebonite feeds, and metal piston-filling mechanism, the same as on Leonardo's 'Grande' models.
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
The fine elastic nib - with its distinct cutouts on the sides - has a noticeable feedback to it when you write, and the softness creates a line width on the broader side of a western fine, perhaps closer to medium. The cutouts are meant to create a more bouncy, cushioned writing experience, not for wet noodle vintage super-ultra flex line variation. That said, you can certainly get enough line variation out of it for some elegant flourishes in your writing. 
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
For the medium nib, I anticipated the fact that all my Leonardos with ebonite feeds have all been very wet writers, so I tried to balance it with the super dry Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion ink (lovely shade, but man is it a dry ink!). Unfortunately, even the very generous ebonite feed was no match to the desert-like dryness of Stone Road, so I went with Diamine Evergreen instead. After that, the medium nib performed wonderfully; a very smooth, responsive writer, backed up by a rich flow from the ebonite feed.
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN
The Tredici is a fresh design from Leonardo's stables, a bit outside of the comfort zone of their current pens. In my opinion, it's probably their best representation of the vintage Italian design language, so far, and the attention to detail is on point. 

As the faceted design inevitably increases the production difficulty, this, unfortunately, translates in the retail price of the Tredici: 595€ (653€ for the soft nib). That's 100 euros more than the Momento Zero Grande with a gold nib. Though for a limited edition of just 70 pieces in each colorway, the Tredici still comes in far below other Leonardo LE's (like the 850€ Cuspide)!

NOTE: The pens in this review were provided on loan by Leonardo Officina Italiana. I was in no way paid, or influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own. This post does not contain affiliate links.
REVIEW: LEONARDO TREDICI FOUNTAIN PEN

Saturday, March 13, 2021

PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS

PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
I was really happy to see Japanese stationery brand Kunisawa recently re-introducing themselves with a completely revised product lineup (read the re-review HERE!). Their confidence in the updated paper quality turned out to be absolutely justified, finally combining the stunning business-chic notebook designs with fantastic - consistent - quality Japanese paper on the inside. 

But alongside the updated Kunisawa products, they also sent a few other products that certainly didn't fit in. That's because, as I mentioned earlier, mother company Kawachiya Print also houses a second stationery brand: Pont Neuf!  
The contrast between Kunisawa and Pont Neuf doesn't need an explanation...
Pont Neuf is best described as the absolute polar opposite of Kunisawa's functional, subtle, business-appropriate designs. Instead, they go for bright, colorful, playful products. The most eye-catching being a selection of wild, fluffy, fabric-covered notebooks - extravagant (and quite high-end)! But also the notebooks I'll be showing today, which are a collaboration with Tokyo-based art Gallery Brain Trust, for a collection with William Morris design notebook covers.
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
William Morris was a renowned 19th-century artist and craftsman and is perhaps best known for his hugely popular - to this day - botanical patterns. His designs were originally created for wallpaper decoration, but I think it works equally well on these notebooks, and it fits right in with the style Pont Neuf tries to convey. 
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
Both the A5-sized slim staple-bound softcovers (64 pages) and thicker A5 hardcover notebooks (192 pages) in the William Morris collection each come with unique cover prints, four in total. The printing is high quality and detailed, and the colors - while certainly vibrant - aren't overdone. One minor detail: I say A5, but both notebooks are actually 195 x 138 mm, which is ever-so-slightly smaller than the traditional A5 size!
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
While the softcovers come with simple, uncoated paper stock for the cover (which has a nice subtle debossed texture from the printing!), the hardcover notebooks are distinctly more upscale. The cover is made of textured, heavily coated (plastic?) paper with gold foil debossed details, gilded edges, and rounded corners. One downside about the stiff, plastic-like material used on the hardcover is that it cracks and frays a bit around the edges of the notebook, which deters from the otherwise pristine cover design, and gives the edges a slightly rough feel.
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
Both notebook types are able to lay open quite flat
Inside, the Pont Neuf notebooks do match the minimalist approach of Kunisawa with un-numbered, dot-grid pages and pretty much nothing else. The hardcover does have one practical element that the thin softcover booklets don't have: a thin bookmark ribbon.
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
The paper inside the Pont Neuf notebooks seems to be identical to the excellent paper we've already seen in the updated Kunisawa Find stationery, which is of course a good thing. 
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
For those of you that didn't read my previous review, here's a short rundown of my findings on this new paper: it's a very smooth stock, more or less the same thickness as Rhodia (so around 80-85 gsm), and with a distinct yellowy-ivory tint to it. The paper shows excellent shading and sheen and doesn't budge to wet nibs or even ink swabs, with no bleedthrough and minimal showthrough (or ghosting) to speak of.
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS
"Create your own style" an appropriate catchphrase for the eccentric Pont Neuf brand!
While I personally lean towards the minimal and clean aesthetics of the Kunisawa products, there is certainly something to be said for the more extravagant side of Pont Neuf's colorful collection of notebooks. The two brands work nicely side-by-side, offering unique products on two very distinct ends of the scale. Pricing is also comparable between the two brands, and - while certainly on the more premium side - is quite fair given the excellent paper quality and great design. The softcover notebooks retail for 5€/ 6$, and 25€/ 30$ for the hardcover.

Note: The products shown here were provided by Kunisawa, 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 affiliate links.
PAPER REVIEW: PONT NEUF NOTEBOOKS