Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fountain Pen Review: 2015 Lamy Safari Special Edition Neon Lime


The Lamy Safari fountain pen for 2015 is here, and no, it's not purple, but an intensely vivid and bright neon lime. Despite the disappointment of many Lamy followers over this Safari color, I still wanted one for my collection. When I saw the photos of the Neon Lime Safari, I knew that I had to get one, even if they say it's just another 'green Lamy' fountain pen.

Neon Lime is Lamy's Special Edition Safari pen for 2015. My Safari is a fountain pen, but the line also includes a rollerball and a ballpoint pen. Note that Lamy is marketing Neon Lime not as a 'limited edition' pen like the former ones, but as a  'special edition' Safari. I received the fountain pen in this review at no cost from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Times Trading Company

Neon Lime Safari pen box.

Lamy released the Neon Lime Safari fountain pen in a new packaging. Instead of the old plastic pen box, Lamy is now using laminated cardboard boxes for their special and limited edition pens. Neon Lime and the 2014 Neon Coral fountain pens came in two different cardboard boxes: the Neon Lime has a pullout inner box which slides out of the outer box, while the Neon Coral box has a removable top cover. The pen slot in the Neon Lime box ensures that the pen does not roll around inside the box.

Neon Coral Safari (2014) pen box.

The Neon Lime Safari fountain pen is very bright! I had to shoot photos a number of times to ensure that I will get one where the pen doesn't appear to be glowing, or washed out. It is as bright as the 2013 Neon, but a hint of green is noticeable when the two pens are side-by-side.

Lamy Safaris are student pens, and many fountain pen users have Safaris as their starter pens. These pens are made from the sturdy ABS plastic – the same material used in Lego blocks, gold club heads, keyboard keycaps, and inner walls of refrigerators. Designed by Wolfgang Fabian, this pen was first presented during the 1980 Frankfurt exhibition, and has been in Lamy's regular production since then. 


The Neon Lime Lamy Safari's parts are: barrel, section (grip + feed + nib), converter, and cap. Safari fountain pens measure 5.5 inches while capped, 5 inches uncapped, and 6.5 inches when posted. It's a light pen, and anyone can use it for extended periods of writing. The cap with the oversized chrome-coated stainless steel clip is 2.5 inches long, the length from the nib to converter is 4.6 inches, while the barrel measures about 3 inches. 

Lamy's proprietary piston operated Z24 converters are used to fill the Safari fountain pen with ink from a bottle, but T10 ink cartridges are also available. 


Lamy used a black top cap (others call the top cap a finial) for Neon Lime, which is similar to the top caps of previous limited edition Safaris: Lime Green (2008), Neon (2013) and Neon Coral (2014).


The photo below shows how Lamy used different styles of top caps in their limited and special edition Safari fountain pens. Some pens have 'X' (or '+') top caps, while others have a round button with a hole in the middle. Also notice that while the most common top cap is black, some pens have top caps in the same color as their bodies (barrel + cap), and others come with a different color top cap (e.g. Special Edition Lamy Safari for China, extreme right in the photo).


Some users find the Safari's triangular grip uncomfortable and annoying. This feature, however, is designed to make writing easier – it is meant for users to have a firm and secure grip on the pen. An anti-slipping brake near the end of the section prevents a user’s fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. I do not find the triangular grip uncomfortable at all. I actually do not notice it when I'm using my Safari pens.

The great thing about the Lamy Safari fountain pens is the interchangeability of their nibs. A Safari fountain pen uses the same feed and nib as those on the Vista, Al-Star, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. The Safari fountain pens bought in the Philippines have medium nibs, but other nib sizes are available: extra-fine, fine, broad, and left-handed. The Safari can also be fitted with an italic nib ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm. My Neon (2013) Safari is fitted with a 1.9mm nib and I use it as a highlighter pen. I think I will do the same conversion with my Neon Lime Safari.


The Safari fountain pen’s barrel has an ink window that allows me to check on my pen’s ink level without having to screw out the barrel from the section. Towards the top part of the barrel, neatly etched in clean, sharp lines is the Lamy logo.


In the last three or four years, Lamy has been badly criticized, mainly for the color theme that they opted for the limited edition Safari and Al Star pens. It is puzzling to many, particularly to collectors such as I am, that despite the great clamor for a purple Safari, Lamy repeatedly used green in different tints and shades: Lime Green, Green, Neon, and Neon Lime for the Safari; and Silver Green and Blue Green for the Al Star. While there is a Black Purple Al Star, no one really knows if a purple Safari will ever become a reality.


When Times Trading sent the Neon Lime Safari pen to me, they kindly included a bottle of Neon Lime ink, a matching ink color with the 2015 special edition pen.


The 50ml Neon Lime ink is in a Lamy T52 bottle that comes with a roll of blotter that can be used to clean the pen after filling, or to blot writing. The bottle has a small basin at the bottom, to allow filling when the ink level is low.

The T52 bottle can be removed from its base, which holds the roll of blotter tape.

If the Neon Lime pen is bright, the matching Neon Lime ink is even brighter! It's so bright that it seems to be glowing when I look at it. Perhaps Lamy created the Neon Lime fountain + ink matchup to launch a new highlighter pen!

Neon Lime ink in converter. It looks like something radioactive.

I tried to use the Neon Lime ink, but realized that it is not for regular, everyday writing. It will be more useful as a highlighter ink.


To test if the Neon Lime ink can be used for highlighting, I swapped the medium nib with a 1.9mm italic nib and used the pen to highlight some text in a book. It's a perfect highlighter ink! It's even better than the ink from a real highlighter because it is light and has more transparency.

Comparison of Neon Lime ink (left) vs. a real highlighter (right).

This Neon Lime Safari fountain pen and ink matchup is an awesome addition to my growing collection. I love using Safari fountain pens because they feel good in my hand as I write. They are light, but also very sturdy. And they come in many different colors! My Neon Coral fountain pen from last year still looks new and now I have the 2015 Safari in my hands. I'm still dreaming of a purple Safari, though, but don't let that keep anyone from getting one of this bright, happy pens. Go get yours now!  



Lamy Safari pens are widely available from pen sellers worldwide. For a global search of Lamy retailers, visit: http://www.lamy.com/content/find_a_retailer/index_eng.html.

In the Philippines, the Neon Lime Lamy Safari (and other Lamy products) is made available by Times Trading Company, through their kiosks at National Bookstore branches around Metro Manila. Lamy pens are also available at Scribe Writing Essentials, a specialty store offering fountain pens, inks, and paper products, Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, visit http://www.scribewritingessentials.com/stores/

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fountain Pen Review: Edison Collier, TWSBI 580AL, Sailor Pro Gear


In my previous fountain pen review, I included a bit about pen size comparison. I thought that a fountain pen comparison will be useful especially now that more brands are being introduced in the country. I wanted to do a new pen comparison with some details, and chose three of my orange fountain pens for fun. 

The pens in this article are (top to bottom): Edison Pen Co. Collier Antique Marble, Sailor Professional Gear Color (Orange) with Rhodium Trim, and TWSBI Diamond 580 AL orange. It is my first time to have an Edison and a Sailor fountain pen, and I am just glad that I got them. 


Material. The barrels and caps of  these three pens are made from resin. Although all three pens have screw-type caps, their trims are different: gold for the Collier, rhodium for the Sailor Pro Gear, and silver for the TWSBI 580.


The Collier has the same resin for both its barrel and section, or grip. The contoured grip prevents my fingers from slipping as I write. The Sailor Pro Gear has a black plastic section which I find comfortable and easy to grip. The TWSBI's aluminum section is a bit slippery, though. I noticed that I do not have a firm grip on the section when I am writing, because of the material.

Top to bottom: Sailor Pro Gear, Edison Pen Co. Collier, and TWSBI 580AL

Filling mechanism.

The Collier, which belongs to Edison's Production Line pens has a cartridge/converter (C/C) filling mechanism. Long and short international cartridges will fit in the Collier, but a standard international converter is included when I got my pen. It can also be used as an an eyedropper pen because there are no metal parts inside the barrel.

The Sailor Pro Gear also has a C/C filling mechanism, but only takes proprietary Sailor cartridges. Like the Collier, this pen came with a Sailor converter on purchase. Both the Collier and Sailor converters have ink capacities of ~0.7-1.0 ml.

The TWSBI 580AL, however, comes with a piston ink-filling mechanism, with a 1.9 ml ink capacity, which is twice the ink of a converter-full for either the Collier or the Sailor.


Nibs. The nibs on these pens are still factory nibs. I haven't done any modifications or adjustments on them yet.

My Edison Collier has a two-toned steel #6 broad (B) nib, but other two-toned nibs available for this pen are: extra fine, fine, medium, and 1.1 and 1.5 italic. 18k gold nibs in extra fine, fine, medium, and broad are also available.

A 21k gold nib in hard-medium (H-M), which is surprisingly soft, is what's on my Sailor Pro Gear. Other nibs for the Pro Gear are: 21k gold in fine, medium, and broad.

The TWSBI 580AL in this set has a chrome #5 Jowo B nib. It can also be fitted with an extra fine, fine, and medium nibs.


Size. The Edison Collier is definitely the largest fountain pen among the three. This long and fat cigar type pen measures 5.9 inches when capped! Writing with the Collier is still comfortable, though. The section's diameter is only .38 inch, almost the same as the TWSBI 580AL's .39 inch.

The TWSBI is 5.6 inches long, and weighs 32 grams, a tad heavier than the Edison which only weighs 30 grams.

The Sailor Pro Gear, a smallish pen by my standards, measures 5.07 inches long when capped, and weighs 21.6 grams. 


Posting. I do not usually post my pens, but I am including this here as a useful detail for those who do post their fountain pens. Among the three pens, only the Sailor Pro Gear posts properly. If anyone gets a Collier or a TWSBI 580, do not try to post the pens' caps, because they will fall off.  


Writing performance. I am very lucky to have these three fountain pens since they all write so well out of the box. The Collier and the TWSBI both have broad factory nibs, which are round and very wet. I plan to have the Collier's nib modified into a stub later. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Sailor Pro Gear pen is new to me. It is my first Sailor and I am amazed at how nice it feels to write with a supposedly hard (but turned out to be soft) nib. I am glad I bought this pen and got to experience writing with a Sailor nib. 


Now that this review is done, do not be surprised if I will not identify my favorite fountain pen among the three, because all of them are excellent writers. I have presented all the details available to me, and included my own experiences using each of them. I do hope, though, that every fountain pen user can experience writing with a Collier, TWSBI, and Sailor fountain pens.


These pens are sold by a number of official resellers worldwide, but in the Philippines, Edison, TWSBI, and Sailor pens are all available at Scribe Writing Essentials, a specialty store selling fountain pens, inks, paper products, and calligraphy supplies. 

Scribe has stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fountain Pen Review: Edison Collier Antique Marble

Edison pens are now in the Philippines! Woohoo! 

A few years ago, when I was still new to this hobby, I liked white fountain pens. I recall a time when I grew so fascinated with a white fountain pen that I saw on the internet. Google later revealed that the pen is a Mina from Edison Pen Co. I didn't take the pen, for a number of reasons, but an Edison fountain pen has always been on my list. When I found out that our beloved pen store Scribe Writing Essentials will be the official reseller of Edison pens in the country, I was more than excited to get one.

When Scribe posted the photos of Edison pens that will be available in their stores (read Edison's announcement here), the Collier in Antique Marble finish caught my eye. Its rounded form is very pleasing to look at, and the color is just irresistible. From the photos, the Collier looked like it's a big pen, and I thought it would be heavy, but the amber resin is simply unforgettable. I can't get it off my mind, and I counted the days before I could get one.

The Collier has been with me for more than a week now, and I am very happy I got it. Here's why.


The Edison Box. Having collected a few fountain pens myself, I have seen a number of pen boxes from different pen brands. I'm happy to see that Edison pens are carefully presented in the same elegant box covered in patterned maroon faux leather. While this well-made and elegant box contains a fountain pen, it could easily be mistaken for a jewelry box.


I like the Edison box because it is not oversized, yet the Collier, a long and fat pen, fit perfectly inside. While the box has no markings outside, opening it shows the Edison Pen Co. logo printed on the inside of the cover. Inside the box is the Collier, a wonderful work of artistry in a medley of warm and happy colors, lying on a bed of padded soft fabric held in place by a satin ribbon.


The Edison Collier. The Edison Collier is an award winning pen. It's Goldspot's Pen of the Year in 2011. The Antique Marble is from Edison's Production Line of fountain pens (available only through resellers). It is made from translucent amber-colored acrylic resin, buffed and polished to a high gloss. At approximately 5.9 inches long (capped), the Collier is my longest (and probably fattest) fountain pen. 


The Collier's resin is strikingly beautiful with rich swirls of black, brown, and in some parts, silver and pearlescent orange in amber. It's amazing! It's like seeing thin strips of satin suspended in lovely amber. Also notable is that the Collier's parts — barrel, section, and cap — are made from the same translucent resin. It's as if the pen came from a huge blob of real amber!

For such a long pen, the Collier is surprisingly light at 30 grams. Uncapped, the body is only ~5.2 inches long (barrel, section, converter), and lighter at 20 grams, which makes writing comfortable. The pen fits so well in my hand, and the contoured grip keeps my fingers in place as I write.


Like all the pens in Edison's Production Line, the Collier has a cartridge/converter (C/C) filling mechanism. Short and long international cartridges will fit in the Collier, but a standard international converter is included in the box. It can as well be used as an an eyedropper pen because there are no metal parts inside the barrel.  


The Collier's screw on cap is ~2.8 inches long, and weighs 10 grams. It was not designed to be posted on to the pen's barrel, but I don't usually post my pens, so I don't mind at all. The simple, unobtrusive gold-plated clip of the Collier is the perfect complement to its translucent amber. It feels just right: not too long, but not too short, and flexible enough to easily clip on to a shirt pocket, or to a notebook pen loop.


Here is another photo of the Collier's cap. The glossy rounded top of the cap is just lovely, free from any markings, and the translucent amber just seems to glow and change color according to the intensity of light.

The Collier is a big pen. Its cigar-shaped barrel has a diameter of 0.6 of an inch, almost equivalent to the barrel diameter of a Pelikan M1000! And again, that pattern in amber is just awesome. The other side of the barrel has swirls, while there are black and brown stripes on this side.


The slightly pointed (but still rounded) end of the Collier's barrel is equally beautiful, complementing the rounded top of the cap. 


Brian Gray, President and creator of pens at Edison Pen Co., has designed the branding of his pens carefully. The Collier's branding is so discreet that it took me a while to find it. The laser engraved words "Edison Pen Co. Collier" are so small and hard to see. I had to look very closely at the barrel with a pen light so I can see it. 


The Edison Nib. The Collier has an oversized #6 nib, and I chose a steel, two-toned B (broad, bold, big) nib for my pen, which would probably get a grind soon. It wrote smoothly out of the box, and I am very happy I selected a broad nib. Edison nibs are sourced from Germany, and Brian is known to personally check the nibs on his pens before they are sent.

In an homage to Thomas A. Edison, whom Edison Pen Co. shares birthplace with (Milan, Ohio, USA), Brian designed a logo that shows a light bulb and a fountain pen nib. Clever and ingenious. 


I'm a blue fountain pen ink addict, and I so badly wanted to fill my Collier with Eclat de Saphir, my favorite blue ink. But this pen is begging for a same-color ink, so I filled it Pelikan Edelstein Amber. 


Amber for amber. The Edelstein ink is a perfect match for my Collier's broad nib! 


I thought that a fountain pen size comparison would be useful, especially now that new pen brands are being introduced frequently in the country. I would like to show that the Collier is a large pen. Its length and girth is very prominent and imposing. The other pens are: Bexley Intrepid, TWSBI AL 580, Lamy Safari, Platinum 3776, and Pelikan M400. If you're planning to get an oversized pen any time soon, keep the Collier in mind. You definitely won't regret it. 



The Collier is also available in three other colors: Persimmon Swirl, Silver Marble, and Blue Steel. #6 nibs for the Collier are available in single tone or two tone steel, and in 18k solid gold. Steel nibs are available in EF, F, M, B, 1.1mm italic, and 1.5 italic. The 18k solid gold nibs are available in EF, F, M, and B.

Edison pens are sold by a number of official resellers worldwide. In the Philippines, they are available at Scribe Writing Essentials, a specialty store selling fountain pens, inks, paper products, and calligraphy supplies. Scribe has stores in Eastwood Mall, Shangrila Plaza Mall, Glorietta 5, SM Aura, and SM Megamall. For their complete location/address, contact numbers, and store hours, click here.
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