Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fountain Pen Review: 2018 Special Edition Lamy Safari All Black


Lamy has completed its trio of matte-finish Safari pens with All Black in 2018. After launching Dark Lilac (2016) and Petrol (2017), Lamy added its darkest Safari to the limited/special edition pen series. Lamy's 2018 Safari pen is called All Black, and it has a black clip, nib, finial, and section/grip.

I have a fountain pen, but the All Black Safari collection also includes a rollerball and a ballpoint. In 2014/2015, when the neon Safari pens (Neon, Neon Lime, Neon Coral) were launched, Lamy started calling the year's Safari and AL-star pens as 'special edition' instead of 'limited edition.' The Safari and AL-star pens after that period were then called special edition pens. The Special Edition All Black Safari in this review is from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, Times Trading Company.

All Black Safari fountain pen in its special edition box.
A T10 ink cartridge and a new Z28 converter are included in the box.

Lamy released the All Black Safari fountain pen in a packaging similar to that of the Dark Lilac (2016) and Petrol (2017). Instead of the old, bulky plastic pen box, Lamy now uses laminated cardboard boxes with the year's color theme for their special edition pens. The laminated pen box is enclosed in a plain white sleeve.

Last December, fans and fountain pen collectors waited for the 2018 Safari color with wild guesses on which color it would be. The wait seemed endless to some, but when Lamy finally announced that the 2018 Safari will be 'All Black,' mixed comments flooded fountain pen groups all over the world. I, too, was a bit baffled by Lamy's choice of color because there are two black Safari pens already -- Charcoal/Umbra and Shiny/Glossy Black. When I received the pen, I was surprised that the new All Black is unique and totally different from the previous two black pens. But, yes, it's ALL BLACK.


Lamy Safari is a student pen, often called 'starter pen' by fountain pen enthusiasts. The All Black Safari with its matte finish is still made from the sturdy ABS plastic – the same material used in Lego blocks, keyboard keycaps, refrigerator walls, and the filament commonly used in 3D printers. Designed by Wolfgang Fabian, the first Safari was presented during the 1980 Frankfurt exhibition (read more in Lamy's Company History) and has been in Lamy's regular production since then. Despite some fountain pen enthusiasts' low regard for this plastic pen, many fans around the world collect the Safari and its aluminum cousin, Lamy AL-star.


Some people dislike the Safari's triangular grip, saying it is uncomfortable and annoying. This feature, however, is designed to make writing easier — it helps users to get a firm and secure grip on their 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 Lamy fountain pens.

Lamy's interchangeable nibs are very useful. A Safari fountain pen uses the same feed and nib as those on the Vista, Al-Star, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. Due to the color difference, my nib options for the All Black is limited only to a broad nib from an older Safari. 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 italic nibs ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm.


The anodized black nib of All Black Safari fountain pen writes smoothly out of the box.
The triangular grip is meant to 
help beginners, but some people find it uncomfortable.
All Black's finial (cap top) is the same as those installed in Dark Lilac and Petrol Safari fountain pens.

The All Black Safari's parts are barrel, section (grip + feed + nib), converter, and cap. The Z28 converter (a newer version of the Z24) was included in the box, together with a T10 ink cartridge. Safari fountain pens measure 5.5 inches when capped, 5 inches without the cap, and 6.5 inches if the cap is posted. It's a lightweight pen and can be used for extended periods of writing. The cap with the oversized clip is 2.5 inches long, the length from the nib to the converter is 4.6 inches, while the barrel measures about 3 inches.

The proprietary piston operated Z28 converters are used to fill Lamy fountain pens with ink from a bottle, but T10 Giant Ink cartridges are also available.
I had fun disassembling the All Black Safari and Z28 converter. I often do disassembly of my fountain pens to thoroughly clean the section, feed, and nib before inking/reinking.

All Black (top) and Charcoal/Umbra (bottom). Notice the difference in shade? All Black has a deeper, darker shade, while Charcoal/Umbra is lighter, looking almost gray in bright light.

Barrels of the All Black (top) and Charcoal/Umbra (bottom).

Even their nibs are different! The nib on All Black is darker than the one on Charcoal/Umbra.

Lamy introduced the Z28 converter in 2015/2016. I got the Petrol with a Z28 converter but did not write about it. The Z28 is an update to Lamy's Z24 converter. A proprietary converter, Z28 still got two nipples on either side for a secure fit inside the pen. See photos and captions below for more details about the Lamy Z28 converter.

The metal ring on Z28 (bottom) has changed to chrome matte finish, compared to the Z24's black finish. The new converter's tube is clear/transparent, while the previous one is frosted.

The Z28's turning knob is more square and matte finished. Also, the Lamy logo is now debossed on the Z28, while the logo on the Z24 is embossed.
The Z28's bottom is also different than the Z24's flat end.

The new trio of Lamy Safari fountain pens in matte finish: Dark Lilac (2016), Petrol (2017), and All Black (2018).

The medium nib on the All Black Safari writes smoothly out of the box. I inked it with Lamy Black ink. Lamy did not release a new ink this year as they already have a black ink in their collection.


Lamy Safari through the years.
Limited and special edition Safari fountain pens from 2008 Lime (topmost) to the 2018 All Black (bottom).


Similar to Dark Lilac and Petrol, the All Black Safari is a unique Safari. The dark color of this pen is eye-catching and a sure standout in any pen case. It's a different Lamy Safari, and another one to add on to my Lamy Safari collection.

The All Black Safari is a special edition pen, so you better get one now. It's almost sold out, and to date, Lamy will not be making this special edition pen anymore. Go get yourself one 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 All Black Safari (and other Lamy products) is exclusively distributed by Times Trading Company, and available in leading bookstores and stationery specialty stores nationwide. 

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