Friday, June 22, 2018

Fountain Pen Review: 2018 Special Edition Lamy AL-star Vibrant Pink

Lamy's special edition AL-star Vibrant Pink is here! When I learned last year that Lamy's 2018 AL-star would be pink, I cringed. I don't like pink. In fact, I only have three pink fountain pens: two Lamy Safaris (the first generation and the reissue), and a Kaweco Skyline. When I saw it, Vibrant Pink won. This pink fountain pen has charmed a lot of fountain pen users out there, including me. The Vibrant Pink comes as a lovely metallic pink that perfectly complements my two Lamy Safari pens.

Beginning in 2014, Lamy used compact cardboard boxes as presentation boxes for their pens, instead of the old, bulky plastic ones. Lamy released the 2018 Vibrant Pink fountain pen in a packaging similar to that of the Safari Dark Lilac and Petrol. Instead of the old gray, plastic pen box, Lamy now uses laminated cardboard boxes with the year's color theme for their special and limited edition pens.

An elastic in the felt-lined bed inside the box ensures that the pen stays in place, preventing breakage during transport. These boxes are sturdy, easy to store, and do not take up too much space. Last year's special edition AL-star and Safari pens came in similar compact boxes, too.
The 2018 Special Edition Lamy AL-star Vibrant Pink in its presentation box in matching pink color.

The AL-star Vibrant Pink pen in this review is a fountain pen, but the line also includes a ballpoint and a rollerball. For the last four years, Lamy has been coming up with special edition ink colors to match their special edition pens. This year, the AL-star Vibrant Pink fountain pen has an accompanying ink available in T52 bottles and giant ink cartridges that fit most Lamy fountain pens. An ink-x eraser in the same color is also available.

Lamy's recent special edition AL-star pens (Bluegreen, Copper Orange, Charged Green, Pacific, and Vibrant Pink) come in happy bright colors. The Vibrant Pink AL-star's color is a dynamic fuchsia in an anodized aluminum finish. I love this pen's color because it's a subdued, happy shade of fuchsia, and not at all a screaming pink.
The AL-star Vibrant Pink has a subdued pink color.

The Lamy AL-star is an excellent pen for all fountain pen users -- newbies/beginners, collectors, students, and artists. At 22 grams and 5.5 inches (capped), the AL-star is a well-balanced fountain pen: not too short, but not too long, either. It's not heavy, but not light. It's just right for small or big hands, comfortable to use, and sturdy, too! Many fountain pen users keep an AL-star in their EDC (that's everyday carry) because the pen is tough and sturdy.

The AL-star's barrel has an ink window that shows the ink converter or cartridge inside. It allows me to check on my pen’s ink level without having to unscrew the barrel from the section. The AL-star's cap is round, but two sides of the barrel are flattened. The Lamy logo is etched on one side of the barrel, towards the end.

Lamy AL-star fountain pens have transparent gray plastic sections.

The AL-star's signature triangular section has a grip that gives the writer a firm hold on the pen while writing. An anti-slipping brake near the end of the section prevents the writer's fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. Unlike the Safari pens’ matching body and section materials/colors, AL-stars have transparent gray plastic section.

A great feature of Lamy fountain pens is the interchangeability of their nibs across most of their product lines. The AL-star shares the same feed and nib with the Safari, Vista, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. The available nibs are extra-fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M), broad (B), and left-handed. The AL-star can also be fitted with italic nibs ranging from 1.1mm to 1.9mm.

I received the Vibrant Pink pen with the new Z28 converter. This proprietary piston operated Lamy converter can be used to fill the fountain pen with ink from a bottle. Like the Z24 and Z26 converters, the Z28 has two tiny nipples that fit snugly into the small grooves in the upper part of the section. When the nipples are fitted in the grooves, the converter stays in place, preventing messy ink spills. Giant ink cartridges are also available in Vibrant Pink and Lamy's regular ink colors (blue washable, black, red, turquoise, green, and blue-black).

The Lamy Vibrant Pink fountain pen came with the new Z28 converter. The nipples in the converter fit snugly in the section which has dedicated grooves. (Details about this in my Aquamarine review.)

Lamy has previously issued red and purple AL-star pens: Ruby and Black Purple. Ruby, a limited edition AL-star in 2011 has been discontinued since. Black Purple is included in Lamy's regular AL-star lineup since 2011 after its first issue as a limited edition pen in 2009.

Three AL-star fountain pens in red, purple, and pink: Ruby, Black Purple, and Vibrant Pink.

The imprint of the Lamy logo in newer pens are not as deep as the logo in the previous AL-star pens. 
Nine years in between these two pens. The 2018 Pacific AL-star
is practically the aluminum version of the 2009 Pink Safari.

In my review of the AL-star Pacific last year, I discussed the differences between the AL-star and the Safari. I want to help some people understand that the greatest difference between the two pens is their materials: AL-star is aluminum, Safari is plastic, ABS plastic to be exact (same material used in Lego bricks). The AL-star has a transparent gray plastic section, while the Safari matches the pen body's material and color. The AL-star is a bit heavier than the Safari, although this is not noticeable. Aside from these, there are some subtle differences in their design, seen in the photos below.

The two pens share the same oversized clip, but the Safari's cap has an indentation
where the clip is inserted into the cap.
AL-star fountain pens have black cross (or X) finials, and most Safaris have the same black finials. The Pink Safari in this picture is a first-gen Pink which was released in 2008, and has a pink button/dot finial.
The Lamy logo is debossed in the Safari, while the outline is simply engraved in the AL-star.
The AL-star's barrel end has a plastic black button cap, while the Safari's button is from the same color and material of its body. Both are engraved "Germany."
Lamy AL-star fountain pens (from top): Aluminum, Graphite, Silver Green, Silver Blue, Ocean Blue, Black Purple, Ruby Red, Pearl, Bluegreen, Charged Green, Copper Orange, Pacific, and Vibrant Pink.

The matching ink for the Vibrant Pink fountain pen, also called Vibrant Pink, is a beautiful dynamic fuchsia ink with visible gold sheen. It reminds me of elegant, plush seats in operas and grand ballrooms.

The Vibrant Pink ink is available in proprietary Lamy cartridges and in 50ml T52 bottles that come with a roll of ink blotter for pen cleaning after filling, or to blot writing. The bottle has a small basin at the bottom, to allow filling when the ink level is low.

I made swatches of the Vibrant Pink ink, in single and double passes. The gold sheen is very visible in the double passes swatch, and in areas where the ink pools. This metallic sheen will be more visible when used in pens with wider nibs such as B, 1.1, or stub. I used a Lamy 1.1 nib in writing the captions, and I'm thrilled to see the metallic sheen even after the ink has dried. I noticed during testing that the metallic sheen is very visible while the ink is still wet, but loses some of the shimmer as soon as it dries.

Vibrant Pink fountain pen ink sample swatches in single and double passes.
I do not have many pink fountain pen inks, but found J. Herbin Rouge OpĂ©ra to be close – 
a bit darker, though – to Lamy Vibrant Pink.
Here is a closer view of Lamy Vibrant Pink's gold shimmer. At different angles, it gives the ink a darker shade.

Do you see the gold flecks? I've been lucky enough to capture them on camera!

Vibrant Pink is a well-behaved ink. It has excellent flow and lubrication, medium to high shading, and the gold flecks do not affect drying time. This ink is very easy to clean, does not stain, and has a pretty pink/fuchsia color.

Like all the previous special edition Lamy AL-star fountain pens, I love the Vibrant Pink pen and the ink that came with it. The fountain pen is versatile (has interchangeable nibs), simple, minimalistic, and helpful to newbies because of its triangular section grip. The metallic finish brings warmth to the pink color of this special edition AL-star. The AL-star may be prone to scratches because of its material, but given the proper care, these pens will last for a long time.

If you haven't gotten one of these special edition Vibrant Pink AL-star fountain pens yet, go get one now! As of this time, Lamy has not indicated that they will be producing more of these. So once the current stocks are sold, they're gone!

I received the fountain pen in this review at no cost from Lamy's authorized and exclusive distributor in the Philippines, the Times Trading Company. In the Philippines, the AL-star Pacific fountain pen and ink (and other Lamy products) are made available by Times Trading Company, through their kiosks at National Bookstore branches around Metro Manila.

Lamy products are also available at Scribe Writing Essentials and Everything Calligraphy.

Lamy AL-star pens are widely available from pen sellers worldwide. For a list of Lamy retailers, visit

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