Sunday, April 1, 2018

rOtring Rapid PRO BP Review

Rotring started in 1928 with a tubular tipped stylographic fountain pen popularly known as Tiku. It was incorporated as Titenkuli Handels GmbH. Later in 1984, the calligraphic ArtPen was introduced, which was followed by more famous and most sought after 600 series pens. There were a few changes in name in between which can be seen in the historical timeline linked here. In 1998, it was taken over by Sanford US, a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. Newell owns other known brands like Parker and Waterman. Rotring stopped manufacturing fountain pens soon after this acquisition.
And yes of course, rot ring literally translates into red ring, which can be seen in almost all its writing instruments as an iconic hallmark.

                   The Rapid PRO look like a modern avatar of the renowned 600 ball points. With evolution, rotring has perhaps tried to make the rigid hexagonal shape slightly more giving to curvature, in the rapid pro. While writing this review, I could find a Japanese ebay seller list a few rotring 600 ball points. I am fairly certain that these are fresh production and not NOS.

The RAPID pro comes packaged in a grey-coloured triangular cardboard box with brand and product descriptions. The country of manufacturing is mentioned as Japan. I found the box, quite a welcome change compared to the earlier one. You may see a deserted G2 refill, lying beside the box. Nothing wrong with the original refill itself, this can be completely attributed to my new found love with Monteverde ceramic gel refills.
Both the Silver Chrome and Matte Black designs are beautifully made designs. The silver one portrays a shimmering exuberance, while the black one is quite subtle, albeit wielding the same power. The weight and feel of both pens is quite comfortable, balanced and not at all on the heavier side. Warning-Don’t let the technical specs fool you!


Both finishes have a smooth audible click of the plunger button, to expose the writing tip, through the concentric cone-cylinder tip. I couldn’t find a decipherable difference between the knock of the two variants.


I use black and silver alternately. The black one exhibits subtlety and seems to be quite capable of hiding in dark surroundings. Even the indented rOtring logo on the friction fit clip appears to be quite understated although firm. The silver version in contrast looks vivacious. The mirror finished clip shimmers along with the conical tip, while the relatively duller grey shine of the barrel complements both ends willingly.


The red ring adorns both the pens well, in between the section and barrel. You can feel a noticeable difference between knurling of both sections. It feels a tad sharper on the silver variant. Even the branding on the black variant is understated yet suave while the silver one carries the brand with quite some panache. I feel the concentric cones & cylinder at the tip add to the style and render firmness in character to these pens.


A plastic insert serves the threading between the barrel and section, which can be a bit of trauma to the classical pen fanatic, for an otherwise near-perfectly made pen. The inserts seem quite thick and hopefully should be able to sustain added pressure of the metal parts, incase someone over tightens the barrel.

The clip rounds back at the barrel with clasps from both sides, leaving a small gap in-between.

Both the posers together. Some measurements for your reference: 
  • Length: 14.9 cm 
  • Diameter: 0.9 cm 
  • Weight: 24.6 g (Matte Black), 25.2 g (Chrome Silver)

The weight of the pen along with the knurled grip, make the rapid pros a pleasure to write with. And with the monteverde ceramic gel refills, the rapid pros deliver pro performance.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Montblanc Toffee Brown Ink Review

Montblanc Toffee Brown (Ident No: U0105188) is one of my favourite dark inks. It was added as part of the MB ink collection in 2010, when Montblanc launched eight colours (Burgundy Red, Irish Green, Lavender Purple, Midnight Blue, Mystery Black, Royal Blue, Oyster Grey & Toffee Brown) in newer bottles, from a new supplier. The bottle was also redesigned with an adorable new look and volume was increased to 60 ml. A relatively expensive ink bottle that with a heavy plastic cap, the bottle is well packaged with foam strips, in a coffee coloured cardboard box. The shoe shape involves a smaller reservoir to the front to help get a minimal level of when the ink runs low in the bottle. 

Indoor Lighting

Outdoor Sunshine


Writing

Well behaved ink without noticeable feathering on decent paper. It does feather and spread on cheap papers. 
  • Feathering: 😐 None on Muji (Good Paper only)
  • Ghosting: 😊 Not noticeable
  • Color Variation: 😍 Vibrant from deep brown to black
  • Sheen: Towards Black
  • Wetness: 😊

  • Saturation :😊 
  • Water Resistance: 😞 
  • Ease of Cleaning: 😊
  • Shading: 😊
  • Flow: 😊
  • Lubrication: 😊
  • Drying Time: 😐  40 seconds
  • Price: 😞  (Around US$ 18-24)

Digital Colour Meter



Nibs


Indoors


Outdoors



Main Supplies


  • MB 146 Fine nib
  • Muji B6 PP Cover Notebook, Dotted Paper

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sailor Jentle Sky High Ink (Old) Review

Sailor, as most of you are aware is one of the Big 3 companies in Japanese fountain pen industry. Apart from some great nibs, Sailor does manufacture some amazing inks. Probably, Sailor is the only Japanese company that has released many more variants of ink along the lines of store-speciality inks than under its own umbrella.

The ink I am reviewing is the old Sailor Jentle Sky High Ink with product code 13-1000-241. It been one of my favourite blue inks, although I do have a bottle of similarly hued and a newer Souten (13-1005-205). Sailor has also relaunched Skyhigh in international markets, which comes with product code 13-9171-241. I am yet to try the new Skyhigh.




Bottle/Packaging


Sailor Sky High came in a 50 ml bottle which looked like the below one. It was packaged in white cardboard box with everything, except brand and volume of ink, in Japanese 😏
                 There is a plastic funnel insert to help fill ink into your pen, which in my humble opinion is equally useless. Filling ink in a nibsize#6 pen (CC or piston) can be challenging, given the low bottom pan-like structure of the bottle, the nib/feed can hardly immerse itself in the bottle. So for me, the ink stays in a TWSBI Diamond 50 bottle.

Writing with Sky High


The ink is a well behaved with absence of any noticeable feathering on decent grade of paper including copypaper. Depending on the paper thickness there could be some ghosting, else it a pretty much 'no worry' azure blue ink.
  • Feathering: 😊 None 
  • Ghosting: 😐 A bit on Muji notebook 
  • Color Variation: 😍 Vibrant from light to dark shades
  • Sheen: Towards Violet & Red 
  • Wetness: 😊



  • Saturation :😊 
  • Water Resistance: 😞 
  • Ease of Cleaning: 😊
  • Shading: 😊
  • Flow: 😊
  • Lubrication: 😊
  • Drying Time: 😐 30 seconds+ 
  • Price: 😐  (Around $ 12 as landed price in 2014)

Digital Colour Meter



Nibs

Pelikan Steel Italic Nib



Indoors
Outdoors

Main Supplies

  • Pelikan M200 Cognac - Italic Nib 
  • Muji B6 PP Cover Notebook, Dotted Paper
Thank you for going through the review.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Review of Namiki Yukari Royale in Vermillion(Red) Urushi


A wait longer than words can define, an Emperor in Red singing a glistening rhapsody, and then a Yukari dazzling in Royale Red glory. The pens, an encompassment of elegance of words, combined with precision of maki-e artisans have been unsurpassed. The Yukari did anxiously waited in my hands to have it's first sip of ink and I had same thoughts with what if clauses! Before getting the Yukari, this is a must read-review by FPNer shuuemura, which is a rather poetic series of pictures with practical words, comparing two pilot beauties in black urushi. 

This pen, one can find ideal for everyday carry to write or to keep admiring the marvel it is! The doubly magnified and magnificent emperor would be more suitable for the latter though. Having said that, when both are together, it’s more fulfilling than a sumptuous meal. 

PS. Google says Yukari in Japanese means Affinity (上記) and is feminine by gender. 

In case you are looking for a review of the larger Emperor (sized pen), the below link redirects to the necessarily ‘unnecessary’ eye-candies :) 


A BRIEF HISTORY 


The Namiki Yukari Royale more or less derives itself from the 80th Anniversary fountain pen (with only 1918 produced) aka the ShiSen, which was launched in 1998. The cap band was then imprinted with four mythical creatures - Dragon, Phoenix, Tiger and XuanWu (Tortoise). 

The band decorated with the Shijin (four gods) was finished in Togidashi maki-e. The Chinese fable of these creatures goes like this - Each mythical creature is supposed to guard one particular Earth direction and is Harbinger of a particular season. They are respectively, Shujaku - the red phoenix of the South (Summer), Byakko - the white tiger of the West (Autumn), Genbu - the black tortoise of the North (Winter) and Seiryu - the blue dragon of the East (Spring). The latter four are the Buddhist guardians of the four directions who serve Lord Taishakuten (who represents the center), and are associated with China’s Theory of Five Elements. 

The 80th Anniversary pen is rather excellently reviewed here by RLD. 

And later, in 2005, another 50 Seki Shun LE pieces (branded as Dunhill Namiki) were made by Pilot/Namiki for the Elephant & Coral Store which are still available. The clip matches the colour of the main finish in the earlier editions, something which may or may not appeal to all of us. 

URUSHI 


Urushi as you may know is the otherwise poisonous sap of the urushi or lacquer tree (Toxicodendron Vernicifluum) which grows in Japan, China, and Korea and is primarily brown in colour. The sap of this tree polymerises to form a hard, durable, plastic-like substance, when exposed to moisture/air. Liquid urushi can be applied to multiple materials like wood, metal, cloth, resin, ceramics or ebonite as opposed to the best available synthetic lacquers. When it solidifies, it turns into a very hard coating that is waterproof and protects the coated object from effects of fungus, ambient chemical reactions at surface due to heat or humidity or even from caustic acids. By mixing pigments into cured urushi, colored urushi such as black or shu (red) are made. With natural exposure to air and ultraviolet light (extended UV exposure ends up in discolouration), the urushi layers gradually increase in transparency and the material gradually unveils shades of original bright colours within. 

Like the Emperor, the Yukari Royale also comes in a spacious wooden box, made of traditional Paulownia wood. The box is protectively packaged inside a cardboard box. I had to let go of the box, while someone hand-delivered the pen, along with the accessories! 

                            The model number of the pen, in this case FNK-128S-<R/B>-<F/FM/M/B> contains the launch price, colour and nib width. The 128 refers to the list price of JPY 128,000 whereas the third digit R/B refers to the red/black urushi. 

THE TORPEDO 


This Lacquer No.#20 model comes in two standard finishes - Black & Vermillion (Urushi) with gold plated clips. The brass body feels comfortable in hand, from dual perspectives of dimensions and weight. 

The torpedo shaped pen in Vermillion/Red is adorable in both light and shadow, and when light reflects through layers of urushi, it renders itself an electric red appearance. I believe the brass substrate is partly responsible for its bright hues compared to a relatively darker scarlet hue off the Emperor’s ebonite. The expected fit & finish seem impeccable. The simplistic yet elegant design comes with two golden accents, provided deftly by the traditional triangular shaped tension fit clip with a sphere and a thin gold ring at the cap lip. Again there is a marked absence of any other decoration like a cap band or ring or anything else on the entire pen, extending infinity to modes of artistic convergence. 

Vermillion is considered as an auspicious colour throughout East Asia, where it’s culturally imbibed. It has four synthetic & natural shades as of today: Red-Orange[sRGB (255, 83, 73)], Orange-Red[sRGB (255, 69, 0)], Plochere[sRGB (217, 96, 59)] and Chinese Red[sRGB (170, 56, 30)]. The shades/hue of the pens in red urushi might vary. 

                 The cap finds itself after two turns, revealing a nib with the modern Mt.Fuji inscription. The seamless grip shows a pronounced taper starting from the barrel and ends up with a smoothly carved out bump, rendering continuity. 

The cap threads on the barrel are carved out with artistic finesse, deftly spaced and carved out of brass. The barrel at the other end leads leisurely to the smoothest tail. 

The brass cap again displays the most subtle art, sans any discernible extravagance. It carries the same perseverance and focus with a fluid like finish. The finish is impeccable with a parabolic finial and with colours hovering between bright and dark red, with the play of light. The clip is traditional triangular Pilot with a sphere at the end, inscribed with Namiki with the ‘Isosceles Triangle within a Pentagon’ logo. There is a thin gold ring at the cap lip, the only adornment than the golden clip. There is a alphanumeric code inscribed on the upper base of the clip, where it delves into the cap. 


FILLING SYSTEM - ‘CON-70 ZINDABAD’ 


The section unscrews from the barrel with three and half turns, with a metallic clink, given the metallic threads on both the section and the barrel. This exposes the golden metallic threads of the section, which would otherwise remain ever hidden! A special CON-70 converter, in black, is pushed inside. 

The inner barrel carries the opposite metallic threads. With a short black coating near the threads which contacts with the section, the rest of the brass barrel is all exposed metal on the inside.

The pen can take all pilot converters CON-20/40/50 (0.4-0.5 mL) & CON-70 (1 mL) along with pilot proprietary cartridges (0.9 mL). I have used the included ‘special black’ CON-70 converter, which has a push button filling mechanism. Mind you, the ink bottle with have some froth during the otherwise fun filling exercise. Although, for Yukari I have always directly filled the converter from an eye dropper! 


NIB WITH THE ‘OVAL’ BREATHER HOLE 


The nib with the Yukari Royale is 18k, Size#20 (similar to Pilot#15) and it comes in four stock widths - F, FM, M & B, across Japan and other distribution countries. Inscribed upon it, is the symbol of Mt. Fuji and the upper part does seems symbolic of the snow caps! Comparatively the nib weighs a tad more than a usual pilot#15 nib (middle vs right, 0.78g vs 0.70g), but at the same time it is much less wide at the shoulders. 

The oval breather hole rests within the snow caps. Below the snow, etched are the Namiki Logo (Isosceles triangle inside a Pentagon), Namiki, gold alloy specs (18k-75%) and Nib width <M

On the left the #20 nib carries the Namiki Logo with Ste PP-F hallmark and on the right it carries a simple date stamp. The red plastic feeder does converge with the overall color of the pen, though I would have preferred a similarly urushi coated feeder, which only the Emperor has! May be it’s a feed size limitation, may be Pilot doesn't want to spend more money, I have no idea. The moderately spaced fins ensure levelling ambient air pressure and give you a good buffer, my experience says it’s a tad better than the usual pilot feed. You can see the three different feeds, Size#50 Emperor, Size#20 Yukari Royale & the Size#15 Custom 823, side by side. 


PHYSICS AS RELATIVELY IT IS


The lacquer somewhat helps in keeping the pen warm which is otherwise metallic, and renders it comfortable for writing. The pen is deftly balanced for writing, even for extended use. The grip, smooth & soothing, showcases both utility and elegance at the same time. I do not post the pen as the cap is not as inlaid with as much felt/velvet as the Emperor. Figures for weight and dimensions run below for the technically minded ones. 
  • Length closed ~ 14.9 cm 
  • Length open ~ 13.4 cm 
  • Grip Diameter ~ 1.1 cm 
  • Nib Leverage ~ 2.4 cm 
  • Weight (without ink) ~ 45 g 
  • Weight (without cap) ~ 27.4 g 
Capped, uncapped pictures with a Pilot Custom 823 run below for your reference. There is an Emperor posing, just to highlight its relative significance :) 

The uncapped Emperor without weighs around 31 grams and the Yukari with an unfilled converter weighs around 27 grams. And this is one of the most comfortable pens, I found.


ECONOMIC VALUE 


The Yukari Royale retails at around USD 1200 in the US, and you can find it at similar prices in Japan. I was able to source the pen at a good bargain. 

                     Logically the economic value should be equal to salvage value of the pen after a few years of use and I don't think the price will vary by much even after few years of use, given that someone finally decides to sell it off. Having said that, even though the pen is one of its kind, you should give it a serious thought. It will result in a fair amount of money trapped within the urushi layers! 

FINAL WORDS IN WRITING 


The medium nib is graced with a super wet flow, which might put a few of my Pelikans to utter shame! The nib is as smooth as I want it to be, with a slight hint of control, evident in all pilot gold nibs, strictly speaking. I feel that there is some characteristic spring and softness because of the size & shape of the nib, and it does open up with a bit of pressure. The verticals grow thicker with pressure, and this nib runs a tad thicker than a usual pilot medium nib. No skips with fast or normal writing. It writes pretty similar at whether held at a high angle or a low angle. A relatively wet Sailor Nioi-Sumire ink takes around 55 seconds to dry completely on Tomoe River paper with the #20 medium nib. 

Thank you for going through the review. 
You can find other pen and paraphernalia reviews here

REFERENCES