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Awesome Pen Swag: Frixion Ball 05 from NEC/Tokin

NEC Tokin Frixion Pen

NEC Tokin Frixion Pen

NEC Tokin Frixion Pen

NEC Tokin Frixion Ball 05

I swiped a lot of pen swag at the Photonics West 2015 Exhibition, but NEC/Tokin’s giveaway deserves to be highlighted: a Pilot Frixion Ball 05 retractable erasable pen with 0.5mm tip.

NEC/Tokin makes an interesting mix of materials, sensors, and components such as capacitors, chokes, and relays.  Somebody there must like pens, because the Ball 05 isn’t a cheap pen made to be customized.  It’s a cool pen that’s not even available at retail in the US (and is currently $3.80 at JetPens).

My theory is that NEC/Tokin has been infiltrated by a secret pen addict – and I’m very thankful 🙂

Now onto the pen…this is my first retractable Frixion, but not my first Frixion.  I still have mixed feelings about Frixions, but this one is definitely a keeper.

I’m still getting used to the knock being the clip – half the time I still press the eraser, but nothing happens….of course, Pilot’s choice makes sense, it just takes a little getting used to it.

I like the tip size (05=0.5mm).  I also like the tip size of my Frixion Point 04 (0.4mm), but I find the US market Frixions to be too big for my normal writing.  On the other hand, the black ink isn’t as dark as a gel, and the tip isn’t as smooth as a gel either.

Frixions do have a reputation for running out quickly; I felt my US market Frixions didn’t last very long, but my Point 04 is still going strong, so I hope this Ball 05 will be similar.

March 8, 2015   1 Comment

Recent Pens and Pencils

It’s been too long since I’ve discussed pens and pencils, so it’s time to highlight some recent acquisitions:

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette 0.5mm

Uniball Roulette

Uniball Roulette

My favorite mechanical pencil.  It’s gorgeous, affordable, and sharp.  I love the way it looks (especially the silver model) and the feel of the aluminum.  Its Kuru Toga mechanism rotates the lead every time you advance for sharper lines.  Considering all that, the price is reasonable; I only wish it was available in 0.3mm.

Pentel Energel Euro 0.35mm Needle Point

Energel NeedlePoint

Energel NeedlePoint

I’m not a big Pentel pen fan, but this one has won me over: sharp lines with an incredible smoothness.  I don’t like the normal medium point Energels you can buy at retail; they’re actually too smooth and go flying all over the place if you’re not extra careful.  But I like this model so much I’ve already ordered a second so I don’t run out.

Uni Signo RT 0.28mm Black

Signo RT1 0.28

Signo RT1 0.28

OK, it’s ugly, but on the other hand for a super fine pen (< 0.30mm) it’s pretty smooth, retractable (I believe it’s the only super-fine retractable pen), and cheap ($2.50 versus $3.00 or more).

Pilot FriXion Point 04 Blue-Black

FriXion Point 04

FriXion Point 04

The original Frixions are good for an erasable pen, but not great pens.  In my experience their lines are wide and blotchy, and they seem to get worse with age.  This model, however, has been writing smoothly with a much finer line – and I like the color.  On the other hand, at $3.75, it’s pretty expensive, and I’ll have to see how it writes as it ages.

Tactile Turn Mover

Dark Blue Mover

Dark Blue Mover

All the other machined Kickstarter pens have left me unmoved; a pen has to be really special for me to pay the typical asking price.

But when I saw the Mover, I really liked it: a beautiful retractable pen, available in gorgeous colors (I like the Blue, Teal, Green, and Sand colors), with a price that was within reason.  I’m very happy with my result: a dark blue Mover that’s perfectly built and can take many different gel refills (I’m not enamored of the 0.38mm G2 refill).  The grip is sweet, and the pen is well balanced.  If you appreciate hand crafted pens and have the budget, I enthusiastically recommend this pen.

May 29, 2014   No Comments

G-Blanc Thoughts

My G-Blanc

My G-Blanc

I’ve been using my G-Blanc frequently, partly out of necessity. The G-Blanc is a Pilot G-2 body (a charcoal G-2 Limited Edition in my case) with a chopped Mont Blanc roller ball refill.

I really like the G-2 Limited Edition body: it’s reasonably priced for a metal pen (~$10), with a comfortable grip, cool colors, and a nice metallic feel. In fact, I’ll probably pick up another in a month or two.

Although I love micro tip gel pens, I’ve come to appreciate a good roller ball refill.  The Fine Mont Blanc refill is not fine by my standards, but it’s fine enough, and does have a great feel – smooth and flowing, but controlled.  I’ve noticed the line width does vary substantially with the paper type; the line is considerably narrower on Rhodia paper.

The Mont Blanc refill does have a big problem: it dries out quickly.  If I don’t use it for a while, it does not write well at well, with very spotty ink flow.  After quite a bit of use, I’ve been able to get it back to good flow — and have been using it often since then so I won’t have to repeat this exercise.

This is a big problem for me, since I like to switch pens around (I’m trying to evaluate all the pens I’ve bought in the last couple of years), and don’t spend most of my time writing.  I think I’ll try taking the refill out and capping it when I don’t plan on using the Mont Blanc refill for a while.

Since a standard 4 3/8″ roller ball fits in the G-2 Limited, I’ve been trying out a fine blue German made bluRAFIA refill (similar to the Schmidt 888) in the G-2.  Compared to the Mont Blanc, it’s a lot cheaper, and a little wetter, with a wider line, and a longer drying time.  It also globs more.  Still, overall the blueRAFIA is good overall.  The Mont Blanc definitely writes better, but especially with the drying problem, I’m not sure I’ll buy another.

Side note: a chopped Mont Blanc refill should fit in many roller pens, basically anywhere a Schmidt 888 fits.

Update 7/2/2012: it’s a lot of fun to play with compatible refills.  I currently have 3 G2 Limiteds (Charcoal, Champagne, and Blue) fitted with bluRAFIA blue fine, Uniball Signo 0.5mm blue gel , and G-2 0.7mm or Mont Blanc refills.  The Signo and bluRAFIA refills fit without any hacking.



May 24, 2012   No Comments

I hope Staple’s G-Tec-C’s are only the start

After watching the PenAddict’s recent Staples buying spree, it was time for me to visit Staples.  My haul was a bit different:

  1. A Pilot G-Tec-C 0.4mm color 5-pack (black, blue, red, green, and purple).  So far I really like these pens.  The black 2-pack was sold out my first visit, but they had a couple on my second visit.
  2. I also noticed some Pilot G2 0.38mm packs, which is good (in the past, I’ve only seen these at OfficeMax).
  3. I couldn’t resist 5 pads of graph paper for $3.  I haven’t used graph paper in ages (since high school, mainly) so I’m going to see how I like it now.
  4. I did get some odds and ends (like a pencil sharpener for $2 for my kids), but nothing else exciting.
  5. I passed on the Sharpies; I’ve got a 3 pack of Sharpie pens, but so far don’t like them enough to buy more.

I’m hoping that more fine-line Japanese gel pens make it to the “standard” US stores — G-Tec-Cs and 0.38mm G2’s are a nice start.

Update Feb 2011: at least one local Target has Rhodia pads (graph and lined).  Rhodia might be great, but I’m not ready yet to spend $10 for a notebook (I guess I like pens much more than I like paper).

January 15, 2011   No Comments