Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set by now&then

I've had the Eco-Essential pen and pencil set in possession for several months now and I'm excited to finally give it some space on the blog.  I was provided this set of instruments as a sample from now&then and I want to say thank you for sending them my way.

The Eco-Essential pen has been around for a little while and was introduced to the market through a Kickstarter campaign that funded successfully in January of 2013.  Since that time, now&then have also had a successful Kickstarter for another pen called the Retro-Essential pen made from a variety of woods which is neat.  I'm thinking I should get a walnut version to go with my Dudek Modern Goods pieces...

To describe the style of the Eco-Essential pen, I would consider it to be sleek and modern, but with a bit of Earthy flair.  Well enough put?  When you mix a shiny, slick, silver metal with natural materials like bamboo you're in for a good combination.  

I really do enjoy when product designers incorporate natural materials; it gives each piece a bit of individuality as no two are exactly the same.  On my pen, one of the bamboo node sections is visible which creates some unique grain that my pencil version doesn't have.  A small detail, but something to be appreciated in my opinion.

The pen and pencil are lightweight, but don't feel cheap.  On the contrary I think they feel quite nice.  The threading on the cap and tail section (for posting) is not very deep which may be my only real gripe as I feel that it could be possible to wear over time with use.  When posting the cap you sometimes have to align it just right which, after several times threading it misaligned might cause some stripping issues.  I can't really speak to it now, but just a thought.

The Eco-Essential pen comes in two varieties: the Pilot Hi-Tec-C version and the Pilot G2 version.  I was sent the Hi-Tec-C version as a sample and although this refill is quite low on my totem pole of favorite refills (blasphemy!), I have enjoyed using it in this pen.  It is much more comfortable than the sharp plastic edges of the standard barrel the Hi-Tec-C comes in...

Notice Sketchy Line Widths...Pilot...

Why don't I like the Hi-Tec-C?  This could probably be an entire post but, in a nutshell, it writes so sketchy all the time that I can't really rely on it.  Sometimes it writes really dark, sometimes hardly any ink at all; just not a favorite.  I digress...

now&then provides you with an ability to customize your experience as well.  Each pen and pencil comes with a stylus tip (which is quite good), but they also include a solid cap to replace it which is adorned with the now&then logo.  In addition, they also provide some anodized metal rings to put between this end piece or stylus and the cap.  This could be used as a color indicator if you had a couple of these around or simply to act as a way to make your pens look nice to your hearts content.  Kudos!

In Olympic Ring Formation

The pencil is a cool piece as well and has a conservatively designed click mechanism.  They chose to make it metal to match the rest of the pieces and it fits in nicely.  Not out of place or obtrusive in any way.  How is the writing experience?  Quite good.  The lead doesn't wiggle or rattle which is always a plus with mechanical pencils of any sort.

The Eco-Essential pen and pencil come in around $50 each ($95 for the set) and I think would make great a great gift idea for someone who can appreciate a nice modern design.  I wouldn't consider these pens the type to store away in a drawer or case, but something you could have nicely on your desk as a set.  If they made a bamboo display for them...

Thanks again to now&then for sending these my way as I've enjoyed them very much.   

Pelikan M205 (the Illustrious) Fountain Pen - Update

I'm sure everyone has been waiting with bated breath to hear my follow up after the glowing review (sarcasm intended...) I provided the Pelikan M205 previously...  Have my thoughts changed?  We'll see.

Upon receiving my red Pelikan M205 back from Chartpak (Pelikan's US distributor) I can admit I didn't instantly tear open the box and ink it immediately.  Perhaps I had lost a bit of interest in using it due to the previous issues as well as the process needed to make it right, so it did take me several weeks to give it a go.

From a customer service standpoint, Chartpak was pretty easy to work with but communication wasn't that great.  It initially took two weeks to hear back about what the steps were for sending it off, and upon sending my pen across the country for repair/replacement there was no indication that it had been received, no status update, no "we're working on it", etc which was a bit frustrating.  I had to reach out to them to find out if my pen had even arrived at their office.

Once inked up, the pen did write much better and the lines were wet and dark.  The occasional vertical line skip was still present, but it was actually writing which was an improvement.  Enjoyably enough I might say, but I still wasn't blown away.  

While writing with the M205 it is a bit hard to explain, but I feel like it takes work to have the nib just right to be comfortable.  Am I holding it at the right angle?  Is this the sweet spot?  Even while the writing was better, I still feel like the nib is temperamental which diminishes the overall experience.  A bit unfortunate really.

I'm going to admit that in this instance it is probably me, and not the pen.  The first experience of the nib NOT writing was the pen for sure, but with a perfectly functional unit it must be me.  Perhaps the M205 nib doesn't really write to my preference, but for some people it may, or maybe I'm simply turned off by it?  My friend has an M405 with a gold nib that, I must admit, does the same thing for me.  The nib simply does not write how I would expect it to and maybe it is just me.  

I had high hopes for a future relationship with the Pelikan brand, but I'm not so sure I'll branch out and try others.  Maybe in a few years I'll be swayed back and will give some other models a try.  So, in my opinion, for the price point on these pens I do not feel the experience is there for me to warrant the cost.  Again, probably just me.   

Introducing - THE ARCHIVE

During my one year anniversary of The Clicky Post giveaway I asked for feedback or things people would like to see more of, and thank you to everyone that provided your thoughts!

One thought was to make the ability to search through a "history" a bit easier based on manufacturer, etc.  What I've come up with is an interactive gallery which I've called The Archive which I am quite excited about.  

It is still a work in progress on some brands, but I am getting things up to speed and I hope it will be helpful in perusing the site a bit more.  As I continue to review I will add to and update The Archive so to keep it up to date.

Thank you again for your suggestions and enjoy!

Pilot Capless Fermo Retractable Fountain Pen - F Nib

Pilot is certainly becoming one of my favorite brands.  On my recent review of the Falcon I mentioned this, but I have simply been impressed time and time again with the overall quality and experience I get while using their writing instruments.

When we think of retractable fountain pens, the first one that usually pops into everyone's mind is another product by Pilot/Namiki, the Vanishing Point.  I have definitely been a fan of the Vanishing Point since I first got my hands on one due to its functionality, unique design, and excellent writing.  For around $140 from most pen retailers you can get yourself one of these in a wide variety of colors and finishes, and with an 18k gold nib.

Being a fan of the Vanishing Point, upon first seeing the Fermo on Pen Chalet's website (odd how I hadn't heard much about it before?) I was very interested in seeing what it was all about.  Being made by the same brand, having a very similar "function", and the same nib I thought, "what makes it different from the Vanishing Point?"  Is there an additional appeal to it that perhaps I was missing?  I took the plunge and ordered a blue model with an F nib from Pen Chalet and am excited to give my thoughts on it.

The full retail price on the Fermo is $325 which is nearly double that of a full priced Vanishing Point at $175.  That is a massive jump considering the similarities...

The first and major difference that stands out is the actual mechanism used to extend and retract the tip.  The Fermo has a built in twist mechanism that sits at the bottom of the pen instead of the click mechanism of the Vanishing Point.  Mechanically, the twist is extremely smooth and feels very fluid.  When ready to retract the tip, one must only get the "twist" started and the pen does the rest with a sort of self-assist feature. 

I really enjoy this as it ensures that the nib retracts completely so there is no guess work as to whether I've twisted it completely.  In contrast to the Vanishing Point, this is a two hand gesture versus a single push with your thumb.  Not a terrible inconvenience I suppose, but is a major experience change.  As shown in the photos, the twist has ridges for added grip.

The barrel of the Fermo is glossy, polished and very elegant looking.  It is very smooth and feels extremely comfortable to hold and write with.  The right amount of rhodium accents make the rich blue color contrast beautifully.  From a design standpoint, I think this is what distinguishes the Fermo from the Vanishing Point.  In a way, it seems to have a bit more of a sophistication and stands out as being more upscale or classy?  The clip of the pen is in the grip which may cause the same issue as its retractable counterpart for some.    

Several friends of mine abhor the Pilot Vanishing Point design and feel it looks a bit awkward and clunky.  I don't quite share this sentiment as I view it as unique and functional, but the design lines of the Fermo seem a bit smoother, a little more refined, and extremely stylish.  I'll just say it; sexy.

The real question: is it worth the extra price for a twist mechanism and perhaps being a bit more easy on the eyes?  These are very subjective questions that I'm still a bit indifferent in my opinions on.  Again, design wise the Fermo is like the Vanishing Point, but perhaps with some of the rough edges smoothed out.  I also feel that the tip of the Fermo is a bit less aquatic looking than the VP tip (which reminds me of a whale shark mouth...).

The fine nib is 18k gold and is a lovely writer.  Being a Japanese nib, the fine runs at around a 0.5mm in comparison to your standard gel pen, but is a satisfying size and is not too small.  I don't believe I could handle an EF nib with one of these...  

I've been using the included blue Namiki cartridge which is a very comfortable blue, but I am excited to switch it out for some other ink colors and brands.  The nib comes with an included Namiki converter which is easy to use and fill.  I enjoy the fact that with the Capless pens you take the nib unit out of the pen to fill it which means you don't have to wipe off the grip section of the pen itself like you do with most converter or piston fillers.

I do enjoy the Fermo and I've found myself going to it more so than the Vanishing Point.  Perhaps some of that is because it is newer and I've been getting my bearings with it, but it feels good to write with not just functionally, but visually.  It is very stunning in my opinion.

As mentioned, I purchased my Fermo from Pen Chalet which always seems to have a good deal going.  As always, the use of the promo code CLICKYPOST at checkout will get an additional 10% off any purchase.

Discontinued Sailor Jentle Inks Giveaway by Pen Chalet

With my growing obsession with the Sailor brand (thanks Dowdy...) and all the commotion regarding the discontinuation of several of the Sailor Jentle line, I thought it a good idea to mention a little giveaway going on from Pen Chalet...

They are down to their last bottles of a few of these colors and opted to do a giveaway to 3 winners.  Awesome!

The included Sailor Jentle Ink colors are: Sky High, Peche, and Ultra Marine

Visit their giveaway page for details...