The System: Alloy - Limited Edition Retro 1951 Tornado (Announcement and Pre-Order)

I’m pleased to announce that The System is back, but this time with a shiny new exterior…

Since I first laid eyes on the Metalsmith series by Retro 1951, I’ve always loved the combination of an acid etched design mixed with an all-metal finish. From the very beginning of The System, I knew eventually it would get the same treatment.

I’m excited to present The System: Alloy, a new limited edition Tornado in collaboration with Retro 1951!

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The System: Alloy shares a similar design to it’s predecessor, but with a more durable finish to take on even more adventures. And, let’s be honest, the monochrome metal finish looks pretty awesome.

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The barrel and furniture are finished in a stonewash pewter which gives it a broken in and “worn” appearance but that allows the Sun and detail of each of the planets in orbit to pop through.

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To maintain the uniform, all-metal design, this time I opted to cap the pen off with a metal disc to make everything look super sleek.

And, Pluto is still there if you look close enough…. #weloveyoupluto

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Pre-Orders Now Open!

The System: Alloy is a Limited Edition of only 555 pieces, each individually numbered. The pens are now available for pre-order and will start shipping the week of July 29th!

Platinum President Fountain Pen - Am I the only person that has one?...

Well, I’m sure I’m not the ONLY person that has a Platinum President, but I think my point is fairly clear...

When there is talk of the Platinum pen lineup it is generally always about the 3776 series. Why? They are great pens for a great price when compared to their competition. I have owned several and love them.

A few months back the President fountain pen came to mind and I thought, “I don’t actually know anyone that has one.” This sparked some curiosity in my mind as to why? Is it too boring? Too expensive? Is the 3776 just a way better buy?

So, what did I do? I bought one in an attempt to try and answer these questions.

In truth, going into this I had immediate thoughts questioning why anyone would actually buy the President model in the first place? The 3776 and President are both in the “mid-range” price point in the Platinum lineup, but are actually really close. Almost too close I think to make a lot of sense.

In comparing the full retail prices on the two, the 3776 pens start at $220 while the President is $275 ($325 for the rhodium model I got). See what I mean?

The President only comes in three color variations: black or burgundy with gold trim, or black with rhodium trim. In contrast the 3776 is getting new, limited edition colors all the time and has a broader selection in the standard models.

Can you easily tell the difference?…

The pens themselves are relatively close in size (the President slightly longer), more of a moderate “full size”, but not large.

A key distinction between the two pens is the nib. The 3776 comes standard with a 14k while the President is 18k.

Now, in my opinion, the President nib has a lot more going for it in the aesthetics department. I find it to be a much more attractive design. It is a two-tone affair with elegant lines and the word “President” engraved and it feels more like a more “upscale” pen than the 3776 which has a very plain (boring really) nib design.

Maybe a slight rant, but the 3776 nib really is super boring and even a bit awkward against a more professional looking pen barrel. Not all brands have fancy nibs… Lamy nibs are very plain, but they are put up against more modern and “odd” designs and generally fits their style. But the 3776? Just boring.

While writing, the President is nice. The nib is a medium and puts down a fantastic line. On the page there is some feedback, but enough to where it is actually pleasant in my opinion. Lets you feel the writing on the page a bit.

Is the experience dramatically different than the 3776? Not that I could tell.

From a a quality standpoint, compared to my 3776 Nice Pur (clear with some textured stripes), the President feels a bit nicer and more substantial. Like the material is of a higher quality if that makes sense. But, holding it up against the Black Diamond 3776 which is closer in look and overall style, the quality is almost indistinguishable.

The clip is also somewhat different than the 3776. Rather than being flat, near the top it has a raised Art Deco-esque design which adds a little elegance.

Maybe it comes in a nicer box? It does not.

You would think that the filling system might be upgraded to a piston due to the price variation? Strike again. It takes the same cartridge or converter system as the 3776 models.

It may sound like I am bashing the President a little bit, but that really isn’t my intention. It is more to represent that weird space I’m in while trying to understand. Maybe I’m over thinking it…

Other brands make the lines a bit more distinct. Montblanc 146 to 149, Sailor 1911 large vs standard (vs slim)… the only one that comes a bit close is the Pilot Decimo vs Vanishing Point, but even those two vary enough in size to understand why you might choose one over the other.

As a conclusion, would I actively try to dissuade someone from buying a President over a 3776? I probably wouldn’t go that far, but I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint any major (noticeable) features that would sway the decision of the average user to buy one instead.

Regardless, it really is a nice pen and Platinum has done a fine job on it. For the price of $325 for this version, that is in striking distance of a large Sailor 1911. But, if you really like the nib design and the limited colors are suitable, I don’t expect folks to be disappointed with their purchase.

Would love to open up the comments for thoughts on it. Are there other products in the market that feel the same way?

Hoverpen: The Executive Pen that Defies Gravity - A Review

Pens are generally something we consider portable in order to take notes while on the go, but there is a subset of the pen market that intentionally designs their products to stay put. The standard option is to either have a pen rest of some sort or vertical stand, but there are some that try to do things differently…

The product in review today is called Hoverpen which is currently on Kickstarter (ending soon…). Designed by a company called Shanpo who wanted to produce a desk pen, but with some details that turn heads or get people to take a closer look.

Rather than being physically stationary like most, Hoverpen deploys the use of magnets in a metal base that allow the pen to levitate vertically or even spin in place if you give it a twist. And, it does it pretty flawlessly.

Shanpo was kind enough to send me a sample of their pen to try out and I’ve been enjoying having it on my desk for the past couple of weeks. Thanks to them!

There are some Kickstarter projects that are a bit scrappy and the makers are just getting things off the ground, but others seem to have put a good amount of design work into the overall package they will be sending out. The Hoverpen came in attractive custom packaging with foam inserts to hold the components and is nicely done. Feels ready for production.

Aesthetically, the one they sent me has a bit of a futuristic vibe (at least to me) being all silver. The base is circle with a slight dome shape that has four pillars evenly spaced around it. The pillars have softer, rounded edges where facing the pen, but then flat, sharper edges on the outside. Like a building from some city in the distant future. The pen itself is a fairly simple, cylindrical shape which adds to the design.

The base is weighty and has a rubber pad underneath. This combo allows it not to move about, but also will provide some protection to the top of the desk which is nice.

From a usability standpoint I find the setup to be extremely easy to grab and use. Just reach over and pluck the pen literally out of the air (which is cool), remove the cap and start going. Also, the cap is magnetic too so it snaps back on without much effort.

The coating is a silver, metallic paint of some sort which is attractive. It is well done and the product is coated nicely. Oddly enough, when I first saw it I thought it reminded me a bit of the finish on my silver Macbook Pro… well, they mention in their campaign that the Hoverpen is finished in the same factory as Apple products so there you go!

From a material standpoint, the version of the pen they sent is made from aluminum, but they also have a titanium option available.

The pen is sturdy, but not overly “hearty” and is light weighing in at just 0.5 oz (uncapped). There are three main parts of the pen: the cap, the barrel, and the end cap (to cover the threaded refill). The two cap pieces are made of very thin aluminum and, while this isn’t bad per se, with metal pens I am used to slightly thicker walls or that the parts feel a bit more “machined”. It would take a decent amount of force, but I wager if I dropped my cap and accidentally stepped on it I would bend it pretty easily.

I speak to the way they designed it not as a criticism, but if you are used to metal pens on Kickstarter that have more heft the feel of the parts on the Hoverpen may come as a surprise.

For the refill they opted for the threaded Cross-style ballpoint which is like a long stick with a plastic piece on the end. These are generally found in many twist mechanism Cross classic ballpoints. It is a decent refill, but in our world of gels, rollerballs, or ultra-smooth ballpoints it doesn’t leave a lot of room for people that may have different tastes. If there was something about the pen I wish had been different it would be this.

Going with a Parker style or Pilot G2 size would’ve provided more room to please folks I think. There is an option to swap in a Fisher Space Pen compatible refill, but won’t provide much of a writing improvement.

Aside from my own personal refill preference mentioned above, I think that Shanpo has made a cool and curious product that people will enjoy. And, the initial pricepoint for it starts at $59 on the Kickstarter (my review model) which I feel is a good value. If not for yourself, someone that likes gadgets or fidget type products would probably find this to be a great gift.

Special thanks again to Shanpo for sending the sample for review. Their Kickstarter is wrapping up this week so give it a look if you think this might make a good addition to your desk setup.