You know, the cheap-o BIC pens get a pretty bad rap. Often times simply the term “BIC Pen” is used in a mocking and derogatory sense as a means of criticizing other pens down to the bottom of the totem pole of quality. How sad would it be to have a reputation so bad as to be the laughing stock of the entire ink world… shame on us.
Why don’t we put the laughing stock into perspective, shall we? Based on some statistics I found on the internet, BIC does over $2 Billion (with a B...for BIC's Billions) in annual sales and employs nearly 10,000 people. They sell approximately 8.76 billion stationary items per year, which by all accounts, is a lot of stinkin’ pens. Now, even with all of these statistics, your average BIC pen isn’t going to be a life changing experience to use, but that’s not really what they’re all about.
Well, there is a man that decided that he had had enough of it (I may be embellishing a bit) and wanted to provide a quality boost for BIC. This man’s name is Dan Conti, an inventor or tinkerer of sorts that thought that the barrel of the BIC Stic pens could use a facelift and sought out to create one out of machined aluminum. This offering is his first venture to launch through Kickstarter and ended up a success.
When I first saw his Kickstarter campaign I thought, “I don’t use BIC pens” (probably in a snooty way), and didn’t initially pledge. Then, I thought more about it. I thought, even though I don’t use BIC Stics, any time I’ve written with one it has been a pleasant experience (or not offensive) from a writing perspective. This thought process coupled with my desire to help support small businesses brought my pen snobbery back down to Earth and I immediately went and pledged for two pens. I think I got in on the second group after the early backers and ended up paying $23 out the door.
I am glad I did.
Dan was very informative through the entire Kickstarter process, letting us know how things were moving forward, any hang-ups or snags he was hitting, as well as providing insight about how his daughter was doing with her soccer tournaments. Just an overall down-to-Earth guy.
Overall, I think Dan did a fantastic job with this project of his. The idea of it is just really awesome. My hope is that he does some more projects like this in the future.
I opted for the clear anodized version with the "grooves" on the grip and tail section. Something about evenly spaced grooves on a surface sucks me right in. The machining is nice and clean and the weight of the barrel is actually pretty substantial.
I won't really delve into the writing experience as the refill is a BIC Stic that I'm sure everyone has used at a bank, restaurant, or doctor's office. If you haven't tried one, pop by your local office supply store and for about $3 you can get...oh...like 1,000 pens*.
*(may be slightly exaggerated)
The only real detail gripe I have is kind of a subtle one. When they hand stamped the "BAUX - USA" on the front, the force actually left a very slight flat surface on the back which creates some variation in the anodizing. Many people may not even notice it, but just some feedback for process and quality control for next time.
Well, good work, Dan, and good luck on the next one!
My idea for another project along the BIC line would be to create a metal barrel to swap in the Clic Stic parts for a retractable BAUX.