First things first, I want to thank Grant from Masterstroke for sending me one of his working pen prototypes to review and I wish him well in his Kickstarter campaign.
Upon first seeing the Airfoil, the pen really does take you by surprise with how bold and unique the design is. For some, there is a "shock" factor and thoughts of "that doesn't really look like a pen", but in my opinion that is what makes this pen different and kudos to Grant for stepping outside of the box. I'll admit that for a time I was in that camp, but I'm again thankful to Grant for letting me get a closer look at his new creation.
As noted in the Kickstarter campaign description, the Airfoil is an aviation inspired pen and I think it definitely portrays this well.
I've always thought to myself that in another life I could have been a pilot; helicopter, plane, whatever. Probably not an astronaut, but space and space flight have always been intriguing to me. There is something about aviation that makes our minds soar to new heights and believe that the impossible can happen.
There are several areas of the pen that make my imagination think of the wondrous aviation machines of the last century. The tail of the pen has a deep concave section that tapers on the outside to form what appears to be a jet turbine of a fighter plane. The three support braces that connect the tail and tip make me think of the rigid duralumin girders and structures of the incredible airships of the early 20th century like the Graf Zeppelin and others. The tip of the pen could be reminiscent of a rocket propelling into orbit. Even the screws holding the pen together elude to the mechanical nature of the machines of our modern era that take flight.
Perhaps all of that is a bit philosophical, but I believe this is what Grant is intending to portray with his pen. Not that it is just any other metal pen, but is a pen he has designed around something that is important to him. I have great respect for this and I appreciate the effort he put into making this pen special.
The pen is a twist mechanism and comes standard with a Monteverde ballpoint (Cross style). The twist is very smooth and feels good. I don't know all of the Cross style refills on the market, but there are several. The Monteverde isn't a bad refill at all, but fits your standard ballpoint writing experience. Reliable and consistent, but a ballpoint which may not appeal to everyone.
From the pictures, the pen seems a bit stout which might be a concern for some, but upon handling and writing with it I don't find it to be too fat for your hands. It is actually smaller than you'd think from the images on Kickstarter.
There are a couple of areas of concern, the first being the support pieces having a somewhat sharp edge. I know that has been a point of concern for a couple of other bloggers as well and I think Grant is working through that on his end. This is a prototype after all and is still open to refinements.
The other is perhaps a mere aesthetic one, but I'm not really crazy about the placement of the logo. So much thought and influence went into the design of this unique pen, but it seems that the logo was sort of slapped on. Maybe if it was engraved in that spot it might fit a bit better. My thought for the logo is that it could wrap around the pen in the space above the support pieces. Also, a more unique font type might stand out. Again, just an aesthetic opinion.
I wouldn't consider this pen in the every day carry sort, but for a cool desk piece to have in the office; something that strikes up conversation or something to admire during those times of thinking. I could easily see this pen with a stand of some kind like a wooden block with a channel routed in it to hold just the Airfoil. A rocket launch pad scale model might be a bit over the top though... we can dream, right?
Grant has made something to break the mold, and that often is tough. I won't go so far as to say that "this pen requires a certain type of buyer" because I think most anyone could enjoy this pen if looking at it through the lens of creativity, design, and inspiration. If looking at it through the lens of what we discussed earlier as "that doesn't look like a pen", then we're likely missing the vision that Grant has for it.
As I admitted before, it took me some time to find the real appreciation for this pen, but once I looked at it in a different light I grew in my recognition of how interesting it really is. Thanks again Grant, and good luck!