On a recent visit to my local Staples store to buy packing peanuts (you'd be surprised how few places carry them), I stumbled upon a Cross display that said "Your Choice: $20" whereon I saw a few of the Cross Clicks, some ballpoints, and then a couple of fountain pen models. Did they get me?.... Obviously, right?
I was intrigued and upon flipping over the box for a fountain pen called the Aventura I noticed that the regular retail price was $55. I thought, "I'll take a chance on this little guy" (for science... and the review of course), so it ended up in my basket along with some packing peanuts.
The thing with Cross as a brand: I'm not really drawn to it at all. I'm not directly knocking Cross, but the brand isn't one that really pulls me in. There seems to be a stereotype about Cross as being cheaply made (while overpriced) "gift" pens. For example: if you've been in a corporate job for 5 years, you might get a certificate and a Cross pen, usually one of the twisty style. In my mind, this is what I think of when I think of Cross.
Even with all of my preconceived notions and downright prejudice of the brand, I wanted to approach this little pen with an open mind and a willingness to give it a chance; a real one.
I took the pen home and immediately inked it up. The pen was in a box set (again, the gift thing) and came with a box of six black cartridges. On a side note, the cartridges are definitely proprietary and definitely interesting in shape. They are like a step funnel shape which I guess I haven't really seen before. Not sure of the reasoning behind it, but there it is.
The pen only took a few seconds and a few mild shakes to get the feed primed with ink and it started writing. What was my initial reaction? Not bad actually. Great? No, but not too bad. The flow of the ink was actually quite good. As each stroke of the letters were put to the page, the ink would just slightly pool leaving a little shimmer and then dry quickly. For me, this is actually my preferred flow and wetness, so there was a plus.
The pen came with a medium nib which wasn't a bad writer by any means, but there is definitely some feedback and a drag across the page which you can feel. Not scratchy per se, but grabby. I'm sure for someone trained (or confident in their abilities) they could take this nib and smooth it right out. I should order some micromesh and see if I can experiment a bit.
From a consistency standpoint, I never ran into skipping or slow starts once.
The only caveat to that statement is that if they use it on junky office supply cabinet paper, the experience may be hindered slightly. I did my review entirely on a Rhodia dotPad but for the sake of testing, I wrote some samples on regular printer paper and it performed well with no skipping or excessive feathering. What can I say? I don't have much in the department of junky office paper anymore which makes comparing tough, but hopefully this disclosure provides some insight.
Aesthetically and from all first impressions, the pen looks nice and professional. A pen that would be a hit at the next board meeting or in front of a client. Not overly flashy, but just enough flair and shape to be noticed.
The barrel and cap are made primarily of a cast plastic/resin. This particular pen is a nice blue. The pen is also adorned with a few chrome accents which I think may be metal, but I'm not sure. The Aventura isn't a heavy pen by any means which makes me think it may just be some chromed plastic. I may be wrong about that, but usually metal parts on cheaper pens tend to weigh a ton which can throw off the balance and is highly noticeable.
The section is made of this chrome material and has a really gentle and smooth transition from the barrel. No big steps or sharp edges to be concerned with and it was actually quite comfortable.
The cap does post, but I found it seems to fall off easily which was a bit of a nuisance. After awhile I simply took it off and wrote without it because it constantly became loose.
So what is my verdict on the Cross Aventura? You know, for $20 I really can't beat the thing up too much. I wouldn't personally spend $55 on it, but for the lower price I think for someone that isn't a fountain pen snob or is possibly limited in there scope of what's out there, the Aventura could be a great option actually. Are there pens like the Pilot Metropolitan or LAMY Safari that we could send them to first? Of course, but I think someone just getting into fountain pens would be thrilled with receiving this pen as a gift or starter fountain pen. The classic and professional look with a decent performance would probably serve them just fine.