The Moonman Has Landed! Introducing the Moonman M2

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Another Chinese pen up for review today, this time, the Moonman M2. My intention was to have some information about the company itself, but unfortuneately, I wasn’t able to come up with much, which is to say…. next to nothing.

I. First Impressions 9/10

My real first impression of this pen was formed when I first saw a picture of it, and then a YouTube review of this pen by Chris Rapp. The first thing I was impressed with, was how beautiful I thought it looked. To me, it looked like art. Appearance is very subjective, but I thought the pen was just beautiful. Upon receipt of the pen, all those positive first impressions were merely confirmed and reinforced.

II. Appearance 9/10

As I just stated, it’s beautiful. Art. I’ve grown to really like demonstrator pens over the last 3 or 4 years. With a typical demonstrator,there’s several interesting internal components to see.

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As this pen is an eye dropper only filler, the only “things” to see are the nib and feed in the section, and the ink in the body cavity. That’s it. And that’s part of what lends to it’s simple beauty.

The pen comes in one flavor, clear acrylic with a red anodized aluminum band (with the Moonman brand emblazoned in white) between the cap and body. And a gold plated steel extra-fine nib. The pen’s shape is distinctly torpedo-shaped and the clear acrylic body is highly polished both inside and out. Capped, the only line on the pen is horizontally where the cap meets up with the body. The body line of the pen is continuous as the cap is the same diameter as the body at the point where they meet, making for a clean line, end to end.

III. Design / Size / Weight 7/10

I have to admit, part of what attracted me to this pen was something that typically would have put me off: it lacks any kind of clip. I’m a practical kind of guy. And almost any pen (to me) without a clip is impractical — other than “pocket” pens, small and designed to be carried in a pants pocket. Like a Kaweco Sport or Lilliput, for example. This pen is not that. It’s one of a growing number of modern pens that eschews a clip for the sake of aesthetics. Specs on the pen are as follows:

  • Capped: 139mm
  • Posted: 155mm
  • Girth: 14mm
  • Weight: 15 grams

My only reason for the 7 score is the lack of a clip. But I struggle with that justification as adding a clip would ruin the beautiful look of the pen.

IV. Nib 9/10

Ok, it’s a 9 out of 10 for what it is. What it is, is a .38mm extra-fine nib. And it’s outstanding. Gold plated extra-fine steel nib, probably the best example of which I own.

V. Filling System 8/10

What to say here. It’s an eyedropper only system and it works. It holds a huge amount of ink, approximately 3ml. As an additional click on the cool meter, the pen comes with a real eye dropper pipette.

VI. Cost / Value 9/10

At $15 (what I paid for mine on eBay), the only reason I have for not rating it a 10 is not knowing how well it will hold up after say, a year in use. Based upon the apparent quality of construction and the materials used, my guess is it will hold up very well indeed. Time will tell though.

VII. Conclusion 8.5 / 10

So the only reason this pen doesn’t score higher than 8.5 overall is paradoxical. And mostly having to do with design and filling. It’s because the pen lacks a clip, that it’s so beautiful (again, at least to me). But that also gives the pen a characteristic of impracticality. And because it’s only an eye dropper filler, it’s beautiful. But it’s certainly not as convenient to fill. If you travel with it, you’ll also need to take a syringe or eye dropper to fill with.

So to tie things up, this $15 pen, made in China (and to my limited knowledge, not a knock off of anything else) is another example of an eastern pen that offers FAR more value than many of it’s mainstream counterparts. Most, in fact.

Some other great reviews on the Moonman M2:

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What’s With All These Chinese Pens? Meet the Wing Sung 601

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So for the last year or so, I’ve – plunged – neck deep into the world of Chinese pens. Actually, my first acquisitions of these Asian pens started probably 8 or 9 years ago. But only a pen here or there. And what I’ve seen over the last several years is a marked change in those products.

Used to be (and maybe for some brands, still is…) that the quality of the pen you acquired might vary from good to crappy. While it’s still true that one might still come across a crappy individual pen, for the most part, today the pens I’m seeing are generally of good to great quality. And when you pair the quality with price, you get…… wait for it…….value.

It’s that value proposal that has driven my interest for the last year plus. I think the same can be said for a lot of other people (read “pen” people). But if you you, like me, have had a keen interest in these types of Asian pens, you may have also noted that there’s a LOT of controversy attached to this subset of fountain pens.

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A Wing Sung knock-off of a Lamy Al Star. Not a fake. Patent violation though?

Specifically, many in the pen community see these pens as almost abominations. Pens and the companies that produce them, are seen by some (ok, maybe many) as industrial pariahs. That they simply exist in order to profit off of the work of other, “better” companies.

While I can see why some would make that argument, I don’t generally see them that way. I DO have a HUGE problem with fakes. But that’s not what these types of pens are.

— DISCLAIMER —

I don’t claim to be an attorney, and as such don’t claim to have intimate knowledge with patents, patent law, what’s legal and when, etc. So while some or many of these pens may be violating the law, I can’t and don’t assume that they are.

————————–

The pens that I’m referring to are pens that I would call knock-offs, or in some cases homage pens. Pens that are produced to closely mimic or at least have lots of similarities with better known “main-line” pens, but aren’t pretending that they are, in fact, made by those other companies. And as of today, there are lots of these pens being produced. That brings us (after an overly exaggerated and un-needed rant) to the topic of this review, the Wing Sung 601

The Wing Sung 601 is a direct knock-off of the venerable Parker 51. And further, a specific 51 timeline. Initially introduced in 1941, the Parker 51 was totally unique. It featured a 14k gold hooded nib, a metal slip cap and a solid colored body. The pen was originally produced with Parker’s venerable “vacumatic” pump filler system. This system allowed the pen to hold an enormous amount of ink, as it’s body cavity contained the ink as opposed to a smaller internal sac. A spring loaded plunger pushed against a rubber diaphragm which, when released, created a vacuum that would suck up the ink into the body cavity. The pen was produced in this basic configuration until about 1948 when Parker introduced the “Aeromatic” filling system, a squeeze-type filling system.

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One of the things that makes this Wing Sung 601 so wicked cool (…to me anyway…) is that they’ve made this pen with a vacumatic style filling system. In fact, this is the only modern pen I know of, that offers this type if filling system. And it’s been done well. At least seemingly so on the front end. Time will tell. The only two differences visually between this filler and the one on the original 51’s is that the plunger here is aluminum instead of plastic, and the 601 has a hexagonal nut securing the plunger in place, versus the original which was reverse threaded into the end of the barrel. This requires a special tool to service the original 51’s. this one will require a simple small wrench.

The 601 is made with the same basic dimensions as the original Parker 51, the full size model, not the smaller “debutante” size .The pen is about 140mm capped and 150mm posted. While the original 51 sported a gold nib, this 601 features a stainless steel nib. Both are nail like in their writing attributes – very stiff. But smooth. Very nice writer, actually. I said earlier that the 601 was a knock-off, and it really is.

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Visually, the only two things that don’t look pretty much identical to the original 51 is that the jewel at the top of the cap on the 601 is metal instead of plastic, and the 601 sports an (very useful) ink window located just above the clutch ring.

I’ll state up front, I’m a big fan of the original 51. And having a new modern version available, whose quality seems to be approaching what the original offered, is very, very….very cool to me. Wing Sung, I think deserves a lot of credit here. They are not the first Chinese company to offer knock-off versions of the 51. The “Hero” pen company has been doing it for years, and I have some of their pens. None of those even comes close to the quality of this pen. Cheap, brittle plastic and horrible machining and production tolerances have plagued most of the pens I’ve ordered from Hero. Although I’ve only had this 601 for about 3 weeks, the difference in quality is quite apparent. At $16 dollars US, I’m calling it a winner.

Here’s a quick video on the WingSung 601 to go along with the review.

Finally, here’s a great video review on this pen from a guy named chrisrap52 on YouTube. Chris’s channel is largely to blame for my recent addiction issue collecting Chines pens. He has a great channel, you should check it out.

The Lamy Aion!

20180203_192501.jpgThis is a pen I’ve been looking at for a while now, but for one reason or another, had just never pulled the trigger on. Then a few weeks ago I was corresponding with the fine folks at GoldSpot Pens, and they kindly offered to send one to me for review. Awesome folks there, you should really check them out!

I. First Impressions     7.5/10

So first, just a quick few comments in general about Lamy, the company itself. Lamy is a German company, known in the US primarily for it’s modernist take on fountain pens. The Safari, and 2000 lines have become mainstay pens in the US market among “pen” people.  This pen certainly fits in with the  company’s modern take on pens, but may not wind up a stand out, as those previously mentioned. That would primarily be because those pens have a very specific uniqueness that makes them stand out. This pen, while very nice, and somewhat unique, feels more like a blend of other pen’s attributes. In my mind, the Aion is most closely related to the 2000. Kind of it’s “workhorse” 1st cousin.

20180203_191650_HDR.jpgMy first impression was of the box, and the fact that they use the exact same packaging as the Lamy 2000. Upon taking the pen out, my first two thoughts were that it looks very minimalist and that it felt substantial. It has some real heft and weight.

 


II. Appearance     7/10

My pen was the matte silver model (it also comes in matte black). A handsome pen! I have several Lamy models including the venerable Lamy 2000. This pen shares much of the 2000’s heritage. Clean lines, minimalist design.  The body of the pen also looks very similar to another German pen, the Faber-Castell Loom. While the Aion is considerably larger, both have an aluminum cylindrical body that flows into a long section with no step down.

Where the Lamy 2000 looks elegant (at least to me), the Aion looks more utilitarian. It’s certainly not flashy. Although the silver version is arguably “flashier” than the black.


III. Design / Size / Weight     8/10

As previously stated, I would describe the Aion’s design as definitely, minimalist and modern. The pen was designed by a gentleman named Jasper Morrison. The body and cap are anodized aluminum in kind of a circular brushed pattern. The section appears like a bead-blasted finish. Some measurements:

  • Diameter at grip –                  10.6mm
  • Length of body –                     137mm
  • Length Capped –                     143mm
  • Length posted –                       162mm
  • Weight –                                    35 grams inked

The clip is spring loaded (which is nice), and very, very  — plain. Boring, one could say. But boring isn’t always bad, I guess. Also, and this is odd to me, when you lift the clip, you can see 3 – cut outs – for lack of a better description. I have no idea what their purpose is. Maybe there’s not one.

Overall, I definitely like it. It has a modern, clean look, not at all futuristic as I would say the Safari, Vista and Al Star are. That being said, the pen does have some issues for me. The section’s large girth is quite comfortable, however, with extended use – long writing sessions – it can get a little slick for me. Not terrible, as it’s somewhat textured, but slick nonetheless. Also, the cap does  post. However it is somewhat loose and I find that I usually don’t post it for that reason.


IV. Nib     8/10

20180206_223254.jpgLamy hit a home run with the Aion nib. It’s stainless steel and very smooth, and yet at the same time, provides just the slightest hint of feedback on paper.  The nib is reminiscent of the Safari line of nibs, but with slightly more rounded shoulders. The nib slides onto the feed exactly like the Safari nibs and can even be interchanged with them if you so desire.


V. Filling System     7/10

Pretty simple and standard. It takes either cartridges or a converter. However they are Lamy propriety sizes, not international. Otherwise, this score would’ve been 9/10.


VI. Cost and Value     7.5/10

GoldSpot currently has this pen listed at $71.20, down from $89. While this (in my opinion) wouldn’t be called an entry level pen, it’s not a high-end pen either. This is a work horse pen. A good looking, work-horse pen. And again (in my opinion) a solid value for the money.


VII. Conclusion     7.5/10

This is a bit of an odd pen for me. Before laying my hands on it, it was a pen that I was interested in, but truthfully, more so because it was a new pen from Lamy.  I wasn’t necessarily in heat to get one. 20180203_191809.jpgHowever, after having it and using it for the last week or so, I would DEFINITELY want to replace it if anything were to happen to it. Immediately.

 

 

 

Here’s a companion video review:

Kaweco Sport Cognac Edition

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 5/10

My first impression of the pen was definitely positive. My first impression of the package – was not (hence the 5/10 score).20160721_153158 It’s simply my opinion, but the honey/amber coloring of this little demonstrator is quite attractive. The use of gold plated hardware is definitely a better choice with this color than the stainless/chrome would have been (a-la the ice sport models).

20160721_153316As previously mentioned, my initial impression upon pulling this little jewel out of my mailbox, was not so good. I bought this pen on Amazon as I couldn’t find it through any of my other sources. It come from a company in Germany called Seitz Global. I’ve ordered from them before, and probably will again. However, this particular shipment came totally without padding or any kind of protection for the pen. Just a flat cardboard sleeve. Everything turned out ok, but it definitely raised a red flag in my mind.

APPEARANCE: 7/10

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Honey – colored Cognac Sport model

This subject is absolutely subjective (like how I did that?). The Sport line of pens are designed as “pocket pens”. While you can order a removable pocket clip, allowing it to be carried in a shirt or jacket pocket, upright like a traditional pen, it doesn’t come with one. They’re designed to be carried in your pants pocket or a bag. They are again, in my opinion, very attractive pens. One thing I like is that there’s really not anything else on the market that looks like them. They are definitely unique. Capped, they look almost too small to use, especially as I have large hands. However, posted, they are still small, but very usable. Comfortable in fact.

DESIGN, SIZE WEIGHT: 8/10

Put simply, this is a true pocket pen. I’m a big guy, with big hands, and normally small pens just don’t work well for me. But posted, this little guy is quite comfortable to use. Capped, it’s 104mm, posted 127mm, and uncapped, 97mm. The body of the pen is round, while the cap (which is slightly longer than the body) is faceted octigonally.

NIB: 9/10
20160721_160105The nib in the Cognac model comes with some type of gold plating over stainless steel. Mine is a fine point and preformed flawlessly out of the box. Very smooth with just a very fine amount of feedback. But certainly not what you would call “toothy”.

FILLING SYSTEM: 9/10

These pens are designed as cartridge fillers, specifically, short international size cartridges. They do make a bulb filler type of converter but they don’t come with one. From what I’ve read from other sources, the bulb fillers don’t work all that well. However, one of the coolest things about the all plastic Sport models of the pen (Note – not the AL Sports) is that with just a little dab of silicone grease around the interior threads of the section, and you have a superb eyedropper filler. And it holds a LOT of ink. That’s exactly what I’ve done to my pen.

COST & VALUE: 10/10

Let me just state here that cost is a fact, and value is completely subjective. That said, I purchased this pen on Amazon for $19.90, sold by Seitz Global in Germany. In my opinion, at this price, I think the pen is an exceptional value!

CONCLUSION: 8 out of 10 overall

Let’s just say I really do like these little pens. They’re a great design, and each one I’ve gotten, have been great writers. This one was certainly no exception. And if you can find this model at this price, a GREAT value!

Related Video:

 

Leather Notebook Cover From Galen Leather

“This folio cover gets 6 out of 5 stars.”

I’ve discovered some truths. Pen people are just cooler than most other people (Duh). And pen people in general, tend to share a lot of common likes and to a lesser extent , dislikes. One of the things that I think is a commonality among pen folk, is a like/love for leather goods. I love leather in general, always have. I grew up on a farm with horses and cattle. For me it started there. I even loved caring for leather, the feel of bridles and saddles as I cleaned and oiled them. The smell of the leather, the oils, the saddle soap. All of it.

My fountain pen addiction hobby has coincided with leather stuff. Directly related to pens are the cases and sleeves. Closely related are journals and the leather folios to house said journals. For some time now I have been looking for something i could carry a journal of some type and my tablet, all-in-one. Enter Galen Leather.

Galen is a leather company based in Turkey. They approached me about doing a review and offered to send me something that I thought would be useful to me. Big shout out to them for that, but I’m also a little nervous about situations like this. I don’t like to feel like there’s some unspoken thing….we send you something to review, you write a glowing review of our product. But the thing is, I can’t find anything negative about this product.

My credibility aside, keep reading.

Leather is expensive. What peaked my interest with these folks was initially their web site and their pricing. They have a LARGE selection of products, and their prices seemed more than competitive.  Shopping for leather goods on the internet, in my experience, can be kind of dicey. High price does not necessarily equate to high quality. Nor does a low price mean low quality. And anyone can make photos of a product look good. This stuff looked real good. It’s just dicey when you can’t see it, or feel it. Stiff or supple? Thick or thin? It’s tough.

I can only address the folio they sent me (the “Extra Large Moleskin Cover” in dark brown) but one dollar will get you ten – their other products are just as awesome.

Spelled:  A  W  E  S  O  M  E.

Here’s a video of the same folio I got:

The leather is heavy, and thick. Superbly designed and constructed. The edges are beveled and smooth. This is a folio cover that will last my lifetime and get passed on to one of my kids.

If you’ve seen the movie Spinal Tap, you’ll remember the Marshall amp that went to 11. Same thing here. This folio cover gets 6 out of 5 stars. Here’s some pictures of what I received:

 

 

Monteverde Artista Crystal

20160330_140404Following is my review of the Monteverde Artista Crystal demonstrator pen. This is a pen that I haven’t seen a lot on out on the ‘Net. That being said, I’ve included links to some other good reviews on this pen at the end of my own.


 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS  8/10

Well, pretty simple, it’s just a cool. Really cool in my opinion. The only reason for not giving it a 10 out of 10 would be it’s size. I prefer a larger pen, although I wouldn’t say that it’s too small. I would just prefer it a bit larger. Obviously, this is a completely subjective category.

20160330_140425APPEARANCE   9/10

The entire Artista line are demonstrators. This one is clear; I also have one in green. They also come in light blue, pink and yellow. The section, nib and accents are all stainless steel. The barrel and cap are highly polished both inside and out. One really cool thing is that the feed for the nib is also clear. So it actually changes color with the ink you choose to fill it with.

20160330_140301DESIGN / SIZE / WEIGHT   7/10

The pen is what I call a classic “Pelikan style”. Cigar shaped overall, with a screw off cap that posts well. The pen measures 5 inches capped and 6 1/16 inches posted. The weight was 25 grams.The only reason for the reduction in points is personal (and that’s the way reviews are supposed to be…). I wish it were a little bigger.

20160330_123336NIB   9/10

The nib is small-ish, stainless steel and an absolute pleasure to write with! Very smooth and reasonably wet, I believe these pens come only in a medium nib. There is no flex to speak of, but again, VERY smooth. It features some scroll work and says simply “Iridium Point <M>”.

FILLING SYSTEM   10/10

The pen comes with a clear, twist style international size converter. It will also accept international size long and short cartridges. Though the barrel is clear and solid (no holes or seams), I would not recommend this pen for eyedropper conversion. Reason being that the entire section is metal, and likely could incur corrosion from the ink. It would look beautiful though!

COST & VALUE   9/10

I got my clear one from an eBay seller for $29.50.My green one come from the Goulet Pen Company for $36. I think Anderson Pens has them at the same price. Both have been great companies to deal with in my experience. Using a full retail cost of $36, I would call this pen an exceptional value. For me, the looks of a given pen are what will initially peak my interest.. And with demonstrators, I think you either really like them or you don’t. I’m one of those that really does like the look. However, if a pen isn’t pleasurable to write with, I’m out. This is a pen that excels in both the performance and looks departments.

CONCLUSION   8.7 Overall

So to end this. I’m a pen guy. I have cheap Chinese stuff all the way to expensive German stuff.My collection isn’t huge, but it’s not small either; something over 100 pens in working order and some (???) number for parts. I have new modern pens and vintage ones. For the past year and a half,one of these two Artista’a has stayed in my rotation, non-stop. If you knew me and my pens, you’d know that that was kind of a big deal. In short:

FANTASTIC PEN!

Monteverde Artista Notes – Written with subject pen using Noodler’s Black SwanAustrailian Roses

Accompanying Video

Other Reviews –

SBRE Brown:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwvjwPeePnU

The Pen Addict.com: http://www.penaddict.com/blog/2013/12/13/monteverde-artista-crystal-fountain-pen-review


A True German Classic, the Pelikan 140

Ok, here’s the back story concerning today’s new acquisition. Back in the late 90’s, I purchased a Pelikan M200. It was my first purchase of a new “premium” pen. I had been given another premium pen, a Mont Blanc 144 as a college graduation gift in 1988. That pen still holds great sentimental value for me, but it was never a great writer, and has had multiple problems through the years. The Pelikan, on the other hand, was a fantastic writer and was obviously a higher quality pen from a construction point of view. Although the Mont Blanc featured a solid gold nib, and the Pelikan’s was steel with gold plate, there was no comparison in the writing experience between the two. Let’s just say the Mont Blanc was, lacking….

Now move forward to a couple of weeks ago. There was a give-away contest for a limited edition yellow Pelikan M200 through the Fountain Pen Network group on Facebook. I entered, and promptly forgot about it. Several days later I was notified that I had won the pen. Wah Hooo!! I received the pen, and (duh) it was fantastic! Like my original, it had a fantastically smooth, medium gold plated steel nib. Absolutely lovely.

 

Winning this new Pelikan re-ignited a desire I’ve had for a long time, and that was to acquire a vintage bird. So off to eBay and the internet to do some research.

 

Now cut to today. I won an auction on an early production Pelikan 140. Let me say this right now. I’ve been collecting fountain pens for over 20 years, and I’ve bought a lot of them on eBay. I’ve dealt with good sellers and bad. This was THE BEST EXPERIENCE I’VE EVER HAD with an eBay seller. He shipped quickly, packaged the pen expertly, and included several extra goodies in the package besides my pen. Nice goodies! I don’t want to go into detail about said goodies, as I don’t know whether he does this sort of thing with all the pens he sells. But let’s just say I will be buying from this guy again, sometime in the future. The seller’s eBay identification is sargetalon. He’s actually Joshua Danley with “The Pelikan Perch”, http://thepelikansperch.com .

 

I’ll be doing a detailed review of the pen soon, But here’s the basics. It’s awesome. Yeah, that just about covers it. It’s just plain friggin awesome. As great as the M200 steel nibs are, this thing eclipses  those. It’s a solid 14c gold medium nib —- with flex. Oooooooh. And the smoothness! It’s juicy and wet. Like writing on a melting ice cube smooth/wet.

 

   [a]

 

 

[a]JUICY