Category: Pen Review

Pen Review: Zebra Sarasa Fujiya Scented Gel Pens

zebra sarasa milky

I’ve always liked the Zebra Sarasa gel pens and because somewhere inside me there’s a 9-year-old who occasionally has to be entertained, when I saw the limited edition collection of Fujiya scented Milky 0.5mm pens, I had to try them all. Can you blame me? I mean, don’t you always sniff those Mr. Sketch scented markers too?

Each of the Zebra Sarasa Fujiya scented pens is $3 each. There were pre-packaged sets available but they are already sold out so if these are calling to your inner grade-schooler, or your actual grade-schooler, you better hit the “buy now” button now because they are all marked LAST CHANCE. But, first, best to read on… because you might want to skip a couple of them.

zebra sarasa milky

First of all, the actual barrel designs are a cacophony of Japanese candy wrapper mayhem, complete with a Milky kid medallion at the top of the clip. If this is going to make that dreary Monday morning staff meeting al that much better, than I say go for it. The Lemon Squash, while not particularly lemony scented, has a glittery translucent barrel with white polka dots that is definitely going to liven up some seriously dreary winter days. The Nectar Peach has no discernible scent at all which was a complete disappointment since peach is one of my favorite candy flavors but the ink color is a fabulous peach-tinged pink and the pen barrel is bubblegum pink.

And can we pause for a moment and thank all that’s holy for the absolutely awesome shade of green tea green in the Maccha Milky Light Green? My photo does not do it justice. It’s pretty much the perfect spring grass green. It does not really have much of a scent though. Sadly because if it actually smelled like matcha green tea I would be in heaven.

The Pop Candy Orange reminds very much of an orange Starburst candy and is a nice bright orange color too. Totally acceptable.

For some reason, a decision was made to make the black ink smell like “Country Ma’am Chocolate Chip” rather than make it a brown or brown-black. Okay fine, suit yourself. It’s a bit of a faux chocolate smell and not the cutest barrel design. If you were looking to save a few pennies, this might be one I’d pass on as the scent is a little odd and it took me awhile to recognize the floating shapes on the barrel as cookies.

And now, the ones I didn’t like…

First, the least offensive was the Strawberry Milky but it was emotionally the biggest disappointment as Strawberry Milky is one of my favorite candies. And the pen does NOT smell at all like Strawberry Milky. NOPE. It smells like fake strawberry. It’s okay but I didn’t like it. I might just swap out the ink cartridge and keep the cool barrel. Because I love the bee and Peko and the strawberries. Problem solved there. Next is the Soft Cream Milky which has the standard blue ink and smells like a flowery air freshener. Blech! This is another one I’ll have to do refill replacement on. I love the goofball graphics but it smells awful. And the last offender for me, the Milky Light Blue which smells like licorice. This is a personal distaste. I don’t like the smell of Red Ropes licorice at all. If you like the way they smell, you will love the light blue. If you don’t, you’ll be in the same boat as I am.

So, mostly these pens rock for the Milky packaging and some of the colors. If you have young kids who like the slightly artificial candy smells, they might love the strawberry, chocolate and licorice scents and even the weirdly air freshener smell of the blue one. I give three cheers for the lemon, orange and maccha (matcha) for sure.

And of course, Zebra Sarasa gel pens in general rock for the feather-resistance, lightfastness, and water-resistance. So, you know, you can’t go wrong. And you could always try the Chupa Chups ones instead.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Regal Alice Fountain Pen

regal alice fountain pen title

The Regal Alice fountain pen is a slender copper body pen with a shimmer metallic finish and silver tone hardware. The pen is pretty, inexpensive and feels nice in the hand. Everyone who sees it compliments its looks and asks about it because the color is unusual and the slim understated design is something not often seen in modern pen designs. Originally, the pen only shipped with a medium nib but is now designed to accept an EF fountain pen nib ($10) or can be retrofit to accept a rollerball refill if you change out the grip section..

The pen ships with standard black ink cartridges and there is an option to use a cartridge converter. A cartridge converter is available directly from Regal for $3 or the Monteverde Piston Converter which is more widely available.

regal alice fountain pen

regal alice fountain pen EF nib

I swapped out the medium nib for the EF nib which is quite fine and perfect for everyday office writing since its fine enough to stand up to inexpensive copy paper and the like. I also went ahead and got the cartridge converter because I wanted to be able to use lots of ink colors easily.

regal alice fountain pen writing sample

Fountain Pen Weights

The pen is fairly long and slender but because of the brass base material it has a nice weight. The cap does not post because of a plastic lining material inside the cap that helps seal the cap and keep the pen closed tightly. It reminds me of the cap on the Pelikan Stola III in that way. I didn’t mind that it didn’t post but I know this might be an issue for some folks.

regal alice fountain pen close-up writing sample

I normally write pretty small for notes and daily writing so the EF nib on a small, slender body fits my writing style nicely. The Alice is a bit drier writing pen overall so it felt more like a needlepoint rollerball or gel pen and may feel more familiar to people just starting in fountain pens than a wet writer. It also makes it a good candidate for mucking about on everyday office papers where you don’t get a lot of say on the types of paper it is on but would still like to use a fountain pen.

regal alice fountain pen writing samples

I tested the Alice on a bit of Moleskine Cahier paper, Tomoe River Hobonichi and some cheap 20# office paper just to prove my point. There was no feathering and very little show through with the light turquoise ink color I was using. YMMV.

The Alice is available for $20 from Regal in black, white, pink, turquoise,  and champagne pink (fuchsia). It’s also available as a rollerball or ballpoint. At a price like this, if the colors appeal to you, its a fun pen to add to the collection and one that may intrigue non-fountain pen users into the hobby. It definitely catches attention.

regal alice fountain pen

The Alice got to visit my very own Wonderland… in my backyard this weekend. I think it looks right at home.

regal alice fountain pen

Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen

Sometimes the right tool shows up at just the right time and your whole work process just falls into step. For me, that tool was the new Kaweco Special Dip Pen.  This elevates the dip pen out of the realm of old school or art school into a classic, modern tool for the modern calligrapher. The material for the Kaweco Special line is a matte black, faceted, anodized aluminum that has a nice weight to it. At the end, where the nib is inserted, there is a nice shiny bit of chrome giving the pen a polished look. It’s a lengthy tool, like a paint brush for a bit of an artsy look.

The pen comes with a fairly flexible nib (totally unlabelled so I have no idea what it is) but it will hold any standard nib so you can replace it with your favorite nib like a Zebra G, Nikko G or anything else, vintage or modern.  I do recommend scrubbing the nib with standard white toothpaste to remove the oil from it in order get inks to adhere to it before using it. Lindsay over at The Postman’s Knock has several other tips for removing oil residue but toothpaste has become my recommended method.

I used the Kaweco Special Dip Pen to annotate all my new ink swatches from all the pen shows I’ve gone to this summer. I also used my favorite paintbrush for the ink swashes. It’s a Silver Black Velvet #6 round watercolor brush and the swatches are done on the last of my Maruman Mnemosyne Word Book cards. I don’t know what I will do when I run out of these cards.

Overall, the Kaweco Special Dip Pen is more expensive than a Speedball plastic nib holder but I think its worth it. If you’re the kind of person who would drop $100+ on a fountain pen than $36 on a dip pen nib holder probably doesn’t seem crazy. The Kaweco Special Dip Nib Holder feels nicer and weightier in the hand and looks much better too than a cheap $7 plastic one. If you know someone who uses a dip pen, it would make a good gift too.

The Kaweco Special Dip Pen is available from JetPens.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black Fountain Pen

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

Once again, my dear friend Kasey was kind enough to loan me a pen. This time, it was his beloved Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black. I laughed when I pulled it out of the box because it is the absolute antithesis of the only other Sailor pen in my life right now. Where the Sailor Imperial Black is matte black finish with ruthenium trim, my Sailor Pink Love Pro Gear Slim is ridiculously vivid pink with metallic sparkles embedded in the material. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting Imperial Black and Pink Love next to each other in a strange “opposites attract” sort of way. And to be honest, its totally true.

Fountain Pen WeightsFrom a purely technical standpoint, I was delighted to have an opportunity to try out a full-sized Pro Gear and discover that it is not nearly as large or heavy as I anticipated. Compared with the Slim model, its really only about a half an inch longer and only slightly wider. Weight-wise, the Pro Gear is only 4 grams heavier at 24 gms than the Slim which weighed in at 20 gms, capped and filled with the converter. Compared to a Lamy AL-Star, which is a bit longer than the Pro Gear, the weights and width are quite comparable so really, the Pro Gear is a a fairly light but solid feeling tool. I’d almost describe it as compact. Especially with the Imperial Black since all the design elements are understated making the pen feel very clean and functional but at the same time very classic and elegant.

Within minutes of putting the pen to paper, I started researching how much it was going to cost me to get my own Imperial Black. Seriously. Fo the record, there are not many of these beauties left in the wild. Anderson Pens still has some in stock with a broad nib for $472.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

Part of the expense of this Imperial Black is that this particular model of Pro Gear came with the 21K nib instead of the more common 14K nib. Wow. This particular pen has the medium nib. And as is common with Sailor pens, the medium nib is actually quite fine and actually a bit crisp so the line has a lot of character. Its not often that I get excited about a medium nib, but this one is quite something. There’s nothing “medium” about it.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

When I put it next to the music nib on the Pro Gear Slim Pink Love, the Imperial Black looks slim, delicate and all business. The Pink Love looks a little bulbous. It does show the vast range of nib size differences within the Sailor line though.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

In writing, the medium nib 21K is absolutely buttery. It was conducive to writing at any angle and as a left-handed writer this is a big deal. I could write over-handed, under-handed, or side-writing with the lightest of touches and the nib glides on the paper. The medium nib handled my small handwriting with no issues, I seldom had the counters of my letters fill in even using 6mm guide sheets.

I really was blown away by this pen and am seriously considering purchasing, if not an Imperial Black Pro Gear, than at least a Pro Gear, in the near future. It is a beautiful writing tool and the Sailor medium nib should be renamed something more poetic. Maybe the “majestic” nib. That’s what that “M” really stands for.

Jinhao X750 + Zebra G Nib Hack + KWZ Green Gold 2 Ink

Jinhao X750

I found a fabulous flexible nib hack over on Parka blogs and nothing says “let’s mess with a cheap pen” like a rainy day. Throw in a cool ink sample from Vanness Pen Shop and an urge to be a little tweaker and off I go.

This hack will work with either a Zebra G (Titanium pack of 10 for $33.50 from JetPens) or Nikko G nib (3 for $4 from JetPens), whichever you have available to you. Warning: you may or may not damage your pen, so proceed with caution. It is a fun hack and most Jinhao X750 pens can be purchased for $10 or less so its not a huge investment, no matter what happens. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens, the Shimmering Sands model for $9.90.

I followed the instructions in the Parka Blogs video as well as doing a little feed modification à la Leigh Reyes’s tutorial for modifying the Ranga to try to get the nib to lay down a little bit more flush with the feed by using an X-Acto to shave a bit off the feed.

So, for a grand total of $13.50 I had a wonky, but functional, flexible nib fountain pen. Its a little bit finicky and could probably use a little bit more work to make it consistent but it works. I occasionally have to dip it in water to keep it working but it writes much longer than a regular dip pen. I might just need to add more fins in the feed and since the feed is plastic it might not be as ink receptive as the Ranga’s ebonite feed.

Why did I do this hack when I had a perfectly lovely Ranga? I already owned a box of Zebra G nibs and Jinhao X750 and I was bored. The only reason I would recommend this hack over the Ranga is that it is considerably less expensive and it is considerably easier to acquire the Jinhao X750 in the US than a Ranga at this time. But if you have the means, the time or the patience to get a Ranga or a Desiderata instead, the overall experience is better. But for a quick-and-dirty option, this hack is definitely an option.

Jinhao X750

Now, let’s talk about the lovely KWZ Green Gold #2 ink. I picked this up while I was working the Vanness table at the Chicago Pen Show. Lisa said I would love it and she was totally right. Its a lovely green, golden color as decribed in the name. Pantina gold would be another way to describe it. It shades and colors nicely, ranging from a light golden wheat to a dark brown depending on the density of the color.

Jinhao X750

This is not a water resistant ink so its a good candidate for playing around since it will clean out of the pen and feed easily.

KWZ Green Gold 2 ink comparison

KWZ Green Gold 2 is definitely more yellow thank Bung Box 88 and Diamine Safari but its a deeper yellow gold than Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. A full of KWZ Green Gold 2 60ml bottle is $12 and a 4ml sample is $1.50. Pricewise, its much closer to the Safari than Bung Box or Pilot Iroshizuku.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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Pen Review: Edison Collier LE 2015 with Custom Architect Nib

Edison Collier LE 2015

As a nice comparison to the stock Edison Nouveau Premiere that I took for a test drive yesterday, it seemed appropriate to show you the Edison Collier with the custom architect nib ground by Dan Smith over at Nibsmith. The pen started its life with a broad nib and was then customized.

I’m amused I didn’t figure out it was an architect grind until Kasey told me. I kept thinking… “This doesn’t look like a broad nib. Its much too crisp.” Well, duh. It wrote beautifully, if a bit too broadly, for my small writing but the grind is very well done.

Edison Collier LE 2015 Writing Sample

Physically, the Collier is very different from the Nouveau Premiere pen. The barrel is wider and the overall shape is more cigar shaped with a wider, rounder appearance overall. IT balances the size of the nib much better than the Nouveau Premiere. Its also a deep mahogany swirl with black to the candy-color of the water lily Nouveau Premiere.

The nib is two-toned gold and silver and the clip is gold compared to the all-silver hardware of the Premiere. These two pens couldn’t be more different than apples to steaks.

Weight-wise, the Collier is a good 10 grams heavier at 28 grams, capped and filled with the converter, but its well-weighted and comfortable so even in my small hands, I didn’t notice the additional weight. I actually had to put it on a scale to verify that it was heavier than the Premiere.

Edison Collier LE 2015

Overall, the broad architect grind on this crunchy cigar-shaped and deep, richly colored pen is totally appropriate. I would probably name this pen El Comandante if I owned it and write with it while drinking mojitos and listening to salsa music.

This is another pen that’s convinced me to take a good long look at Edison Pens. While I wouldn’t normally have gravitated towards the Collier because its a larger pen, the lightweight acrylic resin kept it from feeling like I was trying to steer a ship, and the variety of colors that Edison uses is really amazing– from subtle browns, as shown with this Collier, to the candy bright with the Nouveau Premiere Water Lily.

Again, since this particular Edison Collier was a limited edition model from 2015, it is no longer available but other color options are available on the Goulet Pens site for $149 or you could check directly with the Edison Pens site to see what they have in stock or for a custom order.


This pen was loaned to me by Kasey, AKA Punkey, as a way to try out pens I might not otherwise purchase or be able to afford. Thank you very much. This is another reason why the pen community is so awesome!

Pen Review: Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

The Edison Premiere Nouveau Water Lily is the Spring 2016 Limited Edition($149) for Goulet Pens and my first Edison fountain pen. Its one of the shapes in the Edison line-up that has always appealed to me so I was excited to have the opportunity to get this particular model. The long slender shape with bullet ends seemed like a very vintage shape but the colors of the acrylic resin material are pretty modern. The vivid pearlescent cerulean blue and pink swirls (AKA “clown vomit”) were an added bonus. I couldn’t resist filling the pen with an equally eye-popping Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu pink ink either. In for a penny…

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

The body has a lightly etched branding and the name of the pen and the limited edition information but is otherwise unbranded on the outside. The nib has the Edison light bulb logo etched on it as well as the stock swirls and the nib size.

The pen features all silver hardware and nib and I got an EF nib which ended up working really well with my miniature handwriting. In general, the overall look of the pen is clean and simple letting the colors of the acrylic resin steal the show. My only complaint about the pen is that the nib seems a little large for the slenderness of the the pen body. It seems a little disproportionate but that might just me. I’m used to vintage pens with smaller nibs overall.

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

Writing with the pen is quite comfortable and the pen shipped with a cartridge converter that had a generous capacity. The overall length of the pen did not require posting the cap and the pen was nicely balanced without the cap being posted. The cap can be posted if you choose to and its light enough not to throw off the balance.

The pen weighs 18gms capped and filled and is 6 inches long. Uncapped, it’s 5 inches and posted, its 6.75″.It weighs 11gms uncapped and filled.

Fountain Pen Weights

I’m sad to say that the Water Lily edition is sold out already but Goulet Pens does a special edition Edison every quarter so a summer edition should be released soon. I kick myself for missing some of the previous editions now so I won’t make that mistake again.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.