Pen Review: Montegrappa Game of Thrones Ballpoint & Rollerball Pens

Montegrappa has mastered the art of the licensed pen with the Game of Thrones collection. They created four pens to represent major families represented in the series: House Stark, House Lannister, House Targaryen and House Baratheon.  From the packaging to the aesthetics of the pens, Montegrappa managed to do high-end licensed pens right.

I was lucky enough to get to take the House Stark ballpoint and the House Lannister rollerball out for a test drive.

While I am not normally interested in packaging, for a licensed product, I think it shows that care was taken. The box is paperboard-wrapped but iconography representing other houses from Game of Thrones is included on the box and the artwork is very nice.

The artwork even wraps around to the front creating a seamless look. There was time and energy put into making the packaging pleasing. For a fan and a collector who is spending money on something they love, this makes a difference and is appreciated.

Inside, the box is a standard velveteen lining that lifts out to reveal the instruction booklet, refill, etc. The ruby red color of the lining is fine for the House Stark pen but is a little clashy for the House Lannister.

There was even an effort made to include Game of Thrones graphics on the Montegrappa Unser Manual cover. Now on to the details of the pens themselves.

My favorite details of the pens were the clips. Each clip is carved to resemble the family’s symbol. In the case of House Lannister, the clip is a lion’s head. The cap is printed in gold with a stylized rose pattern.

The top of the cap is embossed with the motto of the Lannisters, “Hear me roar.” All the details of the pen are in yellow gold over a red lacquered finish.

The House Stark clip is carved into a wolf and the cap features rune designs in palladium over smooth, white lacquer.

The top of the cap is embossed with the wolf again and the motto “Winter is coming.”

Both pens feature the “Game of Thrones™” logo on the cap band. In the case of the ballpoint, its a twist mechanism so its not technically a cap but the placement is the same.

On to the actual functionality of the pens. The rollerball pen is a bit narrower overall at the grip section than the ballpoint as is shown in the photo above (gold House Lannister on the left is rollerball, palladium and white House Stark on the right is ballpoint).

Since the rollerball has a removable cap, the pen is lighter and shorter, or can be. Though the cap can be posted, I was a bit nervous to post the cap. I was worried the cap might chip the finish. I found that posting the cap threw the balance off on the rollerball. It wrote fine and was long enough for me without posting but I am not a cap-poster in general.

The ballpoint’s slightly wider width was just a bit too wide in my hand. I think most people with normal, adult-sized hands wouldn’t notice but in my pixie-sized hands I felt like I was holding a My First Crayon.

As for the actually refills included, the House Lannister appeared to have a standard Euro/G2 rollerball refill which was pleasant enough to use. I didn’t have any to swap in as my supplies are seriously depleted but Monteverde makes a wide range of colors and widths. A red would probably be most appropriate in the House Lannister. The House Stark ballpoint takes a standard Parker-style refill so the pen refill world is your oyster here. Montegrappa shipped it with a black refill but a broad blue might a good option if “Winter is coming.”

  • Montegrappa Game of Thrones Rollerball Pens MSRP: $325
  • Montegrappa Game of Thrones Ballpoint Pens MSRP: $295

There is, of course, a fountain pen version of the pens as well for $350 MSRP that feature a steel nib.

The bottomline is that Montegrappa did a great job on high-end licensed products for a rabid fandom community. If Cross had put as much attention and care into their Star Wars pens, they would have had something worthy of the price tag they were charging. I believe Montegrappa has positioned themselves to be able to approach other brands and get the licenses they want. Hello, Harry Potter? Gryffindor! Hufflepuff! Ravenclaw! Slytherin! Hello, Lord of the Rings? Elves, Hobbits, Rangers, Riders of Rohan, Dwarves… Eye of Sauron enamel on the top of the cap? How about Wizard of Oz? Their DC pens were just okay but with the GoT, Montegrappa has proven that they can extend themselves… so grab that Marvel license. Steal that Star Wars license from Cross and do it right! Then you’ll have Disney on your side and can do Mickey, Minnie, the Incredibles, Monsters, Inc… the list is endless!

Check with your favorite pen boutique (maybe from the sidebar of this website?) to see who is stocking the Game of Thrones pens. And thanks to Kenro for letting me play in the world of Westeros.


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

Product Review: ArtSnacks April 2017 Subscription Box

By Tina Koyama

The April ArtSnacks box contains an assortment of drawing instruments from fine to fat, and the handiest of brushes, too. Here’s what I got: a Pentel GraphGear 800 0.5mm mechanical pencil; a Copic Multiliner 0.5 pen in lavender; a Winsor & Newton Water Colour Marker in Phthalo Blue; and a Kuretake medium-tip water brush. (Ed note: This month’s candy was a piece of Dubble Bubble bubblegum which neither Tina or I deemed worthy of mention. I gave my piece to Bob and Tina didn’t even mention it. Candy snobs!)

The Pentel GraphGear 800 mechanical pencil has a unique grip area. A pattern of foamy elliptical pads makes the metal and plastic barrel more comfortable to hold, yet without the vaguely sticky feeling of a completely rubberized grip. Its tiered “business end” reminds me of the top of the Empire State Building or maybe a robot’s arm. Either way, it’s an interesting design element. The lead the pencil came with is harder than I would choose for drawing, but it’s just right for writing. (I think I’m going to refill it with Uni NanoDia 4B for sketching.)

When you pull the cap off the clicker end, a white refillable eraser is exposed. In my scribble sample, I compared the attached eraser with my favorite Tombow Mono Zero, and I couldn’t tell the difference – both erased the 0.5mm graphite lead cleanly.

I’ve used refillable, metal-barreled Copic Multiliner SP pens before, but this plastic-bodied 0.5 Copic Multiliner was new to me (Ana recently reviewed a set of the 0.3 size). Its water-based pigment ink is both waterproof and Copic marker-proof, so it can be used with water media and alcohol markers without smearing. The pretty lavender color I received is great to doodle with and make line drawings before coloring, but a little pale for lettering. I haven’t seen what other colors the Copic Multiliner is available in, but a set of these in various colors would probably be fun to combine with watercolors and water-soluble markers.

Unfortunately, neither the tip nor the ink is refillable, and I have a feeling my heavy-handedness will mush down the tip long before the ink runs out.

Unlike the Copic Multiliner, the Winsor & Newton Water Colour Marker is familiar to me. The double-ended marker has a fine bullet tip on one end and a broad brush tip on the other. Held nearly upright, the brush tip makes a mark almost as narrow as the fine tip, but held at a sharper angle to the paper, the brush makes a juicy broad stroke that mimics a paintbrush.

The brush end has become one of my favorite tools at life-drawing practice because the pigment flows easily, which I especially appreciate during the short poses, and the brush imparts a lovely variable line. With the swipe of a water brush, it washes beautifully with rich color – a super-fast way to add shading.

I received Phthalo Blue (green shade) in my box, and unfortunately, I don’t have a tube of traditional Winsor & Newton watercolor paint in the same hue to compare with, but I’m guessing that it matches closely. Unlike many water-soluble markers that are dye-based and often fugitive, W&N marker pigments are lightfast (as I would expect of any product with the Winsor & Newton name).

My first scribble test was done in a Plumchester sketchbook, which isn’t sized specifically for water media, so the wash looks a little wimpy.

I made another scribble in the Col-o-ring ink testing book, which is sized to show off fountain pen ink samples, and this time the W&N marker washed with vibrancy.

I have only a few W&N markers, including sepia, which isn’t typically a color I’d mix with Phthalo Blue, but to test their mixability, I turned the Col-o-ring page over. The two colors mixed easily and completely where they were layered, and when I blended their separate washes, those mixed well, too. Painters who are used to mixing their paints first on a palette might have difficulty making a transition to these markers, but those who mix on the paper might not have as large a leap. Although they can’t be splashed on loosely as real watercolor paints with a brush, these markers would be a convenient way to achieve familiar W&N hues in marker form.

The fourth item in the April box is the Kuretake medium tip water brush – another product I know very well. I think I can safely say that I have tried every water brush I have been able to get my hands on in this country as well as in Japan (the brush pen and water brush capital of the world), and the Kuretake is my hands-down favorite. Most brands I’ve rejected gush or unevenly dispense water. By contrast, water flows from the Kuretake’s reservoir to the brush tip evenly. As needed, a gentle squeeze of the reservoir pulls just enough additional water to wet the brush without dripping out.

I know many urban sketchers use traditional paint brushes in the field, and I tried that myself for a short while. But after discovering the water brush, I quickly gave up juggling water cups along with a palette and sketchbook – the water brush is just too easy and convenient by comparison. The plastic brush isn’t quite up to the caliber of a natural or synthetic hair paint brush in terms of fine control, but I find the tradeoff with convenience worthwhile. I’ve been using all sizes of the Kuretake line (including this versatile medium size) for most of the years I’ve been sketching, and it’s still the only brand I use.

Now that you have my full endorsement of a product I use daily, please allow me to let you in on a tip. To fill the water brush’s reservoir, the package (as well as the ArtSnacks video) instructs the user to squeeze the empty barrel, place the filling hole into a glass of water or under running water, release the squeeze so that water sucks up into the reservoir, and repeat many times until the reservoir is full. Although the reservoir is small, it takes many squeezes to fill it because a bit of the water already inside always squeezes out. Don’t you find this process tedious?

All you have to do is pull the black plug out (it requires a bit of prying with your thumbnail), place the opening under a running tap, and stop when full. It takes about a second. I’ve been filling it this way for all the years I’ve used the Kuretake because the very first time I got one, I didn’t read the instructions. Whenever I find out someone is doing it the “correct” way, I share my tip, for which they are eternally grateful. And now I’ve published it here. You’re welcome.


tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by ArtSnacks for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: The Perfect Pencils

Posts of the Week:

I confess the Post of the week was going to self-indulgent and feature Ken Crooker’s very flattering review about the Col-o-ring Ink Testing Books (I swear I did not put him up to writing it!) Instead, I want to point you to some lovely articles over at CW Pencils about the history of pencils and a little behind-thie-scenes about the making of Caroline’s recently released book The Perfect Pencil. If you haven’t purchased the book yet, you can order it directly from CW Pencil Enterprise and have it signed by Caroline too!

Pens:

Ink:

Pencils:

Paper, Notebooks & Planners:

Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Fountain Pen Review: Sailor 1911 Fresca Regular with Fine Nib

Last year, I fell in love with Sailor pens when I purchased my first Pro Gear Slim, the Bungbox Pink Love and then later acquired the rare Purple Lamé which featured a custom ground super fine nib. I had not braved purchasing a larger Sailor pen because I have so enjoyed the compact Slim size but when I saw the Sailor 1911 Fresca regular size ($196), I knew the time had come for me to “level up.” The Fresca is a North America exclusive colorway (the knitter in me is inclined to refer to them as “colorways,” that’s how we refer to yarn color schemes).  The solid turquoise with chrome trim and 14K nib all shiny silvery is just stunning and the slender cigar shape with simple  clip design is classic and timeless.

The only branding on the exterior of the pen is the etched “Sailor” name on the cap band. Very tasteful.

The nib is classic Sailor all the way with the etched anchor and “1911” along with the decorative filigrees and, of course, “14K 585” and “Sailor” at the base of the nib. Next to Pilot’s smiley Kakuno nibs, the Sailor nib design is one of my favorite stock modern nib design.

From left to right: Aurora Style, Pilot Metropolitan, Kaweco Sport, Sailor 1911 regular size and Sailor Pro Gear Slim

I really didn’t need to worry about the size of the standard 1911 pen. It is really about the same size as a Metropolitan and since its an acrylic/resin/plastic (don’t me hold to the material because I don’t actually know what it is made of) its quite light. The Metropolitan feels weightier. The barrel is the same diameter as the Pro Gear Slim and when uncapped, its just the little cigar shaped taper at the end that is longer. So, it’s not a huge pen.

Posted, the 1911 is 20gms, making it lighter than an AL-Star. Unposted, the 1911 weighs 11gms which is lighter than a Kaweco Sport in plastic posted so the Fresca is not heavy at all.

Finally, in writing tests, with some of my new Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve, the fine nib was a perfect smooth, light line for a bright, light pen. With the fineness of the nib and the gold nib, I got a little flex… not FLEX flex, but the nib was light and easy to write with. It was not a “hard as nails” nib. I think this is where the Sailor nibs excel. I have a music nib on my Pink Love and that’s a lot of nib material so there’s not as much lightness to the nib. Both the Purple Lamé and the Fresca have finer nibs and there’s more flexibility to the nibs so they are a much more pleasurable experience to write with. These are the gold nibs that make people talk about why they like gold nibs better. I think its the same reason why I tend to favor felt and fiber tip marker pens — that flex that adds some variation to the writing line weight, that shows some shading to the ink, when you get excited, or bored, or angry or enthusiastic as you write and it shows? I love that and when a pen is nail hard, those characteristics don’t show. So, if you have the means to invest in a Sailor pen (or a Sharpie pen) — try one out and let some of that expression come out in your writing.


I purchased this pen from Anderson Pens with my own money and all opinions here are my own. Anderson Pens are one of my sponsors so if you do decide to buy a Fresca, it sure would be nice if you purchased it from any one of my lovely sponsors who are currently stocking them and letting them know you heard about them here. Thanks.

Giveaway Winner: Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz Giveaway Package

Woo! Lots of love for Smoky Quartz and Aquamarine and the as-yet unnamed 2018 olive green ink in the Pelikan Edelstein and Col-o-ring Giveaway.

Congrats to Dave C. our giveaway winner who has already been contacted via email. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. We’ll have more ink and Col-o-ring giveaways post-Atlanta Pen Show.

Love and inkiness!

Pen Review: Copic Multiliners 0.3 4-Pack

I bought the Copic 0.3 Wine refill for my Multiliner SP  to use during  Inktober last October on a whim. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy using a contrasting color for linework. It’s a bit of a challenge to find the refills for the SPs so when I found the Copic Multiliner 0.3 Pen Set ($12.50) with Cobalt, Olive, Sepia, and Wine, I purchased it immediately. I’ve actually been using these for several weeks but haven’t gotten a chance to write the review until now.

The pen barrels are unusually glittery plastic with a solid-colored, rounded bottom end and a matching, solid-colored flat cap. The logos and text on the barrels is printed in white ink and is mostly inoffensive. The clip on the cap is solid-colored plastic, attached to the top flat part. Its not super-sturdy but it does keep the pen from rolling away particularly if you have the pens on your book, lap or the couch.

The transition between the barrel and the traditional felt/fiber metal tip is an almost-smooth conical transition. You’ll either like this or hate this. I found it fairly non-distracting but I like the more stepped design of the Copic Multiliner SP, which is probably the more traditional technical pen design.

As for the actual colors, I loved getting a way to try out all four of the deep tone colors available for the Copic Multiliners in one convenient package. The wine color still remains my favorite but the cobalt and olive are also great options for other linework possibilities. I burn through felt tip points so fast, I still much prefer to use the SP line and replace just the tips as needed, even though I realize the cost to replace the tip is on par with replacing the whole pen. Somehow, it just feels more environmentally more sound to only throw away the tip, not a whole pen.

If you have never tried colored waterproof, COPIC-proof (fancy term for alcohol-marker proof) fineline, felt/fiber markers before, this set is a great way to try them without investing in a whole system.

If you already know you like felt/fiber tip markers, I recommend investing in the Multiliner SP pens. You can pretty much buy any size pen body (despite what the number says on the tube). Once you own one, you can put any tip and any ink refill into it and ignore the number on the barrel. Just be sure you use the right refill for the tip (smaller tips need the A refill, bigger tips need the B refill). If you want the colored ink refills, head over to MarkerPop, they are the best source I know to get all the SP colored ink refills for SPs.

From my Inktober 2016 Challenge: I drew the “Knitters Alphabet” using Copic SP 0.3mm in Wine and Copic Sketch markers and the ArtSnacks Inktober Sketchbook

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.

Ink Review: Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz

Every year for the last… maybe eight SIX years now(?) Pelikan has tried to wow us with a new jewel-themed Color of the Year ink color. While Pantone is telling us this year is the year of “Greenery,” Pelikan is trying to convince us its a browner sort of year. Pelikan chose Smoky Quartz ($28 for a 50ml bottle) as its color of the year.

Side note: For a handy cheat sheet of all the Pelikan Edelstein colors released thus far, check out the list compiled on the Pelikan’s Perch. They even have information on the 2018 color that’s been selected: an olive-green though it has yet to be named. 

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz

The color is a deep rich, chocolatey brown for sure. The only other neutral/brown tone the Pelikan Edelstein has offered was the Amber in 2013 and it was much more of an orange-brown so fans of this line of ink are sure to be pleased with the richness of this color. I was happy to see that the color is a warm brown with a yellow, golden undertone.

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz swatch

When I swatched the color, it magically got this highlight spot so that I could see the undertones. t gave it quite a Western Americana feel to me. It was the first time I really got the “smoky” part of the color.

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz writing sample

The writing sample did not show a lot of color variation but its a nice solid brown ink. There was no noticeable shading or sheening. It’s definitely a “staple” ink and not a “boutique” ink.

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz Swatch Comparison

I had a really hard time getting the color “just right” on these swatches. Suffice it to say that the subtleties got lost but the overall color values are captured here. Smoky Quartz is definitely one of the darkest browns in my collection. Bookbinders Eastern Brown and Kaweco Caramel Brown are definitely warmer colors. Tears of a Clown is more reddish. Platinum Pigment Sepia is the lightest and both formulas of KWZ Honey are more gold, leaning to green.

I hope theses images help to give you a better idea of how Smoky Quartz performs in real world tests. Right now Oster Caffe Creme is probably my favorite brown ink followed by KWZ Honey but I’d probably put Smoky Quartz in slot #3. That’s not a bad place to be. Its a solid performer and a good rich color and a nice alternative to black or blue-black.

Testing Notes: I used Rhodia Uni blank paper for the writing tests and my trusty Esterbrook #2442 nib in my Shawn Newton nib holder. For the header and ink swabs, I used a #4 round watercolor brush. For all the ink swatches shown I used the Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book and a Zebra G Titanium dip nib in a vintage holder. To keep my lines straight, I use 6mm and 7mm guide sheets.

THE GIVEAWAY:

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz Giveaway Package

THE PRIZE: Winner will receive ONE (1) bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz graciously provided by Goulet Pens AND ONE (1) Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book from The Well-Appointed Desk.

THE RULES: Leave ONE (1) comment below and tell me which of all the Pelikan Edelstein Color of the Year colors has been your favorite thus far. Is it Smoky Quartz? Or one of the previous colors? Or do you have a recommendation for what the next color should be? If so, you must give it the appropriately gemstone-y name.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, April 10, 2017. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within seven (7) days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US residents only, please.


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.