Review by Laura Cameron (and Ana Reinert)
Since both Laura and I have ended up purchasing or acquiring several of the same products, we have decided to do some “tag team” reviews where we provide two points of view. Since our pen experience levels differ and our tastes differ, sometimes our opinions will be similar and sometimes they will differ. We hope you’ll enjoy these posts. This is the third in the series.
The Benu Supreme Collection pens were launched on Indiegogo and both Laura and I were really taken with the beautiful colors of the the pens. Enough so, that we decided to go in together on the purchase of the Two Pen offer. Soon after we put up our cold hard cash, our pal Joe at Gentleman Stationer offered to let us take his sample pens out for a test drive. He sent over two of the models — the Bird of Paradise from the Essence collection ($200) and the Sublime 025 from the Supreme Collection ($185). When we originally saw the images of the pens, we thought they looked very large but when the pens arrived, we were both surprised at how light the pens were. The material used for these pens is unlike anything I’ve felt before in higher end fountain pens. Yes, the inclusions in the material are blingy and sparkly and look like spun gold fleck but the material is so light its feels insubstantial.
My task was to review the Bird of Paradise while Laura reviewed the Sublime. The Bird of Paradise has a more traditional cigar shape but the end has a stepdown so that the cap can post. It gives the pen a bit of an inelegant end that detracts from the cosmic colorway. The embossed lines in the cap also seem a little unnecessary and detract from the overall color feel. What is so appealing about the Benu pens is the amazing swirls of color and the textural interruptions just get in the way.
The Bird of Paradise pen uses a smaller Schmidt nib unit than the Sublime style pens which throws the visual weight off on the design as well. It might look a little less off balance with the larger #6 nib. I don’t tend to favor broad nibs since my handwriting is too small but the Schmidt nib wrote well and the gold tone nib was matched to the gold cap band and gold flecks in the pen.
Overall, the design of this pen feels mismatched. I like the celestial feel of the coloring but its called “Bird of Paradise” not “Bird of the Galaxy”. The shape of the pen overall is odd, the weight feels way too light and I don’t really like a heavy pen but this just feels so light as to feel cheap and insubstantial–like if it rolls off the table just once it will shatter. And for the price point, even for a custom made pen, I guess I expect more.
It was the sparkle that got me. When I saw the BENU Supreme Collection Indiegogo project, I was most struck by the shiny, sparkly pen bodies. I went ahead and backed the project and delivery was estimated for November. So it was a bit of a surprise when Ana told me that the BENUs had arrived; it turned out that Joe of The Gentlemen Stationer had loaned her a few samples for testing and review.
We decided to review the pens together. I tested the Sublime 025, which is available for pre-order now for $185. The major focal point of these pens is, of course, the bodies which are made of aventurescent resin. In my model this meant silver sparkle, with blue, black and purple. The ring material on the cap is rhodium plated brass and the clip is stainless steel. The cap unscrews and theoretically, is postable, though in practice it doesn’t work well (the cap is kind of loose and doesn’t fit on the end of the pen that well). The nib is a Schmidt stainless steel nib, and the one I tested was a fine, although medium and broad are available as well.
In terms of specs, the pen weighs 15gms, uncapped and full of ink, and capped the pen weighs 26gms. The pen is also 5″ from end to nib point, and 5 1/8″ capped.
The best thing about this pen is the body, which is really fun to look at. The pen is sort of a funky shape with a broader cap and a more tapered barrel and it almost reminds me of a tube of mascara. The pen is more lightweight than I generally like, but does compare favorably in size to other pens.
I have to say, however, that I didn’t find this pen to be a super exciting writing experience. The problem is that the BENU just isn’t as nice to write with as other pens at the $175 price point. I’ve been spending my recent days writing with a Karas Kustoms Decograph ($165) and the 3952 Abalone ($148) and have been enjoying them far more than this one. While the body is amazing looking, I’m just not sure the stock nib makes it worth the price tag.
Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.