Ink and Pen Review: Limited Edition Sailor Dipton + Mellow Forest Hocoro Ink & Dip Pen Set (Fude Nib)

Review by Tina Koyama

Anyone who has ever glanced through my personal blog knows that I’m a fude nib fan. Let’s just say I’ve tried “a few.” My very first that got me hooked on exploring others was the entry-level Sailor Compass Fude de Mannen (55-degree angle). After upgrading a few notches, the Compass is not one I reach for much anymore, but it’s still the one I recommend to others as a good gateway fude. When I heard about Sailor’s Hocoro dip pen with a fude nib, my curiosity was piqued (and obviously any self-respecting fude pen collection shouldn’t be without a dip version). The pen + Sailor Dipton Mellow Forest ink limited edition set ($29) was irresistible.

First, just a word about the compact, clever packaging: I love boxes that can be completely disassembled and flattened with no trace of adhesive holding it together – just well-designed folds and notches. Industrial origami!

The only difficulty with the whole set was pulling the nib out of the sparkly, transparent barrel that houses it. It’s a little too short to grip easily and also pull, so I had to use a sticky plastic sheet that I use to open jar lids to get a grip. After a few more pushing-ins and pulling-outs, it became a little easier. 

Instructions in Japanese only are included, but I’m going to assume they’re not important for use, which I found intuitive: Pop the nib onto the barrel, and you’re good to go.

Compared to the 55-degree Compass Fude de Mannen, the Hocoro nib is slightly less angled and just a smidge more rounded instead of sharply angled, which makes it very smooth and easy to use, even for a beginner. If it were a fountain pen, I would recommend it to the fude-curious over the Compass.

Sailor Dipton Mellow Forest Shimmer ink (20ml for $24 if purchased separately) is a cool, dark emerald. The package illustration indicates that the ink should be shaken before use. It settles almost immediately, however, so it must be reshaken before every dip if you want to continue seeing shimmer. JetPens’ product information warns that the ink should be used with dip pens only, as “the glitter may cause clogs in fountain pens.”

I made test swabs, scribbles and sketches on two types of paper: Sakae TP Iroful and Col-o-ring Oversize. For basic line strokes, the fude nib makes a good range from thin to thick, including the thinnest when reversed. I admit, I rarely use fude nibs to write with, but for sketching, I can tell you that nothing makes so organic and fluid a line as a fude and a wet-flowing ink. As such, I especially enjoy sketching trees with a fude. 

As expected, Mellow Forest’s shimmer is more evident on Iroful paper than on Col-o-Ring, but there’s no shortage of sparkle even on the latter. (I can see why it might clog a fountain pen.)

I must say that I was impressed by how much ink the nib holds. The sketch made on the Iroful paper, about 2 ½-by-3 inches, was completed with one dip! The other sketch, about the same size, on Col-o-ring paper took two dips because I used the nib sideways to draw the shadows, which put out a lot of ink. Still, that’s an excellent ink load for a dip pen. 

I would go so far as to say that the Hocoro is the first modern dip pen nib I’ve tried that is a clear improvement over traditional dip pens in terms of ink load. And even better than the entry-level Sailor Compass fude? Win-win!

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

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’ve had one for a while. I was able to buy it without a bottle of ink, so it was especially inexpensive. I haven’t used it much.

  2. I have been waiting for your review! I agree that the Hocoro fude is smoother than the fude de mannon nib, which kind of digs into the paper on the edges. I didn’t notice that the angle is a little less, but it still makes a nice broad line. For sketching, I find that I now like this even better than my Kakimori nib! I loved your assessment of the boxing, too. For those with a large collection of ink sample vials, I recommend the Hocoro as a way to get those inks into your writing rotation. Just rinse very well when switching from shimmer to standard inks (ask me how I know). Anne @ hemmedwithhamsters

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