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Montblanc Black Resin Starwalker


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#1 E0157H7

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 02:45

I can’t recall the first time it happened for me, but even now it never ceases to amaze… when the night sky is crisp and clear, away from the ambient glow of civilization, and it comes to life like never before. Hundreds of stars popping through a jet black sky, even down to the horizon. The universe literally unfolding before your eyes. Who among us doesn’t feel some measure of awe and humility at this sight? No doubt some of us also feel challenged and inspired to explore this final frontier… to walk among the stars.

Well, as luck would have it, Montblanc has just the pen for you! Behold the mighty Starwalker, conceived in 2003 for those who travel the cosmos. Oh wait… I’m now being told something about a “synonym of the spirit for the elite of tomorrow” and the “next generation of leaders” and “a cosmopolitan, dynamic and self-confident generation” and blah blah blah typical Montblanc pablum. Sigh. Apparently the pen was designed to appeal to young, upwardly mobile professionals who require the prestigious white star in their pockets but abhor the more traditional Meisterstuck series. I’ve even seen the term “entry level” thrown around for the Starwalker, which seems a bit comical for a pen that retails at $475 (though to be fair, you can find deals in the mid-300s). But, I guess everything is relative…

If, however, you can ignore all the usual Montblanc drivel about the high life, you’ll find yourself in possession of a great fountain pen and worthy addition to the Montblanc lineup. It is a very different beast than the Meisterstuck series, but like the Boheme that preceded it, it offers nice variety in regard to design and functionality, and presumably broadens the appeal of the Montblanc brand.



First Impressions (8/10): If you read my previous review for the MB 75th Anniversary 149 [click here!], you’ll recall my blind luck in finding a small gift store with a canceled MB account and pens priced to move at 50% off. Well, you didn’t think I’d walk out of there with just one, did ya? Turns out these things are like Lay’s potato chips…

After settling on the aforementioned 149, I perused the remaining pens and found something else catching my eye under those cool halogen lights. But she was of a different species… or perhaps a different time. She looked as though she belonged to the future. (Can fountain pens appear futuristic?) If MB indeed designed this series for younger generations, I admit to falling into their trap. After giving her a quick dip, I knew we would get along quite nicely and decided to take her home.

What accompanied me home was a textured black box containing a generic instruction manual for all MB writing instruments and the actual display box containing the Starwalker. Inside the box she is cradled by waves of black silk, pinching her tight at the waist, while the MB logo shines down from inside the lid. While this display is certainly impressive, it lacks the personal attention given to every 149. Therefore I deducted one point for the manual and one for the box. It’s too bad that MB doesn’t offer similarly personalized packaging for every unique MB product line.







Appearance & Design (9/10): Sleek and futuristic. Shapely yet streamlined. Slim yet stately. I admit to being captivated by the design of this pen, which seems to engender a “love it or hate it” attitude among most FPNers. My first thought when seeing the pen was, “That looks like some kind of scepter!” The bottom half of the pen is par for the MB course, with a barrel of precious resin gently tapering to a rounded end well known to MB users. You’ll also find the classic three-ring design at the end of the pen, with the middle ring discreetly threaded for posting the cap. This is one of my favorite features of the pen, allowing for a secure post while writing.

Traveling north, the pen has a slight drop to the section, though not as extreme as that found on the Pilot Bamboo. While this is not an issue for me, I see how it might be a problem for those who have a high grip. The section itself has a textured metal surface that offers a nice grip, avoiding the cold slick feeling common to metal sections. The width of the section is roughly equivalent to the 145, except that the 145 tapers somewhat toward the nib. This is about as small as I can go while maintaining a comfortable grip, and I much prefer the size of the 149. I suspect those with small hands will find this pen quite comfortable.

This is where the Starwalker truly distinguishes itself… the cap?! Indeed, much of this pen’s unique look is centered on its cap. First, the cap has its own cigar-shaped profile so common to MB pens, lending a scepter-like appearance to this pen. Second, the platinum-plated clip is prominently oversized, even extending beyond the bottom of the cap. It reminds me of the large clip on the Sheaffer Valor, another pen with an imposing cap. I suppose this is one way of making this slim pen appear more formidable while in the pocket, not unlike a cat raising the hairs on its back. Watch out, I’m bigger than I look! wink.gif

The underside of the clip is engraved with “GERMANY metal Pix,” and leads up to an equally prominent clip ring. The serial number is engraved on the clip ring just to the right of the clip, followed by the word “MONTBLANC” engraved in big block letters around the remainder of the ring. And topping it all off, a transparent acrylic dome with the famed white star floating inside… the traditional symbol of Montblanc showcased in eye-catching fashion. Perhaps I’m just easily amused, but I often catch myself playing with the clear top, either by magnifying the text I’ve just written, or using it as a makeshift prism to catch the light. I’ve never seen anything like it on another pen, and it’s just plain fun.

While my pen is the black resin model, bear in mind that MB also offers the Black Mystery (newest offering), Cool Blue, Doue, and Metal & Rubber (grid) finishes.

















Nib (8/10): Where the 149 nib explodes from the section in a shimmering display of 18K yellow gold and platinum, the Starwalker nib quietly emerges in streamlined fashion, matching the contour of the pen without making a fuss. While it lacks the size and power of the 149 nib, this 14K rhodium-plated medium nib perfectly matches this pen. Just below the circular breather hole, there is a circle containing the six-point star and the words “MONTBLANC 14K 585.” The feed appears to be composed of solid plastic, with none of the usual comb serrations. While I am not adequately informed on how this might affect ink flow, I haven’t noticed anything unusual… Behold the nib!















Weight & Dimensions (7/10):
Length capped: 5.5 inches
Length posted: 5 7/8 inches
Length unposted: 4 15/16 inches
Section diameter: 3/8 inches

As stated earlier, this is a slim pen much closer in size to the 145. While I do find this pen to be comfortable, I don’t think I could go any smaller than this. Obviously if you’re only content with oversized 149-style pens, then this won’t be for you. And as I mentioned previously, there is the slightest drop from barrel to section, which may be problematic for those with high grips.

I find the pen to be nicely balanced (if not slightly top-heavy) with the cap posted, though it is also acceptable when unposted. This pen is clearly designed to be posted though, since the cap can be screwed onto the barrel end. I can’t provide an exact weight, but it is neither light nor heavy. As always, you would be best served by trying the pen’s size and weight for yourself before purchasing.


From L to R: MB Starwalker, MB 149, Lamy Safari, Namiki VP

Filling System (5/10): Besides the pen’s overall aesthetic, the other major hurdle for many potential users is the cartridge-only filling system. While I adore piston fillers and use them often, I also happily own and use many C/C fillers. And if this pen offered a converter option, this score would have been much higher. But only cartridges?! Sigh. Perhaps MB felt that their target audience, those young, cosmopolitan, elite corporate ladder climbers, would not have the time or intellect to conquer those pesky converters. Yeah yeah I’m getting a bit snarky about it, I know, but a converter would have been great. There have been numerous threads about adapting converters from other brands for this pen, so feel free to search for those previous suggestions if you’re desperate for a converter. I don’t mind being restricted to cartridges for this pen, as I tend to use it on the go for jotting notes, quick signatures, etc.

Of course, the only way to check your ink reserve is to unscrew the section from the barrel and have a look at the cartridge. I tend to use Private Reserve cartridges in this pen, and they fit without a problem. However, I tried storing an extra cartridge in the pen, and now it is lodged in the bottom of the barrel never to return. So consider yourself warned…



Performance (8/10): Smoooooooth, but also quite firm when compared to typical Meisterstuck nibs. Perhaps it’s the shape of this nib that makes it less springy? In any event, it’s more of a smooth nail than nimble paintbrush. Again, this somehow seems appropriate for this pen. I absolutely love seeing dark, smooth ribbons of PR American Blue or Midnight Blues flowing from this nib. In terms of ink flow, I find it to be about a 5-6 out of 10. I haven’t had any trouble with poor starts, skips, or erratic flow. She performs admirably each and every time. You’ll find a writing sample below…







Cost & Value (10/10): This pen, along with the aforementioned 75th Anniversary 149, was a very exciting purchase for me as I was new to fountain pens at the time, and found these pens at 50% off. The MSRP at the time was $440, now increased to $475, and I paid $220 for it. Can’t complain about that! biggrin.gif So obviously this was a great value for me, and I’d do it again without hesitation. At full retail, however, I’d give this a score of 5 or 6. It’s possible to justify paying a premium for the more enduring MB offerings, such as the 149, as you are paying for the pen and the legacy that MB maintains around it. But this is the Starwalker, and it remains to be seen if it will survive for generations as an equally celebrated fountain pen. For other finishes, such as Cool Blue and Black Mystery, the full retail price approaches $600. yikes.gif

Conclusions (55/70): Though I may never walk among the stars, or take my place in the elite, self-confident, cosmopolitan next generation of leaders, at least I own their pen cool.gif I think the Starwalker is a beautifully crafted pen with solid performance and a few well-documented limitations. If the design appeals to you, as it did to me, and you don’t mind a smaller pen addicted to cartridges, and you can find a decent deal, then don’t hesitate to buy. For all the criticism MB gets for making boring black pens, the Starwalker series demonstrates their willingness to try something new. Can’t wait to see the next iteration of the Starwalker…



Thanks for reading!



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#2 asimplemaestro

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 04:31

Nice review and beautiful pics! Thanks. My 100 Year Anniversary Starwalker runs on a Monteverdi Mini Converter. Take a look.

http://www.fountainp...p;hl=starwalker

-Marcos

#3 s_t_e_v_e

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 04:50

Great pics!!! You've covered every aspect of the pen and I enjoyed reading your review. Thanks!!

#4 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 14:08

Great review on a beautiful pen! The futuristic look of the Starwalker and the minimalist nib design go very well together.

Your photos are really outstanding.


#5 Shinchan

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 14:18

Great review and I love those photos!!!! thumbup.gif ....What camera did you use to get those shots?
“其疾如風, 其徐如林, 侵掠如火, 不動如山“

"Move as swift as a wind, stay as silent as the forest, attack as fierce as fire, unwavered like a mountain."



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#6 jameswatts

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 14:54

Glad to see another Starwalker fan. I've had one for three years, and it's never been without ink since I bought it. The Fineliner isn't too shabby either. thumbup.gif

#7 E0157H7

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 16:11

QUOTE (asimplemaestro @ Jun 4 2009, 11:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Nice review and beautiful pics! Thanks. My 100 Year Anniversary Starwalker runs on a Monteverdi Mini Converter. Take a look.

http://www.fountainp...p;hl=starwalker

-Marcos


Thanks for the tip Marcos. Boy, that is one tiny converter, but I guess beggars can't be choosers...

QUOTE (Shinchan @ Jun 5 2009, 09:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great review and I love those photos!!!! thumbup.gif ....What camera did you use to get those shots?


Thanks! I use a Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (8.0 megapixels), and then I size down the photos on my Mac. Besides taking photos for these reviews, I don't have much experience with photography. But I'm starting to see why it becomes such an absorbing hobby for many! Macro photography especially is tremendous fun.

#8 TheWalrus

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 17:36

I know I love my Starwalker.

Although every time I say it's name I think Skywalker. May have even mixed it up a few times.

#9 rubyeyespenlover

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 17:48

Great passion in this review!

You are a poet!

Thank you for sharing and bringing the beauty in our world.
Posted Image
69 th D a n i t r i o F e l l o w s h i p p e r - Montblanc WE Lover - NAMIKI addicted
http://www.pennamagazine.com

#10 Alphabet

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 02:42

Great review and nice photos. I just purchased one of these and love the ink flow and consistency. It certainly feels well made. I think I will pass on the converter and just continue using MB Racing Green.

#11 girlieg33k

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 02:45

I'm not a fan of this particular pen -- but dang, you've just raised the bar on fountain pen reviews. Thanks for a job well done!
Talking about fountain pens is like dancing about architecture.

#12 DRP

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 16:39

Photos are great!

#13 Blade Runner

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 01:39

But you should be reading more entertaining stuff than an Ophthamology textbook. tongue.gif

#14 E0157H7

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 02:57

QUOTE (jeen @ Jun 6 2009, 08:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But you should be reading more entertaining stuff than an Ophthamology textbook. tongue.gif


roflmho.gif

Perhaps, but it will allow me to buy more Starwalkers!

#15 MOVIESTAR

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 16:32

wow
In the days gone by, people believed that if a person touched an object, that object would form a bond with a part of their soul.
Today such a thought seems almost absurd....Until you enter the realm of Montblanc's master craftsmen.
Montblanc - Soul makers for over 100 years

#16 bphollin

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 20:45

I'm glad the review was bumped back up, as I missed it the first time around. This pen doesn't suit my tastes, but I thoroughly enjoyed the review as a chance to enjoy it through your eyes! The floating MB star is a trip. The comparison shot is really helpful, too. Now I know the 149 is far to big for me. I hope you will continue to enjoy your Starwalker...

#17 Blade Runner

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 20:49

Between these photos and Ethernautrix's, I have to get one of these!

#18 E0157H7

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 22:26

I'm glad the review was bumped back up, as I missed it the first time around. This pen doesn't suit my tastes, but I thoroughly enjoyed the review as a chance to enjoy it through your eyes! The floating MB star is a trip. The comparison shot is really helpful, too. Now I know the 149 is far to big for me. I hope you will continue to enjoy your Starwalker...



In fact, I enjoy it so much, I recently picked up a Cool Blue Starwalker with an XF nib... a truly stunning pen! I'll try to post some pics when I have more time.

#19 Shinchan

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:24

I'm glad the review was bumped back up, as I missed it the first time around. This pen doesn't suit my tastes, but I thoroughly enjoyed the review as a chance to enjoy it through your eyes! The floating MB star is a trip. The comparison shot is really helpful, too. Now I know the 149 is far to big for me. I hope you will continue to enjoy your Starwalker...


In fact, I enjoy it so much, I recently picked up a Cool Blue Starwalker with an XF nib... a truly stunning pen! I'll try to post some pics when I have more time.


Hi Joey,

Congrats and enjoy your cool blue!
“其疾如風, 其徐如林, 侵掠如火, 不動如山“

"Move as swift as a wind, stay as silent as the forest, attack as fierce as fire, unwavered like a mountain."



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#20 Blade Runner

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 11:09

Looking forward to Cool Blue photos before I decide.
Cheers






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