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The Namiki/Pilot Vanishing Point Raden


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#1 Pueo711

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:29

A long time lurker, this will be my first review, a second review of the Pelikan M405 will shortly follow. A bit of a forward: my first "serious" fountain pen was a Waterman Carene which I acquired about a year ago. Since then I've discovered the Fountain Pen Network; what a fantastic resource! I love the Carene (it has a medium point nib) which lays down a very smooth even line, however, there were a couple of issues which helped me to decide on trying a different pen. The Carene, as much as I like it, has a fixed nib which negates the possiblility of swapping out different points, and the ink capacity leaves a bit to be desired (it seems that the cart holds a bit more ink than the converter - I've been using the syringe fill method to refill empty carts). After much reading, I decided on purchasing a Vanishing Point in the Raden finish from Richard Binder this past July, keeping in mind that the ink capacity of the Vanishing Point pens would be less than what a Waterman cartridge might hold. The Vanishing Point arrived with the oblique cursive italic "Binderized" nib in early July (a week earlier than I had expected it!). The Raden is awesome and now I'm hooked; fast forward a month later, and I'm ready to make another purchase - this time a Pelikan piston filler (once again ordered from Richard Binder) with a medium nib and a custom "Itali-fine" nib. Both pens are being reviewed separately rather than as a head-to-head comparison.

Carene (top), Raden (middle), Pelikan 405 (bottom)
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Vanishing Point:
First impressions: What a great looker! Pictures don't do justice to the Raden. The blue-green and purple inset shells provide a striking contrast to the stark black barrel. The fit and finish is excellent, though not perfect. On my pen there is a very small "bump" where the lacquer/urushi ran just a bit. It's miniscule yet still apparent both to the eye and to the touch. I actually find that this adds rather than detracts from the appeal - this is a hand applied finish, after all (and not just the body of the pen - the custom nib is also hand ground and finished), and the slight imperfection reinforces that fact.

Appearance and Design: This is, in every respect, a standard Vanishing Point with a high end finish; not much to add that hasn't already been noted in other reviews of the VP/Capless here. The clip placement might be an issue for some, however, for my grip style, this is not the case. I was fortunate enough to be able to try a friend's VP (his was in a "standard" blue/gold finish) and I'd certainly encourage anyone interested in this pen to "try before you buy," if at all possible. I'd also agree with other reviews that ink capacity is probably the pen's greatest faults (or strengths, if you enjoy changing colors often). I ditched the converter in favor of refilling empty carts using the syringe fill method. This is only slightly less convenient than using factory cartridges, and takes only slightly longer than filling via the converter. You get the best of both worlds - the ability to use any ink you desire with the slightly higher capacity of the cartridge.

Balance and Comfort: The pen sits well in the hand. It is 5 ˝" in length, very similar to the Carene (capped, not posted), I cannot give measurements for diameter or weight, but it is close to the Carene, the Vanishing Point being a touch larger in diameter and the Carene being perhaps a touch heavier. The finish used on this pen imparts an interesting tactile sensation. Perhaps because of the lacquer used (urushi, I'd assume), this pen has a kind of "softness" and "warmth" when one picks it up. I found this quite surprising as the black background of the barrel give a visual cue that the pen might be either cold or at least cool to the touch, however, this is not the case with the VP Raden.

Nib Performance: Here we come to the very heart of any pen. I ordered the Raden body with a custom oblique cursive italic nib, 9mm in width from Richard Binder. Richard tests every pen before they leave his shop so it was no surprise that it writes well "out of the box." It is very smooth, and though it is a cursive italic, I was quite (happily) surprised at how crisp it was. It is, in fact, even more crisp than the "Itali-fine" on my Pelikan 405, another custom nib by Richard Binder (but more on that pen and nib later). It lays down a line that is what (in my limited experience) I'd call medium; neither wet nor dry. Five stars - an excellent nib!

Close-up of the two nibs: Raden with oblique cursive italic and Pelikan with "Itali-fine"
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Filling System: Cartridge or converter.

Real Value: Worth every penny! :thumbup:

Final Verdict: The Raden is a real beauty! The capless design is certainly unique; friends and colleagues want to play with the retractable ballpoint style mechanism, the finish invites fascination, turning the pen in hand as if it were a kaleidoscope. It offers incredible flexibility in swapping out nibs and changing inks with ease (please use common sense and flush out the nib section when you change your inks!). This ain't your granddad's pen! Combined with the specialty nib by Richard Binder, this pen is a real winner!

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#2 hexadecimal

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:54

Beautiful pen. Sigh!
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#3 I am not a number

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:01

Hi and welcome, thanks for the review of a great pen and the side-by-side shots!
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#4 greencobra

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:08

This is a great pen! Enjoyed the review, well done. My handwriting doesn't look that good with it though. :glare:
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#5 youstruckgold

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:14

love the handwriting! Does the VP nib feel comfortable to write with continuously?
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#6 Pueo711

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:25

love the handwriting! Does the VP nib feel comfortable to write with continuously?


Thanks for the compliments on the handwriting! I find the VP comfortable enough for extended writing sessions, though in all honesty, if I had to compare the VP to the Pel, I'd have to give the nod to the Pelikan due to the lighter weight.

#7 ssmui

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:45

Great review !

If you feel that the VP is heavy, you may want to explore the Pilot Decimo. It has a slimmer profile and the body is made of aluminum (against VP's brass body). It is therefore smaller in girth and lighter in weight.

I have 2 Decimo's and 1 Fermo ( but this is as heavy as the brass VP, but that's the story for another day), love them all ! :clap1: :clap1: :clap1: :clap1:

Edited by ssmui, 13 August 2009 - 16:43.


#8 italiansallion

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 16:39

thanks for the great review! i just love the look of the raden...

#9 kahhoewan

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 03:36

nice hand writing. About how long did it take to write that? Are you a fast writer? I ask because I might want to get the same nib.






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