I've been trying to make a Falcon happen for about half a year now. I ordered one on sale during Black Friday and received it with a manufacturing defect (parallel cracks down the barrel and up into the cap threads), so I returned it before I had a real chance to get acquainted. By the time the replacement arrived, I'd decided that I didn't want to worry about the plastic cracking again, and that I'd sell it to finance buying the metal version. Unfortunately, therefore, I don't have the materials to do a direct comparison between the two versions (which I suspect most people reading this review were hoping to see—sorry), but I'll try to bring up points that I remember.
Lemme tell you 'bout my sexy pen.
My Metal Falcon arrived in the same box that the resin version did: a faux-leather clamshell with "Namiki" gauged attractively out of the top. Inside, the pen rested on a removable plastic textured with microfibers that stuck to it like toner dust. I'm not a fan of this material, as I think it makes the box unsuitable for frequent transport.
The pen itself is very unassuming, which I love. Mine is the black lacquered model, so I'm missing out on the sparkly effect that the other Metal Falcon options offer, and it isn't the deep, almost reddish black of the resin version. I've been trying to figure out how to describe it to you and the best way I can think of is to say that it reminds me of black space on an LCD monitor—a sort of luminous rather than velvety black. The rhodium furniture adds to the effect, and my impression is that compared with the resin, the Metal Falcon has a colder look. Hefting it for the first time, I was surprised by how light it still seemed. I'd been expecting something noticeably heavier than the resin version. There was, though, substantiality to it that I didn't remember noticing when I'd first held the resin version; it didn't feel like plastic.
Appearance and Finish
This pen suits my aesthetic. The black lacquer is perfectly glossy and silkier somehow than the plastic gripping section. Wherever it meets the furniture (at both ends of the barrel and at both ends of the cap) it forms a very subtle meniscus-like lip that underscores the fact that it's coated rather than molded. As with everything else, my aesthetic is subjective, but I think the effect of those lips softens the appearance of the pen and communicates the quality of constructions. There's a lot of very fine detail to notice: some of the horizontal bands are stepped, grooved, or faceted, and the clip is solid, very gently rounded, very slightly curved down its length, and very slightly turned up at the tip—all of these touches are only for the benefit of the writer, and only for the writer who has had time to grow intimate with the pen through use. To casual observers, it's a conservative-looking black and silver pen. I think that rocks.
Design and Finish
I haven't measured my pen but my impression is that the figures Mr. Mattishaw gives at nibs.com are consistent with my experience (no affiliation—I just like his website). The length is slightly greater than that of the resin version and it feels very slightly heavier in my hand (though again, I haven't handled the resin version for weeks; this isn't an objective comparison). The original Falcon was the first plastic fountain pen I've used and by far the lightest as compared with my Sheaffer Prelude and Cross Townsend. Being unaccustomed to the weight, I found myself gripping it very tightly and digging into the paper with it, and also, I was forced to post the cap to balance it in my hand. The Metal Falcon still gets gripped harder than it should, but I feel more comfortable letting it glide across the page under its own weight. I tried posting it and enjoyed the balance, but even with the gentlest, most paranoid application of pressure, I've marked the lacquer at the end of the barrel. The length is alright to use unposted, so I probably won't be trying that again.
In both versions, the cap screws onto plastic threads on the barrel. The threads in the my cap are metal, and I notice that screwing the cap on isn't as smooth and luxurious-feeling as it was with the all-resin interface. It's still plenty serviceable, secure, and at no times loose.
Nib and Performance
Oh boy, oh boy. The Falcon nib is my first non-nail, so the gushing I'm about to do is probably fed a little by the pleasure of the novelty.
Let me start with the way it looks. My preference in nib aesthetics is embarrassingly superficial: I like prominent shoulders, lots of scrollwork, and two-tone plating. When I first saw pictures of the Falcon nib, I thought it was awfully ugly, like a sort of flaccidly triangular blob of mercury. It seemed too narrow and too squat at the time, somehow. (This kind of prejudice will probably keep me from trying a Parker 51 unless somebody actively puts one in my hand. My loss.) In person, the Falcon nib is beautiful. The slight upward swell that starts a couple of millimetres before the breather hole creates an unusual, graceful, and thrusting profile that's lost when viewed straight from above but unmissable when you're actually using the pen—another point for the writer's exclusive experience. Also, the perfect polish and fluidity of the swell would be ruined by scrollwork. So, it turns out that it's actually pretty cool to write with a point of mercury (or liquid gold, if you've got the resin version—both are stunning nibs).
The first thing I noticed when I started using this nib was how cushioned the impacts were whenever it met the paper. The whole stepped part of the nib bends upwards a bit and the tines separate when pressure is applied. The effect is that writing with this pen feels like I'm using a soft, blunt-tipped pencil or even a firm rubber toothpick rather than pointy metal. I find this sensation hypnotic and it compels me to write more and more, though I know it's not everyone's thing. Also, I don't know if this softness is a characteristic of all slightly flexible pens, or if this is a signature of the Falcon. (More widely-written members of the community could weigh in here.)
My resin versions had a "soft-medium" nib and provided quite a bit of line variation. My Metal Falcon is a "soft-broad" and doesn't seem to do that nearly as much, though I've been pretty gentle with it. If line variation is important to you, my impression is that the soft-fine would be your best bet. This is a heck of a smooth, juicy ride, though. I'm not sorry I picked the broad nib at all.
Finally, as a point of interest, the feed has no external fins and is made of this really neat, translucent, matte black plastic. When I hold it up to the light, I can easily see the breather hole and space between the tines behind it. Another secret detail!
One of the big advantages of the Metal Falcon over the resin version is that it can accommodate the large "CON-70" push-button-style converter that everyone here seems to love. I'm definitely happy for its enhanced capacity (for reference, I started this review with a full charge and it looks like I'll be just about dry by the end. The broad nib puts down a lot of ink, though it shades too nicely to be over-wet), but having only used piston-style converters, filling with the push-button pump requires more coördination than I expected. If the pen slipped in my hand while filling or flushing it, I'd slam it nib-first into the bottom of the bottle or the side of the sink, and would be gloomy for a while. No such mishaps yet, but the fear and paranoia loom.
Also, there's a little floater on a metal rod that dangles loosely inside the converter and is used to break the surface tension and agitate the bubbles caused by the pump when you fill it (I imagine). It isn't doing it right now, but at times, that rod has a tendency to jangle and rattle inside the pen, giving a weird, moving-parts-innards feeling from stroke to stroke. It's an inconsistent issue that can be fixed by swapping out the converter if it bothers you enough—it wasn't a deal-breaker for me.
The MSRP for the Metal Falcon seems to be "$300," but a common online selling point is $240. I got mine from Pam Braun for $180 with cheaper shipping than I've seen on the other online sites (again, no affiliation, though I am a satisfied customer, obviously). The metal version is at least $80 more expensive than the original, then, for which you get a heavier instrument with more ink capacity, a rhodium rather than gold furniture motif, and four options for colours. I wish I had the resin version here to compare the differences in build quality in a definitive way: I'm biased towards the Metal Falcon and therefore uncomfortable making broad, empirical-sounding claims about the attention to detail, polish, and finish, which may be the same between models and I'm only just noticing it now, on the Metal Falcon. I will say that for me, the $80 premium was worth having a pen that I'm not afraid to crack (and therefore, I'm not afraid to use), the added ink capacity, and the better weight/distribution in my hand. I love the nib and will use it to write many words. [My ink has just run out. I knew I'd make it.]
I would buy this pen again. You should try it if you get the chance.
Edited by mrphyig, 05 March 2010 - 15:46.