I'm a bargain-hound at heart, and so I from time to time visit the dollar store, especially if I'm out to get some cheap tools, wrapping paper, and other odds and ends.
They are the 'Bazik' branded, 'Mileno' model fountain pen. And, they were a whopping $1.29 each, including three ink cartridges apiece. What a deal! But were the fountain pens usable? Because even a $1.29 bad pen is, well, a bad pen.
They came in a dark blue and a maroon, and I picked up one of each. The packaging looked decent enough, and on the back, there's some Spencerian-ish script, directions on how to use the cartridge, and decent descriptions about the fountain pen (it got cut off in the pic but it mentions a feed, a nib, and so on - so the people who made this weren't totally clueless regarding fountain pens, thankfully!).
The construction seems very decent, and even though everything is plastic except for the nib and the clip (and the clip may be chromed plastic, even), it feels solid in hand, if a bit light (to be expeced), and frankly the Dollar brand pens from India don't necessarily have anything on these pens, from a construction standpoint. The cap is a pull-top one (not screw-in), and it pops open and closed with a reassuring 'click.'
Alright, by now you're wondering how it writes. Well, the long and the short of it - it writes perfectly fine, the two I have are very smooth and almost no scratchiness, and they flow well. The line width is about a medium-fine, and the included ink is a bit grayer than my Noodler's Heart of Darkness, but it is perfectly acceptable, though it required a bit of a good pinch on the cartridge to get the juices flowing the first time around. Another neat thing is that the third cartridge was inside the pen (the packaging looks like there's only 2 carts), upside-down - i.e., already in the standard position used to store the spare as well as help keep the installed cartridge from falling out.
One surprising thing was that the nib is slightly semi-flex! You can see it in the sample above; the nib tines actually do widen. It takes a lot of pressure, but it's neat to think that a $1.29 pen does this.
Overall verdict? A dang nice backup fountain pen, and one that you could use to load up with your less frequently used inks that you just can't bring yourself to get rid of (because we can't all have several copies of our favorite pen!), yet you'd like to use once in a while. The pens write nicely, and frankly as well as even $30~50 pens I've seen. Sure it doesn't have the cachet of a brand name (though, "Bazik" has that gourmet flair yes? ha.), or precious materials, but it flows smooth and works well, and you can afford to get a few of these for rough and ready use.
Not sure where all this pen is available, but I might just go ahead and do a couple giveaways on them soon. Keep your eyes peeled =)
Final cool bit - I also got a pack of refills, 12x for - you guessed it! - $1.29 =D
Pics and more here: http://thepennywriter.blogspot.com
Edited by mcmc, 28 June 2010 - 07:00.