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A Humble Frontier


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5 replies to this topic

#1 Dino71

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 06:15

Caveat emptor: This is my first review and I am a novice when it comes to FPs.

Introduction

About 6 or 7 weeks ago, a neighbor was holding a garage sale and I was looking for some tools which he might put on sale. As luck would have it, he had a basket of trinkets and I spied a few pens lurking in that patch of stuff. There were a bunch of Pilot G2s but I saw a pair of Parkers packed in clear plastic cases. I took a look at both and discovered they were Frontier FPs. Neither came with ink and it appeared these pens were never used at all.

I bought both. One had a black barrel. The other came in blue. The black one was expropriated by my boss but the blue is still with me and is the subject of this review.

Appearance & Design 5/10

[attachment=87445:Frontier 1.jpg]

The Frontier has a rather straightforward look. Being a kid in the 70s, I remember pens clipped to the shirt pockets of grownups and this Parker looks a lot like those pens. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a classic look, but it is something between vintage and retro.

The cap is brushed stainless steel. The finish is even and I could find no dings or wear. The barrel is a glossy blue resin which is semi-translucent. It looks opaque but in the right light, you can see the cartridge inside the barrel.

All in all, it is a conservative looking instrument. It won't set your heart on fire, but it does not seem out of place at work.

Construction & Quality 7/10

The pen has a spartan, but not cheap, feel to it. The cap is fit well to the barrel and snaps on and off with authority. Not bad. The section is coated in some type of rubber, which has a bit of give or cushioning. So far, this has not served as a dirt or lint magnet but I've only been using this pen for about 6 weeks.

The pen appears to be built well enough for its target market, but I would not want to drop it either.

Weight & Dimensions 8/10

[attachment=87446:FrontierSafari.jpg]

I don't have a scale handy, but this pen is light. Almost as light as my Lamy Safari. Capped the pen measures close to 5 1/4 inches, while posted it stretches to almost 6 7/8 inches. Diameter at the thickest portion is close to 12mm. (Sorry for the mixed units but I can't make out the Imperial hashmarks on my steel ruler. :-))

Coming from a Lamy 2K, I thought this pen might prove too slim for me. Having used it a bit, this fear proved groundless. Surprisingly, the combination of weight, length and diameter make this one of my go-to pens if I have to take copious notes at work. For reference, I wear a size 8.5 glove.

I was curious about the all stainless version of this pen, but the balance of this version is so nice for me, I don't think the Flighter version is an urgent need.

Nib & Performance 7/10

[attachment=87447:IMAG0018.jpg]

The nib is stainless steel. This is the only Fine nib I have currently. For notes, it's a dream. I tend to write on small notebooks and with Medium nibs, I find that my a's, e's and o's get their centers filled up. Not so with this size nib. This discovery has led me to order Fine and Extra Fine nibs for my Peli, but that's another story.

From the box (or pouch,) I did have some trouble with the pen. After a good flushing with dishwashing solution and again with fresh water, I've not had any problems with the pen. It has not stopped at all.

It tends to write a bit dry and has some feedback. It feels different compared to my other pens but on the other hand, it is the only one that will write well on anything from paper napkins to 90gsm journals. For my work, this is a big advantage. Don't expect any line variation or shading from this nib though. It wasn't built for it.

The nib is also easily removable for cleaning and maintenance. I really like this feature!

Filling System & Maintenance 6/10

Takes Cartridges or Converters. I prefer to use the Quink cartridges while traveling. At home, I will just refill the empty hulls with bottled ink.

Haven't had any leaks so far and I hope this luck holds.

Cost & Value 9/10

I paid $10 and I think I did very well. The local shops sell this model for about $25. Granted this was a pre-owned pen, but it was never used.

Conclusion 7/10

It is safe to say that the pen exceeded my expectations.

Would this still be true if I bought it at retail prices? I don't think so. I have a Lamy Safari and it is a good pen that I can get for slightly under $20. The Lamy nibs are easier to find and I have dropped the Safari (capped of course) on several occasions and still have not had problems with it. I am unsure if the Frontier will take that punishment and still keep going.

I do like the size and balance of the Frontier though, and it has me very curious about the 45s, 61s, 51s and 75s. I have never owned or handled any of these other models, but the entry-level Frontier has fueled my curiosity.

I will keep this pen unless a friend develops an interest in FPs and is looking for a starter pen to learn with. In which case, I can confidently give this pen as a gift.
“It's not the last blow of the axe that fells the tree.”

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#2 gary

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 19:02

"The pen has a spartan, but not cheap, feel to it."

What a nice turn of a phrase. Sometimes we find pens that do nothing more than put ink on a page: no fancy shapes, no designer colors, no precious metals, no hand-crafted artisanship.

They just work. And isn't that really enough?

gary

Edited by gary, 19 February 2011 - 19:02.


#3 Dino71

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 06:57

"The pen has a spartan, but not cheap, feel to it."

What a nice turn of a phrase. Sometimes we find pens that do nothing more than put ink on a page: no fancy shapes, no designer colors, no precious metals, no hand-crafted artisanship.

They just work. And isn't that really enough?

gary


Hi Gary!

Yes, that seems to be where I'm heading with pens.

Granted, I am a novice here, but I initially thought that I would prefer larger/thicker pens over the slimmer ones. Over the past months, my hands have gotten accustomed to writing with an FP for hours in a day, and now it seems that the diameters of the Frontier, Peli 2xx series and similar pens works better for me for long writing sessions.

I suppose I should be thankful as this has caused me to reevaluate my future acquisitions and it seems most of what will work for me is below the $200 mark. :-)

Dino
“It's not the last blow of the axe that fells the tree.”

#4 gary

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 00:39

Dino,
Your pen horizons are wide open, and affordable.
We often turn over many pens, big and small, plain and fancy, cheap and expensive, and most of us come back to a line of ink on paper.
Enjoy the simple life!
gary

#5 jaqcp

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 00:51

Considering that my Frontier has (at least appears to have) the same nib as my Sonnet and my Insignia, both of which cost MUCH more, I have been very impressed and satisfied with it. Inexpensive, but far from cheap.

In this age of text, twitter, skype and email, receiving a good old-fashioned hand-written letter feels just like a warm hug.

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#6 robeck

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 11:53

I have pens that cost me a lot of money. I also have four frontiers and I usually have at least 2 or 3 of them in my rotation, they are that good. I've also successfully ground one of them to a lovely stub/italic. And there's one in my avatar too. You can't go wrong with these. Great little pens.








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