Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies


Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team






Photo

Lamy Al-Star


  • Please log in to reply
49 replies to this topic

#1 HDoug

HDoug

    First Class Forever

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,816 posts
  • Location:Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 23 May 2011 - 09:34

Posted Image


There are many posts about the Lamy Al-Star here at FPN and here is another, this time my own review of the instrument. It’s common for reviewers to describe the Aluminum Al-Star and its sibling the plastic Safari as “good pens for the money” as though we should expect more expensive pens to out perform them in head to head competition. My experience is that the Al-Star is as good a writer as any pen and its relative inexpensiveness is from its placement in a more utilitarian, less luxury segment of the market. The steel nib (as stiff as a Sailor gold nib) is a wonderful writer:

Posted Image


Even Lamy’s German web site puts the Al-Star in the category of “kids’ pens” (junges Schreiben) along with the Safari and Balloon, but mechanically and functionally there really isn’t much separating it from the “fine writing” (hochwertiges Schreiben) Studios, Accents, et al. In fact, the Al-Star shares main mechanical components of nib, feed, and cartridge/converter with a number of higher echelon Lamy pens. The top of the line Dialog 3 has a complicated nib retraction mechanism, and the venerable and beloved 2000 features a piston feed, and to an extent, these features at least partially justify the higher price of those pens.

The pen itself was designed by Wolfgang Fabian for Lamy following Bauhaus principles. There is no superfluous ornamentation and they are in fact a bit too starkly industrial for some tastes. To each his own. In any case the look of the Al-Star is a result of intent and not neglect -- it’s supposed to look the way it does. I must like the look -- I have accumulated five of them over the years:

Posted Image


While on the subject of design and taste, I mention that I have only one Safari, a clear demonstrator Vista. I find the almost identical plastic Safari to look “cheap” while the anodized aluminum Al-Stars impress me as mechanical instruments. Go figure.

My first Al-Star was in the grey graphit (graphite) finish. A good match for my PowerBook, I thought:

Posted Image


I think it first came with a F nib, but that was many nibs ago. I’ve bought a large assortment of nibs over the years, and that just points out one of the advantages of the Lamy pens that use these easily swappable steel nibs. I’ve replaced all the black nibs with bright stainless, and I have an variety F, EF, 1.1mm italic, and self-ground italic nibs.

The graphit looks very much like the silverblau (silverblue) finish which mysteriously changes hue depending on light source. This is one of the most subtle pen body colors there is:

Posted Image


There seems to have been a movement toward more strident colors recently. My black purple version contains Noodler’s North African Violet, the only purple/violet ink I’ve found that I can use.

Posted Image


What motivated me to review these pens was my experience with them on a couple of recent trips. I took the bright metal aluminum and ocean blue with me. One or the other was always in pocket and the other in carry-on. Long trips with a lot of layovers can be rigorous for both the traveler and his writing instruments. I left the plastic pens at home (as pretty as some of them are) and opted for the sturdier aluminum Al-Star. Here’s a hotel room shot with the bright aluminum version as part of my traveling rig.

Posted Image


They came through with flying colors. And they’re a pleasure to write with. The triangulated grip forces a schoolbook tripod grip on your hand, and if you don’t have such, or are a lefty, you might not be able to come to terms with either the Al-Star or Safari.

One interesting difference between the Safari and Al-Star is that the all Al-Stars use a smoky grey translucent section. You can see the internal feed through it. The feed saturates during filling and provides an ink flow monitor which comes in handy.

Posted Image


While on the subject of internals, here’s a shot of the converter mechanism. Note the tiny converter “ears” and the matching receptacle on the pen side. I really appreciate that kind of attention to detail. (That gouge in the plastic is damage caused by me.)

Posted Image


The pen itself is very light. The section -- being a kids’ pen -- is rather narrow, but the length posted rather long. I write half the time with it unposted.

When I got home from my trips, I continued to write with my traveling Al-Stars just because I enjoyed writing with them. My own handwriting is smallish -- x-height around 2mm -- and I usually use an EF nib or a self ground italic made from an F nib. I notice the EF nibs tend to be a little Arabic/Hebrew in that they produce slightly finer lines in the up and down direction, than they do side to side. That’s from a sample of perhaps half a dozen EFs both bright stainless and black. I don’t know if others can expect the same sort of characteristic. I have found variation in line size and smoothness among the EF nibs, although my swapping and smoothing have resulted in fine lines and smooth writing.

So in the final analysis, these Lamy Al-Stars aren’t so much jewelry as they are writing instruments. Not designed to impress, but this one in ocean blue still gets a “wow” when I use it in public.

Posted Image



Sponsored Content

#2 PeterKluk

PeterKluk

    Dipped Only

  • Member - Silver

  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 23 May 2011 - 09:48

just wanna point something out!

yeah they're nice pens and all... but your writing is bloody beautiful!!

#3 stefanv

stefanv

    Casual Collector and Experimenter

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 886 posts
  • Location:Ontario, Canada
  • Flag:

Posted 23 May 2011 - 10:27

Very nice review! Are you a pipe-organ designer by any chance (sorry, I couldn't help reading your notes... beautiful handwriting).
Stefan Vorkoetter

Visit my collection of fountain pen articles at StefanV.com.

A pen from my collection:
Posted Image

#4 rollerboy

rollerboy

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 696 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 23 May 2011 - 10:44

It’s common for reviewers to describe the Aluminum Al-Star and its sibling the plastic Safari as “good pens for the money” as though we should expect more expensive pens to out perform them in head to head competition. My experience is that the Al-Star is as good a writer as any pen and its relative inexpensiveness is from its placement in a more utilitarian, less luxury segment of the market. The steel nib (as stiff as a Sailor gold nib) is a wonderful writer:


In total agreement here. The AlStar/Safaris are good pens. Period. Full stop.

#5 Ondina

Ondina

    Donor Pen

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,924 posts

Posted 23 May 2011 - 10:58

Outstanding review of a truly good pen. As always, a hand that is a pleasure to see. Thank you for taking the time to share it.

#6 Ink Sandwich

Ink Sandwich

    Doublemint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 280 posts

Posted 23 May 2011 - 16:59

Wow what a beautiful review :) I like your pictures, and I just love your handwriting! (And you really seem to like your Al-Stars ;) )

The only real complaint I have about the Al-Star is the grip section. A matte opaque section would be nicer. IMO the clear bit cheapens the look of the pen a little and it's too easily scratched / scratches on it are too visible.

#7 minpanda

minpanda

    NOS (New Old Stock)

  • Member - Silver

  • PipPip
  • 23 posts
  • Location:Tokyo, Japan
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 00:30

I also have a few Lamy Al-stars. :) Those pen are really nice and cheap comparing other fountain pens but also good quality.

I am really impressed with your handwriting. Very very beautiful. :D

#8 KrazyIvan

KrazyIvan

    Fountain Pen Sith Lord

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,212 posts
  • Location:Texas, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 01:48

Love the blue Al-Star. Your EF writes thinner than mine. :mellow:

#9 Sonnet

Sonnet

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 756 posts

Posted 24 May 2011 - 02:08

I love your AlStar pictures! I keep accumulating and then selling my Lamys but right now I have like, 5 again: grape AlStar (aka "black purple"), pink Safari, new aquamarine Safari, and a blue Studio. The raspberry AlStar (2008?) was a pretty one too. They're great pens that write well, take a bunch of nibs, and you can also throw them in your purse (or bag or pocket or whatever). Hope you don't mind my own Lamy shot :) L-R: pink Safari, aquamarine Safari, "grape" AlStar, blue Studio, and a soft blue Pilot Prera, just because.

Posted Image

Edited by Sonnet, 24 May 2011 - 02:16.

Sometimes I write things (as of 2013
http://katesplace7.wordpress.com/

#10 FlatCactus

FlatCactus

    Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 177 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 07:27

Great Review!

Just out of curiosity, what notebook are you using?

EDIT: One thing I don't understand is how these grips are apparently not suited for left-handers. I am left handed underwriter and have no problems with the grip.

Edited by FlatCactus, 24 May 2011 - 07:29.


#11 HDoug

HDoug

    First Class Forever

  • FPN Super Moderators

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,816 posts
  • Location:Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 08:51

Just out of curiosity, what notebook are you using?

EDIT: One thing I don't understand is how these grips are apparently not suited for left-handers. I am left handed underwriter and have no problems with the grip.


I'm using Kunst & Papier hardbound sketchbooks, A4 size of 112 pages. They lie flat (enough) and make good journals for me.

I must be wrong about the triangular section representing a problem for left handers. Glad to hear that's not the case!

Doug

#12 river1

river1

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 56 posts
  • Location:Bluffton, SC
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 11:39

Great review HDoug and the fact that you compared this pen to several others is very useful to people like me who are looking for an allaround pen. Doug

"While on the subject of design and taste, I mention that I have only one Safari, a clear demonstrator Vista. I find the almost identical plastic Safari to look “cheap” while the anodized aluminum Al-Stars impress me as mechanical instruments. Go figure.

#13 bk123

bk123

    Long Live FPN

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 281 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 11:56

nice review and great handwriting too!

"It's simple to be happy but difficult to be simple"


#14 fourseamer

fourseamer

    Up and In

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 809 posts
  • Location:Ohio
  • Flag:

Posted 24 May 2011 - 21:37

Just out of curiosity, what notebook are you using?

EDIT: One thing I don't understand is how these grips are apparently not suited for left-handers. I am left handed underwriter and have no problems with the grip.


I'm using Kunst & Papier hardbound sketchbooks, A4 size of 112 pages. They lie flat (enough) and make good journals for me.

I must be wrong about the triangular section representing a problem for left handers. Glad to hear that's not the case!

Doug

I'll echo others sentiments. Nice review of the AL-Star and terrific handwriting! Also, interested in what paper you were using, because I had read your past review of the large Exacompta Basics sketchbook. I too like bigger, blank paper in a lie flat notebook, and it's challenging to find any these days. I'll be looking up the Kunst & Papier. Thanks for sharing.

#15 Brian

Brian

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,432 posts

Posted 25 May 2011 - 16:54

Real nice Hdoug. I think the al star and the safari line are for sure fpn darlings. I like the BP and pencils too as I have good memories using them in grad school. It is very good to know that sometimes its not about great cost as much as its about great design.

#16 janyyc

janyyc

    Near Mint

  • Member - Silver

  • PipPipPip
  • 29 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 26 May 2011 - 00:48

Now I really want to buy one of these... Down to the pen store tomorrow. We'll see if I'll be able to resist... ;)

#17 SHK

SHK

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 464 posts
  • Location:Global
  • Flag:

Posted 26 May 2011 - 06:13

My elder son is getting the blue one after long vacation for secondary education.
My younger son is actually writting with the Lamy ABC in blue.

Sascha

#18 maria322

maria322

    Maria!

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 344 posts
  • Location:Indiana
  • Flag:

Posted 26 May 2011 - 07:39

just wanna point something out!

yeah they're nice pens and all... but your writing is bloody beautiful!!



AMEN to that!! Beautiful italic writing!!
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
- Dorothy Bernard

Maria

Posted Image

#19 Tereghan

Tereghan

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Location:SoCal
  • Flag:

Posted 30 May 2011 - 02:13

Thanks for an "adult" review of some "basic" pens, good to hear that can be comparable to their more expensive counterparts. Most of the time when these are mentioned it's all, "They're okay, but not as good as [insert several hundred dollar model here]." I'm sure the pricey models are great, but I want something to play with before I make my millions. :P

#20 RookSeven

RookSeven

    Big Money! Big Prizes! I Love It!

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 87 posts
  • Location:Toronto, Canada
  • Flag:

Posted 30 May 2011 - 03:15

Very nice review and handwriting. :)

I've only got a blue Safari and a Vista right now... But, more Safaris and Al-Stars are calling my name. :P
Posted ImagePosted Image






Sponsored Content




|