I introduce you today to Unbranded Bob.. please make him feel welcome while I attempt a brief review.
A Jinhao 599, a Hero 359, and a Lanbitou 757 all walk into a bar.. that's what this pen puts me in mind of, the start of a well known anecdote. But the ending may surprise you. Unlike all the other ink rollerballs I have read about, this one is neither dry nor scratchy. It's not the smooth skate of a fine fountain pen nib, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it writes. I would choose it over both a Uniball and my runner up favorite, an Inkjoy.
The Pro's :
- Good writer, extra fine tip of .4mm
- Cheap ($9.95 shipped)
- Comes with a piston converter for using bottled fountain pen ink
- Can use cartridges ** (see note, below) if that is your thing
- Sturdy construction, on par with a decent knock-off of a Lamy Vista
- Has a usable clip that stays clipped
The Con's :
- Unbranded, so finding a tip replacement in the future may be difficult
I have a Jinhao 599 fountain pen that I use daily and like. This rollerball (let's call him Bob) is an almost perfect clone except for the clip. Bob also looks like the clear Lanbitou 757 and has obviously stolen the Hero 359 clip. Unlike my Jinhao, Bob has no cracks and his cap snicks shut perfectly. Perhaps some abuse on my part may change this in future but so far he's held up better than the Jinhao did in the same time period. I consider Bob to be a clone of a clone but a successful one.
** A note about cartridges. I'm a cartridge fanatic because my pens get used on the go far more than they do at home. I wanted a rollerball that used cartridges! Bob's little ink puncture thingie did not work with an international cartridge. But a Platinum cart snapped in just fine. I have the adapter that came with one of my Preppy's (currently stuck inside the pen) that converts to international shorts. As soon as I find some needle nose pliers or when I give up and just buy another adapter, I am pretty sure I will be able to use international shorts without issue and will update this review.
I apologize for my lack of reviewed ascetics, but my criteria for fountain pens is similar: does it write well, can it use carts, and is it cheap. Bob checks all those boxes for me. And for those who subscribe to the size matters criteria, I include the following picture.
From the top: Unbranded Bob, a Jinhao 599, a Platinum Preppy (yes, that's scotch tape holding a cracked cap together, I get attached to my pens)
I have smallish hands and hate giant pen barrels. Unbranded Bob is infinitesimally smaller in barrel girth than the Jinhao, which is at the top of my comfort zone, and right about the same as the Preppy.
If you feel the urge to adopt an Unbranded Bob of your own, I bought him on flea-bay from US Pens for $9.95 US, shipped. This is my first review of anything here. Hope this proves useful to everyone.