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Pilot Custom 98 Review


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#1 Phthalo

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 06:48

PILOT CUSTOM 98

Introduction

Since discovering how wonderful Japanese nibs are, and how well-suited they are to my tiny handwriting, I often keep an eye out for small, attractive Japanese pens with EF nibs. Unfortunately, EF-nibbed pens are few and far between – unless you enjoy black pens and/or manly pens – which I do not. Anyway, last year, several small Japanese pens had made their way onto my wish list, but one of the most promising was the Pilot Custom 98 – a short, simple pen with a resin body and 14K nib.

The Custom 98 is available in six colours; Black, Deep Red, Dark Blue, Dark Green, Deep Yellow and Red, and three nib widths; EF, F and M.

First Impressions

Cute and compact, I liked the Custom 98 immediately! The Red was calling my name, but as I already had a Red Sailor 1911M I picked the Deep Yellow instead.



The pen came inside a small rectangular presentation box with a Pilot CON-20 converter, two Pilot Blue cartridges and the instruction / warranty booklet.

Appearance / Finish

I really like the Deep Yellow colour – I was expecting it to be rather mustard-like, but it’s more like yellow ochre. The Deep Red and Dark Blue versions of the Custom 98 have colored end-jewels which match the body and cap, while the Dark Green, Deep Yellow and Red pens have black end-jewels. I personally don’t mind contrasting jewels on pens, and in this case the contrast is especially nice.



The Custom 98 is nicely made and sports a 14K nib which puts many more expensive pens to shame.

Design / Size

Bullet-shaped pens have never done much for me, but the proportions of the Custom 98 are just right, and the whole package is very appealing. The pen is constructed from a plastic / resin which feels of similar quality to that of my Sailor 1911M. The thickness of the barrel in particular is quite generous for such a small pen, and this makes for a robust feeling in the hand.

The Custom 98 has a push cap, which is unusual for me, as the majority of my pens have threaded caps. It makes a nice change, and of course is very convenient when you pick up the pen in a hurry. I usually post the cap on this pen for longer writing sessions, otherwise it's fine un-posted. I have no problem with gold-trim, and in the case of the Deep Yellow body, it’s an attractive match.

One design negative: The metal trim ring / section fitting at the bottom of the grip section. Why so many modern pens continue to feature this is beyond me.



At only 10.8cm / 4.2” when uncapped, 12.2cm / 4.8” long when capped, and 13.4cm / 5.25” when posted, the Custom 98 is definitely one for the small pen fans. As you can see in the photo above, the Custom 98 is similarly sized to the Pilot Prera (the Prera is slightly thicker though). Other similarly sized pens are the Pilot Legno 89s and the Sailor Sapporo, but like the Prera the Sapporo is thicker and also heavier.

Nib Design / Performance

The Custom 98 features a pretty #3 size nib made from 14K yellow gold. The line width of my 14K EF unit was perfect! It’s finer than any of my Sailors, and even marginally finer than the XXF-esque Pilot Prera “F” nib.

As a fellow Custom 98 user noted in a recent snail, these particular 14K nibs should really be prefixed with the word “Soft”. They actually do offer a nice touch of variation, and are more than just merely springy. I think the Custom 98 is a good option for fans of true EF nibs who do not mind smaller sized pens.

Filling System

The Custom 98 accepts a standard Pilot CON-20 converter, and of course Pilot cartridges. I use only cartridges in this pen - which I refill with a syringe. This is neater and the cartridges have a better capacity than a converter.

Cost / Value

The retail price for the Custom 98 is $90 or so. I’ve seen them sell on eBay for a lot less, but the ballpark seems to be around $80 which I feel is a little high.

I purchased my pen from the Japan Ujuku Shop. Delivery occurred within five days or so, and as always Mr Yamada was a pleasure to deal with.

Final Thoughts

Great EF nib - this one is a keeper. smile.gif

Edited by Phthalo, 21 July 2008 - 11:40.

Laura / Phthalo
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#2 fjf

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 07:31

I have one of these, and I agree with your review. It is a nice little pen. The converter is tiny, and takes a few drops of ink.

#3 Nikolaos

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 08:02

Fantastic review Laura as always. I really like the contrast of the black ends and the deep yellow of the pen!

Enjoy it!
Nikolaos

#4 John Cullen

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 12:49

Thanks. You are one of a number of people on this list who have made pen reviews an art form. Thoughtful comments, all the right information anyone would want, personal comments and wonderful photographs. I think you and a few other people here are probably the best PR some of these pen companies could possibly get. If I ran a pen company I would send you one of my pens! Heck, I hate small pens and now I want one of these!

Thanks again, John Cullen

#5 Phthalo

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 14:09

blush.gif

Thanks folks - very glad to know these are useful. smile.gif
Laura / Phthalo
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#6 Kay

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 14:11

Beautiful review. I was looking at the Ujuku Shop website, does anyone know the difference between the Custom 98 and Custom 74?
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#7 Phthalo

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 21:40

I asked a Custom 74 owner that very question just a couple of days ago!

The size of the Custom 74 listed on the Ujuku site is wrong - it is 143mm when capped, making it a normal-sized pen rather than a small one. The cap is also threaded, not push-on like the 98, and the nib is a larger #5 according to the Pilot website.
Laura / Phthalo
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#8 Jopen

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 21:54

Very nice review, I always enjoy them. The pen is too small for my hands, but that does not matter. Thanks for sharing.

#9 tamburlaine

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Posted 08 October 2007 - 22:36

My first time back on FPN for about a month or so (been busy), and the first damned review I read makes me want to buy a pen... O dear... that colour is brilliant! I think I may slowly be falling in love with small pens... my Sapporo hasn't left my hand for a few days straight... my Pel M400 is so comfy... I've just ordered a Pilot Prera... Ujuku pen shop next then? Although I did like the look of those Pilot Legance pens too... (I'm never going to manage to save up for that dream Sailor 1911 or dream++ Aurora 88 at this rate...)

Excellent review.

Edited by patrick1314, 08 October 2007 - 22:37.

Publifhed According to the True Originall Copies

#10 Gojira

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 08:16

Great review as always! I was considering a Custom 98 in yellow too until I saw the size. A little too small for me as my hands can get cramped from gripping smaller pens for too long.

Bought a Custom 74 instead with a soft medium nib to try.



#11 tamburlaine

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 08:26

QUOTE(Gojira @ Oct 10 2007, 09:16 AM) View Post
Great review as always! I was considering a Custom 98 in yellow too until I saw the size. A little too small for me as my hands can get cramped from gripping smaller pens for too long.

Bought a Custom 74 instead with a soft medium nib to try.


I'd love to know more about the 74. Unfortunately there is only one review. Does anyone know how its size compares with say a Sailor full-size 1911? I am thinking the 74 may be a good extra-fine Japanese-nibbed cut-price alternative to the 1911...

As a side note - can either the Custom 98 or the 74 be used with the large Pilot CON-70 converter in place of the smaller CON-20 or -50 the would normally come with them?

Edited by patrick1314, 10 October 2007 - 08:40.

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#12 Phthalo

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 11:53

The 98 won't accept a CON-70, but the Custom 74 will. The Sailor full-size 1911 is about the same length as the Custom 74.

Edited by Phthalo, 10 October 2007 - 12:02.

Laura / Phthalo
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#13 Gojira

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 07:08

My Custom 74 has yet to arrive so I can't verify which converter it's using although I'm pretty sure it's the CON-50, a screw-type piston converter. My 742 came with the CON-70, which is pretty long but according to measurements online, the 74 should be able to fit it in. I'm not sure about the rubber ball bearing inside it though...it may disintegrate over time and that'd really foul things up.



#14 MYU

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 17:41

Great review, Laura! smile.gif So which do you feel to be the better value, when looking at the Prera and the Custom 98 but discounting the slight nib differences? I'm guessing the Prera, given the higher cost of the Custom 98, but... smile.gif

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#15 Phthalo

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 05:12

Actually, the soft and interesting 14K nib on the Custom 98 is a key point of this review. smile.gif

You can't compare the two pens in any way except for size - because the soft 14K nib on the Custom 98 gives a completely different writing experience when compared to the Prera which has a rigid steel nib.
Laura / Phthalo
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#16 sam

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:08

thx for another great review laura smile.gif
i love the look/design of the pen.
(but not the color...the dark yellow just doesnt appeal to me)

#17 PenFisher

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 18:15

I have a Custom 74 and your are 100% correct.

QUOTE (Phthalo @ Oct 8 2007, 04:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I asked a Custom 74 owner that very question just a couple of days ago!

The size of the Custom 74 listed on the Ujuku site is wrong - it is 143mm when capped, making it a normal-sized pen rather than a small one. The cap is also threaded, not push-on like the 98, and the nib is a larger #5 according to the Pilot website.

Edited by PenFisher, 04 January 2009 - 18:16.


#18 trent

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 03:48

This small pen is great for travel. I have it with a medium nib, which is soft and wet with great flow. In my experience, it is a significantly better pen than the Prera, which has issues with sudden dryness. The Custom 98 feels like a small version of a major pen.

#19 Spector

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 04:25

ooh, interesting review, Is it comparable to a lamy 2000?
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#20 farseer911

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 04:26

This small pen is great for travel. I have it with a medium nib, which is soft and wet with great flow. In my experience, it is a significantly better pen than the Prera, which has issues with sudden dryness. The Custom 98 feels like a small version of a major pen.



I have one, with a falcon nib, but I have never inked it up... It was one of those purchases, I saw the pen, bought it, but never got around to using it.... looks nice in the case though.
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