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Itoya Blade disposable

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19 replies to this topic

#1 Fox in the Stars

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 06:40

...But I'll spare you the gory pictures. ^_~

Outward Aesthetics:
The Blade's transparent and silver metallic body looks like a disposable pen, but a pretty handsome one, like what you'd expect a "tech" gel-roller to look like (here's a small but pretty good picture). It has large ink windows in the sides, and also a transparent section, so you can see the feed and a little of the ink reservoir just behind it. The nib is plain steel stamped with "Itoya" and a circle where there's no breather hole, and it "clips" to the feed at the sides like a Platinum Preppy or Lamy Safari nib (albeit much less removable than a Safari's!). The cap is also transparent with a silver one-piece endcap and clip. The inner cap is spring-loaded (like the Preppy); I don't think this hurts the looks of the pen, but the sound and feel of the spring is a little annoying when capping the pen, particularly if you twist the nib inside it.

Ink and Writing: Getting to business!
I had a Black Blade, and the ink was a nice dark black, not vibrant but not washed-out either. It wrote a fine, dry line, finer and much drier than a Pilot Varsity, more akin to a Platinum Preppy but maybe still drier. My biggest complaint with the Blade, actually, was that it couldn't keep up with a fast writing pace, like I use to sign my name. When writing more normally rather than jotting, though, it's good, and gives a nice feeling of tight control. And I never had it dry out, despite leaving it capped unused for weeks at a time (possibly due to the inner cap's spring always getting it tight over the nib).

I have a test-sheet for the ink, but the "standing drop" test hasn't dried out yet, so I'll post that image later. Preliminary report: I noticed no smearing from a dry finger, and it stood up relatively well to a swipe with a wet cotton swab. It will, however, dissolve in a soak.

And now, Mad Science!
I've had the Blade for a few months and only used it sporadically. Tonight I noticed there wasn't a review thread for it that I could find, but before I posted a review, I thought I should see if it could be refilled like the Varsity. Well, one thing led to another and I ended up sacrificing my poor Blade for science. ^_~;

I thought (later confirmed) that the barrel and section were a single piece, so that the only way to get to the ink reservoir would be to pull the feed out from the tip. I proceeded to attempt this without success. Finally, using shelf-lining grip, a sideways hold, and undue force, I managed to pull the nib off. I had previously noticed a little tuft of fiber peeking out of the tip of the feed, and sure enough, the feed uses a fibrous wick. Here's a picture:

Here you see the hollow under the nib; behind that, a channel through the finned body of the feed snugly fits the fiber wick all the way back to where it protrudes slightly into the ink reservoir.

Returning to the goal of getting back there myself, I pulled and wiggled and pulled---and finally broke the neck of the feed at the first thin spot behind the nib. The deal is that the section crimps inward at the end, too small for the feed to pass through---I'm guessing that in manufacturing, the feed is installed and then the end of the barrel/section is closed in a little.

At this point the pen was trashed, so may as well get everything possible out of it. Using a brutal array of cutters and pliers I got the feed out and decanted the ink. I actually hadn't used the pen that much so it probably had most of its supply, and what I got out of it was about 2.5cc (at least I think those are ccs marked on the side of my cartridge-filling syringe... ^_^; ). Finally I cut a lengthwise section out of the body with a Dremel tool, and then from all I'd found I made a kind of schematic drawing:

Hope you find it useful and enlightening!

Sadly, however, I have to conclude that the Blade cannot practically be refilled, and that might be a showstopper for me; I don't like when things are needlessly made just to be tossed. The dry writing, while actually nice at a leisurely pace, made it not so versatile, so I don't think I'll get another Blade.

Edited by Fox in the Stars, 25 February 2008 - 06:45.

Laura Fox ~
civil libertarian socialist, puppyshipper, seeker of the legendary Waterman Flex-Nib

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#2 HDoug


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Posted 25 February 2008 - 06:58

The Blade is cool, and your review is even cooler. And considering it holds 2.5cc which is five times more than a Pilot converter, it may not be such a bad deal.


#3 Ondina


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Posted 25 February 2008 - 07:58

Fantastic review -wish I could draw as close as that!- Thanks for sharing it!

#4 theblackpen


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Posted 25 February 2008 - 08:42

I must say that this is one of the best reviews I've read here on the FPN.


#5 Abhik



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Posted 25 February 2008 - 10:26

Lovely review! Ingenious!!

#6 jsonewald


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Posted 25 February 2008 - 13:18

Your review is excellent. I have a black and a blue version, and am not all that impressed with the pens. I had noticed the fiber sticking out from under the nib and wondered about the feed mechanism. Both inks appear washed out to me, and both pens are decidedly on the dry side. I lke the spring loaded cap, it is a nice touch. Neither black or blue ink is water resistant. Overall all, although the Blade's styling is more modern, I prefer the Varsity for a disposable fountain pen.

#7 Fox in the Stars

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 17:04

Thank you! cloud9.gif
Thankfully most pens don't have to be laid open with a Dremel tool to draw them... ^_~

Want to amend something I said; the Blade is definitely drier than a Platinum Preppy. I can't outpace my Preppy.

And now, the ink test, on Miquelrius paper. Unfortunately I didn't realise I should do this until I had the nib off, so I drew lines using the fiber-feed like a marker. At the bottom are dip pens using the decanted ink.

Since I don't have the pen anymore, I'll have to leave it for someone else if they want to do a test sheet actually writing with the nib --- I'd like to see one myself, for completion's sake.

Edited by Fox in the Stars, 25 February 2008 - 17:08.

Laura Fox ~
civil libertarian socialist, puppyshipper, seeker of the legendary Waterman Flex-Nib

#8 kadymae


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Posted 25 February 2008 - 22:58

Great review, thanks.

Katherine Keller
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#9 gary


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Posted 26 February 2008 - 12:12

The operation was a success, but,
as they say,
the patient died.

Creative and well done review.
Just stay away from my Iride!


#10 Fox in the Stars

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 22:24

Wanted to update, since I think Blade vs. Varsity/V-pen is a very salient comparison...

Looking at the refilling instructions about, I pulled apart my Purple Varsity and had a look at it. Its functional configuration is just like the Blade---one piece barrel/section, feed with fiber wick (although the hollow under the nib is more closely fitted to the wick), clip on nib, empty space at barrel end with snap-in endcap. Major differences I noted:

The blade has two transparent ink windows on either side of the barrel and a larger space behind the feed where the ink is visible. The Varsity's "visulated section" behind the feed is so small you probably wouldn't notice it unless you were looking for it, and the Varsity's barrel has an ink window in only one side; the other side is painted, and the inability of light to come through the barrel makes it hard to see anything inside. So the Varsity's ink windows are much more useless.

Also, the Varsity has a smaller capacity. Again it was a pen I hadn't used very much, and when I decanted the ink and measured it with my syringe (I need a new one; the markings are rubbing off...), it was only about 1.5cc. The Varsity being a much wetter writer, it's sure to be used up much faster.

Where the Varsity has the decisive advantage though: it's much easier to take apart. The nib was easier to pull off, and the feed will pop out so the pen can be refilled. It's not something you could do without trying (I pulled the feed with pliers, but it had more flat parallel surfaces to allow that than the Blade did, too), but it's quite feasible. (Yes, you'll all be glad to know that the Varsity survived my explorations not noticeably scathed, unlike my hapless Blade.)

And IMO the Varsity is ahead in writing performance, ie, where it really counts.
Laura Fox ~
civil libertarian socialist, puppyshipper, seeker of the legendary Waterman Flex-Nib

#11 Ashland



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Posted 12 March 2008 - 00:16

My Itoya Blade sat unused for 3.5 weeks and wrote immediately with no problems. The silver ink began to come off the first day I used it and continues to wear away. I'm sad to read that the pen isn't refillable; I had hoped I'd found a pen similar to the Varsity/Vpen.

The Asian version of the Varsity, the Vpen, does have ink windows on both sides & is much more pleasing to the eye than its American kin.


Edited by Ashland, 12 March 2008 - 00:16.

#12 jonro



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Posted 12 March 2008 - 02:09

Thanks for this interesting review. If I find one, I'll probably pick one up just to have it for those times when I will only want to put a disposable pen at risk.

#13 firstpancake


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Posted 18 March 2008 - 03:10

thanks for the review and the dissection!
I just bought myself an Itoya Blade today, intending to use it until it was dry and do just what you did here! Curiousity was simply irresistable to me and i feared I couldn't write the thing dry first, so i'm glad i found your post. it spares my pen from goin through the same ordeal and winding up another needless throw-away.
and that explains the curious little felty thing i noticed as i was eyeing my new pen today!

I agree, the pen writes annoyingly dry (probably because of the fiber wick system that keeps it so nicely quick starting for so long?)
and I too would not buy another knowing it was so purposefully designed and manufactured to be thrown away. A waste of wonderful engineering/design talent, plastic, landfill space, and money.

Adventures in origami and fountain pens! Nib/Crease

#14 wvbeetlebug


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Posted 26 August 2008 - 01:58

Thanks for the review. I just received a black Itoya Blade in the post from my sister. It is a bit too dry and fine for my taste, but it is a pen I will use until the ink is gone.



Cathy L. Carter


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#15 Breck


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Posted 26 August 2008 - 02:39

Rad review. I'm glad vwbeetlebug ressurected it from back in the day. Short, sweet, and informative. Great drawings and ink tests as well.

No idea if the OP is still active, but if you are, kudos on a great review!

#16 weemeng



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Posted 02 June 2010 - 14:50

Looking at the construction of the Itoya Blade disposable pen, u can refill it (or empty it quickly) using the syringe vacuum method. Search youtube "refill pilot varsity" pen.

I would love to get my hands on one of those but I can't find it anywhere in singaporean shops.

#17 Kelvandor


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Posted 04 August 2010 - 15:12

Maybe someone else can confirm this besides me...

I bought two of these at Hobby Lobby (Unfortunately, they don't seem to carry them anymore), a blue and a black. I noticed right away that the nibs were a different size. The blue was a definite Fine, and started up instantly when put to paper (and still does). The black, on the other hand, was on the broad side of Medium and had starting problems to the point of almost being unusable. As I don't recall there being any size markings on the package, and as the website for them only lists them available in a Fine, I was wondering if someone else using these had a similar experience?


#18 jniforat


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Posted 04 August 2010 - 15:34

good question--my blue and black have the same nib, IIRC.

#19 Fuzzyman


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Posted 10 September 2012 - 18:50

I bought one of these last year and mislaid it. I found it this weekend in the junk drawer, where it must have been for the better part of 9 months. The silver finished is indeed wearing away on the body, especially after being rubbed against screwdrivers and such.

It started up right away, though. It's dry compared to the Varsity, but I didn't have any problems with ink flow or skipping. Puts down a finer line than the Varsity, too... very similar to a Preppy.

#20 purplefinch


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Posted 27 February 2017 - 15:39

I think of the Pilot Varsity as a "student" pen, as likely to be lost or broken as to run out of ink. Why worry about refilling the ink when one can buy a better refillable-by-design for only a few dollars more? A disposable pen has its place.

By comparison, I was delighted with the Itoya Blade (black ink) which I think has a much better feel in the hand (diameter and weight balance) and sports a fine (F) nib suitable for precision writing. Compared with carbon black inks, the Itoya black does looks a little grey, and of course, a fine nib lays down less ink and does not look so bold.

This Itoya pen writes with remarkable smoothness considering its price, and does not skip regardless of how quickly I write.

Frankly, I am puzzled that the Itoya Blade is not more widely available given its good value.

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