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.