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REVIEW: Daiso $1.50 pen


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#1 rwilsonedn

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 00:23

Let me start out with the admission that I am an inveterate bottom-feeder. So maybe it's appropriate that my first attempt at a pen review (mercy from the experienced, please) should be about as close as you can get to the "found on the street" category. The story actually started when I read several mentions on the Network of people finding the esteemed Sailor Ink Pen at a Daiso store. I'd never heard of either pen or store, but the other day, driving through neighboring Union City, CA, I discovered a Daiso. So of course I visited. I didn't find any Sailor Ink Pens (although I did find a Sailor RB, I believe. Left it there.) But down toward the bottom of the 20-foot-long dispaly rack was this plastic envelope with a house-brand fountain pen. So here goes ...

1. First Impressions: 4/10
My first impression of the Daiso pen--it probably has a real name, but I can't read Kanji or Katakana--was that it might be a fake pen made out of candy. The little plastic envelop was brightly colored, in that peculiar almost-pastel palette that is so popular among Japanese retailers. Except for a few clues, like "Smooth Writing" and some multi-language warnings on the back about not getting the ink all over yourself, I had to assume that because it looked like a fountain pen in there, it must be one.

2. Appearance and Design: 7/10

pen_reviews_Daiso.jpg

Please forgive the photography, but perhaps it accomplishes the purpose. As you can see, the pen is, uh, utilitarian. No one would mistake it for anything but a mass-produced, plastic writing tool. No one would be sad after backing over it with their car. But as a tool rather than an object of artistry, the Daiso does deserve some points. The plastic is rugged and well-finished. Through the clear cap you can see what is going on with the nib, so if for instance you were involved in a school-yard brawl with your backpack that involved repeated concussion, you would see that ink had leaked into the cap before you removed it and passed the ink on to your new shirt. The cap attaches to the section very securely by means of four little ears moulded into the inside of the clear portion of the cap. These snap over a raised ring moulded into the section to create a pleasantly positive click.
The cap has one rather eccentric feature. Instead of leaving the top of the cap clear plastic, or simply dropping a black jewel into it, the designer chose to put a largish button on the top, to which the pocket-clip attaches. This gives the capped pen a first appearance rather like a retractable ballpoint. But more on that in a moment...
The barrel of the pen is finished in matte black, giving an effect I find much more pleasing to the fingers than the shiny, slightly oily feel of gloss-finished plastic. That said, the section is glossy black with faintly engraved patches to form landings for your fingers, should you actually be putting your fingers where your teacher told you to. These are not nearly so pronounced as the Procustean triangle of the Lami Safari section, so I found the shape actually rather pleasant to hold.
The feed is somewhat unusual in that the exposed surface is smooth, with all the slits nearly hidden under the nib. The nib itself is a typical-looking steel nib, chrome-plated, I would assume, with no markings at all. There is a slight ball at the end of the nib that I believe is part of the steel, not welded-on dots of a harder alloy.

3. Weight and Dimensions: 8/10
The pen is light, but it is not small. I measure 14.5 cm capped, 12.2 uncapped, and roughly 16 cm posted. Interestingly enough, that big plastic button on the end of the cap now has a reason: if you post the cap, the pen is suddenly, by virtue of all that unnecessary plastic on the end, very nicely balanced, at least for my taste. That surprised me pleasantly.

4. Nib and Performance: 5/10
Ah, now we come to the downside, you say. Well, sort-of. Right out of the box, as the typical Daiso customer might use it, the pen is very smooth, with increasing feedback if you are using a bumpy or abrasive paper. Put the unnamed cartridge in, and the story rather deteriorates. The pen initially skipped, scratched, and otherwise behaved like, well, a cheap pen. To my surprise, it is an extra-fine, and it started a bit too dry. But having been a Network reader for a while, I pulled the cartridge, broke out my Binder-supplied nib-finishing kit (I'm sure at this point Richard would plead with me not to use his excellent materials on a $1.50 pen ...) and went to work. I gave the nib a rinsing, 3 minutes in the US cleaner, a treatment with the flossing foil to both clean out the slit and open it up a bit, and just a touch-up on the mylar sheets to smooth the tip further.
The result was rather dramatic. Now, with the same cartridge back in, the pen feeds smoothly, somewhat wet, and from the first stroke, even after sitting open for several minutes or sitting capped over night. It is once again smooth--actually, quite smooth--with just a bit of feedback about the surface upon which it is writing. I would not be disappointed in this performance in a much more expensive pen. (In fact, I have been disappointed in the lack of this performance in much more expensive pens, but I digress.) The nib still does have one issue to work out. As you can see from the illustration, sometimes it will skip if the initial stroke of a letter is horizontal rather than vertical. This appears to depend on the pen angle and writing speed a bit, and I suspect it can be worked out with a little more attention to the nib. Overall, I have to say this pen is quite a decent writer, especially for an extra-fine. I have a wonderfully-restored 51 that can be almost as cranky.

5. Filling system: 4/10
My prejudice here. I don't care for cartridges, and this is a cartridge pen. Further, it appears not to be an international standard cartridge--the mouth is almost the full diameter of the cartridge, rather than narrowing into a smaller sleeve. However, since the pen is almost entirely innocent of metal parts, it's a wonderful candidate for ED conversion.

6. Cost and Value 9/10
I feel that I really should put down two separate numbers here. If you were going to buy this pen on the way to school or work, pop the cartridge into it and start writing, maybe I'd give it a 6 or 7. But with a tiny bit of cleaning and unskilled nib work, the character of the pen changes entirely. Now I have to take it more seriously, and I have to say that the writing experience is a great value for the $1.50.

Overall: 4/10
Actually, again I feel I ought to put two answers here. A 4 is accurate for the pen right out of the little plastic bag. But package the Daiso pen in a nice box, take some time to clean it and improve the nib performance, and convert it to an eyedropper, and I think you have an instrument that can hold its head up in much finer company. It will never be a masterpiece of Italian celluloid, and it will never have a white star on top. But this pen can be a durable, reliable, pleasant-writing pen, and the price is almost incomprehensible for a product that was made in China, imported into the US, and retailed through a bricks-and-mortar store.
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#2 ericthered2004

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 04:10

Thanks for the review. W H Smith in the UK carries/carried what would seem to be an identical pen with their logo stamped on it for about 1.00 GBP. The ones I have work very well, although as you say, no one would mistake them for anything other than a cheap pen. The caps on mine showed cracks after a couple of weeks, but they didn't affect the pens' performance. I'm fond of mine for being simple functional pens, especially since international cartridges do fit in the ones I have.

Regards
eric
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With just our noses
(ericthered junior)

#3 Miranda

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 06:12

Thank you for the thoughtful, amusing review.
Warm Regards, Miranda


#4 rwilsonedn

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 18:47

QUOTE (Miranda @ Mar 1 2009, 12:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you for the thoughtful, amusing review.


Miranda:
And thank you for the kind words. May I say your signature quote is perfect for the message ...
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#5 Dariusdude

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 02:27

I just picked one of these up along with the mini version, and I'm pleased to say that mine seems to work like yours does post-operation straight out of the package. With a $1.50 pen I guess quality control isn't the top priority :doh: I was also considering making it into an eye-dropper, but then I noticed that for some reason, the end of the plastic body on mine has an "air" hole drilled in it. If I could figure out an easy way to plug it I'd probably try, but for a buck fifty that might be more hassle than it's worth. Fortunately, the mini is sans hole so I'll likely grease the joints and give it a shot.

#6 carroll

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 04:09

If you can find the Mini Daiso no-name fountain pen, in the smoke colored plastic, the barrel is sealed and they make an easy eye-dropper.

The cartridges for these pens are Sailor type, so you can use the better Jentle ink cartridges in them too. I usually pick up 5 or 6 at a time, to give away on the pay-it-forward forum with the moleskines and journals we scavenge.

Nice review of one of my favorite $1.50 fountain pens!

#7 Malcy

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 13:37

These are available branded at many UK supermarkets and stationers. Last time I looked they were 75p at ASDA supermarket. You can't beat that for value as the example that I have writes very well.
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#8 cocojj

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 16:07

Thanks for the review. I saw 3 FPs in our local Daiso, but felt guilty about buying all three so I picked the Sailor Ink Pen and Platinum Reviere over this one. The Platinum was a bust (smooth nib but flow problems I wrecked the pen trying to fix) but the Sailor was excellent albeit quite fine, somewhat italic-ish. It's good to know what I missed out on (can't find these anymore in the store).

#9 Jared

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 16:24

Thanks for the review. I saw 3 FPs in our local Daiso, but felt guilty about buying all three so I picked the Sailor Ink Pen and Platinum Reviere over this one. The Platinum was a bust (smooth nib but flow problems I wrecked the pen trying to fix) but the Sailor was excellent albeit quite fine, somewhat italic-ish. It's good to know what I missed out on (can't find these anymore in the store).


The Sailor "Ink Pen" is the best super-cheap fountain pen I've tried, and with a touch of nib smoothing (or wear), they are wonderful. I have a couple inked at the moment with all types of noxious Noodler's inks, and they do just fine (and even if they didn't it wouldn't matter). I hear that they now are making demonstrators. Are these still available at Daiso?

Here is a review of the Daiso Sailor "Ink Pen." Also, a comparison between the Daiso pen above, and the Sailor "Ink Pen."

Edited by Jared, 01 January 2011 - 16:26.


#10 The Classicist

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 01:07

Gotta love the pens that you don't feel bad about losing!
I'm a Classics student at Augustana College. You can read my blog at pennedhouse.blogspot.com if you want. There will be plenty about languages, pens (modern and vintage) and paper as well. Hope you stop by and comment!

#11 Robert Alan

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 06:17

Thanks for the review. I saw 3 FPs in our local Daiso, but felt guilty about buying all three so I picked the Sailor Ink Pen and Platinum Reviere over this one. The Platinum was a bust (smooth nib but flow problems I wrecked the pen trying to fix) but the Sailor was excellent albeit quite fine, somewhat italic-ish. It's good to know what I missed out on (can't find these anymore in the store).


The Sailor "Ink Pen" is the best super-cheap fountain pen I've tried, and with a touch of nib smoothing (or wear), they are wonderful. I have a couple inked at the moment with all types of noxious Noodler's inks, and they do just fine (and even if they didn't it wouldn't matter). I hear that they now are making demonstrators. Are these still available at Daiso?

Here is a review of the Daiso Sailor "Ink Pen." Also, a comparison between the Daiso pen above, and the Sailor "Ink Pen."


The Daiso Sailor "Ink Pen" has the same nib ("Sailor F-4") as the type fitted to the Sailor High Ace Neo which sells for considerably more, but they are basic, good pens with extra-fine nibs. I use mine filled with Sailor Nano black or blue-black for drawing and they work well.
/Robert
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#12 cocojj

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 15:41

I can't find Ink Pens in our loca

#13 bob_hayden

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 01:11

Oh, my, this looks very familiar!  For those who can't find them locally, try this on eBay:

 

http://www.ebay.com/...sAAAOSwTapV3heB

 

(I have no connection with this guy other than ordering ink from him from time to time over the years and always being satisfied.)  

 

But I should add that I would rate the ones I had as among the worst fountain pens I have ever owned.

 

I believe I found them in a dollar store in Whitby, Ontario, in 2004.  They were in a bubble pack with six cartridges for a dollar.  At that time, this came to about US$0.62 so I could not resist grabbing half a dozen, thinking this was a good price for the cartridges, even if I threw the pens away.  I think they came in red, black, or blue, and the brand name was something like Spectrum.  Well the (small international) cartridges were indeed OK and a good buy, but the pens had very stiff nibs and wrote miserably.  Now I should say that back then I knew nothing about tweaking so I didn't do any, and that this was long ago so YMMV if you get one today.  I recall that they tended to break and I distinctly remember one taped up with dark green electrical tape to hold it together.  I would strongly recommend NOT turning these into eyedroppers unless you carry them in a liquid-proof case!-) 

 

My take at the time was that I got a really good deal on the cartridges because they paid me to take the pens away;-)



#14 bob_hayden

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Posted 05 September 2016 - 15:09

I figured out that the pens from Whitby were sold under the "Selectum" brand name.  Googling "Selectum fountain pen" brings up a number of links, photos, and reviews.  It looks like they have been marketed under a number of brand names, some quite reputatable.  And that I am in a minority in disliking their nibs.  Perhaps I am fussy, or perhaps they have improved since I bought mine in 2004.



#15 jobodine

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 03:15

By chance, I bought  a few pens of the daiso type described here but rebranded as "Selectum"  and " Le Grip"  for  one dollar US each !!. The amazing thing is I can fit a Zebra flex nib into this pen if I use a Jinhao feed instead of the orinal feed of this pen .  The ink flow is excellent  and rarely dried out . If it occurs due to lack of usage for a few days , a quick dip into an ink bottle reactivates the ink flow right away .

This pen is light and makes drawing an enjoyable experience . I know flex nibs have been successfully fitted into  Jinhao pens ( i.e.  Jinhao 159, 450 and 750) but these pens are too big and heavy for my grip . This plastic pen is light, cheap and fully functional for calligraphy or comic drawing anywhere ... BTW, it can be easily transformed to an eye dropper pen . Long live cheap Chinese pens !!

 

 

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Edited by jobodine, 13 February 2018 - 03:33.


#16 FountainPenGuru

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 04:34

Intersting!








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