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Platinum - 3776 Shoji Review


NibSandwich
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Introduction of the introduction:

I’ve been a lurker for years, and own probably way too many pens for my own good. While there are certainly no shortage of reviews for a myriad of pens on this forum, when I am trying to decide on a pen (in Australia it’s difficult to try before you buy) I like to read as many reviews as possible, so I figured I should probably start reviewing them. Who knows, maybe someone will find them useful, so unless I get told how awful I am, I will continue to slowly review my collection. I’ve shamelessly copied some common aspects of reviews from others, as well as altering it slightly to my own format.

Also, apologies for the photo quality, my dad “borrowed” my digital camera two years ago...

Platinum - 3776 Shoji (Broad)

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3722/11044497224_8110355f6d.jpg

Introduction

Platinum are one of the big three manufacturers of Japan along with Pilot and Sailor, and like the other two are regarded as producing extremely high quality nibs. I would generally categorise Platinum as being the better value for money out of the other two (You could pick up a regular 3776 for around $100 if you look around) as well as being the most stylistically and technologically conservative.

The 3776 series is quintessentially Platinum: cigar shaped, smooth gold nib, and a cartridge-converter only filling system. They generally sit in the middle of the road as far as size is concerned, although the century series bodies (which the Shoji is based on) are ever so slightly longer than the other versions. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock (or in Australia) since 1978, the namesake 3776 is the height of Mt Fuji, tallest mountain in Japan.

In 2011, Platinum began producing yearly special edition pens based on the 3776, each appropriately named after the five lakes residing on the northern base of Mt Fuji. 2011 was Motosu, 2012 was Shoji, and as of writing 2013 is Sai. Unlike their other 3776 brethren, the five lakes series are unabashedly blingy demonstrators, each slightly different to reflect the different natures of the lakes they are named after. They are also significantly more expensive than the regular 3776 series, but then again they are limited edition (2011 units for Motosu, 2012 for Shoji, 2013 for... well you get the pattern.)

This particular review is of the Shoji version, I wasn’t interested in the Motosu (Gold converters in silver trim bodies should be a crime) or the Sai (Too plain, and you can’t convert it to an eyedropper, despite looking almost perfect for it), so I only own the Shoji so far.

Presentation

It’s rare that I put much thought into a box after busting my loot out of its pen-prison, but the 3776 Shoji gave me pause to admire the packaging (looking at you and blowing kisses Visconti). The entire affair is large, plush and tastefully highlighted in silver. Take a look:

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3755/11044475896_a179ed6c4b.jpg

In the canvas-covered box you get the pen itself, a spare gold coloured cartridge-converter (Please don’t put the gold coloured converter in a silver-highlighted pen. Seriously. Don’t make me come over there) a small #3776 brochure that showcases others in the series, a pair of 3776 Shoji demo cards, and interestingly a pair of carbon ink and pigment ink cartridges (more on that in a moment). And remember kids, the bottom of the box does not lift out, irrespective of how many times I forget and try to lift it up.

Appearance

A departure from the previous 3776 models I am familiar with, the 3776 Shoji has a clear body and cap with a faintly translucent light blue hue to it. The nature of the plastic is not captured well in pictures, particularly how the lighting in its surrounding environment can dramatically change its appearance:

It can look completely clear:

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3779/11044503524_a0f135fe19.jpg

But sometimes quite blue:

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2871/11044470716_f43a1c6aa7.jpg

The Shoji like the rest of the 3776 series is cigar shaped. As you can see from the pictures, the pen is tastefully highlighted in silver. The most ostentatious aspects of the pen are its nib (coming up) the fat cap band that says “3776 PLATINUM MADE IN JAPAN” , and the interior surface of the slip and seal mechanism. If you’re not familiar with this feature, its a defining partof the 3776 series that prevents the nib drying out (I have a Sailor pen with this feature too with much less fanfare, but whatever), and on this particular model of 3776, written in silver are the names (in English mysteriously enough) of the five lakes, along with a small silver outline of each. It's nicely done, it matches the rest of the pen, and I like it. As far as Platinum is concerned, this is tantamount to an outrageous, drunken night out for their designers.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5524/11044501804_0cffa4dc0d.jpg

The slip and seal mechanism is also the reason why Platinum include a pigment and a carbon ink cartridge in the box. Both inks types are use at your own risk – they are suspended matter based, rather than the more familiar dye based liquid inks, which means if they dry in your pen, then the entire feed will need some pretty intense repair work, if it can be repared at all. Including these ink types is Platinum's way of asserting confidence over the slip and seal mechanism. It's a nice sentiment, but I am still not brave enough to try them out.

Build Quality

For me, the only area where the pen falls down slightly is the build quality. The cartridge-converter is the biggest casualty here – it's plasticky, unpleasantly stiff to use, has a very small ink capacity that invariably leaves a large air bubble when filled, and is generally cheap feeling. Luckily, you can always replace a catridge-converter if it breaks. The other area of concern is the barrel. On mine, it has interior scratching, the direction of the scratch marks indicate they occurred when the nib and feed were inserted. After some research this doesn't appear to be an isolated problem, but Platinum assured me that the issue is purely cosmetic, and after close inspection to determine that the rest of the plastic is just fine, I believe them. That's not to say I'm not delighted to see this kind of problem occur, if my $30 Lamy Vista can do it without scratching, why cant Platinum?

The third and probably minor issue is that the pen damages itself when posted. This is necessary for me – the pen is not only too small, but way, way too light without the cap. To this end I've stuck sticky tape on the end where the posting damage occurs.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3702/11044495994_ece2db86e6.jpg

Nib

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5515/11044377245_f21eafce02.jpg

Ah the nib. It wasn't my first love affair, and it certainly wont be my last, but in my current collection, this nib is my favourite. Belonging to a select group of pens that I own that I have never had to adjust, This particular one is rhodium plated, and roughly the size of a western #6 nib. It is relatively flat, and has a strangely cute heart-shaped breather hole. The nib on the whole looks mostly unassuming, yet the breather hole and lines tracing the sides and up the tines let you know that this nib has some serious attention to detail. After all, a slightly misaligned manufacturing would be instantly noticeable in the skewing of the nib detailing.

I own a Sailor Reglus, Professional Gear Demonstrator (Yes I like Demonstrators. A lot.), a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 in bold and one in medium, a Prera and a Vanishing Point, and this nib beats all of them hands down. Despite use through two semesters and two sets of final exams, drawing a moustache on my dogs nose, and travelling in my backpack, the nib has *never* skipped. Ever. Nor have I pulled it out of my backpack to find a blob of ink in the bottom of the cap. And the only time it had a hard start was for a split second after leaving it uncovered for ten minutes - there are few nibs that can even pretend to be in the same category as this one.

The nib is 14K gold, although as far as gold nibs are concerned this one is firmly on the stiff side (pun intended). Mine is bold , super smooth with the tiniest hint of feedback, and seems equivalent to a slightly larger western M, and is somewhat wet, which is just how I like it. Take a look at the beautiful shading you can get with a good ink:

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5528/11044498464_f6fca909d7.jpg

Overall – 4.5/5

Despite its price, I refuse to leave it at home – I take it to Uni and write with it all day. This is the pen, when I get frustrated with another fountain pen, I use for a few minutes and it brings a smile back to my face. I've only used one other century and it had a similarly excellent nib (and similarly so-so body). Platinum completely deserve their reputation for their nib quality – If you find a 3776 on sale from a certain online japanese retailer, I highly recommend it - just remember to whack some sticky tape around the barrel.

The Good:

+ A nib that veers dangerously close to perfection.

+ Beautiful.

+ Slip and seal does its job in my experience.

+ Limited edition, thus a somewhat unique addition to your collection.

The Bad:

- Converter - and a small capacity one at that.

- Lightness can make it feel a little cheap.

The Ugly:

- Build quality, in particular the converter, for such an expensive pen is not up to scratch.

Comparison

Here I'll compare it to a fairly common pen so you can get an idea of it's size, a Lamy Safari.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7389/11044554263_d83452cebd.jpg

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3758/11044371235_44b0fc96c7.jpg

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5523/11044462536_748a801d7b.jpg

A note:

I would like my reviews to be helpful, let me know what you'd like to see/what you hated.

 

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Your review actually makes me think again about the Lamy Vista!

 

Thanks

Moshe ben David

 

"Behold, He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!"

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Thanks for your excellent, balanced review.

 

I have listed the Shoji on my profile as my favourite pen. It's definitely not a perfect pen, nor seemingly very popular with the FP community, and I completely agree about the build quality and the other points you raise, but I love the blue tinted material and oh!, that nib! It is truly a dream nib for me. I have it in Fine. I love the feedback, the smoothness, the ink flow, the design & aesthetics, the line it lays down, the way it seems to make the most mundane of inks look good. Because of the nib, I use it for letter-writing, note-taking, sketching, list making, you name it. It may be a Limited Edition, and perhaps many would keep it un-inked in their collection, but IMO this nib was made to be used.

 

Can I also say that your review is also very amusing. It made me smile - which is a bloody miracle first thing on a Monday morning.

 

Marie

Verba volant, scripta manent

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Welcome and a good review. I've a couple of the #3776 - one in black and one in Chartres Blue and they are really nice pens. I know what you mean about the converter though.

The Good Captain

"Meddler's 'Salamander' - almost as good as the real thing!"

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A great review, written wonderfully. I have had a couple of 3776s and concur on all your points: amazing nibs but too-short and too-narrow barrels.

 

Welcome to FPN. I look forward to your active involvement and reviews!

Too many pens; too little writing.

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Thanks for your excellent, balanced review.

 

I have listed the Shoji on my profile as my favourite pen. It's definitely not a perfect pen, nor seemingly very popular with the FP community, and I completely agree about the build quality and the other points you raise, but I love the blue tinted material and oh!, that nib! It is truly a dream nib for me. I have it in Fine. I love the feedback, the smoothness, the ink flow, the design & aesthetics, the line it lays down, the way it seems to make the most mundane of inks look good. Because of the nib, I use it for letter-writing, note-taking, sketching, list making, you name it. It may be a Limited Edition, and perhaps many would keep it un-inked in their collection, but IMO this nib was made to be used.

 

Can I also say that your review is also very amusing. It made me smile - which is a bloody miracle first thing on a Monday morning.

 

Marie

Does your copy also have the scratches in the barrel? And I agree that it's a shame that this pen is out there, sitting in collections, never to be written with :(

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Your review actually makes me think again about the Lamy Vista!

 

Thanks

I like the Lamy Vista ;) Mine's getting a little bit scratched though, but it's pretty tough, and still pretty enough to get noticed by someone who hasn't seen a fountain pen before. Maybe my like of demonstrators is because I secretly like the attention....?

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I own one of these. I'll admit I was attracted by the pretty clearish blue color and the lakes. But, the pen itself has been a huge letdown. I don't know that I would purchase another 3776.

Proud resident of the least visited state in the nation!

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I own one of these. I'll admit I was attracted by the pretty clearish blue color and the lakes. But, the pen itself has been a huge letdown. I don't know that I would purchase another 3776.

You didn't even like the nib?

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You didn't even like the nib?

Honestly, no. It wrote smoothly, but it is very "squeaky" and feels badly fit. I honestly don't like this pen.

Proud resident of the least visited state in the nation!

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Great review! I love the Shoji (I have the M nib), I think it's an elegant and understated pen. It set me on my Platinum craze.

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Nice review. The Shoji is the singular fountain pen that set the hook for me. I owned several others, a Waterman, several Lamys, and a Pilot-Namiki before the Shoji. The nib is extraordinary. The Shoji is part of may daily rotation along with the Pelikan m800, Sailor 1911m and Nakaya Decapod. The rest of the pen is interesting. I do like the light weight and find the size perfect without posting.

 

Keep up the reviews.

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  • 2 months later...

I believe it would be quite difficult to create the subtle blue hue on a demonstrator pen.

My collection: 149 EF/F/B/OBB, Collodi B/Twain F/Mann F, 146 M, Silver Barley F, M1000/M800 B'o'B/M800 Tortoise/Sahara/415 BT/215/205 Blue Demo, Optima Demo Red M/88 EF & Italic/Europa, Emotica, 2K/Safaris/Al-Stars/Vista, Edson DB/Carene BS, Pilot 845/823/742/743/Silvern/M90/Makies, Sailor Profit Realo M/KOP Makies/Profit Makies/Profit 21 Naginata MF&M/KOP/KOP Mosaiques/Sterling Silvers,Platinum #3776 Celluloids/Izumos/Wood pens/Sterling Silvers,YoL Grand Victorian, and more (I lost counting)

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I, too, have this pen, and I liked your review. Thanks! Has anyone heard if and when the fourth pen in the series will be released? I wonder if Platinum will discontinue the series before it is finished based on sales?

 

All the best,

T

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I bought this pen but returned it when I discovered a nasty injection molding scar on the underside of the section. I sent it back to my retailer who told me all his stock had this mark. I expect better fit and finish on a pen at this price point. I'll also add that I have a Platinum President that also has a very poor build quality. It feels cheap and has rough seams and edges. I will not purchase another Platinum or Nakaya product.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was about ready to pull the trigger on this pen but now I'm concerned with the build. Should I be?

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