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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue Se



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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue Special Edition


Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way - no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let's find out how they have withstood the ravages of time.



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The fountain pen entering the pit stop today is the "Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue SE". Pelikan is one of the best-known European pen-makers, with a long history dating all the way back to 1832 when the company was founded in Hanover, Germany. The brand offers semi-entry-level pens (like the M200 Classic series) all the way up to their flagship M1000 model. All Pelikan pens adhere to the same classical style, and as such are immediately recognizable.


I bought this pen in February 2018, being attracted to it by its beautiful deep-blue colour and its elegant vintage-looking design. The M120 Iconic Blue is a modern interpretation of the original M120 school pens produced in the 1955-1965 timeframe. A distinguishing feature is the special nib engraving, that is inspired by a bit of flourish taken from a historic Günther Wagner pricelist.



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Pen Look & Feel

The M120 Iconic Blue is a low-key pen with a stunning all-blue finish. A small gold-plated cap-band shows some branding with the words "Pelikan" and "Germany". The finial has a blue-on-blue engraving of the Pelikan mother feeding a single chick. The pen looks all business (not contract-signing business, but the daily hard work type of business) - it definitely reflects the no-nonsense purpose of a school-pen.

Like all Pelikans, the cap unscrews with about three quarters rotation, so it's quickly ready for action. The M120 is a smaller pen, but posts easily and securely, giving it a substantial size that is very comfortable to write with, even if you have larger hands. I've got smaller hands myself, and typically use the pen unposted. The Iconic Blue sports a blue ink-window that fits perfectly with the pen's all-blue design and that lets you easily check the ink-level.



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The nib on my pen is an F that is a wet writer and feels more like an M (as is typical for most Pelikan F-nibs). The M120, M200, M101N and M400 all use the same nib-unit, so it is really easy to swap nibs between pens. And M200 steel nibs are really cheap, so you can experiment with different nib sizes without making a dent in your wallet.



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The pictures above illustrate the size of the M120 Iconic Blue in comparison with a standard Lamy AL-star. The pen is definitely smaller than a Lamy, but still reasonable in size - not so small that it is uncomfortable (and if you find it too small uncapped, you can simply post it).


Pen Characteristics


  • Build Quality : build quality is excellent. The pen looks really polished and refined. The pen also withstands the passing of time without any problem. After more than two years of fairly intensive use, it looks good as new, showing only some micro-scratches.

  • Weight & Dimensions : about 130 mm when capped - and as such a rather small pen. It's also definitely a featherweight. If you prefer pens with some heft to them, the M120 model will not be your thing. Posted - the pen becomes about 155 mm long, and fits even larger hands.

  • Filling System : this is a piston-filler, that holds quite some ink. The piston is made from plastic, but works really well. Pelikans are known for their excellent piston mechanism.

  • Nib & Performance : the M120 Iconic Blue SE has a steel nib, with special engraving. Mine wrote perfectly straight out of the box. I quite like that you can buy the Pelikan nibs separately. If you accidentally damage your nib, you can simply buy a new one. I also like that the nib units are interchangeable between the M120/M200/M400/M101N models. M200 steel nibs are quite reasonably priced at 24 EUR.

  • Price : 175 EUR, including taxes. For this blue beauty, I consider this to be value-for-money. I certainly like this M120 interpretation a lot more than the overpriced Green-Black SE from 2016.




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Conclusion

The Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue Special Edition is a no-nonsense workhorse, that still manages to look stylish and elegant. I personally quite like the looks of the pen, and am enamoured with its deep-blue colour. A functional, beautiful, vintage-looking pen that has become a valued writing companion - one of my favourite Pelikans. This answers the question of whether I would buy this pen again... yes I would, without hesitation.


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Nice review and photos. The 120 was my first 'real' fountain pen and still has a place in my heart. I especially enjoy writing with one equipped with one of the old calligraphy italic nibs.

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"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova

 

 

 

 

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inkstainedruth

I'm quite fond of my M120 Iconic Blue. It's a nice size and weight, and an all around pleasant writing experience. Would I have preferred a different nib width besides medium? Sure. But I got what was available at the time.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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EllipticEquations

This is a very lovely pen, which is somehow both low-key and eye-catching.

 

My only complaint was that the nib was too wet (I got an EF which writes like a Japanese broad.....).

 

Still it is a very pleasant nib. But in my opinion, a very wet nib is not consistent with the school-pen identity. At least when I was back in school, I often wrote very small, and my darkest nightmare was running out of ink in the middle of an exam.

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...

My only complaint was that the nib was too wet (I got an EF which writes like a Japanese broad.....).

 

Sorry to hear about that too-broad EF. One of the things I love about Pelikan pens is the ease with which you can swap nibs. The nib on my M120 Green-Black was too scratchy, and I simply replaced it with a steel M200 F-nib. Now it writes perfectly. I also have a couple of cursive italic nibs that I regularly swap to a new body. I mainly use M120/M200/M400/M101N and the nib units for these pens are all interchangeable. Big plus !

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inkstainedruth

Good to know that the M200/M400 nibs will work on the M120 pens. I like the M nib on the M120 well enough, but my preference would have been for an F.

@ EclipticEquations -- yes, in general Pelikan nibs tend to run wetter and juicier than some other brands. My first bird was a 1990s era M400 Brown Tortoise from off eBay, and the F nib on it is very wet (supposedly this is because the Pelikan 4001 inks are on the dry side). The first ink I put in it was Iroshizuku Yama-guri (I had, to some extent, planned to use the pen for drawing) and that ink was too wet for the pen. But I then I dug out an old sample vial of Noodler's Walnut (which I had found to be VERY dry) and putting it in that pen, with its juicy and springy (not actual flex, but definitely not a nail either) and it saved the ink for me.

I don't normally like EF nibs, but because I knew that the Pelikan nibs tended to be wetter and put down a wider line than some, I was willing to get an M405 striated blue with an EF nib and it's just a joy to write with. I keep thinking I should try it sometime with some ink other than Edelstein Tanzanite, but then go, "Naaah -- why mess with perfection?" B)

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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EllipticEquations

 

Sorry to hear about that too-broad EF. One of the things I love about Pelikan pens is the ease with which you can swap nibs. The nib on my M120 Green-Black was too scratchy, and I simply replaced it with a steel M200 F-nib. Now it writes perfectly. I also have a couple of cursive italic nibs that I regularly swap to a new body. I mainly use M120/M200/M400/M101N and the nib units for these pens are all interchangeable. Big plus !

Thanks for the suggestion! Actually I still like the nib, not for everyday writing, but good for drawing sometimes :) But good to know about the nib switch.

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EllipticEquations

Good to know that the M200/M400 nibs will work on the M120 pens. I like the M nib on the M120 well enough, but my preference would have been for an F.

@ EclipticEquations -- yes, in general Pelikan nibs tend to run wetter and juicier than some other brands. My first bird was a 1990s era M400 Brown Tortoise from off eBay, and the F nib on it is very wet (supposedly this is because the Pelikan 4001 inks are on the dry side). The first ink I put in it was Iroshizuku Yama-guri (I had, to some extent, planned to use the pen for drawing) and that ink was too wet for the pen. But I then I dug out an old sample vial of Noodler's Walnut (which I had found to be VERY dry) and putting it in that pen, with its juicy and springy (not actual flex, but definitely not a nail either) and it saved the ink for me.

I don't normally like EF nibs, but because I knew that the Pelikan nibs tended to be wetter and put down a wider line than some, I was willing to get an M405 striated blue with an EF nib and it's just a joy to write with. I keep thinking I should try it sometime with some ink other than Edelstein Tanzanite, but then go, "Naaah -- why mess with perfection?" B)

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

I see. So far I have only been using Iroshizuku in various colors. Maybe I should give Edelstein a try :)

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Nice review.

 

My Iconic Blue also was perfect out of the box. I revisit it on occasion. To me, it really does feel like a school pen with its diminutive size and plastic texture. It represents what it is supposed to represent... but a bit small and plain for my taste. The blue provides it a bit of character. A good color. It holds a boat load of ink. While it is a great writer I now have a lot of great writers.

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