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ParkerBeta

As I wrote in my review of the Opus 88 "Flow" in May last year, I almost bought the resin-and-ebonite Koloro before the Flow was introduced, but backed off at the last minute because I felt that the smaller #5 nib of the Koloro did not match the size of the pen.  Well, the Flow is really such an excellent pen that ere long my thoughts turned fondly toward Opus 88 once more, and I was tempted again by the unique resin-and-ebonite combination of two of their models, the larger Koloro and the smaller Fantasia.  Once more, the Koloro lost out, and for the same reason as before.  I bought the smaller Fantasia that has the same #5 nib as the Koloro, but this smaller nib is a perfect match for the smaller size of the Fantasia.  Actually getting a Fantasia in hand in the US proved to be a challenge -- it looks like Opus 88 may have stopped distributing them here, as the only online store actually having them in stock was Vanness pens, and even they did not have all the colors available.  On the other hand, several European retailers seemed to have them in stock.  At any rate, the Fantasia offered the interesting option of a steel 1.4mm stub nib, which I chose for the sake of variety, since all my other stub nibs are 1.1mm (except for one Visconti tubular steel nib that is 1.3mm).

 

For those who may not be aware of Opus 88, it is a Taiwanese manufacturer of eyedropper filler pens with injection-molded plastic instead of hand-machined ebonite as in the high-end Japanese manufacturers' models, and with steel JoWo or Bock nibs instead of gold nibs.  This drops the price of these pens from the stratosphere ($500+) down to earth (about $100).  Every Opus 88 pen still has the characteristic shutoff valve that Japanese eyedropper-filler pens are famous for: when the shutoff valve is fully screwed in, the tip of the rod inside the barrel closes off the mouth of the barrel so that the ink in the barrel cannot get to the feed and the nib will run dry after the ink already in the feed is exhausted.  In other words, to write for more than a paragraph or two, you need to open the shutoff valve (as shown in the photograph below).

 

IMG_8660.thumb.jpg.78aadcaaffecdb0c6b6c3a20efa987fb.jpg

Fantasia with "Brick Red" ebonite cap (with multicolored rings) and Amber barrel.  The section is the same amber resin as the barrel, and the eyedropper shutoff valve (shown open in this photograph) is also made of the same ebonite material as the cap.

 

The build quality of the Fantasia is above reproach.  Opening and closing the screw cap, the shutoff valve, and the section is always perfectly damped, with no wobbliness, and indicating tight tolerances.  There is absolutely no play or wobble anywhere.  I do not know how the multi-colored rings are fastened onto the cap, but they are absolutely flush with the cap itself and look as if they are painted (but they are not).  The pen feels jewel-like, a similar feel to a very different small pen in an altogether different price class, the Montblanc Boheme (the small model with the retractable nib).

The Fantasia comes in a small flat box with a glass eyedropper to fill it with.  The pen itself is quite small: just 4.5in (11.5cm) capped.  The bottom of the barrel has threads for you to post the cap.  I have small hands, but even then using the pen without posting is uncomfortable, so posting the cap is a must for usability.  After posting, the pen is very well-balanced and becomes a comfortable 5.75in (14.5cm) in length.  But the Fantasia hides another trick up its sleeve -- the cap can be used to open the (rather thin) shutoff valve for writing!

 

IMG_8661.jpg.1a9f3d973a1c5864fc8fc21fd5b1ea66.jpg

See the nice sunken (for a reason -- see below) medallion on the cap, with "Opus 88" and "Fantasia" inscribed on it, separated by a raised ridge?  That raised ridge is not ornamental but functional.  (Note, by the way, that the ridge is exactly perpendicular to the clip -- a testament to the attention to detail in the construction of this little jewel of a pen.)

 

Now, the use of that raised ridge in the cap top is to engage like a screwdriver with one of the slots cut into the shutoff valve at the bottom of the barrel:

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That's also why the medallion with the raised ridge is sunken into the cap and not flush with the top.  This little bit of gadgetry is an unexpected pleasure on this little pen.  However, it is not really necessary, as the shutoff valve, narrow though it is, still affords enough purchase for one to open it by hand.  Nevertheless, I enjoy going through the additional motions of unscrewing the valve using the cap, then flipping the cap over and posting it into the threads at the bottom of the barrel.  

 

When posted, the cap not only does not touch the shutoff valve but also aligns the clip perfectly with the nib.

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Well, at least that perfect alignment of clip with nib appears to have been the intention of the designer.  However, my pen arrived with the clip out of alignment with the nib, which bothered me rather more than it should.  At the suggestion of another fellow-Opus 88 fan and fellow-buyer of both the Flow and the Fantasia, I unscrewed the nib unit and screwed it back in starting from exact alignment, and to my delight, when fully screwed in, the nib was again in perfect alignment with the clip.  

 

The barrel is a translucent amber on my pen, and there are a few other choices of color amongst the Fantasia models.  And this brings me to the first of two issues I have with the Fantasia, namely the relatively short grip section (seen in the photograph above).  Unfortunately for me, after a couple of weeks of use, I cannot train myself to hold the pen by either the grip section or further up by the barrel -- instead, my fingers naturally gravitate to the joint where the section meets the barrel and where, alas, lie the cap threads.  In other words, when I hold the pen, my fingers always find themselves exactly on top of the cap threads.  The cap threads are not sharp, but after a while, they do feel uncomfortable.

 

The second issue is one that manifested itself after I had written extensively with the excellent and smooth steel 1.4mm stub nib, a very wet writer.  I found, to my surprise, that the nib suddenly ran dry even though I could see a good deal of ink at the bottom of the barrel and even at the top of the barrel, just below the section threads.  You can see a dark ring of ink at the top of the barrel in the above photograph as well.  It turns out that on that one occasion (and only that one occasion) something about the viscosity of the ink (Montblanc Irish Green) combined with the barrel caused the ink to adhere to the inside of the barrel in a ring instead of going into the feed, and the nib ran dry.  I had to unscrew the section and shake the ink back to the bottom of the barrel, then screw back the section in order to get the ink to flow into the nib again.  This is my first load of ink in this barrel, so I do not know if this is likely to happen with other inks.  Moreover, it only happened once with this ink too, but I will be on the lookout for it.

 

Here's a sample of writing with the steel #5 JoWo 1.4mm stub nib.  Although I did not do any careful comparisons, it does not appear to be significantly wider than my 1.1mm stub nibs, and appears a little less wide than my Visconti 1.3mm steel stub nib.  At any rate, this 1.4mm stub nib is very smooth, very wet, and an excellent writer.IMG_8665.thumb.jpg.ab5a8c1fc33aa0da137ca7053d15a02b.jpg

A writing sample with the #5 JoWo 1.4mm steel stub nib and Montblanc Irish Green ink, on a little "Minerva" Italian writing pad that Vanness sent with the pen.

 

To sum up: the pen is superbly made.  It will be hard to find a better-made pen for the price (list price is $125), and the thoughtful details about alignment of the cap medallion with the clip, and the alignment of the clip with the nib, coupled with the cute little conceit of having the ridge on the sunken cap medallion fit right into the groove on the shutoff valve in order to open it, add greatly to the enjoyment one gets from the pen.  The nib performs excellently, as is expected from a JoWo.  I did experience a strange phenomenon of ink sticking to the inside of the barrel instead of going down the section into the feed, but that only happened once and may be specific to the ink I used.  The main issue I faced when using the pen extensively the past two weeks was the discomfort of having the cap threads always under my fingers when writing.  I wanted to train myself to hold the pen by the barrel but could not.  If you can do so, your enjoyment of this pen will be greatly enhanced.  As it is, I like the pen but for writing comfort, it loses out to its bigger brother, the Flow.

S.T. Dupont Ellipsis 18kt M nib

Opus 88 Flow steel M nib

Waterman Man 100 Patrician Coral Red 18kt factory stub nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with Masuyama 0.7mm steel cursive italic nib

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  • ParkerBeta

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Turquoise88

Excellent review — thank you for the high level of detail.

 

I am marginally familair with Opus 88, and have been attracted to the Fantasia and Koloro as well.  I did not know, however, that they had a shutoff valve that had to be opened for ink flow.  I tried one out once and it wouldn’t write after being filled with ink — I bet that was the problem!

 

 

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ParkerBeta

@Turquoise88you are probably correct. The shutoff valve is a wonderful addition to a bog-standard design (what could be more low-tech than eyedropper filling?), enhancing the functionality while looking elegant at the same time. 

S.T. Dupont Ellipsis 18kt M nib

Opus 88 Flow steel M nib

Waterman Man 100 Patrician Coral Red 18kt factory stub nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with Masuyama 0.7mm steel cursive italic nib

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TheDutchGuy

Thank you for this informative review! I’ve owned an Opus 88 Demonstrator for quite a while now, it’s always inked and gets a lot of use. Very happy with it!

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Antenociticus

Thanks for the review.

 

I haven't done any more than play with one of these in a shop, and I really wanted one – it's a beautiful pen – except for a similar issue with the cap threads. It didn't seem like it would be very comfortable for writing much more than a quick note or two.

Lined paper makes a prison of the page.

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Thanks for the detailed review.  I've got both the Demonstrator - the multicoloured version - with 1.5mm stub, and the Flora (yes really) with 2.3mm stub.  Both nibs are beautifully smooth although obviously the Demonstrator is far more practical for everyday writing.  For such large pens they're surprisingly comfortable to use.

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Karmachanic

My Koloro has been continuously inked since purchase these last three years. No issue with threads because of the traditional, longer, section.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Fox Point

I have a blue B Fantasia filled with Sailor Haha, which I use without posting. The cap is actually really heavy compared to the pen, so using it unposted works well for me and it is satisfying to fiddle with with my other hand. It is a lot of fun and I anticipate that fill will last, oh, nearly a year! My only quibble is wishing that the section was pinched instead of cone-shaped, and finding the pen itself a bit thick. It is thoughtfully designed and nicely made! I half think of it as a spiritual successor to Waterman’s Lady Patricia Ink-vue. 

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