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I am really reconsidering the Lamy Safari


CyberGigi

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6 minutes ago, Amory said:

“the plastic felt cheap“ 

What absolute nonsense, even Stanly Strode would not be able to judge the quality of a plastic by feel. 

 

It feels cheap. I'm not judging the quality of the plastic, and don't need to; I was and am commenting on my perception. Others may or may not agree with my perception, but I do invite them to try for themselves and see if they feel the plastic is cheap or not, whether it's because of the material's density or finish, or some other factor.

 

If you feel there is no difference in feel of the material between, say, a Pilot Custom Heritage 91 and a Daiso-Hauser fountain pen (or, alternatively, a Platinum Riviere PTR-200 sold in Daiso stores), you're welcome to maintain that lack of discernment.

 

Don't presume to tell me how two different plastics feel no different to me, however.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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2 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

It feels cheap. I'm not judging the quality of the plastic, and don't need to; I was and am commenting on my perception. Others may or may not agree with my perception, but I do invite them to try for themselves and see if they feel the plastic is cheap or not, whether it's because of the material's density or finish, or some other factor.

 

OK, I'll disagree with your (perfectly valid) perception.  The plastic in the Safari certainly isn't as luxe as a Pilot Custom Heritage or any other pen I have tried in that price range.  But it has a certain solidity to it and especially in the matte versions it does not have a cheap appearance.   The look and feel are appropriate for a pen in its price range, which is really all a consumer can ask for.  It certainly looks/feels better than the Sailor Compass I recently bought.  Suggested retail of the Compass is about the same or a touch more than the Safari, but the plastics are cheap and with an unpolished (dull-looking) steel nib the whole pen basically feels like a Jinhao 992 minus the QC issues.   Or the Pineider Metropolis, which costs about $90 USD and looks really cheap even in professionally-shot photos.

 

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5 minutes ago, ErrantSmudge said:

But it has a certain solidity to it and especially in the matte versions it does not have a cheap appearance.   The look and feel are appropriate for a pen in its price range, which is really all a consumer can ask for.

 

In the price range or a Lamy Safari, I find the plastic body of the HongDian N1 (for example, as I just received two in the post yesterday) to be far more appealing both in look and feel. The Kaigelu 316A's plastic body is pretty good, too. But, yes, the Sailor Profit Jr feels cheap; I have six of them, and the see-through plastic on them looks and feels cheaper than even the ‘cracked ice’ acrylic barrels on the humble Jinhao 51A that sell for around US$4.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Plastic isn't plastic. I see here a comparrisson between ABS and acrylic. Acrylic may look more elegant and valuable, but ABS is more durable. It's like comparing an off-road car with a sporty limousine in the same price range.

 

You have to compare the same material.

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9 hours ago, Astronymus said:

Plastic isn't plastic. I see here a comparrisson between ABS and acrylic. Acrylic may look more elegant and valuable, but ABS is more durable. It's like comparing an off-road car with a sporty limousine in the same price range.

 

You have to compare the same material.

 

Yes, there are different types of plastic, I'm quite aware of that.

 

But, no, I don't have to compare the same material. If something feels cheap in my hand, then it just does. The comparison was made because @ErrantSmudge made the point of,

10 hours ago, ErrantSmudge said:

The look and feel are appropriate for a pen in its price range,

so the specific type of plastic used is not the core issue, as long as it is plastic used to make the body of a pen in that price range, and its look and feel and not the technical or performance characteristics are being compared. I could get a Platinum Vicoh PTL-5000A fountain pen for MSRP of ¥5,000+tax that has a 14K gold nib, or I could get a Sailor Procolor 500 with a (very well made) steel nib at the same retail price. If we were comparing nibs on pens in that price range (or therefore nominally around the US$50 mark), then it does not matter that one is gold and the other is steel for fair comparison of what the consumer gets or how the nib writes or feels to the user.

 

And, to me, that's the whole point of threads like this one. Considering — or reconsidering as the case may be — the place, standing, and/or importance of the Lamy Safari in one's pen collection is either by its own virtues apart from any other pen, or in comparison with other pens that one could get instead, and “in its price range” is a good criterion to use.

 

If we're talking considered in isolation, then my assertion of “the plastic feels cheap” applies. The plastic on a Platinum Riviere PTR-200 sold in Daiso stores feels even cheaper; but I don't have to have a pen model just because it exists. (My PTR-200 broke, and I'm happy not to replace it.) So, the material of the Lamy Safari is not helping it win a place in my pen collection, no matter how durable it is as a finished object; I don't like it, and so stopped at having just one after having bought it back in 2013, long before I started buying hundreds of pens after having my eyes opened to many other brands Joe Average doesn't come across in bookstores and department stores. However, it is iconic enough as a pen model for me not to have tossed it out, and on the odd occasion it has some value as a reference point (e.g. for comparison in physical dimensions), so it continues to have a place in my pen collection or library, in which not everything is an exemplar of excellence.

 

On the other hand, if it has to compete with other pens for, or to retain, a place in one's collection, then what else the consumer or ”collector” can buy in its price range. At the US$500 mark, the Visconti Homo Sapiens with lava material body is fairly iconic and unique in its material, but never made the cut for a place in my collection, and “lost out” because of what other pens I could get for US$500, even if those other pens' bodies aren't made of the same material.

 

There are people who love what I don't like. I'm not trying to change their minds, or snuff out their passion for those objects. However, just as they may want their love to be expressed for others to see, I want my “equally valid” criticism or indifference to those things to also be seen (especially when invited to offer my opinion, such as in a discussion thread in an open forum), so that yet others who aren't committed devotees can see a more balanced picture of how the consumer base (and not just fan base) feels about something that is one of hundreds of options/products/players in a given landscape, and make up their own minds as to whether to try one or acquire one.

 

We're not all here just to celebrate and propagate one's adoration for a particular company, brand, model or product, and feel warm and fuzzy being in the company of like-minded fans, in what is essentially a den of geeks with a lot of spending power collectively, and by virtue of that can (somewhat) influence the hobby marketplace's future direction, and which brands will flourish and which ones will wither.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Well, for what it's worth, this thread caused me to order the Jinhao 599 so that I can make up my own mind about the comparison with the Safari.  The pen cost me about A$3 delivered, less than a tenth of the cost of a Lamy Safari.  I consider the Jinhao 599 to be sufficiently different (different clip, different style nib) not to be a direct knock-off.

 

So my views?  Well, I concur that the plastic of the Jinhao 599 feels cheap relative to that (ABS?) of the Lamy Safari.  Further, the converter that came with the Jinhao 599 was awful (but then the standard Safari, on its own, doesn't come with one at all).  The Jinhao was also a dry writer out of the box, but that resolved itself after a couple of days (perhaps some sort of mould release agent on the feed needed to be washed away by the ink).  Any other criticisms?  Nope.

 

Overall, I am absolutely astounded by how well the Jinhao performs.  The nib is perfectly smooth and the pen now writes faultlessly.  It massively exceeded my expectations.  The obvious question is: Will this make me switch from the Lamy Safari (which I adore) to the Chinese product?  No.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  Firstly, even if the Jinhao 599 provides much better value for money (which, in my view, it does), I can afford to buy the Safari (which is still a well-priced pen, notwithstanding it is an order of magnitude more expensive than the Chinese product), which feels much better in the hand.  So the Safari it is.  Secondly, I love the design language (including the clip) of the Safari and I really like some of the special edition colours.  My favourites so far have included Petrol, Dark Lilac and Savannah Green.  Thirdly, for reasons related to nostalgia, I like writing with pens that were around when I was at school (which is why I jumped for joy at the re-release of the Terracotta Red and Savannah Green versions).  The Jinhao products, amazingly well priced as they are, simply don't excite me.

 

All of that said, this thread has really caused me to re-evaluate the concept of value for money in fountain pens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, austollie said:

It massively exceeded my expectations.  The obvious question is: Will this make me switch from the Lamy Safari (which I adore) to the Chinese product?

 

That sounds like the ‘dilemma’ I have with the Lamy Studio Lx All Black — which I hold dear and in high enough esteem to buy multiples off in the same colourway, as backup should mine break or be lost, as well as to offer family and friends should they be interested in an exemplar of a wonderfully usable EDC pen — and the HongDian 517D (which only comes in a single ”as long as it is black” colourway, and of which I bought several more after being absolutely wowed by the first one). My conclusion is I'm more than happy to keep using both as well as recommending both to others.

 

Whereas I don't have that sort of ‘relationship’ with the Lamy Safari, irrespective of its iconic status and allegedly huge following (stemming partly from some folks growing up with using pens of that model as school pens); having just one of those in my pen collection — which is still a positive acknowledgement of its place in someone's collection — is enough. Uncharacteristically, my wife alerted me to the Savannah Green and Terra Red (as in it caught her eye, and she's kinda interested, but also thought I'd be interested in spending money on such) when we walk past a shop window displaying those. Usually, I like both of those colours, and in particular burnt orange is right up my alley. In the end, though, I ordered her a Savannah Green (with olive being her thing while orange isn't) and chose to forgo the Terra Red, in spite of the discount I could get — and I'm not one to readily turn down discount offers. I already have a Lamy Safari (in neither of those colours) that I haven't used for years, and that's quite enough for me.

 

6 hours ago, austollie said:

All of that said, this thread has really caused me to re-evaluate the concept of value for money in fountain pens.

 

Excellent! 👍

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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23 hours ago, Amory said:

“the plastic felt cheap“ 

What absolute nonsense, even Stanly Strode would not be able to judge the quality of a plastic by feel. 

that is just a cheap throwaway comment without any foundation outside of Smugs mind

Of course plastic can “feel cheap” to someone. 
In comparison to a metal pen or a another plastic such as the plexiglass of a Parker “51” the Safari plastic feels cheaper.
Even the thin aluminum of the Al Star feels cheaper than the Safari to me. 

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Last year around this time all materials felt the same in my right hand.

 

That concludes to the FUN FACT: If you block the right nerve in your brainstem it doesn't matter if a pen feels cheap or expensive or even what it is made of. 🤣

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2 hours ago, Glenn-SC said:

Of course plastic can “feel cheap” to someone. 
In comparison to a metal pen or a another plastic such as the plexiglass of a Parker “51” the Safari plastic feels cheaper.
Even the thin aluminum of the Al Star feels cheaper than the Safari to me. 

 

How can the value of any material be determined by touch alone?

How can the value of the two dissimilar materials you specify be determined by touch alone?

 

I wonder if you mean feel inferior rather than feel cheap.

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2 hours ago, Glenn-SC said:

...the thin aluminum of the Al Star feels cheaper than the Safari to me.


I absolutely agree. I only buy AL-star pens to enlarge the range of colours that I have. I match the pen colour to that of the ink: if I like the ink enough, I promote it out of the ranks of the safari/AL star pens to be used in what I consider to be a superior pen: LAMY 2000, Gravitas, Parker, etc, for instance.

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50 minutes ago, Amory said:

I wonder if you mean feel inferior rather than feel cheap.

 

I can't and don't speak for @Glenn-SC, but when I said the plastic feels cheap to me, it means I get the impression that the material is easy and cost relatively little to produce, inclusive of manufacture of the raw material, moulding into the object, and finishing. It something is (or seems) difficult and therefore more costly to produce, then it is less cheap. In general, a plastic that is less dense feels cheaper to me, at least, than a significantly denser one, and a plastic that is less polished and/or unevenly polished, feels cheaper in hand than a highly and evenly polished one. For a plastic that is clearly (pun intended) to be see-through, whether it's crystal clear or of a translucent colour, a higher refractive index would make it seem cheaper than one with an uncommonly low refractive index; and the apparent degree of clarity of the material matters. Inclusion of translucent and/or chatoyant pieces in resin during production of the plastic, without compromising the material structurally, for aesthetic appeal would make a plastic seem more premium than a flat or dull coloured one.

 

But it may well be that a less dense plastic without visible bits of impurity in the resin, and deliberately left unpolished or given a matt or even rough finish, could be what a particular application calls for; in which case, while the material may feel cheap, it does not make it an inferior material to use. I wouldn't know if a plastic is inferior for the application by touch, unless it's for a load-bearing part and yet the object feels soft and can be deformed by my grip alone, or somehow comes across as brittle.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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1 hour ago, Amory said:

wonder if you mean feel inferior rather than feel cheap.

 

Objects can also look cheap.  It's relative and subjective.  Innit?

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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27 minutes ago, Karmachanic said:

 

Objects can also look cheap.  It's relative and subjective.  Innit?

 

It seems to me in the obvious connotations of the word "cheap", be they connotations of affordability or cost of production, or other similar ideas, that, yes, there is a comparative, and thus relative index of merit involved.

 

As to the subjectivity, as was hinted at above, one can easily define very objective properties (weight, density, surface finish, optical properties), but even then, one could call into question the subjective selection of those particular objective properties. The best one maybe can do is define the properties of "cheap" as precisely as possible, and proceed to argue as to relevance of the properties and how closely the Lamy Safari correlates with those properties.

 

So, I suppose, if one attempts to follow this argument to something that resembles a final resolution, neither science, nor logic, nor reason can answer the question "what is cheap" completely unless somewhere there is agreement on an infinite, transcendent (i.e., "true") definition of either "cheap" or, alternatively "not cheap" against which subordinate arguments can be compared.

 

Thus I would propose that probability of coming to a resolution on the question of whether a Lamy Safari "feels" "cheap", especially on an Internet forum full of anonymous participants who are divided on the issue, is, approximately, zero.

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1 hour ago, Karmachanic said:

 

Objects can also look cheap.  It's relative and subjective.  Innit?

So the shorter, but less accurate answer is, yes.

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Thanks.  I'm a proponent of the KISS method.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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3 hours ago, N1003U said:

Thus I would propose that probability of coming to a resolution on the question of whether a Lamy Safari "feels" "cheap", especially on an Internet forum full of anonymous participants who are divided on the issue, is, approximately, zero.

 

I think that's right.  I like the feel of the Safari in my hand and I won't agree that it feels cheap and no matter how other people see it, I will still perceive the 'feel' the way I do.  

 

But then, what is the purpose of participating in a thread like this?  Is it to bring others round to one's point of view?  It isn't for me.  To me, this is about exchanging ideas about a hobby that we're all passionate about.  I am happy to read opinions that are different to mine and to try pens that others like and have raved about, that I wouldn't otherwise have bought.  If someone likes a pen that I wouldn't want to write with, that doesn't make that person's view not worth reading about.  To the contrary, I am keen to understand why others come to like what I don't. 

 

As per my post above, if it wasn't for this thread, I wouldn't have tried the Jinhao equivalent which I found to be surprisingly good, albeit the plastic felt cheap to me, based on my entirely subjective assessment.  That still doesn't change that I will continue to buy Safaris for as long as Lamy makes them in special edition colours that appeal to me (and I will skip all colours that I don't like, e.g. the pastel range).  Whilst on the topic of special edition colours, I have read some posts in other threads, where the author disliked the very colours that I like (e.g. Petrol and Dark Lilac) and wanted more of the vibrant colours seen in earlier special editions (which don't interest me at all).  I enjoyed reading those posts as much as I dislike previous vibrant special editions (e.g. Neon Coral).

 

Now, if Lamy could make one in dark green, I will buy several (as I did with the Savannah Green version).

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2 hours ago, austollie said:

But then, what is the purpose of participating in a thread like this?  Is it to bring others round to one's point of view?  It isn't for me.  To me, this is about exchanging ideas about a hobby that we're all passionate about.

This. Yea, there is a certain learning/information gathering aspect to this forum, but in the end, it seems to be sort of a fun place to hang out with like-minded geeks who think fountain pens are cool (yes, we will even tolerate discussions of other, lesser writing implements such as pencils, ballpoints, rollerballs, brush pens, and the like...), and like to discuss, whine, argue, comment, etc., about pens we find beautiful and/or interesting.

 

Specifically to the pen in question: I think it is easy to verify that there aren't many places in the world where fountain pens are regularly used where one can not also find a Lamy Safari for sale and/or in use nearby. The very ubiquitousness of the Safari (and it's imitations and counterfeits) speak volumes to its popularity and value proposition. The Safari seems to be a significant force in the fountain pen world, regardless of individual proponents or detractors.

 

About I I could add is that since they are so easy to find, I would encourage anyone who cares or is curious about the Safari, and still hasn't experienced one, to track one down and try it out yourself. Form your own darn opinion! You don't need us psychotic pendants to tell you what to think!

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A blinded study would be interesting. :)  I mean that it's not only the plastic itself that influences the cheap or expensive appearance.  A plastic pen may feel heavier because of hidden metal components, although the plastic itself may weigh the same as in another pen with less or no metal components.  Is the plastic cheaper in the former or latter pen?

 

One look at the section of a Shaeffer Prelude and you get the meaning of 'cheap plastic part'! The injection moulding is obvious and the plastic has a softer feel to it like you could bend it if you press hard enough, and in so doing, split it along the seam of the injection moulding.

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1 hour ago, maclink said:

I mean that it's not only the plastic itself that influences the cheap or expensive appearance.  A plastic pen may feel heavier because of hidden metal components, although the plastic itself may weigh the same as in another pen with less or no metal components.  Is the plastic cheaper in the former or latter pen?

True, that.  My two heaviest pens are my TWSBI 580-AL 7 58)-ALR -- likely due to the aluminum parts inside the clear acrylic (?) barrel.  Ironically, when I first started on here, a lot of people were complaining about the quality of the plastic TWSBI was using (more or less along the lines of it cracking if you looked at it funny...).  I bought the first one after TWSBI changed the barrel material, and I've accidentally dropped it on the sidewalk and had no issues with it cracking even then.  Yet people STILL complain about the quality of the materials.

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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