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Bargain Innovation? Tales of a .38mm Capless


J120
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20 hours ago, J120 said:

if it came out of the original batch I can promise you it will either dry out routinely or jam....or both.

I would at least be able to judge size-wise if it makes sense for me to order the Platinum version. I had been so excited that they were going to have a retractable with different tech from the Pilot, but then when I saw pictures decides it probably wouldn't suit me.

Festina lente

Optimism kills

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9/10 of the pens I ordered finally arrived. I will have a more detailed review of sealing, writing, etc in a few days after I have had time to ink them and test a few things.  They arrived in the shown retail packaging which is secure and well done. 

 

Initial impressions are higher than they initially were. I have not sourced a scale yet but I will as it fills slightly heavier than the Pilot and Majohn capless models. 

 

That white caped object holds what they refer to as "maintenance water" for a dry nib. That gives one pause but I will test the pens overnight before utilizing it hopefully.  It has a foam insert like you would see in medicine products. 

 

It came with a serviceable converter that is great for cleaning purposes. I am going to test one of the many spare Chinese converters in storage for fit and usability because I want a larger ink capacity than that one holds. 

 

The knock system is very smooth.

The feed and section are all one brass piece which appears to be more convenient and quicker to just pop in another cartridge. Time will tell if it seals well enough to matter.  

 

I will do a writing sample, etc after I have a few days to mess with them and draw a proper impression on the usability.  

 

 

 

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Edited by J120
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Keep us posted for the update regarding drying out of the pen.

If it does enough then I'll wait until there is a standard silver / chrome trim version or even better, a black trim version.

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There is a silver version.  Based upon the early returns I am tempted to get it. Very early first impressions are  it hard starts as expected but between the "maintenance water" and simple doodles it starts right back up. That will turn off some people and I do not think I could manage taking this to the office and dealing with that over the course of a work day. Still only 24 hours into it but by next week I will have a clearer picture. The knock mechanism is extremely smooth. It is already better than the Lily 910 and the Lanbitou 3088 but the OG VP and Majohn A1 are in another class. That said, everyone's tolerances and mileage will vary. 

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Without the water, does the hard start persists?

Can't imagine to always have a water container ready at all times.

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5 hours ago, penzel_washinkton said:

Without the water, does the hard start persists?

Can't imagine to always have a water container ready at all times.

The pen has no sealing garage and just retracts smoothly into the section. Still only 48 hours and one office day into testing but it does have a minor hard start. It is not a rough hard start though. If you have any experience with the Lanbitou 3088 those type of hard starts require more effort than a pen is worth. Somehow with no effort at sealing this model is more functional than the Lanbitou 3088 and the Lily 910. This pen after a second or two immediately writes normal.  It is well built, smooth operating,  and comfortable due to the soft material used on the barrel. Everyone's tolerances are different,  the minor hard starts might turn people off, but the pen is a workhorse outside of that. If lost or someone took it for $5.50 you would not miss it. Still very early but I hope it makes its way to AliExpress so others can judge it.

Also, this is more substantial in build and feel than the Curidas. The Curidas and 3088 feel like over designed toys. It is more functional,  not over engineered but a better design and functional execution. I expected nothing and now I just want to source the silver models. That gold is still an eye sore. The maintenance water is a gimmick but works if you are into that sort of thing dip?

 

More updates coming. 

 

Edited by J120
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1 hour ago, J120 said:

The pen has no sealing garage and just retracts smoothly into the section. Still only 48 hours and one office day into testing but it does have a minor hard start. It is not a rough hard start though. If you have any experience with the Lanbitou 3088 those type of hard starts require more effort than a pen is worth. Somehow with no effort at sealing this model is more functional than the Lanbitou 3088 and the Lily 910. This pen after a second or two immediately writes normal.  It is well built, smooth operating,  and comfortable due to the soft material used on the barrel. Everyone's tolerances are different,  the minor hard starts might turn people off, but the pen is a workhorse outside of that. If lost or someone took it for $5.50 you would not miss it. Still very early but I hope it makes its way to AliExpress so others can judge it.

Also, this is more substantial in build and feel than the Curidas. The Curidas and 3088 feel like over designed toys. It is more functional,  not over engineered but a better design and functional execution. I expected nothing and now I just want to source the silver models. That gold is still an eye sore. The maintenance water is a gimmick but works if you are into that sort of thing dip?

 

More updates coming. 

 

Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised. I mean, that brass part at the top/front is quite small, it probably would be pretty difficult to put a well sealing nib garage in such a tiny space.

😞

 

Imo this should not be seen as a 'capless FP', but rather as a FP with an 'extremely hooded nib' where the hood can be temporarily retracted.

 

Thinking about it, it's really kinda unfortunate that they were shooting for capless. Instead of the water dip thingie (which imo is really pointless to include, as it could be easily substituted by any small container/glass/whatever) they should have included a ....wait for it.... cap 🙂

Imo the retractable nib construction could actually be quite useful for people who write lots of short notes with small to medium breaks between the notes, like teachers correcting/grading exam papers for example - or plenty of other people tbh.

But there still needs to be an option to cap it. a) because restarting it with water every other day would be annoying. And b) because without proper sealing or a cap the FP can't really be trusted to be transported; I would not want to put this pen in my bag or pencil case (or pockets in clothes) for fear of ink leaking out and making stains.

 

I wonder if a friction cap from some other FP might fit 🤔

 

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1 minute ago, Licue said:

Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised. I mean, that brass part at the top/front is quite small, should be pretty difficult to put a well sealing nib garage in such a tiny space.

😞

 

Imo this should not be seen as a 'capless FP', but rather as a FP with an 'extremely hooded nib' where the hood can be temporarily retracted.

 

Thinking about it, it's really kinda unfortunate that they were shooting for capless. Instead of the water dip thingie (which imo is really pointless to include, as it could be easily substituted by any small container/glass/whatever) they should have included a ....wait for it.... cap 🙂

Imo the retractable nib construction could actually be quite useful for people who write lots of short notes with small to medium breaks between the notes, like teachers correcting/grading exam papers for example - or plenty of other people tbh.

But there still needs to be an option to cap it. a) because restarting it with water every other day would be annoying. And b) because without sealing or cap the FP can't really be trusted to be transported; I would not want to put this pen in my bag or pencil case (or pockets in clothes) for fear of ink leaking out and making stains.

 

I wonder if a friction cap from some other FP might fit 🤔

 

I had two in my pocket today and so far they do not leak. Another full week to find out if the the remaining six holdup to the daily thrashing and dashing but so far so good. I used different inks and cartridges to test drying issues and potential leaking susceptibility. 

I appreciate the gesture but they could have just included some form of cap as you suggested or more cartridges instead admitting the flaw by including the water pill. It works but who is taking that with them?  I must really stress the hard starts are minor. A few squiggles is way more than I expected. I took them to work because I could not find a reason to only take the A1s after waking up and all 4 inked SCB immediately starting. I thought it was going to be as bad as the Lily 910 or Lanbitou 3088 and it turns out but for the gold I prefer it to the Curidas.

This could be the Jinhao Shark esque gateway pen into capeless models if it were more widely available. Varying tolerance levels to hard starting define it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Licue said:

as it could be easily substituted by any small container/glass/whatever) they should have included a ....wait for it.... cap 🙂

 

I wonder if a friction cap from some other FP might fit 🤔

 

 

But what's the point in giving it a cap? Doesn't even make a hint of sense when the concept is a retractable type of fountain pen.

I would rather they stick to their guns and continue developing ways to overcome the hard start issue. I understand this is their first crack at a pen similar to this design and mechanism (CMIIW) thus consider this a commendable try for $5.50.

 

I am interested on how they will overcome the hard start issue but I will give this model a shot if they start to show up on Aliexpress / Etsy.

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Day three,  took it on early morning errands, it signed a receipt straight out the pocket like a champ. It still is not leaking FWIW. 

 

I will check if Bobby would consider selling it. 

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I have gone 51 miles running errands around the Boston Metro region and they have not leaked a drop. These are the two with cartrudges so I cannot say if the converter filled options would act differently.  TBD on that but so far so good. Shocked and surprised so far....

Waiting on Bobby's reply of he can source them

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34 minutes ago, J120 said:

I have gone 51 miles running errands around the Boston Metro region and they have not leaked a drop. These are the two with cartrudges so I cannot say if the converter filled options would act differently.  TBD on that but so far so good. Shocked and surprised so far....

Waiting on Bobby's reply of he can source them

Ok, that sounds pretty good.

 

Still leaves the hard starts.

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3 hours ago, penzel_washinkton said:

 

But what's the point in giving it a cap? Doesn't even make a hint of sense when the concept is a retractable type of fountain pen.

I would rather they stick to their guns and continue developing ways to overcome the hard start issue. I understand this is their first crack at a pen similar to this design and mechanism (CMIIW) thus consider this a commendable try for $5.50.

A fountain pen that dries out/hardstarts after only a few days is a kinda crappy FP imo. 

A few of my (capped! 😠🙄) pens have that issue and I find highly annoying - I tolerate it because I'm feeling kinda attached to those pens, but I'm not really keen on adding more of that sort...

 

And considering they did not give their pen any seal at all(! not even tried!), hard starts are pretty much guaranteed. Hence them including the water thingie 🙄

 

 

As for adding a cap: for me this does make sense, let me explain my user scenario: Me sitting at a desk, looking things up on the net. Taking notes with a FP (or several FPs (-> different ink colors)), but only short texts with frequent breaks inbetween. During these breaks I usually "half cap" my FPs, meaning the cap lays on the desk and during breaks from writing I "rest" the FP in the cap, but do not fully close it. That way the pen is write-ready quicker, there's no constant capping and uncapping (which would wear out the cap in the long term) and the nib is at least somewhat protected from evaporation. Plus less chance of inadvertently coloring something that should not have been colored...

With a this pen I could replace this half-capping with a quick click to retract the nib. I think it should be able to refrain from hard-starting for at least a few hours.

And then at the end of the desk day, I'd finally take the cap and cap it for the night/weekend/holiday, so that when I return to the desk I'd find an instantly useable FP instead of one that first has to be revived by water dipping 😉

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48 minutes ago, Licue said:

A fountain pen that dries out/hardstarts after only a few days is a kinda crappy FP imo. 

A few of my (capped! 😠🙄) pens have that issue and I find highly annoying - I tolerate it because I'm feeling kinda attached to those pens, but I'm not really keen on adding more of that sort...

 

And considering they did not give their pen any seal at all(! not even tried!), hard starts are pretty much guaranteed. Hence them including the water thingie 🙄

 

 

As for adding a cap: for me this does make sense, let me explain my user scenario: Me sitting at a desk, looking things up on the net. Taking notes with a FP (or several FPs (-> different ink colors)), but only short texts with frequent breaks inbetween. During these breaks I usually "half cap" my FPs, meaning the cap lays on the desk and during breaks from writing I "rest" the FP in the cap, but do not fully close it. That way the pen is write-ready quicker, there's no constant capping and uncapping (which would wear out the cap in the long term) and the nib is at least somewhat protected from evaporation. Plus less chance of inadvertently coloring something that should not have been colored...

With a this pen I could replace this half-capping with a quick click to retract the nib. I think it should be able to refrain from hard-starting for at least a few hours.

And then at the end of the desk day, I'd finally take the cap and cap it for the night/weekend/holiday, so that when I return to the desk I'd find an instantly useable FP instead of one that first has to be revived by water dipping 😉

Interesting. For me, I do not want to uncap anything at work nor carry any accessories for said pen when I have the tunnel vision on.  At home, naturally more patient. The minor hard starting with these is where people's tolerance and patience will be tested. Still early doors but it is only bested by the OG VP, Dialog, and the A1. The knock is also well designed with no rattling or weak spots. In the pocket after a full morning of movement there were no inadvertent retractions. Not a single drop spilled. 

For $5.50 it is performing well above expectations. It is going to come down to whether one can stomach the squiggles after a minutes of non use. If one left a traditional FP uncapped it would do the same thing but because it is a capless I presume people expect a well sealed garage.  I cannot find a reason to not add it to the daily carry yet, particularly if I can secure those silver versions. 

 If you want slim capless but not a decimo price or appearance this might be the pen for you. 

Edited by J120
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On 12/19/2021 at 12:25 AM, Licue said:

A fountain pen that dries out/hardstarts after only a few days is a kinda crappy FP imo. 

A few of my (capped! 😠🙄) pens have that issue and I find highly annoying - I tolerate it because I'm feeling kinda attached to those pens, but I'm not really keen on adding more of that sort...

 

 

Yeah sure, never actually said this was a decent / good pen at all and it might be a crappy pen.

But what I am saying is that on a whole, the concept is very interesting. This is the first iteration of their design and only can improve from here. Improvements can only be made once the concept has been set in stone, and now the concept has been set in stone with this retractable pen (and it is a mass produced product now) so I am looking forward to seeing how it improves in the long run.

 

Also the fact that you can tolerate a pen that uses a cap (which is the easiest way to seal a pen from hard starting) and fails to prevent drying out due to emotional attachment and came to be very critical from hard starting for a pen that needs more thought into its mechanism to seal it (with the effort of not totally duplicating the existing capless pens mechanism at that) is something I cannot understand. But you do you.

 

On 12/19/2021 at 12:25 AM, Licue said:

And considering they did not give their pen any seal at all(! not even tried!), hard starts are pretty much guaranteed. Hence them including the water thingie 🙄

 

This is a $5.5 pen fml. They WILL cut corners in terms of design aspect to get that cheap price. Pretty sure this is a pen that are more driven by their price rather than the price driven by their design. I also don't agree with the "maintenance water"  concept or so they are called since it is not at all practical but pretty sure they will gauge market interest with this pen and hopefully do some design development for future designs (even if it is done by other brand, not particularly them).

 

On 12/19/2021 at 12:25 AM, Licue said:

As for adding a cap: for me this does make sense, let me explain my user scenario: Me sitting at a desk, looking things up on the net. Taking notes with a FP (or several FPs (-> different ink colors)), but only short texts with frequent breaks inbetween. During these breaks I usually "half cap" my FPs, meaning the cap lays on the desk and during breaks from writing I "rest" the FP in the cap, but do not fully close it. That way the pen is write-ready quicker, there's no constant capping and uncapping (which would wear out the cap in the long term) and the nib is at least somewhat protected from evaporation. Plus less chance of inadvertently coloring something that should not have been colored...

With a this pen I could replace this half-capping with a quick click to retract the nib. I think it should be able to refrain from hard-starting for at least a few hours.

And then at the end of the desk day, I'd finally take the cap and cap it for the night/weekend/holiday, so that when I return to the desk I'd find an instantly useable FP instead of one that first has to be revived by water dipping 😉

 

You're missing my point entirely. The concept of this pen is a retractable pen, so why would they add a cap to a pen that is retractable which defeats the whole purpose. My argument is that adding a cap to a retractable pen is a silly solution, the maintenance water is also a silly solution.

 

Right now, this isn't the pen to fully satisfy many expectations but it is something that we have not seen in the world of fountain pens up to today which is a dirt cheap retractable fountain pen and that what excites me.

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I must reiterate that it may be a $5.50 but it feels better in the hand and better made than the Curidas by a country mile. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing pen that ever came out of R&D but in silver or black it would look better.   It does not feel cheap, the knock and inner mechanisms work flawlessly, not a rattle or jam in 72 hours, and if it were not for the hard start minor squiggles and rose gold I would definitely have it in my daily carry. For now the last week of testing continues but this is not a cheap or overpriced toy ( Curidas/Lanbitou 3088). This thing is a Decimo extra slim but an original design and a price point where you don't mind losing it or giving it away. This is the fountain pen you hand to someone to borrow or try and do not worry about replacing. There is a lot of value for $5.50. The shame is rose gold, the minor hard starting,and the fact it can only be bought on Taobao for now. 

 

Another positive is the manufacturer is not a mom and pop shop type operation.  If it is popular domestically they have the resources to consider making more versions. More testing to come...

Edited by J120
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1 hour ago, penzel_washinkton said:

 

Yeah sure, never actually said this was a decent / good pen at all and it might be a crappy pen.

But what I am saying is that on a whole, the concept is very interesting. This is the first iteration of their design and only can improve from here. Improvements can only be made once the concept has been set in stone, and now the concept has been set in stone with this retractable pen (and it is a mass produced product now) so I am looking forward to seeing how it improves in the long run.

 

Also the fact that you can tolerate a pen that uses a cap (which is the easiest way to seal a pen from hard starting) from drying out due to emotional attachment and came to be very critical from hard starting for a pen that needs more thought into its mechanism to seal it (with the effort of not totally duplicating the existing capless pens mechanism at that) is something I cannot understand. But you do you.

Unless the concept of emotional attachment to things is completely foreign to you, I don't see how this is so hard to understand.

Also my problematic pens have other "advantages":

a) they are nice to look at (at least imo) - which is not really something I can say for this retractable pen

b) I like the way their nibs write (before they start to dry out of course) - which I don't if it would be the case for this pen here

and last but not least c) I already have them. The money is already spent. (which wasn't much btw, they were 2nd hand aquisitions; obviously I'd be less tolerant with this problem in expensive new pens) 

 

1 hour ago, penzel_washinkton said:

You're missing my point entirely. The concept of this pen is a retractable pen, so why would they add a cap to a pen that is retractable which defeats the whole purpose. My argument is that adding a cap to a retractable pen is a silly solution, the maintenance water is also a silly solution.

No. I just don't agree with your point.

For me adding an (optional) cap to this pen is not silly and I explained to you why.

 

 

1 hour ago, penzel_washinkton said:

Right now, this isn't the pen to fully satisfy many expectations but it is something that we have not seen in the world of fountain pens up to today which is a dirt cheap retractable fountain pen and that what excites me.

Only if you focus on the original design/construction.

Otherwise there already is a not-quite-working-well dirt cheap retractable fountain pen: The Curidas clone.

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24 minutes ago, J120 said:

It does not feel cheap

Are you sure it doesn't just feel more substantial?

Apparently it's mostly made of metal, whereas the Curidas and its clone are mostly plastic. 

 

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