Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point Raden - Medium

This is a review of the Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point Raden with a medium nib.
Pilot/Namiki VP Raden
Hello pretty girl.
Packaging
The VP arrived in a black leather box with silver trim. The top is printed with "Namiki" and it is simple overall. The inside has Namiki in gold screen on the top lid, with a satiny cream material. The pen is held by a strap on to the removable plastic tray. Underneath is a user and care guide, as well as a warranty card. There is also an ink cartridge in there - that I only just discovered! The case is decent and sturdy, and will certainly protect the pen should I ever relinquish it from my pencil case for storage. (Although I really would have preferred the wicked packaging that the matte black VP comes in...why did it not come with this awesomeness? Why did I just get a box? Hmph.).
Namiki Packaging
So-so packaging.
Pilot/Namiki VP Raden in box
But very gorgeous pen.
The Pen
The Vanishing Point fountain pen has a modern design that differs from the classic capped fountain pens in that it is retractable. The body is torpedo shaped on both ends with the clip at the nib end, which is unusual for a fountain pen! The back end contains the “clicker”. The body is very durable and has held up just fine to normal use. The pen is not very small, but is by no means a monster (like the Pelikan M1005 I reviewed awhile ago). It is solid and feels perfect in my grip - and that makes me feel complete.

The raden has rhodium accents and a black body. It's very sharp and sleek. The gorgeous color that speckles the darkness is bits of abalone shell fragments that are placed by hand. The pen is then hand-lacquered, resulting in a seductive finish. ... It seduced me, okay?.
Dark to Light VP
Left to right: Lower exposure to higher. You can see the varying bits of shell changing!
Pilot/Namiki VP Raden
Roly poly pretty penny.
As mentioned, the nib end also has the clip attached to it. The clip works very well! It is smooth to slip on to a stack of paper, and it holds very snugly. It is all metal so I have no qualms about breaking it, and I'm confident

I had looked at many pictures of this pen prior to purchasing it. I am very attracted to shiny things (well...who isn't...) and I couldn't get this pen out of my mind once I had seen it. I found it on sale at Isellpens and then I really had no other option but to get it. 

As noted by another reviewer, the pen is not cool to the touch. It does appear as though it would be, being a solid pen, but when you pick it up, it's almost as if the lacquer picks up the heat of your hand and warms. For some reason, I always think of mood rings when I'm writing with it - the ones that changed color when you wore them.

The Nib & Writing
Nib VP
Nibberific. 
The VP has a skinny mini little 18K gold nib and is available in fine, medium, and broad. Being a Japanese pen, the medium nib I got is in fact a little smaller than the Pelikan M1005 fine nib. The nib actually makes up the entire inside of the pen - including the twist converter. This pen can also take cartridges. The nib is slightly springy because of the gold, making it a lot of fun to write with, and giving a very smooth writing experience. The nice thing is you can get replacement nib sections, so you can have different nib sizes without having to buy another pen - although this is somewhat of a shame, what with so many colors available...
Namiki Nib
Teeny nib.
I didn't clean the pen or anything, I just pulled it out of the box and inked up. The first fill was with J. Herbin Lie de Thé. At first, it wrote very well with lots of lovely shading and I was really excited. Then my parents came to visit and I packed all my pens away and didn't really have a chance to use them. Recently, I pulled them out again and tried writing a letter with it and it was skipping and I had to keep tapping it to get it going and it just wasn't writing and I was like, what the heck! Why is this stupid pen not working! Well, either the ink was drying up, or it was just too dry to flow in general. 


I refilled the pen with Mont Blanc Lavender Purple ink and it wrote quite wonderfully for a line or two... but then that too started to dry up, even with a full cartridge. I could write a line or two and it would run dry, as though there was no ink in it at all. At this point, I'm thinking, okay, I need a wetter ink.

Last pick of ink: I decided to try Noodler's American Blue Eel, hoping the lubricated ink would flow better, and it certainly helped. It wrote wonderfully for a full paragraph before it started feeling a little more dry. It skipped a few times, but not terribly. I'm a little disappointed that I am limited by the type of ink I can use in this pen, but I have a pretty decent selection of ink so I think I'll manage. After all, I am selective of what inks I put in my Pelikan M1005.
Pilot/Namiki VP Raden Writing Sample
Note how the ink changes based on going from wet to dry writing.
I'm not certain exactly how much ink the pen holds, but it doesn't feel like a whole lot. Because it's not a flex nib, I don't mind because it isn't guzzling ink. This might irritate some people if they have to keep refilling. But then, it's a good reminder to clean your pen regularly!
Pilot/Namiki VP Raden Sample
I can't stop staring at this thing.
Once I got it going, the pen was a pleasure to write with. I actually prefer medium nibs (because they mask my messy writing I suppose), and as I mentioned, this is on the smaller side of medium. I actually wish I had gotten a broad nib but I can still get one as they're easy to swap out. The only other Pilot fountain pen I've written with is the Cavalier and I was a little nervous about taking the plunge on this pen. I wasn't certain if it would be a smooth, inky writer (it did turn out to be a nice, smooth, and moderately wet writer). The sad truth is, the raden work won me over and I figured, I'd enjoy the pen no matter what, it would just vary to what extent I loved it.
Comparisons VP
On the left, from top to bottom: Pelikan M1005 demonstrator, Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point raden, Noodler's Ahab, Lamy Al-Star, Lamy Studio, Platinum Preppy, Waterman English Version super flex, Waterman 52V wet noodle. On the right, from left to right: Platinum Preppy fine, Lamy Al-Star fine, Pilot/Namiki VP raden medium, Pelikan M1005 fine nib.
Do I love it? In the end, yes. I was really bummed at first when I couldn't get it to write properly. But now that it is, I am much happier. I love the way it looks. I think it's absolutely beautiful. It writes very nicely and I'm pleased with that. I do think the nib is too tiny - I like big whopper nibs because they feel more full of character to me and are more fun to write with. But this pen is very different to what the rest of my collection is, so I'm glad I acquired it. 

Other Tidbits
There is a lot of talk about these pens because of the placement of the clip. As mentioned, it is very uncommon for a pen's clip to be placed on the same size as the nib. I took a risk based on studying how I hold other pens and it turned out just fine. The clip sits right in between my thumb and index finger when I'm holding the pen so it doesn't get in the way at all. 
Pilot/Namiki VP Raden Grip Clip
I don't grip where the clip sits, fortunately!
If you're thinking, well, I can spend $300 on a different pen. That is certainly true. But will it be really pretty and have beautiful shell bits in it? For $300, you'd be hard pressed to find another fountain pen with raden. 

See some more VP

Price
Goulet Pens - $304.00
Colorado Pen - $299.00
Amazon - $304.00
Nibs.com - $304.00

Overall
The Pilot VP really does have a very clever design. It's a gorgeous fountain pen and, if the clip works for you, it is a beautiful writer. In my opinion, this raden is a small work of art. Most raden pens are well out of my price range (this one too) so I was very pleased to find this pen at the price I did. It is very convenient just clicking a pen, but still having the luxuries of a beautiful fountain pen. If you are still on the fence, I would recommend trying out the pen before you buy it - if at all possible. It could make or break your decision. Personally, I prefer big, springy nibs so this pen is a little unusual for my collection, but like I said, it's a work of art, and I had to have one. It's still part of my regular rotation!
Namiki Pretty
One last look. Shiny bits make me crazy. WITH LOVE.

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GourmetPens by Azizah Asgarali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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