Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review: iPenBox001 Monthly Stationery Box Subscription @iPenStore

The kind folks at iPenStore contacted me to see if I'd like to check out their iPenBox001 - a monthly box subscription for pen, paper, and ink lovers. I've actually never received a monthly box subscription of this sort - the only thing I'm subscribed to is Field Notes - so I was certainly curious. There are quite a few subscriptions available to choose from now, and iPenBox is quite new, so let's have a look.

  • Price: 
    • $30USD for US addresses 
    • $40USD for Canadian/International addresses
    • Both prices include shipping to respective addresses.
  • Where to buy/subscribe: iPenStore
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (1)
The iPenBox 001 (and subsequent boxes) are convenient packaged in a slim, clean, white box, with a cute stamp on the top: I think therefore iPen. The box is sealed with a sticker. Inside, all the contents are wrapped in tissue paper and sealed with a sticker. There is a sheet of paper that tells you your box
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (38)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (40)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (2)


Each monthly box has a theme. This September box was ''Around the World'', and had items from USA, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Japan, and China. October's them was Michigan Fall Colors, and November was Premium Fountain Pen month, and included a limited edition fountain pen from Germany.
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (3)
The September Around the World box contained:

USA - Word. Notebook Adventures Log - black
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (15)
I like pocket notebooks. I like Word notebooks. This is a great combination. I have no idea how to use this realistically, and in a useful way, but I like it. It's portable, small, and it's neat. Don't expect it to be super fountain pen friendly. 
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (16)
France - J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor Ink - sample
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (6)
As this is a very hot ink, it is exciting to receive a sample of it. I feel like 2 ml samples are really small and insufficient, but I understand that's the general standard for samples. GIMME SOME MO'! A great, new ink to play with, especially if you missed out on grabbing a bottle. Although there is a reminder to shake well before using, I found mine lacking in particles. 
China - Baoer 388 Fountain Pen - includes converter
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (21)
I'll do a full review on this pen later, but mine was pretty decent. I gave it a good flush, and it wrote well - good, wet ink flow, a fine-medium line, and a pretty springy nib (careful not to spring it). It's a pretty pen, and quite comfortable. I'm glad this was included in the box. If you're exploring the fountain pen world and don't yet have a refined focus, this is a nice one to check out. A friend of mine received this box as well, and his nib was very scratchy and dry. There's typically some variation in fountain pen nib performance, such as the case here. It's an easy fix, but if you're completely new to fountain pens, it may be a new world for you.
China - Zebra Telescopic Stylus
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (10)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (11)
This pen is pretty useful, although it feels quite random in this box. It doesn't hurt to have a stylus around, if you have touchscreen devices. I do have touchscreen devices, so I keep this on my desk for regular use. I like that it retracts to be compact and portable, and extends to be a comfortable, usable size. The refill is pretty decent as well.
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (29)
Germany - Schneider One Business Pen
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (22)
This is a great pen. I like Schneider pens quite a bit. I find them a little bulky and not always the most attractive, but they're great pens. I like writing with this one, and it's useful for addressing envelopes and short notes. It's comfortable, and work-appropriate. Pretty cool. I have few complaints about these pens. 
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (31)
Japan - Pentel EnerGel Needle Tip Gel Pen
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (13)
This gel pen is a classic. If you haven't used one before, you're lucky it's in this box. I absolutely love these, both in the needle tip size, and also the 0.7 mm size. Great pens, great writers, very smooth, pleasant ink, in beautiful colors. The blue is one of my favorites, along with the purple ink. 
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (30)
Japan - Palomino Blackwing 725 Pencil - Limited edition, Bob Dylan Fender Sratocaster
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (24)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (12)
This included Fender guitar pick and a pack of mini fruit erasers. I don't play guitar, but the pick is very pretty. It's kind of a neat thing to add to a scrapbook, if you don'need to use it. The erasers? They're super cute. They're one of those things that are so cute, you don't want to use them. They're not world's most amazing eraser, but they're super adorable. The pencil is awesome. I am hooked on Palomino Blackwing pencils, even though I know little about wood case pencils. I think these are great. They have nice lead, refillable erasers, and look really nice.
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (27)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (36)
Switzerland - Caran d'Ache Colorblock Fluo Pencil
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (7)
The iPenBox website informs subscribers: ''this is a fat pencil, so we'll include a large hole sharpener in the October iPenBox as a bonus item''. Well, I love the pencil. I have this in pink and now a violently blinding green to add to it is a lot of fun. It's a great highlighter, coloring pencil, and just all around cool writer. I sharpen mine with a knife, but a sharpener would be handy. It would be cool if it was in this box instead of next month's!
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (28)
First Month's Bonus Items:
Germany - Palomino Blackwing Long Point Pencil Sharpener
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (23)
I actually owned one of these sharpeners already, but this was a bonus item. I didn't need it, but it's nice to have, especially if you want to leave one at the office or your desk or something. It's a great sharpener, and gives decent points.
Japan - Tombow Mono Zero Push Button Eraser
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (14)
This is a handy little bonus item. It'll probably be a pain to find a refill eraser around here, but it's nice and tidy. It produces quite a bit of dust, and it wears down pretty quickly, but since it's so small, it can be used for precise erasing. I like that. 
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (26)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (32)
Spain - Miquelrius Mini Holdall Round Pencil Case
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (5)
This is a cute, simple case. It flattens nicely, so if there isn't much in it, it doesn't take up much space. It also expands quite a bit, so it can hold a lot of things. I could not fit a full-size pencil in here, but everything else fit just fine. It doesn't feel very thick, and is a little on the flimsy side, so I would not use it to hold instruments that are very precious to you - it is just a simple pencil case to tote things around in, not a protective case.
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (34)
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (35)
Spain - Miquelrius Prada Note Pad
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (18)
Another useful little bonus - who doesn't need a notepad kicking around? It's cute, the paper is decent, it's small, convenient, portable, and has an elastic to close it up. It also opens up and lies flat. 
Review iPenBox001 @iPenStore (33)

For me, I think this box I received was a little weak on the theme. Before I considered it, I felt the contents were a little disjointed, but since the theme is Around the World, the disjointed, scattered feeling makes sense - they're items from around the world! I felt the Michigan Fall Colors was much more cohesive and worked better as a box. 

  • Cancel anytime - definitely a convenient option. 
  • Starts shipping on the first of each month.
  • Bonus items make the box more interesting, and useful.
  • It's a lot of fun - a gift to yourself or a fellow stationery-lover. If you're not an early adopter in general, you may be surprised regularly by the box contents!
  • Packaging was simple and tidy, but almost everything came in a sealed plastic bag - great for not leaking, but the pencil, guitar pick, and erasers didn't really need it. Ink sample, maybe. It felt a bit wasteful. 
  • If you only buy one box, you may miss out on bonus items needed in the following box (such as with the Caran d'Ache pencil and the October large hole sharpener)

There's a lot of neat stuff in this box. If I disregard that it has a theme, I think it works better. The following boxes were stronger in terms of the theme. If you are the kind of person who already buys every new ink and pen, and has a lot of gel pens, ballpoints, paper, and pencil cases because that's what you love, you'll probably get some doubles in the boxes at some point. Is that an issue? Not necessarily, but if you're looking for the highest value, you'll be getting repeats. I already had the Palomino pencil sharpener, a Baoer 388 fountain pen, Emerald of Chivor ink, the Caran d'Ache Fluo pencil, and the Pentel gel pen. That's quite a bit of stuff from one box. For me, that made the box less exciting. However, when I saw the October and November box, I found them much more interesting, so some months will be more exciting than others.

As always, the US price is a lot more fun - $30 versus $40 for international addresses. Stupid international shipping makes everything worse.

I'm really happy I could check this box out. I wanted to wait to post about it until I had seen the other boxes. I think the first one is always the most tentative, but they've gotten much stronger since this one. I wouldn't hesitate to have look. Who doesn't want a monthly gift to oneself?

Disclaimer: I received this item free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion. No affiliate links.


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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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