Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review: @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex

Thanks to ASC Pens for loaning me this pen for a review! Actually, it was loaned to Stephen but I stole it for a little while. I am so fortunate I was able to spend some time with this pen and get a feel for it. This is also very dangerous because I can't get it out of my head. Le sigh.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 5
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 14
Bologna Extra Arco Bronze & Bologna Extra Wild Dark Side
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 15
ABOUT

Body material: Celluloid
Trim: Ruthenium
Cap: Screw on
Posts: No
Nib material: Ruthenium-plated 18kt gold Magic Flex
Filling system: Pneumatic filler
Length (capped): 160.51 mm/6.32"
Length (uncapped): 147.89 mm/5.82"
Length (posted): N/A
Length (section): 33.14 mm/1.31"
Diameter (barrel): 14.19 - 15.69 mm/0.56" - 0.62"
Diameter (section): 11.78 - 12.9 mm/0.46" - 0.51"
Weight (all): 60 g
Weight (cap): 12 g
Weight (body): 48 g
Price: MSRP $1270 USD
Where to buy: ASC Pens

PACKAGING

Holy smokes, let's talk about this awesome packaging! It's not over the top and insane. The simple approach got my attention and I love it and it's perfect. It starts with a dark, firm box (ASC-branded) with a lift-off lid. The box inside is covered with a layer of white tissue paper that I promptly tore because it's so delicate. That's okay. The box inside has a magnetic flap that holds it closed. Open it up and there's some great stuff inside. ASC provides some details behind the packaging, and it feels really important to me. The included sheet says:
We believe in making great pens. We believe beauty is the essence of each pen.
We insist only in excellence. Attention to detail and craftsmanship is what we strive for.
We design every pen with you, our collector, in mind.
Our box will protect your precious pen from rust and humidity.
We believe safeguarding the planet and its resources is of vital importance for humanity.
ASC takes the lead in reducing its carbon footprint in our new packaging.
After all, we are pen makers, not box collectors.
THANK YOU! I am not a box collector, and all I want is a package that will keep my pen safe for its journey. If you want to include more, a pen sleeve or ink bottle is helpful. In this case, ASC included a floating display that looks awesome, keeps your pen safe, and can be reused. The pen includes a warranty card and a little bag of celluloid shavings - shavings from your very pen, in fact! How cool is that?
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 1
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 2
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 3
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 4
APPEARANCE

The Bologna Wild Dark side is a large, very cool fountain pen. It has a round cap and barrel and low conical tips that are rounded off. There is nothing on the finial. The clip is attached through a snug, clean cut out in the cap. It is large and unmarked but it is the rolling ball-style clip you may recognize from Omas pens. Below this, there is a ruthenium-plated ASC emblem set in the material.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 6
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 7
The center band near the end of the cap is a wide Greek Key pattern flanked by two thinner bands. I like the pattern in general and I think it looks great on this pen. Another Greek Key band is found in the section. There is one final ring at the end of the barrel to mark the turning knob for the filling system. The section is on the short side, tapering towards the night before ending in a flared lip. There are cap threads at the back of the section. The barrel is engraved with ASC Bologna extra wild Dark side No. 003. My only complaint or question is why is Dark capitalized but not extra and wild? Minor detail. I don't really care but I know some people pay attention to this kind of thing.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 8
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 9
The pen is handmade in Italy and it is well-made. There are no sharp bits, gaps, or rough seams. The material is the 'wild' celluloid - a base of black with creamy ivory-white veins. It's mysterious and WAY COOL. All the trim is superior black ruthenium to match the darkness. I didn't think I would be taken by the material but the combination of the dark trim, the veins of the material, and seeing this in person... well, my mind has been changed. The material is shiny and polished - it looks brilliant thanks to the special buffing compound (with beeswax) ASC uses.

Overall? This is an awesome pen. It is a stately pen that demands attention, especially in this wicked cool material.

NIB & PERFORMANCE

The #8 sized nib is ruthenium plated to match the trim of the pen. It is an 18kt gold Magic Flex. It has a single slit, a round breather hole, and is engraved with 18K-750. ASC has laser engraved the nib with Magic Flex GOLD, the ASC logo, and sweeping waves up to the tines. The nib is set with an ebonite feed that has an extra cut near the tip to allow the feed to move with the bouncing of the nib. This nib looks and feels like a fine. It offers a little bit of feedback that I associate with finer nibs and with those that are plated with ruthenium. It's not unpleasant but it is noticeable when compared to its rose gold counterpart on the Arco Bronze pen. It's a wet writer even without any pressure, and generously wet when pressure is applied to the nib. It's well tuned and well adjusted and works best at a higher angle to the page as that is where the sweet spot is. It does come with a warning not to apply too much pressure to the nib as you can spring it and the nib does give feedback when you're applying pressure. This is good advice for all nibs, actually! It gives moderate line variation - from fine to a generous medium and I think that's comfortable. I wouldn't push it beyond that. It's easy to achieve line variation.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 11
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 12
My objection to the nib is not in its performance but the design. Laser engraving is not the worst thing, but the particular design on the nib holds ink and gets crusty really easily. It also catches fibers if you use a paper towel to wipe the nib so it can look a bit funky.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 19
I would definitely not classify the pen as a full flex nib (and it is not marketed or sold as such) - it's semi-flex at best but it has a great, bouncy feeling to it as you write, which is a lot of fun. When you feel like having a little extra flair, you can squeeze some out. It's a super fun nib on a quite spectacular pen, which makes for a great combination.
The pneumatic filling system is easy to use - just unscrew the cap at the back of the barrel, pull the plunger out, cover the small hole found in the top of the cap with your finger, submerge the nib and feed in ink, and press the plunger down into the barrel. When you're done, tighten the cap back into place. I would recommend not letting inks dry out in this filling system as plunging and emptying can take some time if you have used a saturated ink. I would love if ASC included some maintenance instructions for the filling system.

IN HAND

The rolling ball clip is snug, as it should be, but it's easy to roll the pen on and off papers, pouches, and pockets. Unfortunately, the pen is so large and heavy, and the clip area is so small, that I would not rely on the clip to secure the pen in a pocket or on papers. Pouches are okay so long as the pouch hugs the pen otherwise.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 10
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 13
The section is on the smaller side lengthwise when compared to the length of the barrel, but I do find it comfortable enough to use. It's not slippery at all, and the cap threads at the back of it are not sharp. The step from the barrel to section is a little sharp but should be far enough out of the way to not be an issue. I cannot imagine anyone would need to grip higher up on the section (which would be the threads). The intended grip section seems suitable.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 16
Top to bottom: ASC Bologna Extra Arco Bronze, ASC Bologna Extra Wild Dark Side, Omas Arte Italiana Paragon, Omas Paragon (vintage), Omas Ogiva Cocktail, ASC Ogiva Saft Green Pavarotti, Lamy Safari.
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 17
Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 18
Unposted, the pen is large, long, and substantial in hand. I find it heavy and can feel the weight immediately when I start using it. It doesn't tire my hand out quickly but because it's so long and heavy, I find it slightly difficult to control the Magic Flex nib as the weight pulls at the back of my hand. This isn't ideal for long writing sessions for me, but I know Stephen absolutely loves it and it works just fine for him, so it would most likely an issue for those with smaller hands. That doesn't mean I can't use it, it's just that I cannot use it extensively. The cap cannot be posted.

PROS & CONS

Review @ASCPens Bologna Wild Dark Side Fountain Pen - Magic Flex 20

OVERALL

It's not often that I am truly excited about trying out a pen because many a time it is a new color of the year but the same nib, same everything else. ASC is stepping away from the mundane and making pens fun. Good things: great packaging that is low waste but functional and special (celluloid shavings), a fun nib with a pleasant writing experience, an interesting filling system, a gorgeous celluloid and trim, a well-made pen, and a great package overall. I think the pen is really interesting and offers a lot. The downside is, of course, the price tag. I cannot say whether it's worth it but for a really special occasion, I would definitely consider the pen. Unfortunately, this particular one is spoken for, and I'm sort of relieved because the second I inked it up and started using it, I was already wondering if I should buy it so I don't have to send it back. Even if I don't buy it, I appreciate that ASC is putting out something interesting and fun. The more fountain pens out there, the merrier!







I was loaned 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.

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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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