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Lamy Tipo Rollerball

The Lamy Tipo is a pen that I saw over at Jet Pens while I was really looking for a new pen case. It felt silly to only order one thing, so I got the pen case (that I'll show off later on) and a few non-fountain pens to play with. This is the first of that haul.

This pen is  lightweight, stylish, and functional.

Orange is one of my favorite colors, and this pen is an orange that is a little bit brighter than the University of Texas' orange, but not as bright as BGSU or as yellow as the University of Tennessee orange. It's a good middle ground for someone who likes orange, but doesn't want a pen that is day-glo.

The grip section is ribbed, and it's pretty serviceable. It's a little slick, but with the ribbing I can hold on to it just fine. If they smoothed that out it would be a disaster. I would prefer a bit more tackiness to it though. I like for my grip to be secure on a pen, and this only just fits the bill.

Ink flow is smooth and a bit wet from the Lamy M66 cartridge. The black looks black, and it feathers a little on the recycled paper of the notebook that I was using, but I haven't noticed any feathering on other papers. I like the way it writes even if it isn't a fountain pen.

The case that the pen came in is pretty darn cool. Almost cool enough to sell the pen on its own. It opens like a clam-shell, and it works like a pen stand when it's open. Totally rad. If my desk weren't so cluttered I would definitely use it that way.

How cool is that?

There are a couple of problems with this pen, though.

First, the clip mechanism isn't great. You push down on the black clip (which is a much softer plastic than the rest of the pen) and it clicks into a hole on the barrel to keep the tip extended. To retract the pen you need to push laterally at the top of the clip. Pushing down doesn't really do the trick since it doesn't push the nubbin on the clip out of its hole. The purported advantage of the clip is that you can't clip it to a pocket while the pen-tip is exposed. I suppose that's true, but by the time that the clip doesn't clip onto your pocket you have already drawn an nice black line in your pocket. Not a big advantage, if you ask me. The other problem with this system is that the clip doesn't always engage, and you end up clicking it a couple of times to make it stick in the hole. The trick is that you don't really want to push the clip straight down. If you do, then you'll keep the clip from naturally tilting into the hole, and it won't engage. If you hold it in your hand with the clip parallel to your palm  and away from your thumb, then you'll push the clip the right way and you won't have a problem. If you're like me, and you try to click it with the clip next to your thumb it won't engage. Not a fatal flaw, but it's periodically annoying.

I think they could have fixed this by using a stiffer material for the clip. If this soft-ish plastic ever gives way, then your pen is scrap. I'd prefer metal.

The other major problem is with the advertising and not the pen. The barrel of the Tipo is advertised on Jet Pens as being "anodized aluminum," but I think that must be code for "plastic." I'm pretty disappointed by that, and I'm going to be sending Jet Pens a note about it. I might not even have noticed if I hadn't been writing this review. The plastic barrel is sturdy, smooth, and light, but it isn't aluminum. On the Lamy site it lists the orange model of this pen as being made of plastic, though there are some aluminium models available. I think that Jet Pens must have just selected a description from the Lamy site at random and applied it to all of their Tipo pens. This doesn't work in this case.

** I contacted JetPens, and they immediately responded. They've fixed the description of the pen on their site. **

So, the verdict?

I like the Tipo. It's not the best pen that I have, but it has a design that is interesting, and it performs well even though it could be better. It's not bad for $10, but I don't think I'd buy a second one.

Something a little different this week: Rollerballs, Gels, and Ballpoints (Updated with links.)

Howdy, folks. I review more inks than anything else around here, but I have a bunch of pens that I've been meaning to review as well. A couple of them are fountain pens, but the rest are gel pens or rollerballs that I picked up because they looked interesting. Here's a look at what's coming up this next week.

Lamy Tipo Rollerball  (Link to the post.)
Pilot G-Tec      (Link to the post.)
Pilot G2 .38mm  (Link to the post.)
Rotring Tikky
Uniball Signo .18 (Link to the post.)
TWSBI Vac 700
Kaweco Sport
Pilot Parallel Pen

I have a few ballpoints (I know, I know) to show as well, but I haven't taken the pictures of them yet. These more "normal" pens can be more convenient, and cheaper, for people who aren't sold on the awesomeness of the fountain pen, but I'm also not worried about handing them over as a loaner-pen. The non-FPs are going to be written in this little recycled notebook that I found at the Target a little while ago. It's made of recycled paper, and that stuff doesn't play nice with FP inks, but it's just fine with gels and ballpoints.

No reviews today. I'm watching some Olympics. USA! USA!

Diamine Oxblood

Diamine's Oxblood is the darkest of the dark reds that I've been trying. I thought Red Black was the darkest, but this one is way more saturated. In fact, it's so dark that you can only just tell that it's a red at all.

I was using this in my Hero 616 for this ink, and that very fine point doesn't lend itself to shading. There might be some if you're using a much broader nib, but I didn't see it at all. What I saw was saturation so deep it makes the ink look like dried up blood. It's definitely a deep red, but it also has that brownish cast that you get from blood when it dries.

It's a wet ink that will bleed a little on some papers, and it will ghost on most of them. It feathers a little on cheaper papers, as well, but that's to be expected from an ink this wet. 

Check it out next to the last couple of inks that I reviewed. it's clearly the darkest of them. I'm not sure which I like most, but Oxblood is certainly the richest of them. 

Here's the video review for it's water-resistance. It's not very water resistant. It leaves a bit behind, but it's not one that I would call anything near water-resistant. 

It's a little more expensive than the Noodler's inks, at $12.75 for an 80ml bottle instead of $12.50 for 90ml, but if you wanted to make up that lower volume of ink you could dilute the ink a little. It's got the saturation to support that kind of thing if that's what you're into. 

Noodler's Red Black

Noodler's Red Black is a very interesting ink. It's a tad darker than Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses. They're a lot alike, but English Roses is a bit more red and Red Black is a bit more black.

I like English Roses, and Red Black is just as good. It doesn't feather on cheap papers.
It ghosts through cheap stuff, but it doesn't really bleed.
It looks great in a fine nib, and I'd bet that it looks really great in a broader nib.

The really interesting thing about this ink, from my perspective, is that it shades while still looking saturated. Most of the time, when you have an ink that shades as well as this one does, the saturation is low enough that you can see the ink lose saturation through at least part of each letter. This ink doesn't really lose that saturation while you're writing.

The edge that Red Black has over English Roses is that it is suitable in more circumstances. English Roses always looks like a redish ink. Red Black doesn't look black, but if you're looking at it from the sort of distance that folk normally look at writing it looks dark enough to be formal. It's not going to be a black, but it would work well in a formal setting as well as anything else you might be writing.

It's also at least partially bulletproof. The ink is a mix of reds with Noodler's Black (from what I hear), and that gives it a bit of permanence. Not total permanence, but it will stick around if you get it wet.

Check this one out. It's $12.50 for a 90ml bottle from Goulet's, and you won't regret this ink purchase.

Diamine Meadow

This is an ink that I mentioned a while ago. It showed up in the May ink drop. I put it in a Wing Sung pen, used it once or twice, and then it developed a serious case of dried-up-funk. I really liked the color, though, so I eventually circled back around to the Meadow. I loaded up my trusty Rotring Core, and gave it a try.

Meadow is actually a really nice ink. It is a bright meadow-in-spring sort of green that has a slight yellow-ish tinge. it's not a very official color, but if you do some writing that you want to look more interesting or colorful, then this is a good ink for you.

If you're a person who likes an ink with a good amount of shading, then you're going to like this one. It shades even in the pretty narrow point of my Core. On the other hand, I know that there are some writers out there who don't care for shading at all, and they're not going to like it at all.

This is a picture of some notes that I made using it. I think the other ink is probably Tsuyu-Kusa, but I can't remember for sure.

Lastly, don't get this one wet. It comes right off. Almost instantly, and almost completely.

Here's the picture of the funk I found before. There's no trace of it on my Core pen, so I'm not entirely sure what caused it.

Iroshizuku Asa-Gao

Asa-Gao is an ink that I've had for while. I really like the Iroshizuku inks, but they're pretty expensive so I usually just order samples of them. This sample came from They give you an extra ml in their samples, so I like to pick up a couple of them when I'm ordering from them. (Shipping is a little higher than some other places, though, so I don't order just ink from them.)

Asa-Gao is a blue with just a tinge of violet to it. It's a classy sort of blue, and it looks solid on the page with perhaps just a little shading on this Rhodia paper. You're unlikely to see it otherwise unless, perhaps, you have a nice broad nib. That broad nib might be better with this Iroshizuku ink than with some of the other ones that I've used. It doesn't spread or feather much at all, and you'll only find just a little ghosting on some papers.

It flows very smoothly with a medium-wet texture.

It's not as soluble as some of the other blues that I've written with recently, but it does wash off the page. There will be a little bit of a ghost left, but that's about it.

At the end of the day, this ink is really nice, but probably a bit too normal for the Iroshizuku price tag. If I'm paying at least $28 for an ink, I want it to be a little more interesting than this one.

Noodler's Turquoise Eel


Turquoise, like teal, is a color that is difficult to define. I'm never sure what to expect from a color like called "turquoise" or "teal." I usually think of turquoise as being much more green than the turquoise inks usually are. This ink is no different. It's really a blue. It's not, perhaps, quite as blue as it looks in these pictures. There is a little green in there, but it's not like the mineral's color.

This bright blue has some nice shading even in the fine nib of the Hero 616. The flow has the smooth character that I was expecting from the Eel series, but didn't get from Blue Eel. It dries really slowly on Rhodia paper, but it dries fairly quickly on other papers, though it does have a tendency to feather on cheap copy papers.

That said, I don't think this ink belongs in my rotation. It's a little too bright to use all the time, and something about it doesn't catch my eye as much as other blues or greens. I can't tell you why that is, but it's my impression. Your mileage may vary.

As you can see, it's more water resistant than Blue Eel, but it doesn't hold up well. 

Noodler's Blue Eel

Blue Eel is an ink that I got as a part of the April Ink Drop. I've been slowly working my way through that ink drop, but I'm getting there. The card that is included with the ink drop says that this is one of Noodler's popular inks, but I can't figure out why it would be. 

The Eel series are an extra lubricated line, and I thought that might be good in my TWSBI since it is a bit too dry. I know that "lubricated" means "smooth" (and not "wet"), but I had hope. 

I kinda hated this ink. It was pale, dry, and it just felt anemic. As I say in the written sample, I just wanted it out of my pen as fast as I could manage it. At first, I thought that the problem was that I had some problem in the feed, or I had left some water in it from the cleaning, or something, but when I dipped the pen in the ink it looked just the same. 

Here's a video wherein I test the water-resistance of this ink. It seems like I had a very unsteady hand when I was making this video. I apologize for any motion-sickness that you might suffer from watching the beginning of the video.

You'll notice that I said in there that I didn't remember why I disliked the ink. I've remembered now. It's just a little lame compared to the other blues that I know about and own.

July Ink Drop!

This month's ink drop arrived just as I was leaving for VT to attend a cousin's wedding. It was a really nice wedding outside on a beautiful Vermont Summer day. Congrats to Sarah and Owen! I also got to spend a lot of time with some family that I haven't seen in a long time. Awesome trip, overall.
It did keep me from posting an ink drop for a while, though, so here it is. The theme is Olympics, and the inks are from different countries and represent the various colors of the Olympic rings. 
I wasn't too impressed with the red and the gold, but they've grown on me. The red is a pretty shocking pink, and the gold is kind of a weird mustardy-yellow. Neither looked all that great when I first smeared them, but the dried product is interesting. I don't know if I'd use them to write with, but I might. You never know. 

I also did a video for this ink drop, and I'm having trouble rotating it, so you might have to tilt your head a little. One day I'll learn to use the video functions more-better.

Private Reserve's Lake Placid Blue

I'm pretty sure that this is the first ink that I ever bought. It was one of the first two, anyway. I told a story about Lake Placid Blue over on FP Geeks (in the comments) a while ago. I actually thought I was writing with Midnight Blues for years because the box that I had said Midnight Blues on the outside, and I never bothered to read the bottle. When I went to buy more ink a while later, I found Lake Placid Blue, and I guess I still liked it enough to buy a bottle of it. (I do now have a sample of Midnight Blues, so I'll post that eventually.)

Anyway, Lake Placid is a pretty average blue. It's not as deep as Liberty's Elysium. It's not as bright at Naples Blue. It's doesn't shade like the Iroshizuku blues. It's a solid blue blue of the medium blue variety. I quite like it, even if it isn't a standout in my collection of blues.

As you can see, there is a pretty massive difference between the scanned image on the right and the photograph on the left. I would guess that this has something to do with the type of light hitting the page. In natural light, this ink is a throughly medium blue, but under the bright LED of the scanner it becomes far lighter. I'd say that the photo is probably closer to the real color in my experience.

This is a saturated blue that doesn't shade, and if it looks this good from the dry nib of a TWSBI, then it looks even better when you have a nib that will really put down some ink. That ink won't stick around if you get it wet, though, so watch your coffee mugs around it. 

Private Reserve Naples Blue

Yep, there are going to be some Private Reserve inks this week. I don't buy many bottles, but PR was my go-to ink brand for years and years, so I have a few of them.

Naples Blue is a really interesting sort of color. It's a blue that looks near to a turquoise in some lights or from a wet nib. It's nowhere near as green as a Blue Suede, but it's not as blue as Liberty's Elysium (or Lake Placid, which I will post next.). Actually, it looks very blue in the scanned image that I did, so I took a picture with a camera as a comparison. It's probably the difference between natural and LED light that makes the difference.

Naples Blue Scan

As you can see, there's a pretty big difference between the two. The dangers of reproducing a blue ink online, I suppose.

The quote you see there in the writing sample area is just a passage that I randomly opened to in one of the books that was on my desk.

This ink soaks into the paper, and it is saturated, but it still manages to have a bit of shading to it. It dries quickly, and it doesn't smear once it's dried, but it can't take water. Don't get this one wet. I have another video for you on this one, actually.

I thought it was going to be okay at first, but I was surprised by how terrible it looked once it dried out. If you get this one wet you're going to ruin the text and whatever is beneath it. Don't do that. It's not a deal breaker for me, but it is something to watch out for.

Apparently this ink will also change color a little bit as it sits in your pen. I had it in the Hero for a while (a week or two, maybe) before I wrote the review, and it was a bit darker than I thought it should be. Not a lot, but you can see the difference after a fresh filling in the last line of the written review bit. You'll also have noticed, if you clicked the link above, that the smear that Goulet's has online is significantly lighter than the ones that I did. It's closer to the scanned image, so perhaps they do scanning for those swatches rather than photos. Or perhaps my bottle has just aged or they changed the color a little bit. I can't tell for sure.

Anywho, this is a blue that is different enough from the rest of my collection to catch my eye, and it's suitable for all sorts of uses. Watch it on cheaper paper, however, as it tends to feather and spread a bit. It is fine on mid-grade stuff like the HP paper that I tested it on above.

Private Reserve "Avacado"

You know, "avocado" is a word that I used to spell incorrectly all the time. I actually noticed that I spelled it "avAcado" when I was posting about the last ink drop, and I corrected myself in the post. It turns out that I didn't have anything to apologize for. The ink is actually called Avacado. Maybe the PR folks knew an Ava that they were naming an ink for. Perhaps it was a typo that became a permanent name. I don't know.
I do know that Avacado is a really good green ink. It's the color of the outside of an avocado, and not the light green/yellow of the edible part. I like the fruit, and I like the ink.

I have several greens in my collection, and there are some that I haven't even had a chance to try out yet, but this one is unique, I think. It is darker and more serious than Hunter Green. It's lighter than the ultra-dark Zhivago. If you're looking at this ink in a moderately-lit room you're going to mistake it for an off-black. PR inks tend to be really highly saturated, so you won't see shading but you will see the color in a fine line.

I'm toying with a couple of new technologies. The first is the scanner. I have a scanner at my desk, but I've been using the camera because I have been writing my reviews in different notebooks and such, but I decided to try out a form that I found on the FPN and some bright HP inkjet paper I had around. Let me know if you have a preference for camera over scanner. I'm probably going to be mixing it up around here.

The other tech is video. My iPhone takes pretty solid video, but I've almost never used it to take any, and I wanted to try it out. G+ makes it pretty easy to upload video that I can use in Google-related products like Blogger, so here is the smear test video that I took yesterday. 

It looks like it came out alright, so I'm going to keep doing that, I think. I don't know why it is this weird vertical-letterbox, though. I'm not super-happy with that. Maybe I'll keep fiddling with it and see if I can get a better-looking presentation.

Here is a close-up of  a before and after with wet Avacado. As you can see, the green ink washes off of the top, but the grid is still readable in a reddish undertone. It looks like the red is really the only thing that binds to the paper in this ink, but it binds pretty well, and I wouldn't worry about it being illegible if you get it wet. 

Noodler's Beaver

I wrote up this review a long time ago, and it has just kinda lived in its little file folder ever since. It's a nice brown ink, and I should really review more brown inks. I still have several in my stable, but I haven't used any in a while. I've gotten a couple of new pens recently, and I wanted to ink them up with inks that I know so that I can judge their performance. I'll start doing browns again soon.

Beaver is a reddish brown ink that is pretty well lubricated. It never skipped in my Hero 330, and it was difficult to get enough on my letter-opener to smear some on the paper. (It says knife, but it's just a letter-opener that looks like a sword. Knife is actually not even close.) It's not the most water resistant ink I've used, but it doesn't all wash off immediately.

If you like a rich, reddish brown then you should get this one. It's going to work really well in your fine nibs, but I would wager that it would get a little crazy if your pen is a wet-writer. It's not going in my Kaweko Sport, but it might go in my TWSBI.