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Toucan Bright Blue


 This is the best blue of the group, and one of my favorites, overall. Bright Blue is just that: a bright blue. It's on the light side of the blue spectrum, but not a turquoise. The flow on this ink is great, even after quite a while in the pen. This ink has been in this pen for a long time, and I sometimes don't use it for several days at a time, but it didn't give me any hard starts that I can think of. Smooth sailing, really.

Check it out below.

Written Review


 This isn't the most formal sort of blue, but it's a very readable sort of blue for notes or missives or whatever.

There's some shading in this ink even from the fairly fine nib of this Lancelot.  I imagine it would do even more of that in a broad nib. I've used up the vast majority of this ink, though, so I can't really test that.

Copy Paper Test

 No problems here. Good behavior on all counts.


Ink Comparisons 

This ink is bright, but it's not like a turquoise (as you can see below). It's not really formal enough for most people's work, but it's a great ink for general writing.

 Ink Review Video and Water Drop Test

I took this video with our new camera, and the video came out really well (full HD), but it took an age to upload to YouTube. I don't know if I'll do that again. Anyway, check it out in HD.

The Final Words:

Toucan's Bright Blue is a really good blue ink. It's well behaved, and it's going to work well for folks who don't need a super-formal blue. You can (only) find bags and samples over at Anderson Pens. A 60ml bag goes for $10. They're out of the full size at press time, but check out a sample, at least.

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The ink for this review was provided free of charge by Anderson Pens. The review was all mine, however.



So, when I reviewed OMAS Blue, I mentioned that I had not been impressed with the last OMAS ink that I'd tried. Well, it turns out that I hadn't actually posted the aforementioned review. HERE IT IS!

OMAS Red is a fine ink. It's just not all that read. It's a sort of pale not-pink. I think it's about as weak as a red ink can be without becoming pink. There's nothing wrong with it, exactly, but it's just not making the statement that I think a red ink should. (I've got a couple of really serious reds in pens right now, and they're much more saturated.)

The flow (which I forgot to actually address on the written review) was a bit anemic. Maybe it would be better in a really wet pen, but even the ink swatch is a very light color, so I'm guessing that it wouldn't change all that much. 

Written Review

Close Ups!


There's a whole lot of pink in this one. 

Copy Paper Test

The ink works really well on all sorts of papers, and the below was written with a dipped pen (because I lost the original sample) so it will be a little heavier than a regularly-inked fountain pen.  Still, though, it didn't bleed through.

Ink Comparisons

There are actually another couple of reds that I added to the list when I was doing the review video. 

Water Drop Test and Video Review

If you'd like to get a bottle of this ink, then check it out here for $15.50 roughly 2oz. It's also available in samples for $1.25, and I'd really recommend a sample for this one. It's not an ink that I'll be going back to, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't check it out. I'm sure it will have fans out there.

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Duke Blue and Duke Black


I don't usually combine ink reviews, but I've decided to go ahead and do that this time. As far as I know Duke only has this pair of inks, so I'll just mash the reviews together into one MEGA REVIEW.

I picked these up from Bert at one of the pen shows last summer. I'm pretty sure he was selling them as a set for $10 at the show, but I can't swear to it. Regular price is about $8 for an 80ml bottle, so it was a solid deal even before I'd seen the inks. Who can turn down that kind of deal? 

The bottles are identical, and they're not marked. The only outward difference between them is the color of the boxes. I would have liked to have a label (or even a sticker) to tell them apart, but I guess you can just open the cap, too.

So, how good was this deal? Keep reading.

Written Reviews:

The black isn't a very saturated black, but it's not really a grey either. It's just a light black. That's not really a problem for me. The flow is just fine, and there's just a little bit of shading from this ink. It's not a bad looking ink, but it's not going to blow your doors off.

The blue is definitely the better looking of the two. It's a nice, rich blue. It's got a good flow. The problems only show up when it hits average paper.

Close ups:

Ink Comparisons:

This blue is rich. If it were just better on copy papers I would be a big fan of this ink. It's not like any of the ones I had inked up. It has a sort of blue/black tinge to it, but the blue is clearly there and it doesn't have the green in t that some blue/blacks do.

This is sort of like Cosmic Black (at the very bottom of the sheet), but it might be a little darker in this picture.


Both of these are pretty solid colors. There's not really any variation in the colors represented in the chromatography. The blue is blue and the black is black. No shocks, here.

Copy Paper Tests:

Yeah, here's where the problems are. They're cheap inks, and they're not bad but they're not that great. They're just okay, and they have the problems that show below. Note that they behave better on this Staples paper than they have on some other papers that I've used them on. If you're using good papers, then these could be just fine. Of course, if you're using good paper then you can probably find more impressive inks, too.

Video Review and Water Drop Tests:

This ink does better on the water drop tests than I though it would. There's some mild water resistance to them, though they're not water-fast.

So, in the final analysis, these are competent inks. The blue is more interesting than the black, to me, but both of them flow just fine and both of them have some amount of water resistance. The bottles are large, and the price is low. Not a bad buy if you're looking for some cheap ink that will last you a while.

Check it out at Bertram's Ink Well.

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NockCo is discontinuing the Mango/Mandarin "colorway."


If you're as addicted to orange as I am, then you need to get over to NockCo and get one of these cases before they're all sold out. I just picked up a Lookout in this awesome orange-on-orange color, and I'm looking forward to carrying its retina-searing awesomeness all over town.


Retro 51 Hex-o-Matic Ballpoint


I don't review a whole lot of ballpoints, but this one is pretty great. In fact, it's so great that I don't have a video for it because I gave it to a good friend for his birthday. This is a guy that only had one pen because he thought he only needed one. This pen's aesthetic really spoke to him, though, and he's since gotten a pair or Rotring pencils to go with it. This is the sort of pen that certainly attracts some attention.

The grip section is knurled and quite comfortable. It's maybe a little thin for me, but I have big hands. The tip is pretty dramatic. They've gone with a funnel-look instead of a cone, and I think it was a good choice. You don't touch it with your fingers unless you hold the pen very strangely.

The barrel is smooth and hexagonal, with the knurling repeated near the knock of the pen. The clip is actually kind of graceful, I think. It's strong enough not to bend out of shape, but flexible enough to to fit over a shirt or pants pocket. The band of the clip is where you'll find the Hex-O-Matic branding. It's clean and subtle, so those of you who don't like much branding will be pleased.

This is the rest of that knock. It's the only thing I was even a little dissatisfied with on this pen. It's not loose enough to rattle when you write with it, but it could be tighter. It might not even bother you, but it's there.


The other bit of branding on the pen is the "51" on top of the knock. I think it's just printed there, but it doesn't seem to come off, so perhaps it's something sturdier. I had it for a few months and the printing didn't deteriorate at all.

This pen comes with a Schmidt refill, and it's lovely. 

This pen comes apart in a couple of places. The grip section unscrews, but the metal-on-metal tends to scream a bit. It was enough to keep this chronic twiggler from messing with that part too much. The tip unscrews much more quietly, and the spring seems to stay put.

The packaging on this pen is over the top, but I really like it. It's lightweight, but stiff enough to protect the pen. Of course, the pen doesn't really need protecting. It's bomb-proof.

It opens up three ways, and the pen clips in to a little loop on the inside of the box.

You may not really need a written portion for a ball point, but here you go.

Here we've got it next to some other popular pens. It's a fair bit smaller than a Lamy Al-Star, and it's in the same range as the Zebra ballpoint next to it.

I'm actually a big fan of this pen. It's got an industrial aesthetic that's sturdy and appealing. It's on the manly side, but there may be ladies out there who would be attracted to it. The price point puts it in the same range as the (also excellent) Tornado, though with a much more Rotring look.

Check it out at Anderson Pens, where it goes for $28.