I have to concede in the first place that I have been intentionally putting off the publishing of this month’s news piece, mostly due to my new job after graduation. But even on occasions where I did have a sufficient amount of time, something is missing—I was still hunting the missing first-hand customer review from the fountain pen community. Now I am confident to say that the majority of the information is gathered and please allow me to rewind the tape and walk through the Chinese pen news happened in this past May.
1. An Elegant Titanium Pen
First, let’s see the Titaner ConeArmor (I translated that from its Chinese name “北斗作-锥甲”), a real stunner. It is a crowdfunding project by a company that in my understanding has never produced a pen before. Nonetheless, at the launching of this project, the company, Xian BD Sophisticated Industry Co., Ltd., demonstrated its ambition in this market by announcing itself to be the strategic partner and exclusive distributor for the well known German nib maker Peter Bock AG. Emm…interesting!
The ConeArmor is positioned as a tactical pen made from Titanium alloy, which on the paper can only lead to a pen built like a tank with chunky trims and gears, but the first time I clicked on the picture I understand this one is full of glamor and looks really unique in the category of Tactical Pen. I have found the industrial designer of ConeArmor might have intentionally twisted the looks towards the direction of legendary Chinese pen models, something like HERO-100 and Wing Sung-101. Its highly polished glossy surface is a replica of the notorious HERO-100 Flighter, and the back finial, which doubles as a handy glass breaker, is also shaped in a way reminds me of the HERO-100’s cap finial.
As for its clip, although it is stealth looking one with one asymmetric ridge, from many angles, it forces me to think about the vintage Wing Sung models and European brands like Aurora and Montblanc that I have collected. Things could get more interesting when you dig into the details. On the back of the clip, each pen is individually numbered, and the tip of the clip was chamfered in a way to enable a better clip experience, with the aide of a glossy ceramic ball that prevents hurting your expensive suit. As for the cap, it has a lining made from Polytetrafluoroethylene, aka the Teflon, to prevent the cap from scratching the barrel when the pen is posted. This cap was also advertised to have an insanely short action distance—1.25 turn and the cap is off.
As for the barrel, you can unscrew the back finial easily if your backup ink cartridge is stuck there (which did happen to me once). If you can invest more, there are other exotic types of bodywork for you to chose.
Four nib options were offered in this project, all of them are the #6 nib in the same F nib width. Besides the three colors you can choose if you opt for steel nib, there is also a premium 18K option that features a zig-zag slit. Yes, a zig-zag, heartbeat-graph-like nib slit! According to Bock’s website, this nib is called Type 250 FLASH-SLIT nib.
I have only found one brand that also uses this super-fancy nib: Syahi Writing Instruments from India. Neither Karas Kustom nor Newton Pens nor Namisu has this nib in stock for their offerings. I am not sure the actual feeling of writing with a pen like this, but it adds a touch of playfulness to the strong tactical theme. I first saw this campaign on the crowdfunding site of Taobao, and the link to see this listing is here.
By the time this post is out, its Taobao crowdfunds page has already managed to secure a fund of ¥293358.00 from 423 backers, which sets the project way more ahead of its ¥50000.00 goal. Interestingly, there is also an Indiegogo page of this ConeArmor pen, operated by the same group of people. However, its English listing looks wired, starting with the product name—Razor. (Harry’s or The Art of Shaving?) The details of its English listing shows this brand need to catch up some lessons when marketing overseas. And as a result of its lousy communication, there are only several backers that have put their $792 out on the table, while their final goal is $8,000.
On the Indiegogo listing, the prices for the ballpoint and 18K variants are much more than what its Chinese counterpart is asking, but the stainless steel nib ones’ $149 pricing scheme seems quite reasonable to me. Since Taobao’s crowdfund site doesn’t have excellent support for international buyers, I suggest anyone interested in this pen but living outside China could back this stainless steel nib version (just ignore its name).
2. Moonman’s Escape Velocity
To get a thousand miles from the Earth and land on the moon, what you need in the first place is speed, and that’s what the moonman team have revealed during the past May. Both moonman M3 and M5 were launched in this month, sharing the already matured Delike/Dlike nib unit, which has been widely adopted since the Delike Newmoon and moonman M1.
But each of these two models diverges a little bit from previous M series. First, for the M3, it is a bold, straight wooden pen with super-round ends. The brass lining inside the cap enables the nib to have a better airtightness when close, while also making it the first M series pen to have a clip. According to the product page, the M3 weighs only around 25g. which probably means the barrel is still a piece of wood without metal lining. Given a more streamlined clip, the M3 could look even better.
Then comes the M5, a pen themed after a once popular Chinese pop-culture idea— 佛系, which means being “Buddha-like” by acting in a way casual, calm, breezy, free of desires and needs, or somehow even close to a “slacker.” In pictures, the M5 does like the rod you need to hit a temple block. What defines this pen’s so-called Buddha-like character is the untraditional setting of the thread in the nib section—it opens and closes oppositely as the pens we are using every day.
Besides, the thread to connect the cap is also positioned in the front of the nib section, contributing to a smooth transition on the surface. The company also claims that acetate fiber was used to cast the nib section. But my favorite part for the M5 is its engraved clip. For the brown version, the clip is in the gunmetal color, and for the back one, full black, and the surface engravement reminds me of some patterns from ancient Buddhist mural. Both the M3 and M5 are all asking for 99RMB in China. If you got spare nibs that fit into the Dlike housing, these two would provide many enjoyments.
By the way, we may not be able to see a moonman M4, since four sounds like “death” in Chinese. Similar to the naming practice of OnePlus, an emerging Chinese smartphone brand whose OnePlus 5 take the torch from OnePlus 3T.
3. Hero’s Mysterious Move
Hero has been teasing the improved Type 100 fountain pen for a time long enough for me to forget its existence. However, the early debuting of one unique variant still got my full attention for quite a while, and that is the full metal Flighter—even the hood is made from metal.
The whole pen is finished in a brushed texture and the original logo of HERO-100, an italic number 1 circled by two 0 in a way like sputniks flying around the earth, was engraved on the top of the hood. With a design like this, this notoriously famous model would never be perplexed by the problem of cracking hood and looks neat.
Besides that, the regular HERO-100 Flighter also got updated with a gold-trimmed variant. Some say the metal hood version was a collaboration between HERO Pen Factory and, guess who, Green Stationery.
4. Green Stationery’s Quiet Transition
Green Stationery, the mastermind behind the 6xx series Wing Sung pens, has been quiet in the May after the launch of the 626. I didn’t buy the 626, but the video reviews by Chris was quite thorough, and here I recommend it again. The new information I got when researching this post is that the 626 share the same feed you can find in a Jinhao x450, which might provide some hints for a better nib-swap playbook.
As for the 601 line, I was quite surprised to see the company was retiring the Vacumatic Filler, the one with sac inside, only five months after its launch. The reason, according to the 601’s listing page, is that the sac was inefficient and prone to malfunctioning if you use the wrong ink or reassembly it on your own. Thus, the company would only keep a small inventory of Vacumatic 601 for the sake of customer service and move for the Draw Filler for all the upcoming 601s.
5. SKB’s Mainland Adventure
Did you know SKB stands for Smooth, Knowing, and Beauty?
I didn’t until I saw the introduction on the listing of SKB NOTI fountain pen (RS-501) on Shanghai Jingdian’s Taobao store. The brand SKB was established in 1959 and was once one of the Big Three in Taiwan fountain pen business, according to the listing.
The SKB NOTI is a cute writer. The main body is made out of transparent plastic aluminum, which makes it a high contrast with the bright and round aluminum clip. For the business end, this 119RMB pen doesn’t compromise. A sliver Schmidt #5 unit makes sure that this pen would be more than eye candy. I have seen and played with during my last Big Apple Pen Club meeting, and I was truly impressed.
From many perspectives, this is the SKB’s answer to the Pilot Kakuno—colorful, while also super practical. Even the package of the NOTI pen looks the same.
6. Emulating the Kaweco, Artfully.
The Delike Alpha is a pen I skipped a lot since I find it somehow disturbing to see the brand follow the Kaweco playbook so faithfully. But I have to say they executed the Acrylic version so well this time. I know it sounds like that I am playing double standards this time, but please let me explain.
Two crucial requirements were checked by Delike this time: 1, the right material, 2, no more War and Peace tagline. Thus, if you are a Kaweco Art Sports fan but find it hard to spot one, this is the pain reliever for you.
7. Live in You’s Latest Updates
Two updates for the Live in You in the past month: one is the new ice white version of the MiTu series showcased an improved nib section design, which is thicker than the original design; then a new variant called Blue Enchantress entered the Future line with its striking-look resin.
Besides these pair of updates, I also found Live in You shot their products picture like curating wallpaper. My best picks for this month are these two: