No.1 Eason Ji Confirmed that He No Longer Owns Live in You Now
If you have ever wondered what happened to Live in You in late 2018 since it has been a laggard in delivering its promises and necessary updates, now here is an apparent reason for that: this past summer, the company was sold to the biggest shareholder of the Picasso Corp, a big name in the Chinese domestic fountain pen market.
Eason Ji, the founder and the previous owner of the company, called me up earlier this month, saying it was necessary for him to share the story with me months after the consolidation and has been serving as a part-time consultant to the brand once he ran and owned.
According to Eason, ever since the initial debut of Live in You’s offerings like Unseen and MiTu, the parent company which also produces Picasso and Pimio fountain pens for the mass market has been trying to get a share of Live in You’s business. “I have to say their approach to me was very formidable and they even sent an old-man from their board to sit down in front of me several times and try to negotiate,” Eason told me in the phone call. On one moment, Eason thought this process is unbearable and left the Picasso representative a harsh line:”…if you guys want Live in You that much, give me 10 million Yuan then it is yours!”
“Surprisingly, they did summon up exactly 10 million Yuan and asked me to make the decision…By that time I was closely followed by Shanghai Jingdian and other capable competitors, and coupled with the difficulties Live in You encountered in scaling up the production and development of new products, their offer gradually turned out to make sense for me. I was thinking, using the Picasso Corp’s supply chain and production power, the Live in You brand could be better positioned than my previous roadmap. In the end, I gave up and took the money this Summer.”
However, what Eason anticipated didn’t happen at all. The marketing of Shiyou and following products were lukewarm and unimpressive, and the production speed seems to be even slower than before. There are little words about its highly anticipated fundraising campaign, and the announcing of the Mountain Series, an elegant classic looking pen whose blueprints was presented to me by Eason using his iMac during my April visit, was postponed till a few days ago, rendering it absent for the holiday shopping season in China. Today, the button says “Customization Serice” on the homepage of Live in You’s Taobao store is still empty and redirecting to the website. Cleary something is wrong with the brand.
“Except one R&A center recently set up in Shanghai, they didn’t live up to their promises. The supply chain relationship began to deteriorate, and they pulled out from the CNC factories I previous invested. …After all the bitter taste of witnessing my works being abused and mismanaged by its new owner, now I am working part-time on consulting the production and procurement since I know these two best.” said Eason. “Now in the warehouse, there are 1,200 #6 lacquered Bock nibs in exotic colors like red or blue, 400 to 500 German pistons ready to fit into pens, and dozens of 18k Bock nibs. ”
“But they seem to be not in a hurry at all, for example, they only want to present the gold nib version of Live in You pens in their retail stores as a showcase pen rather than an item for sale. Sometimes, I got a feeling that their real intention may be holding down the Live in You, leaving more rooms for their products…”
“Maybe what they want to hold down is you!” I said.
No.2 Wing Sung Continues to Deliver with the Tubular Nib Variant of the 601
Wing Sung revealed their newest results in saluting classic fountain pen designs by fitting a conical/tubular nib to the 601 vacumatic, resulting in the well-recognized 601A.
Interestingly, the nib of the 601A seems to be the same as the Wing Sung 233, another timeless classic fountain pens made by the original Wing Sung factory in the 20th century. Here are some nice shots and comparison of this pen done by a Baidu Fountain Pen BBS user, 等量齐观66:
Another positive response from the pen community in China is that lots of pen users decided to swap in their Sheaffer’s gold nib or original Wing Sung gold nib into the 601A, a rare phenomenon that again confirms the success of this model.
No.3 LAMY’s 2019 Gameplan Leaked by its Reseller in China
Usually, the resellers or distributors of big pen brands in China would do an excellent job in keeping all the secrets behind the curtain, but now it is clear that at least one of the LAMY’s resellers blew it up by releasing almost every limited edition LAMY fountain pens due to happen next year.
See more here.
No.4 PenBBS Bulk Filler Released with a Christmas & New Year Special Edition
PenBBS 355 surprised me as a bulk filler rather than a drawer filler or Vacumatic filler. Yes, the same filling schema that is being used by the way more expensive Conid Bulkfiller.
There are also two special editions for the 355 bulk filler themed after the Christmas&New Year: both of them are clear demonstrator version of the pen and featuring same holiday elements all over the body.
While the standard SE’s white holiday pattern and logo were printed and prone to wear off after extensive usage, the limited SE’s pattern was deeply engraved into the acrylic material. Some say the limited SE could be easily customized by color-filling those channels using pigments.
No.5 Hero-100 Innovation Edition’s Innards
I didn’t risk to open up my Hero-100 Innovation since I got only one, even when I found the pen was doing a lousy job in keeping the nib sealed when closed. Now there is also a legit explanation for that: the Hero-100 Innovation is using a different feed and nib design under its cool looking hood.
One of the customers of the pen encountered nib adjustment issue when using this pen, and disassembled the pen only to find the pen seems to be “feed-free.” Just as what other pen fans pointed out later, the Hero-100 Innovation does have a feed, but its feed was enclosed under the cylinder shape sleeve.
Another discovery from this incident is that the Hero-100 Innovation is not using the same nib other 100s have been using for decades since this nib lacks the barb used for the nib alignment propose.