Category Archives: Review

Review: Story Supply Company Morning LE

I reviewed the standard Story Supply Company (SSC) pocket notebook and pencils over here. Plus I’ve picked up and reviewed their collab with CW Pencil Enterprise called “the Pencil Pusher” over here. They began as a Kickstarter and have evolved into a small but growing company that makes their own notebooks in a small shop in York, Pennsylvania. I love this little company.

There is a lot to love about this company. First, their LE game is on point, their summer 2018 edition “SMR” is a gorgeous series of orange and yellow shades across the cover of a notebook. It perfectly evoked the hot August sun.  

The Fall 2018 LE, “Morning” is muted and gorgeous. I don’t know how many of you have needed to get up super early in the morning in the fall and happened to look out across a field or lake. Watching the fog lift and the changes in temperature occur is really gorgeous, and the Story Supply team captured that feeling in this cover. It’s a grey to black gradient but done a little differently to get that fog like feel. I love it. Inside is a lighter grey version of the gradient plus some printing.

The cover stock is thick and beefy, it’s some of the thickest cover stock available in the pocket notebook game and it is the one to beat. The thick cover stock makes this a great notebook to use for notes on the go-  the sturdiness of the covers means you can actually write in hand without a great deal of bending.

Inside the covers are 48-pages of thick creamy paper. It’s smooth but toothy enough that all my pencils respond well on its surface. Fountain pens do pretty well on this paper as well. It’s thick so there isn’t a great deal of show through. I had no feathering or bleed through, but the largest nib I used was a medium and most of my inks are well behaved. Rubber stamps do well on this smooth but toothy paper.

Overall, the SSC notebooks are top notch and are just amazing to use. At $11.99 their pricing is standard for materials that are anything but. The combination of quality and durability can’t be beaten. You could buy another brand but why? If you want to test them out without buying an LE their regular notebooks are $10, but they also have sales on older editions for $10 as well.

SSC donates notebook and pencil sets to schools in need. You buy a pack of notebooks and a kid gets a notebook and pencil set of their own.

Review: Pilot G2 mini

I picked up a 4 pack of the G2 Mini pens on a whim. The 4-pack was affordably priced and held regular blue, bright blue, red, and purple. The G2 minis perform just like their full sized counterparts- smooth most of the time and best on junky paper. On nice paper (Studio C, Tomoe River) it has a tendency to skip a bit and for the tip to feel rough.

I find mini pens of this size to be just a tad too small for longer term writing. They are okay for filling a box or two in my bullet journal and a quick note here or there. Writing more than a page in a pocket notebook puts a great deal of strain on my hand and is tiring.

I think these are great pens to toss into a bag for occasional quick notes or for children. I’m using the bright blue and purple to introduce my nephew to better stationery.

Review: Uniball Signo DX 0.38 Capped

The Uniball Signo DX is often replicated but never quite repeated. In the past you could only find the DX on import sites like JetPens (You can still get them and refills there) last year (2017) Uniball started to bring the DX to the US! You can’t get singles but you can an eight color multipack at most major office supply chains, like Staples.

I picked up my 8-pack at my local Staples for around $12. Not a great deal. The only package you can find in the US is the 8 color pack. My local Staples hides these on the bottom shelf in the Uni section of pegs.

I’m not gonna lie, the DX is a favorite pen of mine. First it is is a classic design often imitated (remember that Pen+Gear monstrosity I posted about?) Infact Staples has its own version of this venerable pen.

The tip provides smooth writing and sketching experience. The ink flows well but not overly wet. It’s close to perfect. The ink is also lightfast. I’ve tested many of the colors and not even a shift in direct August light. The ink is also waterproof/water resistant. Which means it is great for sketching and overlapping watercolor washes. Urban sketchers, here’s a great pen for you.

True to Uniball USA’s typical antics, the refills in these pens is labeled UMR-1 instead of UM-151. The colors are identical to my imported pens. Refills are available on JetPens from $1.35 up to $2.50.

These are great pens, and the basic 8-color set is great for sketching, adding a black to the mix would be quite helpful. But I find the lighter brighter colors to be great for under sketches. Anyway, I’ve missed the US launch of these by a year, but they are still a fabulous pen to add into your sketching and bullet journal tool kit.

Review: Capped Gel InkJoy

Paperhate released the capped version of their lovely InkJoy gel ink pen during the 2018 Back-to-School season. The packages of the capped are similar to the retractable with the same assortment of colors.

The refills are interchangeable between pens. Which is, I guess, a useful piece of information. I noticed it so I share with you. The pens perform exactly the same, that is to say, the ink is flawless and flows well and dark and lovely. I love these refills.

The biggest difference that I notice between the two pens, other than the addition of the cap is that the tip or nose of the capped version is hard plastic while the retractable version is rubberized. The translucent colored cap clicks onto the hard plastic nose with an audible click, and stays put. The cap posts deeply and securely. In use what I really like about the depth of the post is that it doesn’t put the pen off balance or extend the length of the pen enormously. It posts as deep as it caps. It’s secure and stays put in my use.

Overall, if you like a capped pen over a retractable pen, this is a great gel ink option. Refills are available on Amazon and the pen is pretty comfortable. I find the capped version to be very comfortable, if anything more so than the retractable.

These are available just about everywhere. I’ve seen them in Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Target. If you can find them on sale or get them with a coupon, snatch them up. The InkJoy gel is a great pen.

Review: Pilot Precise V5 RT

The Pilot Precise V5 has been around since the dawn of my stationery awakening and is a favorite of mine. I like it for just about every task- writing, notes, sketching and doodles. It is a great pen.

Until I saw these on the shelf I’ve always bought the capped version. I don’t know if I simply wasn’t aware of the retractable version or if it wasn’t available. Regardless, I have them now and I’m never going back.

The design of the pen is simple and parts of it hearken back to the capped version- the grooves in the nose and swirly silver on the color, and translucent colored plastic. The similarities end there. The rubberized grip has DX-like divots. THe knock reminds me of the Signo 207. It has a long drive down to extend the tip and click into place. It does have a satisfying click noise. The clip is a futuristic wrap around that clips tightly to the placket of my shirt or a notebook. It wiggles from side to side and feels loose when it’s not clipped to anything. It’s not, it has a sloppy feel.

Overall the Precise V5 RT is a great update to the capped version of the pen. You won’t lose a cap and the ink is fabulous. It does respond and feels more like gel ink than liquid ink. I’m okay with that. Anyway, you can get these on Amazon for around $2/pen. There are entire tubs of 48 of these pens- black and multi colors for around $55! They are also available in just about any store from Target to Walmart to Staples to the local grocery chain.

Review: Pen+Gear Gel Ink Stick Pen

Pen+Gear might be Walmart’s house brand but it has contained some surprising quality. I snagged the Pen+Gear Gel Stick Pens (GSP) n a whim from the clearance section post Back-to-School season. Cost in clearance was around 50 cents. Regular price is a few dollars. They are made in China.

In the package are eight 0.7mm pens. Each pen has a grippy rubber grip with circular divots to improve the grip. The tip at the working end is metal. The tip unscrews to reveal a pretty standard stick pen gel refill. Each refill has a different amount of ink. You can see the differences in the images of the package. The refill doesn’t last very long. It took less than a half week for me to blow through one at my day job.

The ink itself is nicely dark, doesn’t grey out in the middle, and has really nice flow. Some of my pens were perfectly wonderfully smooth, others were scratchy and felt gross on all paper. The ink seems moderately waterproof. I do not know if it is lightfast. I have not tested it.

The cap snaps closed securely and with a nice click. It posts in the same manner. All of it is nicely secure.

Please ignore the words. This was the one good pen in the package.

You might recognize the design from several sources- the design is a direct rip off of the Uniball Signo DX stick gel pen. It also looks like the Staples Stick Gel pens, which I suspect are made by Uniball. Frankly the Pen+Gear GSP looks as though Walmart passed a Signo DX and said, “Scan this, but change everything just enough so we don’t get sued.”

Honestly, while the Pen+Gear pencils and notebooks are a steal these aren’t. You have to find the pens that work smoothly and contend with scratchy tips to do so. Even if you need a cheap waterproof sketcher you can usually walk into any store (here in the US) and pick up a 2 or 3-pack of Uniball Signo in black for not much more and have almost guaranteed smoothness and success. The Pen+Gear GSP is a pass from me.

Review: Yoobi 3×5 Index Cards and Case

The Yoobi Back to School sale display at my local Target included a 3×5 card case with 100 index cards, dividers, and labels. The hard poly case with elastic closure is great. At $2.99 they aren’t a steal but they aren’t a bad deal either.

The cards are paper thin and floppy. There is no header space above the ruling and the ruling itself is VERY dark. Despite being thin there is no show or bleed through with anything I wrote with, fountain pens included. The paper is smooth and crisp. Fountain pens feel great on it, and the ink looks great too. No feathering at all. Pencil tends to smear a bit and there isn’t enough tooth for pencils to feel good.

The case feels sturdy and the elastic is tight and holds the contents inside. The thin poly dividers are fun colors and the labels stick well enough.

Overall, I’m not impressed with the Yoobi index cards. They are thick paper not card. The ruling is too dark. They do okay with fountain pen ink but that’s not enough to make an index card for me. I do like the case and dividers.

Review: Moonman Pocket Mini Fountain Pen

My Instagram feed has been full of pics of Moonman fountain pens for ages. I pushed down the FOMO for months, finally I found a version of the pocket mini on eBay for less than $13 and I pulled the trigger, and almost a month later it arrived.

The packaging is a simple white box with a glossy embossed image of the closed pen. Inside, the tiny pen is sheathed in a tight plastic sleeve and set into die cut foam. In the box are 2 pipettes and a package of 6 international short ink carts. The most difficult part of the packaging is getting the pen out of the snug plastic sleeve.

I always wash my new pens with some plain water to clean out any machining gunk left behind from the manufacturing process. I disassembled the pen to its bits and bobs- body, section, nib, feed and the screw in bit that holds the nib and feed into the section. Each of the parts that screws into the other has a small white o-ring for sealing. I added some silicone grease to further seal the pen as I intended to use it eyedropper.

Closed the pen is tiny. Smaller than a Kaweco Sport. It disappears into my pocket. Even filled with ink it is incredibly lightweight. The pen holds just over 2 ml  of ink when eyedroppered. Which is a ton of those short international short carts or 3 international long carts. The pen will only hold international short carts. I immediately inked my pen up with Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo.

Ink flow is good. It’s not wet nor is it dry. My nib out of the box was smooth, but not silky smooth. I ran it over a buffing stick to get it to the smoothness I prefer. I then manipulated it a bit to get some line variation, it’s not quite an architect grind but similar. The nib can be replaced with a (I think) number 5 nib from any of the standard sellers of nibs.

I really enjoy the seaglass green color with the slight frosted look inside the cap. It combines with blue inks to look really lovely. The overly thick body size is nice. I find that it feels pretty good when I write. The section is small enough that the pen doesn’t feel overly fat. The drop from body to section is steep and a tad sharp. Because it is a $13 pen I won’t feel bad if I file and sand this down to something that works better for my hand. As it is the step doesn’t sit on an awkward place in my hand.

This is not going to be a pen for everyone. If you have large hands you will probably not like this pen. If you don’t like the Kaweco Sport you probably will find this too small. It is a stubby tiny pen with a decent nib and feed.  We’ll see how it holds up over time I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks. I’ve certainly let it bang around in my pocket over these few weeks and it’s done okay. I’ve noticed a few small scratches in the plastic after keeping in a pocket with my work keys. Oops.

Review: Zebra Delguard Mechanical Pencil

Let’s start this review with this fact, the Zebra Delguard is a budget-friendly mechanical pencil. It is no way competes with great mechs like the Rotring 600 or TWSBI Precision. If you are looking for a wallet-friendly upgrade from your Bic Mechanical, this is a good choice. The pencil comes packaged with a 12-pack of HB leads.

First off in the look department, this pencil is a charcoal gray and black pencil with chrome and orange accents. The top half of the body has a pinstripe visual look that seems as if it is intended to look like carbon fiber or something a little fancier. It looks pretty nice. The grip section is molded smoke-colored translucent plastic. You can see the workings of the DelGuard mechanism inside. The nock and the point are the only external metal parts of the pencil. The nock covers a tiny niblet of an eraser, so carry a block eraser. Internally you can see springs in the DelGuard mechanism. A single click extends 0.5mm of lead every time.

A big negative for me is that there is no way to unscrew the pencil should the mechanism jam, you are in a word, screwed, should the pencil jam up. That said, it’s a $4.99 mech readily available at big box, drug, and grocery stores; most likely you won’t cry if it gets jammed you’ll have the funds to buy a new one.

In hand this is a VERY lightweight pencil. It’s a barely there feeling that I expected to hate, but I didn’t. I wrote page after page and enjoyed it far more than I expected. It felt good despite weighing so little.

As for the mechanism, it works. When the lead is extended at a typical amount the little tip pushes out and protects the lead. At a high angle or a low angle, it works. The only time it broke in regular use was when I extended the lead more than 2mm, even then you could see the tip beginning to extend to protect the lead. The key to the DelGuard mechanism working properly is extending the right amount of lead at a time. And it does work. When I wrote with a heavy hand the tip extended.

The included lead is a true HB. It’s decent on rough paper but is nothing to write home about. I did find it decently smooth, though not as smooth as NanoDia leads.

My experience with the DelGuard is positive. I’m encouraged by how well the mechanism works on their lowest end version of this mech. It makes me want to invest in a higher end version from JetPens. If I had a teenager or friend who I was attempting to get them away from disposable mechanicals this would be a fabulous cheap option.

Jetpens has a bunch of higher end options which are still south of $15.

Review: Baron Fig Dateless Confidant Planner

We all know I’m a huge fan of the Baron Fig Confidants, and if you read my review of the 2018 planner you know I love their planner too. When BF asked if I wanted to review their dateless version, I immediately responded, “YES!”

To start the Dateless features all the same goodness of their regular Confidant- fabulous paper, lovely end sheets, awesome stitching, and lay flat binding. The page marker this round is slightly longer. I heat sealed mine with a lighter and you should too. Like last year’s planner, this one features a set of planner pages with some dot grid at the back of the book. A section of the dog gridded pages are perforated for easy removal.

I’m a huge fan of undated planners. I mentioned this in my review of the Dateless Vanguard. It makes sense for companies to make dateless planners and it is easy for those of us who use them to write in the dates. The paper in the Confidant accepts rubber stamps and markers really well, so adding decorative touches is easy and looks great. If you want to use a dip pen with some of your fancy Organic Studios sheening inks? You can do that. Want to use a rubber stamp with your fancy pigment rubber stamps? Works well with that too.

The set up of the planner portion features a spread for the month followed by 5 weeks of weekly spreads. It makes sense to have them all be the same length because folks could be starting the Dateless today and not on January 1st. I really like the flexibility. I wrote in each month’s spread then stamped out the dates for each weekly spread until I reached the week where the months overlapped. If I had extra spreads, I skipped those. I figure having a few empty spreads will give me some space to make notes for phone calls and other things.

The exterior of the Dateless is nice too. It features debossing of the same images on the Dateless Vanguard. The Dateless is a darker shade of gray than the dated version.

Anyway, the Dateless Confidant is a darn near perfect planner for folks who don’t want to be tied into a dated version or who work projects over the course of a month or two and find that the rest of the planner is wasted. The dateless fixes that problem, date the parts you’ll use and then date some more. You can’t go wrong with this paper- it is lovely with pens and pencils.