Warning: Many photos in this post!
Sometimes we all get a little tired of seeing beautiful, sleek, serious, high-end fountain pens, and it’s about time we explore the lower end, cutesy fountain pens, just for fun. Thanks to two members of the SFPL group, I have in my possession two cute fountain pens which are clearly very suitable for children (or adults who like cute stuff, like me sometimes).
In terms of pricing, both pens cost $3 (SGD) or less, which is pretty amazing, and you will know why later. I will go into details of each pen one by one.
CELLO FOUNTAIN PEN (DISNEY – SNOW WHITE)
Cello Writing Instruments is an Indian company that manufactures stationery products. This fountain pen has been offered to me by Burhan from Jalalpen, a Singaporean pen company that has emerged recently. Even though I received this for free, my review is only of my honest opinion of the pen.
The colours on this pen are bright pastels, which at first glance looks like something that children will be attracted to.
In addition, the barrel has a printout of Snow White, a Disney character. There are also other pens with other colours that feature other Disney characters, so you can find pens that will attract both boys and girls.
The pen comes in a simple plastic packing backed by cardboard, which is good enough to protect the pen well. For pens like these with such a low price point, I wouldn’t expect a great deal from the packaging side! The packaging reminds me of childrens’ toys packaging, in fact. Which is pretty fitting for a pen like this.
At the back of the cardboard backing, there are instructions on how to fill the pen.
First, you unscrew the barrel from the section of the pen. Then you take one of those cartridges that are included in the box, and you insert it in the direction as guided by the picture in the instructions. Replace the barrel and keep the tip facing downwards for 50 seconds (this is to allow the ink to flow down to the nib).
Pretty straightforward, clear instructions that children can understand too!
In the pack there are two cartridges with blue ink that come along with it. The shape of the cartridge looks just like an international short cartridge, but when you compare them side-by-side like in the photo above, you’ll see that it is longer. It is however not as long as a typical international long cartridge (which I don’t have, so I can’t do a comparison in the photo here), nor a Platinum cartridge. If you ask me, it does seem to me that international short or long cartridges may be able to fit into the pen as well!
The nib design is rather interesting:
While the top of the nib is a simple, steel piece with the Cello logo on it…
… the feed side has a little piece of string connecting the feed to the nib, just like a candle wick. I suppose it is to improve ink flow to the nib.
So I plugged in one of the cartridges and, like the instructions advised, held the nib facing down for a while to wait for the ink to flow down. It was fun that I could actually feel the bubbles rising inside the cartridge, as the ink flows down the pen and the air gets displaced, like a very gentle “blub, blub” effect. In less than 50 seconds, I noticed that the “wick” was saturated with blue ink. This is a good indication that the ink has flowed down to the tip already.
In addition to the wick, you can actually see that the plastic feed is not extremely well-made, as there are tiny slits in it where the ink could seep into. It does not bother me though (considering how cheap this pen is), but it may annoy some others who are particular about this. Even though there is some seeping of the ink in the feed, it does not leak or have flow problems.
You can see from the writing sample above that the ink is a very standard-looking blue colour, which is good enough for normal writing (if you like writing with blue ink). What amazed me is how smooth the nib is! It gives feedback and is definitely not buttery-smooth, but the feedback is minimal. For a left-handed person like me, this experience is amazing, and even beats some other more expensive fountain pens. I am impressed. I can write fast with this pen without being bothered by any signification friction or scratchiness. The scratchiness is only felt when you press the nib hard on the paper, but well, you’re not really supposed to do that with fountain pens anyway.
The cap reminds me of the Preppy fountain pen cap, as it has a spring-loaded inner cap that helps to prevent drying out of the nib. This would be really useful to keep the ink flowing well. The cap is a snap-cap and it snaps really quite hard. While it is able to ensure that the pen is properly capped, I was a little worried about ink splashing on the inner cap. But so far, I haven’t encountered such issues before.
Overall this pen is really a great product, and very worthwhile for its price. If you’re interested to buy it, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for a bulk purchase of 20 pens, $3 per pen. For bulk orders of 50 items and above, it will be $2 per pen.
THE LITTLE TWIN STARS FOUNTAIN PEN (WITH A RABBIT ON THE CAP)
The Little Twin Stars are one of my childhood cartoon characters, and it was fun to rediscover them again on a fountain pen. I’ve had one too many stationery items with Little Twin Stars, Hello Kitty, and so on when I was a kid (yes, I loved stationery since young), but I never had a fountain pen with those cartoon characters on it. I bought this pen for $2 SGD including local postage from a fellow SFPL member.
This pen is made of plastic, made in China, and with my previous experience of Chinese fountain pens, I expected this pen to write well enough not to annoy me. At the front of the barrel, you have the Little Twin Stars, and at the back you see some details of the pen. It indicated that the pens is of 0.38mm thickeness, which is approximately equivalent to an F or EF. The Chinese words say “Chuanren Student’s Fountain Pen” and beside the long line of numbers, the 4-character Chinese phrase means “super smooth, super fine”. It is in reference to the nib, so let’s see how it goes later.
The nib is a hooded nib behind a pastel ink section. You can see how small the nib is, but you can also see that there is a very fine gap between the tines. It got me a little concerned about the ink flow, as probably only inks with lower surface tensions (very wet inks) would be able to reach the tip, if there is a visible gap.
From the side, you can see how little of the nib and feed peeks out of the section. There is no tipping on the nib! So the writing experience will really be from the steel nib itself.
When you dismantle the pen, you’ll find a little silicone sac for filling the ink into. I pumped a bit of J. Herbin Perle Noire into the sac for a writing review.
When I wrote with the pen, the experience was indeed interesting. The ink flows wet and saturated from the nib, and the Perle Noire is really black on the paper. There are some other fountain pens that I wrote with, which does not produce such a generous ink flow as compared to this pen. Despite the copious flow, the lines produced are very thin, as claimed on the barrel of the pen. But this is partly because of the good quality paper that I wrote this review on. It is a notebook that I received from some work I had done for Danitrio. When I write on normal paper (80 gsm or so), the line produced is fat because of the feathering and soaking of ink onto the paper.
Also, the nib without any tipping writes pretty decently for such a low price point. It gives quite some feedback at certain angles, possibly because I rotate my pen a little while writing. However it is still quite a good write for a leftie.
You can buy it on Aliexpress, but it seems like they come only in bulks of 20.