Crónicas Estilográficas

13 February 2020

Curidas Marketing

I finished the year 2019 saying that Japanese brands had a hard time dealing with social media and advertising their products in the Internet. And then, 2020 came and we see Platinum skillfully promoting the soon-to-be-released platinum Curidas on the Internet.

It is hard to pinpoint where and when the first rumors originated, but by the end of December they had reached many of us. Then, actual docs generated by Platinum reached Facebook and the rumor became news. Since then –if not from before-- Platinum has managed the tempo to raise a great anxiety in many of us. Short videos, pics, early sale events, controversies on the price (in the US), plain information... All that repeated, re-broadcasted, and relayed by many of us on social media, blogs, and videos. And now we are waiting for that day in which the pen will be finally and openly for sale.


Part of the teasing campaign--a Curidas at a shop in Tokyo, but just to test!


One of the docs created by Platinum that found its way to the Internet.

Well done, Platinum!

This strategy contrasts with what Pilot has done with the latest version of the Capless—the Capless LS.

It might only be that there is not that much new on this later iteration of the well-known model, but pilot failed at making it exciting.


The Capless LS as it appeared on the Pilot website.
Source: Pilot press release at https://www.pilot.co.jp/press_release/2019/12/06/post_60.html (retrieved on 4/Jan/2020).

Some might appreciate this absence of induced anxiety about the new release, but I doubt it was a wise move to increase the sales of the new pen.

And so, we are mostly speaking of the Curidas and not of the Capless LS.


Sailor FL Black Luster – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 3rd 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless, redes sociales

09 February 2020

Retro

On several recent Chronicles I have praised Pilot (::1::, ::2::) for its policy on ink prices. They have been remarkably constant for a long time despite the inflationary movements in the competitors. I also vindicated the basic line of Pilot inks –30 ml inkwells in red, blue, blue-black and black—as the radical option: reliable, inexpensive, well behaved ink. Their only problem was the lack of poetry—plain names, functional or even boring bottles and boxes...


The two packaging currently in the market.

And then, Pilot surprised us all with a new retro packaging inspired on the presentation of the 1950s. Not only that, but Pilot is not changing the price at all. The drawback is that, so far, this is a limited release with limited distribution.


On the left, the original inkwell and box of a Pilot ink around 1960. On the right, the new retro packaging. Note how Pilot revives the old logo.

So, is Pilot fighting back? Pilot might just need fancier (or plain ridiculous) names for these old inks to entice the inkunuma (ink swamp) community...


Sailor FL Black Luster – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Taito, February 7th 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Pilot, mercado

07 February 2020

Iroshizuku 2020

The only purpose of this text is to summarize the color gamut of Iroshizuku inks. Part of the information that I am including here had already been published in 2017, but there have been some changes since that time.

The chronology of these inks is as follows:

December 2007. First 5 inks: Asa-gao, Aji-sai, Tsuyu-kusa, Kon-peki, and Tsuki-yo. 50 ml inkwells for JPY 1500 (plus taxes).

July 2008. Another 5 inks: Ku-jaku, Sho-ro (Syo-ro), Shin-ryoku, Kiri-same, Fuyu-Shogun (Fuyu-syogun). 50 ml bottles.

November 2008. 4 inks: Yu-yake, Momiji, Yama-budo, Tsutsuji. 50 ml inkwells.

January 2009: The Tokyo Limited Edition was first released. These are three inks for sale in a small number of shops in Tokyo: Shimbashi-iro, Edo-murasaki, Fukagawa-nezu. 50 ml inkwells, JPY 1500 (plus taxes).

These inks were reissued in November of 2016 and in January of 2020 with the same limited distribution as in 2009. These reissues were available in both 50 ml inkwells and in three 15 ml inkwell set.


The Tokyo Limited Edition set of the "mini" Iroshizuku inkwells (edition of 2020).

May 2009. Tsukushi, Fuyu-gaki, Yama-guri. 50 ml inkwells.

October 2009. A new presentation became available for a short time: 3 inkwell set, 20 ml each, for JPY 3000 (plus taxes). There were four different sets, and it was not possible to change their content.


The set of three 20 ml inkwells from 2009.

August 2011. 4 more inks: Ina-ho, Kosumosu, Murasaki-shikibu, Chiku-rin.


The regular line of the series became complete in November of 2012.
The last three inks were Take-sumi, Shin-kai and Ama-iro.

November 2012. The final 3 inks to complete the 24 color range: Take-sumi, Shin-kai, Ama-iro.

January 2015. New presentation called Iroshizuku Mini: three 15 ml inkwell box for JPY 2100. On this occasion it is possible –at some shops- to choose the contents of the package.

March 2019. On the occasion of the centenary of Pilot, the company released 7 new Iroshizuku inks: Ebisu, Daikoku-ten, Bishamon-ten, Benzai-ten, Fuku-roku-ju, Juro-jin, Hotei-son. The presentations are individual 50 ml inkwells for JPY 1600, and boxed set of seven (all seven inks) 15 ml inkwells for JPY 8000.


The inks for the centenary of Pilot. These are the most expensive Iroshizuku inks at JPY 1600 per 50 ml.

All in all, the whole Iroshizuku line is composed of 34 inks: 24 of the standard series, 3 of the Tokyo Limited Edition, and 7 of the Centennial edition, also limited.

A remarkable detail of these (and other!) Pilot inks is the stability in the price: JPY 15000/50 ml has been the price since they were first released in 2007. The only exception are the 7 Centennial whose price in JPY 1600/50 ml, which is not an outrageous increase. And even the recent releases of the Tokyo Limited Edition preserved the price of 2009, when first marketed.

As a consequence, the originally overpriced inks (in 2007!) are now very reasonably priced, if not plainly inexpensive, when compared to other inks available in Japan.


Jinhao 51A – Unknown purplish ink

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 5th 202017
labels: Pilot, tinta, mercado

05 February 2020

Platinum in the Market 2020

During the last months Platinum has released about four new models: the Procyon, several variations of the 3776 Century (allow me this stretch), the Prefounte, and the Curidas.

Two of those are mere variations of well-known and easy available pens. Not much is needed to explain this re the variations of the 3776 in fancy colors and with notable characters. The Prefounte, on its side, is just a fancy Preppy. The other two are indeed new and different to any other model in the catalog: the Procyon and the Curidas.


The Platinum Procyon (2018).


Variations on a well-known theme.

Then, what do all these pens say about Platinum?

My interpretation is that Platinum is focusing on the medium and low end of the market of fountain pens. And this is surprising given the recent activity of Chinese makers, whose manufacturing costs are much lower than those in Japan.

This strategy can work as long as these pens were attractive and original. But that can be said about of pens in any price range. In any event, the hugely expected Curidas could fit this bill, but that is not the case of the Procyon, whose sales are not up to what Platinum expected.

This section of the market is a very tough one, and nothing will be easy for Platinum.


Pilot steel overlay, Yamada seisakusho nib – Sailor Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 3rd 2020
etiquetas: Japón, Platinum, China, mercado

31 January 2020

Premium Pen Show in Tokyo

The organizers of the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) have announced the celebration of another event, the Japanese Premium Pen Show, this coming month of May. This “premium” pen show will take place at the luxury hotel Chinzanso in Bunkyo Ward between May 1st and May 3rd.


Good for the pen community in Tokyo? These are my reflections:

First, it is surprising how quickly –in Japanese standards-- this event is being organized. In a country where improvisation is almost a taboo, announcing this even with less that six months is surprising. But so be it!

Second is the inability of Tokyo actors in the pen scene to create a single important and relevant pen event with an international significance. Instead, all we get is a multiplicity of small events scattered along the calendar.

Let us remember here that the TIPS events (::1::, ::2::) fall short of real pen shows, as the organizers implicitly acknowledge when they declare that “the (Japanese Premium Pen) show will focus on high-end fountain pen brands from around the world for the discerning collector.”


Tokyo International Pen Show 2019. Not a pen show but a stationery salon.

This event, however, could change the parochial scene in Tokyo should it become a resounding success in attracting foreign traders. But that doesn't seem to be the case so far: it is being quickly organized, and Japan is not particularly close to where most traders live and circulate in the world tour of pen shows.


Madrid Pen Show 2019. There are more pens on this table that on the whole of TIPS 2019.

The pricing policy for traders doesn't seem very adequate for that purpose. The cost per table is in the order of USD 700 (in fact, JPY 70000 if booking before Jan 31st; JPY 90000, booking after that date). In comparison, the well-established Madrid Pen Show (16 years of history, a three-day event) charges about USD 300. And the newly created Dutch Pen Show in Utrecht, just USD 80.

But we will see how it works in about four months. I will be there.


Yamada raden – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 30th 2020
etiquetas: Japón, Tokyo, evento, mercado

28 January 2020

Radical Ink

The radical approach to the maddening ink environment of the times:


The well-known Pilot 30 ml inkwell has been in the market for over 50 years. The current presentation (in the center) is limited to four colors: black, blue-black, blue, and red. The price in Japan is JPY 400/30 ml (plus tax).

Pilot basic line of inks: black, blue-black, blue, and red. JPY 400 per 30 ml. In Japan, Pilot has not increased the prices of these inks since 1995.

In other markets the radical option would certainly be different.


Pilot Vpen – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 28th 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Pilot, mercado

26 January 2020

Curidas's Name

Japanese companies –and not only in the stationery industry-- have a hard time naming their products, and I have pointed at some examples in the past.

More often than not, the issue is simple—the Japanese and the overseas names are different: Capless vs. Vanishing Point, Elabo vs. Falcon, Profit vs. 1911, etc.

Some other times, the problem is associated to the lack of consistency among Japanese on how to transliterate their own language into alphabet: Ohashido vs. Ohasido is the most evident of all, but there are more: Fuyu-shôgun vs. Fuyu-syogun, Sho-ro vs. Syo-ro, Doyô vs. Doyou, etc.

And now Platinum goes one step forward with the soon-to-be-released Curidas model. According to the company, the name is related to the Japanese word “kuridasu” (繰り出す, くりだす), that could be translated as to roll out. And the word would be something like “koo-ree-dah-soo”. The other associated word, also according to Platinum, is the English word “curiosity”.


Kuridasu, curiosity; Curidas.

But Japanese are often concerned about how English speakers might pronounce their Japanese words. Or, alternatively, they are worried about sounding too Japanese. Anyway, at the time of writing “Curidas” in Japanese, Platinum changed it to キュリダス, which transcribed to alphabet becomes “kyuridasu”.


Could Platinum at least be consistent?

And the whole mess is served. We will see the name of this pen written both as Curidas and Kyuridasu. And both of them are correct.


Pilot with steel overlay, Yamada Seisakusho – Sailor Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 22nd, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, japonés, capless