09 February 2020


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


Inky.Rocks said...

I don't know if it is intentional or not, but it is a smart move. But then again, every time I think the ink market is over saturated, I'm proved wrong. Packaging and names (or a story) may be the way to go now...

R. Vieira said...

I agree with Inky Rocks: this is indeed a smart move by Pilot. I much prefer the new retro packaging to the plain, uninspired look - very 1990s - of their bottles and boxes.

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, Inky.Rocks and R. Vieira, for passing by and commenting.

It seems that we all agree. Now, what matters at the end is the ink, not the decoration. But I might be the weird one in this business.



David W. said...

Celebrating a long standing tradition of excellence is better in my eyes than (sometimes, seemingly continual!) "re-branding" with new names or social media BS. I like the larger Pilot bottles for utility, but if the retro 30ml bottle was widely available I'd certainly purchase one! No knock on the Iroshizuku line though, I'm glad there are now so many colors to choose from, despite the fact that I have boring old blue-black in my pen today ;)

The ink swamp was certainly shallower before the millenium, but all the variations from brand to brand still had many of us buying every maker's iteration of those "basic" colors to find out which one was best behaved or had that *perfect* shading of blue/black/brown...

R. Vieira said...

Thanks for your answer, Bruno. I agree that in the end ink and its quality is what really matters, but I think that a nicer graphic design can help sell the product a bit further.


PD: Btw, are you aware by any chance of a current source for the basic line of Pilot inks in Spain?

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks, David W, for passing by and commenting.

I do not really know what you mean by "before the millenium" when speaking about the ink swamp phenomenon. It is a very recent one. It would be interesting to come with a reference date to it, but its first symptoms might be related to the old Sailor seasonal inks in 2010. That was a shy start that took momentum much later. The dramatic price increase of Bungubox inks in 2015 might another significant date.

R. Vieira, I do not know where to find those pilot inks in Spain. I am not the right guy to ask.

Thanks for your comments.


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