29 June 2023

Moonman Again

Some months ago I analyzed the Moonman A1, the capless pen made by the Chinese company. The main conclusion in that text was that the Chinese copy was a good product for a very good price. But did it offer anything new with respect to the Pilot original? The answer, suggested by a commentator, was the existence of a clipless variation of the model.

Moonman, apparently, had paid close attention to what some enthusiasts had said in the Net: the clip in the Capless was a nuisance to many.

Following that strategy it was only normal for Moonman to try to replicate the popular and missed Pilot Capless FCN-500R (and variations)--the faceted model in the market between 1984 and 1998. And that attempt is the Moonman A2. But, how faithful is the replica?

The faceted Moonman A2.

Just a quick inspection of the A2 shows some clear differences with the Pilot model:

– The Moonman A2 is bigger than the Pilot FCN, as can be seen on the following  table:

.Pilot Capless FCN.

.Moonman A2.

.Moonman A1.
Length closed (mm) 132 141 142
Length open (mm) 133 139 139
Max diameter (mm) 11.8 12.2 12.9
Weight, dry (g) 17.6 20.8 33.7
Ink deposit (ml) 0.9 (cart)
0.5 (CON-40)
0.9 (cart)
0.4 (conv)
0.9 (cart)
0.4 (conv)

Pilot Capless FCN-500R (front) and Moonman A2 (back).

– The original Pilot FCN implements a very clean solution for the clip—it is made out of the same piece that conforms the nose of the pen. On the contrary, the A2's clip is closer in design to that of the regular Capless and of the Moonman A1: a separate part attached to the nose.

This is no small detail as the FCN's clip is often regarded as less intrusive and more comfortable than that of the current Capless model.

The clips. Pilot's on front, Moonman's on back.

– The previous table also shows that the A2 is slimmer and lighter than the A1. Moonman accomplished this removing the internal metallic thread in the A2. But this results in a metal-to-plastic thread in the A2—a weak point shared with the Pilot FCN. In fact, it is not uncommon to see cracks on the area of the plastic thread in the Pilot model.

Moonman S2. Metalic thread on the left, plastic thread on the right.

In any event, the parts of the A1 and A2 are fully interchangeable as these two models share their threads and internal dimensions. This is not the case with the equivalent Pilot models (the old FCN, and the current FC).

Moonman Frankenpens. But they work!

Therefore, the conclusion is that the A2 is little else than a A1 in different costume. Sure there are some changes –teh shape of the clip, the ansence of metallic thread in the upper body--, but the basic structure and internal dimensions are common to both models.

Then, is the Moonman A2 a copy –or a fair substitution-- of the Pilot FCN of 1984? in my opinion, less so than the A1 with respect to the current Pilot Capless FC.

Capless FCN (burgundy) and Moonman S2 (blue).
Capless FC (front) and Moonman A1 (back).

Other than this, A1 and A2 models use the same nib unit made of steel with only one nib point—a smooth nominal EF. And this unit is perfectly compatible with those made by Pilot.

Moonman A2 - Diamine Bilberry

Bruno Taut
June 28th, 2023
etiquetas: Moonman, Pilot, capless

16 June 2023

The 23rd Pen Trade in Tokyo

This past Sunday –June 11th–, the 23rd edition of the Pen Trade event took place in Tokyo. As I had said in the past, this is the actual pen show in Tokyo, at least in the Western sense of the concept.

The drawback of this event, though, lies in its size—17 tables and around 100 visitors. But why is it so small when the metropolitan area of Tokyo hosts about 36 million people, there is an active pen community, and a rich pen manufacturing tradition?

Relaxed atmosphere.

But at the same time, are there real incentives to make it grow? Probably not, and I venture some hypothesis to explain that:

– In Tokyo there are pen and stationery events almost every single month, and people might not feel the need to cater the craving for pen action at this particular moment in the year.

– The Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) does attract more people than this Pen Trade event due to its eclectic nature—everything goes in there, new pens, old pens, paper, ink, paraphernalia,...

– Younger generations seem more focused on ink than on pens.

So, in summary, the potential market for a big pen-focused pen show in Tokyo is fragmented.

Some interesting pens on this table.

But in any event, and despite its size, there were some interesting pens and attractive people with whom to share information. And because of that, the date of the Pen Trade is the big day for those who love pens in Tokyo.

Parker 51 – Sailor Tomikei Blue

Bruno Taut
June 12th, 2023
etiquetas: Tokyo, mercado

10 June 2023

The Odd Relative: Platinum Glamour

After writing about the Platinum 3776 and its more than 40 years of history, it is only natural to mention its weird relative, the Platinum Glamour marketed in 1987.

The reason for this is clear—not only the Glamour follows the style of the original 3776 of 1978, but also Platinum described it as a modification of that model “by giving it a thicker body but making it compact”. And on the pen box Platinum added “a sense of proportion in deformation”.

"A sense of proportion in deformation. An attractive design”. Platinum dixit.

Well, not the strangest argument in marketing, but certainly paradoxical.

In any event, the interesting detail of the Glamour, beyond its deformed shape, is the fact that Platinum had to create a specific nib –with its corresponding feed—to create that pen. In this regard, it relates to the limited release 3776 Decade and its original nib.

The gold nib (14 K) of the Glamour. It also exists in steel.

Back in 2010 I published a review of the Glamour with a gold nib—more comfortable than what its shape and size might suggest, a stiff nib, and a high price. And right now, even more expensive.

Sailor Mini (1971), 21 K - Sailor Blue

Bruno Taut
June 10th, 2023
labels: Platinum

01 June 2023

New 3776 Nib

The Platinum Decade pen described on the previous entry implements, as we saw, a new nib. And this nib represents a new step in the evolution of the 3776 nib.

So this is a good time to revise that evolution of nibs and feeds along forty-something years of history.

Early models, (between 1978 and some time in the early 1980s) had very cylindrical nibs and ebonite feeds. The first year model had a feed with no fins at all. There were also music nibs with this geometry.

Nib and feed of a Platinum #3776 from 1978. Note the ebonite feed.

The feeds of these early models changed quickly. By the second year, they had implemented some fins.

Later on, the nib became flatter on the top area, but there were few, if any, changes on the ebonite feed. This detail changed at some point and from then on all Platinum feeds have been made of plastic.

Nib and feed from 1984. The nib is obviously flatter on top while the feed is still made of ebonite.

Nib and feed from 2002. The nib is apparently identical to the previous one (1984), but the feed is now made of plastic.

Nib and feed from a #3776 Century. Labeled as manufactured on November of 2011. Note the shorter nib and the very specific feed. Needless to say, it is made of plastic.

The #3776 Century was launched in 2011. On this newer edition, two-tine nibs (i. e., non music nibs) changed with respect to previous models. Now they are shorter than before, and the feed had been modified to anchor the nib on the right position.

On the left, a music nib of a #3776 Century, dated on 2012. On the right, a music nib of a #3776 of 2009. The feeds are identical. The nibs share the same basic geometry.

Music nib and feed of the Wagner 2015 pen. Note the absence of holes in the tail of the nib.

These changes, as I said, did not affect the three-tine music nibs. In some occasions, some gold was removed from the tail of the nib –that area hidden under the section-, but is also seems not to be always the case. The feeds of these music nibs are more cylindrical in shape and have no fixed position for the nib.

Two and three tine nibs dated in 2009 and 2010. They were interchangeable in their sections. I am well aware that the two tine nib is a Nakaya, but Nakaya implements #3776 nibs.

And in 2022, the model released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 3776 Century sported the following nib:

It is slightly narrower and longer than the previous nib. The feed remains untouched.

Now, the question is whether this new nib will become the standard for all 3776 Century and associated products (::1::, ::2::). Time will tell.

Pilot Custom 742, S nib – Diamine Imperial Purple

Bruno Taut
June 1st, 2023
etiquetas: Platinum, plumín, plumín musical