Friday, January 13, 2006

Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point- Review

First Impressions

The very first time I saw this pen, I thought it was the ugliest and most tacky thing I have ever seen with my 2 eyes!! The first time I went into a fountain pen store in San Francisco 2 years ago, I was walking around with my Wife and my Dad. My Dad has always a nice pen collection. He loves his Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 along with his Sheaffer Targa’s and he wanted me to at least try out fountain pens. Well we walked around in this little shop at a mall off of Market Street. My Dad was showing me all of these nice pens and I came across a case filled with Namiki Maki-e Fountain Pens. I was completely mesmerized, and the gentleman working behind the counter came around and wanted to know if I would like to see one of the pens. Not knowing the value nor cost of pens, I asked him how much this particular one is. He told me 950, I said 950? Is that all? It sure is a pretty pen for $9.50. The man chuckled because I knew absolutely nothing about pens but he said “yes, $9.50 plus 2 zeros”!! WHAT??????? Are you serious??? The man laughed and he said he gets that all of the time, he told me that each one of these pens are hand made and hand painted so that’s why they are a bit more than the rest.

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He showed me another case with the Vanishing Point and he said, this might be a bit up your alley especially with the price and it is a fountain pen that does not look like one. This sparked my Dads attention and he came over by the case to see what the gentleman was talking about. The man clicked the pen and like magic, the nib appeared!!! Another click and the nib was gone!! Kind of cool but too bad the pen looks so ugly!!! My Dad agreed with me but I was appreciative that the man took the time to show me around the store and let me hold the pens and write with them even though I was not going to buy a high dollar pen and so did the men. He was rather happy that he sparked up interest in fountain pens and he gave me a deal on a cheaper Northpointe Fountain Pen with a Steel nib. He told me that this will get me started, and if I didn’t like it then I only wasted $25.00 on this pen rather than wasting $950.00 or $95.00. Since then I have enjoyed fountain pens. So what does this have to do with Namiki/Pilot Vanishing Point Pens? I don’t know??? I thought it would be a good intro!!

Appearance/ Finish 5 out of 5

My First Vanishing Point was a Blue Carbonesque I picked up on Bittners yearly blowout. Why did I buy it? Because of peoples reviews and people rated this pen very high. So I decided to buy one and I really loved it!! It has a super smooth medium nib that writes like a charm. I had this pen for about 6 months until my wife did the 2 handed discount from my pen case on my computer desk. She will not put that pen down for anything; she uses it for work, school and for writing letters.

So under the condition that I can buy one for myself, she can have the Blue Carbonesque. She happily agreed. Well it took me several months to find the one that I wanted. I really wanted the Limited Edition Mandarin Yellow Vanishing Point but there are 2 problems. They are Limited and they are expensive if you are able to find them. So I knew someone on EBay who lives in Japan that sold them for a good price and it was not exactly the Mandarin Yellow but it is the Mustard Yellow. The Mustard Yellow is not sold in the United States but it is readily available in Japan. The Mustard Yellow is b bit darker than and not as vibrant as the Mandarin but I found it to be easier on the eyes.

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Ok so what is this pen all about? I am sure 100% of all of you have already seen a Vanishing Point so I am not going to bore you with useless details that you already know. I will only go over the unique features and things that you might not know about.This pen is a nice Mustard Yellow color with shiny silver (chrome) highlights. The pen itself is a medium gloss finish that seems rather thick and bulletproof. It looks very well made and would stand in the wear and tear of daily life.

Design/Size/Weight 4 out of 5

The design is quite unique and I don’t think there is another pen like this on the market anywhere!!! The Vanishing Point weighs in a 1 OZ, it is not a typical lightweight and it is due to all of the metal on this pen. The Pen measures in at 5 3/8 inches in length with a width of 1 ½ inches. Since the clip is where you usually put your fingers at, this might be an issue with some people. So make sure you go to a Brick and Mortar store and check it out for yourself so you won’t waste money on a pen you can’t use. Never sacrifice comfort for style!!!

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Nib Design and Performance 5 out of 5

This is an itty bitty tiny nib!!! It is a 14kt gold nib that comes in a unit that easily installs into the pen after you unscrew the section. The nib is not a nail but it is not a noodle either. It has a nice amount of spring to it which I happen to like. I bought an additional nib unit for Oscar Braun Pens in a Broad. The Medium was too fine for me and as usual the nibs are about one size finer than western nib widths. The Broad nib width throws down a super smooth and wet line effortlessly across the paper. I find this a very comfortable writing pen that really competes with the big boys in terms of flawless writing, even ink flow, super smooth nibs, extremely affordable nib unit replacements and overall price for the pen. I find that this pen is perfect for work especially when I am out in the field and taking my nicer pens would be impractical. The pen is extremely rugged and reliable and it can take some punishment without busting apart. God forbid if you were to drop the pen and mash up your nib. Doing that might set you back a whole $19.00 (price increase from $14.00). So trying out different nibs or even customizing them can be done using spare nib units. They are easy to swap out; in fact it is as easy to swap out a nib unit as it is to fill the pen up

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The Filling System 3 out of 5

Usually the filling system is a proprietary cartridge/converter system. On my pen, instead of the piston converter, mine has the squeeze converter with the pressure bar. These seem to be very popular over in Japan but not as popular in the USA. I don’t know why because the squeeze converter carries more ink than the standard piston converter. Either way, you can swap one for the other if you don’t like it. The Piston converter really does not hold that much ink and that is the biggest complaint that I hear about the Vanishing Point besides the clip in the way of the fingers. There are ways of getting around this bottleneck but you are more prone to getting ink all over your hands and your nice white carpet. Some use a dull point syringe or other use cartridges to get more ink into the feed. It all depends on the person but I think that the squeeze converter is much better but I am unsure if they are only available in Asia. The filling systems on Vanishing Points pretty much suck either way; at least it is better than a cartridge only pen.

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Cost 5 out of 5

Since I wanted this color I had to buy this pen from someone in Japan, I paid a bit more than if I were to buy it in the States. Total I paid just around $100.00 with EMS shipping from Japan to my doorstep. If you don’t care for the Mustard Yellow color then you can get them for as low as $69.99 at some places and the average is around $89.99 at most discount pen sellers. For the money, this pen cannot be beat, PERIOD!!!!


This has got to be the BEST fountain pen on the market if you are comparing a pen with a gold nib, sturdy body, reliability and yes very easy on the pocketbook!!! The only major complaints are the placement of the clip and the filing system. This has got to be one of the most reliable pens on the market, bar none!!! I have no regrets about this pen and only one complaint, the filling system. That is minor issue and the rest of the pen is absolutely fabulous. I don’t think this pen will win any awards for the most attractive pen but it will certainly win for the most practical, reliable and functional fountain pen on the market. This is an absolute winner in my book!!! Pilot/Namiki has really changed the direction of pen manufacturing industry in the past 35 years, keep up the great work!!!


Qwonks said...

wow :D
i gotta have this pen ^^

Anonymous said...

I totally agree! The Namiki Vanishing Point is my favorite pen to write with bar none. It is not as handsome as most of my other pens, however, the way it feels and writes more than makes up for it!

tubuliferous said...

Nice review! You mentioned that you can pick up replacement nibs cheaply, but I've only seen them for sale with the feed and the filling system attached (making them rather expensive). Where did you find the inexpensive nibs?

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Anonymous said...

My Namiki Vanishing Point pen is now the only fountain pen I use, or actually, still own. I originally bought it as a gift for a friend, but after trying it- I kept it. And some 15 years later, I still use it regularly. I've seen nothing else like it, nothing that would entice me....