I'm a little late on picking the winner - the brightness of the Safari blinded me yesterday! That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. The winner of the 2015 Neon Lime Special Edition Safari is:
When I wrote about the Pilot Plumix several months ago, I said that it wasn't a large enough variation for my tastes. Well, I tried the other end of the spectrum with a 1.5mm Lamy calligraphy nib, and I can't say the same thing about this one. This nib makes a voluptuous line, but doesn't quite cut it for me in the everyday writing area. Still, it's a fantastic nib and loads of fun.
The Lamy 1.5mm calligraphy nib fits on almost any Lamy fountain pen very easily. Just slip off the normal nib from the feed, and slide the 1.5mm nib on. If you have a Safari, Vista, or AL-Star lying around, this is a great way to try out a well-made calligraphy nib. There are many other options, but rarely for this price.
First looking at the nib, you can't really tell it apart from the other Lamy nibs. Then, you notice the blunt tip and the large "1.5" stamped on the top and realize how wide it actually is. I really had no idea it would be that wide. Little did I know.
I put the nib on a Safari that I had lying in a drawer, and promptly filled it up with some green ink. In my rush, I didn't think to pick out an ink that has great shading qualities, so I was little disappointed to find that the finished product looked a bit like a magic marker line—wide and wet. After a quick flush, I filled it with J. Herbin Rouge Hematite. What a difference that made. It no longer looked like a magic marker line, but a sophisticated and interesting line of varying widths, shades, and hues.
This nib was made to be used with calligraphy lettering. I don't do much calligraphy lettering, and I certainly don't claim to be any good at it. Using this nib and experimenting with the variations, I wanted to practice lettering a lot more. Expert lettering really takes a lot of skill and practice, and I really admire anyone who can make it look fluid and consistent. They've put a lot of practice into it, and they can make it look as easy as scribbling in a Field Notes book propped up on my knee.
That said, I didn't really find much place for this nib in my everyday writing. For one, you have to write really big in order to form letters and words (as opposed to big blobs of ink). Second, since the nib is wide and requires a bit more from the feed system, there are consistent starting issues. They're never difficult to get rid of, and I found that they're actually very predictable, but they're still frustrating in general writing practices.
For me, this nib gives me two things: the ability to play and experiment with large, ornate lettering, and a nib that provides a great showcase for inks that have excellent shading properties. This nib is more about creating art, and much less about writing things down.
If you're even the slightest bit interesting in calligraphy nibs, and you already have a Lamy, I can't think of a better way to try out a calligraphy fountain pen (I'm not counting disposable porous tip pens here) than the Lamy nibs. They have other sizes besides the 1.5mm, which are 1.1mm and 1.9mm. I just recommend getting an ink that shades well to go with it!
It's not uncommon to hear negative thoughts on the 2000 because of it's finicky nib. It seems Lamy have a quality control issue with this model, because it happens far too often. Yes, I'm starting this off with the negative aspect first because I want to get it out of the way.
Full disclaimer: the Lamy 2000 that I bought had a problematic nib out of the box. It wrote, but it wasn't smooth and it wasn't enjoyable. It caused anxiety and frustration more often than good feelings. With a pen that looks so awesome (and cost this much), you expect it to write with 100% consistency.
I bought my 2000 before the 2014 Atlanta Pen Show. I did this on purpose so that I could bring it along in case it had a bum nib. I'm glad I made that choice, because it did have a bum nib, and I was able to have Mike Masuyama fix it for me. If I didn't end up going to the show, I would've sent it off to a nib meister shortly after receiving it.
I love my Lamy 2000, and I think it's a great pen. But, if you buy one, it might be wise to set aside a little bit of money for nib work – just in case. That's my advice, but I really hope that the pen you buy is perfect right out of the box.
Now, on to the good stuff about this pen.
Not to be superficial, but I kind of think other pens are jealous of how hot this pen is. I know that's just personal preference, but I'm smitten.
The Lamy 2000 is unique. There isn't another pen like it in design. It's sleek, modern, and welcoming at the same time. It looks like a pen meant to write, but classy at the same time. It works with casual and dress clothes splendidly. It always gets comments out in the wild.
One of my favorite aspects of the pen is the grip and nib section. The nib is hooded, and looks very small since most of it is hidden beneath the metal grip. Now, I'm no expert in metals, but I think the grip is stainless steel. Whatever it is, it feels fantastic to hold.
The body is made of Makrolon, a form of fiberglass. It looks unique, but it also feels unique. It's a subtle difference, but I always notice it. After you write for a while, the body warms up as it rests on your hand. When writing, my fingers rest on the stainless steel grip and the body rests on my hand. I've written with this pen over numerous long writing sessions, and it never got uncomfortable. It's a great material, and well-balanced in the hand.
I normally write with this pen unposted, but it also feels well-balanced when posted.
The pen is a piston filler, and the piston section is so flush with the rest of the pen body, that it's often easy to miss. I love this aspect of the design. It makes the pen look like a solid, single piece.
Another fascinating design feature is the ink window. Toward the grip section of the barrel, some of the Makrolon is thin enough to let light through so you can see (roughly) how much ink is left. This is nothing similar to a demonstrator body – it's in no way completely transparent, but it does allow you to keep an eye on your ink level. It's a great feature.
Ah, the writing. At the start, the nib was inconsistent with ink flow, and it tended to stick to the page a bit. It's hard to describe, but it was dry and seems to be held to the page with some sort of really mild adhesive. Despite cleaning the pen numerous times, this didn't go away. I took it to Mike Masuyama in April, and he smoothed it out and increased the flow. Now it writes like a dream.
This is my first gold Lamy nib, and it's not dramatically different from the steel nibs, but I do notice it every now and then. There's more give in the gold nib compared to a steel nib.
Even after being adjusted, the nib still requires a fairly strict angle of attack on the page. I've grown used to this unique aspect of the pen, and after a few sentences, I don't even have to think about it.
As I said earlier, I love writing with this pen, and that's really all that matters. I'm really happy with the work Mike did on the nib, and I hope that everyone who owns or purchases one of these little beauties has a good nib to begin with or a good nib meister that can help.
Overall, I recommend the Lamy 2000. I've heard that some vendors will check the nib before they ship the pen to you – if you ask them to. Sure, you might get a bum nib, and I don't think that's right considering the price tag. That considered, a well-writing Lamy 2000 is a glorious thing. I think it's worth the risk.
I personally bought a fine nib model, but they have extra fine, medium, and bold as well. I'm tempted to have Mike put a cursive italic on it next time, but we'll see.
The Lamy Tipo is one of Lamy's more unique takes on the rollerball refill version of their products. There are rollerball models of the Safari, Vista, and even the 2000, but I think the Tipo looks the most unique of all of them. And, it's also the most affordable. At less than $11, you have to wonder how it compares to the Retro 51 and Schmidt refills.
Well, the Tipo doesn't beat the Retro 51 and Schmidt refills, but it's still a great, quirky pen with a decent refill.
The Tipo doesn't have a knock like most retractable pens. Like the Retro 51, it uses an alternate system to extend and retract the refill. The Retro 51 uses a twist mechanism, which lots of other pens also use. They're smooth and sure.
I'm guessing that the typical rollerball refills don't work well with a clicky knock system, but I really don't know. In Lamy's case, they went with a unique catch system that uses the clip and barrel to keep the refill extended. There's a small hole in the body, and an inversely shaped knob on the end of the clip that fits perfectly into the hole when the clip is pressed down.
It's novel, but it needs work in my opinion. It feels cheap and it doesn't breed confidence in me when I use it. Many, many times I've wondered if it's going to stay when I start writing, and I've also missed the catch several times if I'm trying to click it quickly. When extending the refill with this pen, you have to be slow and deliberate to be sure it catches. I'm being a bit dramatic to make a point. In all honesty, it catches perfectly about 95% of the time. But it just doesn't make me feel sure most of the time.
The grip on the pen is fantastic for me. It's textured with shallow grooves and has a nice width. The pen is light, with more of the weight gathering toward the tip, which makes for a pleasant writing experience.
One of the most unique aspects of the Tipo is the variety of barrel colors available. White, black, pink, orange, and turquoise. They all look vibrant in the photos, and the white one I have is no let-down. On all colors, the grip, tip section, and clip are all black.
There's a small, tasteful Lamy logo on the top of the barrel parallel to the clip. It's a nice way to brand an otherwise mysterious looking pen.
Another gripe I have with the pen is the design of the top (butt?) of the pen. It looks unfinished. There are two small holes and nothing else. It looks like some decorative piece was once attached, but fell off at some point. It would be cool to see a plastic screw on the top, similar to the Safari and Vista caps. But, that's not really a big deal. The pen still has a really clean, pleasing design. Besides, at $11 I can't really complain too much about it missing decorative elements. Get a Safari already, right? I know.
An additional delightful little detail is the packaging of the pen. It's futuristic and difficult to explain, so check out the picture:
Ah, the refill. Possibly the most important aspect of the pen. Short story: it does a good job of writing. It's smooth, dark, and mostly consistent. And that's the reason it doesn't get a perfect score. It tends to skip or go a little faint every now and then. Not enough to cause any frustration, but enough to knock it down a little.
Seriously, it's a good refill and I'd like to try some more just to make sure I didn't get a one off skippy refill. The refill is half the cost of the pen, so I'd expect the quality assurance to be fairly high, but that's probably a little too optimistic.
On the plus side, you have a choice of 4 colors: black, blue, red, and green.
The line is a tiny, tiny bit thicker than the default Schmidt refill that comes with the Retro 51. So, a 0.7mm refill that seems to contain a good amount of ink in the reservoir.
A point that really makes the Tipo an even greater value is the fact that it can take G2 size refills. That opens up another world of possibilities if you aren't happy with the refill that ships with the pen. Of course, you can also trim other refills that are similar to the G2. I personally use the Pilot Juice refills instead of the G2, and the Tipo body is a lot more interesting and attractive than the Juice body. Score.
The Lamy Tipo is a great little pen with a unique, quirky personality. It doesn't make waves with the refill, but it provides a compelling value and looks great while doing it. If you're like me and have an urge to try every rollerball out there, don't leave this one out.