Posts filed under Baron Fig

Baron Fig Black Box Limited Edition Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Baron Fig, makers of fine notebooks and writing instruments, recently started offering limited editions of their popular notebooks. They've also mentioned plans for limited editions of their entire product line, but that's neither here or now. The current limited edition is called The Black Box, and it's a mystery set of Vanguards that comes in a (can you guess?) black box.

This is the first limited edition Vanguard, and it comes in the "flagship" size (5.4" by 7.7") only. This works great for me since it's my favorite size by far out of their 3 offerings. Unlike the normal line of notebooks, you aren't able to choose the paper type. Instead, this notebook ships with dot grid paper only. If you happen to enjoy or prefer dot grid, that's fantastic. I do! But, I can imagine this might put off some buyers if you prefer a different paper type.

Since this is the same Vanguard that we know and love, the main difference here is the packaging and the notebook covers. Personally, I'm in love with the covers and think they're definitely worth buying.

First off, the box is a dark black with a smattering of little symbols and glyphs that hint at what's inside. Apart from that, there's minimal branding. Upon opening the box, there's a paper insert that describes the mystery edition, and then there are three Vanguard notebooks beneath.

All three notebooks feature the same color cover. To me, it's a dark chocolate brown that looks great. Now, on to the fun part. Each notebooks adopts a unique color and theme of symbols. The yellow symbols point toward the Bermuda Triangle, the orange/red symbols imply aliens or UFOs, and the green notebook hints at the legend of Bigfoot. The symbology and colors they've used in these covers is really fun, and I've been enjoying it immensely.

The yellow notebook (Bermuda Triangle) has a lighthouse, anchor, compass, airplane, boat, and radar screen on the cover. At the center of the cover, there's a triangle symbol that offers the biggest hint as to the mystery it's alluding to.

The red/orange notebook (UFOs and aliens) has similar symbols, such as a cactus, telescope, Saturn, a picture of an alien head, and a jet fighter. At the center of this cover is a UFO. Again, the design of these icons is fun and well-done.

Finally, the green notebook (Bigfoot!) features a collection of mountain ranges, maps, binoculars, tents, lanterns, a giant footprint, and finally a set of trees in the center.

These symbols are fun because you can't just look at one of them and determine what the theme of the cover is. You have to consider all of the symbols before you can name the mystery, and that's what makes it fun and delightful.

Apart from the covers, these are standard Vanguard notebooks. Same paper, same specs, same number of pages, etc. Some people have complained about the lack of "special edition-ness," but I really enjoyed this set. I'm not sure I'm ready to sign up for a subscription yet (I have too many notebooks already), but it's definitely something I will keep my eye on as Baron Fig continue to roll out more limited edition products.

The paper quality hasn't changed since other reviews, which is a good thing. When I reviewed the original Confidant, I noted that the paper was a great quality with some serious tooth. The Vanguard has smoother paper, but it still has that signature tooth. The dot grid pattern is a very light gray and gets out of your way if necessary. This paper will handle anything you throw at it. Gel pens, ballpoints, brush pens, fountain pens, and even some water colors.

This is a fun limited edition of a great product. I really enjoy the design of the covers, and I'll enjoy using these notebooks over the next few months. Since the insides are the same as the standard line, you know exactly what you're getting! If you enjoy good iconography and good notebooks, this is a match made in heaven. Grab a set before they're all gone!

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Posted on December 27, 2016 and filed under Baron Fig, Notebook Reviews.

Baron Fig 2017 Planner Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

2017 is quickly approaching, and it's time to get organized. I've had my flings with weekly and daily planners in the past, and they've mostly been abandoned after 2 or 3 months into the new year. The Baron Fig 2017 Planner is a format that I've enjoyed in the past, and I'm aiming to give it a solid try in the new year.

The Baron Fig Planner looks like any old dark gray Confidant that you may have seen. It's sleek and sharp, and it has a classy cloth cover that makes people stare and ask questions. It also features a sleek silver bookmark for keeping track of the weeks as you move through the year. Overall, this is a Confidant on the outside, but a useful planner format on the inside.


This is a planner, so there are several features that are expected, but the Baron Fig also includes some extras that are welcome additions to the standard weekly planner.

First off, the standard planner format. This is a weekly planner, meaning it has a two-page spread for each week of the year. On the left side of the book, you have Monday through Wednesday. The right side of the book contains Thursday through Sunday, but Saturday and Sunday share a section. It's a great format that mimics what I've seen in other planners from major retailers (Day Runner, Moleskine, etc.)

The right side of the book has a gray index marking to show the current month. This makes it easy to flip between months in the book to quickly find something you need in the future or past.

Apart from that, each day is labeled, and there's a handy week number listed in the top right of the right-hand page. Overall, this is pretty standard for planners.

At the beginning of the book, you have a small area to write pertinent contact details, followed by a quote from Heraclitus:

Time is a game played beautifully by children.

I'm not sure what they're trying to say here, but I'll assume that this refers to the way children perceive time as an endless and limitless resource that we can control and spend at will. Adults, as I understand it, are supposed to plan and manage this time responsibly, hence the need for a planner.

After the quote page, you're greeted by a well-laid-out "year at a glance" calendar over a two-page spread. I'll be referring to this many times over the year, though I'm disappointed that the format starts the week with Monday instead of Sunday. This isn't a die-hard preference of mine since I understand other countries and cultures view the beginning point of the week differently, it will take some adjustment on my part to remember that the calendar is slightly different. This would make sense if the notebook came from outside the US, but I'm a little baffled as to why they chose this format from NYC. Either way, it's really handy for gauging the larger picture.

After the big picture 2017 view, you have a two-page spread for each month of the year. This is great for planning out events for the month, and it also adopts the Monday-first mentality.

Immediately following the monthly view, you're dropped into the first weekly view for the planner. This is the real meat of the notebook and likely where you'll spend most of your time. The first week starts on December 26 and ends on January 1, so you get a few extra days in 2016 to ramp into the new year. This is a nice touch.

The days are roughly 3 inches by 5 inches (except for Saturday/Sunday, which are divided length-wise), and there is plenty of room for making a few notes. If you are looking for a planner that will allow you to map out 8 - 14 hours of your day, this is not the planner for you. There's not enough space (for my writing, anyway) to plan out each hour of the day. For that, you're better off looking at other planners such as the Hobonichi Techo. For me, I'll use this notebook for daily goal planning and accomplishment logging. At the end of 2017, I want to look back at this notebook and get a sense of what I was working through each week of the year. It's more of a logbook as opposed to a detailed planner.

Of course, if you don't operate to a strict schedule (say, you track to 3-5 major tasks each day), then this is a great area to write down and track your tasks and goals for the day. As with any planner system, it is exactly what you make of it. Baron Fig have simply provided a construct for you to operate within. You can choose to be as detailed or abstract as you like. That's the beauty of a system like this. In a way, I really like that they haven't included every hour of the day in the planner. It forces you to step back and look at your day as a whole instead of as a collection of menial, micro-managed tasks. (I'm not saying menial tasks aren't important, but maybe they don't belong in this planner).

Lastly, after you run out of weeks in the year, there are about 26 pages of blank dot-grid pages for notes. These pages at the back of the notebook are unnumbered, but you could easily number them to make note references in the planner section. These notes pages are all bound into the notebook without any perforation.

Another thing to mention is the included insert that displays the entire year on one Confidant-sized card. This will find a place on my desk over the year, and while I'm sure it will be misplaced and re-found several times, it will be an invaluable tool in 2017.

Paper quality

Now, once you get past the function of this notebook, you'll be pleased to note that the paper that Baron Fig uses is the same kind they use in the rest of their notebook line. This shouldn't be a surprise, but it's worth noting since some manufacturers inexplicably change paper lineups between special edition releases. What you've come to love (or hate!) in the regular line of notebooks, you'll get the same quality here. For me, this is a huge positive since the paper handles every kind of pen or pencil with ease. It may not be the most fountain-pen-friendly paper in the world, but it does a really good job of handling different nibs and inks. It's a little scratchy, but I love that feedback. Other people may disagree, and it's probably fair to say that this notebook isn't for them. Again, the Hobonichi features Tomoe River paper, which is one of the smoothest, well-behaved fountain pen papers out there.

Gel inks. ballpoints, rollerballs, pencils — these will perform extremely well with this notebook. Fountain pens — your mileage will vary, but I've been very pleased with all of the Baron Fig notebooks I've used in the past.


The Baron Fig 2017 Planner is going to be a staple on my desk over the coming year. I'm excited to give it a year's worth of abuse and see how it lasts through next December. I'm happy that the paper is of a caliber that accepts all kinds of pens I feel like throwing at it, because, let's face it, I'll switch pens about once a week through 2017. There's still a couple of weeks left to order a planner, and I really recommend the Baron Fig if you want a planner notebook that features a clean aesthetic, good paper quality, and a nice macro weekly layout. Either way, time is running out for you to make a 2017 planner decision!

Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on December 14, 2016 and filed under Baron Fig, Planner Reviews.