Super 5 Fountain Pen (Delhi)

  • Where to buy: Papier Labor [Here]
  • Price: €24.90
  • Recommend?: A tad overpriced in my opinion. The nib is very smooth and is pleasant to write with but wouldn’t recommend to a beginner or over and above some other pens, such as the TWSBI Eco.

Orange is the new black? Ahh, c’mon. You knew it was coming. After my Blue Sea review I feel pressured to keep up the puns.. Anyway, while I’m not a fan of the show, I am definitely a fan of this pen.

Super 5 name their inks and pens after geographical locations:

  • Delhi – Orange
  • Darmstadt – Black
  • Australia – Burgundy
  • Arctic – White (pen only)
  • Atlantic – Blue
  • Dublin – Green
  • Frankfurt – Grey (ink only)

And the pens are identified in rather peculiar ways, if you ask me. The one I was sent is the Super 5 ‘B’. It’s said to be a calligraphic 1.5mm nib. It’s not. It can be found on their website for €24.90 which I personally find rather steep. Throw in a couple more quid and you can get yourself a TWSBI Eco. I like this pen, but I prefer the Eco.

When I first opened the package containing this pen, which was kindly sent to me by a fellow United Inkdom reviewer, whom received the pen from Super 5 themselves for review purposes, I was a little taken back and my first impression wasn’t entirely positive. But never judge a book by its cover! I promptly inked it up by syringe filling the small standard international cartridge that is supplied with the pen (as the converter you have to pay for separately) with the Super 5 Delhi ink and put the nib to the paper and my first negative impressions had disappeared.

Super 5 fountain pen

The nib is smooth. Really smooth. The sort of smooth that if you were in the bar with your significant other, they would be going home with this nib instead; it’s that smooth. Of course, part of this is attributed to the fact that it’s a broad nib, which are generally smoother than finer nib grades due to the way that they are made in order to be broad. If you wanted a smooth nib but with a little feedback, this is not for you. I am not really sure where the nibs are sourced; whether they are made in house (which personally I doubt but I may be wrong) or if they’re from an outside company. They are certainly not Bock or JoWo nibs.

 

The nib is nice and wet, though in the writing sample below, it might not seem that way but I’d put it down due to the ink being fairly dry, because the line it lays down initially is very wet indeed.

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Reverse writing is doable but not very pleasant to write with. It also runs dry very quickly. In terms of line variation, it’s already quite a broad nib and there’s not much give to it; it’s quite stiff. Can squeeze some out, though.

fullsizeoutput_6d6The final point on the nib is that the nib keeps up with the wet flow when fast writing. I cannot work out what I wrote, it was a while ago. I suppose I was practising my doctor’s handwriting.

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“Fast writing the feed keeps up well. A..” I give up.

The section is larger than others and made of plastic, so it isn’t slippy and is also comfortable as you can hold a little higher up the section – if that’s what you usually want to do.

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It is clear to see that the pen is strikingly orange. This is what put me off; it’s a plastic pen and it’s bright orange. I’m no stranger to gaudy and ostentatious pens, but for some reason on first inspection this didn’t do it for me. After pairing it with the Delhi ink, I sort of became to appreciate it and I do like the contrast with the black clip. There are other colours, however, so if orange is a deal breaker then you can always go for white, black, blue, green or red. While it is plastic, I would be careful converting it to an eyedropper.

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Which segues nicely — for some unknown reason to me, the blind cap screws off. I have no clue what purpose this serves. But this means there are additional threads that you will need to be careful with if you do convert it into an eyedropper. As well as the blind cap, the finial also unscrews. Again. Do not know why, because even if you remove the clip which is held in place by the finial, the piece of plastic doesn’t screw on all the way and so leaves a gap in between the finial and the cap body itself. For pedantic people like myself, this is a no go. In addition to this, every single thread is squeaky. Including the one to get to the converter/cartridge.

 

fullsizeoutput_6d9I really don’t understand why you can do this.

All in all, I’m not disappointed by the pen – quite confused by it, admittedly, and I’d be hesitant to pay the price listed, but it writes and it’s a nice experience. Quality control could be a little better though.

Pros:

  • Very smooth nib
  • Can be disassembled, if that’s something that interests you
  • Feed works and keeps up well
  • Various colours you can try as well as nib options

Cons: 

  • Why do you need to take off the finial and blind cap?
  • Expensive for what it is

Robert Oster – Deep Sea

  • Where to buy: iZods UK [Here] (one of the few places I have seen stock this ink – particularly in the UK)
  • Price: £14.50
  • Bottle size: 50ml
  • Shading: Some
  • Sheening: Yes
  • Recommend?: If you’re into teal inks that lean a little bit closer to green, then this is for you.

I’m on my third cup of coffee. I feel I’m coming down with a cold or something and I’m very very tired. One thing I am not tired of, however, are these Robert Oster inks. Now, a disclaimer – for me, Blue Sea wins between these two inks. I’m very enthusiastic to get a few more of the Oster inks, particularly the blue ones, just to compare them. But this review is of Deep Sea. Yep. It has sea in the name, but I don’t have the brain power right now to think of puns so you’re spared.

Prior to getting these inks from iZods to review, I actually had a small sample of this ink from a pen meet-up I go to each month in London. It was about the time that I first had a sample of Pelikan’s Aquamarine and this is what started my love for teal inks. Deep Sea pushed me ‘deeper’. In comparison to Pelikan’s ink, Deep Sea is a darker teal – much darker. I did get one comment regarding my previous post from someone saying that I should include more comparisons between inks, so I took four swatches of inks I thought were rather similar, though the fourth one is a little far stretched to be ‘similar’. Being a dark ink, I thought it would be useful to highlight it’s more true-teal than lending itself towards green.

fullsizeoutput_670In my opinion, the ink sits very nicely between Blue Suede and Aquamarine (well, it sits above and left of respectively, but you get the idea). I included Ebony Green (which I have also reviewed) because it’s a very dark green, and this is a dark teal. When writing with it I was questioning whether it was more green, but this highlights it quite nicely and demonstrates that this is not the case.

Something to point out – of all the inks, when doing the swatches it was Deep Sea which was the wettest. No surprises, Aquamarine was the driest. Noticeably wetter than Private Reserve, but not excessively. I think noticeably is the best word to describe it.

In terms of behaviour, I was very impressed. The ink flows well (it lubricates very nicely) and is easy to clean out of pens. I think we still see Oster inks as the ‘new kid on the block’ (and not for a bad reason, but because the inks have made such a sudden impact on our community) and I would ordinarily be a little cautious of putting them in, say, my Pelikan M800 which is one of my favourite pens if it’s a new brand (the best example would probably be KWZ). From my experience everything has been fine.

Like inside the pen, the ink is also well behaved on paper. On Rhodia it appears a little darker than normal, depending on how you catch it in the light (mainly with ‘ink’, I can definitely remember why I wold consider this as a green-black/teal)

fullsizeoutput_66fAs I said, it looks similar to Blue Suede but a darker shade

fullsizeoutput_671img_5436On cheaper paper the ink actually appears lighter, which I find interesting. Can see showthrough, but bleedthrough is only really where I’ve pushed down when trying to get line variation.

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Pros:

  • Teal
  • Wet and flows well

Cons:

  • Nothing that really makes it wow me
  • Perhaps a bit too dark for what I’d expect from a teal

Robert Oster – Blue Sea

  • Where to buy: iZods UK [Here] (one of the few places I have seen stock this ink – particularly in the UK)
  • Price: £14.50
  • Bottle size: 50ml
  • Shading: Yes!
  • Sheening: No
  • Recommend?: This has become my favourite ink and absolutely yes. Get it.
    • Update 28th June ’17 – This ink is still my favourite and I stand by how amazing it is.

Play along with me. Buy a bottle of ink for every dreadful sea related pun I make. The first bottle is a given because after reading, I can assure you’ll want to buy this ink:

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Inside my TWSBI Eco. Ohhhh, I’m such a tease.

Apparently this year, the famous Blue Monday (which typically occurs on the third Monday in the month of January) was the worst of the years since the formula was devised in 2005 and it was indeed something I felt. But it wasn’t bad – it was enjoyable. Why? Because I was using a blue ink – an AMAZING blue ink. So it was (good) Blue Monday for me this year. I’m going to tell you why this ink is absolutely phenomenal and I hope you’ll sea why (I’m so glad I got that out of my system).

For the United Inkdom meta review, I was sent the ‘sea’ Robert Oster signature inks. I have been fortunate enough to try out Deep Sea before, just as my teal ink fascination (perhaps that’s an understatement? Obsession?) was beginning to flourish. Along with the hype around Fire and Ice in the bloggersphere, it’s pretty safe to say that I went in with high expectations, especially as this ink is also a blue. From using Fire and Ice myself, I’d say that this ink is more saturated and a touch darker. Personally, I think Blue Sea blows Fire and Ice out of the water (ha).Robert_Oster_Blue_Sea_Ink_ReviewFire is hot, sure. But this ink is hotter.

I’m a blue guy. I think the number of blues I have in my collection outnumber other inks, though I’m not certain on this. However, I think what makes me think it’s a better shade than Fire & Ice is because I’m not one for sheen. Sure, it’s fun and interesting and cool, but it isn’t a necessity for me. Another colour, Majestic Blue, has very intense red sheen as well. So if you wanted a sheening blue, perhaps try those two. In terms of shading, I wouldn’t characterise it as  Noodler’s Apache Sunset, Mont Blanc Irish Green or Diamine Autumn Oak (to name a few..) but it isn’t Diamine Orange which is incredibly flat and two dimensional. I adore conservative shading inks, so this is definitely one of the reasons I enjoy this ink.

Robert_Oster_Blue_Sea_Ink_Review
Revision and also something for an ink review. Two birds with one stone. Electrode potentials, for anyone interested..? Written in a Rhodia A4 notebook on Clairefontaine paper.
Robert_Oster_Blue_Sea_Sample
Rhodia A5 stapled notebook

In terms of shade, I would say that Blue Sea is definitely on the lighter side, but I wouldn’t call it a turquoise. For point of reference, it’s darker than Diamine Sapphire Blue. While I’ve been called out once before (namely as a result of my pedantic stance on the nomenclature of the Private Reserve inks I was reviewing a while back) so I hope I don’t rock the boat here, but I may as well mention that in comparison to other ‘sea’ inks, like Diamine Sargasso Sea, it is much much lighter, but more of a true blue in comparison to that of the greenish-blue, Caribbean Sea by Caran d’Ache. That’s my naming convention plug done for the review. Smooth sailing from here on out (I’m not even sorry). I would say it’s a more saturated, less.. Uh.. Paint like ink than Britannia’s Blue Waves. I never really realised how many sea-themed inks there are.

This is an ink that will beat any sinking feeling that you’ll experience on days like Blue Monday, so sail on over to iZods and pick up a bottle or two.. Or, uh, how many dreadful puns was that?

Pros:

  • The most beautiful ink ever
  • Performs well
  • Nicely saturated
  • Isn’t an excessive shader but you can definitely notice it

Cons:

  • Don’t be silly

Disclaimer: I was sent these samples from iZods in exchange for an honest and fair review. All views expressed are my own and I did not receive any compensation as part of my review.

Darkstar Collection Notebooks

I honestly find it astonishing that Darkstar has only been around for a little over a year. Starting at the end of 2015, Darkstar have constantly been making their handmade UK notebooks better and better and better. Nothing’s perfect, and unfortunately I can’t say they’re Leuchtturm A5 (I say A5 for a reason, which I will explain below) or Rhodia level yet, but I can, without a doubt, see them heading that direction and taking the UK market by storm and I hope one day to see them being a major player within the international market challenging the names I just mentioned. Based in the United Kingdom, Darkstar handcraft their notebooks in a way that I can best describe as “personal”. I’m going to throw this out there so you can skip this part if you want – I’m going to talk a little about the business and why I appreciate them. Not about the notebooks themselves, I’ll start that after the next paragraph:

I first came across Darkstar on their Instagram page a while back. What gravitated me towards them was their interaction with their followers/customer base. One of the things that made me jump down this rabbit hole within the fountain pen(/stationary) hobby was the community. Darkstar do not let go of this, and that’s one of the things that makes using these notebooks so pleasurable; it’s all something that adds to the writing experience and that’s why I think it’s important to mention within the review because that’s something that I do not get when I am using a Leuchtturm notebook. They have nice colours, sure. Contents and individually numbered pages, that’s cool. But were the notebooks handmade? Do you know what went into the notebooks? These aren’t Mont Blanc pen notebooks for the businessmen/women, they’re custom made hand turned pen notebooks for the individual.

As I said, the company has been constantly improving their notebooks, and the version they’re at now still isn’t them at the top of their game. I did run into one or two issues with the notebooks. One being that the pages are rather prone to tearing out easily. The only other issue I ran into was the paper quality. While not disastrous, again, not Rhodia level (though, I would say better than the Leuchtturm Master, which is why I say it’s not disastrous; just not perfect).

The two notebooks I received came in a beige colour (akin to the kraft Field Notes) and a sleek matte black notebook with an interesting cover. It feels sort of like rubber but.. Not.. I honestly have no idea how to explain it. But from certain angles it looks like a regular notebook without the branding that you see on the beige notebook. If you want stealthy notebook, this is the one that you want.

When using fountain pens, I love being able to feel the ink. On this paper, I find that rather difficult as the characteristics of the ink is reduced and the line feels almost two dimensional, rather than three with things such as shading. Of course, no doubt this will be improved in further versions.

In terms of the tone, I wouldn’t call it white like Clairefontaine (which is what I personally prefer), but very very very slightly creamier. This might be part of the reason why I say the writing feels 2-D, because that’s what I feel when I write in Leuchtturm. I won’t say anything negative about the tone of paper, because that’s a purely personal preference.

fullsizeoutput_572Also works well with rollerballs; I have noticed a lot of feathering and bleed through on my Retro 51 when using it even in the Leuchtturm A5. The paper makes the ink behave very well. I feel that Darkstar have been able to tame the ink with their paper (which is certainly the priority), but a slightly glossier paper would do me. Again, this is personal preference. The dry time is still very very good. Not as long as Rhodia, but it doesn’t dry immediately. Some of you may know that I am left handed and I write hooked. By the time my hand runs over the line, it has dried fine.

In terms of the quality of the paper, it performs very well. It even handles my (admittedly terrible) flexing in a vintage Parker rather nicely. No bleedthrough, but I do notice ghosting. Again, a personal preference but I don’t mind ghosting as I think it adds character to what I’m writing. On closer inspection, I do notice that there’s feathering on my Sheaffer italic nib. Ever so slight, but it’s there. When using my Jinhao 1200, which is an absolute gusher, I don’t get that, so perhaps it’s partly to do with that particular nib rather than the paper.

I also notice that the quality control of their paper is a little hit or miss. However, when I say this, these notebooks were testers. I will not say whether you should or should not give them the benefit of the doubt in terms of quality control (including the binding issues, though it was an issue previously on their earlier releases) but something that I wanted to make you aware of. The individual sheets aren’t all flush and some pages in the black notebook are sometimes printed without the dot layout and just plain. I will say though, the notebooks are no strangers to laying flat!

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Notebook laying flat!
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As you can see, the left side is printed plain and the right side is dotted.

Binding issue.img_5020

All in all, while not at the top of their game, I know that Darkstar will continue to improve. If there are two things I hope to see in the future, it would be an A4 hardback with an improved binding and glossier paper. No doubts I can see the A5 being a big hit in future versions.

Disclaimer: I received these notebooks free of charge in exchange for an honest review and had no other compensation. All opinions expressed are my own. I would like to thank the folks over at Darkstar for the opportunity to review these notebooks, as well as the motivational images that brighten my Monday morning.