Quite often the pen community will find a “fad” or “obsession” – flex nibs, TWSBIs, sheen and as of late, the Moonman M2 and the Moonman Wancai. Here I have the Wancai to review and to see what all the fuss is about..!
As soon as this pen arrived, I sent pictures to my girlfriend. Her reply was simple and to the point: “I want it!!!”
There are two design aspects about this pen that help make it unique. The first is that it’s a tiny pen, but also has quite a bit of girth to it (see comparisons to the Kaweco Lilliput below). The second is that all the models are demonstrator. The model I have in particular has swirls (or ribbons) within the body to add to the aesthetic – it makes me think of something that Visconti would add in their London Fog range, for example, but at a fraction of the price.
The design does the pen well because of the opportunity to eyedropper this pen which means a large amount of the barrel will contain ink that you can see and this also adds to the design of the pen and gives it a sort of “customisable” feel because you could choose a pink ink one day and a yellow another. I do recommend using lighter inks in these sorts of pens as they give a really nice translucent look. It’s also better when the ink doesn’t stick to the barrel as much and flows nicer within the barrel as the ink level goes down. For reference, consider things such as Diamine Hope Pink, Pelikan Mandarin or Blackstone Golden Wattle (a favourite of mine to have in demonstrators).
I am interested to see whether or not the swirls are the same on all the pens that come in the swirl design. In the case of the Visconti London Fog, each pen has its own identity because the swirls aren’t the same across all pens (of course this does result in buyers being unhappy because sometimes they have next to no swirls at all). Given the price point, I doubt this is the case. But given the Visconti QC issues with the swirls, perhaps this is a good thing, rather than a bad?
The nib on the Wancai is an iridium point Germany (IPG) nib. It does the job, doesn’t look particularly pleasing to the eye, but it does what it’s supposed to do. While this pen does come from Asia, the nib grades aren’t similar to what you’d find in an Asian pen. The only nib grade that you can get is a fine nib, so your only options (should you wish to change the line width) is to go finer or look for another nib that will fit the pen and use that. These are standard #5 nibs, so the search shouldn’t be too difficult.
The writing experience is very pleasant. It writes on the wet side and there’s a touch of feedback to it, which I quite enjoy. As a steel nib, you shouldn’t expect any significant line variation and I wouldn’t advocate pressing too hard because it’s not advertised as a flex nib. Reverse writing becomes quite scratchy – it would be okay for a few words or so, but I wouldn’t really want to write like it for extended sessions.
As stated above, this is a small pen. It’s a pocket pen and the idea is to post the cap so you get a (close to) full size pen. While it’s not the largest posted, it’s unusable if you don’t post it. Here are some size comparisons – in particular the Kaweco Lilliput may be of interest to some.
It’s a lightweight pen – I have pens whose caps weigh more than the cap and body combined, but it’s still pleasant to write with.
The pictures on the Internet seem to indicate that people prefer this as an eyedropper pen. When purchasing from Pure Pens, you get a nice box with a number of black small international cartridges and also a pipette that you can use so you’re ready to go regardless of how you want to fill (provided you have a bottle of ink for the eyedropper method). Personally I think using a cartridge is a bit silly because it just looks odd in the pen. Further to this, cleaning the pen isn’t terribly difficult and even if you’re someone who likes to change inks a lot, you get about 2.5ml in a fill – which isn’t a huge amount for eyedroppers (it’s about two and a half converter fills, or just under two piston fills).
This pen occupies a nice price point. At £20 you get a pen with a large ink capacity and is a demonstrator but is cheaper than the TWSBI Eco. Though, at the same time you are restricted with nib sizes/grades, stuck with an IPG nib (this will bother some more than others) and if you’re not looking for a pocket pen then this will be a bummer as well, compared to the likes of a TWSBI.
But it also makes it economical and a pen that you can always rely on when you’re on the go. It’s not a huge investment, but it looks nice, writes well and does its job. I don’t think that £20 is extortionate.
While other places you can find the pen for cheaper (no more than £5 when considering shipping), it makes more sense to buy from a retailer because you get the customer service that comes with it but should anything not be right with the pen, you have a point of contact and a way of sorting it out. £20 is cheaper than £30 if you need to buy a second pen because the first one was a dud. In addition, I have only had pleasant experience when buying from Pure Pens, where this pen was donated from, so I’d feel happy giving an extra £5 for this customer service and also to support a company within the UK.
Would I buy it?
I like quirky things. Seeing pictures of this pen posted relentlessly on certain forums does get a bit annoying, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad pen. For such a low price I don’t think you can really go wrong. It’s certainly on the more expensive side for Chinese pens, but considering it’s actually cheaper than a TWSBI Eco, I think it’s a pretty decent buy.
I will probably end up with another one of these to give to the ‘other half’ because she was so enthusiastic about the pictures.
If not this, then what?
I’ve mentioned throughout the review about the Kaweco Liliput and the TWSBI Eco, which I think are good starting places when considering alternatives to this pen. The Kaweco Lilliput is good if you want a pocket pen that won’t break the bank (though is more expensive than the Wancai) but you want one that doesn’t have as much girth, because the Wancai certainly is a small and fat pen. The Eco is a good call for those who are looking for a demonstrator (again that won’t break the bank) but more of a full size and that will fit the hand better. If you want a full size pen and a smaller girth, there’s always the Elysee pens, but these are vintage and are sometimes difficult to come across. Though, they are gold nibs. A few more size comparisons may be handy here:
There are a number of vintage pens that you could look for if you’re looking for a small pen – the Conway Stewart 550 (aka Dinkie) and the Parker Vacumatic Debutante both come to mind. These will be gold nibs, but be careful of the condition that they come in and they will also require more maintenance than the Wancai.
Disclaimer: This pen was sent to be from Pure Pens in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own.