The Wait and The Arrival
What is more annoying than waiting for a fountain pen shipped from across the globe? Waiting for two fountain pens shipped from across the globe. But thanks to the amazing transportation technology, these two pens arrived in Texas, USA from New Delhi, India in 9 days!
Why do I look forward to the pens? Well first, it is a $20 piston filler fountain pen … times 2.
I’m about 3-months into the hobby and already I have joined the rank of those who covet piston filling system more than anything else — yep, I’m up to my neck in the quicksand by now.
Secondly, I have come to like the FPR Indus (and Jaipur) family of pens based on what I read online and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.
And since I got these during the month of November in which Kevin, the FPR boss is doing a special, a BOGO on the Indus, hence, the two pens.
As a side note, right after I ordered the pens on the FountainPenRevolution.com, I emailed Kevin asking for the free one to be a demonstrator, because I definitely want the burgundy model. And he obliged! Talk about a good customer service. So now I have both the demonstrator and the one I ordered, the burgundy, both with flex nibs. Yay!
The Look and Feel
The plastic looks, well, like plastic. But there is a reason why I am attracted to the Indus model because it looks cool and official. I love the shape of the top, the ball at the end of the clip and the gold trimming that complements the colors (both the burgundy and the demonstrator alike). The flex nib is just gorgeous. Two tone large (#5.5 size I think) nib that has nice engravings to satisfy the eyes.
The pen itself is not heavy but it’s not a feather either. I love how the demonstrator version showcase the piston mechanism and what fountain pen enthusiast can resist the sight of ink sloshing around inside the barrel?
Here is the part that some of you have been waiting for Pens made in India has a peculiar smell that I’ve been able only to read about in countless online threads where the number of those who can’t stand it is about equal to those who dismiss it as mere minor annoyance.
Well, to my nose, the smell is not terrible, but I definitely won’t unconsciously putting this pen anywhere near my face, at least until the smell dissipated.
The smell does rub on my hand after writing with the pen a while. Curiously, the burgundy Indus almost *DOES NOT* smell, but the demonstrator’s smell is quite strong. So if you are wary about the smell, feel free to order the burgundy model.
Let’s Use It
I’ve read the one caution that is plastered all over the internet about using a new fountain pen for the first time: Flush with water (and a tad of soap).
So, being an impatient geek, I of course threw that particular caution to the wind and opened my Diamine Kensington Blue and inked up the demonstrator model right away.
Why the demonstrator first? Because I want to see the piston mechanism at work. And went to work it does, at first it didn’t draw hardly any ink, until I realize that I have to expel all the air inside the barrel with the nib inside the ink, two more sets of turns and the Indus is filled with ink.
Now where the rubber meets the road, or in this case where the controlled ink leak onto the paper system is tested. I start writing and the pen delivers! No hard start, no waiting time for the feed to be saturated with ink, it just starts to write.
Now, this is hardly a surprise to me, most reviews of this pen states that the Indus will write out of the box. But still, for a $20 pen with a special nib, that is quite impressive.
The flex on the nib is functional. It requires a deliberate effort to product the line variation but it is definitely there. Since the nib is M when I’m writing regularly, the line variation is not as extreme as a Waterman Ideal New York nib for example, but as you can see in the writing sample, the nib coaxes the beautiful shading of the Kensington Blue ink quite readily.
So here is my summary:
- Is it cool or stylish?
I think so. I like piston filler pens. To me, a mechanism that’s built into the pen itself to fill up ink directly in the barrel is very cool. So any piston-fillers that works got a bonus “cool” point from me already.As far as style, I think the Indus is quite stately but not boring. I like the gold trims, it’s not gaudy or overdone, just right. The Demonstrator model adds to the cool-factor by allowing you to see the ink and the piston mechanism. Overall I recommend this pen based on styling and cool-factor.
- Does it feel cheap?
Yes. When I compare the Demonstrator next to my TWSBI Mini, I can tell just by looking and feeling, the TWSBI is better made. Even Parker Jotter (the ballpoint) has a beefier construction. Having said that, I like the Indus just for what it is, a neat plastic pen that has unique combination of feature that is not overpriced. So although it feels cheaper — relative to other pens, it does not feel like it will break apart soon. It is ultimately a functional and neat pen. I would not dismiss this pen based on how it feels in the hand, rather how it looks and performs.
- Is it comfortable to write with?
Yes. This pen is not heavy, it writes in regular F-M line width and ready to be flexed anytime. The length of the pen is just right in my hand, I can use it with the cap posted at the end or not. I can use this pen — with the same ink on good paper, also on cheap paper without any noticeable feathering or bleed-through.Now let’s talk about the “flex”. To get wide lines, it requires quite a bit of pressure, but the nib is constructed to take quite a bit of abuse, so the line variation is quite impressive, however, since pressure is involved, more ink are layered on the paper, some papers can handle that, others would bleed-through or feather like crazy.
- Is it a good value?
Yes. Where else can you get a Flexible nib + Piston-filling + Demonstrator + Works without tweaking + Decent styling for $20?Honestly, I’m a bit tired of manufacturers who seem to just want to play it safe, cranking out cartridge fountain pens one after another, never dared to revisit old concepts, experiment with it, and continue to push the envelope in fountain pen design. Yet at the same time wants us to pay $50 for a standard boring pen without any innovations.
FPR stands out in this regard. I really like what they are about, plus their attention to customer needs and wants.
- Who would I recommend it to?
If you like piston-filler fountain pens, it’s worth getting this pen just for that. The flex nib is a bit of a novelty, but if you aren’t into vintage pens yet, it is a good alternative to practice writing with flex nibs without being too afraid to destroy it (the nib, not the handwriting). I would also recommend to order this and forget about it. Even 9 days is a long time to wait for something that you really want to try.