Pen Review: Namiki Vanishing Point Raden Galaxy

What has to be said about the Vanishing Point must have been said already.  I will share my experiences with my VP from the first time I wrote with it until now.  This pen has been in my pen collection for the entire time of my pen habit.  While I encountered some foibles with it, I continue to keep it inked up week after week.  

To start, it was the first fountain pen that I ordered after many months of deliberation and enabling by Brian Goulet's videos and the Pen Addict podcasts.  It took forever to arrive from the store.  That is, it took a long time compared to what I'm used to for my other Internet shopping experiences, considering that it was coming from a shop in Montreal...there was no need for the package to go through customs! I have no idea why it took so long for them to get it shipped out.  I had a theory at that time that the shop was swamped with back-to-school business.  I had sent an email to ask for an update but never heard back.  Needless to say, I have not been a repeat customer there.

Now, back to the pen itself.  I was really excited to finally get it in my hands and promptly took it for a photo shoot.  Compared to the pen itself, it came housed in a relatively large, black leatherette pen box.  It's a nice box but I promptly stuffed it into my closet and it has since not seen the light of day.

What treasures lie inside?

Handsome pen in a handsome box

The pen has good heft owing to its metal body.  It's well balanced in the hand.  The clip, positioned at the tip of the pen, has not really bothered me at all.  However, recently I started holding the pen more upright, (more on that later) and when I do that, I do notice the clip more.  It's not uncomfortable though.

Behind every great pen stands a great bottle of ink

With great anticipation, I immediately popped in the stock blue cartridge without having cleaned the pen.  I grabbed a Rhodia pad and proceeded to write.  Nothing.  I waited patiently for the ink to prime the feed.  Once primed, it wrote...maybe a few words, then went dry.  I continued to have some problems it.    Hard start, run dry...hmmm, not a great ...start.  Eventually, I realized I had to flush out the pen.  I should have done it from the get go but I was too eager to try it.  After a good flush it wrote better.  After a few flushes, it got increasingly better.  But when I write for awhile or too fast, it tends to still run. 

I find the medium nib to be a bit too wide.  This is a personal preference. When I use it in a smaller notebook like MTN Passport it could get pretty ridiculous with how few words I can fit in a page.  I've also found that I can't always use this medium nib on more absorbent papers.  The feathering and bleeding could get maddening.  I've taken to reverse writing (that is, top nib surface on the paper, feed up) with certain paper/ink situations and this gives me a finer line that helps.  The VP medium nib does reverse writing pretty well. 

Vanishing Point Medium Nib

While watching a recent Goulet Q&A, Brian had mentioned that Pilot had designed nibs with the intention that they be held at a higher angle, say, 60 rather than 45 degrees, for writing Asian characters.  I tried this out and it does help with the soft wide lines.  So I've been trying to hold my pen at this more erect angle but the nib sometimes can be an annoying but it's not a deal breaker.  Holding the pen at a higher angle does not come naturally though so I do find myself holding my pen down at a natural 45 degrees.

The pen nib used to make a squeaky noise when I wrote.  I've checked the tines and found them to be slightly off so I did minor adjustments.  This was well after the warranty period so I figured it couldn't hurt to try.  I also did a bit of smoothing of the nib.  It's writing much better these days with minimal squeaking.  Sometimes it still runs dry after a bout of fast writing.  I'd be curious if anyone else has had squeaky VP nibs and nibs running drop.

I find the medium nib still has too much flow unless I hold it upright as I mentioned earlier.  One of these days I would love to have the nib ground down to an architect fine.  Still, there are occasions when I love using the medium nib on the right paper because the wider lines is more expressive and it helps with shading ink.  What I'm really pining for is to get the extra fine and stub nib units so that I can use the same pen body with different nibs as suitable for the situations.  Oh, who am I kidding, I should just get a couple more VPs with different sized nibs so that I could interchange them.  The VP nib units in black are tempting too.

So, why do I still use this pen?  For the same reasons that led me to get it in the first place.  The click retractable mechanism is brilliant and perfect for one-handed operation.  For quick notes, I can, in one fell swoop, pick up the pen, click, write, click, and put away the pen.  In long meetings, I get a little mental break by playing with the clicker and admiring the 'Galaxy' formed in the body by the inlaid oyster shells.  It's a pretty, sparkly pen.  At the same time, the black pen body with silver furniture is classy and understated.  So, the VP frequently comes with me to meetings along with 1-2 other quick-draw pens that I trust.

Mesmerizing sparkles

It has drawn attention and comments a few times when people see me using the VP.  First, it's such a contrast from my former paperless image.  Second, the pen is pretty sweet looking.  Third, people are surprised to see the fountain pen nib extrude from the click-pen body.

There were a few times when someone asked to borrow my VP and I hesitated ever so slightly and reluctantly handed it over.  I know I should try to have a ballpoint stashed away for those situations, but I try to attend meetings with minimal "stuff".  I'm also usually caught off guard when such requests are made...I don't want to be an old grinch and not share my pen!

Later on I'll post writing samples with this pen using different inks and papers.