Review: IKEA Fullfölja, Gel Ink Pen

Shopping at IKEA can actually be pretty fun. The size and layout of these stores essentially make it a day trip; one full of poor attempts to pronounce Swedish words, small arguments about kitchen decor, and tasty meatball lunches. As I cut through the stationery department on my most recent visit, I found stacks of gel pens with the name Fullfölja – I told you that this stuff is hard to pronounce – and grabbed a 3-pack without hesitation because, well, why not? Impulse buying is an IKEA staple.

As you’d expect from an IKEA design, the pen is simple and straightforward. It’s about 5.5-inches long with an all-black, rounded barrel and a short cap. There is no clip, and the pen is not refillable. For the tip, I couldn’t find any sizing information, but the pen produces a fairly thick line. So I’d wager that the tip size is about 1.0mm. With such a thick line, the ink does smear easily, but it also produces a satisfyingly dark, black ink.

I’ll admit that there’s no shortage of gel pens that, for a similar price, are better than the Fullfölja , but strangely, I like these pens a lot. The design of the pen captures the IKEA brand so perfectly that using one gives me a small hit of the fun/stressful rush you get while shopping at an IKEA. They remind me of the Baron Fig Squire, albeit a plastic version, which I don’t really mind losing if it happens to roll off my table at a coffee shop.

I’m certainly not going to encourage anybody to go out of their way to find these pens, and the prices I’ve found online are ridiculous. But if you happen across these during your next IKEA visit, you might as well toss a 3-pack in your bag for $2.50. I think they’re worth it.

Retro Talk: Yoshimi & The Pink Robots

Retro 1951 and Brad Dowdy (of The Pen Addict) have come together twice before to produce really nice designs for the Tornado, which is one of my favorite rollerball pens. But this latest collaboration, The Pink Robots Tornado, may be evidence in favor of the old saying, “the third time’s the charm.”

I’ll leave it to Dowdy to tell the story behind the pen — he wrote a great post in which he explains it all. But, in short, the design that wraps around the barrel is an illustration created by Matthew Morse, which is an homage to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the song and album by The Flaming Lips. If you haven’t heard it, I encourage you to check it out. It’s good!

Morse’s design for the pen wrap is similar to the original Flaming Lips album cover, albeit in a totally different style. It depicts a young Japanese Girl, Yoshimi, wielding a long, pink sword, ready to do battle with a couple of giant pink robots. The twist, clip, and tip of the pen are a all black, and, on the disk inset at the top of the twist, the “pen addict” logo is centered inside a hot pink background.

In my opinion, the best Tornado designs are the ones that adapt the work of artists, like the Bioworkz Edition and the Joey Feldman Edition, or the ones that tell a story, like the Tiger Shark or the Albert. This Pink Robots Edition manages to do both, which is probably why I like it so much. The bad news is that there were only 500 of these pens produced (I’ve got #156), and they sold out quickly. But with the success of this pen, there’s sure to be plenty of creative stuff coming next time Dowdy and Retro 1951 team up.

Looking Ahead to 2019

There’s no getting around it: 2018 was a hard year, a busy year, and also an exciting year in many ways. On the positive side, I finally managed to finish writing my Nib Novice series. I visited New York City and picked up some stuff from a few cool stationery stores (and also ran the NYC Marathon). I even fixed all my misspellings of “stationery” on this blog.

But, still, I only managed 16 new posts/reviews, which resulted in an 18% decline in pageviews compared to 2017. The most popular post of the year was my review of the Jeffbona In[k]ception pen, but my 2018 pen of the year is probably pretty obvious; the Pilot Vanishing Point. Despite some issues I’ve had with it, it’s a really cool fountain pen that I’ve frequently come back to.

Pilot Vanishing Point

So what’s in store for 2019? As I mentioned last year, I don’t do resolutions very well. So, instead, here are five goals I have for this website:

  1. More book reviews. I didn’t manage to write any of these in 2018, but I found a couple of books on The Well-Appointed Desk’s Gift Guide that sound pretty interesting.
  2. I still use Field Notes pocket notebooks all the time, but I just haven’t had time to write reviews for the many new editions that have been released. That will have to change in 2019.
  3. I’d like to write at least a couple more Off-Topic posts this year.
  4. I need to update my “Five Pens to Try” post. Though I don’t think much will change, it’s been a while since it’s been refreshed.
  5. Finally, I’d like to reverse trends and post a moderate increase in pageviews this year. Assuming I hit the above goals, this should take care of itself.

And, as always, there’s a lot to look forward to outside of the pen world. I’m excited about Avengers Endgame, as well as the finale of Game of Thrones (though I’m pretty sure that the book series will never be finished). I’ll also be running the 2019 Chicago Marathon, and (last but not least) by the end of the year I’ll be married!

So, to everyone reading this, I hope you have a happy, safe, and fun 2019!

Review: AmazonBasics, Gel Ink, 0.5mm

As Amazon.com has become more and more successful, they’ve also been the target of more and more criticism, and the AmazonBasics line of products (Amazon’s “house brand“) is no exception. But whether we’re talking about batteries, power cables, kitchenware, or whatever, I’ve had good experiences with AmazonBasics as a consumer. So, when I saw that Amazon started selling their own retractable gel pens, I had to give them a shot.

Currently, Amazon doesn’t offer many options with these pens. They come in two colors, black or blue, and two sizes, 0.7mm or 0.5mm. The price fluctuates, but they seem to hover around the $6 mark for a pack of 12, which is pretty good for a “premium plastic” style gel pen. For comparison, the Pilot G2 (the most popular pen in this category) is usually double that price.

Since the AmazonBasics gel so much less expensive than its competitors, I’d expected a sharp decrease in quality, but everything has worked well for me over the last month that I’ve been using these pens. They write clean with low smearing, the ink is dark, and the grip section is comfortable to hold. I’ve had no issues with ink leaking, the knock hasn’t jammed, and the plastic clip has so far resisted snapping off.

So, if you’ve not sworn off Amazon after one or more of the company’s controversies, then I have to recommend this pen on its price point alone. It’s not my favorite “premium plastic” gel, but I’ll be happy to keep a box of these in my desk for anyone that comes along asking to borrow a pen. But if you dislike or Amazon, or if the price ever rises, then check out the Zebra Sarasa – it is uncannily similar.

Review: Poketo Linework, Gel Ink, 0.5mm

The Poketo Linework gel pen has one great thing going for it: it looks pretty cool. This retractable pen comes in 5 different designs that each have a distinct architectural look to them. And the “B+W Patterns” design – the one that I picked for myself – reminds me of a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper costume.

The Linework has a thick barrel, making reasonably comfortable to hold, and the gel ink is fairly dark with a low smear. The refill itself is generic (the only marking reads “375-217”), and no ball size is listed anywhere – though, to my eye, it seems to be 0.5mm. But, oddly, Poketo’s website says the pen is refillable with a Zebra Styluspen LV, which is a 1.0mm ballpoint refill.

None of this really matters much, however, because the pen is made so cheaply that it isn’t worth purchasing. The barrel is entirely plastic, the clip is flimsy (mine broke off the first day I used it), the refill is small, and, in the pen I have, it’s also slightly leaky.  If this were a 50 cent pen, I might understand, but Poketo is currently selling these for $4 each (or $18 for all five designs).

Cool designs or not, these pens just aren’t worth that price for the little value and use that you’ll get out of them.

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