Review: Baidercor Space Shuttle Pen, Ballpoint

I don’t remember exactly where I first saw this Baidercor Space Shuttle Pen, but I’ve stumbled across it a handful of times while doing some Fisher Space Pen browsing. But the Space Shuttle Pen and the Space Pen should not be confused, as they are two totally different items. One is a pen I like to travel with, and the other is a cheapo novelty ballpoint made from molded plastic.

Baidercor seems to primarily be a toy company, which makes some sense out the Space Shuttle Pen. It isn’t much of a functional pen, but instead it’s more of a clicky toy for your desk. The big, bulky “Space Shuttle” knock makes the pen both uncomfortable to hold and difficult to keep in your pocket, and the generic black ballpoint ink comes in such a small refill that it surely won’t last long. And, no, a Fisher refill does not fit this pen – I tried.

However, the Space Shuttle Pen does look kind of cool (which is why I bought it in the first place), and I like the variety of fuel tank colors. But this pen does feel a lot cheaper than it looks. So if you find yourself impulse purchasing these pens as I did, maybe just plan to use it as an adornment for your pen cup.

Book Review: Adventures in Stationery by James Ward

Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case by James Ward was published back in 2015. And though it seems like a book that would be right up my alley, it somehow managed to pass me by until now. The same goes for both Ward’s “I Like Boring Things” Blog and The Boring Conference he organizes. However, the goal of his work seems familiar: take something that most people see as “boring” and explain why it’s actually interesting. So I was excited to see how Ward attempts this with the world of stationery products, a topic which he seems to have a genuine passion for.

Adventures in Stationery is one part pop-history, one part ode-to-the-boring, and a sprinkling of dry humor. In many ways, the book is like wandering through a museum of stationery. Ward takes you through chapters about pens and pencils, of course, but you’ll also hear the history of erasers, sticky notes, staplers, paperclips, etc., etc. It’s nothing as in-depth as Mark Kurlansky’s Paper, but Ward makes sure to point out the highlights (so to speak); major moments in the development of these items, as well as any pertinent dramatic or humorous stories.

Ward has a breezy style, and, at under 300 pages, I found it to be fairly easy reading. If you are reading this blog right now, there’s a very good chance that you will enjoy this book. However, I’m not fully convinced that your average man off the street will come out the other end with a newfound interest in stationery items. Of course, I liked the book very much, and so will anyone else who enjoys meandering through office supply shops. But if you’re planning to recommend it at your next book club, you will get a lot of skeptical looks.

Review: Classmate Octane, Gel Ink, 0.5mm

It must have been some combination of boredom and curiosity that led me to order this 5-pack of Classmate Octane gel pens (or, as it turned out, five 1-packs). The Classmate brand is entirely new to me, and I’m not sure that the company actually sells anything in the United States. But I did stumble across these Octane pens on eBay, and at a little over 50 cents per pen, I thought I’d roll the dice. Who knows? Maybe I’d discover the next great gel pen.

With it’s stealthy, black body and high-powered name, the Octane certainly seems cool on the surface. Other positives: it’s a smooth writer and produces a nice, dark ink, but the “Japanese Waterproof Ink,” as Classmate promotes it, does like to smear. And, as one might expect from the price, the all-plastic construction does feel a bit cheap. It has a flimsy clip, and the rubber grip section slides around.

Classmate, a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate ITC Limited (formerly known as The Indian Tobacco Company), probably sells these pens for practically nothing in India. And if you live in that part of the world, it may be worth getting some of these pens for casual use. It is an adequate gel pen after all, but my verdict is that it’s not something worth importing from across the ocean.

Review: Inc Forma, Ballpoint, 1.0mm

After my bad experience with the Inc R-2 rollerball pen, I wasn’t expecting much from the Inc Forma. After all, it does look like a cheap, ballpoint version of the Pilot G-2, and it’s primarily sold at The Dollar Tree. But after using it for bit, I was quickly and pleasantly surprised.

At $1 for a 3-pack, you’re definitely not getting a premium experience with the Forma. The pen is entirely made of plastic, the clip feels very flimsy, and the rubber grip is best described as “soft-ish.” But putting pen to paper, the ballpoint ink in this pen is surprisingly smooth. It doesn’t require much pressure to use, making it a decent writing experience.

On the negative side, the ink isn’t particularly dark, and there’s a small issue with blobbing and smearing. But, really, I don’t have any criticisms that are harsh given that it’s such an inexpensive pen. I’d prefer it over a cheaper BIC ballpoint any day.

Of course, I’d never suggest that anyone go out of their way to buy a pack. The Forma is not, by any means, a great pen. But if you happen to be in need of some cheap ballpoints while at a dollar store, then this is a fine choice.

Notes on Heartbeat Field Notes

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018 (i.e. Valentines Day), Field Notes announced the Heartbeat Edition. A combination of the Wednesday and the Red Blooded editions, the Heartbeat notebooks were not for sale. Instead, 2-packs were included as a free bonus to any order placed on that one specific day.

The Heartbeat Edition is what I’ll call a “re-skinned” edition. The innards are identical to what you’ll currently find in a standard Kraft Field Notes notebook: a light brown graph grid on 60# white paper in the standard pocket-sized (3.5” x 5.5”) dimensions. The cover, however, is different. The outside is a deep (“Sanguine”) red with tan (“Manila Yellow Kraft”) lettering, and that color scheme is reversed on the inside.

There’s nothing spectacularly new to see, but what makes the Heartbeat Edition special is the heart replacing the letter “O” in the Field Notes logo. So don’t fret about the $40+ people are charging for this edition on secondary markets like eBay. While it’s true that Valentines Day doesn’t fall on a Wednesday again until 2024, I’m sure the company will run a similar promotion sooner than that.

Additional Notes

  • Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “03. Meet-Cute Orchestrations”; “06. Times Had at ‘Hello'”; and “30. #9 Recipe.”
  • Apparently some people got Heartbeat pencils! I, sadly, did not.
  • No edition size is listed. So we’ll never know how many Heartbeats are out there.
  • I keep accidentally calling this the “Heartbreak Edition.” Maybe that’ll be the next one!