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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Review: Asda own-brand Fountain Pen

Today's offering from the desk of this pen-thusiast is the fountain pen featured in my previous post about the Asda Exec Notebook. I picked this up at the same time as the Exec notebook, largely because it was only 85p! Generally speaking, this side of the pond, a fountain pen plus six international standard size ink cartridges for such a paltry sum usually means you're in for patchy performance, inky fingers and an all round poor time. Hmm, how good can this possibly be?

Actually, it's really nice and I'm actually quite impressed with it. Straight out of the pack the pen started right away, producing nice, wet, medium width lines, and the supplied own-brand ink isn't bad either. The pen is supplied with six international standard size cartridges and the ink is rather good, a nice mid-blue, good and wet with a fair degree of opacity; and I don't usually like blue ink that much!

The pen features a plain steel nib, there are no markings to indicate either width or manufacture, though my sources tell me it was made in China. The nib and feed are housed in a black plastic grip section that has areas of raised lines to prevent finger slippage (is that a word?!). The grip section looks a bit cheap, but feels better than it looks and does the job well; and for 85p what did I expect?

The barrel section of the pen is made of a matte, mid-blue plastic which is smooth but not slippery, the same plastic being used for the substantial clip and end cap; the remainder of the cap being made of transparent plastic. There is (unfortunately) a ventilation hole in the end of the barrel, so there goes my cunning plan to turn one of these into an eyedropper fill. Rats!

Speaking of the pen barrel, at 72mm in length, it is long enough to accommodate a spare cartridge; always handy.

Now for some dimensions:

Length (capped): 145mm
Length (uncapped): 122mm
Length (posted): 157mm
Barrel diameter: 11mm
Weight: 11.2g (inc. 2 cartridges)

OK, so this fountain pen is never going to win a design award (I wouldn't have thought), nor is it able to compete with high-end fountain pens, but if what you're after is an inexpensive yet reliable pen to throw into the bottom of your travelling bag, you could do a lot worse than this.

I like it so much that I've bought another three - so that's four fountain pens plus 24 ink cartridges for less than the price of a portion of fish 'n' chips; can't be bad!

At a Glance:

Model: Asda plastic fountain pen
Colour: Mid-blue
Available from: Asda stores in the UK
Price: 85p* (inc. 6 blue ink cartridges)
Nib: Medium
Filler: Cartridge only (international standard size)
Overall: 5 out of 5

[*edit: somebody from Asda must be reading this as the price of these fountain pens has gone up from 85p to a whole £1! Still outstanding value IMHO.]



Frankie said...

My world is turning upside down. After years of stalking high-end retailers for these type of products, who'da thunk that Asda would turn out some good competition?
Luckily, I don't shop there, otherwise my monthly stationery budget would be out the window!

Sam said...

That's the problem, I do shop there and my monthly stationery budget has been blown out of the water! ;)

Thanks for the great comment.

The Missive Maven said...

Ah, now those of us on the other side of the pond can be envious and wonder when we may see this pen in the US.

Sam said...

I'd like to think Wal-Mart might pick it up for the US market. I hope so, for the price it's a nice little pen.

Matthias Meckel said...

Woolworths sold the same fountain pen in another colour until they closed down. My ASDA fountain pen tends to dry out after fairly short periods of non use, so I stopped using it completely.

Sam said...

Matthias - thanks for your comment. WH Smith also sell the same fountain pen, in black if memory serves, but they charge about three times as much as Asda! Can't say I've suffered the drying out problems you have, but thanks for the heads-up, I'll keep a close eye on my Asda fountain pen just in case.

Martin said...

These are quite good. Try a tiny smear of Fairy Liquid (or any surfactant) on a toothpick or paperclip dipped in the first cartridge and the wetness is greatly improved. I found this pen needed that, though its writing ability wasn't too shabby to start with.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried these?
I love em, but struggled to find them for a few years.

John said...

Hi. I had a couple of these pens but the ones I had kept drying out so I threw them away! Nowadays I use better-flowing inks in my pens. The "Fairy Liquid" tip sounds useful too . . .

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