Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen and Zebra Mini Ballpoint


Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news… The good news is that I have some new stuff to review (Yay!). The bad news, is that I’ve decided to take a hiatus from Pens’n’Paper (Boo!)… I know, I can already hear the hissing and “buts” on people’s lips as I write this, but there are several valid reasons for my putting a pause on my blogging endeavours. Firstly, cost… In today’s economy, with me being a poor college student working a part-time job, I am already experiencing mental angst when paying out for a tank of gasoline. It’s been over a month since I’ve bought a pen or a notebook, because I simply look at the price and can’t justify purchasing it. I have over 300 barely used pens and 100 notebooks lying around in nice orderly boxes at house, and even my obsession for pens can’t overrule my super-thin wallet… Secondly, I’m short on time… Between, church, work, girlfriend, school, and the million other things I have to do, blogging just hasn’t been a priority lately, and for that I apologize. So, after I complete two more reviews, I will be taking a sabbatical. No, Pens’n’Paper won’t be shut down. I still plan on paying for the domain name and leaving it up as a resource, and perhaps even returning to it someday.

But anyhoo, enough of my pity partying, let’s get on to today’s review…

 Up for a look today are two tiny pens which were sent to me by the amazing Andrew from over at MyMaido.com. The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo and Zebra Mini Ballpoint both are extremely small and would easily slip into the pine of your favorite high-end notebook or clip onto the rings of your spiral wound.

The Pilot Birdie Switch Combo Pen is interesting in that it’s a self-contained multi-pen with a pencil on one end and a ballpoint pen on the other. In order to switch from pencil to pen or vice-versa, you simply remove the cap (similar to most old-fashioned mechanical pencils) and place it on the opposite end. The Birdie features a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil and a 0.5mm black ballpoint and also comes with a black refill for the ballpoint.

This combo pen/pencil is a decent offering from Pilot. The mechanical pencil is mechanically sound and the supplied lead is smooth. The ballpoint is a bit scratchy, but that’s something I’ve come to expect from fine-tipped ball points, so I won’t harp on it too much. My main qualm about this combo is the fact that there’s no eraser… Having a mechanical pencil is kind of pointless if there’s no eraser available, but I guess it was sacrificed due to size.

Next up, we have the Zebra Mini 0.5mm Ballpoint. This small pen features a clip retracting mechanism, so in order to retract the tip, you have to push down on the clip, releasing the spring. The ballpoint writes relatively smooth, again a little scratchy because of the fine point, and the sleek barrel is an attention-getter. This pen also came with a refill, so that when you run out of ink you can replace it and continue on.

Both of these pens feature stainless construction and are very small (see the picture where they are compared with a dime), and would not be out-of-place on any person’s notebook. Thanks again Andrew for the awesome opportunity to review these two items from MyMaido.com!


Kikkerland Retro Pens and Magnifier Bookmarks (and Giveaway)


“Pictures first, then the review? Have you gone mad!?” Maybe, maybe not… It’s just been that kind of day around here today, lol… Up for review today are Kikkerland Retro Pens as well as two different magnifier bookmarks sent to me by the lovely Laura… The book magnifiers are cute, one being a camera and one being a magnifying glass, and seem to be rather useful (although I don’t really have a use for them as of yet, since I’m not that blind) for seeing small type as well as keeping one’s place in a book.

The pens, however, were a bit of a disappointment. While the design truly was interesting, the quality of these pens did not impress me. The aesthetics truly were wonderful. I looked at them and was instantly reminded of the pens given out by churches, banks, and other institutions, back when they weren’t so stingy with their promotional products. The plastic body colors were randomly contrasted, and the only branding was a small Kikkerland stamp on the slip.

The problem started when I tried to write with them… The ballpoint was scratchy, something that I didn’t really expect, but no matter what paper I tried it on, the metal around the ball kept catching and trying to tear the paper. As I mentioned before, I was disappointed, since I was expecting a little bit more quality from a designer/distributor of fine products.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s your chance to find out for yourself! I’m going to be giving away the two magnifiers, as well as all of the “Retro Pens”… So, the rules are that the first two people chosen will get a magnifier and a pen. The other three winners will be sent a retro pen and a random pen I happen to have in my stash (so you never know what’cha gonna get 😉 ).  Now, for the rest of the nominal rules…

Giveaway Rules:

1. Leave one comment on this post anytime between now, and Mondaynight (November 15th) at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.  You are limited to one entry. If you know someone who might be interested, feel free to direct them here!

2. For this contest, I will pick one winner at random from the comments section of this post.  The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on.  The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.

3. The contest winner will be posted on Tuesday, November 16th.  The winner will have one week to email me at the address posted in the “Contact Info…” section of the right sidebar. If the winner does not e-mail me within a week, I will post a new winner the next day…

4. As of this time, I cannot ship internationally, so this content is open to US residents only. I will pay shipping to anywhere in the United States…

Good Luck!

Note: I am not an employee nor and I am in any way affiliated with Kikkerland or Leuchtturm1917. This review is in no way affected by the fact that this item was a free sample from Kikkerland.

Sharpie Liquid Pencil – 0.5mm

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Pen #67.
Sharpie Liquid Pencil – 0.5mm

Having heard about these for the past couple weeks, I nearly fell over in my chair whenever “twistdfate”, a fellow pen aficionado/Twitter conversationist (check out her knitting on her Etsy page: TwistdFate) asked whether I might like to try some. Since they are not yet currently available in my area (nothing seems to get to WV until about 2 months after it’s released), I gladly accepted her kind offer, and not more than a week later, there they were in my mailbox!

So, I got them out, slightly pensive due to the negative reviews I had seen on The Pen Addict as well as Office Supply Geek, and was quickly rewarded with the same negative thoughts that both other reviewers had… While the design of a liquid graphite pencil is not exactly revolutionary, I must say that I was expecting far more from a name like Sharpie… While the design of the pen itself was sturdy and relatively comfortable to use, the liquid graphite left very much to be desired. I can even say that the Pentech Liquaphite pens/pencils did a better job at it than Sharpie did…

“Why was this liquid graphite pen so horrible”, you ask? The reason for my instant dislike was the fact that I clicked the retractable plunger and applied the pen(cil) to paper… And nothing happened… I scribbled for several seconds thinking, “Well, maybe since it was in the post and had been used before it’s a little shook up and just needs ‘reactivated’…” Nope… I scribbled for several seconds more and finally got it to start writing… Sort of… The ink line laid down on the paper was very faint and horribly skippy, and did not really improve over time (see review photo for ink sample). I will say that the ink did erase very well, but that could be possibly due to the fact that there was barely any ink laid down.

The biggest let-down of all though was that I expected more… I’m not sure what the problem was, but Sharpie must’ve been in way too much of a hurry to get this pen onto shelves or something, because the quality is far below Sharpie standards. I only hope that before the next batch leaves the factory that they figure out the problem and fix it before many other people unwittingly see the name brand and think it must be a great pen… Better luck next time Sharpie…

Final Score: 3.7/5

Pentel Rolly C4 0.7mm Ballpoint Multi-Pen – Black, Blue, Red, and Green

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Pen #59.
Pentel Rolly C4 0.7mm Ballpoint Multi-Pen – Black, Blue, Red, and Green 

As I was picking out some free stuff from Staples (gotta love Reward programs), I noticed the Rolly C4 hanging on the shelf. Well, I hadn’t ever seen it before, so I assumed it was a new item that they had just started carrying. So, of course, I picked one up… 

The Pentel Rolly C4 features four different ballpoint ink colors (black, blue, red, and green) and it’s 0.7mm tips write relatively smoothly, albeit a little light for my taste. The ink also wasn’t very dark (if you’ll look at the review form you’ll notice you can hardly even see the green at all). 

My main problem with this pen was design. The grip ends suddenly (with a cliffhanger edge) instead of tapering to meet the tip of the barrel. Also, the mechanics don’t seem very sturdy. While I was writing with selected tip, if I pressed down very hard (almost a necessity with a ballpoint) the ink cartridge would flex and bend inside the barrel, causing weird writing angles, wrist strain, and scratching…


Final Score: 36/50 = 3.6/5




Bic Atlantis 0.1mm Retractable Ballpoint Pens – Black, Blue, Red, and Green


Pen #57.
Bic Atlantis 1.0mm Retractable Ballpoint Pens – Black, Blue, Red, and Green

Well, I’ve been slacking off on my reviews… So, time to get caught up. We had purchased some of these pens for use around the office at work, and I must admit that when first using one, I was not very impressed. On giving these a second try, I did lose some of my earlier disliking, but they still rank as just an run-of-the-mill ballpoint in my book…

The Atlantis features a built-in rubber grip (which I consider to be one of it’s coolest features). While other rubber grips are just that (rubber), this one seems to be almost a gel grip which almost holds onto my fingers, rather than the other way around…

The 1.0 tip size was a little daunting to me at first, but I kind of wonder if it’s not a misnomer. The actual line width is more reminiscent of a 0.7mm tip than a 1.0 mm. They do write relatively smoothly, but like most ballpoints, the ink skips as you write (which is almost a sin for a perfectionist like myself. I catch myself going back and “finishing” lines all the time).

For $1.00 at Staples, these weren’t really a bad deal. Definitely a pen I could still use just to jot down quick notes with. Might stash it away in the car somewhere to help check/record my mileage…

3 out of 5…

Zebra Techno Line 0.4mm Ballpoint – Black

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Pen #53.

Zebra Techno Line 0.4mm Ballpoint – Black

Another pen from my recent JetPens splurge is the Zebra Techno Line 0.4mm Ballpoint. I’m still getting used to the idea of an extremely fine ballpoint (since when I think of ballpoints my mind instantly runs to the in-expensive, low-quality variety available in every store, doctor’s office, and business), but ever since the Ohto Pieni I reviewed a long while ago, my faith has been increasing. Add to it the fact that this is a Zebra pen, and you might just have a winning combination.

The Zebra Techno Line 0.4mm Ballpoint does live up to its tip size claim. As you can see below, the ink line is extremely fine, yet flows very smoothly. Dowdyism over at The Pen Addict mentioned the fact that these pens feather somewhat, and I tend to agree, but it’s not so bad that it dampens my opinion of this pen…

0.4mm Line Width...

The design of this pen is interesting, to say the least… It features a plastic barrel and rubber grip, but has a stainless metal tip. The tip seems to set off the balance of the pen a bit, but part of that may also be accounted for by the fact that the pen is a bit shorter than your ordinary retractable pen…

Still, if you can overlook the slight “spidering” of the ink and the tip heavy balance, this is an excellent fine-tipped ballpoint for the money!

4.5 out of 5 stars…

Zebra SK-Sharbo+1 Multi-Pen + Pencil – Black, Red, and Lead


Pen #46.
Zebra SK-Sharbo+1 Multi-Pen + Pencil – Black, Red, and Lead

Well, here’s another pen that I’ve needed to review for some time now (I purchased it in my first JetPens.com order) and just haven’t seemed to be able to get around to it. I’m not sure why, but I think part of the reason may be that I don’t really have a way to gauge the quality/performance of a mechanical pencil (since they all use “standard lead” and basically all function the same, unless of course you purchase specialty lead and such).

So, informational spiel first, right? The Zebra SK-Sharbo+1 is a member of the Sharbo line of multi-pens, which are designed to not look like the average multi-pen (bulky, multiple plungers, etc.)… While the main members of the Sharbo line feature a wide range of customisable metal bodies, Zebra must have considered this line successful enough to make it available to those of us with a little less pocket change.  The SK-Sharbo+1 features two 0.7mm ballpoint refills (black and red) as well as a 0.5mm mechanical pencil component.

This multi-pen shines in its field, mainly because of Zebra’s unique deployment system. Instead of having multiple plungers to select ink/components, the SK-Sharbo+1’s clip rotates, with the rotation selecting and presenting the ink/component of your choice. The one thing I have against this is that there’s no “blank space”. Instead of having a certain point on the pen where no refill/component is visible, you must twist the clip approximately half-way between choices in order to hide the tip. Since there’s no “stopping point” in between the selections, the pen often twists, extending the tip of its own accord.

Another problem I have with this pen is the refills. Sure, the Zebra ballpoints are some of the best, in my humble opinion, but as of this time there are no gel refills of any type available. Maybe when Zebra starts making gel refills, this may become one of my favorite pens.

3.5 out of 5 stars…

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