Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The End of the Colored Pencil

The Frixion Color-Pencil-Like Erasable Gel Ink Pen isn't a new product from Pilot, but it is one that provides a much needed update to a concept that in the future could be lucrative.

Done up in Blueprint blue, it sure looks good on you... well not exactly blueprint blue.

I have been completely surprised by the lack of advertising that has been used in attempting to sell this pen in the United States. I've seen advertisements for it on Youtube.com, but none that I know of have been aired.  Even in stores, this pen has received very little shelf space and is accompanied by very little to no fanfare, which it most definitely deserves. I know of many people who would use them if they only knew...

This pen is without a doubt, the most useful pen that I own. I have bought many, many replacements and I have tremendously enjoyed each one. I suppose, however, that I should start from the beginning:

The original Frixion, which came in a seven color series, was a useful writing instrument.  As the first of its kind to hit the market, it was unrivaled and for lack of a better term, a bit of a novelty item.  It was useful in tasks that normally would use pencil but look polished with a pen, such as math, sciences and languages.  As could be expected with the first iteration of a product, there were some problems. The most blatant was that the pen cap covered the eraser, so in order to write, the cap had to be off.  Sometimes the ink could be spotty and inconsistent and then finally, all of the colors seemed a bit washed out.  Black wasn't as much of a black as it was a heather, and dark blue was a greyish-blue.  The next pen I noticed in stores was the .4 version of this pen, which made some improvements, specifically in ink quality, but the ink color still seemed to be a bit washed out.  Finally, and to thunderous applause, the Pilot Frixion Color-Pencil-Like Eraseable Gel Ink Pen was introduced! I personally like to think of it as "Frixion v2" but, that's just me.
They're a sweet lookin' bunch..

The major problems with the previous generations have been fixed and the pen has been improved in general. The eraser has been moved to the top of the cap and the ink flow has improved greatly. The best part of the pens now is the wide array of vibrant colors which are bright and bold on any paper.  I've personally found any of the darker colors (dark green, dark blue, brown which are all above) to be fantastic on all types of documents, but even the orange is bold enough to be seen on white paper, as I am accustomed to this color in gel pens disappearing in a bright light. These pens erase just as well or even better than the previous generations and fill a much needed niche in the student's repertoire. The grip is just as comfortable as a standard pencil, and the pen writes for a long while before running out.  These pens are easily accessible on Jetpens.com and are nearly impossible to find anywhere in America, unless you have relatives to send them to you from Singapore, that is.  One of the downsides of this pen is that it is not refillable as it's predecessor was, but doesn't even matter considering how much better this pen is than other erasable pens out there.

There is still a novelty factor to this pen, as friends and coworkers will comment, "Wait, an erasable pen that actually works?!?!" And then I'll explain the heat sensitive ink and "magic" reappearance of said ink and continue to bore them with talk of aeromatic fountain pens and the bulletproof qualities of Noodler's Inks.  Despite this, people still ask me what pen I'm using for the day, even though they know that a long rant may accompany it.
Just the pens in my pocket for the day... Not pictured are Lamy Safari and eyedropper Platinum Preppy.

Recently, Uni-ball has released the Fanthom, which by all looks, appears to be an impersonator of the first generation Frixion pen.  I have not yet tried it, but will hopefully be able to at some point in the future, so I can let you know if it is even worth compare. My advice to those who can't decide which one to buy, is to buy the Frixion, because Pilot has already improved on the first generation, whereas the Fanthom is just getting started.

-The Classicist

1 comment:

  1. I will admit, this pen was indeed the one to switch me from predominant pencil use to ink.