Monday, June 6, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 382

This model in this particular colour is currently selling for $26.29 CAD on but I got mine for $22.21 CAD in "Used - Like New" condition in their Warehouse Deals section a few weeks ago. Meet my new turquoise Pilot 'Explorer' fountain pen!

(please click on images to enlarge)

 It arrived in its original Pilot metal box, along with the outer cardboard box - both of which were in excellent condition. The pen came with an ink cartridge, a ink converter, and a user guide/warranty from Pilot. Nothing appeared to be damaged and the pen didn't appear to be used at all (there was no ink residue that I could see when I rinsed its nib out). So far, so good!

When I first saw photos of the 'Explorer' online, I'd have bet good money that it was a metal pen (aluminum would have been my guess), so when I found out it was a very light plastic pen with a metallic-looking finish, my heart sank.
I'm a big Pilot fan and the pen looked so pretty in the photos, but the retail price seemed a bit steep for what you were getting, so I decided against buying one. After watching a very positive YouTube review by a member of the Seattle Pen Club (link), I decided to give the 'Explorer' a chance when it popped up in Amazon's Warehouse Deals..

The 'Explorer' comes in a multitude of solid plastic colours, most of which have a matte finish, but the white and clear versions have shiny finishes. The pen is feather-light - it weighs a mere 8.1 grams without a cartridge or converter in place!

I measured its capped length as 14cm and its uncapped length as 12.7 cm from nib tip to barrel end. It's about 16.3 cm when posted, but it's perfectly balanced that way and doesn't feel back-heavy at all.

I love the little porthole cutout near the top of the cap--it's not actually a hole of course, or the cap wouldn't be airtight. It's one of the only decorative features on the  pen, though--the clip is plain, and the flat cap top and barrel bottom are both unadorned. The clip is actually made of a black matte metal, not plastic, as I initially thought. The clip works well, but it's a bit tight. The Pilot name and logo is tastefully embossed on the side of the cap, which clicks onto the barrel securely.

The pen's plastic section is clear smoke/dark grey in colour and has a very nice taper to it. The section diameter goes from 0.9 cm to 1.1 cm at its widest point. It's a very comfortable fountain pen to hold and use, both because of its weight and the design of the section.

The nib is marked PILOT <M>  JAPAN, and it's the same type of monotone stainless steel nib that's on the Pilot 'Metropolitan', Kakuno', 'Prera', and 'Plumix' models (they share the same feed, too). If you want to swap out the nib, it's easy to do - the nib and feed are friction-fitted into the section and slide out together easily. My pen came with a Medium nib that writes really well (no surprise--it's a Pilot, after all!) out of the box.

The pen takes Pilot's proprietary ink cartridges, or Pilot converters. Mine came with a Pilot black ink cartridge and a Pilot CON-B squeeze converter (I love it when both are included--thank you, Pilot!) Because of its length, the 'Explorer' can also both a CON-40 converter or a CON-70 ink converter (the largest capacity Pilot converter).

Now, here's something that shocked me, because the last time I'd seen something like this was on my cheapie gradient $3 Lamy 'Safari' knockoffs that I reviewed here:


Nope. Just nope.

I really hope Pilot does something about this-- paint the inside of the pen the same colour as the exterior, or (as the Stones sang) paint it black ...anything! ... because this really cheapens the pen, in my opinion

Summary: The Pilot 'Explorer' is an extremely smooth writer, very comfortable to hold and it has a clean, modern aesthetic to it but you can find a Pilot that's made of nicer material, is more durable, and has an equally nice nib for just a few more dollars more (or even less money, depending on where you shop). I'm thinking specifically of the Pilot 'Metropolitan' model here, because I think it's superior to the 'Explorer' in every way except (a) the 'Explorer's' grip section is more comfortable and (b) it can take the CON-70 ink converter and the 'Metropolitan' can't.

I love well-made plastic pens, but this plastic feels cheap and I really don't know how the finish on it will hold up over time. What the 'Explorer' has going for it (in addition to a great nib) is its light weight; it's a great pen to carry in a purse if you want to keep your purse really light, and if you need a pen for long writing sessions or a very light pen to put in your check-in luggage, the Pilot 'Explorer' is a perfect fit.

(photos & review by Maja)

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