I collect lots of things, for all kinds of reasons. And while some things I have are massive collections, others are single pieces, or fit into smaller groups. And right now I would like to share a few of those things that I have been messing with recently and quite enjoying.
First up is the “Mighty King Cobra” 3D puzzle. It’s a 3D jigsaw puzzle with thick wooden pieces. Mine (as with most of my stuff) is second hand and it looks like it was heavily used, meaning that the pieces don’t fit back together as well as I think they once did. I also must admit I haven’t taken it apart fully to assemble it, because I am terrible at puzzles and it might never be complete again if I do that. Even then it’s a great coffee table piece.
Next up is a pirate ship, again found second hand, and I believe, based on the paint job and the flags that this ship was customized. Whether it was from a store or a kit I can’t tell, but I’m leaning more toward a store bought thing. I do have a (surprisingly large) collection of ships on stands, but the two are separated at the moment. Once this ship meets up with the others there it will go, but for now it sits proudly on my interesting shelf, as evidence of the uniqueness one can find in many places.
And finally, something a little older, a wooden toy village that is German inspired, I don’t know where it came from or how it was made. But it reminds me of the toys I had when I was a kid (and still do). It’s like a more primitive version of Legos. I just spend however long organizing the houses and church and making sure the people and animals are in the right spots for what they’re doing. And that the trees are providing enough shade. It’s really fun and peaceful, and it looks so quaint.
Feel free to let me know more about this pen in the comments if you know anything.
If you’re looking for a fountain pen but don’t want to purchase something expensive or something you have to fiddle with, then a disposable fountain pen might be the way for you to go. And If you’ve tried before with the most common disposable fountain pen, the Pilot Varsity, and are looking to get another one, you may have seen the slight changes they’ve made to the design. Are these changes that big a deal? Well, let’s find out.
The Pilot Varsity has a simple cylindrical barrel and cap, with nice, simply rounded finials. Printed on the barrel is “Pilot Varsity” and a design, but no further information. Both pens have this printed on them. While the old design is straight lines on a tasteful silver with a tiny ink window, the newer version features a multi-tone diamond pattern with a worked in, barley visible, ink window. The cap has a cheap plastic clip with a ball on the end that does tolerably, but is far from the best. Just don’t turn yourself upside down with this pen in your pocket. Taking off the cap reveals the clear section and the plastic feed. One can see if there is ink in the feed, but not in the barrel except through quasi-ink-windows printed in the design. The feed is simple, and has a wick, which allows for better ink flow, but would not be ideal for cleaning (which you wouldn’t be doing anyway if you were just going to throw it away.)
The nib at the end of the pen is again simple. It is stamped “Pilot <M>” (medium) and has no further ornamentation, not even a breather hole. It is stainless steel, and offers no flexibility in the tines. Now, one might think that since they’re both stamped medium, that both pens would have roughly the same line width; and this would strangely be wrong. At least on the example I have, the older Varsity has a line more akin to a fat medium, or a particularly skinny broad, while the newer example is more of a fat fine, or a sorta skinny medium. If this is indeed a purposeful change that was made, I’m guessing it was for the American market to prevent bleed-through on the extra-crappy paper here, which it does do. This size difference definitely doesn’t affect the nib performance, though. Both nibs are buttery smooth, have no startup issues, and write under no pressure. The ink is the standard Pilot black, and there is nothing different between the two pens that I can discern (and neither are at all waterproof).
So, which one should you get? Well, it really doesn’t matter. If you really want a fat medium nib disposable (well, kinda, you can look up how to refill it online) you can hunt down some of the old ones, which I personally like better due to purely aesthetic reasons. The new one is a bit more loud and silly, and a bit finer in line, but you’d be really hard-pressed to tell that unless you were looking like I was.
If you’re at a second hand place, or a garage sale, etc, and looking for art supplies, you might wonder wether or not a discontinued item you find is a good thing to pick up or not. This might be the case with the Faber Castell Velvet pencils, of which I am covering the black ones here.
The body of the pencil is nice and round. Its a fairly solid piece of wood with a wonderful grippy, but unintrusive coating. There is a simple eraser on the end, which, if it has been stored poorly or even suboptimally, will quickly become useless. The size of the body is slightly thicker than many other pencils, making it easier to handle and more comfortable to write with. On the side, over the black all information is stamped into the side, with some covered in gold.
The lead itself is a soft number 2. It shades well, and writes smoothly. Really, it is a very middle-of-the-road lead. It has nothing particularly special. It is of average diameter and isn’t prone to breaking. It is quite good for sketching, but might require several other supplemental pencils.
Overall I’d say that if you’re looking for a decent all-around pencil and can find these cheaply, they’ll do the trick. They aren’t up to the super-high-quality standards of modern Faber Castell products but they do work very well. They are more comfortable than most other inexpensive, school-like pencils and can do just a little bit more. Check them out if they seem reasonable.