Sieg Zeon! Sieg Zeon!
If you’ve been following along for a while, or followed me on Twitter you know my two favorite hobbies are Anime and Fountain Pens. It’s rare, but the two paths do cross from time to time. What we have today is a perfect example – the Pilot Lucina “Zabi” fountain pen. The Zabi royal family are your quintessential psychotic and despotic ruling family in Sunrise’s Mobile Suit Gundam “機動戦士ガンダム” series from 1979. The TV series was pivotal in the giant robot anime genre, and is still spinning off new shows, models, and games 38 years later to the tune of about $700 million per year (¥80B).
The pen was made by Pilot (licensed by Bandai) and sold through Sun-Star Stationary. It’s based on Pilot’s steel nibbed Lucina model but with a ton of detail baked in. Starting with the packaging you get a green slip case and clamshell box embossed in gold with a portrait of the Zabi family (Degin, Giren, Dozuru, Kycilia and Garma) and the crest of the “Principality of Zeon”. This all ties in nicely to the pen design and reflects the uniform design of the Zeon forces.
The body of the pen is made from a green metallic resin with black end caps. The trim is done in gold which is a great match for the overall pen design. The details added to the pen start on the finial with the Zeon crest screened on in gold. Further down the cap opposite the clip the trademark salute “Sieg Zeon” or “Victory [to] Zeon!” is also screened in gold. The black and gold cap band bears the Zabi name on one side and “Sun-Star Stationary Co., Ltd.” on the other. The body of the pen has a Zeon rank insignia and decorative scroll work screened in gold. All of this gives the pen a realistic look that is faithful to the designs from the original series.
The nib is steel, but has been gold plated and etched with the Zeon crest to round out the look of the pen. I find the nib to be slightly more flexible than the standard steel nibs found on the metropolitan, but only slightly – allowing for some flex in line width. The Pilot ball clip is easy to use and provides just the right amount of pressure while not distracting from the overall theme of the pen.
The weight of the pen is on the lighter side at 0.5oz, but it still retains a nice balance while writing. The screw on cap posts easily, but it does come pretty close to the screened design on the barrel so I avoid it, worrying that I may accidentally scratch the paint. The minor downside to this? the pen feels slightly better balanced with the cap on, but it’s only marginally better. From a length perspective it measures out:
|Capped||13.1 cm or 5.2 inches|
|Posted||14.6 cm or 5.7 inches|
|Uncapped||11.9 cm or 4.7 inches|
Writing with the included blue-black cartridge (no converter included, though it will take a CON-20 or 40) yielded what you expect from Pilot – a nice smooth feel with the hint of feedback I love in Japanese nibs. Ink flow through the fine (F) nib is flawless, laying down page after page with no skips or hard starts. The flow and fine nib mean it’s great on even lower quality office papers and really sings when you step up to something like a Rhodia, Baron Fig, or Clairefontaine notebook.
The section provides for good grip with a slight taper down to a gold trim ring. The diameter here is 10.5mm – and is quite comfortable for writing over long periods with no hand fatigue.
When it comes to price I was happy to see it didn’t get a massive markup from the base model Lucina, even with all the extra detail both in design and packaging. The cost does however raise the question – if you’re not a fan is it worth it? At $80 I’d say you are probably better off with a Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan, which provide about the same level of quality and more options in nib size. If you’re a huge fan of the Gundam series then this is a no-brainer. One other option to consider if you like this but love gold nibs – Bandai has more recently released a second Gundam themed “Char” pen in partnership with Platinum based on the #3776 model – one of which is on it’s way from Japan so stay tuned for that review soon.