Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Noodler's nib creaper eyedropper fountain pen review

If you're wondering what a "Noodler's creaper fountain pen" is, I don't blame you because currently you can't buy this fountain pen from any store (online or not) on its own. This pen is included with certain inks and mine accompanied the 4.5oz bottle of Noodler's Nikita.

Noodler's Nikita ink and free pen

These pens come in several colors depending on the ink. Watch the video below where Nathan, the owner of Noodler's, explains which pen is found in which ink.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aVXYsZ476w

To summarize, it seems that these are the permutations:

red - Nikita
yellow - Dragon's Napalm
blue/green - Polar Blue / Borealis Black
gray - Lexington Gray

My own pen is red, just like the Nikita ink. It's not a flat red but it has light and dark swirls and the plastic is actually translucent, if you hold it to the light. Being an eyedropper, it has a huge transparent reservoir. On the side of the transparent barrel the words "Noodler's Ink" are embossed.

Noodler's creaper eyedropper fountain pen

In true Noodler's fashion, this pen stinks when brand new. The smell is hard to describe and it seems that everyone has their own opinion about what it reminds them of. I will keep my opinion to myself. The smell comes from the plastic material used but it goes away after a few weeks so it's not such a big deal for me.

There isn't a lot you can expect from a free fountain pen included with an ink bottle and this particular model turns out to be the cheapest looking pen in my collection. The finish is really bad and the only decently looking feature (apart from the nib) is the silver trim on the cap.

Being entirely made out of cheap plastic, the pen is on the light side. The body is thicker in the middle and tapers at both ends.

Moving on to the cap, I appreciate that it is a screw-on design. I like screw-on caps because I don't have to force them off and on. The cap unscrews in exactly 1 turn and it posts securely. I don't use it posted though.

As mentioned, the fact that the pen is an eyedropper gives it huge capacity and makes it easy to fill with ink. I inked mine up with Nikita, of course, using the integrated eyedropper.

Noodler's fountain pens are known for the way they can be taken apart and this one is no exception. You can easily extract the nib and feed for cleaning, adjusting or aligning and you can even remove the clip from the cap if you so wish.

One big negative that I've noticed in both my Noodler's fountain pens (I also have a piston filler) is that I can't store these pens with the nib pointing down for a longer time (for example overnight) because they both drip ink into the cap. I've only noticed this effect thanks to my other pen which is a demonstrator. Afterward I watched for it happening in the Nikita pen. They both suffer from the same affliction. The solution is, of course, to store them with the nib pointing up.

Here's where the other problem occurs. The ink which is so eager to drip out, is just a eager to drain back into the pen, drying out the nib and feed. This means that after storing the pen for a while, it takes some time to get it started back up again. My method is to gently shake it up and down but not too hard because then it will spit drops of ink on my desk or paper.

You'd be forgiven to think at this point that these fountain pens from Noodler's are too much trouble and not worth the hassle but here's where things are finally turning around. The nib on this cheap pen is great. It easily rivals the nibs on my more expensive pens.

The "creaper" designation is, from my understanding, a play on the word "creeper" which in turn means that the nib exhibits creep. Nib creep refers to ink coming out from between the tines and staining the nib on an almost permanent basis. It seems that nibs without breathing holes, such as this one, are prone to this effect. Ironically, mine doesn't seem to have a lot of creep. Nonetheless, this ink is unique in my collection both for the lack of a breathing hole and also for the way it flexes.

Whoa, hang on for a second! Did I just say that this nib flexes? Well, just to get this disclaimer out of the way, it is by no means a true flex nib and it is not, I repeat, NOT, the same nib as on the actual Noodler's flex pens, although it looks very similar.

Here's the actual flex nib as comparison.

Still, this nib is the flexiest one I have, despite being made of steel. The nib itself is probably an F though there is no official designation. It does write fine indeed and if you press hard, you can get some line variation but only on the downstrokes. Although it springs back to its original form, I wouldn't advise flexing it on a regular basis. Again, it is NOT a true flex nib.

I don't know if it's the flexy nature of the nib but it writes very smoothly and the ink flow is excellent (after you've got it started). It lays down a very nice and wet line. You can actually see the ink glistening between the tines and between the nib and feed, which is always a good thing in my book. The nib is smoother than the Sailor HighAce Neo F I reviewed and almost on par with the TWSBI Diamond 530 (review to come). It just glides across the paper with the least effort.

A word about the feed. I believe it is ebonite. I've been conditioned to think that ebonite = a good thing so I'll leave it at that.

To summarize, this fountain pen has a bunch of drawbacks and one big benefit which more than makes up for all the negatives.

Negatives:
  • poor build quality
  • stinky smell for a while
  • ink drips from the nib if stored nib-down
  • takes a long time to start if stored nib-up
  • spits ink if shaken too hard

Positives:
  • screw-on cap
  • huge ink capacity
  • easily disassembled
  • nib is incredibly smooth, with good flow and a wet line, and slightly flexy to boot!
I do not advise anyone to carry this pen around, unless it's clipped in a breast pocket but even then it could be risky. Instead, it makes a good desk companion. I use mine mostly for drawing and it's a pleasure every time.

If you are curious about this fountain pen, the only way you can get your hands on a new one is by buying one of the aforementioned inks. I was glad that my bottle of Nikita came with this pen. It is certainly more unique than the Platinum Preppys these large bottles usually come with and it writes much better as well. So if you ever have it in your plan to buy one or more of these inks, do give it a try. I'm sure you won't regret it.

Next, I'm reattaching the samples from my Nikita review, which were written with this pen.

Noodler's Nikita ink on photocopier paper

Noodler's Nikita ink on Staples journal

13 comments:

  1. I love that you're doing so many reviews! They're all very thorough, it's great! For the record, as of this posting the only inks that have these 'Creeper' pens is Nikita (red pen) and Dragon's Napalm (orange pen). More are supposed to come in other inks eventually, but none yet.

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  2. Thanks Brian! I love doing these reviews. I just wish I had more time for them.

    I only went by what Nathan said in that video. So folks, hold off on buying those other inks until it is confirmed that they'll have the pens!

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  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one that likes the screw-on caps. I've read a lot of stories about friction fits losing their "click" over time, and becoming loose and allowing the cap to come off or have the nib dry out due to the lack of a good seal. With a screw-on cap, you don't really have to worry about that much. Some friction fits are nice though, like the ones found in the Parker 51 caps.

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  4. You've nailed it. That's the same fear I have, that one day that cap won't close anymore. Some pens feel more prone to this than others. For example the Lamy AL-Star with its tiny "click" feels like it won't last a long time. The Pilot Prera, on the other hand, has a very elastic "click" and I'm not worried about it.

    At any rate, screw-on caps feel a lot more secure to me.

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  5. I have the one from the Nikita. I have to agree that it is a great writer, mine developed cracks in the clear plastic barrel and seeped bright red ink onto my finger! (looked like a murder scene!) I'm trying to seal the acrylic from the inside, but so far it's not looking good.

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  6. @79spitfire I've replied on FPN but anyway, it sucks that happened :( Hope mine doesn't develop the same issues but if it does, I'll try to use that nib in the piston filler. At least that one has a slightly better construction.

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  7. I bought this pen second hand actually as a batch of old noodlers pens. I have to say I think it's one of my favorite pens despite how cheap it is. I reset the nib and feed and cleaned it real good and turned it into a dedicated BSB pen.


    The wonderful BSB color and the transparent body works real well, and the fine nib and feed are just perfect for laying down just enough ink that it looks good, dries real fast and doesn't even feather on newspaper. I use this pen often for filling in official forms and the like, or my pilot penmanship with extra fine nib and x-feather, another winning (and cheap) combo.

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  8. Don't you find that it leaks if you store it with the nib down?

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  9. I haven't ever really tried it, I store it nib up or I just leave it lying on the desk.

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  10. This is a very thorough review, but I'm curious as to why you think the build quality is poor? I have a Cross Aventura that feels cheaper than this pen, even a Montblanc is made of plastic resin. All the fittings are sung, the body is straight and the nib/feed fit and work well, all of those things, to me at least, indicate good build quality. True, the materials may be cheap, but as I understand it Nathan works very very hard to keep his products as economical as possible.

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  11. Well everything is relative. It's hard to beat the price but even compared to "cheap" pens like my Pilot Prera or Lamy AL-Star, not to mention the TWSBI, Noodler's quality is inferior. But this particular pen is free and bundled with an ink, which probably means it costs very little. It's about the equivalent of a Platinum Preppy (which Nathan also bundles with certain inks) but I still think the Preppy has higher quality than the nib creaper.

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  12. Fair. Sounds like a matter of taste. I have sweaty hands and do much better with resin/ebonite/rubber in my hand than metal and acrylic, I also have a preference for lighter pens since I tend to write for long stretched, so I found Noodler's to be a bit of a godsend. I have a small Noodler's collection growing in my writing desk. I am going to throw a Goulet nib in one of them at some point, or a vintage gold nib if I can find a good one, because the Noodler's nibs are fun but a little scratchy for everyday writing. Thanks for the reply.

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  13. I completely agree. As for the weight, you are right, the creaper is comfortably light.

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