Tag Archives: Namisu

Namisu Ixion fountain pen review

 

A little bit of history  Namisu is a small Scottish design house that’s been turning out metal (and more recently ebonite) pens for around five years, with names like the Nexus, Nova, Orion… and here, the Ixion. Namisu has launched several of its pens via Kickstarter, and in June 2017 the Ixion appeared. It promptly smashed its goals and — after some drama — landed in our reviewers’ hands in early 2018.

We’ll get this out of the way: all of our reviewers (and many other backers) were disappointed with the purchase experience. Namisu delivered four months later than promised, which is not unusual for Kickstarter, but its communication and customer service along the way was poor. Caveat emptor and all that.

How it looks  The Ixion is a full-size metal pen, available in titanium, brass and aluminium, with optional contrasting metal section and finials. Like the other Namisu models, the Ixion is clipless, but it won’t roll away due to the distinctive dodecagonal cap.

Our reviewers between them had brass, black alu and blue alu versions, and universally agreed that this is a good-looking design. The ability to change the colour schemes by swapping over parts is a great way to make the Ixion yours.

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How it feels  As you’d expect, the brass version is weighty; the aluminium less so. Either way, it feels good in the hand, and should you choose you can put on a steel or brass section to change the weight balance. The section is long and comfortable. The cap posts securely and deeply. Nothing to complain about here.

How it fills  With a generic converter, or a standard international cartridge. Move along, nothing to see here…

 

Crucially, how it writes…  And here’s the bone of contention. Two of our three reviewers had a wonderful experience with fine and extra fine steel nibs writing perfectly out of the box.204-Namisu-Ixion-1.jpg

However, one unlucky reviewer suffered from two duff nibs, one Ti and one steel. The nibs are #6 Bock units that screw simply into the section, so you’ve got complete flexibility to swap nibs around with other pens or buy replacements quite inexpensively. Just as well, as a number of other buyers we’ve chatted with on social media have suffered from quality control issues (including nib problems and premature wear on the barrel anodising) and found Namisu’s customer service somewhat lacking.

Pen! What is it good for?  The Ixion would make a great daily writer for someone out and about. With a metal body and an inexpensive, easily replaced nib, you don’t have to worry about damage.

VFM  The Ixion is actually very keenly priced, with the “standard” Kickstarter price for an aluminium version coming in at £33. For a full-size metal pen that’s pretty competitive. The price is likely to be higher at retail, of course.

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…  You might want to look at the metal pens from Karas Kustoms, which also use Bock nibs and give you a huge range of customisation options.

Our overall recommendation  If you like metal pens and value the ability to swap nibs and customise components, you’ll enjoy the Ixion a lot. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into; there’s a risk of QC issues and you may not get the kind of support you’d expect.

Where to get hold of one  Right now, it’s the used market only. The Kickstarter has closed and the Ixion isn’t yet up on Namisu’s website for retail purchase.

This meta-review references:

Namisu Nova fountain pen meta-review

01 Brass at the castleA little bit of history  Glaciers, weathering and tectonic plates were all involved to a greater or lesser extent in separating the Lothian volcanoes from the kingdom of Fife, but ever since the Forth Bridge became the world’s largest project management metaphor, both sides of the firth have been part of an on-and-off industrial heartland.  That engineering heritage was recently sparked in to life in one local business unit by the Kickstarter project which brought Namisu into being, and they’re now producing a couple of models in an increasingly diverse range of materials.  Some of us have been interested since those heady Kickstarter days, but the word is spreading fast…01 Alu goes Forth

How it looks  Like a streamlined version of the Nakaya-esque ‘bullet’ shape, polished-up for use as a prop in 1950s sci-fi B-movies – which is a long way round to saying that it’s minimalist, and we like that very much.  It looks exceedingly cool, whatever the material it’s cast in. The only catch is that said minimalist tube does rather like to roll off any surface you place it on!ClumsyPenmanship

How it feels  Large but really rather comfortable.  Obviously, the different materials available make a quite a difference; the aluminium version is sturdy and light, the ebonite version is very warm to the touch, and the brass version is satisfyingly heavy – probably too heavy for many writers, but marvellous if you like a weightier pen.02 Laura's Alu

How it smells  This criterion doesn’t feature in every meta-review, but appears here thanks to the ebonite version which Namisu kindly lent several of us to test.  Ebonite is a rather old-school material for a fountain pen, and it’s essentially just very hard rubber. That makes it tactile, light and warm to hold, which are all good things, but for those with sensitive noses there is also the detectable whiff of burnt tyres on a warm summer’s day. Of course, whether that’s a noxious pong or a nostalgic aroma is very much a matter of olfactory taste.03 Scribble's alu

How it fills  Cartridge/converter.  There should be space in there for a longer international cartridge, and Namisu often provide a good Schmitt converter with the Nova too.04 Rob's Back in black

Crucially, how it writes…  This is very much dependent upon whether you go for one of Namisu’s nibs or fit your own.  Namisu stocks Bock nibs, usually either the standard steel (occasionally black-coated, as above) or titanium.  The Bock #6 steel nibs are firm but quite pleasant to use, while the titanium option offers a bit of flex – although we had mixed feelings as to how smooth they were on the paper.  The feed and collar unscrew, and any other Bock #6 assembly will screw back in, so if you happen to have spare nibs from the larger Kaweco or Diplomat pens, for example, they’ll be easy to swap.  It’s also possible to buy unbranded Bock replacement nibs from sources such as Beaufort, although the gold option is as pricey as you might expect.  Helpfully, the actual metal is a standard shape, so other #6 nibs, for instance those made by JoWo, can be transplanted into the Bock feed and collar assembly without too much difficulty; these can be acquired more affordably from FPnibs.com.08 Ruth's ebonite

Pen! What is it good for?  The aluminium and ebonite versions are both good for longer writing sessions or quick note-taking  – as long as you put the cap somewhere safe!  The brass version could probably double up as some form of defensive weapon, but we wouldn’t recommend doing that with it.05 Ian's Alu&Ebonite

VFM  At £45 the aluminium version is really very good value for a distinctive British-built fountain pen.  The brass and titanium versions get pricier, but are both still quite competitive for enthusiasts of those metals.  Ebonite nudges the ticket into three figures, which seemed a little steep to us for a pen which only has a basic steel nib, but it’s an unusual material, and while rather expensive this is hardly daylight robbery.  Match a Nova with a really good nib of your choice and you get something truly splendid for the outlay.06 Dan's Ebonite

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…  Namisu also make the Orion, a fairly similar shape but one which hasn’t appealed so much to us.  Or, if you like the look of the titanium Nova and want to spend ten times as much, there’s a Nakaya made from the same material.  Hmm.nib again

Our overall recommendation  Go ahead and get one while you can!  The aluminium version is an affordable design classic, and you can always upgrade to other materials later on.  If you covet the brass version, though, move fast; Namisu took some persuading to make it at all and we understand that it is intended as a one-off at the moment (you could prove them wrong, of course).cap endWhere to get hold of one  Right now, buying from Namisu directly is the only way.10 Scribble's brass

This meta-review references:

Thanks to  Namisu for lending several of us an ebonite Nova to play with.  The rest we bought with our own money!07 Nova-nib