Today: a look at Lamy’s AL-Star mechanical pencil. The AL-Star…
I’ve been a fan of Faber-Castell since very early on in my fountain pen
obsession interest. The Ambition was one of the first fountain pens I bought and it remains, many years later, one of my favourites. Since then I’ve acquired examples of all their modern range, finally completing the set with this bright and cheerful orange Ondoro. Did I save the best ’til last? Read on!
The Faber-Castell Ondoro has a chunky hexagonal body and cap. It looks as if might be very heavy, but it’s not. It’s got some presence to it but it’s a very comfortable weight. I would go so far as to say, for me, it’s just about exactly right: light enough to be comfortable to hold for an extended period, heavy enough to feel like you’re holding something of quality. (I know weight doesn’t automatically correspond to quality but, subjectively, it helps.)
In terms of length, it’s just about long enough to be comfortable, unposted, in my large hand. The cap does post, and it posts quite deeply and securely, adding a couple of centimetres to the length. The chrome-plated cap isn’t anywhere near as heavy as it looks but it does change the balance of the pen when posted, making it a touch top heavy. The scalloped plastic section just about fits my fingers and is reasonably comfortable. If you have more sensibly-sized fingers than me I think you’ll find it very comfortable indeed.
The cap pushes closed with a satisfying click. It has to be lined up with the barrel in order to fit. The nib does not quite line up with a flat side, which bothers me slightly, particularly as I like to line the clip up with the nib when I close a pen. That this bothers me says more about me than it does about the pen, I feel. We all have different things that bother us. The shiny cap, for instance, attracts fingerprints, which isn’t an issue for me but will drive many people potty. The clip itself is sprung and sturdy. A very good and functional clip.
Faber-Castell use standard international cartridges and converters. This means there are a lot of options for cartridges. If you don’t like the Faber-Castell converter you can change that for something else too. However, it’s a pretty good converter, easy to fill and easy to clean.
Faber-Castell use, apparently, custom-made stainless-steel Jowo nibs. Jowo nibs are nearly always good but they must do something different and rather special for Faber-Castell because Faber-Castell’s nibs are consistently amazing. This broad one is no exception. It has good flow (nice and wet but not excessively so), is very smooth, and glides across the paper without feeling slippery. It’s proof that you don’t need gold to make a beautiful nib. The #5 nib is perhaps a touch too small for a pen this size but it’s borderline and doesn’t spoil the overall look.
The Ondoro’s design is striking. I think it’s beautiful. I love how the colour of the barrel is carried through the section, and I love the overall shape. The cap’s design is consistent and provides a good contrast to the body. The orange is just so happy.
The Ondoro isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It is, as young people say these days (or possibly used to say – I can’t keep up), opinionated in its design. If you do like how it looks, though, I can completely recommend this pen.
Comfortable to hold
Design won’t be to everyone’s taste
Cap collects fingerprints