If a pen could be an evil genius, then the matte black Pilot Vanishing Point would fit the bill. The Vanishing Point may be one of the most talked about and reviewed fountain pens going today and for good reason. It’s unique, incredibly well made and a solid writer (mostly). The questions we have to answer are whether or not the uniqueness wanders into overly quirky territory and if the design elements required by the retractable nib make the Pilot VP a pen worth using for extended writing sessions. For me, the answers two both questions is “no”. The design works but the writing experience is a bit awkward for me.
Obviously, the retractable nib thingy is way cool. Yes, the fact that the clip has to be on the end where the nib resides can make for an awkward grip, but the design and build quality of the retraction mechanism and the overall pen are excellent. If you like to collect a variety of fountain pens, you probably should have a Pilot VP solely for its unique features. Also, if you’re looking for a quality fountain pen to use as a pocket carry to make quick notes, you could do a lot worse. So, even before we get to its qualities as a writer, there is much to recommend this fine fountain pen.
The Pilot VP comes with an 18 k gold, rhodium-platted nib. It’s shown here loaded with Noodler’s Dark Matter. Given these nib materials and the overall excellent quality of the pen, the typical street price of $140 is reasonable (remember, everything is relative here). The nib is rather small and, like typical Japanese nibs, a medium is more a medium/fine and a fine is more a fine/extra fine. I would say my medium-nibbed Pilot VP behaves like a wet fine. How does it write? Well, it depends on how you hold the pen. As a left-hander, I’m typically an overwriter with a bit of a hook. But, like many lefties, I sometimes switch to underwriting when underlining and making other strokes or if the pen I’m using requires it. When I underwrite, the VP works wonderfully. It’s smooth, lays down a fairly wet fine line and never skips. However, when I overwrite, the performance is a bit inconsistent (not bad, but inconsistent) and, believe it or not, the nib makes an occasional squeaking noise. I suspect right-handed folks and lefty underwriters would really like the Vanishing Point and could find a spot for it in their regular rotation. As a lefty overwriter, I have my reservations. Clearly, a visit to the nib doctor may be called for if I want to make the Pilot VP more than an occasionally used novelty. I do like the overall size of the pen; it fits my medium-sized hand quite well.
Because of its limits when I overwrite, the Pilot VP is a “Desk It” pen for me. If it weren’t so unique and so well built, I would probably lower this to a “Give It” rating. But, I think I will pursue the aforementioned nib work in an effort to promote it to a “Carry It” pen. Stay tuned…
The matte black Pilot VP is the Darth Vader of fountain pens. As Vader is part machine and part man, the VP is part mechanical novelty and part traditional writing instrument. Although Vader was never able to fully realize is galactic ambitions, I’m hopeful a bit of nib work will turn my Pilot VP into a fully functional death star of a pen.