Karas Kustoms

Karas Pen Co: Reaktor Starliner Review

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Karas Pen Co. sent me a selection of their Starliner fountain pens to review here on the blog. All thoughts expressed about these pens are entirely my own.

Last week I reviewed the Galaxie pen that makes up part of the Karas Pen Co upcoming launch of their Reaktor line of pens. This week I am looking at their partner, the Starliner fountain pen.

The Starliner comes with a lot of the same backstory as the Galaxie pens. There are two different sizes, the pocket and the XL. The colour options and materials are the same on both pens, however the Starliner has a few subtle differences that make these stand apart from the Galaxie.

The Starliner Design.

The Starliner follows the same simple aesthetic as the Galaxie pen in that familiar Karas Pen Co. style. There is less flourish on the cap of the Starliner, when you compare it against the Galaxie. The top of the pen cap has a small raised peak, but no cog. There are three machined rings at the very top of the pen cap, two at the bottom and one on the bottom barrel of the pen itself. These represent a countdown, such as you would see in a space launch. This is again different to the Galaxie pen and sets the two apart.

3-2-1 countdown on the Starliner pen.

3-2-1 countdown on the Starliner pen.

The pocket Starliner takes standard cartridges and ships with a Monteverde black cartridge. The XL version comes with a K5 Schmidt converter, which immediately makes this a more attractive pen for my personal use. They come with the 076 Bock nibs similar to other Karas Pen Co fountain pens. I have found these pens really nice to write with, all through the different nib sizes.

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The Starliner fountain pen follows the same pricing as the Galaxie hitting that entry level. The pocket will come in at $50 and $55 for the XL.

Using the Starliner.

Similar to the Galaxie I preferred using the XL version of the Starliner fountain pen. I like the fact that I can use any of the inks I had on hand. The additional length you get with the XL is far more comfortable to use and with the ink options makes this a lot more adaptable.

However personally I prefer the aesthetic of the pocket pen mainly due to the lack of the clip. The good news is the pocket Starliner is a tad longer than the pocket Galaxie, as you can see in the photo below. The additional length makes the pocket Starliner comfortable to use unposted, an issue I had with the Galaxie. As with the Galaxie range, the full black version of the Starliner is probably my favourite, it just looks so sharp and clean.

Galaxie on the left and the Starliner on the right

Galaxie on the left and the Starliner on the right

Overall thoughts.

I can’t quite help but compare the Reaktor pens to the other Karas pens I have used in the past, the Ink, the Decograph, the Render K and the Retrakt, and there is a distinct difference. Therefore if you’re familiar with or own any of those pens, the Reaktor range is different. But different doesn’t mean they’re worse. These pens are great, reasonably priced and do give you two good options of pen styles based on your preferred style.

All of the colour combinations. 

All of the colour combinations. 

I like what Karas Pen Co. have done with their new Reaktor range of pens. They are really nice to use and don’t compromise on that Karas feel. Creating a range of entry level pens is a good move.

Thank you again to the guys at Karas Pen Co. for sending me these pens to play with and review here on The Finer Point.

Karas Pen Co: Reaktor Galaxie Review

The four different Galaxie designs

The four different Galaxie designs

Karas Pen Company sent me their latest pen releases to review here on the blog. Today we will be looking at their Galaxie range of pens, all thoughts of which are my own.

Karas Pen Co will be launching a new line of machined pens this summer called the Reaktor line which includes the Starliner fountain pen and the Galaxie ballpoint/rollerball pen. There is a lot to say about both so I am splitting out my reviews, with today’s focusing on the Galaxie range of pens.

What is the Reaktor Galaxie?

The concept, design and naming of the Reaktor line is influenced by Mid-century America, specifically space, and the themes that influenced almost all aspects of their culture. As with other Karas pens the design behind the pens are well considered and really add to the identity of the pen you’re using. It’s also interesting that there are quite a few stationery brands that have launched products with a space theme in recent months, so there is something of a trend here too.

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The Reaktor Galaxie pen comes in two sizes, a small pocket pen and an XL full length pen. They take two different refills, the pocket shipping with the Schmidt MegaLine P950 in medium, or the Parker style refill, and the XL with the Pilot G2. The difference in the refill compatibility needs to be considered when choosing the right pen for you, although its worth mentioning that Anna’s Epic Refill Guide should also be referenced to investigate what refill hacks can be performed. For the purposes of this review I am judging these pens based on how they arrive, straight out of the box.

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Galaxie Design.

The pens arrive in a small plastic container which I have been told is very close to the final packaging design. The colour of the packaging corresponds to the colour choice of your pen. I really like the packaging, it’s slim and lightweight, good for international customers, but it also keeps the pen secure.

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The pen design is typical of what you may know and expect from Karas Pen Co. There are four different options to choose from, full black, a tumbled aluminium finish and then two polished aluminium pens, one with a red anodised grip section, the second with a blue anodised grip section.

There are a few subtle differences between the two different sizes. The pocket Galaxie is clipless and the XL has the traditional Karas bolted on clip which regardless of the colour choice you go for is consistent across all pens.

Both sizes of the Galaxie have a distinctive cap design which looks like a cog, but actually takes inspiration from the hose fixtures found on space suits. This is also where the inspiration of the colour scheme comes from. The Galaxie pen is a click rather than screw cap meaning its very simple to flick off the cap.

The cog, or more rightly hose, design on the pen cap

The cog, or more rightly hose, design on the pen cap

Using the Galaxie.

I have been using these pens for some time now. I have a number of them on my desk which I have been using to write work notes, jot down quick additions to my planner. Initially I was drawn to the smaller version of the pen because of the size and it worked well with my pocket notebook use. Unposted the pen is too short and not particularly comfortable to use. When posted the length is much better and the weighting works well too. Usually I don’t post my pens, but this one needs it. The one issue I’ve found is that the cap did come lose I guess from the movement when I was writing and I had to nudge it back in place quite a lot.

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The Schmidt refill is not my favourite. It’s quite gloopy and I had quite a few false starts. As I mentioned the refills can be swapped out and I would definitely recommend this on the pocket Galaxie. With the XL the popular Pilot G2 works as you would expect.

In terms of colour choices I think the black anodised finish on these pens looks great. The colour options feel very American with the blue and red grip sections. I was surprised by the tumbled aluminium finish Galaxie, it looks a lot better in the flesh than I expected.

Overall thoughts.

I like the Galaxie pen and it’s nice to have another machined pen option for your refills. Personally I like the XL version a lot more, the size is more comfortable to use and there is a little more flexibility with the refill options. The smaller pocket Galaxie however is a great pocket pen choice. The bonus to all of this is the price point. The smaller version is $40 and the XL is $45. That’s great value for a machined pen and I am not sure there are many options in the market at these prices. There is a nice notebook which is available now with a really nice Reaktor logo on the cover.

Everything that makes up the Reaktor line of pens: Galaxie pen, packaging, notebooks and stickers 

Everything that makes up the Reaktor line of pens: Galaxie pen, packaging, notebooks and stickers 

I’d like to thank Karas Pen Company for sending me their latest pens to review here on the blog.

Karas Kustoms Decograph 1801 Sleeping Beauty Limited Edition Review.

Karas Kustoms contacted me some time ago to ask if I would like to use their latest signature limited edition fountain pen, the Decograph. I have been using this pen for some time, all the opinions and thoughts shared in this review aren’t influenced by Karas Kustoms in any way.

I have been using the 1801 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Decograph for some time, months in fact. The Decograph is not my first experience with Karas Kustoms pens, I own a Retrakt and an Ink fountain pen both of which I enjoy but in very different ways to the Decograph.

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The name.

This limited edition is the 1805 Sleeping Beauty. Its name is taken from the blue colour of the pen which is inspired by turquoise mines found in Arizona, where Karas Kustoms is located.

The packaging.

I don't really often mention packaging on the blog, because really who cares. But the Decograph deserves some attention here. This is one of the nods to Karas Kustoms specialities, working with aluminium. The Decograph is packaged in an aluminium tube with the Karas Kustoms logo stamped on the front.

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As this is an aluminium tube its heavy. This tube provides serious protection to the fountain pen, perfect for shipping but also for storing your pen when you’re not using it.

I was genuinely wowed when I opened the box, I wasn't expecting anything like this, and it’s very different to how the Ink and Retrakt came to me. I presume this is all part of the signature line.

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The Decograph design.

The Decograph is a move away from the traditional Karas Kustoms materials. It’s made from a thermoplastic or acrylic-like material which they have combined with their distinctive aluminium finishes. The blue acrylic has a black swirling pattern moving through the pen body that is similar to other acrylic pens.

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I really like the blue used in this edition because its bright and vibrant. I expected it to be semi-transparent but in fact it’s not, it’s a solid blue. I like this because you aren’t distracted by the inner workings of the pen and seeing the convertor which is pretty boring, instead you concentrate on the beautiful colour and design.

The defining features of the Decograph come from the aluminium flourishes. The sturdy pen clip and the aluminium cap top and bottom.

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There’s a subtle Karas Kustoms logo nestled on the underside of the pen. The aluminium is almost a brushed finish which looks nice in the overall design. The contrast of the plastic and aluminium helps to add some weight to the pen but also finishes everything off really well making it look and feel like a premium pen.

Each limited edition pen comes with the model number and pen number etched into the side of the pen. Each limited edition has a limited number of available units and you can track your unit number on the pen itself.

Model number and pen number subtly hidden in the pen barrel. 

Model number and pen number subtly hidden in the pen barrel. 

The nib and using the Decograph.

Karas Kustoms Decograph uses a #6 Bock nib. I am not sure what nib I have here, I am presuming a fine but it writes beautifully. The nib is smooth and the ink flows well. The #6 Bock nib is the right size and fits proportionally with the Decograph, anything smaller would have looked odd.

The Bock nib

The Bock nib

I have used the convertor provided with the pen using my Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-Ro, one of my favourite inks that matches so well with this pen.

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I have used this pen a lot over the last few months because I enjoy it so much. It’s really nice to write with and the light weight makes it a really comfortable to use for long periods of time.

Overall thoughts.

I have used my Decograph almost every day which shows how much I have enjoyed this pen. I’ve tried to think about how to summarise the Decograph and do the pen some justice. When you look at this pen it’s clear its made by Karas Kustoms. The simple, classic shape plus the high end aluminium finishing touches all scream Karas Kustoms.

Size comparison against the Lamy AL Star

Size comparison against the Lamy AL Star

For me the Decograph puts Karas Kustoms in a place where I feel like I can really use their pens. Their past alumiunium pens, while they are solid and great to use, are too clunky for long term use. By expanding out and using a different material and pairing it with aluminium is a great idea and potentially opens Karas Kustoms up to a whole new market. The Decograph has become my favourite Karas Kustoms pen and one that I will use over and over again.

I’d like to thank Karas Kustoms for sending me the Sleeping Beauty fountain pen to review here on the blog.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 4 Review

My Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt

My Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt

This week I have been using the Karas Kustoms Retrakt paired with the Pilot G2 black gel refill. Before starting out on this week I presumed I would enjoy using the Pilot G2 refill but maybe struggle a little bit with the Retrakt pen itself. This assumption was pretty spot on but I have also encountered a few barriers to the 1 pen challenge.

This week's failures

There have been a few occasions this week where I have been forced to deviate from the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and Pilot G2. First up was a passport application I needed to get filled out and sent. These forms have very specific requirements and you need to use a black ballpoint pen to fill out the forms. This meant that the gel ink pen was not useable in this situation. Secondly I had to send some post this week and I needed to use a Sharpie pen to fill out the shipping information on the box.

These deviations were forced and highlights that 1 pen cannot work in all scenarios. There are times when specific tools are needed to get the job done.

Things I didn't like this week.

I want to get the negative points out of the way first. This week marked the start of my final module with the Open University which has meant that the amount of time I spend writing has increased. Using the Retrakt for long periods of time has been quite strenuous. This pen is heavy, being made from aluminium, and when writing for long stretches of time I found that my wrist began to ache, a lot! I have found it quite uncomfortable in a way I don't think I would have with a fountain pen and definitely not with a pencil.

Poor sight line on the G2 tip

Poor sight line on the G2 tip

In keeping with this theme, the Retrakt grip section is something I cannot persuade myself to like. I find the it too chunky and the sight line to the pen tip poor. This has only been a slight irritation when I have been writing for long periods of time with this pen. For shorter note taking tasks this is less of an issue.

The Pilot G2 refill

The Pilot G2 refill

There are some good points

The Pilot G2 refill is strong. The black line is crisp and dark giving a brilliantly fine line on the page. It flows well and is really smooth to write with. I have particularly enjoyed using this in my Midori Weekly Refill (019) for recording a snippet of the day's events.

The Retrakt is a nice looking, smart pen. It's not one I use regularly simply because it gets bumped mainly by fountain pens. But actually it's a nice pen and it has it’s place as part of my writing toolkit, but as a standalone pen to use day in and day out, I am not sure the Retrakt barrel would work for me.

Overall thoughts.

This pairing is really strong and I have enjoyed using both of them together. I couldn't use the Retrakt and the Pilot G2 as my only pen choice but actually what this exercise has made me realise is it has its place as part of my writing toolkit. As a result I will be carrying this pen around with me a lot more, rather than leaving it outcast on my desk.

Week 5

Moving into next week I will be using the Lamy Safari and Lamy Dark Lilac ink. I really love this ink colour and the Safari is one of those entry level pens people recommend because it is very reasonably priced. It does have its downsides like the mounded grip section, so using only this pen for a full week could be interesting.

Check back next week to see how I've held up.