Call them what you will: low-end; entry-level; beginner; learners. Perhaps all true, however these two fountain pens are both pretty solid performers in their own right — for any purpose. They may look a little cheap and cheerful, and although not being for every collection certainly have their place, regardless of your level of fountain pen experience.
The Lamy Nexx and Pelikan Pelikano fountain pens can be found in the “Young Writer” and “Kids/World of School” sections on their respective manufacturer’s websites. Although you won’t see any in schools in this country (I am not sure of the current status regarding other schools around the world), the pens are clearly designed for an early or younger generation entry into the world of writing with fountain pens. That said, I’m certainly no whipper snapper, and I’ve enjoyed using these pens increasingly in recent times when gathering my thoughts for this post.
Those of us who use fountain pens on a regular basis are often the ones who introduce another generation into the habit. Would I use either of these pens with that aim? I’m not sure, and there are perhaps other options I may recommend for that purpose, however I can see these two being great options to offer as possibilities — particularly if a few different options were being considered based on the tastes of the prospective user.
Forced to choose either the Pelikano or the Nexx? A somewhat challenging question, and the answer surprised me a little, though as you’d expect, the ideal pen when comparing two or more generally produces a Frankenstein result — that is, a combination of the best aspects of each. Of course in the absence of that being possible, read on and my final choice will become clear, but really — either of these pens wouldn’t disappoint in their target market.
Look and feel
A point to note here: the current models of both pens have undergone a cosmetic makeover compared with what you see in the photos, which are the pens from my own collection. As far as I can tell, all other aspects of the specifications are essentially the same.
It’s probably in the “feel” more than the “look” that I was most surprised as I used both pens on a more regular basis. I have mentioned in the past I am not a huge fan of the traditional Lamy triangular grip section found on the Safari and AL-Star ranges.
Upon uncapping the Lamy Nexx, the first thing I see is another triangular section, this time covered in a rubberised, cushioned coating — somewhat reminiscent of the grip guides of similar material often slipped onto to pens and pencils for younger users. Despite this, I found the section on the Nexx to be far more comfortable to write with than the Safari in my collection. I don’t really have a valid reason for this given the sections are both quite similar in size and shape — the only difference being the rubber coating on the Nexx.
According to Lamy:
The LAMY nexx fountain pen has a soft non-slip grip which makes for extended fatigue-free writing. Its polished stainless steel nib makes writing super easy
All I can really put it down to is the fact that the rubberised overlay softens the edges a little, creating a slightly “rounder” and well… softer feel than the plastic of the Safari.
I would say however the junction of the section and nib looks a little untidy, with the increased diameter of the “stops” on the grip meeting the black plastic collar around the nib and feed. It is the same plastic collar which you also see on the Safari and AL-Star ranges, however on the former it is matched to the barrel colour, and the on the latter matches the darker section a little better. Certainly not a big issue here, and only noticeable as I sit here and review the overall look and form of the pen.
The top end of the Nexx barrel begins in a distinctly triangular form factor, rounding out as the barrel increases in diameter and moves towards the section, before returning to the triangular form and tapering slightly at the grip. Uncapped, it carries nice clean lines and I quite like the overall look and shape, however as I mentioned, it is perhaps spoiled a little where it meets the feed.
Capped, the Nexx demonstrates a smooth but steady increase in diameter from end to cap, reaching a maximum at the clip ring. This probably fits the overall funky aesthetic of the colourful cap which also contrasts nicely with the silver aluminium finish of the body. The top of the springy clip sits proud of the actual cap, and while it suits the overall form of the pen, the cap and clip “live a little large” for my taste.
The Nexx appears to be going for a fun, funky and cool aesthetic, rather than portraying itself as the “beginner’s” pen. To that end, I’d say Lamy have probably achieved their goal.
The virtually clipless Pelikano, aside from the cap, carries a certain similarity in shape to the Nexx, and again avoids too much of the “beginner” aesthetic, however I believe it does carry just a little more of that style. This time, the end of the barrel begins in square form, before a similar increase in diameter as it rounds out, before tapering into… wwhaaaaat?? A triangular grip section! I must admit it is more trianguar-ish, than triangular, though the similarity to the Nexx is not lost on me.
Again the section has a rubberised coating, however in this instance adds little thickness to the grip. Of the three flattened sides to the grip, the index finger third also has rubberised ridges which run perpendicular to the barrel, I assume to assist with grip and guidance of the nib when writing. A couple of things on this: firstly, they are probably not necessary, as the rubberised coating on the section is more than enough for gripping, and though I didn’t find it noticeable — it may annoy some. Secondly, this could also be used as a baseline grip point of reference in someone learning to write (“index finger here”).
This rubberised overlay sits on a clear section, and therefore prevents any decent view of ink colour or level inside the pen. In contrast to the Nexx, with the Pelikano the nib is held by black plastic “shoulders” at each of its sides. In pointing out above the look of the Nexx at the junction of the nib and section, I’m not really sure this one is an improvement. Personal taste plays a factor with any of the pen designs we prefer, and perhaps I’ve made a bigger deal out of it than it really is. I cannot say when I’ve picked up either pen I have even given it a second thought.
Overall, I marginally prefer the Pelikano’s grip section, though it is the centre of the barrel which raises a few questions for me. Both pens increase in diameter through the middle of the barrel, with the Pelikano doing so just a little more in comparison (1.4 mm more at its maximum, as you can see from the specifications below). This throws the comfort of my grip ever so slightly off, and I’ve found I cannot write for extended periods quite as comfortably as I can with the Nexx.
Aesthetically, the styling of the Pelikano is quite different to that of the Nexx, and to be honest I really have no preference here. The cap of the Pelikano reminds me of a helmet on the Lego Knights I used to have as a child — if you had them you know what I mean. While I enjoyed playing with those knights, I prefer the design as a helmet rather than a pen cap.
I’ve described it as “virtually clipless” above as the moulded plastic forms part of an exoskeleton or … yes, there it is: “helmet” over the cap. This forms a sort of pseudo-clip, however the functional section is very short, and I’d hesitate to use it regularly, being reasonably fearful it might snap as the plastic fatigues through repeated bending.
Although both pens are not what you’d call expensive — both feel sturdy enough to stand up to the usual level of wear and tear. The aluminium barrel of the Nexx may provide a little extra reassurance in this area, however with even a little care in the daily use and carry of, I doubt you’d have trouble with either.
As I’ve mentioned, the clip extending past the end of the cap on the Nexx may provide a snag point, however again I would not anticipate any major problems.
Notwithstanding the cosmetic changes I mentioned earlier, following are the specifications in the current available line up from both manufacturers.
|Cap||Plastic Snap On||Plastic Snap On|
|Weight||23 g||31 g|
|Diameter max||14.5 mm||13.1 mm|
|Diameter grip||12.5 mm||12.2 mm|
|Length capped||13.6 cm||13.4 cm|
|Length uncapped||12.5 cm||12.7 cm|
|Price A$||$26-$30 + int postage||$54.95|
Check the manufacturer’s websites for colours available.
As far as the price is concerned, Australian supplier LarryPost stocks the Lamy Nexx, at the price quoted above. I have not been able to find a local supplier online for the Pelikano, however this of course does not rule out any local brick and mortar stores perhaps stocking them. Fishpond lists the Pelikan at AUD $39.97, however it does state the pen ships from a UK supplier. The price I have quoted above is a conversion from both Jet Pens in the US and Cult Pens in the UK, however you would need to add international postage costs to these of course.
Also worth mentioning is the option of a left-handed nib on the Pelikano, as well as the slightly cheaper Pelikano Junior model.
As far as filling is concerned, I have been using the Nexx with a Lamy Z24 converter (with no issues), and the Pelikan with standard international cartridges, noting the recommended converter here is the C499 from Pelikan.
I’ve had these pens for about 6 months or so now, intermittently using them in my rotation of pens, and have written more extensively with each over the past few weeks taking notes for this post.
As far as the nibs are concerned, I’ve been happy with both. The stainless steel medium nibs are smooth writers, with the Pelikano having a slightly softer feel in terms of a little give, however there also appears to be a marginally smaller sweet spot than what exists on the Nexx — at least with this particular pen anyway. Overall, both nibs have that firm, steel nib feel — one that I quite like and is not meant as a criticism in any way.
The Nexx comes as expected out of the box — the same Lamy nib you’d find in a Safari: firm, reliable and consistent. I say consistent because in mentioning the Pelican’s sweet-spot, the Lamy nib performs well at all points of minor grip and alignment adjustment — however when compared line for line, doesn’t quite match the smoothness and comfort of the Pelikano.
Both lay down a consistent, wet line, and with a little pressure applied, (despite the softer overall feel of the Pelikan) the Lamy nib will give a slightly broader one, though neither of these pens are what you’d be using for any sort of line variation lettering.
Overall, as far as the nibs go, points to the Pelikano, as it is a much smoother and more comfortable nib to be using for writing, and the sweet-spot is really not hard to find and then sit comfortably in like your favourite lounge chair.
Both pens I have used without posting the cap, however if you were to do so, the Pelikano retains its overall balance more so than the Nexx, which becomes very top-heavy and cumbersome.
Both pens handle a variety of paper types equally well, which is probably important given what they might be used for, and I’ve not found either wanting on the first stroke when uncapped, nor with extended periods uncapped, for example in writing intermittent notes while researching online and the like.
Only young writer?
Indeed, the young writer aspect of these pens is not to be dismissed, however I don’t believe either necessarily perform this role any better than the Pilot Kakuno, which is far cheaper to buy. The Kakuno also sports the triangular grip section, however the overall balance and feel make it — in my opinion at least — a better buy for this segment of the market.
Do either of these pens appeal to the non-young or non-early writers? That of course is a matter of personal opinion. As I’ve hinted at above, I think the Nexx is more likely to fulfil a more universal role across beginner and more experienced users alike, whereas the Pelikano based on looks alone I feel is perhaps relegated to the beginners end of the market.
Given its bright and funky sort of look, the Nexx to me is a pen you might use with a clipboard or reporter style notebook: marking off attendees at a summer camp, scoring a tennis match or perhaps even recording your backyard coffee roasting data — assuming suitable paper was in use of course. At then end of the day, if a pen (which both are), are solid performers, it really is down to personal taste, and that is really where we end up here.
In summing up, both of these pens are pleasant to use and perform as intended. If I had to choose one? Probably the Nexx, simply because I find the overall shape of the body a little more comfortable to use than the Pelikano, which becomes a little too broad in the middle for my grip.
The Frankenstein result if I could? The Pelikano nib in the Nexx body with a smaller version of the Nexx cap and clip. Because that isn’t going to happen any time soon, I’d go with the Nexx simply because of the Lamy nib options you have at your disposal, though with a pen like this, I’d assume you’d have be looking for something specific, otherwise a Safari might be a better choice — particularly at a slightly lower price point.
In any event, either the Lamy Nexx or Pelikan Pelikano won’t fail you as a notetaker, however for the “young writer” I am most likely sticking with the Pilot Kakuno as my go to recommendation.