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Smelly Pens – Zebra Sarasa Chupa Chups Edition 1

Welcome to what is probably my first gel pen focussed blog post: a quick look at the Zebra Sarasa Chupa Chups Scented Pens – and at the Staples gel pens.

Staples Sonix gel

The Staples Sonix gel pens were on offer and only 50p each: they are a mixed bag. The fluorescent pink usually writes well, other colours do sometimes smudge and don’t always have a good ink flow… This is very different to the experience Bob from my pen needs ink had. I’m not sure whether this is because of poor quality control, the difference between different colours, declining standards or the fact that my pens were too old, i.e. stored too long in the store before I bought them.

Staples Sonix Gel

Staples Sonix Gel

The performance of the Staples Sonix made me think of this video from the Wall Street Journal:  What Took China So Long to Master Ballpoint Pens?

Zebra Sarasa – Scented Chupa Chups pens

The Sarasas, on the other hand, are excellent performers. My green / yellow / red pack, bought from this seller, smells very nice, but the orange / blue / black pack has an artificial, bought here, slightly unpleasant smell to it. $9.50 for a pack of three seems a good price.

Zebra Sarasa - Chupa Chups Flavour

Zebra Sarasa – Chupa Chups Flavour

In the video review, you’ll also see my first scented pen, or at least the first I remember – a Hello Kitty Pen I got in the early or mid-1980s.

Scented Hello Kitty Pen

Scented Hello Kitty Pen

You can watch the video review here.

Or in full screen on YouTube.

More Sarasa Chupa Chups goodness at The Well-Appointed Desk. There are also several other smells, including from the Mister Donut series reviewed at The Pen Addict.


The Pen Addict Podcast is 299 6

Oh, no. Another one of those blog posts about numbers 😜

The Pen Addict Podcast is 299. Episodes old, that is. I happily remember back, listening to the first episode in 2012.

When the first episode came out I put it on a memory card so that could listen to it in my car stereo on a longer drive. I was driving to visit one of my students who was on a placement at the time. On the way there I thought to myself “This is great, but I doubt more than a handful of people would want to listen to this. I can’t see this lasting very long.”. (#myfirsttpa 😋)

Well, how wrong I was! Of course, I am referring to the second part of my sentence.

Back then, before the podcast, to me, Brad Dowdy was ‘the friendly blogger who puts his pictures on Flickr’. Every time I had contact with him he was extremely friendly and not many bloggers had their photos on Flickr. These days I think of him as the most influential stationery blogger who helped to make liking stationery a bit more mainstream. I didn’t know Myke Hurley at all before episode one.

I felt quite honoured when Bleistift was the Pen Blog of the Week in episode 94. Funnily enough, this was because of an ink related blog post, but it still meant that pencils became one of the topics of this episode. The way I know this story (please correct me if you know better) is that a pencil blog being discussed on this episode made Tim Wasem think of starting a pencil podcast and he then talked (or chatted) to Andy Welfle. Together they then approached Johnny Gamber and within a few weeks, the Erasable Podcast was born.

In time for episode 300 I thought I have a closer look at some ‘statistics’. This information is based on the The Pen Addict Podcast page on stationery.wiki, which is basically a query of the semantic data held in the wiki. Please feel free to contribute to the wiki. Everyone’s welcome there.

Let’s have a look at the plot. The x-axis (horizontal axis) is used for the dates of the episodes. The y-axis (vertical axis) is for the episode length in minutes.

Each dot represents an episode. Early episodes are on the left, recent episodes are on the right. Short episodes are on the bottom, long episodes are on the top.

The Pen Addict Podcasts, Date vs Duration

The Pen Addict Podcasts, Date vs Duration. Open in new tab for hi-res version.

The black line is a straight linear regression line. Looking at this line it seems that every year the episodes get around five minutes longer. If you like long episodes you can look forward to episode 1000. By that time episodes should be more than two hours long 😃.

The blue curve is a LOESS (local regression) curve, which is a bit more ‘flexible’ than the straight line. You can see that in the first two years, until the middle of 2014, episodes gained quite a bit in duration. Growth in duration then slowed down but picked up again since 2017.

Top tip: Why not celebrate the 300th episode when it comes out next week by sharpening a brand new pencil? ..or let others know about your first TPA episode (#myfirsttpa).

If you have just discovered  the Pen Addict Podcast recently: there are 295 hours to listen to so far. That’s more than 12 solid days.

As usual, the data and the code used for this plot are available on GitHub.

PS: I know my numbers posts are not very popular, so I’ve been holding off my series of blog post analysing pencil blogs for several years – but be warned, this series will start in the near future


I’d like to thank Alexander Kramer for allowing me to use his Brad and Myke colouring page picture in this blog post.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Refills* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) 2

Retro 51

The stationery community has been writing a few Retro 51 articles on stationery.wiki. When I tried to make the information in these articles semantic1 I came across a few issues.

One issue is related to Retro 51’s refills, one related to their categories, lines and editions. Luckily the users in The Pen Addict’s Slack channel are extremely helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to Retro 51 so the confusion with Retro 51’s series, categories, lines etc has been solved.

The other issue, relating to their refills, took me a while to figure out. This was probably not helped by the fact that I don’t own a Retro 51.

The short answer is: I think Retro 51’s rollerballs accept standard G2 refills, which means you can turn them into rollerball, gel or ballpoint pens.

Here are some of the bits of information I found along the journey. They might be old information for you, but since I am more into pencils and fountain pens than refillable non-disposable rollerballs a lot of this was new to me.

ISO standard

Refills are standardised in the ISO standard 12757.

ISO 12757-1 is for general use, i.e. there are not too many demands on the ink.

ISO 12757-2 is for documentary use, i.e. for writing documents that are required as evidence and the standard also looks into things like how the ink is coping with bleach, etc.

Refill overview

Confusion

There seems to be contradictory information on the web when it comes to the G2 refills. This is probably not helped by the fact that Pilot has a pen called the G2. Based on what I have seen so far G2 and RB refills tend to get confused.

The G2 standard seems to have its origin in Parker’s Jotter refills, which came out in the 1950s.

I have produced a little table with further information about these refills. It also includes average writing length per refill based on the information by Premec. Other refills may vary.

TypeDiameterLengthNameAvg writing lengthInk charge
D
D1 mini
2.3557.1 or 67.0multicolor
marker
350 m0.1 g
Japan Style2.9-3.0variable600 m -
2000 m
0.22 g - 0.32 g
Spezial3.061.0 or 66.5
X103.05106.8ballpoint standard
X203.05106.8ballpoint standard
large capacity
C13.05117.4ballpoint
international
0.8 mm:
2200 m
1.0 mm:
1900 m
0.4 g
B33.05132/103
63/43
ballpoint
stick refills
1700 m0.375 g
A23.20106.8ballpoint
standard
G13.20106.8ballpoint
large capacity
G26.0098.1ballpoint / gel
large capacity
0.7 mm:
400 m (gel)
5000 m (oil based)
0.7 g (gel)
1.1 g (oil based)
RB6.30110.0standard rollerball0,5 mm: 500m
0.7 mm: 400m
0.8 g
130.8 (stick)
110.5 (retractable)
gel refill0.7 mm:
450 m (stick)
600 m (retractable)
0.7 g (stick)
0.9 g (retractable)

For more information about refills see The Well-Appointed Desk’s Epic Refill Reference Guide and The Refill Finder.

The diagram is from Qniemiec, translation by Francis Flinch and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

  1. To allow exciting queries like the one producing this table. []