Monday, March 11, 2013

Product Review: Lamy Nexx Fountain Pen

The Lamy Nexx fountain pen.
Ever since my first basic black Lamy Safari, I have been a fan of this stalwart fountain pen and its sisters, the Al-Star and the Vista. I now own several* Lamys, including my favorite apple green Safari, and they have become my sketching workhorses. Other than a defective nib I got once, they are reliable, consistent and low-maintenance. One especially functional feature is that the nibs are interchangeable among these three styles, so I can switch around nib sizes quickly and easily. They also all use the same converter – another plus. For all these reasons, they made it onto my Top 10 list for 2012.
I recently heard about the Lamy Nexx, which is even less expensive than the other Lamy styles. With colored plastic caps and a dubious hole on one end (that would presumably enable attachment of a lanyard), the Nexx is marketed as a starter fountain pen for kids. The best part, though, is that the Nexx takes the same nibs and converter as the other models. Always a sucker for bright colors (lanyard hole notwithstanding) and appreciating the interchangeability, I got a bright chartreuse one, thinking that I would use it for writing.
The pen body is made of aluminum, and the cap is plastic, so overall it is slightly lighter in weight than the resin Safari or aluminum Al-Star but with a similar girth, which I find comfortable to hold and use. The cylindrical body tapers to a rounded triangular shape at the tail end that looks modern and distinctive. Unfortunately, that shape makes posting the cap a bit wobbly (though so far it hasn’t fallen off while writing). Since the Nexx uses the same nibs as the other Lamy styles, it felt familiar and comfortable right from the start.

(Edited 8/12/13: The wobbly posted cap mentioned above turned out to be a deal-breaker for me. More than once, I was using the posted pen to sketch musicians, and when I applauded with the pen still in my hand, the cap flew off. It dropped off several times on the streets of Barcelona and Germany. I now use the Nexx only for writing at home, which was the purpose I originally intended for it. It's a pity about the wobbly cap, though, because I still find the pen itself more comfortable to hold than the Safari or Al-Star. But as all urban sketchers know, for a pen to be considered street-worthy, the cap has to post firmly.) 
All the Lamy models mentioned previously have a triangular grip that feels odd at first but that I’ve grown accustomed to. The Nexx still has that familiar triangular-shaped grip, but it’s a little more rounded and made of “ergonomic rubber,” which makes it even more comfortable. I like it so much, in fact, that I’m using the Nexx to sketch with after all. (Since it comes in fun colors, I might even find myself getting a few more.)
* A couple of sketcher friends who were looking into my bag the other day were teasing me about the amount of stuff I carry (and here I was so pleased with myself about how pared-down my daily arsenal had become). Why do I need so many fountain pens, they wanted to know. The answer is similar to the question about why I need to use more than one sketchbook at a time: different inks for different needs. If I’m planning to use watercolors or other water-soluble media, then I need a waterproof ink. If I’m sketching animals, trees or other natural subjects, I tend to choose brown or gray water-soluble ink. If I’m sketching cars, buildings or industrial subjects, I tend to favor black – sometimes with shading on the purple side, and other times with shading on the blue or black side. If I have to carry a few more pens to have this range of selection, so be it (OK, I admit I am always trying to lighten my bag).
Hmmm, maybe I’ll put a cord through the hole in the Nexx and wear the pen around my neck.

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