The Moonman Wancai Mini has many things going for it. For one its size, which is puny in comparison but when posted – it has threads at the rear which allows the cap to be attached to the main body, giving it a decent size. Threaded in thus, the pen also sports a fair amount of weight and is decently well balanced in the hand.
The Wancai also holds an abnormally high amount of ink considering its size and is another big plus for the pen. I have also been told that the pen is capable of housing international cartridges, though I am yet to try it. The acrylic body – while it may be too early in the day to comment on its longevity – is also reasonably smooth and tactile, making the act of writing with one a generally pleasant experience. The grip section, despite its puny stature is quite friendly, though it will be obviously a strain on bigger palms. As for the nib too, there is little to be ticked-off, the quality only as good as what the Chinese manufacturers are normally willing to offer (Oh yes, they are capable of notching up quality standards that are far superior)! Suffice to say, the nib writes (though scratchy and needs the occasional goading), the flow of ink well regulated with no burps and itching dryness which some Chinese pens are notorious for. Oh, it is golden in colour and has “iridium point” etched on it. Not that it means much in China though.
However, the one area where the Wancai scores – and it is scoring consistently, around the world for a good amount of time now – is the design. The transparent body that allows the ink to be seen sloshing inside the belly of the demonstrator, covered by mint green swirls is an eye-candy. As a matter of fact, the random depth of the swirls provides the pen with a rare, almost surreal demeanour, which perhaps is one of the reasons propelling it towards the top of the “must-have” lists of pen lovers around the world. The cap too is nicely rounded in keeping with the overall form factor of the pen. Critics have gone on record saying that the design has been pinched from an earlier Japanese model, but I guess, that will not be a restriction so far as the drool factor of the Wancai goes. To see it is to want it, period.
Not much is known about the maker “Moonman” and I suspect it is one of those Chinese brands that is catered to by a number of enterprises. The problem with such a scenario off-course is that one can never be sanguine about the quality of the offering and the wide dispersion in terms of packaging and obvious quality issues are always best taken in the stride. The packaging of the Wancai transparent that I wrote about earlier, was different from the Wancai Swirl that I have in my hand now, this one being packed in a plastic box. Both came with similar looking pipettes to fill ink though.
I bought this one from a Chinese e-commerce site and not only are pens much cheaper there (when compared to similar products in Indian sites) but the option of using my card to pay in Rupees was also there and the transaction – from the keying in of the details to the actual delivery was like a breeze. The packet, incidentally was delivered by the Indian Postal Service and the time taken from transaction to delivery was about a week.
The Final verdict? The Wancai Swirl is extremely pocket friendly in terms of its size to fit into the pocket and in terms of the costs involved. It is a conversation stopper when it comes to looks and scores pretty highly on the scale of feel as well. However, its size is a dampener if one wants to use it for continuous and prolonged writing, as it is bound to be uncomfortable in the hand. Not very sure about the use of terms like “lifetime guarantee” and “built to last” either about the pen. But why even bother? It is a fun pen that one may acquire on impulse following a fad. Anything more than that will be akin to putting too much pressure on the tines.
EndNote: the grapevine is now ripe about the Sanghai Jingdian Company (owners of the Moonman brand?) is now readying to come out with ebonite variants of the Wancai. The ebonite will be of Japanese origin, will sport German nibs (Schmidt, in all probability) and will take in cartridges. Now, that will be something worth the wait, though.
3 Replies to “Wancai Mini Swirl – a good pen in a small package?”
your observations about the Chinese fountain pen market are surprisingly bang on, accurate. and i love the way you deconstruct a package without getting bogged down by the unnecessary details about posting pictures of scribbles and the other “technical” stuff. you have a very lucid way of approaching the subject and the passion (or is it the knowledge alone) about the subject is obvious.
you, my friend, will go a long way and remember, i was the first to hail you as the one who will herald a new dawn.
Which are the shops selling ‘good quality’ fountain pens in Kolkata? My favoured/ frequented shops have downed their shutters or abandoned this business.
most fountain pen sellers have gone online and those selling pens in brick and mortar stores are now few and far between. some large format stores do keep fountain pens, but where they lack is in the basic knowledge about pens apart from being “intimidating” to “ordinary” people like us. the pens too are normally restricted to a few ubiquitous brands and are, i feel, priced high. pen hospital (esplanade), bharati stores (sealdah) and a few other stores can still cater to specific needs…
if you have any specific needs feel free to ask here – i am sure the readers can help. we have also started a new site called http://www.penloverskolkata.com to address such and other issues. may i invite you to register? membership is free.