A few weeks ago, a wonderfully kind gentleman by the name of Joost Appelboom reached out to me to give me the opportunity to review some pens and, in turn, give said pens away to my readers. Lucky for you guys, I accepted and he promptly sent me the 2016 Charged Green Lamy Al-Star.
Before I get into the review and giveaway, I want to take a second to thank Mr. Appelboom for his generosity and to talk a little about Appelboom Pen. The store began as a bookstore in 1989 by Peter Appelboom. Two years later, they began carrying stationery products and opened two more stores, eventually becoming an official Montblanc dealer. After Peter's death in 2010, Joost took over running the company. They are expanding via a growing online client base and are planning a move later this year to the original store that Peter started way back in 1989. Funny how all of their growth has gotten them right back where they started, but they're bigger and better than ever.
I love family businesses. Love them. And the smaller the better. I often talk about handmade products, stuff made in the USA, locally manufactured goods, etc. This is no exception. The Appelboom's have taken their company and grown it several times over and they've done it with amazing customer service, competitive pricing and a great selection of awesome stationery products. I'm sure Peter would be so proud to see where his stores are today. If you haven't, please take a moment to check out the shop at Appelboom.com (to save you all that clickin' I got a link tied to that logo up there, too).
So about this pen... The Lamy Safari and Al-Star are probably some of the most widely-recommended pens for those new to fountain pens. They're durable, inexpensive and the triangular grip section, while not always loved by everyone, typically offers up some support for properly holding a fountain pen. Something people unfamiliar with them may find more handy than you'd think. Some folks have trouble with the "forced" grip of the Lamy Safari and Al-Star, but I would guess that it positions most people just right for a natural writing grip.
The Al-Star is an aluminum pen that is incredibly lightweight. They come in a wide variety of colors and all feature a smoke gray translucent grip section. I really love the look of the section, especially when paired with some of the bold colors offered in the lineup. In my opinion, the Al-Star is a slightly more elegant step-up from the chunky, Lego-esque plastic of the Safari line. It still has a large, chunky cap with the iconic Lamy clip (think big paper clip) and a black finial at the top of the cap, but the anodized aluminum just has a slightly more high-end look and feel. Especially in some of their more subdued colors (Silver and Black). There's an ink window cut into the barrel of the pen, which is handy for checking to make sure you've got enough ink left to finish your Pièce De Résistance and a large Lamy logo engraved at the tail end of the pen, but other than that, there are no embellishments or adornments to mention. And, with the cap off, this pen takes on a rather sleek, unassuming appearance... The nibs on these pens are fantastic. And easily interchangeable. If you get one and don't particularly care for the width of the line, you can snag a replacement very inexpensively and swap it out. I love user-serviceable goods and this is a big deal for the Lamy. It comes in at a beginner price-point and offers some user customization through nib swaps until you find the writing experience that is, dare I say, "write" for you. See what I did there?
I'm here all week, folks...
So what's the deal with this Charged Green? It's Lamy's limited edition for 2016. Each year, they release a limited edition color for their Al-Star and Safari lineup. I think this is the 27th year in a row they've released a green pen. No, I kid... But Lamy does love green. They've used some variation of yellow/green the last couple of years on their special edition pens. Lamy LOVES green. I think I made a joke at some point that someone at Lamy got a discount on a bunch of green materials and now they're trying to use it all up. Can you tell that I wasn't particularly excited about this pen? If not, I wasn't. I looked at it and thought, Oh... Another green pen from Lamy. Cool. Next... However, once I got the pen and opened it up, I was actually quite surprised at how much I actually like the color. Charged Green is the perfect name. It's vibrant, bold and catchy. It's got a really neat yellow-green color that reminds me of a Spring Green Crayola crayon. This pen really caught me off-guard. Paired with the smoke gray section, it's a winner for sure.
Completionists out to buy every Lamy ever made will pick this up without hesitation, but if you're not one of those completionists and are instead a naysayer, like myself, assuming this is just another green release from Lamy, I'd encourage you to give this pen at least a second, possibly a third look. The color is really spectacular, especially in person.
The only thing that bothers me a little bit about this pen (and all Safari/Al-Star limited editions) is that Lamy does nothing to beef up the packaging. It's a limited edition, right? Give me a matching tube or a little anodized aluminum box. They do make matching ink for the pen, which is useless unless you're using it as a highlighter, but sprucing up the packaging a little would make this pen feel a little more like a limited edition and not just another color release from Lamy.
So... Will you be charging up your Lamy collection with this special edition? I'd encourage you to at least consider it. If it can convert a non-green pen-lover like me, I'm sure it can steal your heart, too.
Let's talk about that giveaway!
Joost was kind enough to send this over as a giveaway so that's just what we're gonna do... If you want to win this awesome giveaway from the amazing folks at Appelboom Pen, all you have to do is comment below. It can be as simple as a little hello or as elaborate as a short essay on which treats your dog likes best. And, you have to do one other thing... If you have an Instagram account, you have to follow @appelboompennen. Trust me, your Instagram feed will thank you when you see the luxurious writing instruments they post up. Everything from special edition MontBlancs and Pelikans to everyday carry essentials like Kaweco and Lamy. And who doesn't love a family-run stationery shop? Head over and like this post on my Instagram account @heymatthew for an additional entry into the giveaway.
Entries will run until Sunday, March 6th at 11:59pm EST. I'll announce the winner on Monday the 7th. What a way to kick off the week!!!