Monday, 11 August 2014

Stabilo Easy Original Rollerball + Extras

Being the pen addict that I am I like to keep my nose to the ground for any stationery related competitions that are occurring in the hope I might get lucky. There is always room for more stationery in my life and I struck gold with Stabilos #WinItWednesday twitter competition.
Both my friend and I won a Stabilo Easy Original Rollerball, a set of Be Wild highlighters, a highlighter in a tube and a set of Stabilo colouring pencils.

Before I review the pen I just want to quickly talk about the others as they have made quite an impression.
Stabilo colouring pencils
The colouring pencils are in a pack of 12 bright and cheerful colours and being thick pencils can cover quite a large area quickly. I had fun colouring in my random squiggles and my son who I think may be developing a mild stationery addiction of his own is now enjoying using them for his rap battle illustrations - Don't ask!

Stabilo Colouring
The highlighters are not just any old highlighters. They are funky, proud to have in your pencil case, ready to whip out and show off at every possible opportunity highlighters.

Be Wild
The Be Wild highlighters have a trendy animal print design which definitely stand out from the crowd. You would be forgiven for thinking the pink tube was paint. At first glance it's what both my son and I thought it was. I was obviously snoozing when these Neontastic babies were first revealed to mankind. Not to worry, they now have my full attention. The tube shaped highlighter is possibly a little awkward in terms of shape if you have limited pencil case space but for desk use - amazing. It stands up and is easy to spot and grab in seconds.

So now lets get to the pen, the Stabilo Easy Original right handed rollerball.

Stabilo Easy Original
The Stabilo is made of plastic with a smooth rubber grip and has a unique curved shape. If I were a child this would have probably been my favourite pen. It's bright, unique in style and the lid resembles a ducks head. What's not to like? My parents and teachers would have probably been driven crazy by me quacking loudly every time I removed the lid "Quack, my head, my head, Quack Quack". Just me then? Swiftly moving on ....

Stabilo Easy grip
Being a lefty I asked my right handed boyfriend to hold it so I could see the correct way to grip this pen and he looked at me as though I'd just asked him to find me some tartan paint. To start with he didn't believe such a pen existed. To him a pen is a pen and he saw absolutely no need for specific left or right handed pens.
I'm on the fence with this one but I ought to bear in mind that these pens are designed for young children just starting out and the positioning of the dips in the grip are there to guide the children into using the correct grip right from the start. This means that the extra time they would have spent learning the correct or most comfortable way to hold a pen can now be spent concentrating on the writing they are producing. The curved tail end of the pen should rest nicely against the side of the hand which helps with balance and weight distribution making it a comfortable pen to hold for long periods of time.
When I've looked at other pens which are used in schools, the Berol Handwriting pen for example, I liked the pen but the lack of a grip was an issue. So whether it's necessary to have specific left or right handed pens doesn't really matter, what matters is that these pens make learning to write easier and much more comfortable which can only be a good thing.

My son is now 11 and has gained plenty of experience with holding and using a pen but I was still interested to see what his thoughts were. They way he positions his fingers are slightly different to how the grip says the pen should be held so he found it a little strange to start with. He didn't like the shape of the pen or the way the dips in the grip were positioned and wasn't really prepared to give it much of a chance which was disappointing. He didn't like the look of the pen so I think he'd already taken a dislike to it before even trying it. Had he been 6 maybe the pen would have appealed to him more. When I pointed out that the lid looks like a ducks head I did see the ghost of a smile and he did have a quick peek before retreating back to his room so my baby boy is still in there somewhere.

Holding a Stabilo Easy
I actually liked the grip. As a left hander I had my first finger in the dip closest to the tip and my thumb on the smooth side of the grip so the curved end of the pen ended up facing the wrong way but it made no difference to my writing experience. A right handed person could hold it in exactly the same way if they didn't like where the dips were positioned. The distance between the grip and the tip of the pen suited me nicely and the pen although bulky in appearance felt light and comfortable to hold and use.

Stabilo Easy writing sample
The first thing I noticed when I started writing was the line width. For a medium is feels quite thick. I'm more of a fine line girl but my eyes soon adjusted and it didn't seem so bad after all. The only trouble with thicker lines is that my handwriting gets bigger without me even realising I'm doing it. With smaller handwriting the thick lines appear even thicker so subconsciously I'm probably trying to making my lines appear thinner. I doubt line thickness would make any difference to the children this pen is designed for. Children who are learning to write usually have larger handwriting when they first start out so a thicker line width is probably ideal for them.

I have been experiencing some skipping. When I join my letters up the pen writes beautifully but if I lift the pen from the paper, the first letter I write after can sometimes be a struggle. The ink just needs a second to start flowing smoothly again. It's nothing horrendous and doesn't spoil the appearance of my handwriting at all, it's just a minor irritation for me and not necessarily an issue with every Stabilo Easy.

Stabilo medium tip
The tip of the pen reminded me a little of the Berol Handwriting pen. It looks similar but that's where the similarities end. The Stabilo feels smoother and softer on paper. Every notebook I've written in with the pen has reacted favourably. The ink has been quick drying, there has been no feathering or bleeding though the page and it feels lovely. Almost spongy and absorbent, pen and paper melting into one another. I wouldn't have been surprised if one of my notebooks had snapped shut with the pen still inside so it could keep it all to itself.

The ink is erasable too but I didn't have an ink eraser so I was unable to test how well it erases. I would have quite liked the pen to have an eraser built in somewhere or provided with the pen as I'm sure it's a feature that children would appreciate but ink erasers can be picked up quite cheaply in  good stationery shops and perhaps I'm being a little greedy, especially considering the pen came with not one but three refills. 

Refillable Stabilo Easy
 I'm over the moon that this pen is refillable. This is a pen that a child will be using day in, day out so gone are the days of fighting around the pen pot for a pen that actually works. The pen unscrews at the end of the grip and the refill clicks into place. It's so easy.

Personalised Stabilo Easy
 Another great feature of this pen is the ability to personalise it. Stabilo have not only made sure with the three refills that you will get plenty of use out of it before having to spend any more money, they have also provided each pen with 3 name labels. When it gets worn out or damaged it can be replaced. Not only does this help prevent classroom squabbling over who's pen belongs to whom, it helps teach the children to look after their own belongings.

The pen doesn't have a clip but it's not something I think primary school children will be too bothered about. I did worry a little about the lid getting lost easily but I was surprised to find it does actually clip on quite snugly to the tail end of the pen should you wish to keep it safe. The lid is light and doesn't alter the balance of the pen when posted. The lid twists on and off easily. Stabilo have made this pen very easy to use so the name Stabilo Easy suits the pen perfectly.

If I had a child in Primary school I would definitely be speaking to the teacher to see if we could swap the Berol for the Stabilo. The Berol is still a great pen but the Stabilo in my opinion is better.

2 comments:

  1. Another really in depth, quality article Janine.

    I am very much a fan of left and right handed products and I believe that anyone who feels the pen is awkward in anyway has probably just gotten used to an unorthodox writing style.

    Myself, touching on your article about the Frixion Clicker, I also hold my pen relatively close to the nib, the reason I always end up with a little ink on my finger, and so when first using a pen like this or, originally, the Yoropen, I noticed just how unconventional my writing style was. I worked on this and now (when I can remember) I hold my pen further away from the nib, as it creates a smoother writing experience and, I find, my hand doesn't cramp up so much.

    This pen looks great, the writing line does look a little thick (and I think you might have just told me why my writing, depending on the day I thought, would get bigger every page I seemed to write...because I would be using a pen with a thick writing line!) but, I am sure if people complain a "fine" version of the refill will come out, which again, the fact that this pen is refillable, is a great plus point. With the original Berol handwriting pens having almost a cartridge like system (more like the way felt tips work, however), replacing the cartridge may have extended the life of the pen, but not by much, as I found the main issue was the nibs wearing down flat.

    I think pens like this need to be made more, as more and more kids must be tempted by working purely on a computer, and I don't want to go into the benefits of writing over typing, but it's so much better! The fun side of the pen will appeal to kids, and being able to write your name on it as well as choose a pen colour, would make the pens personal.

    I too agree Stabilo are missing out on a key feature by not including some way to erase the ink, however, with the pen being refillable, the eraser itself would probably have to be refillable, however they solved this problem with mechanical pencils YEARS ago, so it shouldn't be an issue for Stabilo.

    With not having one to write with, I can't comment on this exact pen, but it's definitely one I would have been using for notes at school (as my hand would often get very achey), however, would it replace my fountain pen? I'm not sure.

    Keep up the good work Janine!

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  2. Thankyou for taking the time to read and comment.

    You are right about anyone who finds the pen awkward having gotten used to an unorthodox writing style. Maybe if I'd had this pen at school I wouldn't have some of the issues with grips, distance from the tip and so on.

    I'm definitely going to take a leaf out of your book and train myself to hold a pen further away from the tip. I may even use the Stabilo Easy - but a left handed version and really go back to basics. I can feel some handwriting practice coming on.....

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