By Mike Stevens
The Conklin Nozac has been around for a while now, in a couple of different models. First there was the limited edition version, plunger vac filled, and in gorgeous celluloid. Then came the "regular edition" versions, in some very nice bright acrylic colors. The regular edition pens are cartridge converter filled, but still sport the large two tone 14 nibs of the earlier version. These acrylic regular edition Nozacs proved to be very popular pens, offering a lot of pen for a reasonable price.
Then came the Rainforest.... Conklin has gone way out on a limb (if you'll pardon the expression!) with this color. It's literally like nothing else out there in today's pens. Yesterday's pens, too for that matter. I can't think of a single pen that comes close to this color combination. Putting it simply, it's green and pinkish red. Salmon was the way one person described the red component. But describing it thus is oversimplifying things to an extreme.
The green is several shades, from medium to light, marbled together. The same holds true for the red areas, and then the two colors are mixed together along with black veins in a random pattern. The result is unique to say the least. It's pretty easy to see where the name Rainforest came from. This pen does have the colors associated with tropical forests. The unique color is proving to be this pen's major selling point for retailers, as of this writing, they can't seem to get enough of the Rainforest.
Obviously, this is good news for the Conklin Pen Company. They were very gratified at the reception of the Rainforest at the recent New York Stationary Show, where the bright color drew attention form retailers and competitors alike. The current market is tight enough that the slightest twist on a proven design can spell success, so it's no surprise that the Rainforest is going to be a big contender this summer.
Color aside, this looks to be the same standard model Nozac pen. The nib is, I think this pen's strong point, at least in the versions I have tried. The 14K nib is nicely soft and responsive, even if lacking in traditional vintage nib style flex.
Once the converter was rinsed out, this pen had good flow, on the dry side, so it put down a nice fine line. The pen we tested was a medium, and proved to be very smooth, but as I mentioned, on the fine side of medium. It was very usable when it came to filling out forms or fitting an entire address into a tiny set of lines.
The main reason I like the Conklin nibs is the look, as shallow as that might sound. I think they have one of the most elegant designs of any modern pen nibs. The silver and gold combination is very good looking in itself, the lack of any extra engraving flourishes makes the nib look very clean and simple. I know that looks are much less important than the way a nib performs, but what can I say.... It's not like they don't count at all!
Aside from the nib, the Conklin Nozac is a nice pen from the standpoint of feel and comfort. Although, keep in mind, I'm a "big pen guy", so if you don't care for larger pens factor that in when I go into rapturous detail about the length, weight, and balance of the Nozac here. Not to mention the size! The glorious, extra large size!
This is a large pen, no way around that. If you like big pens, you should be thrilled. The Nozac is about as big as you get, pen-wise. Not quite magic marker size, but if you're thinking Montblanc 149, you're in the right ballpark. It's actually a tiny bit longer than that classic "big pen". So clearly not a pen for those with small hands, just from the standpoint of girth. Although the section narrows down a bit, it's still a full sized chunk of acrylic through the gripping area.
The weight, however... The weight is quite manageable, thanks to the use of acrylic in the cap and barrel. This pen is really long enough to be comfortable using without posting the cap. If you choose to post the cap though, it adds very little to the weight of the pen, making the balance almost the same with or without the cap on the barrel end. The rollerball version is a bit weightier, there's some more metal down at the tip end, but with the weight positioned so far forward, it really doesn't affect the balance in the hand when writing.
So, with the new Rainforest, you get a pen that makes a pretty bold statement, and provides a handful of writing fun as well. If you're not put off by the strong color combination, and like a large sized pen, taking a good look at the Conklin Nozac Rainforest might be a very good idea! List price is $170 for the Fountain Pen, the Rollerball is priced at $90.