Review: The Poky and Haolilai 908 fountain pens.

Review: The Poky and Haolilai 908 fountain pens.

I don’t think it will often happen that I will be reviewing two pens together. However in the case of the Poky Z150 and Haolilai 908, the reason for this will soon become clear.

"Haolilai Fountain Pen"

"Haolilai Fountain Pen"

While trawling the fountain pen rich waters of eBay, I came upon a pen made by The Haolilai Stationary Company, Shanghai (I have also seen the name Shanghai Haolilai Gold Pen Company elsewhere), which immediately demanded my attention. It had a pleasing traditional cigar shape, rounded end cap and barrel end and an unpretentious design. The entire pen, except for the section, is made of metal, and weighs in at about 28 gram. There are no jewels on the end of the cap or barrel, and it is painted a rich yellow.  In an interesting little detail, the chrome plated clutch ring is located about 5mm away from the opening of the cap. A similar stepped ring also serves as a positive cap stop at the beginning of the barrel. When capped these two rings encloses a coloured band, featuring the name of the pen, Haololai 908, painted in black. Capping is push-on with a positive “click” lock. It appears as if the chrome plated ring at the end of the section engages an area on the plastic liner inside the cap to provide a locking action. I have found this locking to be quite strong. The force necessary to cap or uncap the pen sometimes propels ink from the nib. Capped length is 138mm, uncapped 117mm and posted 153mm. I seldom if ever use fountain pens posted. Apart from the extra weight of the cap, it moves the centre of gravity too far to the back.

"Poky Fountain pen."

"Poky Fountain pen."

Two more of these rings are located three quarters of the way down both the cap and barrel. The ring on the cap forms an integral part of the substantial chrome plated metal pocket clip.

The tapered section, or grip area, is of black plastic and ends in a chrome plated ring. This pen does not have a hooded nib, and the decorative gold and silver coloured nib is signed by the manufacturer. The Haolilai 908 has a medium iridium-tipped nib. The nib is actually close to what I would expect of a medium nib, and not as is often the case with Chinese pens, thinner than European standard. I find the section to be comfortable and not slippery. It provides for a comfortable and positive pen grip.

Writing is easy, with a constant yet slightly uneven ink flow, making for some lines that are slightly wetter than others. Filling is by a screw type ink converter, but it is also interchangeable with International Standard cartridges. I write quite large and fast, yet the pen never ran dry on me or skipped a line. I regard this Haololai 908 as a pleasant everyday pen. It behaves well on most papers and seems to be doing well with Parker Quink. I paid about 7.00 AU for mine, including postage. Definitely value for money for a useable, representable pen.

Now, the second pen, the Poky Z150, is surprisingly, virtually identical in outward appearances as the Haolilai 908. I was so surprised when the two pens arrived a couple of weeks from each other, that at first I thought I have accidently purchase two of the same pens! However the difference soon becomes clear when I uncapped the Poky, to reveal a hooded nib design.

The hooded design on the Poky is slightly different from that found on the  traditional Hero 616, or Parker 150 classics. I do found it less attractive, although it certainly makes a more modern statement. Also branded as medium, this nib writes noticeably thinner than the Haolilai 908. Looks aside, this nib provides a beautiful smooth, pleasant writing experience, with a constant and even ink flow. I definitely prefer its writing experience above that provided by the Haolilai 908.

When I attempted to swap caps on these pens, I realised that they were probably not from the same manufacturer. Slight differences in manufacturing tolerances, surface finishing and design features make this unlikely. I dare say the Haolilai appears to be of a higher quality in this regard. I was wondering if the Poky could be a reproduction, although Poky pens have a substantial range of their own. The Poky Z150 cost me 12.00AU, postage included. If you like this design enough to want one for yourself, the deciding factor would probably be which of the nib designs you like the best. I have to confess, since completing this review, the Poky has become quite a favourite writer….The Poky is available in Red, Blue, Orange and Purple.

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