My review of the LIY Future: another new Chinese-made fountain pen
After the recent successes in purchasing inexpensive Chinese-made fountain pens from eBay, I took another gamble with a much more expensive acrylic fountain pen - the LIY Future. I had could find no information on the pen prior to placing the order, which was listed for sale by a trusted seller that quickly and carefully shipped me several other Chinese made fountain pens recently.
The LIY (Live In You) Future fountain pen is made from a pretty, white swirl acrylic and the eBay listing pictures really popped in the photographs. The nib unit is advertised as a German-made Schmidt steel nib unit and I purchased the pen in an extra fine (EF) width. This pen was very expensive for a Chinese-made, steel-nibbed fountain pen at about $60USD but both the German made nib and the intriguing colour were desirable factors. As expected from this trusted seller, the pen arrived quickly, was well packaged and in perfect shape.
I experienced a range of emotions when I opened the box. I both loved the pen and hated it at the same time: the pen is beautiful but is really tiny!
The LIY Future is surprisingly short - only 4.5” long (4.75” when capped). It is only about 1/4” longer than a capped Kaweco Sport! As I have fairly large hands (I take an XL glove), I was immediately concerned about the small size of the pen. As someone who switches pencils when they get to the Steinbeck length (the ferrule touching your hand), I thought this pen would be uncomfortable for me to write with. I discovered that the cap does post with a friction fit and this increases the length of the pen to 5- 3/8”. The pen is still small and appears delicate, as the pen is equally narrow to maintain attractive proportions, but I can write with it quite comfortably. I believe that writers with smaller hands and that prefer a light pen may really enjoy the size of this pen.
The swirled resin is a gorgeous mixture of white and clear resin. Depending on how you rotate the pen, the white comes alive as light reflects through it. Somewhat disappointingly, both the feed and innards of the cartridge converter are made from black plastic and they give those the areas of the transparent pen a grey appearance. A clear feed and conversion to eye-dropper would likely help, though I would be concerned about staining on the inside of the barrel unless you are very careful in your ink choices.
The cap is clip-less and threads on the pen in 1 1/2 complete turns. The cap posts through a friction fit and seems secure, but I recommend careful handling with the posted pen to avoid accidents. There is no inner cap, and I have noted a tendency of the cap to show ink transfer from the nib from bumpy handling in my backpack, though so far the ink has cleaned out easily with a Q-Tip.
The pen has the LIY logo as a silver metal roll stop on the pen body, just below the cap threads. This roll stop is in the shape of a flower and is functional, particularly with the absence of a clip to prevent pen roll. The design doesn’t call to me, but I don’t see any way to remove the stop without damaging the pen.
The section is tapered and comfortable, depending on your grip. If I don’t choke up on the pen (by gripping the section closer to the nib), I can feel the threads and step up ledge between the section and the body. I find this to be a little distracting, and this may bother you if you have a preferred grip that is further up the pen. I think this grip problem is exacerbated because of the short length of the pen.
The Schmidt steel nib and feed unit is the highlight of the pen. Right out of the box, the nib is smooth, fine and flows well. The tines are aligned well and finished smoothly and the downside I have found is that ink tends to dry quite quickly on an uncapped pen. I may work on the nib a little to increase the flow and reduce this tendency to dry in the nib, but it is not a huge problem and usually is cleared by the second, light pen stroke. In a regular writing session this is not a problem, but was noticeable when I used the pen for making notes in a meeting. The nicely decorated silver steel nib is a #5 nib sizer and the extra fine (EF) nib gives a quality fine line. I filled this pen with Robert Oster ink and was happy with the flow and performance.
The pens is a standard cartridge converter system. I did not try to convert this pen to an eye-dropper, but I couldn’t detect any air leaks by blowing into the body cavity, so I think this pen may be a good candidate. The body screws on the section in over 4 full revolutions, which also seems to be a good indicator that one could achieve a favourable seal with the use of some silicone grease. I would recommend testing any eye-dropper conversion with water before using ink!
This is another new-to-me Chinese fountain pen manufacturer that produces
a well-performing pen. The acrylic is truly beautiful and the nib wonderful during writing sessions. If you like smaller pens and a lighter writing experience, this fountain pen would be a good choice to consider. I do think that most people will find the pen too short though. Given the higher cost (relative to other Chinese made pens) for a nib that is slightly, but arguably better than some other Chinese made nibs, this pen may be too expensive for most people to gamble on.