A unique, acrylic cap design and eyedropper capable body
There are lots of new and original designs of fountain pens coming from Chinese pen manufacturers over the last year or so and these are much nicer than the heavy Jinhao or direct copies of other makers pens. I have purchased several lately and have had good to excellent success in usability and writing experience. The new designs are often unique (or have unique design elements) and are pretty. I find that the acrylic and clear plastic pens are an outstanding value.
My recent acquisition of the Moonman Wancai Mini features a slightly green tinted transparent body with mint coloured swirls throughout it is another experimental purchase of an unknown Chinese brand from a China-based eBay seller. This small, pen sits high on the scale of unique designs. It is a clear pocket pen with a large ink capacity when eyedroppered. The cap threads on to the rear of the pen to give this short pen a usable length. It looks cool!
Gone are the days when a Chinese made pen purchased on eBay would show up loose in a (hopefully) padded envelope. The new manufacturers are doing a much better job of packaging their pens. The Moonman Wancai Mini arrived packaged in a white box that looks to be inspired by Apple packaging - a plain white card box with a grey outline of the pen on the top. Inside, the pen is cradled in a white cardboard liner, and underneath is a package of standard international ink cartridges. I am impressed at the quality of the packaging, particularly on such a low-cost pen.
The body of the Moonman Wancai Mini is as pretty as it is small. When capped, this pens is a tiny cylinder only 3.25” long with a small 0.25” threaded protrusion at one the body end. The cap is nicely rounded and visually appealing. This pen is moulded in transparent plastic with a “mint” swirl through it. The random swirls add a lot of depth to the pen as one can see how they change throughout the thickness of the thick acrylic material.
The cap unscrews to show a short, stepped-down group made of the same material as the body. The body unscrews from the grip section, and the feed will accept standard international short cartridges - in fact, the pen ships with a package of 5 cartridges included. However, a closer look at the threads and the body design and it is clear that the Wancai Mini is designed for eyedropper conversion. Moonman also includes two plastic pipettes in the box for this purpose.
The transparent acrylic material has a slight green tint in addition to the mint green-white swirls. I think this does limit the choices of which colours of ink will be visually appealing in the pen. I spent some time considering which ink I should use and chose Pilot’s Iroshizuku Kon Peki - a beautiful bright turquoise/blue. This ink was an excellent choice as it looks terrific in the pen and does not clash with the natural coloration. I used a syringe (rather than the included plastic pipettes) to fill the body, and the large cavity easily took 2ml of ink without being completely full. This pen has a large ink capacity when eyedroppered. I do worry a little about burping as I use the ink with the large ink cavity, but have not experienced any yet.
To write comfortably with this pen, the cap needs to be unscrewed from the section and then threaded on to the back of the body. The added length of the cap makes the pen 4.75” long, which is the length of a Steinbeck-length pencil in my hand and isn’t particularly comfortable, as it still feels a little short. The Wancai Mini is even 0.25” shorter than a posted Kaweco Sport, which is about the bottom of my comfort zone of length. This grip is thick enough to grip comfortably but is quite short - it finishes close to the nib. I find the grip uncomfortable to write with as my natural finger position is higher on the pen and therefore sits on the large step up from the grip to the body and the cap threads that are located there. This pen will fit writers with smaller hands or those who like to choke up on their pens better.
When the pen is capped and eyedropper filled, it is beautiful. The contrast between the ink filled body and the transparent cap is visually appealing; especially when filled with a complementary ink.
The nib on this pen was disappointing and required a lot of work to get writing correctly. The nib is a gold-coloured steel nib with a generic “iridium point” and stamped with the nib size. There is some generic visual decoration on the nib. The pen I purchased came with a fine nib. The feed is black and it a lost opportunity in this pen - a clear nib would have been fantastic, as some other Chinese fountain pen manufacturers are making. Luckily for me, the Kon Peki ink is dark enough that this becomes less noticeable once I filled the pen.
While the #5 sized nib did write out of the box, it was scratchy and inconsistent. This pen had the worst behaving nib in all of my recent Chinese fountain pen purchases.
I looked at the nib under a loupe and found the causes of the writing inconsistencies. The slit was too wide, causing a significant gap between the tips, the tines were not aligned correctly, and the tipping material was rough. I bent the tines together by crossing them over one another to reduce the slit. This adjustment made the tine alignment worse, as expected. I then corrected the alignment by adjusting the tines. Finally, I smoothed the tip by writing on some varying grades of micro mesh, starting with 4000 grit. It improved the nib by 90% in only 5 minutes worth of work. I could have worked more on the nib, but I was lazy - I had filled the pen with ink before checking the nib under a loupe, as I was very confident with my recent purchases, and was too lazy to empty and clean the pen to allow further adjustment. I recommend checking the nib first if you purchase this pen. Also, if you are not comfortable making a couple of small tweaks to a nib, I would not recommend this pen to you in case you end up with a similar nib that does not provide a good writing experience straight from the box.
The Moonman Wancai Mini is a cool, uniquely designed, and attractive pocket pen. The clear swirled acrylic body filled with a complementary ink is gorgeous.
However, the grip is too short for larger hands to write comfortably with, and I would only recommend this pen to someone with smaller hands or a high grip. Similarly, for the total length of the pen - it is just a little too short for larger hands.
The nib is also disappointing and will probably need work or replacement. It is fixable but will take some effort.
At less than $20 CDN delivered, it may be worth the chance. And it is pretty. It is also very conveniently sized for pocket carry.