Reviewing the orange bodied, fine tipped (0.7mm) pen
I recently purchased a pen I never thought I would own! And it all started with a t-shirt and an Instagram challenge. This pen is a Bic Cristal - the everyday, cheap, terrible writing, ballpoint pens that lie in bulk, unloved, in so many office supply cabinets. Even more surprising was the effort I spent looking for the orange-bodied Bic Cristal, which cannot be found in Canada and I purchased and shipped from Korea!
My quest started after I posted a picture of my new Uniqlo t-shirt featuring the orange Bic Crystal and the ball headed mascot. Uniqlo is a Japanese clothing store that has recently expanded into the Vancouver area and offers some fun and quirky branded t-shirts. Even though I am not a ballpoint pen aficionado, any shirt featuring pens is going to end up in my wardrobe, and this was no exception.
After I posted a photo of the shirt on Instagram, Johnny Gamber of Pencil Revolution and the Erasable Podcast commented on how good these pens write in a fine tip and that I should try them. Challenge accepted! Especially as I have never seen a fine-tipped Bic ballpoint in person and I had to find out if they were any good.
I quickly found out why I had never seen or tried these pens. Bic does not sell either the orange Cristal pen or any other fine-point tips in Canada. I searched my local office supply companies for them. Nothing! Local online sources also drew a blank - Amazon offered some from an expensive third-party US vendor with prohibitive shipping. I finally located a box of 12 pens affordably priced from an eBay seller based in South Korea. I am sure my pens are some of the most travelled and most expensive Bic Crystals in Canada!
The Bic Cristal Ballpoint Pen
The Bic Crystal is an orange bodied pen with a blue cap, end cap, and tip surround. I assume that these details are colour coordinated with the ink colour as my pens come with blue ink. I saw that the Bic Crystal is also available in both black and red and believe that there may be other colour choices available.
The orange, plastic body is a thin, hexagonal shape — similar in diameter to a standard woodcase pencil. The pen is very light. The cap is the same sharp-pointed weapon that seems unchanged for decades and fits all Bic Crystal pens, including the clear, medium point ones available in Canada. The cap does post securely - though it required a solid push to seat correctly. A firm seating cap is a good thing as the cap is so light it could easily be lost and the pen could be another capless casualty confined to the back of your junk drawer.
The side of the barrel has Black Bic brand labelling written on it. This labelling includes both the Bic BOY logo, initially introduced in 1960, the Bic font logo, the Easy Glider trademark and the tip thickness - in this case, fine. On the opposite flat of the body is a small hole in the body, to prevent this pen from being a choking hazard. I noticed that the top of the cap also has a hole for the same reason. I don’t recall childhood Bic’s having holes in them, but that is from before child safety was a concern!
Writing with the Pen
I have unpleasant memories of the standard, office supplied, clear BIC Cristal: nightmares of thick, ugly lines with both skipping and blobbing defects as I wrote. I didn’t have high expectations for this pen, and so I was pleasantly surprised once I started writing with it.
The fine tip in this orange BIC ballpoint makes a big difference in writing experience from the last time I tried a BIC pen. The fine tip lays down a more consistent line than I expected. I still found some random blobs during long sessions of cursive writing, usually at some point of changing text direction. And based on my past experiences, I am still nervous about using this ballpoint with a ruler on anything important. However, the writing is much more consistent and better than I had expected. There wasn’t any noticeable skipping.
The blue ink is a lovely shade - a light Royal Blue. As one of my favourites fountain pen inks is Mont Blanc’s Royal Blue and this ink is of a similar, but lighter shade, I do like the colour.
I found that I had to hold the pen firmly to write, which was noticeable as I prefer fountain and gel pens that glide without much force at all. If you are used to ballpoints, this is unlikely to be different than other brands.
I was pleasantly surprised by the nice writing experience of the Orange BIC Cristal with the fine tip, making this the best writing ballpoint, at least in a similar price range, that I have used in many years; though, in full disclosure, I try to avoid ballpoint pens wherever possible.
I like the orange colour of the body and the blue accents, but find the cap dated and clunky.
For me, the lightness of the pen and pressure required for good writing are not particularly comfortable - but that could be because I don’t use ballpoint pens regularly.
If you need or prefer, a ballpoint pen that is inexpensive and yet still writes well, I would recommend this pen over the broad tipped ballpoint pens available in the Canadian market. Unfortunately, you may need to order from Korea to purchase at a reasonable price.