Or: “Controversial Opinions”
The Curidas is somewhat of a novelty. While there are other retractable pens, the most comparable here is, of course, the Pilot Vanishing Point. For many, the announcement of the Curidas was exciting. The VP has many fans but also has its share of complaints. I’ve owned a VP for a few months now, and here I will compare the two.
Full confession: I’m not a particularly big fan of the Vanishing Point. I own a Blue Carbonesque, and I think that it looks okay. I find many of the VP designs to be excruciatingly unimpressive. The matte versions of this pen in almost every case look cheap and scratchable to me (the Blue-Black version is a particularly bad offender here). The glossy pens are only somewhat better. There is something about the lacquer on these pens that I find, to put it mildly, unimpressive. Tacky. The Carbonesque versions of the pen are more pleasant to look at, with the texture being enjoyable to feel. Of all the versions of the pen that I have seen, there is only one that I find extremely good looking: the Stripes. If I were to buy another VP, that would be the one. It looks classic, refined, confident of itself, but not snooty about it.
The design of the Vanishing Point has been around for a long time, is very popular, and is available in more colors and special editions than I care to count. I am in the minority with my feelings. The design is, by all counts, a classic. You can comfortably use this pen in every situation from signing a check to signing a lease on your new Alfa Romeo (probably, I wouldn’t know). It isn’t too flashy, but it is an Adult pen. It’s simple, and there isn’t much to complain about if you’re not as petty as I am.
The Curidas is currently available in only 5 colors, all semi-translucent resin. Because of this, it is difficult to compare it to the VP - so in reading my thoughts, know that I am comparing my Blue Carbonesque Vanishing Point to my Urban Green Curidas because it is easy.
It’s a chunky pen. It is nearly as thick as my Montblanc 149; it doesn’t have the slender sort of refined look of the Vanishing Point. While the VP has no branding or marking, the Curidas has its name in a science fiction, all caps, font. This gives it a futuristic look. I can’t help but be reminded of the USS Voyager or Enterprise when looking at the pen - and I almost bought the Prism Crystal version because of this. I feel the green still has this starship quality. Without the clip, however, the starship grows an extraordinary and perhaps even cancerous protuberance. If I were to take off the clip permanently, I would do my best to cut that awful mutation off.
Except for the Stripes, I prefer the Curidas’ look to the VP.
Of the complaints I’ve read about the VP, the one I see consistently is the clip. The clip is right where my fingers lie, but this is not a complaint I have with the VP. I find the pen to be comfortable and well balanced in hand. I like the way it feels, though I do wish it were thicker. It feels good in the hand. I find it so non-controversial that I have nothing else to say about it.
The Platinum, however, is genuinely stricken with some strange design decisions that impact comfort. The Curidas is thicker than the VP, which I like. It’s well balanced and is certainly lighter than the metal-bodied Pilot. When it was announced, it was shared that the clip would be removable - hugely interesting everyone who dislikes the VP’s clip. Everything about the Curidas suggests that it should be a very comfortable pen.
The clip is, indeed, removable. The removal process is annoying, though mostly painless. The clip is a thin piece of metal that wraps about halfway around the pen and is held in place by three “nubs,” two of which the metal piece clips on to. To remove the clip, you must take a separate (and soon-to-be-lost-forever) piece of plastic and slide it under the edges of the clip, and gently apply pressure and movement to slip the clip over two of these plastic nubs. I chose to read the directions for this because using pressure with a piece of plastic on a piece of thin metal on a plastic pen seemed like it might have some consequences.
For that trouble, there is no reward to be had. There is a significant bump (I previously referred to this as one of two nodules worthy of medical attention) where the clip was. If the clip bothered you, this is worse for a few reasons. One, it is smaller, rougher, and more annoying to feel. Two, it is incredibly unpleasant to look at. It resembles a mistake in the production process. This is how I found out that the process of putting the clip back on is no better and possibly worse. This pen was not made for quick and easy clip removal.
I feel that this could have been avoided, and I don’t have to go far to figure out why I feel that way. I have solved this problem for Platinum: the Kaweco Sport Classic has a clip which, controversially, is both removable and free of strange growths. That clip is held in place only by tension, stays tight enough that it does not fall off, and I’ve always found it to be a very nice clip. In fact, it is such a wonderous clip that it can be used even with non-Kaweco pens.
This would have been an eloquent, vastly superior, decision on Platinum’s part - likely much cheaper, as well. Why they went with something more complex, with more opportunity to break a pen, is beyond me.
Unfortunately for both of us, the clip nodule is not the only concerning growth on the pen’s body. Noticeable in very little of the marketing material, but very noticeable in hand? A bump on the underside of the pen, just up from the nib. This bump is precisely where I put my middle finger when I grip a pen. Worse, it lands right where my fingernail starts - a truly uncomfortable place. Please see the indent on my skin to see where the pen sits:
(To take this picture, I did hold quite tightly. I noticed this originally after writing several pages and lifting the pen, and was surprised to see the imprint.)
What causes this thing-you-might-want-to-have-checked-out? It turns out to be the capping mechanism. As you press the knock down, a small trapdoor is pulled open by a lever, which turns out into this nubbin. This is a novel and exciting mechanism, and very fun to look at the first few times you click it. However, I’m not sure how I feel about having those moving parts exposed (the nubbin is actually two nubbins, open in the middle into the chamber where the nib emerges). The discomfort, however, from the bump is frankly inexcusable. If the lump bothers you, you can simply move your grip up a little bit - but not too far! Clip or no clip, there is another bump waiting for you, forcing you into a rather small acceptable “grippage” area. This is unfortunate, as, without these two bumps, it’d be a hell of a pen, and probably more comfortable than the VP. Alas, this is not so.
I said at the outset that I am not a massive fan of the Vanishing Point, and this is mostly because of problems with the one I own. I found this pen to have a lot of issues with hard starts, skipping, and writing dryly when it did write. I suspect it has some minute baby’s bottom. I performed a flow adjustment to make it a wetter writer, which in general has taken care of most problems. However, one issue that persists is the soundtrack.
Very few of my pens have their own album, but the VP does. It is cursed with a terrible, incessant, wretched squeaking. This squeaking happens regardless of rotation, angle, pressure, or ink. I have had at least 4 different inks from different makers, and the sound has persisted. In general, I enjoy the music of a pen on paper - when there is a sound. This squeaking is utterly unbecoming and has resulted in the VP occupying my top-right desk drawer for most of its life so far. I should note: the squeaking was present before my adjustments, so much like the American President, I take no responsibility for it.
Even after adjustment, I don’t find the VP to be enjoyable to write with. I tried very hard to like and enjoy this pen but failed. Is it unfair to judge a line of pens that have been popular for nearly sixty years based on this one? Yes, probably, but I only care about the experience in front of me, and this $110 purchase does not inspire sufficient confidence to spend another $150 and hope that it works out better the second time. At some point, I might send it off to be tuned or ground to something (perhaps an Architect), but I’m not fond enough of it to do so presently.
The Curidas. I have had some mixed experiences so far with Platinum nibs. My first Platinum nib was the 3776, which I stupidly purchased in Extra-Fine. I absolutely hate that nib, so much that I altered it myself (not very well). I bought a Platinum President with an M nib, and I find it very pleasant. The Curidas has a steel nib, and mine is a Medium. I find this to be an enjoyable writing experience for the most part. As I write this, I do notice some sporadic hard starts between words on my Rhodia Yellow paper, something I didn’t see on Tomoe River throughout my writing today or yesterday. It is difficult to say if this is a nib, ink, or paper problem - the ink in pen is Platinum Blue, which seems a little dryer by default, though I am not familiar with it outside of this cartridge. In any event, it is not consistent or as frequent as this problem was with my VP.
Like other Platinum nibs, there is some pencil-like feedback. I like the sound it makes, and I think the pen is a pretty lovely writer if it weren’t so uncomfortable.
It should be considered that these pens are different price ranges. The Curidas gives you a decent steel nib for $80. VP base models are available new for around $150 and can be found for about $100 easily on the used market. The VP has a very smooth gold nib, and it is soft. The Platinum is hard.
One brief note about the price of the Curidas. The pen was initially advertised for pre-sale at $64, the standard 20% reduction from MSRP of $80. I paid $64 for this pen from Lemur Ink. Midway through the pre-order period, Platinum notified retailers to raise the price of the pen to the full MSRP. I have no opinion on this change, other than that I do not think this pen is worth $80. Neither the material nor the nib suggests to me that this pen should be worth $80, and I think the bulk of this price comes with the mechanism. Fair enough. However, that mechanism, as it is, is also responsible for a bump that is seriously problematic for me, and I expect it will be for others as well. The clip “mechanism” is also very frustrating and somewhat overengineered. I bought the Curidas because it was a novelty, but I would not recommend someone buy the same pen for the same price.
The Curidas is in an uncomfortable middle ground between cheap “field” worthy pens like the various Kawecos, Lamys, TWSBIs, etc., and the “second-level” fountain pens such as the VP. If, for some unknown reason, someone was shopping between a Curidas and a TWSBI - I would suggest the TWSBI. If someone wanted a retractable pen but didn’t want to pay for a VP, I would strongly encourage them to put hands on a Curidas before buying it. If your grip is comfortable with the bumps, it is a good pen. If not, you will be paying $80 for something that causes you discomfort.
I do like both of these pens to an extent. I also have significant problems with them, more so than any other pen I own. If not for the VP’s squeaking, I would find it a very, very good pen. A tremendous step-up for someone looking for their first gold nib. If not for the medically-worrying bumps, the Curidas would be a great “field” pen in the style of the Kaweco, or a great starter pen.
It is likely I will revisit these pen models as time goes on, should my feelings mature.