Recently, I went a little berzerk with eBay and picked up a poop-load of Chinese pens. As they come rolling in, I’d like to share my thoughts with everyone on their performance.
My first contribution in the Fountain Pen Reviews Department is for the…
CROCODILE 806 (AKA NCR64) Green Marble Celluloid Fountain Pen
Nib: Medium, Steel, 22KGP/two-tone
Country of Origin: China
Filling System: Piston / Cartridge (International Standard, I believe)
Appearance: 10 / 10
Immediately upon seeing this pen on eBay, I fell in love with its looks. The Green Marble looked beautiful, and I thought the crocodile styling of the clip and finial looked cool (if not slightly tacky). When the pen arrived, I wasn’t disappointed..at least not yet (more on that later). The green marble of the cap and barrel is, in my opinion, stunning. It has a shimmery/iridescent quality to it that glows and sparkles in the right light. The finial, section, and end cap all have a similar marble pattern, but they’re all black. It’s a subtle detail, but one I really appreciate. The crocodile clip is pretty tacky in person, too, but I love it, rhinestone eyes and all. There is also a gold crocodile emblem on the top of the finial. Not as tacky as the clip, but fits the motif of the pen to a tee. I absolutely love the way this pen looks.
Build Quality: 4 / 10
The Crocodile 806 seems fairly weighty at first, but all the weight is in the cap, which must contain some sort of metal. The rest of the pen is mostly plastic. The threads inside the cap are metal, but the coupler on the barrel is plastic, so it feels cheap to screw the cap on and off.
When the pen arrived, there were some tiny black plastic pieces in the converter. I fished them out, but wasn’t sure where they came from until I washed the pen. The little black pieces were from the post inside the section that the converter installs on. Only a small portion of the post remained, so the converter would attach to the section, but not tightly. I had to fill the converter with a syringe, insert it, and tape it to the section to keep it in place. It’s a kludge, but it’s working.
After I got the converter in place, I did some writing, and when I went to screw the cap back on, the cap didn’t stop turning. The threaded coupler came unglued from the barrel, so I had to glue it back in place and let it dry overnight.
For a pen that cost $18.50, I find these defects absolutely unacceptable.
Nib: 6 / 10
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the medium nib. I know some Chinese companies fall in line with Japanese companies and their medium nibs are ground finer and are more comparable to western fine nibs. I hoped that was the case with Crocodile. It’s not. The nib writes a line a little fatter than a Japanese medium. I have small handwriting, so I prefer a fine or extra fine nib. If I force myself to write larger letters, it looks decent. There are random hard starts, but they’re few and far between. The only other complaint I have is that the line is not consistent. The nib seems a little mooshy and “mashes” the line every once in a while. For example, in my writing sample below, look at the “o” in Algernon and the “ac” in Blackwood. I don’t like that. I like a nice, consistent line.
I will say, though, that the nib is super smooth. There is practically no feedback at all. The nib just glides along the paper. If it wasn’t for the fat, inconsistent line it puts down, I’d love this nib.
I always like to check out the imprints on these nibs. This one has another crocodile on it, but I’m not sure about the words engraved. Either I’m going blind, or they botched the letters. To me, it looks like it says this:
Comfort: 10 / 10
I’ve done quite a bit of writing with this pen, and it’s very comfortable. My hand didn’t cramp up once. The pen is easy to hold despite the smooth, plastic section. The pen posts securely, and it’s comfortable to write with it both posted and un-posted, although the pen does get a little top-heavy with the cap posted. I prefer to write with it un-posted.
Overall Score: 30 / 40
I think this is a really beautiful pen, but for $18.50, I expect better build quality. If I can ever find another one on eBay for cheap, I may buy it for parts (to replace my section). And once the current ink runs out, I may try to find an EF nib for it (I think it’s a #5 nib). I could probably turn this into a pretty nice writing instrument.
Note: When I bought this pen, it was listed as model NCR64, but the official Crocodile model number is 806.