When I first saw the Opus 88 Picnic fountain pens, I was struck by the vibrancy of the colours and how they seemed to glow against the white backdrop. After being able to handle one in person, I can confidently say that it’s not just good product photography and pretty lighting. The Opus 88 Picnic is just a damn pretty pen.
I’m not going into the packaging in great detail. It comes in a large-ish black box with a silver sleeve. Inside sits the pen in its foam housing, the folded instructions, and a glass eyedropper for use to fill the pen.
Specifications and Notes
- Nib Material: Stainless Steel
- Material: Acrylic, ebonite piston
- Length (Overall): 14.5cm
- Diameter (Body): 1.3cm
- Weight (Unfilled): 20.8g
- Ink Capacity: 2.2ml
- Three full turns to uncap
- Very tight clip
The Picnic is slimmer, more rounded, and lighter than the flat-ended Koloro— they’re also fully acrylic, ebonite piston aside. To confuse matters a bit, the Picnic is also referred to as the “Koloro Picnic”, and comes with instructions for the Koloro. The inner workings are the same, and Pen Classics has both models priced at $135 NZD, so basically comes down to aesthetics.
The three colours available at time of purchase were Blue, Brown, and Green. These are called “Blue Sky”, “The Earth,” and “Green Leaves” respectively in Chinese. The Chinese descriptions paint a picture of a spring picnic under a clear blue sky, which might be where the name “Picnic” derives. It was a toss-up, but I chose the Blue.
Looks-wise, my favourite part are the ends of the pen. These are what makes it look special to me. The ends of the Picnic don’t have the same frosted look as the rest of the cap and body. They have a shiny, glossy finish that light shines through, casting a gorgeous glow onto the surface of my desk. They look like jelly, if jelly was solid. (Editor’s note: Paper Girl does not endorse putting pens, fountain or otherwise, in mouths.)
The filling method is straightforward, despite being a “Japanese-style” eyedropper filling system. It took three fills with the provided dropper to fill up the barrel.
I hadn’t used an eyedropper pen with a piston in it before the Picnic. The only major difference is the paranoia you get when screwing the barrel full of ink back onto the section. It’s the same as a regular eyedropper, but the piston adds an extra layer of paranoia. Thankfully, no ink spilled out and everything turned out fine.
Preparing it to write is interesting part. The instructions indicate you should unscrew the blind-cap slightly to prime the feed for writing. Once it’s primed, you’re good to go. When you’re done writing, you simply tighten the blind-cap back up. If you’ve used a TWSBI Vac before, it’s similar to unscrewing the blind-cap to get more ink flow in long writing sessions.
I filled it with Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine because it’s a gorgeous blue and you put blue ink in a blue demonstrator. I also find Aquamarine to be a well-behaved ink that’s a nice balance between dry and wet.
How it Writes
I chose a Medium nib because I like them juicy and heard that they wrote on the drier side. The Picnics have a steel JoWo nib with a simple “Opus” imprint on the nib. Mine was smooth out of the box and wrote nicely on Tomoe River paper and the FRANK Stationery notebook. I did also scribble a bit in a Banditapple, which has quite toothy paper, and found that a bit too scratchy for my liking.
There’s a bit of line variation if you apply some pressure, though not a lot. If you forget to loosen up the blind-cap, you’ll run out of ink pretty quickly, especially if you’re trying to push the nib. With it loosened, the ink flow is quite reasonable and the feed kept up admirably with some ugly fast-writing.
Overall, I was satisfied with the nib. It’s nothing special, perhaps a tad on the dry side, but pairs well with a wet ink.
Final Blathering and Where to Purchase
I gave the pen a few rigorous shakes with the cap on with the blind-cap securely tightened to see if it’d splash into the cap. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what this experiment would result in, but not a drop came out. That’s a nice bonus if you were wanting to do star-jumps with a fountain pen.
The conclusion is this: I like the Opus 88 Picnic. I liked it the moment I saw the pictures and I liked it even more once I got it writing. It feels good to hold, which is important because I have little hands with stubby fingers. It’s light, even filled, but not so much that it feels like you’re holding nothing. It posts without adding much weight to the pen, though I find the length of it awkward to hold.
Opus 88 has since added a Purple version to the Picnic family, which is gorgeous and I’ve already resigned myself to owning one.
They also announced the Fantasia pocket pens, which are adorable, colourful, and look like delicious layered rice cakes. (Editor’s note: Please don’t eat fountain pens.) Both are launching mid-June.
I bought the Opus 88 Picnic Blue fountain pen from Pen Classics for the discounted pre-sale price of $114.75 NZD. The retail price, as previously stated, is $135.
If you have any ideas for what else you’d like to see reviewed, or thoughts you’d like to share, drop a comment or an email.
I purchased the product mentioned in the review with my own money, and have no affiliation with any business mentioned above.