Moleskine James Bond Limited Edition Boxed Set

Completing my Moleskine James Bond limited edition reviews (see here for the Titles notebook and here for the Carbon one) is the crowning glory of them all: the boxed set.

Unlike the other two notebooks, this is a numbered edition with 7007 notebooks total made worldwide. It comes in a silk covered box, with its own matching “tie” (to help you get the notebook out. It’s not really necessary, but adds another touch of luxury to this set), and is itself covered in black silk. All of this is terrifically excessive, like Q’s elegant little gadgets on an already over the top car. The result is a notebook and box that you just want to stare at and stroke every once in a while.

The Box
The “tie” inside the box

The notebook with its shiny silk cover:

Moleskine did a limited edition run of silk covered pocket notebooks years back, for the van Gogh museum in the Netherlands. They were all the rage, especially at a time when Moleskine was not doing limited editions except for special events, and they were exceptionally difficult to obtain. The silk on those covers was thinner and rougher, and after a bit of use tended to fray, likely because silk is not an easy fabric to work with, and the company had very little experience with fabric covered notebooks.

The James Bond Boxed Set comes after the Blend, Rolling Stones, Denim and Marauder’s Map fabric covered editions, and you can tell that they know what they’re doing now. The silk on the cover is densely woven and substantial, and unlike the van Gogh notebooks, it actually shines with sheen. It feels like the notebook is wearing a high end tuxedo and just waiting for a gorgeous woman in a skimpy dress and a silly name to bring it a martini, shaken, not stirred.

Front end page, with the well designed map and the number of the edition
Back end page, with all the titles beautifully aligned.

Like all previous boxed sets, the notebook comes unwrapped (the box itself is wrapped) and so without the paper slip and its B-side around it. The sticker sheet that comes with this edition is the same as the other notebooks in this range.

The set originally cost around $35 but you can get it now for $25. If you’re a James Bond fan this is the one to get out of this edition, with the Carbon coming in second place and the Titles in third. The only minus to this notebook is that it is so sexy there’s a good chance that you’ll feel uncomfortable using it (ah, double entendre. What’s a James Bond movie without it?).

Moleskine James Bond Limited Edition Boxed Set

Ti Click EDC Pen Review

I am a big fan of Big Idea Design’s pens (the Ti Arto is my daily carry pen), and so of course I joined the Kickstarter for the Ti Click EDC Pen. Since I hadn’t tried their black anodised pens before, that’s the finish I opted for. It arrived yesterday, and even though I’ve been using it exclusively all day, I’l be the first to admit that these are only my preliminary thoughts on it. (See updates in the end for more detailed thoughts on this pen).

The packaging, as usual with BIGiDESIGN, is compact and neat. The pen comes with everything you need to fix it, should you need to (I’ve never needed to), and in a pretty nifty box.

The finish on this pen is shiny and black, but it’s surprisingly not a fingerprint magnet, as I would have imagined:

The pen came with a Scheider Gelion 39 0.4 mm gel ink refill. This is a new refill for me, and I can’t say I’m a fan. It’s as wide as a 0.7-0.8 mm refill, and I much prefer the Uni-Ball Signo UMR-85N refill that the BIGiDESIGN pens used to be shipped with (it’s me favourite gel refill).

As part of the kickstarter, the pen came with a cool Bioworkz sticker, which you can see below:

The pen itself is about the length of the Ti Arto, when the Ti Arto is capped, but the grip is much wider, about the size of the Ti Pocket Pro. That’s a bit large for an EDC pen, and it’s definitely not a pocket pen. The grip feels weird at first, but it’s very comfortable and well designed. You can see how the Ti Click EDC compares to the Ti Arto (on the left) and the Ti Pocket Pro (on the right) in the various finish options that the Ti pens come in (machined raw, midnight black, and stonewashed). My machined raw Ti Arto shows scratches much more than my stonewashed Ti Pocket Pro, but I’ve no idea yet how the midnight black finish wears.

This brings me to the only minus that the Ti Click EDC has – the click mechanism. It’s silent (no satisfying click), which will probably turn off those planning on using it as a fidget toy, and it doesn’t always engage properly. It’s especially prone to not engaging after you replace the refill. Make sure that you use the provided instructions to switch refills (and like other BIGiDESIGN pens this one accepts dozens of refills without using any spacers or requiring any special hacks), and take into account that you might have to fiddle with the grip a bit until most clicks work. This is not a minor drawback, as the whole point of the pen is its click mechanism. It should work 100% of the time and feel satisfying, not “soft” as it feels now.

For the price of the Ti Click EDC you could buy a Ti Arto (still their best pen), or a Ti Pocket Pro (if portability is super important to you), have some change for a bunch of refills and get a much better pen. I love supporting BIGiDESIGN and I’m glad that I got to try this pen, but for now it looks like the Ti Arto will continue to reign supreme in my rotation.

Update: After using this pen almost exclusively for a week, I stand by my first impressions. It’s slightly more comfortable to use in long form writing, but the click mechanism is garbage.

Update 2: The BIGiDESIGN guys contacted me and it turns out that you can significantly improve the click mechanism with some silicone grease. Using the clip fixing kit that came with the pen and their simple instructional video on how to use it you can get to the click mechanism, and then apply some silicone grease, which you can buy at Goulet Pens for example. I happened to have grease around, so I had no problem trying this out, and it fixes the problem of the click mechanism not engaging properly.

The click is now solid, but it’s still not much fun to use – there’s no satisfying click or solid feedback once the thing is engaged. You just push past a point, and then the mechanism partially bounces back. It’s a disappointment because most $2-3 pens have more satisfying click mechanisms and even Karas Kustoms EDK pen, which has a similar click mechanism, offers more feedback and an audible click once it’s engaged.

I don’t know how many Ti Click EDC pens were affected by this problem, and I’m glad that I have at least a “mostly OK” click mechanism for my pen now, but I stand by my initial review, that for a pen that advertises its click mechanism so prominently, this is not a great buy. Spend your money on the Ti Arto, it’s a pen worth having, or go for the Ti Pocket Pro if you’re looking for an EDC pen. Those are truly great pens, while the Ti Click EDC is OK to “sort of good” at best.

Ti Click EDC Pen Review

Kaweco AC Sport Carbon Fountain Pen Review

After reviewing the Moleskine James Bond Carbon it was only natural to review my recently acquired Kaweco AC Sport Carbon fountain pen, so here you have it:

I’m not a huge Kaweco fan, mainly because their practically non existent filling system makes using them something of a pain. Cartridges are sometimes very useful (especially when traveling), but I generally prefer a cartridge based pen to accept converters as well and Kaweco’s Sport converters are a joke. They are difficult to fill and hold less than a drop of ink, and oftentimes come loose, so they’re basically terrible. Kaweco seems to be aware of that because they also make them difficult to obtain. You really have to want the pain to experience it (and believe me, you don’t. Save your money and buy yourself several cups of coffee).

So what possessed me to buy this pen? It’s pretty. There, I said it. That red, that carbon fibre — this pen is basically a Ferrari in pen shape: gorgeous and not very practical.

Look how pretty it is!

The nib is smooth and I was luck enough that it worked well out of the box. I’ve had mixed success with Kaweco nibs, so unless you’re comfortable dealing with baby bottom or flow issues I’d test the pen before buying.

The nib is also pretty handsome, and in this case a Fine, which is closer to a Japanese Medium. I got this pen on a closeout sale in a local art supply store so I lucked out on the nib, since you usually find Medium nibs in non-specialist stores.

I had a bunch of Diamine ink cartridges lying around, so I popped one in and gave it a spin. Here it is with Diamine Woodland Green, a very nice, well behaved ink with some shading:

The pen has a metal body but is not heavy. It can only be used capped (I have tiny hands so trust me when I say this), and despite its pocket size and rugged build, I’d never trust it, or any other fountain pen, in my trouser pocket. That way horror stories of stained pants lie.

Would you enjoy this pen? If you like the aesthetic, and are willing to compromise on ink cartridges, a steel nib and the price, then yes. If you’re looking for a daily workhorse or a practical pen, buy several Pilot Metropolitans, Lamy Safari’s, TWISBI ECOs or even a Lamy AL Star. This is a Ferrari pen — beautiful, frivolous and fun.

Kaweco AC Sport Carbon Fountain Pen Review

Moleskine James Bond Carbon Limited Edition

Dun da da da dun, dun dun dun, dun da da da dun, dun dun dun, DA DA, dun dun dun!

It’s the Moleskine James Bond Carbon Limited Edition and it is charming, it is sophisticated, it is elegant, it is everything you know James Bond has to be.

The cover has a carbon fibre like pattern and texture to it, and this time it’s all over the cover.

Moleksine went all in on the understated look this time, and just embossed the 007 logo on the cover, instead of gold foiling it. It’s the right choice in my opinion, and works well with their own embossed logo on the back.

So much texture…

The Moleskine logo isn’t as deeply embossed as the 007, which makes it half disappear in the texture of the cover, another good design choice on their part.

The endpapers, sleeve and stickers are exactly the same as the Moleskine James Bond Titles Limited Edition, but they’re slick, so I’ll photograph them anyway.

Front endpaper with the world map which I love so much:

Back endpaper with the titles design, another win, and yes, the back pocket print is aligned with the back cover print, so extra brownie points for that Moleskine:

The stickers:

And the B-side of the sleeve:

The only flaw in this edition seems to be in the spine, which creased because of the texture of the Carbon design. It’s far from a deal breaker and I would normally not even mention it, but there is a possibility that it may break there over use. Only time will tell if it’s just a slight aesthetic thing, or if it’s a real design flaw.

So, should you buy this notebook? Yes, even if you aren’t a die hard James Bond fan. There’s no notebook I know of that managed to pull of such a cool texture without making it feel super cheap and plastic-y. It’s a notebook that you can carry at work and will look completely professional, and also one that will be fun to use as a personal journal, a travel journal, a project notebook, or on your next secret mission to outer space.

Moleskine James Bond Carbon Limited Edition

Moleskine James Bond Titles Limited Edition

Moleskine recently came out with three James Bond themed limited edition notebooks, and after a bit of scrambling, two orders that were cancelled on me, and a bit of trouble with the post office I finally got them. To be honest, if I had that much trouble getting any other recent Moleskine limited edition, I would have probably given up already, but this one is special, for two reasons. The first and main one is my dad. He introduced me to James Bond, we watched all the movies together (some on TV, the later ones in the theatre), and it’s our “thing”. The second one is that I have a thing for maps, and once I saw the map on the endpaper, I knew I had to have them.

All three large notebooks are pretty great, but the Titles edition is probably the weakest among them. The front cover (and only the front cover) has a print of shiny black on the usual matt black of all the James Bond title logos. It’s so interesting seeing them together, with their various fonts and embellishments . It’s also hard to photograph because the gold 007 embossed on the cover of all three editions reflects so much light. Shiny!

But there are two minuses here: one, the design doesn’t wrap around the notebook, it’s only on the front cover, and two, the titles only appear to be embossed, in reality they add no real texture to the notebook. This is such a shame because the other two notebooks in the series, the Carbon and the Box Set are so very tactile. It takes this notebook down several pegs, from the “great” to the “just OK”. It’s on par with the Star Wars Ships and Lightsaber Duel editions for me. Another very good edition that missed becoming excellent by so little that it becomes mediocre.

Everything else about this edition is stunning. I love the map, and the idea of having it there and tying it to globetrotter Bond through the B-side of the paper sleeve around the notebook (keep reading, I’ll explain it all later on). You could easily use a white pen to mark your own travels if you are planning to use this as a travel journal.

The back end paper is also great, with the titles cover design printed on it. Can you imagine now how much better this notebook would have looked like if it had this design on the spine and back cover too? Embrace the typeface, embrace the titles Moleskine!

They do get extra browny points for aligning the pocket with the type on the endcover. That is not something trivial to do, and it gives it all a nice touch.

Like most Moleskine limited editions, this one comes with stickers which are pretty understated, and would probably come in handy if you’re planning to use this notebook as a personal or a travel journal.

Remember the map on the front endcover? Well if you’re a huge James Bond fan, you can mark his travels on that map using the B-side of the sleeve. It has a list of James Bond film titles printed on it, with the date it came out on and the places the movie takes place in printed on it.

So, should you get this notebook?

If you’re a James Bond fan, then yes. If you’re looking for an interesting travel journal or a gift for a cool dad, then also yes. If you’re just looking for an alternative with a twist for your run-of-the-mill Moleskine large hardcover notebook, then I’d recommend the James Bond Carbon for a more understated but unique look, or one of the more colourful limited editions that Moleskine has issued lately.

Wait, what about the paper? It’s the same Moleskine fair of recent years. Expect significant ghosting and some bleed through to the other side of the page, no spreading but a little bit of spidering when using fountain pens, and a very smooth surface that may cause darker pencils to smear. It’s great for ballpoint, gel pens, highlighters (no spreading!), and certain kinds of fountain pen ink (Noodler’s black, Waterman Blue and Blue Black, and too many Diamine inks to list. Avoid J. Herbin and other watery inks like the plague) with medium or finer nibs. I don’t mind the ghosting (it’s the same as on Tomoe River Paper) and use both sides of the page, but that’s obviously up to you.


Moleskine James Bond Titles Limited Edition

Moleskine Denim 12 Months 2019 Pocket Weekly Planner review

The Moleskine Denim 12 Months 2019 Pocket Weekly Planner arrived today, and it is a beauty.

I’m not a big planner user, but over the past year I’ve used a weekly planner just to get a better idea of how my week looks like and how to plan ahead accordingly. The slim, minimalist setup of the Moleskine Pocket Weekly planners is perfect for this.

Beyond the regular planner editions, Moleskine offers a wide variety of planners in their various limited edition designs (Harry Potter, Star Wars, Peanuts, Le Petit Prince and more), among them in their Denim collection, which is one of my favourites.

The covers are covered in Denim fabric, with jeans-like labels on them. The craft sleeve around the planner turns with a few minutes of work into bookmarks perfectly sized for the planner:

The endpapers are really nicely designed to evoke various denim labels, and the red elastic closure is echoed in the small back pocket:

As usual with Moleskine limited editions, it comes with a little something extra in the back pocket, this time stickers:

As for the internals, it’s the same as other Moleskine weekly planners, with a weekly schedule on the left side of the spread and a ruler page on the right, monthly calendars and information pages at the beginning of the planner, and a few general planning pages.

If you’re looking for a pocket weekly planner that’s beautiful, lightweight and not overly structured, I highly recommend this planner.

Moleskine Denim 12 Months 2019 Pocket Weekly Planner review

Deep Sea Adventure board game review

I bought this game at Jeux Descartes while I was in Paris, as an interesting looking short game with simple rules that can be played as an interstitial game during a longer game night. I highly recommend going to Jeux Descartes shop if you’re in Paris and checking out their fantastic board game and mini selection. Don’t be daunted by the French, as board games include rules in multiple languages out of the box, and Board Game Geek lists which games are language dependent and which aren’t.

Technical details about the game can be found here, and this is not yet a full review, as I’ve only had the chance to play it with two players, and the game is definitely better with more players.

The rules are simple and easy to learn, but take the time to read them carefully, as there are a few important nuances there that make the gameplay more interesting and strategic than what it would seem.

Visually the game is stunning, and a lot of fun to set up. It takes about 5 minutes to spread out all the tiles, shuffle and organize them, and the game itself from start to finish takes about 30 minutes, as written on the box.

The concept is original: you’re a group of poor deep sea treasure hunters trying to get as much treasure as possible with as high a value as possible, while being forced to share valuable oxygen amongst each other. You either move forward or backwards with your delightfully designed meeple (a choice that you can make only once per round, so there’ not much room for cautious play here — you’re an adventurer after all), and as you pick up treasure it becomes more difficult for you to move and oxygen runs out of your sub — and with it the time for the round.

There are three rounds, each one with several turns that are played very quickly, as even though there’s quite a bit of hidden strategy in the game, there isn’t a lot of choices each player can dawdle with. You either move forward or back, pick up a treasure tile or don’t, and in rare cases, drop a treasure tile. The more players there are the faster you can move deeper down the sea, because you skip other players’ tiles, and the line grows shorter the more treasure is picked up in a round. The deeper you go, the more valuable the treasure is, but if you don’t return back to the sub by the end of the turn, you drop your tiles at the end of the line in very nifty little piles of three. And here is where the real genius of the game comes in, because each of those piles of treasure counts as only one treasure in terms of oxygen and weight, so you can pick up much more treasure and move much faster that way. A strategy of picking valuable tiles up on the first round so that you can drop them and pick them up on the second and third rounds becomes pretty enticing. As you can organize your dropped tiles in whatever order you like, and other players will want to try for that strategy too, not to mention that there’s an element of chance to dice controlled movement makes for a very interesting game. Plus, players closer to the sub can play to deliberately shorten the game by picking up lower value treasure to run the oxygen timer up.

All this makes for a very interesting short game that is a lot of fun to play and is pure eye candy to look at. I highly recommend it.

Deep Sea Adventure board game review