I have made a small collection of the finer brand of cheap Chinese pens. Now, please allow a sense of tongue in cheek here; while many Chinese pens are cheap not all are bad and with VAT and import, the Moonman pens aren’t exactly cheap. In fact, most of mine have cost me around and above the cost of a LAMY Safari pen. So, roughly somewhere around the 25€ mark and up to around 40€. The Moonman M100 being the most expensive so far.
Now, I have the following pens to talk about here; N1, N2, M2, M100, M600s, Wancai and lastly the C1 and M6 (both added after this post first published). Say what you want, but inspirational names aren’t one of the forté when it comes to these pens. Now, the N1 and N2 are smaller compact pens that more or less requires posting to be able to functional. The N2 less so than the N1. The M2, the C1 and the Wancai are eye-droppers (meaning you use an eyedropper to fill the barrel directly with ink) and the Wancai also being a portable pen needed to be posted to fully work as a pen. The M100 and M600s are more their ‘luxury’ versions of pens.
In general, these pens are acrylic pens, feels pretty solid and well made. The N1 is the exception being an aluminum pen and since I simply had to throw that one away. The Nibs are generally quite decent. All my pens have had no real problem with feed or writing. Not overly scratchy nor having baby bottom or anything like that. Bear in mind that the nibs usually are rather thin lined, extra fine and fine. I have seen a few listings on eBay stating a new medium should be available. The line is to me, somewhere between Japanese and European in general. Meaning the extra fine would be a japanese fine or a thin european extra fine and the fine close to a japanese fine-medium and a generous extra fine to fine european. So what does that really mean if you don’t have a vast experience of nibs? They are laying down a pretty thin fine line. None of mine could be consider as “wet” writers, nor are they dry. I would say that Moonman’s that I have tried are pretty well balanced.
Most of the pens, not the N1(which uses proprietary nib) and M600S(which uses a #6 nib), are using standard #5 measurements of nibs, so you can use for example Jowo nibs for replacement should you wish to.
The pens I have are either speckles, twirly with colors or clean see through pens. In general, there are many variations and no one is really having any design elements making you go – oh, that’s a Moonman pen alright. The caps, the clips the form and presentation seem to be more in imitation of other pens they may have liked from other brands.
In general, I would say that the pens are decent pens that have a value to them. They work and feel quite nice. Not sure I wouldn’t trade all mine in for one really good one – no I actually would do that if I could but that’s a thing in hindsight. To me, I would say that the eye-droppers are the most worthy pen IMHO, since eyedroppers aren’t that common at this price range. I haven’t experienced anything bad with mine. I had a burp once with it, but that happens with a lot of eye-droppers so nothing that really upsetted me. Many argue that the M100 is a great pen for its price and I don’t agree. It’s the most expensive one and sports a Schmidt nob (which is a sub branch of Bocks nib) making the nib decent and all, but the pen tapers too aggressively for my taste. Looses a bit of the cigar shape feel and it is a small pen with a decent, but not overly comfortable grip. It’s OK, but since it cost almost twice as much as the M600s – I rather go with the M600S which sports a #6 nib, and is the bigger pens of the ones I have listed here. The M600s is however looking like a Parker Duofold.
With the rising value segment offerings of pens in the fountain pen area lately, MOONMAN is one brand that I believe have a tough time ahead. BAOER, JINHAO are slowly on the rise and cost a fraction of the price. For us in Sweden that however means that we pay import handling that is far above the actual price of the pen, mostly to make sure that we pay VAT of 25% ona pen valued at roughly 8€… Right. Economics and laws and such things are enough to make you grey haired. With that in mind though, these Chinese pens do come out on the same price tag as Pilot Metropolitan, LAMY Safari, Safari AL and even TWSBI Go or even an ECO (for the pricier models) which can be found in side the EU from vendors here. Compared to these, the Chinese pens are in my opinion actually not worth it, due to the overall quality. TWSBI, LAMY and PILOT simply are better made pens. The writing experience however can be argued. Jinhao pens, for example, usually writes very well and are really nice and classic in design.
Now, if you also consider that around 30-40€ you can find pens like Diplomat, Parker, Waterman etc, the actual pens can be a lot better than Chinese ones. The nibs are a different matter. I have so far after buying several Chinese pens only had a few bummers with their nibs. Never as good as their counterparts, they are seldom bad. European pens, I have sent back several pens for not being on par to what you expect from a pen and this is regarding pens around 100-150€ and not just pens around the 25-50€ mark.
ON CONVERTERS/CARTRIDGES (update 2020)
The Moonman pens comes in a variety of either their own proprietary size for cartridge or converters. Some come with international standard. The C1 comes with international, as does the M100 while the N1, N2 M6, M600 comes with their own converters and are not 100% international standard compatible. Usually you can force a cartridge on the pen, but a converter would be damaged, while still functioning for the Moonman size, for any other international sized pen. The Moonman feed is wider than the international standard. This may make them work with other converters, but I have so far not tried. To mind comes plausible ones as Parker/LAMY sized ones. This is well worth to take into consideration since a Moonman converter might be tricky to find unless you can readily buy one from eBay, ETSY etc – but then you might get import fees and VAT which could make that a very expansive affair. Some sellers have extra so you can ask for them to throw in a couple of extras when you buy a pen.
Read the review’s here:
Wancai (Part of the Small pens overview)
MOONMAN WANCAI (part of small pens)
MOONMAN C1 (added after this post)
MOONMAN M6 (added after this post)
Moonman M800 (added after this post)
Moonman T2 elastic piston (added after this post)