Anyone who knows me knows I am a serious person. “Maturity” is my watchword and motto, perhaps even my raison d’être. You’ll note that I just slipped effortlessly into French there. Like me, the French are not-frivolous.
Thus, when Platinum named its latest fountain pen the Kumpoo, I did not go around whispering “Kumpooooooo” and then giggling. I did not immediately begin craving Kung Pao Tofu. I did not text my friend Dan the word “Kumpoo” followed by three or four 🤣 emoji in a row.
No, I did not. I said something mature and serious like, “I looked that up, and it means ‘balmy breeze,’ which is an apt name, because the color makes me think of a balmy breeze by the glinting turquoise sea. In my spiritual home, France.”
Because I am an adult. The rest of you disappoint me.
And now it turns out, I really like the Kumpoo. Not (only) because of its name. It turns out to be a nifty, and surprisingly nice-looking pen. How do I know this? My friend Dan, of “Dan Smith, the Nibsmith,” sent me his last Kumpoo to play with. I have to send it back, though, because he’s keeping it for himself. And he’s all sold out. Pooh.
Platinum has limited the Kumpoo to 2,500 pens, available with three nibs only: UEF (ultra-extra-fine), F (fine) and SM (soft medium). Apparently the UEF were only available in very small numbers, especially in the US, and are already sold out. This particular Kumpoo has a soft medium nib on it, which actually is great with me, because I’ve never used one. Platinum lists the SM nib as an “overseas exclusive,” so presumably it’s not available in Japan.
I inked the Kumpoo with Papier Plume Lake Michigan Summer, which is the perfect color.
I like the soft medium nib. It’s a Japanese medium, so not super wide. It’s soft and springy. It is not a flex nib — with light pressure you can spread the tines wider, but you won’t get the controlled line variation of a flex nib. It’s just kind of bouncy, in a pleasant way.
I should say this isn’t a stock soft medium nib: Dan modified it by creating a very slight gap between the tines so it would immediately start writing with a light touch. At my pen club meeting we compared this modified SM with a Kumpoo with a stock SM, and Dan’s modification really makes a difference for someone like me who writes with light pressure.
I found the SM nib fun to use. For everyday writing, it’s going to be better for someone else. I’m a person who likes to write very quickly, and messily, so I prefer a normal, or “hard,” nib which flies across the paper. People who like a springy nib, or who tend to write more slowly, or with a lot of pressure, or who want a wetter ink flow, would love the SM nib. I actually think the Platinum soft fine (SF nib) is very good, since there’s less of it, and that’s a stock nib for Platinum.
In some ways the SM nib is similar to the Pelikan M200 nib, which is a sort of bouncy steel nib. The Platinum Century SM nib is miles ahead of that nib, however. Now, the Platinum Century SM nib is a 14k gold nib, and the Kumpoo pen costs about $260. So you might say, woah there, apples to oranges. And that is fair. Still, I’d much rather have the Kumpoo than the M200, and not just for the nib. I like the pen a lot better, too.
The Kumpoo is a great size pen, the sort of size that would work for most people. A bit longer than the full-size Sailor Professional Gear, a bit shorter than the Lamy Safari, and wider and longer than the Pelikan M200. The Kumpoo’s balance and weight are good, too. The Kumpoo weighs 25.6 grams capped and filled (comparable to the Pro Gear), and 14.4 grams body only. The body only is a touch light: the full-size Pro Gear weighs about 2 grams more, which for me makes the Pro Gear more comfortable when writing unposted. But I could write with either for long periods of time.
Here’s a photo of the Kumpoo, comparing the size to the Platinum Plaisir and the Lamy Vista.
One nice thing about the Kumpoo is the wavy ridges in the pen body and cap. From marketing photos, I wasn’t sure if I’d like that, but in person, it totally works. It elevates the look over the standard #3776 Century. The color is nice, too.
Now Dan waxed poetically (for Dan) about the light reflecting off those ridges like the facets of a diamond or something. Unfortunately, it’s been rainy or overcast every day here, and marijuana is not legal in Illinois, so I can’t attest to the sort of bedazzling effect that it may have for others. I guess there is a nice glint occasionally but for me it seems to come from the silvery bits inside — the converter and the rhodium nib. With or without mystical gleams of light, however, it’s a very attractive pen.
I’m not even a big fan of teal or turquoise or aquamarine, but I like this one. And it’s the color of the summer, I’ll wager, after also having the privilege to use the Sailor Professional Gear Ocean.
Comparing the Kumpoo and the Ocean is apples to apples, but different apples. The colors are in the same general teal-turquoise family, but the look is very different. The Ocean is darker, greener and more subdued; the Kumpoo is lighter, bluer and shinier. Also the Kumpoo is clear. The Ocean is the one you’d bring to the office; the Kumpoo is the one your teenage daughter wants to steal.
I’ve asked myself, if I could buy one, and only one, which? And it’s not easy, since I like them both. I really think Kumpoo looks great. Plus, since it’s almost sold out everywhere, you don’t get much more time to decide.
And then, I mean, it’s the Kumpoooooooo.
(To others, of course.)
But … I still think … I’d pick the Sailor. First, for the nibs. I just prefer Sailor nibs. And the Ocean can be purchased with any of Sailor’s standard nibs (which technically Platinum doesn’t let dealers do for the Kumpoo). Also, I just think the Ocean is more classic and will wear better in the long run for me. (Unless this is your color. In which case, buy both.)
I have to confess something: since my borrowed Ocean set sail back to Dan, I’ve missed it a bit. And that’s unusual for me, since I don’t really care that much about fountain pens.
Well, maybe one or two. For instance, here’s my Kanilea Hanauma Bay next to the Kumpoo. Because they looked so nice together. And because even if I can’t get every single pen I like, I’m happy to remember I already have some really great ones.