The 2019 Lamy Safari is Announced, and I Just Cannot Even

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My Lamy Safari-hating friend just sent me this, which, courtesy of the nice folks at Goulet Pens, is apparently what Lamy has cooked up for the 2019 Safari special edition.

😱

It’s taken me a few hours to figure out a nice way of conveying my reaction more subtly than just using “Munch’s The Scream” emoji, above.

If you know the television show The Good Place, you will understand my first reaction to this photo, which was a quote from the show: “Holy mother forking shirtballs.”

It’s fair to say that the Pastels are not my bag. I don’t really like the look, with that pen, because the color scheme doesn’t fit with the design, in my view. But that’s fine. Maybe they are better in person, and at least they are different, and not black. But my disappointment is more general. I’ve been a Lamy Safari fan since the first year of the Safari. And it’s as a fan that I say this, sadly: the annual editions have been more lackluster than not, for a while now.

This is just the capper. It seems like two out of three years I’ve been wondering the same thing: Is this where I stop, and give up collecting Safaris?

There was the tossed-off Neon Trio. Then the “Dark Materials” Trio of Dark Lilac, Petrol and All-Black, an obvious attempt to extend the market with Safaris for those who hate Safaris. Now comes the Pastel trio. I don’t know precisely which group the Pastel is meant to appeal to, but I’d bet that the genesis of those colors is a market study.

And then, not even one Pastel, but three at once. Why limit your bottom-line by putting out only one annual edition, when you can potentially triple revenues by putting out three? Which of course is reversed for consumers, as Slightly Unnerved, in the comment below, politely brings up.

That issue is much worse for those of us in the US, where a Safari, without converter, retails at just under $30 each.

I don’t know if there’s been new ownership or management at Lamy, and that’s what’s behind this — but I suspect so. But it does seem rather obvious that the annual Safari, and probably the Safari as a whole, is now seen as a cash cow. I think that’s understandable from a business perspective. I would never tell a business not to maximize profit. It’s just not the same, from the fan perspective.

The Safari used to be a quirky pen that a few of us loved. And you had to actually love it, to withstand the slings and arrows, because the fountain pen world was full of people who loved to put the Safari down. The Safari appealed to a very small subset of adults — those who liked contemporary design and fountain pens. And I think the Safari reflected what the Lamy company was — a home for risky products, designed products, that didn’t appeal to everyone, but were well-built and well-priced. Modern design plus affordability plus quality.

The new Lamy is obviously different. And the new Lamy is certainly reflected in the last five to seven years of annual Safaris. That’s fine — and I don’t own the company. But, as a fan, I think they’ve essentially lost what made me a fan. Or not so much “lost” as “abandoned.” I think now whoever runs Lamy has pivoted to squeezing out as much profit as possible. Which on an intellectual level I understand. The Golden Goose, and all. I do I wish Lamy well, and hope they don’t end up killing that Golden Goose. But I think, however, that I’m not really a fan any more.

40 thoughts on “The 2019 Lamy Safari is Announced, and I Just Cannot Even

  1. Hello there,
    I totally agree with you on most of the points you made (I would definitely want to get hold of a savannah myself, although I also see dark lilac as one of my favourite lamy pens) and despite not liking any pastel colors myself: I was thrilled to see this collection this year! We’re planning to have a baby for the first time this year and I was already in search for the right baby pink or baby blue fountain pens for my journals and these came in just in time. I am not sure if Lamy has indeed thought of us 🙂 but I definitely see a lot of new moms reaching out to these colors. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How nice! Nothing better than a baby, and I wish you much luck and joy. Definitely the right colors, including one for a “we want to be surprised” vibe.

      Like

    1. Yay! I’m happy for you! Lamy did the dark ones (Dark Lilac, Petrol and Black) in a three-year run, and also the neon ones. So maybe more pastels will be in the offing, too.

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  2. Maybe that makes me tacky, but I actually kind of like these. Not for making the Safari/AL Star “less” Safari-like, but just for being an interesting twist/homage to the initial design. Just like brights were very of the moment in the eighties, so are pastels of the moment now* (think Millenial Pink) and anyhow for me what makes the safari a safari is much more about the shape and the functional details – well-proportioned weight and dimensions, multiple exchangeable nibs, triangular barrel, beefy clip to go over a tough cover, ink window – than the colour. So cycling through different colors is *the* best way to renew the lineup without, to my eyes, offending against the design.

    *as far as any particular thing is of the moment now, because trends do seem much more diffuse than in the past, much more ‘anything goes’. Which is good, I guess! although I kind of have a hard time figuring out what is going to be that defining Thing that will make us say, ‘yup, pure late twenty-teens’ when looking at an object of photo in 20+years’ time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the new colors. But then, I’m a fan of pastel colors. I’d like them better as Al-Stars, because I prefer the metal finish. But I’d like them best as Vistas, because colored demonstrators are my favorite type of fountain pens. Except for colored demonstrator minis. I love minis. And that’s why I don’t run out and buy these right now. Not saying I won’t; just saying the Safari is a fairly large pen, and I like minis. I have very small hands, plus I just love the way miniature *anything* looks. Bottom line: I’m not a super fan of Lamy, but I really like these colors. Not crazy about their nibs, but they’re OK. I *may* buy one of these pastels. Maybe the blue one in a Broad nib. We’ll see.

    But hey, Laura – way to stir up a lot of discussion! You sure shook loose some opinions on this one. hehe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right! But it’s lovely that so many people care about the Lamy Safari and Vista and Al-Star family. I love to see it. 😊

      Okay, I have to say, the idea of Mini Safaris and Vistas is really cool! From your lips to Lamy Germany’s ear(s).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, right? Can’t you just picture little teeny-tiny adorable Lamy Vistas in blue, green, and pink? OK, let’s not OD on cuteness, I know…I’m just a sucker for mini adorable things in general. If they’re fountain pens, too, well…I’ll break my budget for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have too many Safaris to count . . . and I LOVE the new colors! These new colors have a fresh contemporary look and I bet they will appeal to MANY Bullet journal-ers.

    I also disagree that Safaris appeal to “a very small subset of adults — those who liked contemporary design and fountain pens.” For me, their appeal is their no-nonsense design and their superb writing experience, coupled with and multiplied by their affordable price. I’m happy there are a variety of colors (and non-colors) offered so that’s its easy to find a color that appeals to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great! So glad to hear that. 😊 One tiny clarification: when I said that I was talking about Safari fans in the past. Certainly not recently! 😊 And certainly opinions like that are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m just sharing my point of view. 😊

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  5. I was very surprised at the new colors — they just didn’t seem to fit. Something off about them. I didn’t buy the black and I won’t buy one of these. My Safaris are among my most dependable pens, but I have others. I guess I just don’t need anymore Safaris right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I see the Safari as a vaguely masculine pen, probably because of the big black loopy clip. (Why do I find a semblance to a paper clip macho? Good question!) It works best for me aesthetically in brights, too, though. The yellow & black, like those old Sony “outdoors” boom boxes…

    I did immediately think of French macaron (cookies) when I saw the photo and before I read the captions, so I’d say they named the blue color well, anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with Rupert above, these look like Hero copies at first glance. And I agree with you that Lamy is not the same company it once was, since Dr. Lamy retired. Cashing in seems to be the prime directive now. To wit:

    -The ridiculously priced Persona reissue, the name of which escapes me
    -The 50th anniversary Lamy 2000, a massive disappointment
    -The silly LX series, charging a premium simply for a colour
    -The LE editions of Safari and Al-Star, another cash grab

    The corresponding inks for these LE pens: why are they nearly impossible to obtain? At least make a bottle for every pen produced?

    I’m really disappointed in the direction Lamy has taken. But that’s ok. I’ve always been much happier with my vintage Lamys (Lamies?) from the 50s and 60s. Get yourself a Lamy 27; trust me, you won’t be disappointed. They really made outstanding nibs back then. Sorry for going on and on here.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. re ownership: iirc earlier this year the head of Lamy suddenly resigned, possibly because of “differences”, the corporation is now lead by a trio of former staff from different sections.

    I don’t like these pastel colors either, but at least they’re genuine and … something different, one can’t deny that. But, please don’t forget: they are JUST COLORS!
    And just because the color change next year is a little bit more unusual, you exaggerate “the Safari hast lost its identity, its soul” [no literal quote] – that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think? To be honest, I don’t think a pen can even have an “identity” based on a colorway that’s changing every year.

    And please don’t forget that the Safari is, first and foremost, a pen for school children. In Germany most kids are still required to use fountain pen, which is where the majority of Lamy’s profits stems from (the Safari/Al-Star, cheaper models like the ABC and general school supplies). Same should hold for Asia where Lamy recently is expanding its market to. So there is simply no need to adhere to a very small clientel of adult pen nerds. (An exception may be the Lx editions, which are clearly more “business/adult like” with their iphone-colors.) There surely is a market study of what color is going to be trending next year, but I think you’re overestimating the impact of those yearly special editions to Lamys overall profit margin.
    (What I want to say with this paragraph: they’re not doing it without purpose, but it probably has not nearly as much importance as we’d like to believe).

    Last point, re “staying a fan is becoming more and more difficult”: well, what did you expect? That every year Lamy is releasing a newcolored Safari which excites you more than all the ones you already have – combined?
    Maybe part of the “problem” is that you (or any other pen person for that matter, myself included) have become ‘saturated’; seen and owned too many pens, so the initial barrier to get you/us excited over something has been raised (and can hardly be satisfied by a new color alone).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, thank you for this! I love it.

      And, yes, I’m sure part of the issue is exactly that seeing and owning so many pens does make you want more from the new ones. Absolutely guilty of that. 🙂 And maybe as time goes by, we all get more jaded.

      But where I’m coming from is that I am actually a longtime fan of the Safari. I bought my first in 1982. I don’t need more Safaris to use. I’ve bought the new ones to have the full set. It’s actually the opposite of buying because you get excited about the color.

      Does it matter to Lamy? Oh no. And rightly so. Also, as you say, there is no way Lamy is going to cater to my sense of the Safari, or what I want from the pen. And my goodness, I certainly don’t expect that. As if. 🙂

      It’s just a personal thought, or decision. I’m not trying to cause a ruckus or make enemies. it’s not a boycott. I think it would be great if everyone else buys these. 🙂

      I’m afraid I’m not much of a typical fountain pen person, and my sense of the history and design of the Safari stems from a different place than other people in fountain pens, so what I think of as the identity of the Safari doesn’t really translate. I could discuss the Pompidou, and what was going on in art, architecture and design at the end of the 1970s, and Dieter Rams, and so on — and everyone would just fall asleep and it wouldn’t matter. So I shall demur. But, yes, I am aware of the history and design of the Safari as a pen for middle-schoolers. I appreciate the design. In fact, here’s a post I wrote three years ago, to prove it: https://fountainpenfollies.com/2015/08/19/lamy-safari-week-day-one-do-you-think-its-ugly-you-probably-are-a-grown-up/

      I’m also aware that in Germany and other parts of Europe the Safari is forever stuck in student niche. But in America, fountain pens are used and seen, differently than in Europe. Lamy also sets the Safari price higher in America, too.

      In any case, I love being part of a small community of adult pen nerds. That’s hilarious, because it’s true. I’m very glad there are others to share that with me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like them to reissue Savannah and Terracotta, because I am old school, but basically I like the bright, fun colors best for the Safari. The pen I was a fan of is still there in the regular line. Just not the new ones. It’s just taken me longer to realize that, because I was a fan. And not just a fan, but an ever optimistic fan, a born and raised “wait till next year” Cubs fan. 😁

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  9. Sending virtual hugs your way. I can entirely understand your despair, seeing at how these are pens that virtually *apologize* for their appearance. Pastel colors seem to come at times of repression, when bold visions are not just frowned upon but are dangerous. In not being offensive, they wind up being doubly so.

    Just another opinion. You know the drill: “There’s always next year.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! That’s it exactly. It was the long-suffering Cubs fan in me that held out hope for so long. When the truth was right in front of me, and others I knew had given up, more sensibly. But really no despair: just exasperation. And lightened by the realization that now I’ll save a fortune. And I won’t have to defend the pen any more. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  10. If I were to buy a Safari, it would be the Petrol one. These pastel colors do not look right to me, with that pen body. If people love it, more power to them. Most of my pens are somewhat dark, fancy looking acrylic or transparent. I do have the Fresca Blue Sailor though. That is the one that stands out from the rest. It may be considered a pastel.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Okay, well, I LOVE these colors. They’re unicorny and beautiful and I cannot wait. Especially that blue one, it is just screaming to be in my TealQuoise collection.

    I am not upset that they’re expanding the colors to rope in people who normally would give a second glace to the earthy or stealthy colors. Because, then it means there’s a beautiful new blue AND green for me to play with 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good for you! Buy them all! Except I guess the pink. 🙂

      I should clarify, though, that I’m not upset that they are adding new buyers or colors. I love new buyers! And I love that you and some others love this one. Also, the fewer people who needle me about the Safari supposedly being “ugly,” the better. 🙂 I’m very happy for those who get Safaris they want. 🙂 I’m glad the business-like pen fans can enjoy their Dark Matters Safaris, and the pastel fans will get to enjoy their Pastel Safaris. I’m really glad Lamy is doing well.

      For myself, these aren’t my colors, but as I said, maybe they’ll be better in person. It’s more that I’m disappointed that the Safari has been changed so much. It used to have an identity, which Lamy doesn’t want it to have any more. And I will miss that. But also, it’s only a pen. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Well, I am in the minority here (“it’s not unusual” as Tom Jones would say). I love these pastel Safaris. I see the Safari as a good, basic, fashion pen and I can see the pastel trio appealing to people who buy Gillio and Van der Spek organisers which often come in pastel shades. Personally, I prefer the Lx or Al-Star to the Safari and I only own one of each so I’m only vaguely qualified to hold an opinion, but yeah, I’d be happy to buy any one of these shades for a bit of summer lovin’ next year.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s very good to hear from someone who thinks differently, thank you! For one, yes, that’s brilliant: these colors seem like they’d be a great fit in the Lx line. And it also make perfect sense that the pastel Safaris will go very well with pastel accessories and planners and such. I feel there is an intention behind this, and perhaps that’s it. Very wise. Maybe the target market is people who buy Gillio and Van der Spek organizers. Maybe Lamy hopes to make the Safari more of a fashion product, too.

      For me, it’s not really the colors, exactly — for instance, I adore the Paul Smith line of Caran d’Ache 849 ballpoints. I would get a few of those if I could. It’s more that I don’t think those colors are very good fits for the Safari. They don’t make sense for the pen. And this comes after a long stretch of colors I also feel lukewarm about.

      Basically, the way Lamy is trying to stretch the Safari — to appeal to so many markets — and now to come out with three at once … yes, that makes sense from a business point of view. But I think for me, as a a fan of the Safari, well, it’s a change that underlines that the Safari isn’t what it used to be. That now, there’s nothing I’m really a fan of any more. It will, of course, appeal to new fans, which is great. But I think I can move on.

      On the other hand, it’s nice you will get a Safari in a color you like next summer, and will have a Safari you like to use. 🙂 I expect there are many more buyers like you, than non-buyers like me. 🙂 And I’m sure that’s better for the brand.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It’s always sad when a brand goes in a direction you aren’t inclined to follow. It probably speaks volumes that I have only really explored the Lamy offerings in the past couple of years. Although I was aware of the brand a good few years ago it didn’t fit my aesthetic. I am sure if you keep looking you will find something else to collect; it’s not an instinct that dies easily!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Ha, actually, that’s totally a bright side. I am not a collector. 🙂 So I’ll go back to being not a collector, and not feel compelled to pick up each new Safari and Al-Star. I’ll just treat it like normal pens, where I’ll buy only the ones I like and can afford. I like that!

          Liked by 2 people

  13. See, now, I’m kind of in love with these. I’d sort of stopped buying Lamy the past couple years (the triangle grip drives me batty), but these sort of 1950’s kitchen colors have me wanting to plonk down cash for all three. It’ll be interesting to see how they go. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. How nice! I think you should, because you like them all, and they will only be available for a year. Go for it. Take up the baton!

      Seriously, if I had to guess, I would guess that they will be very popular. The person who sent me the link said the people commenting on Goulet’s social media were overwhelmingly positive. And I think that starting with the year of the Dark Lilac Lamy has been picking the annual Safari and Al-Star in a very intentional way. I would bet dollars to donuts that they are successfully executing a careful marketing strategy, picking colors that they think are going to be popular, and particularly among people who aren’t fans of the pens, per se. To grow sales and those particular brands. That’s also when they added the Lx. I just do not think Lamy would have picked these colors if they didn’t have research that these colors would be popular.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. The issue of expense is sort of “insult to injury.” 😀 Your comment inspired me to expand the post. I don’t like to be negative, so I think that’s a nice way to put it that I’ll use: I have a hard time taking Lamy up on this opportunity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Happy to be of service 🙂 I was never the greatest fan of the Safari, but in some ways I think Lamy have done me a favour and confirmed that I can spend my money better somewhere else.

        On a related note, which colour do you think will be the basis of the limited edition ink to go with this series? Or will there be 3? Yikes! (Shudders at the thought.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh my goodness, ink! I hadn’t thought of ink. Well, I’d guess, all three. It’s easy tie-in revenue, since it’s sure that some percentage of pen buyers will buy the matching ink, too. i have to think they’d be unlikely to pass on that additional revenue. And I don’t think the light colors will stop them: in the neon years, they did matching inks. Perhaps they’ll do something different, like cartridges only, or smaller bottles, or packaging a “flight” of all three inks together. They have so many choices, and months to figure it out.

          Do you suppose their retailers are going to want all this additional product? My goodness.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Sorry to add to your traumas 🙂. I suspect you’re right though and there will be the full set to match with the pens. Aside from Lamy’s accountants, I’m sure this will make somebody happy. Judging by a number of the other comments there’s a market for this set.

            What I find odd is that I could see myself shelling out for something like a Sailor Sapporo in a pastel-y sort of colour, but the Safari? No chance. Each to their own and all that…

            Liked by 2 people

          2. You see, that’s it exactly! It’s not the colors, it’s the colors on the Safari. But, yes, these would be adorable for a Sailor. I can see them in that transparent plastic Sailor does, and with the matching Four Seasons inks, which I like.

            Similarly, I could have seen these colors working with the Vista — in fact, I’d like transparent colored Vistas. And Pamela has already pointed out how they’d be nice in the Lx or the Al-Star.

            But I mean, I’m sure we’ll all get used to them. And now that I’ve turned in my Safari Fan card, I feel more free already.

            Liked by 1 person

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