It took me quite a while to get into Sailor pens. I didn’t buy my first until October 2019 — 2 ¾ years after buying my first fountain pen. Not gonna lie, I’m still pretty pleased with that initial Sailor purchase — the Tequila Sunrise. It was, is, a worthy first Sailor purchase.
I’ve bought 13 more Sailor pens since then, all in the Pro Gear family, 10 of which I’ve kept. Not a bad ratio, and compared to my total pen purchases, not too terribly many. However, it does encompass the most fountain pens I’ve purchased of the same general model. It ties with TWSBI 580s, at 11, for most fountain pens I own of the same general model.
To be honest, I’d likely own more Sailor Pro Gears if they were less expensive and more easily purchased. But, fairly often, the ones I found interesting were from super small runs through stores that don’t sell online. And we all know what eBay sellers do to prices. But I digress…
Cocktail 10th Anniversary Collection
My four most recently acquired Sailors were from the 10th anniversary re-release of the cocktail series. Let me say, up front, that I feel Sailor (or perhaps Itoya, as the US distributor) seriously bungled that release.
When it was first announced, the lack of differentiation between the pens in this release and the originals surprised me. I remember thinking that collectors, those who valued the collection for its collectibility, would be pissed off — and rightly so — that so many more identical pens would be available. But, since I had no intention of buying a multi-thousand dollar 10-pen set, I didn’t pay too much attention.
It didn’t take long, however, for people to start setting up group buys for the series. After all, divided by 10, the price was reasonable, even with shipping. After a bit of an internal debate, I signed up for 2 group buys, hoping to get the 2017 Après Ski and 2016 Blue Lagoon. I wasn’t so lucky, but I did get the 2012 Mojito and 2014 Picadilly Night which are also quite nice. NOTE: I was eventually able to snag a Blue Lagoon (see below) and Jim, the sweetheart, got me an Après Ski from Stilo e Stile for Christmas.
Oh, You Wanted an Easy Way to Buy One?
The next annoyance came with the announcement that select US retailers would be selling the pens individually. It would have been nice to know that up front. All the work various people had undertaken to set up group buys could have been avoided. Well, maybe. Come to think of it, Sailor fanatics likely would have organized group buys anyway to ensure they got the pens they wanted.
But, for some reason, all of the stores were selling the cocktail series pens at different times. I missed out on the Blue Lagoon from Dromgoole’s and Goldspot. I’d set a phone reminder for Goulet, only to find out they were moving the release back. Anderson Pens listed their pens on time, but never listed the Blue Lagoon. I put in a “Notify me When it’s Back in Stock” request, and that’s the ONLY reason I got one. Randomly, a couple of days before Goulet’s updated release day, I got a notification that the Blue Lagoon was in stock and snapped one up.
I understand that the pens are collectors items at this point, and that everyone — including vile, disgusting scalpers — want one or more, but it shouldn’t be such a nightmare to get your hands on a pen. I’m going to venture into the territory of conjecture.
I’m guessing a lot of the release issues were caused by COVID shipping delays. Understandable. But similar issues had been going on for months. Surely some lessons could have been learned from previous releases? Maybe make sure all the pens for an order are in hand at Itoya before telling retailers to list the pens? I’m assuming Sailor ships to Itoya, who ships to retailers, because otherwise, what does Itoya do?
Anyway, I’m rambling at this point, so let’s move on, shall we?
You Thought We Were Done?
I can’t, for the life of me, find references now to the Kure Azure being the last cocktail series pen. However, when it was announced, everyone “knew” it was the last pen. And the release of the 10th Anniversary series seemed to reinforce that. It was the “wrap up” set; it ended the series with a bang.
But then the Negroni was announced and released. I don’t remember, now, precisely when in the timeline it was, but I believe it was before the actual arrival of the 10th anniversary set. I think it was after the Kure Azure was released, but still, a new cocktail series pen. After the 10th anniversary “wrap up” set. Why have a “finale” set if you’re going to keep going?
I don’t know why that bothered me as much as it did. But it’s like my Sailor bubble popped. The Sailor price increase announcement certainly did nothing to renew my interest. I thought I may want the next “outer space” pen, the blue green nebula, but it did nothing for me. It actually annoyed me further. We’ve had three pens from that series with opaque resin and silver trim, and now they’re releasing a transparent pen with gold trim? Just nope. Even the recent beautiful translucent pink Japan LE pen with rose gold trim didn’t move me enough to try to buy it. And don’t even get me started on the “Pen of the Year” that looks like a cross between the Pelikan Star Ruby and Platinum Carnelian.
Sailor fatigue has well and truly set in for me. I don’t know if it will last, but I hope it will. I don’t feel the pens are worth it at the new price. They’re injection molded resin, after all. Indie pen and blank makers are making amazing pens and blanks that blow Sailor’s offerings out of the water at a fraction of the cost. You could practically recreate a sailor with many indie makers, or have Sailor-shaped pens made in much more interesting materials.
Now that I’ve likely upset the Sailor fans, I should wrap this up. How fares your Sailor bubble? Just starting, still growing, or already burst?
TLDR: Let’s just say I don’t see myself buying a Sailor pen anytime soon.