Rotring is a brand familiar to many Filipinos. Countless engineering students buy their drafting pens and related products. This German brand also makes reliable school and workhorse fountain pens commonly used in Europe.
The Rotring Altro (from TAO) was released in the 1980s and came in pink, yellow, burgundy, and other colors. Its ribbed barrel is non-slip and sturdy hard plastic, able to withstand flinging into a rucksack after a day at school. This one has a medium nib, but writes like a Parker fine, and glides smoothly over paper. The nib is steel, and rigid as a concrete nail.
It can take a small cartridge and have room for a spare. A long Waterman cartridge would fit, for those who want more ink than a short cart can store.
The cap bears “Rotring Altro” and “W. Germany” markings. The clip is metal wire, like a bent paper clip with a tube of plastic on the tip. The pen looks coral in these images because of the low light conditions, but the actual color is Barbie pink.
Herlitz is another German brand. Founded in 1904 and based in Berlin, it manufactures paper and school and office supplies, among them a line of fountain pens. The my*pen line comes in cheerful two-color combinations – fuschia and orange, light and dark blue, light and dark green, and this pink and white baby.
Another friend, Clem, calls her white Lamy Safari her “Stormtrooper” pen. This one (from Leigh), on the other hand, reminds me of Hello Kitty Darth Vader. Like most, if not all, affordable modern pens, the nib is steel without a hint of flex. The pink inset is soft rubber and makes gripping it easy. This one has an M-nib, but lays a juicier and wetter line than the Rotring Altro, much like the M-nibs of other brands.