Make that closer to US$3.75. And this pen ain't no slouch.
So what do you get for four bucks? And, more importantly, what don't you get?
The 3013 is unlike any other Wing Sung pen I've seen. It seems they worked from a clean sheet of paper. It has echos of the TWSBI Vac 700 but clearly isn't that pen. Other than its size, the 3013 bears little relation to the PenBBS 456.
The 3013 is a true vac filler or, as literally translated from the Chinese 负压, a negative pressure pen. The filling mechanism is unique and functions well. It's not a copy of PenBBS or TWSBI.
At least for now, there are five color choices: Clear, Brown and Purple as Wing Sung's own colors. ChinesePen (aka Bobby Pen) has Blue and Green versions on Etsy sold under the Paili brand. As a range, the colors aren't bad. I like them.
Everything on my pens is nicely made. I haven't detected any flaws or rough edges. I assume that Wing Sung knows how to make good pens and QC their work.
I also assume that Wing Sung knows how to pick materials. But only time will tell if the pen has cracking or other problems related to materials (or manufacturing). It's noteworthy that the section has a metal insert that may be there to forestall cracking.
The design is functional and conservative. The pen looks fine but it's tough to call the design inspired. Diamond facets on the cap and blind cap are about as fancy as this pen gets.
There's enough metal in the construction so that even uncapped the pen is on the heavy side. Just a little bit. With the cap, more so.
The pen uses a standard Pilot 78g-style #5 nib found in other Wing Sung models. EF and F options. (M nib from Bobby Pen model.) Friction fit. Nothing new here. Wing Sung is not following in the footsteps of Moonman and making their own #6 nib. The good news is that there are plenty of after-market nib options.
My pens came in bubble wrap. That's it. No box. No plastic sleeve. No nothing. It could be Wing Sung wholesales the pen without packaging at lower cost. Or isn't making packaging at all. It was a bit of a shock but I'm over it.
This is a good sized pen that brings some heft. Partly by design. Partly, I think by the need to keep costs to a minimum.
Capped, the Wing Sung 3013 is smaller than the TWSBI Vac 700 and the PenBBS 456. Uncapped, it's just a shade larger than the 456.
At almost 23g uncapped, the 3013 is a bit heavier than the PenBBS 456 (19.65g uncapped). That's slightly disappointing and, to be honest, I'm not sure why.
But I'm happy to speculate. Perhaps the metal bits in the filling mechanism added enough weight to the tail to throw off the balance of the pen so they added more weight to front in the form of the metal section sleeve. All that metal adds up.
The cap comes off in two turns. There's no cap liner, but an o-ring on the barrel threads serves to cushion the final turn and seal the cap. The threads are smooth and fairly coarse. On three pens I've had no issues with cross-threading. I've tried.
The cap band is laser engraved with Wing Sung in Chinese (永生) and 3013 on opposite sides. The cap and blind cap are molded with a diamond facet pattern that add visual interest and a bit more grip. Neither keeps the pen from rolling on flat surfaces.
The 3013 disassembles easily. No tools required. To remove the filling mechanism, unscrew the ring at the base of the barrel and pull the mechanism out. It's that simple. Wow.
The base of the rod mechanism has a pair of o-rings to seal the bottom of the pen. There are flat spots on the base and inside the barrel so it just fits in one way.
Unlike TWSBI and PenBBS vac fillers, the 3013 doesn't have a seal in front of the plunger that acts as a shutoff valve to close the barrel from the feed. Once the pen is full, close the blind cap and write. There's no need to back off the cap for longer writing sessions.
Filling the pen is simple. Pull the rod out, stick the nib in the ink and push the rod in a single motion. The pen fills a little more than half way. Repeating the process doesn't seem to help the fill more. You can always unscrew the section and add more ink directly to fill the pen to the brim.
The 3013 uses Wing Sung standard #5 78g-type nibs that friction fit in the section. A pair of notches at the base of the nib mate with slots in the feed so the nib fits just one way. The clear feed is a nice touch.
The Wing Sung model pens come with either fine or extra-fine nibs. The Bobby Pen versions come with M nibs. The nibs are smooth and offer some springiness. I got two pens with F nibs and one with an EF and successfully swapped one of the fine nibs for a medium from my parts box.
The nibs wrote well from the start with no tinkering necessary. The 3013 nib system may not be flashy but the nibs do the job more than competently.
The Wing Sung 3013 feels like a smaller TWSBI Vac 700, mainly because the relatively large step after the threads and the swell at the top of the barrel.
The section is long enough so you're not forced into gripping the pen in any particular way. I find the pen plenty comfortable for jotting notes or longer writing sessions. The pen is correctly balanced but the extra weight may make the pen tiring to use for extended periods for some folks.
The big news remains that a new vac-filling pen of this quality from a known brand sells on Taobao for under US$4 (plus shipping). The Bobby Pen Paili brand versions are US$9.90 (plus shipping) - still a remarkable price.
In that context, the launch of the Wing Sung 3013 represents a red-letter day for pen lovers everywhere. It's a wonderful kick-about pen. A pen to take to work or school and not worry too much about loaning out. An cool gift for someone you want to introduce to fountain pens.
I can't wait to see what Wing Sung has in store next.
More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.