Kaco Retro Fountain Pen Review


Not all Chinese fountain pens are made equal. I picked up a Kaco Retro earlier this year. I liked it so much that I ordered another one. I ended up including it in my initial “top five” post. Office supplies manufacturer Kaco isn’t plagued by the same problems that characterize other Chinese companies - shoddy materials and poor quality control. I now have two Kaco products, and I love them both. Here is an introduction to their model they call the “Retro.”


The Retro, like the Edge, comes in a simple, but protective plastic box. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s certainly a step up over other Chinese pens. Included are a couple of cartridges and a converter.



It’s not difficult to see where the Retro gets its name. From the hooded nib to the bright colors to the contrasting colored ball on the end of the clip, it looks like a pen from fifty years ago. And it’s built quite well. It’s a plastic pen - save the nib, of course. However, it’s thick plastic. It’ll no doubt be durable. I initially ordered a blue model and then grabbed a red one to match. Overall, I’m happy with my purchases.

The Retro also features a small ink window. I personally see that as more of a gimmick - even on my expensive Lamy L2K. It just doesn’t reveal much - if anything at all - about the current supply of ink in the pen. The compression fit cap posts securely. Attached to it is an extremely rigid metal clip.



The Retro is a typical cartridge/converter pen, as I mentioned. I’ve not used the cartridges, so I cannot comment on the color of the ink or their flow. The nib, though - again hooded - is extremely smooth. I mean really smooth. I never have problems with hard starts. It writes a terrific, dark line. For beginners that do not know, hooded nibs have a more pronounced “sweet spot” than traditional nibs. However, they’re not at all hard to align, and the writing experience is solid.

The Retro’s nib is listed as an extra-fine, at least on Amazon. It’s mislabeled, in my opinion. Some might call it a fine. I think it’s more along the lines of some medium nibs. However, I couldn’t care less how we label it. It is a fantastic writer. That’s all I care about. It’s not too broad. It’s not too fine. It’s just right.



This is a comfortable pen in the hand. It’s fairly lightweight, yet it doesn’t feel cheap. I own a Parker 51, and the feel is similar. Like the 51, the Retro just writes - and writes well. That’s what’s important isn’t it?



At around $15, this pen is hard to beat. However, there are two problems I’d like to mention. First, as many have noted, the clip is so rigid, it’s borderline useless. If you can’t open it, how do you clip it - to your shirt pocket or anything? I am able to clip it in my bag, but it takes some effort.

Second, and most problematic, I’ve noticed that a small amount of ink tends to seep out of both nibs when stored in my bag. I remove the cap, and ink shows up on the grip. It seems to pool in the cap. I often end up with ink on my hands when I use my Retro. You can see it on the video below, if you look carefully. It’s not a big deal for me, but I know that this can be a deterrent for new users. Therefore, it’s likely I’ll remove the Retro - still a solid starter pen - from my “top five” in my next update.

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