Parker Frontier and Parker Urban


I bought these two low-cost modern Parkers to see what I thought of them.  The Parker Frontier comes in a metal and plastic box with a large Parker cartridge and a converter.  The Urban is presented in a white sleeve containing a grey and gold cardboard box which holds the pen and converter – no cartridge, but there is a registration and instruction leaflet.  They are both black cartridge/converter pens with simplified versions of the Parker arrow but there the resemblance ends.
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I would describe the Frontier as a very traditional-looking pen.  The barrel is tapered and the top is flat.  The pen is light-weight and the nib is steel and the shape that nibs have been for a few generations.  On closer inspection, the word “Parker” and the Parker logo are poorly stamped, making the nib look cheap.  The pen closes firmly with a satisfying click.  That’s pretty much it.  This is not a pen that calls for much in the way of description.
The Urban is radically different.  It’s like the Parker designers went out of their way to be anything other than traditional.  The barrel has a stretched hourglass shape.  The cap looks a little bulbous.  Lines are etched into the barrel and cap.  There is a metal cap at both ends, reminding me a little of the Cross.  It’s a heavier pen than the Frontier but not especially heavy by today’s standards.  This one (and it may only be this particular example) snaps closed well, but is quite hard to open.  The nib has no slit or breather hole, like the Vector or IM.  Taken overall, this pen looks a little eccentric, like the Parker design department had a few drinks at lunchtime and came back and put this pen together.  That said, it’s a pleasant writer.
In fact both of these pens performed well and I confess I liked them both.  They both feel good in the hand though the Urban is perhaps a little over-balanced when posted.  The nibs are smooth and the flow is good.  Either might have been a Chinese made pen but they don’t have the flow and skipping problems that those pens so often have.  They are remarkable value for money and I would be happy to use either, though I am slightly biased in favour of the Frontier.  Any time you have a tenner or so lying around and you want a good basic pen, you could do worse than either of these.



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