I should say before starting this review that I do own a Lamy Pico and therefore I could well be biased. The interesting thing about doing these reviews though is that they can make you look at a product differently so….
Both these pens are compact ballpoints, both approximately the same length though the Pico is a good deal thicker. The Fisher Space Pen is a pretty iconic writing instrument, having been developed for Nasa’s space program (though not this compact version) and taken on the Apollo missions. It was even used to fix a damaged switch on the Apollo 11 lunar module, enabling Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to get back to Earth (see the full story here http://fisherspacepen.com/pages/apollo-11) Against that, the Lamy Pico is a relatively unknown pen and not a huge seller here at Bureau, though the recent limited edition laser orange did sell out very quickly. Both are fairly premium writing instruments though so what is it about them that makes them worth the £20-£30 price tag?
Both are smart looking pens and would attract attention when whipped out of your pocket. The Lamy Pico comes in mostly muted colours (with the exception of the now sold out Laser orange) so might suit someone who likes a subtler look. The imperial blue is very pretty and the red is the brightest but you can also have it in white, black or bright shiny chrome. The Fisher Bullet Space Pen comes in nine different colours including a rainbow effect, metallic lime, purple, red, blue and pink as well as matt black and shiny chrome so lots of choice and the colours are really striking. The Space Pen is ironically the more traditional looking of the two pens with a separate cap whereas the Pico is a more unusual design with a retracting mechanism which deploys the writing tip and lengthens the pen.
Pico 7/10, Space Pen 8/10
The Space Pen really needs the cap to be posted on the end to make it long enough to use, especially for a man. There is an etched grip area at the front to make it easier to use but the USP of this pen is really the refill design. Designed for space, it can write in zero gravity and therefore upside down, unlike most ballpens which depend on gravity to keep the ink flowing. This is due to the thixotropic ink which is pressurised with nitrogen. It will also work in an impressively wide range of temperatures – from -30 C to 120C, though quite how you would come to be writing in temperatures that hot is not clear to me. More usefully the ink is waterproof and it can write underwater, a feature that could be helpful on rainy walks to mark maps since it writes on most surfaces.
The Lamy Pico doesn’t have any special ink properties and its small refill will not last as long as the Fisher refill. However, it is the more interesting design and its clever retraction mechanism is fun to play with and makes it pretty dinky when closed. It doesn’t actually look like a pen when closed which I quite like. Both pens are gift boxed so make nice presents but the Space Pen is the more impressive gift, not least because the packaging looks more exciting with its astronaut on the front and its statement that it is the most advanced writing instrument in the world!
Pico 7/10, Space Pen 10/10
Length when closed
Pico 92mm, Space Pen 97mm
Length when open
Pico 124mm, Space Pen 136mm
Pico 12mm, Space Pen 9mm
Pico 22g, Space Pen 19g
Pico 6 colours, Space Pen 9 colours
Both are pretty good in this department. The Space Pen requires the cap to be removed and posted whereas the Pico is just a click to open. Both are light and compact though so good for pockets and carrying around, perhaps for bullet journaling on the go? Both come with black medium refills which is the most popular choice of ink and what I would choose.
Pico 8/10, Space Pen 8/10
Value for Money
Both pens have different finishes which affect the price. The Space Pen starts at £24.95 for the matt black and chrome versions and goes up to £29.95 for the colours but costs £49.95 for the rainbow and titanium finishes. The Pico is £29 for all the models except the pearl chrome (a matt silver finish) which costs £33.50. Setting aside the rainbow and titanium versions, the pens are more or less the same price so you pays your money… With regard to refills, theM22 for the Pico costs £2.50 whereas the Space Pen refills are a lot more at £5.35. Having said that, the Space Pen refills are said to last three times as long as a standard refill and the Pico is quite a small refill so in the long run the Space Pen would be more economical ink-wise.
Pico 8/10, Space Pen 9/10
Hmm, I think in the end that the best buy would have to be the Space Pen since it has the features and the colours to make it stand out whereas the Pico, despite its neat mechanism, doesn’t really grab you with its muted colours. Having said that, I do love my Pico because I have the laser orange version (did I mention it was sold out?) which is quite electrifying visually. The Pico is a smart ballpoint and if you prefer your writing instruments to follow the less is more principle then it’s a nice little pen. If you want a bit of a back story and the ability to write notes in a kiln though, the Space Pen is the pen for you.
Final score Pico 30, Space Pen 35
To see the full range of Space Pens, click here.
To see the full range of Lamy Picos available, click here.