Friday, March 6, 2009


If you've seen the movie, "Face/Off," starring John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, and Joan Allen, you might remember the scene in which John Travolta's character hands Jamie a balisong, commonly known as a butterfly knife, to use to defend herself against a groping date who doesn't respect her "no." Opening or closing a knife like that requires skill obtained through practice, typically accompanied by accidental cuts, and would draw unwelcome attention from the police in areas where this type of knife is illegal.

Enter the BaliYo, a pen made in the U.S.A. that's designed to be flipped around like a balisong without our getting cut or arrested. Ordered Monday after 5 P.M. from the
manufacturer's website, my green and blue BaliYo arrived yesterday morning by standard shipping - what great order fulfillment!

When closed as for writing, the pen is 4-1/8" long x 3/16" high x 1-3/16" wide at the widest point. At the place recommended to hold for writing, it's 3/4" wide. The rings embedded for weight are 3/8" high. Fully extended, the BaliYo is 7-3/4" long.

Even though the barrel is long enough and round on the outside, the refill isn't the standard SPR series Fisher Space pen refill. This short refill is the much narrower Fisher Pressurized Universal SU series available only in fine black, blue, and red ink that needs to be snapped off at the 2-5/8" mark to fit into the matching green colored cover designed to make the round peg of the refill fit into the square hole inside the barrel. The Schmidt Mini refills (#628 for Fine, #635 for Medium) also fit.

Holding the pen as instructed on the website's FAQs isn't the most comfortable position for writing for me. I like it better when the pad of my index fingertip is on the hole of one leg with the other leg flipped open and laying across the back of my fingers or hand depending on how it's rotated. Since the leg is a featherweight, it doesn't bother me to have it positioned that way.

The clips are rather stiff and seem sturdy enough. They may be snapped out of their grooves should they prove to be uncomfortable while holding the pen for writing or performing tricks.

The pen writes well. I can't tell any difference between it and another Fisher Space fine refill except it has blue ink while my other pen with an SPR series refill has black. What I appreciate so much about the Fisher Space pen refills is that they write when other ballpoint pens don't: upside-down, on paper that isn't pen-friendly, in the cold, etc. I like them so much that I've used them almost exclusively for my ballpoint pens since 1994.

As a toy, the BaliYo is great, although one leg is currently a tad stiffer than the other to flip open. I haven't decided, yet, whether to leave it as is or try to lubricate it to loosen it up.

The pen and instructional DVD came packaged on a blister card that has a warning on the back that it's not for children under 5 years of age. The DVD has six tricks shown in slower motion so you may follow along and learn, which then accelerate to realistic speed. I'm glad that the BaliYo used in the DVD is the red, white, and blue model because it's easier to tell the legs apart while in motion.

I've already mastered the basic skill of flip-rotate-and-grab to open it. I'm glad that I have it to practice the flashy balisong moves because had I been using a real butterfly knife, having felt the barrel of the pen on my fingers as it closed, I know I would have been cut for sure.

All in all, I'm glad I bought it and am looking forward to wasting many hours playing with it.

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