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This is a design project with the world well-known floating action  pen.
This is a design project with the world well-known floating action pen.
316 backers pledged ¥975,747 to help bring this project to life.
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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

Project supporting material callout image

Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

What Is Our Project?
This is a project featuring Floating Action Pen. Floating action pen is: when it is tilted, the small panel inside runs and it makes images move. When I was a little kid, I was mesmerized by what you may call “the world’s tiniest theater” and wished that I would design and make my own floating pen some day.
Finally in 2010, when I had already grown up, my friend and I collaborated to make one. That was the first version of our Animation Floating Pen with the characteristics of animated effects where characters in the pen walk or swim with optical illusions. 
 すっかり大人になってしまった2010年に、友人の協力を得てフローティペンを製作しました。それが、我々のアニメーションフローティングペンの最初のバージョンです。その特徴は、錯視を利用して文字どおりペンの中のキャラクターが歩いたり、 泳いだり、アニメーション効果を出すことにあります。

 The number of the first version of the pen manufactured was very small, and the product was sold mainly in Japan. Still globally, design info websites such as designboom and floaty pen collectors’ website such as Float About featured it. Also it won “Asia Design Excellence” prize judged by the German Design Council in Paperworld, Frankfurt-based annual international trade fair for stationery, office supplies and writing instruments, in 2012.

 その製作本数はとても少なく日本国内を中心に売っただけですが、designboomなどのデザイン情報サイトや米国のコクレクターサイトFloat aboutなどに取り上げられました。また、毎年フランクフルトで開催される文具見本市であるPaperworld 2012でドイツデザインコミッティより、“アジアデザインエクセレンス”を授与されました。

Now, we are producing the seven versions of the pen consisting of the revival version of the first one and four new design. The image of animation of the revival version itself has improved drastically because Eskesen(to be described), the manufacturer of the floating pen, updated the quality of the print.  


We have three types of Animation Floating Pen: アニメーションフローティングペンには3種類のタイプがあります

Type A:

Type A features optical illusions called barrier grid animation.


  • A Cat in a Pen, Walking  

A cat in the pen walk with optical illusions. Type A pens are visible of appealing six-frame animation when they are tilted.


  • A Man in a Pen, Walking

This is a revival version of the first Animation Floating Pen we produced in 2010. Since optical illusions didn’t work well with this tiny image, we ended up making six prototypes before we led to the final product. Incidentally, the image was created by animation based on the video which captured me (Satoshi Endo) actually walking.  


Type B:

Type B features another optical illusions called footstep animation.


  • A Cat in a Pen, 8-bit version (black)

This product featuring a cat walking was created for a different type of optical illusions from the Type A items. I  had struggles in producing animation in the process of creating floating pens because of the nature of human vision, the very nature of which had been known for optical illusions for a long time. We utilized the nature that human eyes are attracted to strong contrast in creation of two types of 8-bit Versions. The images in the pen being as very simple as graphics used to 8-bit personal computers, we named them after that.  

 タイプAのペンとは違った錯視を利用してネコが歩いているように見えるものです。アニメーションフローティングペンを作るときに、人間の視覚の性質のためにうまくいかないことがよくあります。実は、そうした製作の邪魔をしていたその性質も、昔から錯視として知られているものでした。それを利用したのが、8-bit versionの2つです。これらは、人間の目が強いコントラストに引きずられることを利用したもので、そのためとてもシンプルな絵になっています(ちょうど8ビット時代のパーソナルコンピュータのグラフィックスのようなのでこの名前を付けました)。

  • A Cat in a Pen, 8-bit version (white)
The image of the cat of this item is in white. We expect it looks like cat’s paws flip-flop on the fixed angle.
 白ネコの8-bit versionを作りました。実際には固定された角度のネコの足がパタパタと歩いているように見えると思います。

Type C:

Type C also features a kind of barrier grid animation with a new specially developed method of animation for the item. In Type C pens, the character in the pen switches the direction of moving by shifting the pitch of the barrier grid. This doesn’t occur in conventional barrier grid animation since the images would be disturbed. Their items could be an innovative addition to the world of barrier grid animation that has more than 100-year-old history.
  • Wave

Waves swing in the pen. The direction of waves moves back to where they come from in the middle section of the pen.  


  • Tank2Duck

Tanks appearing in the pen are transformed into ducks one by one. We wish this item will serve as our modest message of hope for a world without war. Pay attention to the moment when the tail of a duck pops up. When it is tilted oppositely, ducks are turning into tanks in backward motion.


  • Kaleidoscope

Multiple triangles are transformed into a kaleidoscope of shapes.


We only create our idea into design for the pen, and order our products to Denmark’s Eskesen which has manufactured the globally-loved Floaty Pen for more than 60 years. Their products have been recognized as quality writing tools. They have produced original items as well as promotional ones for such major corporations as the New York Times and Museum of Modern Art in New York, and tourist spots worldwide.     


Made in Denmark. Manufacturer: ESKESEN A/S

The Pen body meets: European standard EN 71 specifies safety requirements for toys EN71-3

The Oil meets: United States Pharmacopoeia, 21st.ed 1985, except for viscosity. FDA requirements     

ペン本体:欧州玩具規格 EN71 part3 取得済  


The pen features matte black body with a metal clip for the Type A items or a matte black clip for the rest, oil-based black ink, 0.8 mm. The item is packed in the transparent resin bag with a small card.

 Type Aは、ペン軸がマットブラック、クリップはメタル、それ以外はペン軸、クリップともマットブラックとなります。油性ボールペンで 黒インク、ボール径0.8mmです。ペンは、専用の小さなカードと一緒に透明な樹脂製の袋に入れて提供いたします。

We ship our items in an envelope made with elastic materials to protect sufficiently. Explanation on a card which comes with the item is written in Japanese.  

 我々はボールペンをそれを十分に保護する弾力性のある素材の封筒に入れて発送します。 ボールペンに付属するカードの説明文は日本語です。

The items will be shipped from Japan. In case custom duties and import tax occur in the your country/area, you are responsible for paying them.


How to See the Animation :アニメーションを見る方法

The character in the pen is set up to walk from the tip of the pen toward the head of the pen, because when the pen is placed in somewhere such as the pocket of the jacket, the character stands closer to the tip of the pen. Take out the pen from the pocket, put it in front of your eyes with 10-30 cm distance and view the animation. When tilted, the character starts moving.  


Animation Floating Pen is equipped with animation which utilizes optical illusions. It may not be seen animated at first. Then try to view the pen from different distance. Some people say it can be viewed most animated from 30 cm away. It depends on the person how to see it best way.


Displacement of the printing position of an image might occur to some extent in the Floating Action Pen. I appreciate your understanding that this is an unavoidable situation due to the nature of manufacturing. Observe the pen from different angles to find the best viewing position. Then you should be able to see the animation.  


A Project for Making a Floating Pen at Least Once in My Life:

A Project for Making a Floating Pen at Least Once in My Life consists of a group of creators with Satoshi Endo and Taku Sato as leaders, and other collaborators who gathered to produce Animation Floating Pen. 

A Project for making a floating pen at least once in my lifeは、遠藤諭とさとうたくの2人を中心としてその協力者からなるアニメーションフローティングペン製作を目的としたチームです。

Satoshi Endo: Creator/editor/researcher.  In ‘A Project for Making a Floating Pen at least Once in my Life’, he is responsible for the idea and concept, computer simulation and overall direction. He established subculture magazine "Tokyo Otona Club" in 1983. The word "otaku", symbol of Japanese pop culture, originated from the magazine and settled ubiquitously since then.

遠藤諭:クリエイター/編集者/リサーチャー  A Project for Making a Floating Pen at least Once in my Lifeは、個人的なプロジェクトで、アイデアとコンセプト、データシミュレーションと全体のディレクションを担当。1983年にサブカル雑誌「東京おとなクラブ」を創刊。日本のポップカルチャーを象徴する「おたく」という言葉は、この雑誌がもとになっている。

Taku Sato: Freelance editorial designer and craft artist (metal, leather, pottery).  In ‘A Project for Making a Floating Pen at least Once in my Life’, he is responsible for video capturing , art direction.

さとうたく:フリーランスのエディトリアルデザイナー/皮革・金属・陶芸のクラフトアーチスト。A Project for Making a Floating Pen at least Once in my Lifeでは、ビデオキャプチャとアートディレクションを担当。

YouTube URL :

Risks and challenges

We are satisfied with the final samples of the Animation Floating Pen we have right now. However, there have been some cases in Eskesen’s Floaty Pens that have a few tiny foams found in the liquid in the pen due to the nature of manufacturing. Though we will surely inspect each product to exclude damaged ones that may have a significant amount of foam or leakage before delivery, we appreciate your understanding that we can’t replace the items which might include a few foams.


The items shown in video or image are all prototypes. We are making a little more adjustments especially with Type C. The final products might look slightly different in the animation such as the period of the wave and the width of the tank accordingly.

ビデオや写真は、試作を撮影したものです。とくにType Cはさらに調整する予定です。その結果、製品版では、波の周期やタンクの横幅などアニメーションが少し異なる可能性があります。

Floaty Pen is a very popular product which has been shipped globally for decades. Therefore, we don’t expect major uncertainties on manufacturing our products. But if any inconvenience which might cause delay for delivery should occur, we will let you know promptly.


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Funding period

- (21 days)

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