Review: Pilot Metropolitan

Just a quick disclaimer: This is not going to be a comprehensive review; there are a lot of already-written, more in-depth review of the Pilot Metropolitan out there. This is going to be a short review.

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Pilot Metropolitan (which I affectionately call the Metro) is usually one of the first few fountain pens mentioned when asked about good entry-level fountain pens. It’s relatively cheap, well-built, a great consistent writer, and now quite easily accessible locally. It has a full-metal body, which makes it on the heavy side. It can use either cartridges or converters, although both are proprietary to Pilot, which means you do have the option of using bottled inks (with the converter) or not if you can’t be bothered (cartridges).

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One of the things I like about the Metro is the nib. It comes in either fine (F) or medium (M), being Japanese both of which are usually on the narrower side compared to European/American nibs. This is how I prefer my pens; the narrower, the better! Another thing I like is how sleek and professional they look, even the more colorful ones. The brushed metal finish is very elegant, and the patterns in the middle give a good contrast and personality to the pens.

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Now, one thing I don’t like about the Metro is the lack of an ink window. It is very hard to tell how much ink you have left in the pen unless you go through the trouble of opening up the pen to check the converter or cartridge. Another thing I don’t like is the converter. The pens usually come with a black cartridge and a squeeze-type converter. I immediately replace that converter with the CON-50, the screw-type converter as seen in the purple and red Metros below. The drawback to these is the very small ink capacity. My solution to these is to just reuse the cartridges once I have consumed the ink, but refilling them can be an exercise in frustration until you get the hang of it.

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Pilot Metropolitans go for around Php600 or less, depending on where you buy. It is available online at Everything Calligraphy. Big stores such as National Bookstore also carry them, but the supply is rather spotty. There is supposedly another source called Cosmos Bazar which is located in a place I rarely go to, but as far as I know they are the official distributor of Pilot in the Philippines, so their prices are cheaper. My black Metro was from National Bookstores in one of the rare times I was able to catch stocks, and my two Retro Pops are ordered through a Massdrop deal.

Now, the only reason I don’t have more of these is because I believe in using what I have. If I have too many pens, then I can’t possibly be maximizing the use of all of them. Otherwise, I would have bought all colors of the Retro Pop line, and a gold and silver version from the basic line as well! They are that good!

 

 

Recent Brush Pen Favorites

Since my last post on brush calligraphy, I have expanded my brush pen collection. Here are the ones I reach for the most recently.

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From top to bottom: Monami Brush Pen (refill only), Daiso Refillable Brush Pen, Zebra Brush Pen Super Fine, Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen, Pentel Touch Brush Pen. The last three were bought from Dolces Online and the Daiso from, well, Daiso. Unfortunately I have forgotten where I bought the Monami Brush Pen (I got a set of ten, different colors).

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The tips of the pens are mostly on the fine/super fine range, except for the Daiso brush pen which I’d categorize as broad. All of them except again for Daiso are on the stiff side.

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Here’s a writing sample of all five, on a Rhodia N11 pad. If I were asked, I’d say that my favorite would be a toss up between the Zebra and the Tombow brush pens. They have just the right amount of stiffness that gives a good line variation without a lot of effort, and are simply a joy to write with.

Maker Monthly December 2015 Box

There have been some international stationery subscription boxes that I have been wanting to try. The first one that I finally tried is called Maker Monthly. Their website states that the box lets the subscriber…

Unwrap inspiration every month.

I had been particularly taken by this box because of the simplicity of the offer, and the fact that they include notebooks and pens in the box every month. There’s something so exciting in getting new pens and notebooks in the mail on a monthly basis. The price was the one that finally convinced me to try it. It’s a flat $30 for international subscriptions ($20 for US, $25 for Canada) and that includes the shipping fee as well. The subscription automatically renews at the start of every month, but you do have the option to skip a month if you like.

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I had signed up for my first box last December. The shipping notice told me that my box shipped out December 30, and it arrived at the QC Central Post Office on January 13, which is not bad. It did take a while to get the notice from the PO, and I was finally able to pick it up on January 21. I was lucky enough to not get charged with any customs fees beyond the processing fee (Php112).

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I of course unboxed it immediately when I got home, which explains the obvious bedsheet background in these photos. The Maker Monthly box is a sturdy cardboard box with a simple branding on the lid. Upon lifting the lid this is what you will see. There’s a flat package on top with a big tag with Maker branding. Under this flat package is a bunch of paper filler to help protect the rest of the items.

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Each item is actually neatly packaged in individual packaging. I really  like how classy the kraft packaging looks. There are three individually wrapped packages, three of the big paper tags, and a bonus bell charm which I think was included because of the holidays (since it’s a December box).

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The contents of the packages are laid out here. The biggest but flattest package held a January calendar printed on good quality cardstock. Unfortunately this came a bit too late since there were only 10 more days of January when I received my box. Still, I appreciated the idea of the calendar, and I do like the design on the top part, which I can still use in some way. The next package held a pack of Field Notes Snowblind edition (my first Field Notes!), and the last and smallest package held three writing instruments!

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As I said, I got a pack of three Field Notes Snowblind Edition notebooks and I am quite excited to see them. These are my first Field Notes notebooks and I can’t wait to actually try them out. I’m very happy that I got a gridded set. I have yet to see the color-changing properties of the cover – it’s supposed to turn blue under direct sunlight. The value of this pack is roughly Php499, which is the going price of Snowblind locally.

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I also got three of these gigantic paper tags, which looks pretty cool and made of good quality cardstock. I still have no idea what to use them for, but they’re a nice touch.

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The first of the pens I got is a Sharpie Permanent Marker in Metallic Bronze. I don’t actually have a lot of Sharpie markers, and I love that I got a bronze one. It would have been so nice to get this back in December as it works well to mark holiday gifts, but I’m never sad to receive any new pen. This Sharpie pen has a value of approximately Php167.

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The second of the pens is a Pilot Fineliner in Black. As a self-confessed Pilot fangirl, seeing this in my box certainly made me one happy girl. I do not have a Pilot Fineliner yet, and I’m happy to be able to try this. I also don’t think this is available locally. Internet prices puts this at approximately Php115 value.

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The last of the pens I received is actually not a pen. It’s a Pentel Graphgear 500 mechanical pencil in 0.9 width. Now normally I’m not a pencil user, much less something that has a very thick width. This mechanical pencil looks really professional and feels good in the hand. I like how the grip feels. This is going to be my office pencil from this point on. It has an approximate value of Php275, and has a good chance of being available locally as well.

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I am no pen enthusiast if I didn’t do writing samples. Here’s all three, tested on a Rhodia N11 pad. I really like the sheen of the bronze Sharpie, the fine line made by the Pilot Fineliner, and the smoothness of the Pentel Graphgear. Overall I am very pleased with this selection of pens.

Looking at it as a whole, the total value of the products (excluding the paper calendar, tags, and bell charm) comes up to around Php1050, which is roughly $21. This is definitely way less than the $30 that I paid, but considering that there is the shipping cost to consider as well as the non-availability of some of the products locally I think the contents of the box are quite fair. I did sign up for the January box as well and am eagerly waiting for its arrival.

 

Other Pilot Pens That I Use

I am a self-confessed Pilot addict, and I’ve already showed you my Pilot fountain pen collection (here) and my Pilot brush pen (here). I actually have more Pilot pens other than that, and I wanted to highlight them today.

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From top to bottom, these pens are the Pilot BP-S Fine, Pilot Coleto 3-ink Barrel, and Pilot Juice 0.5. These are mostly everyday pens and find use in my daily routines. The Pilot BP-S are typical office ballpens, and in fact are the ones that my office used to give out to new employees (they switched to another brand lately, boo). These are workhorses, and are pretty reliable. I have all three of the basic colors (blue, red, and black) and are stocked in my desk for easy access. Pilot BP-S pens are available in most bookstores. The Pilot Coleto is a multipen system and you can customize the colors of the ink. Barrels can be 3- or 4-slot ones, and mine is just a basic 3-slot one that I bought at National Bookstore along with a selection of ink colors. These are great with my traveler’s notebooks since I can just grab one of these and they’d have multiple colors already. Lastly, the Pilot Juice is a gel pen with a clicker mechanism, and writes quite smoothly and nicely. I use this for color-coding, highlighting, and general doodling for my planner and/or journal.

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In terms of nib sizes, the Pilot Juice and Coleto inks come in different sizes. My Juice is in 0.5, but I’ve seen some that’s a finer 0.38. Coleto inks come in 0.3 (mine), 0.4, and 0.5 as far as I know, or at least the ones available in National Bookstore. The BP-S is just a standard ballpen and does not come in different line widths.

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Here’s my writing sample. The Juice and the BP-S have approximately the same line width, so they’re probably both 0.5. The Coleto is noticeably finer at 0.3, which I absolutely love.

There you go! Just a short post sharing my other Pilot loves!

Planner Decoration Materials: A Primer

To be honest, I didn’t think I was a planner decorator. It does not really seem necessary to the planning process, but I find that it helps me be more inspired and excited for the coming weeks if they are decorated and prepared ahead of time. I also consider it an avenue to express creativity, which is always a healthy thing. My decorations are quite modest I would say, and I try to keep them as utilitarian as possible at the same time as being pretty.

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That said, I wanted to share with you the materials I usually end up using for planner decoration. This serves as a guide for someone just starting with decorating their planner and have no idea what to use.

Pens

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I am a color-coder by nature, so colored pens are a necessity. I’ve gone through many brands and types of colored pens. Right now I am very happy with the Pilot Coleto system (the bottom one in the photo above), which is a refillable pen and many colors are available. I have two of these three-ink barrels right now, which means I have six colors to play with. I also use fountain pens regularly, although recently I’ve been sticking with just the Coletos for my planner. I also use the Pilot Petit3 brush pen in my planner, but mostly with the function of a highlighter.

Washi Tapes

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Washi tapes are all the rage these days. It’s basically just a type of tape that you can tear manually with just your hands (so plastic tapes like Scotch or cellophane tapes are not washi), but different from paper tapes in terms of quality. MT is a popular Japanese brand that may have started it all (don’t quote me on that!) and a brand that I am recently starting to appreciate. I mostly use washi tape to decorate the sides or borders of my layouts, but I’ve also used it to cover up some mistakes.

Planner Stickers

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Planner stickers are a particular family of stickers that are designed to be used in, well, a planner. These are usually in the form of flags to mark or highlight events, lists to hold lists, and icons to denote specific and usually recurring events or chores. A lot of planner sticker designers make really cute sets and even have themed ones, making it really easy to decorate a planner layout.

Sticky Notes

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For me, sticky notes are almost like planner stickers since a lot of sticky notes are really cute. I consider this as a very temporary type of decoration, and won’t usually contribute to an overall planner layout “design” unless I take a permanent glue and stick them down. I use sticky notes for events that are not yet scheduled in, or for tasks that I’m not really sure when I’d be able to finish. I also use these as a temporary list holder. Not pictured here are the page flags type of sticky notes, those that are meant to be seen beyond the page to serve as a page marker.

Stamps and Inks

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I consider stamps and inks to be a little on the advanced side in terms of planner decorating. Rubber stamps have been around for a while, but I’ve recently discovered clear stamps and fell into another hole. This particular clear stamp set is quite overused in my planner but it’s really appropriate and I love how they look. I think it’s not really necessary for planning, since stamped words can be written with a pen and stamped images probably have sticker equivalents somewhere. I actually just enjoy playing around with them and they are really quite cute!

Clips

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Finally we have clips of all kinds, the more common of which are binder clips and paper clips. You can see right away that these are pretty cute and definitely decorative. I use the bigger binder clips to hold open my pages both when I’m actually planning and also when I’m taking photos of my planner. I use the smaller binder clips and the paper clips to actually mark pages such as the current week and current month.

There we go! I hope you got some ideas on what materials you can use for planner decorating. For ideas on how these materials are actually used to decorate planner layouts, you can check out my previous layout posts.

A Beginner’s View of Brush Calligraphy

Brush calligraphy is a calligraphy style that uses a brush pen. A brush pen is a pen with a brush or a brush-like tip. As with pointed-pen calligraphy, the downstrokes are made thick by pressing down on the pen and the upstrokes are thinner by only using the lightest of touch to make the line.

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There are now a lot of locally available brush pens. The ones I currently own are in the photo above. From left to right they are: Pilot Petit3 in Baby Pink; Zig Scroll&Brush in Orchid, Baby Pink, and Black; Zig Kuretake Fudebiyori in Blue and Gray; Zig Kuretake Fudebiyori Metallic in Green; Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen Extra Fine in Mint Green, Black, Bordeaux, and Sepia. These are a very meager sample from a lot of other available pens, and in fact I only have a sample size of two brands (Pilot and Zig). Watercolor is also a great medium to do brush calligraphy with!

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Here are written examples of each type of brush pen. The Cocoiro Extra Fines make the finest lines, followed by the Petit3, while the Fudebiyori and Scroll&Brush are very broad. I find it really hard to use the broad tips as you can see in the writing above. It looks a lot messier compared to the two fine brushes. The Petit3 is slightly easier to use even though it has an overall shorter body because the tip is very forgiving.

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I’m not really an expert in brush calligraphy, but I try to practice regularly. I like doing short and simple (and encouraging!) messages and I also keep a collection of inspiring quotes to practice with. If all else fails, I resort to doing song lyrics!

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A lot of the times I also make use of brush calligraphy in my planner (as decorative headings) and journal. I have also attempted using it for hand lettering such as the one below, although I don’t have very many of those yet. For other examples of my work, check out my Instagram.

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How did I get started on brush calligraphy? I actually started with pointed-pen calligraphy (I attended Eula’s workshop!) but found that I could not find the time to sit down and do it nor the patience to fiddle around with bottled inks and tiny nibs. More recently I got to attend a mini brush calligraphy workshop by Mimai (Instagram) and found that I really enjoyed it and found it more to my style and liking. I bought a few more brush pens to play around with, and I now have a long wishlist of more pens to try!

Recently I stalk many brush calligraphers on Instagram for inspiration (Aina, Oceanchelle, The Word Affair, Oats, Paola, The Paper Cat, Mommy Lhey, Clair), and The Postman’s Knock and The Fozzy Book are also great resources.

 

Review: Pilot Petit3 Brush Pen

One of my not-so-recent pen purchases included this cute little brush pen called Pilot Petit3. Yes, it is the sister pen to my previously featured Pilot Petit1 Fountain Pen (here) and in fact was bought at the same time as it. I chose a nice bright shade called Baby Pink.

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It’s really on the short side, and is meant to be super portable. It measures a mere 11cm (~4.25″). Here it looks cradled in my hand.

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The cap posts securely, and lends stability to the pen which is required for something this short. I find that it’s harder to use unposted.

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The brush tip is short and a bit stiff. I like it because it works well with my heavy hand, and I don’t have any issues with making the thin upstrokes and the thick downstrokes of brush calligraphy.

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The cartridge is of course pretty short as well. Pilot sells refills of this kind that can be used by both Petit1 and Petit3 (and presumably whatever Petit2 is; I think it’s either a ballpoint or a rollerball). Here I’ve used about half of the cartridge so far.

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Here’s a sample of my brush calligraphy using this brush pen. You can see more of my work at my IG (here).

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Actually, another thing that I use this brush pen for is as a highlighter of sorts. Here in one of the planner layouts I shared recently (here), I used the Pilot Petit3 to color in the bullet points on the right side of the spread for the tasks that I have already completed. I also used it to color in the stars to reflect how many cups of coffee I have drunk for each day. This is yet another reason why I like toting this pen along. Not only do I have a super portable brush pen for those impromptu calligraphy practice, but I also have a cute little highlighter to go with my planner!

Do you have this brush pen? What do you think of it?

I brought this pen at a consignment of CreateCraftsPH. It (and refills!) is also available at their online store here.

What’s in my craft case?

Lately I’ve realized that I have been lugging around such a huge and heavy bag everyday because of all my planning and crafting supplies. I even had two completely filled pencil cases, and the travel craft box! I really didn’t need to be bringing everything all the time, so I decided to downsize and consolidate my planning and crafting supplies to a single case too keep the weight down. Here is the case I chose.

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I like the fact that it’s very compact and small, which forced me to really consider what I think are the essentials. It is made of some thick linen-type cloth, and has a zipper that goes all the way around so it opens like a book. I think it really goes well with my Blue. I also like the fact that it’s slightly smaller than my travelers notebook.

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It measures 195x100mm when closed, and is currently around 35mm thick. (That’s about 7.75×4″, 1.25″ thick.) Let’s take a look at what I was able to fit in this case.

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First there is an expandable zipped pocket on the back. I tend to not use this and only put really flat items to keep it, well, flat. I have only this magnetic cat bookmark in here at the moment. Here is the case when fully opened:

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There are four elastic pen loops on the left side. At the moment I carry only three: a pink Pilot Petit3 brush pen, a 3-barrel Pilot Coleto, and a Pilot Metropolitan (ahem, Pilot fan). Only the Metro is fully inserted in the loops; the other two hang from the loops by their clips. On the right side of the case, there are four card slots. In the bottom slot I have a washi sample card full of my favorite slim washi and a portable box cutter which is again hanging on the pocket by its clip.

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The other three slots have the following: a Post-It Full Adhesive sticky note in the second pocket, a set of sticky tabs and some DIY stickers in the third pocket, and more stickers and page flags in the fourth pocket.

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The left side of the case actually has an expandable pocket under the pen loops. In there I was able to fit quite a bit of stickers and a set of sticky notes.

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The right side also has a pocket under the four slots, and in there are… more stickers. I really love stickers. These are the slightly larger sheets that I have.

There we go! I am really pleased with my craft case at the moment, and I feel that I do have the essentials all in there. There are a lot of options for cases (check out passport cases, travel wallets, and pencil cases), but I particularly like this one because it’s small but can still pack a lot.

I’m interested to see what’s inside your craft case! Leave a link to your post/photo in the comments below!

Pilot Fountain Pens for Beginners

This post is actually just a disguise to show you my Pilot fountain pen collection, but it can also be a nice guide to the beginner fountain pen line for Pilot. The only low-end Pilot FP that I don’t have yet is the Pilot Varsity (disposable FP). Anyway! Here are my pens, in the order that I acquired them (from top to bottom).

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My first Pilot FP is a Pilot Plumix. I bought this second hand from Eula, but it writes and looks as new. It is the only pen I have that has an italic nib, which is great for practicing calligraphy but not as great to use everyday. I have not seen this being sold in any mall stores, but there are IG sellers that can get these for you. Actually, most of these are not sold in mall stores. My second Pilot is a Pilot Kakuno, touted as the beginner fountain pen for kids because of the quirky nib (see nib photos below). I got this off a group buy by Tintin Pantoja, but I’m not sure if she still does those. This and the three other pens below are all in nib size F. I like the quirky nib, but it’s a little hard to write with because of the shape of the section which is hexagonal.

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My third Pilot is a Pilot Prera. I bought this through preorder from PenmasterPH on IG. This is my most expensive Pilot (at about Php1.6k) and is possibly my favorite among the five. I really like the clear body and the nib is fabulous. My fourth Pilot is a Pilot Petit1 which I got at Mrs. Graham’s Macaron Cafe (Tomas Morato), which happened to have a bin of CreatecraftsPH items. This is the tiniest of the Pilot FPs at only 11cm long which makes it pretty unique and quite portable. The only disadvantage of this pen size is that it does not use the standard cartridges but instead has its own special refills. The Petit1 is also the cheapest, clocking in at an astounding Php150! Lastly, my most recent acquisition is the Pilot Metropolitan. This is the only pen of the five that can be bought in a mall; I got this one from National Bookstore for something like Php480. The Metropolitan is the longest and heaviest of these pens. As it writes very similarly to the Prera, this is now my second favorite FP.

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Here’s a shot of the nibs of all five. Unfortunately I arranged it in the opposite order, but basically the leftmost nib is the Metropolitan and the rightmost is the Plumix. Again, all nibs except the Plumix is fine <F>. Check out the quirky smiley face on the Kakuno’s nib (second to the right)! Also, the Metropolitan’s nib has a nice pattern, while the rest of them are plain.

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Here’s a writing sample of four of the five pens (unfortunately the Kakuno is dry at the time of this writing). I really enjoy writing with fine nibs, and the Prera and Metropolitan are both nice on the hand even with prolonged writing. The Petit1, also with an F nib, seems to give a slightly fatter line but it’s still something I am comfortable using.

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Here again is a shot of all five. I’m really happy with my current collection, and I’m quite surprised that I ended up with either blue or black pens (by the way, all of these pens have other color choices). When I bought the Metropolitan I felt that my collection is complete, and do not feel like I need any more Pilot FPs, except probably for the Pilot Capless aka Pilot Vanishing Point, which is unfortunately is in a price range outside of my comfort.

Have you used any of these pens? What do you think of them?