Prior to 2012, the market for beginner fountain pens was dominated by Lamy's Safari, AL-Star and Vista pens. Then, the Pilot Metropolitan (MR), a.k.a. the Cocoon, landed onto the scene and easily became a favorite among fountain pen beginners and established writing enthusiasts alike.
Originally, the styles of the Metropolitan were limited to only a black, gold and silver-color metallic finishes. The Metropolitan Animal expansion gave us the most exciting color to date in the "Violet Leopard" style, until now.
The New Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop is a fresh take on this best-selling starter pen. Bright, funky and bold, these colors are aimed toward a younger audience. Nothing boring or ordinary here.
The body style and materials are the same as with the original Metropolitan. You can expect the same weight of a brass-lined barrel and cap, along with the feel of the satin metallic finish on the outside. Pilot jazzed up the center bands below the cap to introduce these mod-like, retro designs that were popular in the 60s and 70s.
Pilot Metropolitan Specifications
Length capped: 5.4 inches (13.7 cm) Length un-capped: 5 inches (13 cm) Length posted: 6 inches (15.5 cm) Weight (capped, with converter): 0.93 oz (26.4 g) Weight (un-capped, with converter): 0.6 oz (17.1 g)
For purposes of this review, I went with the turquoise color Metro Retro Pop. Being a lover of turquoise, and a dude, I found this color to be right in line with my personal taste. The accent band is a bit much, but that is purely a personal aesthetic choice and I wouldn't weigh that against the pen's design.
Filling the Metropolitan Squeeze Converter
One of the reasons the Pilot Metropolitan is such an amazing value for a starter fountain pen is that, for only $18, you get the option of a converter to experiment with bottled ink filling. The squeeze converter sucks in about 1mL worth of ink and can be operated with one hand by pinching the metal pressure bars to force air out of the sac. Letting go of the converter allows the sac to expand, creating a vacuum that sucks ink (or water) up through the nib and feed. Watch our video review for a demonstration of how to use the Metro converter.
Writing with the Pilot Metropolitan
As you would expect from a Japanese brand, the Pilot Metropolitan nib writes on the thinner side. The medium sized, stainless steel nib I tried wrote more like a European fine point. The nib isn't the smoothest, but it writes well for an $18 pen, so I gauged my expectations accordingly. Comparing it to another sub-$20 pen in the Nemosine Singularity, I would say the Metropolitan wins making a higher quality nib, hands down. The only problem with the Metro is that you are limited to only a fine or medium. The Nemosine, on the other hand, allows for EF, F, M, B and two types of stub nibs.
The Metro is exceptionally well balanced. The weight is spot on for long writing sessions, while maintaining a proper feel in hand that gives the impression of a valuable writing instrument. The cap posts on the backend securely and snaps on to close the pen with a satisfying "click." My only gripe about the design is the dramatic step from the barrel to the section. I realize the step is there so that the cap snaps on flush with the rest of the barrel of the pen. For writing comfort, it is a bit bothersome to those who prefer to hold the pen further up the section as opposed to closer to the nib.
The nib responds well to starting up after being left unused for a day or so. No hard-starts, skipping or hesitation with the ink flow on this pen. I had a hard time putting this pen down in favor of other pens I have inked at the moment. The simplicity of its design and the bold color of the metallic body beckon to be written with.
A Few Choice Words
Writing Quality : Sturdy and reliable Japanese stainless steel nib works well straight out of the box. May not be the smoothest steel nib, but for $18, a pretty darn good value. The weight and balance of the sleek profile make it easy to write comfortably with the Metro. Now if they can only fix the step from the barrel to the section... (grade A)
Aesthetic Quality : Eye-catching and bold, the Metro Retro colors are going to be a tremendous hit with youthful writers. The metallic finish gives the impression of a pen much more valuable. (grade A+)
Utility : Option of a cartridge or converter is essential to get a beginner's feet wet into fountain pens. The cap easily posts and securely snaps back on to the writing end. The clip is sturdy. (grade A)
Price : $18.75 Retail. For far less than a tank of gas these days, you can score yourself a fountain pen of solid quality for an everyday writer, AND it looks good! (grade A+)
Final Grade : A+ The Pilot Metropolitan is arguably the best beginner fountain pen. By adopting this fresh and youthful style in the Retro Pop, Pilot aims to get these pens in the hands of younger audiences that will begin their interest in fountain pens with a trustworthy brand like Pilot. You really can't go wrong with making the Metro your first pen. Even if you have a collection started, the Metro is a great option to have as a travel writer or knock-around, everyday pen.