This review is done by Amy, a university student in Los Angeles, California.
Back in October, I went to New York City for a conference of an organization I am involved in. This meant a mandatory stop at Muji, a Japanese lifestyle brand, as they only have US stores in NYC. I really adore Muji because of their simple yet wonderful designs, in addition to the fact that they preach being a "no-brand" brand. While I stocked up on many of their stationery items at Muji SoHo, I was really there to buy the Aluminum pen case they have as a part of their "Make Your Own Pen" area of their store. One of my friends has this pen body and it just had a very solid feel and nice weight to it - I just wanted it. And then now I can submit to my wants.
What is absolutely fantastic about any item that is a part of the "Make Your Own Pen" station in the store is that they really consider the fact that you're going to be removing and replacing pen refills every so often. This translates to the parts of the pen being very minimal and stable, and there are no unnecessary parts. For example, the pen refills for the gel pens all come with a cap at the end (which if you don't know, isn't normal for pen refills). However, as frivolous as it may initially seem to be, this cap has the purpose of securing the pen refill inside the pen case and is quite integral to the function of the pen.
Back to the Aluminum pen case, the case really consists of three parts: the "cap," the body, and the tip area (with a spring). The spring frankly can't be removed, unless you want it to be removed, and is really stuck there. (I take a part retractable pens a lot when I'm bored, and subsequently have springs flying everywhere.) The pen case is solid and the clip that is a part of it is really stiff and can keep things clipped. The ONLY problem is the "cap". I didn't know this before, but the cap is not aluminum -- it's plastic. I found out about this after seeing a crack in it. I just hope it doesn't break on me and become useless. However, it figures that this cap actually doesn't contribute to the function of the pen, except for the aesthetic appeal to bring the metallic design of the pen to the tip. This "cap," as opposed to the cap of the pen refill, has no real function at all.
The writing experience of the pen is as wonderful as it is with any other Muji retractable gel pen (see writing sample on left). The aluminum pen case definitely adds a more substantial feel to the pen with it's smooth surface. The weight is light, but not as weightless as the plastic bodies. It's just quite different grabbing the pen that is cool to the touch. If you haven't tried a Muji retractable gel pen yet, you really have to get one - it writes quite smoothly and enough ink leaks out to make it quite satisfying. I think it really depends on the refill though -- some tend to be more inky than others. But really, you have to try it if you haven't. Whenever my friends look at my pens (or rather I force them to look at them), they always say that the Muji retractable gel pen is their most favorite out of all of them (and I have quite a variety). Of course, as with other gel pens, these pens do have the problem with the pin getting loose at the tip and ink going everywhere (or the pen becoming more inky) - I've had this problem with the black ink refill (on multiple occasions).
These Aluminum pen cases run for $5.75 and can be purchased from the US online Muji store here. The pen refills for the case are $0.99 each in a variety of colors, and can also be found at the online Muji store here. The regular Muji retractable gel pen with the plastic body is also available here for only $1.50! A great deal for a wonderful pen.