The Marvy LePen is one of those iconic pens that many of us remember from our childhoods--one that instantly drew our eyes with its bright hues and gave us hours of coloring bliss. A gateway drug for young pen addicts that soon led to gel pens and Sharpies. And it remains popular, even (mumbles) decades later. But I honestly can't quite figure out why--though perhaps the fact that it is inexpensive and comes in a lot of great colors is enough.
The Le Pen has an easy-to-spot, long, slim profile and a straight clip. The cap is friction-fit and snaps into place. It does post, precariously, on the narrow part of the end, but too much tipping or shaking (like, writing) causes it to fall off. There is a short section that is really more of a nose cone--the only way to hold it comfortably is back on the body. Even that may be too narrow for longer drawing or writing sessions. I find it fairly comfortable, though it feels like I'm holding the pen too far back for good control. The clip is springy--and a bit bendy. It's one of the more fragile metal clips I've ever met, but it does hold the pen securely in place. Just don't strain it, or it won't return to its original position. I have memories of my old LePens with clips winging out at odd angles--and it seems they haven't changed the recipe since then.
The plastic of the body matches the color of ink, which is always nice. There are quite a few ridges and shaggy bits left over from the plastic molding process, but they are easily removed if they're in a spot that interferes with comfortable use. "Le Pen Marvy Japan" is embossed in silver on the side, in keeping with its minimalist look.
The felt tip is at the end of a metal needlepoint sleeve. Some tips seem to protrude more than others, and I did find that, after some use, the felt tip was either disappearing into the metal casing or else squishing down. These are very delicate felt tips and require a pretty light hand in order to keep them nice. Even new, I did get a lot of line variation between the pens. Some wrote a finer line than others from the get-go, which makes them a little frustrating as tools for drafters, I'd think.
The ink itself has quite a lot of spread and bleed to it. Something about it just wants to travel through paper fibers. But the colors are very vibrant and well saturated. Even the pale colors show up nicely--which makes me want to use them for coloring books. That may indeed be their best use. There are reports of the ink fading very quickly or causing discoloration to the paper surrounding the lines. That isn't something I'd want in a piece of artwork or a scrapbook/memento designed to last. Though the ink is acid-free, it doesn't seem to be lightfast or very paper friendly.
So what is the appeal of these pens and what are they for? I think coloring books or zentangles would be a perfect fit. The low price point makes them a great entry-level fineliner for coloring enthusiasts both teen and adult. But if you need a fineliner for something more meaningful or lasting, there are much better options out there for not-that-much-more cost.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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