After spending some money on luxury fountain pens, it can be challenging to see the sub-$10 tier as anything but a stepping stone to the luxury pens that we grow to love. After all, they are works of art that work exactly as we expect. They become part of our sacred everyday carry. But, there's still something to be said for the more affordable fountain pens in this lower tier. Every time a new pen comes out in this price range, I automatically dismiss it as "junk" without even trying it. Shame on me for doing that, because there's no rule that says any pen under $75 can't write beautifully. And that's exactly what the Monami Olika has reminded me.
At first glance, the Olika is a plastic-barrelled pen that seems more like a gamble than a solid entry level fountain pen. Luckily, $6 isn't much of a gamble, and I'm really glad I tried it out.
Like other entry level pens, the color of the barrel matches the color of the ink. In the case of the transparent models, the rubbery grip section matches the color of the ink inside. I've always enjoyed the matching nature of these cheap pens, and the Olika is no different. I opted for the standard blue model, but was pleasantly surprised once I popped the cartridge in and started writing. The blue is a vibrant, exciting shade that flows smoothly and even has a bit of shading quality. It's not at all what I was expecting, but that's a good thing!
Along with the pen, you also receive three ink cartridges in the color you chose. This is a generous inclusion for such a cheap pen, especially considering the price for a five-pack of cartridges ($5.50, same price as the pen). Even though JetPens doesn't state this, the cartridges will fit most standard international sections. The only difference between this cartridge and the international short cartridges are the diameter and length.
The production quality of this pen is on par with the price. It feels better than the Platinum Preppy, but very similar to the Pilot Petit line. It can surely survive several incidents in your bag, but it will eventually break if you use it a lot. These pens aren't meant to be disposable, but they're also not heirloom quality.
Writing with the pen is comfortable. It's a leightweight pen that features a soft grip section, so long writing sessions are a breeze. The nib I chose is the fine, but you can also pick up an extra fine variant. The extra fine nib only comes on the transparent model, while the fine is reserved for the fully colored barrels.
I've used this pen a lot more than I expected I would. My only regret so far is only purchasing one color. I'll be correcting that on my next order.
The Monami Olika is available in several vibrant, fun colors, and each pen includes three cartridges and costs $5.50. These make great gifts, excellent beginner pens, and fantastic portable pens.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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