This review is from UK reader Shabana, who also contributed the Nomadic Virgo-Attrezzo standing pen case review.
I will be reviewing the Muji "build you own" 0.5 retractable pen in purple, and the normal 0.38 stick gel pen in purple. In the pictures the blue is the same pen as the purple stick gel.
Starters: How big are the two pens in comparison to one another. They are roughly the same size when the stick is capped. However, the barrel of the RT is wider which is why I prefer the normal stick. When capped, the stick gel is longer by about 14mm. The stick looks better than the RT in my opinion especially the nib.
Now, these two purples are different shades. I don't know why this is, and seeing as my local Muji only stocks the RTs in black and blue now I can't go back and check whether they did it in two shades. The stick gel definitely only comes in this shade of purple. From the top of the pens it can be seen that there is some difference.
Now for the writing. From the photo it can be seen that the stick gel is darker.
There is also a photo comparing the two shades of purple, and the darker purple with the blue.
The stick gel is a better writer and the 0.38 tip is sturdy. In fact, it can probably be used as a weapon should the need arise. I can't imagine writing with the RT in a 0.38 tip as even the 0.5 seems a little too fine for it. The barrel is also smoother where I would hold the pen. The stick is therefore better for precise writing/drawing whereas the RT is better for more 'loopy' larger handwriting. The good thing about the RT is that the entire cartridge comes out so you can use the empty barrel to try different colours. Both these write well in a Moleskine with absolutely no bleed-through. They are not so good on standard refill pads as the paper is too rough. They are excellent on smooth paper such as Black n' Red.
Over here the are around £1 each so definitely worth the price, although the 0.5 gel stick pens tend to run out pretty fast.