If you’re a fan of the wide array of Japanese gel pen options available, you’ve probably already tried a few Pilot Hi-Tec Cs, a Pentel Slicci, a Zebra Sarasa or a UniBall Signo. What I think makes these gel pens so great (besides the yummy gel ink, fine and extra fine points and great selection of colors) is that they are all available in multi-pens.
These are not your ordinary red/blue/black multi-pens of yore. Nope. These are fully customizable. Depending on which brand you prefer, there are multiple point sizes, mechanical pencil options and even the ability to combine gel ink components with ballpoint components or even a stylus (for touchscreens). Each brand has options for various numbers of colors/tools as well depending on how big you want your pen to be and how many options you need at one time. I’ve come to like the 4- and 5-color options which allow me to make one slot a mechanical pencil.
I started looking into the multi-pens because I loved that the Japanese gel pens were available in so many colors but I didn’t want to have hundreds of pens and then have to throw away all those plastic bodies. With the multi-pens, I can reuse the bodies and just dispose of the cartridge inserts. Makes me feel a little more enviromentally conscious.
Generally speaking the bodies I’ve chosen in the past have been relatively understated like the simple black-and-white polka dot UniBall Style Fit I purchased last year or the plain lime green Hi-Tec C Coleto Me I’ve had for awhile.
My most recent acquisitions are the Zebra Sarasa Pre-Fill 4 in multi-color polka dots ($3.30) and the UniBall Style*Fit Majolica Majorca special edition body ($4.95). I was feeling particularly girlie the day I ordered these. According to the description, the Majolica Majorca is a Japanese cosmetics line that did a cross-promotion with UniBall for these pens. Both are available in more subdued bodies.
Both pens have smooth plastic bodies with no rubberized grip area of ergonomic shaping. Even without a lot of fuss, they are quite comfortable. The larger bodies make them roughly the same diameter as a full sized fountain pen. Both have a clear section from the grip area to the tip so you can see which color is extended. Both the Pre-Fill and the Style*Fit are retractable designs and both use the clip as one of its retractable options (I always put my mechanical pencil on the clip retractor (did I just make up a word?) so that I can find it quickly. When full of pen cartridges, they both have a nice weight to them — still lightweight but balanced and east to hold.
The Zebra Sarasa Pre-Fill has a spring-loaded clip making it easier to clip onto bag, notebook or pocket. It wasn’t a feature I thought I would care about too much but its the same style of sprin-loaded clip they use on the regular pens so if that’s something you like, I highly recommend getting one of these multi-pens.
There is almost nothing different about the UniBall Style*Fit shown here from the black-and-white polka dot model I purchased previously. The gold detail on Majolica Majorca body is actually metallic and does remind me of a perfume bottle label. The text reads “Fullfills all your wishes” so how could I pass it up? I purchased another Style*Fit because I love them so much I wanted one for home and one for work.
I love the gel pens in the 0.38-0.4 range so I loaded both of these with an assortment of colors and each got a 0.5mm mechanical pencil as well.
I filled both pens with a blue-black and an orange-y color. The other colors I chose on a whim. I like having lots of color options in one tool making it easy to carry just one pen but have lots of options to entertain and annotate in long meetings.
One of the other compliments I have about these Japanese multi-pens is that the logos and branding is very discreet. The bar code info was on clear stickers I was easily able to peel off both pens leaving only the teeny-tiniest branding marks on both pens. I appreciate that I don’t have to be a walking advertisement for their company. If someone asks about my pen, you can be sure I’ll tell them in detail about it but I don’t have to let me pen shout it at passing strangers.
Both of these pens, plus the ink cartridges and mechanical pencil inserts cost me less than $15 each. The Zebra Sarasa Pre-Fill ink cartridges are $1.65 each and the mechanical pencil insert is $3. So the total for the Pre-Fill was $11.25. The UniBall Style*Fit was a bit more expensive because of the high-falutin’ body. The gel ink cartridges are $1.65 for the Style*Fit and the mechanical pencil insert is $3.30 making the total $14.85.
Are you convinced to try a multi-pen yet?