The Aurora Mini Optima / Optima Mini would have been my first Aurora pen, but when the Aurea Sole Minima LE was released earlier this year, it won out over the Mini Optima at the time. However, as the Sole Mini was modelled exactly from the Mini Optima, I knew exactly what to expect when I ordered this pen.
The black suede box (which is exactly like an exquisite jewellery box), comes inside a neat protective cardboard outer cover, with the instruction / warranty booklet slipped in beneath the box. Inside the box was the Mini Optima and a neat little faux-leather pocket case to protect the pen – this was a pleasant surprise! The more expensive Sole Minima didn’t come with a pocket case!
Appearance / Finish
The barrel and cap are made from Burgundy/Bordeaux Auroloide, one of two colours the Mini Optima is available in. The other colour is Black, which is not available to US distributors, but can be found with Asian and European sellers. The Burgundy Auroloide is a fairly dark shade with lovely red-purple undertones. On my monitor, I feel the following photo shows the colour perfectly:
The black resin barrel section, piston knob and cap-end are well completed with shiny chrome accents. The fit of all parts is excellent and the nib section features a very handy ink window.
Some think the Burgundy Auroloide would have gone better with gold trim, but I disagree. The particular shade of Burgundy is quite cool – it is not a warm-toned shade of Burgundy as there is no brown to the colour. The chrome trim and black accents are a perfect match.
Design / Size
As the name implies, this is one for the small pen collection. The Mini Optima is 4.4” (113mm) long when capped and 4.1” (105mm) long when uncapped. With the cap posted, this pen is just over 5.3” (135mm) long. The Mini is slightly shorter than a Pelikan M200/M400, but with a little more weight and a much better feel.
The Mini Optima features a small 14K gold nib which has been Rhodium plated to match the rest of the pen. The whole interchangeable nib unit can be unscrewed for cleaning, or to swap with custom nibs. Aurora nibs have very pleasant feedback – not scratchiness, just feedback, and I for one like a nib which doesn’t skitter around the page like a roller ball.
The pen started flawlessly with no hesitation or skipping and the EF nib is a pleasure to use! The 14K EF on the Mini Optima is a far better EF nib than the average Pelikan EF, so look to Aurora or Sailor if you want a true extra fine point. Ink flow is perfectly balanced in proportion to the line width and is not 'wet' - just spot-on.
Being a piston-filler, the Mini Optima fills only via a bottle. The piston mechanism is firm and smooth, and tightens and releases very reassuringly.
Upon its arrival, my Mini Optima was promptly inked with Parker Penman Ruby – a perfect match for the Burgundy Auroloide.
Cost / Value
I feel the Burgundy Mini Optima pen is excellent value for money. The entire pen is solidly built, oozes quality, has a good-capacity piston-filler system and the nib is a dream to use. You can easily pay a similar amount for a resin cartridge-only pen such as the Delta Dolcevita Mini or Dolcevita Stout.
The US RRP of the Mini Optima usually sits around the $315 mark, but you can find this pen for around $250, or maybe cheaper on eBay. I ordered my pen from Oscar Braun, and as always I found Pam to be wonderful to deal with.
The Black Mini Optima is often more expensive, with the cheapest price I have found being $270 (M nib only). I have seen a few vendors offering the Black for the amusing price of $400+. It’s not that scarce and special - it’s just plain black plastic!
With its bright trim and sexy Burgundy celluloid, the Mini Optima is really eye-catching. This one is a keeper.
(For a more detailed review, with greater emphasis on the finish, design and nib, please see my comprehensive review of the AURORA SOLE AUREA MINIMA (SOLE 'MINI') LE. The Mini Optima and Sole Mini share identical nibs and all other parts – just in a different finish.)
Edited by Phthalo, 21 November 2006 - 22:22.