How do you like your Lamy? I skipped the "starter pens" and went straight for a Pelikan M200 Green Marble and Pelikan m600 Blue GT for my first fountain pens. The only other pens I have near the price point of the Lamy is a Kaweco Sport and two Esterbrook J's. These are excellent pens. I wanted to get the Pokemon Lamy but its $200. I may impulse buy it, but I still have a bit of common sense.
Are you happy with your purchase? What seller did you buy it for $18?
I have never had an Al-Star before, but the Lamy Safaris (essentially the same pen, but in plastic instead of aluminium) that I have are excellent. Highly recommend. I prefer them to my Kaweco Sport.
I bought the Al-Star for $16 on amazon from a storefront named shoppingfever. It seems they have a Blue Green Lamy Al-Star for the remarkable price of $12--so cheap, perhaps, because the picture for it is of an HDMI converter! But I imagine it's an Al-Star, and with free returns, there's no real risk. If you're interested, you can find the pen here.