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I love me a cheap pen. I mean a really cheap pen. I recently went to order a couple new pads from my favourite supplier only to find that I was under the minimum threshold for free postage. So I scoured the site for something cheap and useful to bump it up. Would rather get something for my money than just end up throwing it into the ether on postage. Enter the Monami Olika. This pen cost me £3.50, that's 50p cheaper than the Preppy from the same site making this possibly the cheapest refillable fountain pen on the market. It has a couple advantages over the Preppy and one huge disadvantage, but we'll get to that later. First off, the 11.4mm section is rubberised with a slight central swell, gives great grip and comfort. The barrel also has a narrowing approximately mid way along it's length which I think is much more aesthetically pleasing than the Preppy. Secondly, the Olika uses standard international cartridges and converters, another huge plus in my (someone who doesn't have at least one of every converter for every brand) opinion. It is also available in a myriad of colours, the body colour you order defines the ink colour you get, of which three short international cartridges are included (for £3.50!) Writing is smooth but the nib is quite squat & very stiff, I believe the correct term would be a "nail"? It's going to get the job of basic writing done but you're not going to be able to get anything but the most minimum of line variation out of it. When I first saw the Olika I looked it up to see if it could be eyedroppered like the Preppy, the article I stumbled across said that it could, no problem. This leads me to my main gripe. It can't. In my haste I didn't check this. Put a new o-ring on, greased the threads, filled up a syringe with De Atrementis Document Black &...covered myself in ink. There is indeed a small hole in the end of the barrel, perhaps this is a newer addition than the article I read? Undeterred but slightly inky, I dripped a couple dollops of Araldite Crystal into the offending hole & sealed it up, giving myself an eyedropper for £3.50. All in all, I really like the Olika and will absolutely be buying additional colours in the future, the green is particularly nice!
Monami is a Korean stationary company most famously known for making low end ballpoint pen and markers and the Olika which released this year is their first attempt at a fountain pen. It's low end, costing 3000 Korean Won which is roughly slightly under 3 dollars, and baiscally feels like it shares the same market that the Platinum Preppy or the Pilot Varsity occupy. It was released in 10 colors, I got the black one Size-wise, it's basically the same size as the Platinum Preppy, whether you do a size comparison capped, uncapped, or posted. The only real differences I'd say in overall shape or size is that while the body of the Preppy is straight, the Olika is more curvy. I'd call it almost coke bottle shaped in a way? Another point where the Olika and the Preppy split is the cap and the clip. The cap of the Olika, from my experience, is much more firmly held than the Preppy. It's not at the level where I'm struggling to get the cap open or it's a bother, but it's just enough to where it feels almost safer than the Preppy I guess? As for the clip, the Olika clip is plastic like the Preppy but it's much more springier and has more leeway. That being said it does feel like the clip doesn't grasp as strongly as the Preppy The Olika is a cartridge pen, using proprietary cartridges and there have been no released converter for the Olika yet. That being said, the whole pen is plastic so if you don't want to use cartridges I'd say the most efficient thing to do with this pen is convert it into an eyedropper. The Olika also doesn't really offer any nib choices, as you're currently only limited to a standard F nib. The nibs are stainless steel and I'm not sure if I got lucky or if the nibs are good quality but I've yet to experience any scratchiness from about 2 weeks or so of writing with this pen a fair amount. That being said one of the strongest points of the Olika is the grip. For a 3 dollar pen, the rubber grip is gives you a more than adequate bang for your buck. It's not the high end of comfort like the Japanese gel gripped mechanical pencils, but it's not a grip that's so thin or cheap that it has you asking what purpose does this even serve. It's soft enough to where there's a noticable effect on how comfortable it is to write long term but it also offers enough friction, for lack of a better term, so that the pen doesn't slip from your grip. I honestly wouldn't mind if a similar grip was implemented in some of my pens which like on a lower-mid price point like the Lamy Safari or the Platinum Plaisir (I learned how to write in a tripod grip so the Safari grip doesn't bother me but still) Overall the pen writes nicely. It's a cheap workhorse pen that's great for beginners or someone just looking for a pen they can abuse to a certain point. The only problem I really have about the Olika even considering the purpose it has among my pen collection is that when posted the balance feels way off to me. My go-to pens like the Safari or the PTL-5000A or the Platinum Plaisir all feel well balanced when writing posted but the Olika has a tendency to feel like a Fat Joe song in how it feels like the weight when posted just kind of leans back. It's a lightweight pen to begin with, only being slightly heavier than a Preppy (I'd say maybe 3g heavier?) so it's not a huge difference, but it does feel awkward sometimes for me when I've been using better balanced pens and go back to the Olika sometimes. Overall, to be totally honest, I'd say it's a cheap pen and for a cheap pen it's great. It serves me just as well as my Preppy does but the appearance is much more lowkey and the grip is better making it a much better match for an office setting than a Preppy I feel like. While it's not anything revolutionary, I feel like it's a good addition to the low end Preppy/Varsity type of pen where it's low investment, low risk, work horse pens. While it's definitely not a pen everybody needs nor wants, if you're ever in Korea and have like 5 dollars to spend it's not that bad of an investment. I'd say FOR A CHEAP PEN, so based on the standards of say a Preppy or a Varsity or a Kakuno to some extent, I'd give it a 8/10. Deductions mainly for being an only cartridge pen with no available converter, and also being a proprietary cartridge pen meaning that if you can't find a place that sells Monami ink near you you'll probably have to do the refilling a cartridge with a syringe trick which is a hassle. I only deducted 2 points, however, because the pen can be converted into an eyedropper without any problem. Just a simple o-ring and silicon grease like the Preppy.
Hi Everyone, My new JetPens Newsletter says they are now carrying the Monami Olika fountain pens (made in S. Korea) for $5.50 each. https://www.jetpens.com/Monami-Olika-Fountain-Pens/ct/4266 At $5.50 I think the the price is a bit high, but JetPens will be JetPens. Here in Indonesia the same pen costs half as much. But hey, $5.50 isn't gonna break the bank - right? The Olika takes proprietary ink cartridges, it and comes with three in black. JetPens does't sell additional cartridges which come in boxes of 5, but you can syringe refill them. I've never seen a converter for this pen, but I'll bet someone can hack a converter of some sort to work. The pen can probably be coaxed into working as an eyedropper filler, if you like that sort of thing. Here is something noted in the JetPens description that I did not know before... "Note: Instead of a plastic feed, this pen uses a fiber wick to draw ink to the nib. This can make it difficult and time-consuming to clean all of the ink out of the pen if you want to change ink colors." The Monami Olika has been discussed before here on the FPN. For Example: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/312616-monami-olika/?do=findComment&comment=3691929 FWIW here is a link to the Monami homepage: http://www.monami.com/ Have Fun, David