Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop (modified!)

This weekend we have another workhorse pen on my table! It will be a while before the next flex pen makes its way into a blogpost, so sit tight for a bit…

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The only colourful Pilot I have for now…

The Pilot Metropolitan, or MR, or Cocoon, or Knight (?!) is affectionately known as the Metro and needs no real introduction. Often mentioned in the same breath as the Lamy Safari/Al-Star when it comes to starter pens, my loyalties lie by far with the Pilot.

It is made of brass and consequently feels fairly hefty in a way that has often been described as “premium”. It weighs more than 1.5 times the Lamy Safari and sits at just over 1.3 times the Al-Star, yet with its well-built shape, lies perfectly in the hand.

The nib definitely outperforms every other pen in this price range I know of. Mine worked right out of the box after letting the cartridge flow a little, and wrote smoothly, with a real Japanese fine line. (In a nib size comparison, this pen comes in as finer than a Pelikan EF!) The same kind of line with would be expected with a fine uni-ball signo pen or the ubiquitous Pilot G2. And it is absolutely consistent: being a firm nib, it offers zero line variation.

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Doesn’t mess about at all.

The nib is easily swapped, as with Lamy’s offering, but it isn’t officially so, and is definitely not a feature. Pilot friction-fits its feeds and nibs, which means that with some well-applied force one could pull the nib out for a swap, at risk of loosening the fit in future. None of my Pilots have suffered from loosening yet, though. 

Pilot has designed an excellent feed: it wicks ink so well from the converter and works seamlessly with the nib such that the pen just keeps writing and writing until it stops. And with the included squeeze converter, which is opaque, this is a problem…

Yes, I could have bought a CON-50 or refilled an empty cartridge with a syringe, but why not give it a cosmetic upgrade instead? So I did some messing about on my own. The fact that Pilot makes a lot of pens with the same specification is good news for pen owners, who can swap nibs between Pilot’s Petit, Prera, Plumix, Pluminix, even the Kaküno — and, most importantly for the purposes of this write-up, the 78G.

Out of China comes the Wing Sung 659, a cheap clone of the Pilot 78G. It can be easily bought on eBay for less than £7 (US$10) and comes in a range of colours like the original as well as a demonstrator version, available in both gold and silver trim. And since it is a clone, its parts are interchangeable with the Pilot Metro!

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Around the pen: black section and grey feed from Pilot, and a Wing Sung 659 nib.

Best of all, it comes with its own converter, with a capacity slightly larger than that of Pilots own CON-50. With some jiggling of bits everything fits together nicely.

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That’s what’s hiding inside the body of my pen. Below: the provided squeeze converter.

But the real test of a pen is always how it writes. Since there is no line variation at all, this will be a short writing sample. As always, this is a Fabriano A5 dotpad:

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There is still enough juice to showcase shading and sheen.

Since the Iroshizuku Ku-jaku I happened to have the Metro inked with clashes with the pen body a little, I dug up an old Instagram photo of when I was comparing pink inks, during which I had a nice matching shade inside.

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