Introduced perhaps as a replacement for the 78G, the Metropolitan is the North American version of a pen known as the Cocoon in Japan and the MR elsewhere. The section is indeed very similar to the 78G’s, including the feed, although the point seems to be a slightly higher standard.
For an entry level pen, the fit and finish of this pen are extremely good, and certainly well worth the slight increase in price over the 78G. While it is meant to be competing with the likes of the Sheaffer VFM in terms of affordable writing, it doesn’t look shabby in either looks nor performance along side rather more elevated models like the Faber-Castell LOOM or the Lamy Studio.
When this pen first appeared, I had some notion that it was in fact a re-branding of the VFM, as when seen in isolated pictures they are hard to tell apart. In person, it is clear that they come from entirely different facilities. The similarities are still striking, with large tab-attached clips and a notable step in the body behind the section. The Metropolitan is somewhat larger, which many will find more comfortable, and this greater size gets around limitation the Sheaffer faces in the area of ink supply.
A point of interest with this pen is the attachment point for holding the cap in place. Unlike the majority of snap-cap mechanisms, this one does not grip the forward end of the section, but rather takes hold of the indentation on the collar behind the section, which is itself a part of the barrel. This may slightly extend the pens service life, by removing some pressures from the section and the threads which hold it in the barrel, and also removes the not-very-threatening possibility of inadvertently loosening the section by turning the cap. Whether it serves these functions or not, it’s an interesting combination of novelty and backward-glancing, as the contact point is at much the same point along the pen’s length as on clutch-cap pens made by Parker and Waterman a half-century ago.
Apart from the potential of dryness, which plagued the 78G but which does not appear in my exemplar, the only problem area for this pen lies in the large step at the transition from section to barrel. Some may find this uncomfortable to the point of avoiding the pen. I’ve found that one can take a grip on the pen which avoids it entirely, with fingers on the section and thumb on the band that runs behind the step, but it requires a little more thought in deploying than some other pens.
One other minor concern with this pen is that there is a limited availability of point sizes; fine and medium in the Japanese market, and apparently medium only everywhere else. For the industrious, this deficit can be overcome by the puchase of a Plumix, which shares the same pattern of points and feeds, but which offers italics; it is a relatively straightforward task to pull the parts from one and cram them into the section of the other.
Production Run: 2012 (although it may be thought to have entered in the 2013 model year) to present.
Cost When New: MSRP for the Cocoon is ¥3,150; the Metropolitan’s MSRP is $18.75, which is a good deal less than the exchange rate of the two currencies suggest is should be.
Size: 13.9 cm long capped, 15.3 cm posted, 12.8 cm uncapped.
Body: Brass (if the Japanese corporate site is to be believed) with various finishes; the Cocoon has the widest assortment.
Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.8 ml; comes with a squeeze converter of 0.6 ml; the MR as sold in Europe is rigged for international pattern cartridges rather than Pilot’s own version, and should be able to support either long or short versions as well as converters.
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