The Preppy is, and has long been, the bottom of Platinum’s line. It costs the same as some disposable pens, in fact, although it is meant to last… at least through some changes of cartridge.
When it initially appeared, the Preppy was slightly sturdier in its construction, with a metal cap and steel clip. It was also a somewhat more expensive pen, by the standards of the day, although not so much more that it would avoid being considered cheap.
I would rate it as a very good school pen. It is cheap enough that one need not worry about the child breaking or losing it. The current version has Platinum’s much bragged-of “Slip and Seal” cap, which they claim, and I have no evidence to dispute, is able to keep the pen from going dry through months of inattention; this is a feature my own school pens could have done with over summer breaks. The colour scheme is also such that it calls out to the young and the profoundly young-at-heart, especially the Hello Kitty tie-in variants.
There are some concerns about it as a kid’s pen, though. It is of rather less study construction than German pens aimed at this market (which generally cost a good deal more), so replacement is likely. The clip is definitely a source of concern in the current models, as it is apt to snap off. There is also a question of availability of the brand-specific cartridges, at least for users outside Japan. This is a very popular pen for conversion to eyedropper, but that format is somewhat at odds with the user being under the Age of Reason (which some claim is 7, but which one can argue is not less than 23).
Production Run: c. 1976 – present. The starting date is based on an informant’s recollections and the fact that the model was introduced to compete with Sailor’s Candy which is known to have appeared in 1976. Since the term “preppy” became a prominent in popular culture in the late 1970s (despite long existence as a concept previously) there’s support for that recollection.
Cost When New: Currently ¥200, or ¥450 for official Hello Kitty livery; MSRP for North America is $3.95 for the non-Kitty version. If the model number is to be believed, which is not always the case, the original model went for ¥900, or about $3.40 (remembering that a dollar went rather farther in 1976; try this calculator for the modern equivalent)
Size: 13.9 cm long capped, 15.6 cm posted, 12.4 cm uncapped for the current PPQ-200 model. The old PN-900 is 12.4 cm long capped, 14.2 cm posted, 11.2 cm uncapped
Filler: Proprietary cartridge, capacity approx. 1.2 ml; will accept Platinum’s converter as well, capacity approx. 0.5ml.
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