Black Friday, black pen: Muji’s aluminium hexagonal flat clip mechanical pencil (0.5 mm) 7


Just in time for Black Friday: a black pen – Muji’s aluminium hexagonal flat clip mechanical pencil (0.5 mm). This pencil and other pens from the black hexagonal aluminium range were first launched in August 2010.

Muji black mechanical pencil

 

The price

The official price in the UK is £9.95 (~$16.20; €11.95), at the current exchange rate this is more than 60% above the price charged in Japan …but Muji has recently removed this pen from their catalogue. It will not be stocked any more from Spring/Summer 2014, which means that you can get this and other black aluminium hexagonal pens for a very good price (I paid £3 in Manchester’s Trafford Centre) in shops where they are still available.  Be careful though, I have seen a few damaged pens among the black hexagonal pens on sale.

Muji tip

 

The material and shape

The pen itself is nice and well made, especially when considering its price. I obviously realised that it has a metal body, but I didn’t realise that the body is made from aluminium until I saw “Alumi” written in Katakana on the packaging. The pencil is comfortable to hold. The weight is under 15 g1 and this mechanical pencils has a slightly bigger hexagonal barrel (8 mm) than the average wood-cased pencil (7 mm). Because of the similar shape and weight handling is similar to the Caran d’Ache 844, which features an aluminium body, too.

Muji cap

The cap is ‘raised’ when the tip is retracted. You can even see a small gap between cap and body.

 

The retractable tip

The most interesting feature of this mechanical pencil for me is the retractable tip. To retract the tip of many other retractable pencils you press the top button while pressing tip and lead sleeve against the table. If you want to retract the tip of this pencil you just press the top of the clip and the tip will retract. You might have seen a similar mechanism on ball point pens that retract when pressing a side button. Another thing to mention: the thin lead sleeve and the conical part of the sleeve are one unit and will both retract. I mention this because on a Caran d’Ache 844, for example, only the thin sleeve will retract, while the conical part will not retract.

Retractable tip instructions

Retractable tip instructions (Instructions © Muji)

 

The flat clip

The flat clip2 is, as the name indicates, flat. Unlike most clips that are parallel to the body, but leave a few millimetres gap to the body, this clip fixed very close to the body with no real gap at all. It is hinged at the top and can be opened to an angle of up to about 7°. The clip itself is made from very thin material. I haven’t had any problems, like bending, so far, but I haven’t clipped the pen often either as I didn’t want to risk bending the clip.

Eraser and leads

Eraser and leads

 

The quality

Muji quality is usually good, but it can be hit and miss3. I’m happy to report that the overall quality of this mechanical pencil is pretty good.

Inner tip with unscrewed front

Inner tip with unscrewed front

The inner mechanism of the pen is a bit loose. This is more common with metal body mechanical pencils, but is not really a problem. When you shake the pen you can hear it move, especially when it is in its retracted state. The sleeve/mechanism of my pen is also slightly loose, but this doesn’t cause any issues when writing. The pen also comes with an “emergency eraser” under the top button / cap. Mine came with five very smooth leads, but I think according to the Japanese on the packaging there should be six, I’m not sure though. One push will advance the lead about 0.75 mm, which is good for my style of writing4. Overall value for money is excellent, especially when paying the Japanese price or the Western discount price.


The instructions are from the packaging of Muji’s aluminium hexagonal flat clip mechanical pencil (0.5 mm). I believe that the use of the instructions shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

Price: October 2013

Exchange rates: November 2013

For an even closer look click on any of the photos (as usual).

I’d like to thank Ms Adams-May for providing me with the dates of this pens availability.

 

  1. My scales are very old, so this might be inaccurate. []
  2. …one of those words where the number of characters in Katakana (フラットクリップ) is the same as in English, which makes it look almost comically long compared to other words in Katakana. []
  3. Some good and bad examples: One of our Muji tea pots didn’t even last a week, while the mugs from the same set are still ok – nearly ten years later. Muji’s green A5 notebook is completely unsuitable for fountain pens, while their passport notebooks are pretty good –  you can often spot the black version being used on QI. []
  4. Some mechanical pencils advance too much lead per push which can easily result in lead breakage if you write using an acute angle. []

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7 thoughts on “Black Friday, black pen: Muji’s aluminium hexagonal flat clip mechanical pencil (0.5 mm)

  • Gunther

    This pencil looks very appealing to me. Do you have an idea why it had been removed from the catalogue? Too bad that MUJI’s quality can be hit and miss.

  • John the Monkey

    That does look nice – shame it’s not 0.7 or (better) 0.9.

    I can see both the Fixpencil and the Rotring 600 (more in the hexagonal shape and the finish for the latter) in the design. I think Mrs Monkey is heading for the Trafford Centre on Saturday, so I may well tag along and see if they still have some of these.

  • Matthias

    Gunther, it is a very nice pencil 8^) As far as I know it was removed as part of a seasonal range review. Muji’s quality is normally quite good, just every now and then there’ll be a not so good product – in my experience.

    John, unfortunately all the black hexagonal pens are gone now in the Trafford Centre. The last one left was a felt-tip like pen from this series, but that’s also gone now (unless they discover some more in storage, but I doubt that). Officially it will only disappear in the Spring/Summer 2014 season, so other Muji shops should still have some stock left.

  • John the Monkey

    Well, as we were going anyway, I asked – the chap at Muji was apologetic, but they definitely didn’t have any 🙂 Instead, I picked up one of their calligraphy brush pens to try – I don’t think it will displace my Pentel Pocket Brush, but it’s not bad for £2.50.

  • Matthias

    That sounds like a very good price for a brush pen. I have a Japanese one that came with a Noodler’s ink and it’s quite nice.

  • Koralatov

    That’s a very nice-looking pencil. What a shame that Muji decided to discontinue it.

    The nib and clip look like they’re made from the same material? Is it metal or plastic? It’s hard to tell from the photos. I’d share your reluctance to clip the pencil to anything, since a snapped-off clip would render the pencil useless.

  • Matthias

    Koralatov, yes – what a shame it’s discontinued.
    Both parts are metal.
    The clip is quite sturdy – despite it’s thinness …but as I can’t get a replacement any more I prefer not to clip the pencil anywhere. I guess the clip would bend first, so there’s a chance of carefully bending it back if anything should happen.