You know, my last pen purchase cost four figures. You could literally buy 300 Platinum Preppys for the price of that one pen. And there are several very good arguments for why that would be the right thing to do. For as much as I love the TWSBI Eco as an incredible example of value for money, the £5 Platinum Preppy Wa has it totally beaten. You can get all six Preppys featured here for the price of one Eco. Isn’t that nuts?
What do you get for your £5? Most visibly, a bright colourful barrel with a screenprinted pattern. The colours zing, the patterns are just right, and together they make a surprisingly pleasing palette.
Sayagata is purple and silver tessellated keys.
Ogi Chirashi is solid black with gold patterned fans.
Reishigumo is sky blue with swirly clouds in silver.
Karakusa is green with white ivy curls.
Sakura Chirashi is pink with blossoms.
Asa-no-ha is orangey red with gold hexagon stars.
My favourites are probably the blue and the red, but honestly they’re all great. I’m amazed you get such a mature and bold piece of design for so little cash.
But it’s not all a design exercise. You also get a literally perfect 0.3mm steel nib.
I have tried seven Preppy Was so far, and they are all perfect, all consistent. The line is medium flow, nice and fine but not stupidly so. The alignment is spot on and the texture is a scribbly pencil toothy.
This is a nib that’s fun and easy and so practical. It’s a beautiful little piece of joy, but also an inspiration for fury. How can Platinum churn out these nibs in their millions with perfect QC, and yet I can spend north of a grand on an artisan gold nib that writes like shit? Answers on a postcard.
The cap clips on, loudly and firmly, and seals well. It’s no ‘Slip n Seal’, but honestly it works perfectly, thanks to a sprung inner cap that sits over the nib.
There’s a moulded plastic clip of exactly the sort the school-age version of me would have snapped off.
The barrel is translucent, the cap is transparent, the section is transparent — you can see the pale grey feed in all its finned glory.
The result is quite a busy aesthetic, perfectly camouflaged in the sea of gel rollerballs you find in Rymans or Smiths, or the Pilot V5 — the barcode sticker on the cap gives similar vibes.
Good luck trying to flush that feed perfectly clean, but I stick a dark Platinum cartridge in and just forget about it. Platinum’s cartridges are big, solid and have an agitator ball so they are certainly not an inferior choice.
If you wanted a cleaner look, you can also eyedropper the Preppy — the barrel is airtight and the threads are all plastic. Why not go crazy?
The section is not wide (this is not a big pen) but it’s long and plenty comfortable. In fact, the Preppy punches above its weight (which is light). Unlike, say, a Pelikan M200, there are no casting lines running down the section to irritate your fingers.
You can post the cap, very securely, but I’ve not needed to.
And that’s all there really is to it. Stick in a Platinum black cartridge and get writing. The Preppy is tough as old boots, but if it breaks, well, it’s £5. Get another one.
For a few months I’ve kept a Preppy Wa in my left desk drawer with my ballpoints and my Platinum Curidas. Even though I keep my main tray full of exotics right there in front of me, a number of times I’ve found myself grabbing the Preppy on a phone call and just using it, no worries about leaking or springing the nib or dropping it or anything.
That’s like Jay Leno popping to the shops in a Prius, but I’m not ashamed. The Preppy is a totally fun, carefree writing experience. Platinum really have invented a little piece of joy here, and the patterned barrels take a functional achievement into something special.
Don’t get me wrong: this is not ‘fine writing’, it’s not the elevated artistry of a Nakaya or the craft of a Santini. But for the price of a Starbucks you can get a truly great fountain pen. You can give them to your kids, your workmates; keep one in the Junk Drawer (we all have one); stuff one in a jacket pocket. That’s the freedom of a pen that’s priced like a disposable, but built like a proper pen.
I’ve bought a couple of these pens in the past, but Cult Pens sent me five to take photos for this review. You can go binge-buy all of them for less than the price of a takeaway, right here.