The Pilot MR is one of my favorite retractable ballpoint pens, not so much for the writing – which is above-average smooth for a ballpoint – as for the design of the pen itself.
It has a sleek, finished barrel, fits well in the hand and extends and retracts with one simple twist. Sexy and smooth, like any good pen should be, the MR is sort of the writing instrument equivalent of the little black dress.
My first reaction when I heard that Pilot had given the pens a bit of "extra" style was disappointment. It seemed like a case of fixing something that wasn't broken.
But now, having seen the new Pilot MR Animal Collection, I feel a little better. While the new designs sound almost like the names of comic book superheroes – the Silver Python, the Bronze Lizard, the White Tiger and the Violet Leopard – the results aren't all that cartoon-y.
The only change that Pilot seems to have made to the MR, also known as the Metropolitan in the US, is to add some color and beast-inspired design to the pen's middle ring, from which is takes its name.
(Pilot's EU website says the shape of the barrel was inspired by the shape of cocoons, which seems a little odd. If leopards comes out of cocoons, I've been watching all the wrong shows on the Discovery Channel.)
In most cases, the designs work. The White Tiger and Violet Leopard come off a bit garish, but the Bronze Lizard looks even better than the plain champagne version, to me.
So, if you want a pen that looks and performs like a professional, but still lets the office know you have a little personality to along with it, this might be a pen for you.
Meanwhile, if you prefer basic elegance, there's always the simple black original Pilot MR.
The MRs are available in retractable ballpoint and capped gel and fountain pen models.