Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen

29 01 2014
In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine's Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

In honor of the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day, this scan has decided it wants its magenta-purple ink to appear pink instead. I give up

These names for multi pens get unwieldy. This is technically the Zebra Prefill 3 Color Multi Pen – Light Blue Body Component / 0.3mm Mechanical Pencil Component / 0.4mm Sarasa Gel Ink Components – Black and Purple. There, that’s everything.

In the world of budget-priced, customizable multi pens, there’s no perfection—only some pretty good options. The Prefill (‘preferred’ + ‘refill’) is Zebra’s pretty good option.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

Simple and clean. Like that song. This will now be the soundtrack for the Zebra Prefill.

The body is hard plastic, and comes in a range of colors and patters (you can get a 3 component body or a 4 component body). Like the original Uni Style Fit, we’ve got a see-through grip to easily identify which components are loaded. Advantage over the original Style Fit: lead advances when a pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the top knock button. Disadvantage: the Prefill has no eraser (also, the Style Fit fixed that problem in another body). That’s right: no eraser; not on top, useless and tiny but still existent, nor as an optional in-body component, like the glorious Hi-Tec-C Coleto line.

Help me I'm still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning....

Help me I’m still listening to the song. Hold me, Zebra Prefill, whatever lies beyond this morning….

Biggest thing going for the Zebra Prefill is probably this clip. Cribbed from their Sarasa Push Clip, Airfit Jell, and Surari 4C multi pen, its hinged clips pinch right on my heartstrings. Love a hinged clip.

I SWEAR IT'S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

I SWEAR IT’S MAGENTA PURPLE. NOT PINK. WHY. DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING. WITH THE SARASA PURPLE.

A lack of eraser is a serious negative if the Prefill ever hopes to be a strong multipencil, buuuut among the Prefill, Style Fit, and Coleto systems, the Prefill is the only one with three size options (0.3mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm) for the mechanical pencil. The Coleto has 0.3mm and 0.5mm, and the Style Fit only has 0.5mm for its pencil component. It all depends on what your priorities might be in building an affordable multipencil.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It's pink.

Fine, I give up. Whatever. It’s pink now.

If you’re a Zebra fan (think Sarasa gels and Surari super smooth ballpoints), then the Prefill is a good way to bring your loves together in one body, with some caveats. First, there’s only one size option listed for your various gel pen colors (0.4mm) and one size option for your ballpoints (0.5mm)—though the 0.7mm Surari ballpoint refill from my Surari 4C fits in the Prefill, making that 2 ballpoint size options. Second, it seems like individual Sarasa Pens write better than the components in the multi pen. Sometimes a little sacrifice is in order when you want compact convenience. But it’s like there are these times when the gel ball tip feels a little odd while writing…not so consistently nor terrible as to render the pen totally annoyingly unusable, but know that this may come up for you, and you may not like it.

Here's where an eraser would go...IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Here’s where an eraser would go…IF THE PREFILL HAD ONE.

Zebra may be a little late to the low-end game, with not as many gel size options, but the Prefill is a comfortable start. I don’t think it’s enough to unseat the Style Fit or the Coleto, but it should at least pique the interest of Zebra’s Sarasa and Surari fans.

Zebra Prefill Multi Pen System at JetPens





Pilot AirBlanc Mechanical Pencil – 0.3 mm – Green

21 09 2012

I DON’T REALLY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MECHANICAL PENCILS I’M SO SORRY

A pencil is a pencil is a pencil. As far as I can tell, they’re all going to work about the same when it comes to standard mechanical pencils. There are rare, exceptional cases, but for the most part the pencil will be judged on aesthetics and comfort, with writing sample factoring in as a strong WHATEVER. But I’m not a pencil aficionado, so maybe I’m just missing something.

When a pen doesn’t write, it’s probably crappy ink. When a pencil doesn’t write, it’s probably out of lead.

The AirBlanc is a peaceful-looking pencil. Very fresh. Very springtime. The kind of pencil a clucking rabbit might hatch. All that green, plus the translucent-pearlescent upper casing…just lovely. The clip especially is a nice piece of design work.

Try to act like that isn’t neat. YOU CAN’T

Unfortunately, I don’t have a heat chamber where I can test the alleged cooling properties of the grip, and the typically sweltering Southern weather in these parts has begun its autumnal temperature descent. I will assume that if it’s hot enough for me to desire a specially aerated grip, it will be too hot for me to want to do any writing.

Though JetPens assures me that I do have a constant hothand problem that this pencil will fix.

As for writing, well, it writes. What else can I say?

HOORAY IT WRITES!

The lead it comes with sufficiently transfers itself onto the paper when applied. Nothing particularly phenomenal, nothing problematic presenting when used. Maybe one day I’ll learn pencil nuance.

Until then I’ll just keep buying pencils and probably underappreciating them

All in all, a neat little pencil. Be sure to keep it in mind when your favorite springtime gift excuse holiday rolls around.

Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!

Pilot AirBlanc Mechanical Pencil – 0.3 mm – Green at JetPens





Stabilo Bionic Worker Roller Ball Pen – 0.3 mm – Black Ink

14 07 2012

It is theoretically possible that one day, I will find a rollerball I like as much as I like the Jetstream ballpoint that I’ll go around championing. But today is not that day.

One of these days, maybe I’ll learn to stop trying rollerball pens. We just don’t work well together, me and rollerball pens, but resisting such a brightly colored new arrival proved impossible (thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!).

Good for Halloween, and for public safety cone emergency replacements

I’m all over this design. Bright minimal-industrialist, the curves, the dots—and it looks great next to a Rhodia notebook.

Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation talking, but zoom in on this picture—doesn’t it look like there’s a black bird standing on the S, dropping a dot on the T? Maybe it’s just the sleep deprivation.

It’s got the little touches that are nice to see on an industrial pen, like the unobtrusive little bump there to keep the pen from rolling off when uncapped, metal clip, and a cap that posts and secures nicely. The rubberized body, though it has a mild propensity to gather a few cat hairs, has nice traction (because I assume all industrialized environments more or less involve working in three feet of oil).

Labeling can sometimes be used to great design effect. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S COVERED IN LIES

I know that a European fine is thicker than a Japanese fine, but there is nowhere on this planet where a 0.3mm tip pen should make a line this thick and be called a “fine.” This is not fine. This is very unfine. You should be fined for making something so unrefined, Stabilo.

shhhh the sleep deprivation is talking

Maybe German workers have no need for fine things. Maybe other people like pens that don’t write consistently clean, crisp lines. I don’t know. All I know is I have a cool looking pen here that I’m not particularly drawn to write with.

Fuzzy writing on majority of papers is a pretty constant problem for me and rollerballs though, so don’t blame Stabilo too badly for that.

I might try to see if I can hack the Stabilo ink insert out and put something else in, and if it works I’ll report back. Otherwise, unless you really need something to match a Rhodia Notebook, or you collect all the rollerball pens, or you have better luck than me with these mercurial liquid ink sticks, I’d pass on this pen.

Stabilo Bionic Worker Roller Ball Pen – 0.3 mm – Black Ink at JetPens





Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen – (0.4mm Black & 0.3mm Clear Blue)

9 03 2012

After "Slim Knock," I was going to write the colors and tip sizes. And then, as I posted this picture, I realized I forgot to do that. woooopsss

I’ve had the vague intention of reviewing the basic Hi-Tec-C/G-Tec-C4, but when you’ve got a plate full of pens, some of them fall by the wayside. I’ve been especially hesitant due to how underwhelmed I was by the basic body—given that there are so many other micro-tip options with nice bodies—and wasn’t eager to jump into some Hi-Tec-C-bashing. It’s a popular pen. Don’t want to get on the bad side of the most popular pen in school. They’ll Avery-label me a social outcast, and I’ll have to eat lunch by myself in the cafinkteria.

Look at these precious li'l guuuys!

I liked the look of the Slim Knock enough to pick up a black one, and ended up liking that so much that I went back for a clear blue. Note: these pens aren’t just slim, they are downright diminutive—unless you have delicate little carny hands, you will feel like a giant around these pens.

Fee-fi-fo-fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman? Be he clean, or be he stink, I'll grind his bones to make my ink.

For some people, slim pens are prohibitively uncomfortable. Usually, that’s me. Not on this one. I cannot figure out how the Pentel Slicci feels too thin, but the Slim Knock (which seems to have approximately the same diameter) doesn’t. Maybe it’s the long rubber grip? It’s a mystery. All I know is I often find myself throwing a Slim Knock in for my daily arsenal, while the Sliccis stay home.

Hi-Tec-C Prime. The pen that spurred a thousand redesigns.

A star to Pilot for body design. I’m not going to use this pen to write the next great American novel (or even the next great American novella), but it looks slick, and it’s more than comfortable enough to keep around for everyday note-jotting in the office.

Never run with an exposed-tip pen, kids. You could put your eye out.

I preferred the 0.4mm for writing, and the 0.3mm for sketching. Both have good, consistent ink flow; no blobs or other inkly aberrations. For writing, I had no scratchiness with the 0.4mm. (disclaimer: smoothness at the microtip level is not the same as smoothness in normal and bold pens. If you’re used to above-0.5mm pens, you may think a lot of microtips are scratchy. You just need to accept the fact that not every pen can be like a bowling ball slathered with canola oil) The 0.3mm, however, skirts the line, and has moments, when writing, that it dabbles in a touch of scratchiness. Don’t go for the 0.3mm if you’re getting these pens to write with. However, if you’re looking for a little sketch pen to lay down your preliminary construction lines, then we’ve found a winner, especially with the clear blue. Sketching doesn’t magically transform it into an ever-smooth pen, but for some reason, I just didn’t seem to have much of a problem at all with the 0.3mm when drawing. If there’s scratchiness while I’m dropping down these doodles, I’m not noticing it like I was with the writing.

Let me needle-point out the Slim Knock's main flaw

Minus fifteen points from Pilot for post-dry smudge. None of the lines themselves are smudged, but even though the ink was dry, it was picking up onto the side of my hand, and getting redistributed onto the page (especially noticeable in the white areas). I’ve had the same problem with the Pentel Energel. Pens, why? You have to stop doing this to me.

Branding is informative, without being obnoxious, showy, or boring

Hopefully, Pilot will continue adding more colors to the Slim Knock line. I’d like to see every regular Hi-Tec-C color in Slim Knock style.

Unfortunately, just about every color of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock is sold out at the time of this writing. So, put it on your wish list, and snap some up as soon as they’re back in stock.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen – 0.4 mm – Black at JetPens

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Clear Blue at JetPens





Pentel Hybrid Technica Gel Ink Pen – 0.3mm – Black

13 08 2011

WHERE DID ALL THESE DOODLES COME FROM? From an exciting pen.

I think I’ve seen some tweets bouncing around that favorably mention the Pentel Hybrid Technica. I’d never noticed the Hybrid Technica in stores before—either the packaging was uninspiring, or the pen wasn’t actually there. But through the magic of tax-free weekend, my eyes were opened and I spotted a whole cup full of Pentel Hybrid Technicas in all sizes at my local pen store. Naturally, I went with the most lethally sharp and minuscule tip available.

It's what's inside that counts!

Honestly, I assumed this was just going to be another impulse-buy write-off, another plastic body for the graveyard drawer of mediocre pens. The design isn’t much to remark on; in terms of appearance, it looks like a very close cousin to the Uni Signo DX. Line width clearly marked on the top, the better to see when jumbled up in a pen cup, little bit of branding…nice and standard, but nothing worth wasting anymore sentences on.

Note the lone frill over on the right--a keyhole in the cap where you could thread something through, perhaps to wear as a necklace.

For writing, it’s not my pen. It’s just too scratchy when writing; I’ve probably got a hundred other pens I would use before I’d want to write with this one. But I absolutely LOVE this pen for sketching and doodling.

WARNING: Walk, do not run, while carrying an open Pentel Hybrid Technica. Failure to comply with this public safety recommendation may result in eye injury, loss of morale, death, and or compromised national security. Thank you.

The lines are sharp, thin, and precise. It’s easy to make quick and light guidelines as well as slow, dark, deliberate lines. I should have just left off the writing part and done all doodles, because the doodling was fun.

Don't you like the way the cone sort of flares out at the bottom? Makes me think of very old telephones, for some reason.

And, as an added bonus, the Pentel Hybrid Technica body perfectly fits the Pentel Slicci refills. If you’re like me, and feel like writing with the Slicci body is akin to writing with skinny little twigs, then our problem is solved. Here’s an acceptable body that can house the exceptional (or at least better than average) Slicci refills. Even if the Pentel Hybrid Technica doesn’t come in more colors (though I hope it does), I can always keep this body and rotate in the Slicci rainbow.

This is exactly how the Hybrid Technica looked when we met eyes, and the pen whispered tearfully, "Oh! Please take me with you!"

Once again, I’m reviewing something I got in my local pen store, Office Supplies and More, that is not as easy to find online (read: not carried by JetPens). Luckily, Pentel carrries the Hybrid Technica in their online store with sizes ranging from 0.3mm to 0.6mm. Apparently, as of the time of this writing, Pentel also has free shipping on all orders over $20 (until September 16th), if you’re into that sort of thing.





Pentel Sliccies Kira 3 Color Gel Ink Multi Pen – Pen Body – Green with Lime Green, Milk Blue, & Golden Orange 0.3mm Gel Ink Cartridges

28 05 2011

I do not know why, but I cannot fully, accurately represent the golden orange color. It baffles me. Neither photos nor scans seem to quite capture it. All I can say is that you'll just have to buy it for yourself, because it is a fun color.

The final freebie from the generous giftstravaganza JetPens sent my way! :) Thanks again to Brad and JetPens!

SO VERY SHINY

This has got to be the slimmest multi-pen barrel I've ever gripped

I think if you were to capture a fairy godmother, melt her down, and pour the screaming magic into a pen barrel mold, you’d get the Sliccies Kira 3 Color barrel design.

The four component model will feature a slot for a 0.3mm retractable magic wand

I mean that in a good way, of course; it’s shiny, it’s metallic, it has diamond-shaped sparkles. And I love the color—way more of a blue-green than a green, much to my delight.

The material the barrel is made of, however, concerns me. It’s a very hard plastic, and it’s already begun to crack on the upper barrel, at the join where the two parts of the barrel screw together. I have had this pen for about two weeks now? And it’s been living the easy life in pen cases and soft pockets of bags.

See those two black lines on the upper right? Those are cracks, and there are two more like that on the opposite side.

There’s a lot on both sides of the scale for this pen barrel. One the one hand, it’s actually thick enough to qualify as a pen, instead of a shish kebab skewer. This was one of my biggest complaints with the regular Slicci pen.

Suitable neither for skewering meat nor cushioning your fingers in comfort. At least it has ridges, like a potato chip, and thickness, like me after I eat too many potato chips.

A bit of colored plastic on the end of the component fits into the plastic window to indicate which color is where. Here we have the harder to see Milk Blue.

I like the method of displaying which component is where; the little plastic window is subtle but informative, and allows the smooth little plungers to maintain a uniform, clear appearance. Unfortunately, when the plunger is deployed, you can no longer see any of the little colored bit. You have to use process of elimination by looking at the other two (or you have to write) to know which color you have out.

The plungers are smooth and comfortable. They click firmly, and I have had no problems switching between plungers. Only once, I’ve had one of the components come unsnapped from the plunger; I have no idea why, and it was very confusing at the time. I can offer neither advice nor explanation, only anecdotal report. Otherwise, I’m quite happy with the plungers.

On the other hand, what in the world are those little square cut-outs on the barrel FOR??? I have no idea.

On to writing.

One day, in one of these pictures, the ink on the little rollerball will look like a face, and it will be the happiest day ever. Just you wait.

I’m ambivalent, overall, on the 0.3mm multi pen Slicci. Something just never quite felt right, though I can’t exactly put my finger on what. I definitely got some wonky performance from the milk blue component. The components always felt stable in the pen, but there was something weird feeling, seemed like it was in the tip, perhaps the rollerball, that made things feel a little unstable. The problem wasn’t consistent, but it was frequent enough to be off-putting. I also think that, in the Slicci line, the 0.3mm is a little too scratchy for me. I often felt like the pen was right on the fence—almost too scratchy, but then it would behave smoothly enough for a while, then it would seem a bit on the scratchy side again. At the very least, the writing experience didn’t have a consistent feel. That’s my biggest problem here; I can’t get a feel for how the pen behaves because its behavior just isn’t consistent—it’s a pen with unpredictable mood swings.

I will say that I never had problems with skipping or ink flow, nor issues of smudging or ink pick-up. The ink, I think, is good, but the tip size is not for me. The colors, like the other Sliccies I’ve had, are bright and vibrant.

I’d like to try some 0.4mm ink components in this barrel before I nix the Sliccies multi-line entirely. If the 0.4mm performs well, then the next step is for Pentel to offer slightly higher-end barrels, like something that won’t crack within a week or two of use. The design is otherwise decent, but needs to be made with better, more durable materials. I think the best thing the Slicci line has going for it is the breadth of rich and vibrant ink colors it offers (all of which, sadly, are not available for the multi-pen. Dear Pentel: I would please like a dark purple 0.4mm Slicci multi pen component for Penmas! Thank you); now it just needs a decent body around it.

I know the camera is focused on the tip, but the best part of this pen is what's left behind when you ditch the metal tip, the pen body, and all the other bits that make the ink conveniently usable.

Thanks again, JetPens! :)

Pentel Sliccies Kira 3 Color Gel Ink Multi Pen – Pen Body – Green at JetPens
Pentel Sliccies Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.3 mm – Golden Orange at JetPens
Pentel Sliccies Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.3 mm – Lime Green at JetPens
Pentel Sliccies Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.3 mm – Milk Blue at JetPens





Uni-ball Kuru Toga Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil – 0.3 mm – Silver Body

13 05 2011

For once, the smudges on the page are ACTUAL product-produced smudges, and not the result of using a series of abominably crappy scanners. But the paper appearing a slightly pinkish hue? I HAVE NO IDEA.

Brad, now at JetPens, generously arranged for JetPens to send me a Jiffylite envelope cushioning samples of pure wonder and delight in writing utensil form. It is taking all my willpower to avoid typing this information in all caps, and to refrain from typing this face— :D —dozens of times. Oh heck, we’ll let loose for one sentence. THANK YOU BRAD AND JETPENS!!!!!! :D :D :D Those faces count as punctuation on that sentence.

This is a pencil. Not a pen. I am going to want to refer to it as a pen, because that is all I have reviewed, but stop me. It is a PENCIL.

Before I can get into a review of the Kuru Toga, I’ve got to point you toward some of the great reviews that came before me. Go read these and then come back. I’ll wait for you here.

OfficeSupplyGeek Kuru Toga review
Dave’s Mechanical Pencils Kuru Toga review

This is a highly technical pencil. You have to read up and get educated on this thing.

Everything I know about this pencil (aside from my own experience with it) has come from reading those reviews (which is why I linked you to them, rather than awkwardly trying to summarize what’s already been well written, seeming as though I came by such knowledge all on my own), and from JetPens’ own description of the Kuru Toga engine:

Printed on every pencil, in case you forget what is in there.

“The Kuru Toga, on the other hand, has a core rotation mechanism that continually rotates the pencil lead as you write. The lead is twisted through a spring-loaded clutch, it works by twisting incrementally every time you lift the pencil up (i.e. during printing words, etc). This allows a uniform wearing of the pencil lead so that it always remains as a pointed tip. Not only does it solve the above problems, but it also gives you an amazingly thin line. You are effectively using only 50% of the lead area that you were previously using with your old mechanical pencil. Thus, a 0.3 mm Kuru Toga will write incredibly thin lines and have less breakage than a standard 0.3 mm mechanical pencil.”

This is not JUST a mechanical pencil; it’s innovation in a barrel. Don’t forget that. I like seeing products where the makers have pushed the boundaries, have gone above and beyond what’s strictly necessary into the realm of what’s potentially extraordinary. Even if this pencil were a complete disaster, I’d still be excited about it for that reason alone. It shows vision.

Speaking of vision, let's talk about the way this thing looks.

From the grip up, the Kuru Toga isn’t anything particularly remarkable. A small, translucent, smoky black plastic cap (not pictured, oops) makes a nice little click to securely cover the eraser (I’ll miss this cap, when I inevitably lose it). The eraser, while not as big as those on wooden pencils, is at least not the smallest thing I’ve found on the end of a pencil, and erases well. The grey branding on the clip goes nicely with the silver-grey barrel. I don’t know how secure the clip is, but I have an instinctive distrust of all plastic clips, having dislocated many in my youth. All the fun of the Kuru Toga, of course, is on the other end.

Office meeting on the top, PARTY ON THE GRIP. Wait, why would I obliquely compare this wonderful pencil to a mullet? Mullets are terrible. This pencil is fantastic. Shame on me.

The light-grey see-through grip gives you an excellent view of the Kuru Toga engine in action. If you push your finger on and off the tip of the pencil repeatedly, you can see the yellow part turning around and around. You can also see how much pressure it takes to get the engine turning; too light of a touch will fail to make the mechanism turn, which could be a problem if you write lightly.

The tip, I believe, is all metal (or at least, it tastes like metal), which I find pretty visually appealing, though it might look better if the clip and the tip were the same color (either both white, or both metal). There’s also a little rubber ring around the metal tip, toward the top. It looks neat, but I find it a little confusing, being so small. I guess you just line that up to be the point of contact between the pencil and the finger you rest your pencil on? But if you grip higher, then that ring is of no use to you at all. I just want to know what the thought process was when including that in the design. I’m also torn between the aesthetic appeal of having the Kuru Toga engine components visible, versus the desire I often had for a cushiony grip on this pencil. If you’re making your marks too lightly, the engine doesn’t rotate, so I felt I had to write with a little more force than I might have otherwise used, which led to me gripping the pencil a little bit harder than was strictly comfortable for a long writing session. And the pencil itself provides almost no weight to help with this; being almost entirely plastic (including the Kuru Toga engine), it’s a very lightweight pencil. A lightweight pencil feels nice, but I think having more weight in the pencil itself might be helpful in terms of making the rotation process a little easier for lighter writers.

So how did it write? First, I wanted to replicate OfficeSupplyGeek’s findings by filling out a crossword with the Kuru Toga and comparing it to the same crossword filled out with a non-rotating mechanical pencil (since the only other 0.3mm pencil I have was Muji’s hexagonal mechanical pencil, that’s what I used). I am terrible at crosswords, so I also just copied down the answers from the solved puzzle from the first website I found that would actually print the crossword out, instead of just printing out all the clues and no crossword table.

Kuru Toga on the left, non-rotational on the right. Since I'm left-handed (a.k.a. smudge-handed), I filled out these puzzles starting at the bottom right, working my way leftward, then going up to the next row and repeat.

In hindsight, I should have made sure to use the same brand of lead in both pencils, starting from a fresh piece of lead, but I just used the lead that each pencil came with. For the Kuru Toga, I think that’s Uni’s NanoDia HB lead. For the Muji, I have no idea, because as a rule they brand nothing. Presumably it’s also HB.

Kuru Toga on top, non-rotational on bottom. Order of letters written: N-O-M-E-L for the first word, D-E-R-A-D for the last word. The N and D in the middle is a side-by-side comparison of the first letter written against the last letter written. Click for a closer examination.

Ignoring the fact that the lead in the Kuru Toga wrote darker overall, you can see that there’s no difference in the sharpness between the first letter written and the last letter written. In the non-rotational pencil, the D is palpably wider than the N; I kept the pencils still in my hand when writing (no habitual rotation of pencil in hand) to make sure this is just a comparison of normal lead wear. The crossword puzzle was the first writing test; let’s look at the lead.

Click to peer even more closely

Kuru Toga’s on the right, but the leads look almost identical. I think the difference here was made by the fact that the sharp side point was kept rotating around, instead of having that flat plane continuously in contact with the paper, as was the case with our non-rotational friend on the left. So then I did a drawing test; unlike writing, drawing involves way more variation in weight of the lines you make and the amount you press the pencil to the page.

"Oh, I can use a pencil with an eraser! Now I can prove I actually know how to draw!" Proceed to not do that, barely use eraser, and not finish drawing bothersome things like hands.

The Kuru Toga does well for drawing, though it takes a bit to get used to the springy quality that’s integral to the function of the turning mechanism. It almost feels a little unstable when drawing at first. “THE TIP MOVES OH CRAP THE PENCIL IS COLLAPSING I BROKE IT” may be one of your first thoughts, if you’ve never used one of these pencils before and don’t know what you’re getting into (which is exactly what happened with my first Kuru Toga last year, 0.5mm). It’s just something you have to get used to.

I’m surprised to note that, at no time was I ever worried by working with such a thin lead. In spite of the springiness, the lead never felt fragile; I was never worried about making heavy marks. It’s a weird combination. The lead felt totally secure, and yet the springiness made the pencil feel a little odd. Not as noticeable when writing, but something about drawing really made me realize that yes, there is a spring in this pencil, and that spring is necessary to rotate the lead. Now, the lead the Kuru Toga came with, well…

Probably designed by the right-handed tyranny.

I will want to find a different lead for this pencil, or I’ll want to learn to do all my writing from right to left. This was after doing the writing sample at the very top (remember the top? Feels so far away) of this review, where I did not work from right to left like I did with the crosswords or the drawings. Back to the drawings; how did the lead look after the drawings, my second Kuru Toga use exercise?

The end of the lead almost looks like this: > instead of like this: 7 HOORAY! Click to gaze more closely at the leadly depths.

Starting to achieve that advertised ideal! But would it last? Let’s see how the lead looked after my third Kuru Toga exercise (the writing sample at the top):

Multiple angles, to give you a better idea of the actual lead shape

Well, it’s got a bit of a lean again. But I don’t think the lean affected the performance; writing was sharp from beginning to end. My guess is that the lead is, more often than not, off from the ideal symmetrically pointed shape, but the constant rotation still keeps your writing looking fairly sharp. If there are any unsavory broad sides developing on the lead, you don’t write with them long; every lift of the pencil rotates that surface, changes it a little. And I didn’t have any breaking of the lead, not at the tip, nor further up the shaft. I do remember in days of old having the very sharp and pointed tips of my mechanical pencil leads break a little, leaving a dark point surrounded by little lead crumbs on the page. Never had that happen with the Kuru Toga.

This review has gone on forever. I don't remember my name anymore.

Great, affordable, creative, and innovative mechanical pencil. I’ve also started to see the 0.5mm version of this pen in big box stores (but not at as good of a price as JetPens), so this isn’t some totally isolated-from-mainstream-America product. If you want to stop having to rotate the pencil yourself to keep a sharp point available, the Kuru Toga HAS GOT IT GOIN ON, YO.

Thanks again to JetPens and Brad! :)
Uni-ball Kuru Toga Auto Lead Rotation Mechanical Pencil – 0.3 mm – Silver Body at JetPens





Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal – 0.3 & 0.4mm – in Blue, Sky Blue, and Light Green

14 04 2011

I had one heckasaurus rex of a time trying to edit these colors to match reality, and I still do not think I succeeded. The solution, obviously, is for you to just buy these pens for yourself.

I recently took a quick weekend trip to New York City, where I had the opportunity to buy a myriad host of fantastic pens with reckless abandon. My first pen-stop of the trip was to Muji, a store of which I’d only heard tell of, in hushed and awestruck whispers, through the aether of the internet. If you’ve never been to Muji, imagine IKEA and Japan having a baby, and that baby is a store. It’s something like that.

It is also reminiscent of candy.

Among the many items acquired in my orbit around the stationery display, we have three very similar, brightly colored and hexagonally shaped pens.

Only three, because I realized buying the entire rainbow meant not eating food for the rest of the day.

I was drawn to the simplicity of design; these pens are like a reimagining of the traditional #2 pencil, if pencils were pens, and were rendered in rich, brilliant colors instead of the most boring shade of yellow ever conceived. The pen, being almost entirely plastic, is lightweight, and does feel in the hand very much like a standard pencil–but perhaps that is just a consequence of the hexagonal shape they share.

How do I describe such appealing simplicity? These pens echo the pure essence of color -- or something ridiculous like that.

The colored body of the pen has two stand-out features. The plastic of the body consists of some kind of non-slip texture, almost like matte (as opposed to being smooth/glossy)…I’m trying to think of something to compare it to, it’s so unusual. Perhaps like the handle of a no-slip kitchen knife? There is no grip on this pen because it is entirely grip, in a very subtle and unobtrusive way.

The other feature I find interesting is the little slit of window near the writing end of the pen on the body–there are two such little windows, on opposite sides of the pen, presumably so that you’ll be able to see when the ink is running low. Very minimalist. These windows are the only additional elements of design on the body of the pen.

This is the only writing you will see on the pen (aside from the barcode sticker, which peels off with surprising ease)

The cap is clear, shiny plastic that snaps securely into place when closing the pen. There’s no snap when posting the cap on the other end, but it feels secure. The clip seems pretty easily breakable, but that just means I won’t clip this pen onto anything. I was concerned that lining up the hexagonal cap and barrel would require some extra effort, but it’s easy to put the cap on without having to have a second thought as to whether the hexagons are in alignment.

Why are Sky Blue and Light Green snubbing Blue?? I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS EXCLUSIONARY DRAMA AMONGST MY PENS. Play nice.

Matching the matte-texture of the colored body, the [whatever that conical section piece is called] is done in frosted metal. It’s thematically consistent. These things are important, especially in such a minimalist design. Every detail counts. And, at this point, I think we’ve covered every detail existing in the exterior design of this pen. So let’s delve inside.

Not that far inside. Put the pen back together, please.

The writing experience: satisfactory. I feel like I’m getting a little more resistance when writing than perhaps a right-handed individual would get, but maybe I’m just being overly sensitive and setting the smoothness bar too high. This is what happens when a pen is pretty good–I expect it to be even better.

0.3 mm VERSUS 0.4mm. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE* (*plus or minus one)

Ink flow was equally consistent with the two different sizes, though the 0.4mm wrote a bit more smoothly to my liking than the 0.3mm. Both sizes made crisp lines–not too much ink, rarely if ever too little, and no bleedthrough. My hand did start to pick up some of the already dried ink while writing, but it doesn’t look like it smudged anything or put transported ink back down on the page.

The best part about these pens, for me, was the color. These colors are vibrant, and the bright color on the barrel really is about the exact color that comes out of the pen. They’re suitable for sketching (I felt neither particularly inspired nor particularly ..uh..creatively oppressed?), but if I got more of these it would be for the fun, minimalist design and deliciously saturated colors.

Unfortunately, I don’t think all the colors I bought are available on the website, but I think you’d do well with any of the color choices. I didn’t have any outstanding problems with any of my pens (except that I grip my pens too hard and it hurts my hand, but that’s my fault) and I’d bet this is a consistent product.

If you buy enough of them, maybe you can arrange the hexagons into rainbow honeycombs. A dream come true, I know.

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal 0.3mm

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal 0.4mm





Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm in Blue-Black and Purple

11 02 2011

Look at all this delicate lineage. Not hereditary lineage, I mean...actual...lines. Lineination. Linetasticality.

I figured it was high time to get back to basics, basics being defined as metaphorically chewing your ear off (typing your eyeballs off?) with tales of pens I absolutely love. Why, hello there, Zebra Sarasa Push Clip; I do believe you qualify for this.

This week, reality has decided that the best way to nearly accurately represent the color of the pens is for the paper to look...pink. Fine. We'll say it's a premature salute to a silly holiday. That holiday being known as Pinksgiving Dayween.

The Push Clip gel pen is one of the cheaper gel pens JetPens offers, but don’t be put off by affordability–this is a great pen. The body is a lightweight plastic with a rubber grip–pretty no frills in this department. I haven’t been able to beat these up long enough to give you an idea of what kind of durability this plastic holds, but c’mon. This pen costs $1.50. It could break after a month and I’d still feel like I was getting my money’s worth (for the record, I’ve had these about a month, but they do not seem on any kind of course toward breaking).

WILD CLIPPING ACTION

This pen has two big draws for me, the first being a dead giveaway in the name–the clip.

I don't actually recommend doing this.

I normally don’t use pen clips because I’m afraid I’ll break them. They always seem so fragile and plasticky. The exception to this is clips with hinges, like the Push Clip here–these pens are made for clipping. And that, my friend, is just what I do with them. I clip them on my books, my fingers, my face, my wallet, whatever. I’m sure I’ll eventually break one of these clips trying to push the boundaries of just what I can and can’t clip these pens onto, but the pen will still be useful, and if I really want the clip it’s not much coin off my purse to get another one.

The second stand-out feature of this pen is just what you’d expect from a pen–how it writes. This 0.3mm gel pen writes thin, but never feels scratchy. It isn’t jetstream-butter-smooth, but I’ve never felt my writing performance hindered by the fact that this pen is an 0.3mm rather than, say, an 0.5mm.

No stabbing, no blobbing, and no roughhouse mobbing.

I love using this pen, for writing and sketching. When I write, my handwriting looks almost halfway decent, and the thinness of line is excellent for sketching, shading, doodling, and just generally making marks on the page. I’ve never had the ink skip or blob or call me bad names. I especially like the use of the ^ shape for the tip of the pen, rather than a | shape. This is just a personal preference (/accidentally stabbed myself with a Hi-Tec-C-once); there are certainly uses for needle-tipped fineline pens. Uses which I will surely expound upon when I’m reviewing a needle-tipped pen. The main thing I like about the ^ shape is that it feels sturdier, like I can use this as a workhorse kind of pen. I have no problem quickly jotting things down with this pen–nothing in the micro-tip construction slows down the writing process. I feel like this can be a problem with some micro-tip pens, but it’s not a problem here.

The ink comes in very rich colors that accurately match the accents on the pen itself (though I would disagree with Zebra; this is more of a fuchsia or heliotrope than a purple). The plunger makes a very satisfying click. Nothing rattles when I write. I…I’m trying, really I am, but I can’t think of anything I don’t like about these two pens. If you like pens of 0.5mm and below, and don’t already own a Zebra Sarasa Push Clip, you really need to evaluate your life, and fix this situation.

CUE DRAMATIC ITALIAN LOVE SONGS TO THE SWEET WASHING MELODIES OF HEIRLOOM ACCORDIONS.


Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Purple at JetPens

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen – 0.3 mm – Blue Black at JetPens








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