The great thing about using blue lead is that it's hard to pick up on a scanner and easy to photoshop out, which would be perfect if I only wanted to review three of the five components I got for this pen...
At some point, I realized that carrying upwards of ten writing utensils to a bar was making me seem less than sane. Not that there’s anything wrong with carrying a bunch of pens, but when you’re the only member of a drinking party interested in drawing and you dump a bunch of pens on the table, people start to think you’d rather hang out with your pens than them. I had to find a way to streamline the number of writing instruments needed while still retaining a usable arsenal of drawing tools.
Multi-pen! It's multiple pens! It says so in the name!! Regard this fine specimen; it's like five pens, ALL IN ONE
I looked for multi-pens with mechanical pencil components that would cost less than a fortune, and the Uni Style Fit caught my eye. Being a fan of Uni-ball products, I decided to give this multi pen a go and outfit it with 3 mechanical pencil components, a 0.7mm Jetstream black ballpoint pen component, and a 0.28mm black gel pen component, effectively defeating the purpose of calling it a Gel Ink Multi Pen. Henceforth, we shall call it my multi pen(cil).
Good for viewing pen(cil) components and greasy fingerprint smudges
After marking the pencil barrels so I could tell the Uni-ball NanoDia lead from the Uni Color Soft Blue from the Pentel Stein Blue, I puzzled at how to get the mechanical pencil components open. Certain that wizardry need not be involved, I consulted other reviews of the Style Fit Multi and its components, and found some very important wisdom.
If the component is coming apart anywhere other than the overlap that I've circled, you're doing it wrong. Stop.
This wisdom doesn’t make it any easier to open the component. It was difficult to grip the slick, thin metal, and the barrel was reluctant to slide apart. Persevere, and you will be rewarded with the opening of the barrel to refill the lead, which you will probably need to do because you probably just broke most of your lead in half getting the barrel open. I know I did.
Here are all the components, in place and looking haphazard.
After getting all the pencils in order, I loaded up the pen body and tested deploying each mechanism to make sure I had them in the right place. Helpful tip: make sure you push down and in to lock the component in place. Merely pushing down is not enough. To retract any of the components, just push down a little bit on another plunger. Or, unscrew the grip, yank out the component, and then put it back in; this is not very efficient but is technically another way to end up with the component retracted.
The plungers look cool together, but also seem a little unnecessarily wide
For several days after first receiving this pen, I had problems with one of the components sticking in place once in its deployed position. Trying to deploy another pen would not dislodge the offending component. This is no longer a problem, about two weeks later, but for a while I worried I’d screwed something up, and no, I have no idea what I did that managed to fix this.
You’ll notice that there is no eraser on the end of this pen body. No amount of wishing on my part will make an eraser appear. This necessitates carrying around an eraser in addition to this multi pen(cil); this runs counter to my desire to carry as few instruments as possible. However, I think I’d rather have no eraser at all than be saddled with a uselessly small eraser beneath a tiny, easily lost plastic eraser cap.
I have almost no complaints with the pen and pencil tips. One complaint: I have noticed that the lead occasionally seems to slip back into the barrel even when I'm not drawing very hard.
Advancing the lead in the pencils requires you to click the plunger harder than you would ever click a normal pencil. It’s possible that this will get better with time, but with the design of the plunger, doing lots of lead advancing for now will be a bit of a pain in the thumb. I also have noticed that, in spite of putting 3 perfectly intact pieces of soft blue lead in the barrel to begin with, I seem to be getting a lot of short and broken pieces coming through the pipe. I know that soft blue lead is delicate, but I don’t have this problem in my regular soft blue lead mechanical pencils. I don’t know if the lead is getting broken up in the barrel, or when it gets advanced, and I don’t want to open the mechanical pencil component to find out because then all the lead will definitely be broken. Of course, this is not a lead review, so we won’t dwell on this.
Pens with benefits
I have a lot to complain about with this pen. But I will say that it is sufficient for the task I wanted it for. I have five writing utensils in my hand without having to put down and dig around for each individual item. I have the option of three pencils, and two pens to ink with. The barrel isn’t too big; while not as thin as a normal pen, it is still within a generally normal range; it does not feel like I am dragging a tree stump across the page to make my art.
I’d like to see another round of Uni Style Fit body options, something that isn’t so much like cheap plastic, something more like the Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1 Multi Pens—-nice weight, smaller plungers, comes with an eraser—-but with the Style Fit customizability. All the current body options are under $4–what we need is a nicer body around the $15 price point.
I don’t know why the idea of multi-pencils seems to be so neglected. Many multi-pens available don’t even offer a pencil component, or if they do, only give you the option to have one pencil on board. There are too many types of lead out there for this nonsense to fly.
In the meantime, this Uni Style Fit is sufficient. I’ve got most of what I need to sketch while I’m out and about without having to carry a giant bag with me. But there is a lot of room for improvement.
Here's what this pen looks like in a teapot
Uni-ball Style Fit Multi Pen System at JetPens