HMM Rule/One

2 07 2015
I guess I should have used the ruler more in the writing sample. Too late now

I guess I should have used the ruler more in the writing sample. Too late now

Not gonna lie, I got a little burned out on crowdfunding pens in 2014. When I first saw the link for the Rule/One, I resisted. I thought, not another Kickstarter pen…do I really have the mental and emotional energy for this? Do I have the money to spare for the umpteenth time for a vision I may not actually see realized for many months, if ever? How many airplanes could we have built out of all the aluminum that we’ve crowdfunded into pens? But I couldn’t get the Rule/One out of my mind, so I backed it.

Background feline not included in standard packaging

Background feline not included in standard packaging

There were delays. There are always delays. But the HMM team kept updating with their attractive product progress pictures and earnest missives (all of which I read in the voice of BMO from Adventure Time, which I assure you makes any news better). When the unveiling came, it did not disappoint. I ripped open my FedEx envelope to a slick tube of trendy packaging. Even though I’d seen pictures, and voted on the particular color scheme, I was still impressed to hold the actual packaging in my hands.

The empty holes are where I didn't back the stylus option and the lanyard loop attachment option

The empty holes are where I didn’t back the stylus option and the lanyard loop attachment option

Eventually I’m sure this cardboard will fall apart, but in the meantime it makes a handy carrier. Let’s take it out of the tube though.

Metric for the more cooperative parts of the world, inches for us stubborn Americans, and anyone else thus inclined

Metric for the more cooperative parts of the world, inches for us stubborn Americans, and anyone else thus inclined

Matte black body, pop of color—this is the design that had me hooked. It’s simple, fun and functional. I couldn’t wait to show it off once I got my hands on it. The ruler has laser engraved measurements in inches and centimeters (one on each side).

One ruler to rule them all, and in the gel ink bind them

One ruler to rule them all, and in the gel ink bind them

On the one hand, I almost want to abuse it a little to see how durable laser engraving is; on the other hand, it’s so pretty that I don’t want to hurt it. Time will tell, I suppose.

Three for exactly what I paid for one! Whaddadeal

Three for exactly what I paid for one! Whaddadeal

Due to some trial-and-error issues with the magnets, HMM provided all three different types of pen heads free to all backers. The simple tube style works best/fastest with the magnets, the conical screw-on head keeps the pen most secure but does not use the magnets, and the original version of the magnet head (the one in the middle) allegedly has a better weight balance for writing.

You can even post it backward, for minimal comfort

You can even post it backward, for minimal comfort

The refill shipped with the HMM Rule/One is a Mitsubishi UNI 0.38mm gel refill (same as a standard Signo 207); this was the first Kickstarter pen I’d seen designed specifically with the Uni Signo refill in mind. It writes wonderfully, as the Signo is wont to do. The refill itself fits snugly in the pen body, with no rattling and no drying-out problems thus far (and I have let it sit unused for probably at least a month at a time at some points). There isn’t a grip, but the matte-finish twelve-sided barrel never feels slippery in my hand. It doesn’t feel exceptionally comfortable either, but there’s only so much you can expect from a tube of metal.

Note how it is ever so slightly out of alignment

Note how it is ever so slightly out of alignment

While the Rule/One is well made and attractive, there are a few oddments/negatives about it. The screws on either end easily and frequently come loose (mostly in the course of transport). A bit of Loctite might not be a bad idea (although then I would probably need more than a fingernail to unscrew the screws if needed). While there’s no play between the pen and the cap with the screw-on head, the fast and streamlined tube magnetic head allows for over a millimeter of play in which you can push the pen out of alignment with the cap (perpendicular to the length of the pen, as seen slightly in the above photo).

At least it's pretty easy to take apart and put together

At least it’s pretty easy to take apart and put together

The screws are threaded along the ordinary “righty-tighty lefty-loosey” principle, but the interchangeable pen heads are backward. Twisting the pen head when it is facing you, you have to twist clockwise to loosen, and counterclockwise to tighten. Or just think to yourself, do the opposite of what you were thinking whenever you want to change the heads.

Also designed to be used as a bookmark, unlike other pens that you try to use as a bookmark and they, in turn, pop right out of your books

Also designed to be used as a bookmark, unlike other pens that you try to use as a bookmark and they, in turn, pop right out of your books

In spite of the few negatives, and in spite of the fact that I pretty much never have need of a ruler in the course of my daily life, I still love the Rule/One. There are also attachments available (which I was too cheap to purchase) that go in place of the screws (a capacitive stylus head, a loop for lanyard attachment), which unfortunately do not yet appear to be available for individual purchase (though it looks like if you buy the Rule/One from HMM it will come with all attachments, but not all pen head styles, just the same magnetic tube style in 3 colors).

If I weren't lazy and hadn't already been working on this review for months, I'd make a little gif of the fun of magnets

If I weren’t lazy and hadn’t already been working on this review for months, I’d make a little gif of the fun of magnets

If you need a ruler in your life and a gel pen in your life, this is a pretty sleek combination of the two. Plus, you get the joy of magnets.

HMM Rule/One





Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7 mm – Navy Body

29 05 2014
Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Delays in getting this post done brought to you in part by: getting a new dog

Either the Uni people listen or they came to the same logical conclusions their customers do—there should be a fancy Jetstream multi pen, there should be D1 Jetstream refills—VOILÀ! Both of these things, in the same pen. Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample.

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

And most of all, thank you for blue, and not pink. Pink exists now though, for those of you who are not me and love pink

The body is metal (type unspecified), the paint job that same enchanting metallic finish typically reserved for bumper cars. But classy. Like a Ferrari bumper car.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Exactly like a Ferrari.

Up top, we’ve got some of the most subtle multi pen markings I’ve ever seen, coupled with what I’ll assume is a curious homage to Legos. Sure, you are a fancy businessperson now, but your heart hasn’t forgotten how crucial the carefully collected gem panel was to the city-defending death ray you had Lego Anakin Skywalker man. Or whatever it was you used your Lego gems for.

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala's extra hairstyles?

Put them in treasure chests? But then where would we keep all of Lego Queen Amidala’s extra hairstyles?

The knocks are so smooth, strangely smooth if you’re used to multi pen components that are pressed inward and down to deploy. They are extremely satisfying to manipulated, and probably guaranteed to drive coworkers crazy. At least they won’t drive you crazy—they never fail (not in my experience so far, no getting stuck, no randomly undeploying, just solid mechanisms).

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

Looks vs. comfort. Typically this is a battle that plays out over fashionable shoes.

I do question the comfort of the all-metal body, especially in the grip area, particularly if you like to grip hard. I have to catch myself when I’m writing to readjust away from a death grip, lest I press the pen uncomfortably into the base of my thumb. Maybe adding a regular grip would do nothing to alleviate this, but an Alpha Gel Grip? What you’d lose in svelte aesthetics you’d gain in heavenly grip comfort. Maybe if I suggest it enough times, it will be reality. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Alpha Gel Grip Jetstream Multipen of Fanciness. Looks like for now, this will remain but a dream.

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message could go in here too?

You could definitely fit more in here. Oh, perhaps a secret message would fit?

Moreso than the Uni Jetstream 4&1 multi, these refills rattle when writing. When I pick the pen up and put it back to the page I can hear it, enough to be noticeable. Not quite enough to drive me up a wall yet, but given the choice I’m inclined to go for a quieter writing experience. Or, there are some sounds that are soothing to hear when you write, like the gliding of a nib as it lays ink on the page. Refills rattling is not one of those pleasant sounds.

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I've experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I'll keep my mouth shut

I almost want to ask for more colors, but knowing the track record I’ve experienced with non-traditional Jetstream color inks I think I’ll keep my mouth shut

The performance of the refills is satisfying. The colors are rich, and above all stay off my hands. The black seems to perform best of the three colors, but that might just be my imagination. Is it as good as a regular Jetstream? Perhaps not on the most microscopic, nitpicky level, but it’s much smoother and more satisfying than any other D1 ballpoint refill I’ve tried so far. Is there a bulk discount on these refills? I have a lot of mini ballpoint pens I’d like to upgrade.

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Set it down like this and no one even knows about your allegiance to the plastic brick

Is this the best multi pen your $45 can buy? I guess it depends on how much of your childhood was dedicated to Legos. This is the sort of pen that would make a great gift to receive, but might not necessarily be a pen body you clamor to buy for yourself. The D1 refills that this body brought to pen existence are another matter entirely, and I strongly advise you to stock up and retrofit as many little pens as possible.

Uni Jetstream Prime 3 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen – 0.7mm – Navy Blue Body at JetPens





Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple

15 04 2014
Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus

Someone hand me some failing tests, that red is just itching to give out a big glowing F minus minus to some poor sap not smart enough to be using a Jetstream

What’s better that a Jetstream? Several Jetstreams rolled into one. Thank you to JetPens for providing this sample!

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

It comes it several colors, but obviously dark purple is the superior choice

The body is simple and professional, with tasteful silver accents. The markings to denote refill colors are unobtrusive—quite appreciable, as multipens are ever in danger of looking like rainbow vomit with their many-colored plungers.

I like how the pencil is referred to as "0.5mm SHARP"...it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

I like how the pencil is referred to as “0.5mm SHARP”…it makes a mechanical pencil sound so much more dangerous and exciting

The sticker on the body was easily removable and left no residue. Coupled with the subtle branding imprinted on the clip, you’ve got a pen that looks good and keeps distractions low key.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

Things I was not expecting to find in here: metal. Things that all of in here consists of: metal.

The pen itself is nicely balanced, with the majority of its light weight focused lower, in the grip. The grip section is metal, with a nice grippy rubber on top (though it would be PHENOMENAL to have the grip be Alpha Gel instead, that would probably make the pen unbearably wide, and would collect more debris than this grip does). The upper half is mostly plastic (excepting the clip), and the overall composition of the pen makes it pretty comfortable for a longer writing session.

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

In the event of a graphite emergency, break the snap seal located on the top of your multi pen and apply eraser directly to the emergency

Normally I’m not a fan of easily-lost caps covering uselessly tiny erasers, but this cap hold surprisingly firm to the pen. It’s not going to get lost unless you set it down and forget to put it back on. The eraser itself isn’t much to speak of—more of an emergency provision. The pencil component is deployed by pressing down on the clip, and lead is advanced by pressing the deployed clip down again. It’s a wise design choice, providing a larger plunger for easy use of the pencil while concealing it design-wise in the clip. The only improvement I’d like to see here is for Uni to find a way to shrink the Kuru Toga mechanism into the size of a multi pen refill. A multi pen made of Jetstreams and a Kuru Toga would be unstoppable.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn't have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

If you need more colors than this, be sure to give yourself a stern lecture about how back in my day we didn’t have any newfangled ink colors. Pens were also used uphill both ways. In the snow.

I’ve had some problems recently with certain Jetstream color models not living up to the Jetstream name—consider this pen redemption. All colors perform smooth and vibrant, as a Jetstream should. The 0.5mm provides crisp lines that glide onto the page with almost no pressure whatsoever. The barrel is a bit wide, as almost all multipens are, but it’s not unwieldy—only if you really prefer a slim pen will it be something that might bother you. And, after handwriting out this whole review, the side of my hand is clean. This is the Jetstream I know and love.

If someone at Uni isn't feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don't know good money

If someone at Uni isn’t feverishly working right now on adapting the Kuru Toga mechanism for multi pen use, then they don’t know good money

If you use red, blue, green, and black ballpoints on a regular basis, you’ve got to give one of these a try. I’m thinking especially professionals and students in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, plus anyone who needs to mark up papers, or just likes having access to all the traditional pen colors at once. The refills are smooth, the mechanisms solid, and the pen looks good. Classic Jetstream goodness!

Uni Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen and Pencil – Purple at JetPens





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





Bic Duo – Ballpoint Pen and Highlighter

17 01 2014
Do not be deceived by the scan---the highlighter color is the ordinary screaming fluorescent yellow of most common highlighters

Do not be deceived by the scan—the highlighter color is the ordinary screaming fluorescent yellow of most common highlighters

My local pen store carried these for a while, and though I don’t normally make a habit of buying BICs, this was enough of an oddity to be worth throwing down a couple bucks.

You can see the highlighter lifeblood pulsing beneath the pearlescent skin. Is it alive?

You can see the highlighter lifeblood pulsing beneath the pearlescent skin. Is it alive?

The matte black/pearlescent mix body, with this streamlined flare-out to a wider curved cap…it’s a surprisingly attractive combination for a cheap pen.

Pretty, but hard plastic. Advantage: no debris! Disadvantage: ow, hard plastic.

Pretty, but hard plastic. Advantage: no debris! Disadvantage: ow, hard plastic.

The matching grip looks nice with the securely posted cap up top, but the hard plastic won’t be doing your hands any favors in the comfort department. This is not a marathoner pen—it’s a study pen. Here’s why:

Look at that live twist action!!

Look at that live twist action!!

Twist the grip, and you deploy a hollowed-out, fully functional highlighter around and past the fixed ballpoint tip. The highlighter sort-of clicks securely in place. The ballpoint pen, though far from the best, performs well enough (a little slow, not jet-black, but no skipping or blobbing). This is the perfect pen to go with a pdf printout of some material that you’re supposed to read for class—make little notes in the margins, highlight the important bits—just you and some pieces of paper and the Bic Duo out on the quad.

Maybe Bic Duo will ask you out to that sweet mixer you've been hearing about

Maybe Bic Duo will ask you out to that sweet mixer you’ve been hearing about

The Bic Duo isn’t perfect, but it is unique and useful. Finding one might be a bit tricky, but if the price is good (as in, NOT the $45 for a 6 pack offer on Amazon), I’d say grab one.

Bic Duo Product Page





Mini Review: Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 5 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Black

23 12 2011

Old body, new body, and my bathroom counter.

Can’t go mentioning the sleek new 3-component Mystar Meister without also acknowledging the slightly cheaper (in all senses of the word) 5-component body. In my undoubtedly never-ending quest for the Perfect Multipencil, the Mystar Meister is an upgrade from my first multipencil/my first Style-Fit body.

The new body might be the teensiest bit thicker than the old body, or I might be the teensiest bit hallucinating; it's hard to tell.

I didn’t get any new components to go in the new body, because why would I need two fully-loaded multipencils at the same time (/why would I need to spend an extra quantity of money exceeding $10)? So this will just be about the body. The Mystar Meister has a matte finish to its plastic body (as opposed to smudgy-fingerprint-showing slick plastic), a tapered end with streamlined plungers (as opposed to airplane wings), a metal clip on a plastic plunger (as opposed to an all plastic clip that could break at any moment), and an eraser with easy-to-lose cap (as opposed to no eraser whatsoever). I like these improvements, for the most part, but there are still some problems with the Mystar Meister’s overall design.

You don't need to know what components you're using, right?

The tiny window is a slight problem. All the labels, on the gel pens especially, are at the bottom, now hidden by the grip. The only thing I can see on this 0.28mm Black Gel component is the beginning of a label that says ” .24 BLACK” (what happened to 0.28??) and the only thing I can see when that component is deployed is “CK”…. ink components need to be labeled with all Style Fit bodies in mind, not just the original model.

At least I could relabel the pencil components myself.

Remodeling the plungers, however, was a good move. Looks much nicer/less like a rocket ship.

No one is ready for take-off now

Much of the improvement in this model is geared toward making the Style Fit a better multipencil. The old model body, while technically multipencil capable, was a pain in the thumb when you needed to advance lead. You had to press down on the little airplane wings, which were not exactly optimized for the task. And the old model body had no eraser.

Let me quote my first Style Fit review: "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." ...... it's like they listened...to half of what I was saying.

I still much prefer the Hi-Tec-C Coleto eraser component. I’m glad to see an eraser on the Style Fit…but I doubt I’ll use that dinky thing very much.

Finally, I want to mention the biggest improvement/problem in the new Style Fit:

Forget doofy wings; we can go back to advancing mechanical pencil lead in the way our ancestors intended.

Deploy pencil you want to use. Push down on the top. Lead advances. EXCELLENT….at least conceptually. In practice, I have frequently (not always, but enough to be very annoying) had the component I was trying to advance lead on spring back up into undeployment whenever I clicked the top to advance lead. The lead advanced, the component retreated. NOT EXCELLENT.

The design is a much better—and most importantly, more aesthetically pleasing—way to advance lead (PILOT I HOPE YOU ARE TAKING NOTES). But Uni needs to work out whatever design bug is causing this frequent retraction problem. I don’t know what condition causes it (I am sitting here right now trying to replicate the problem on command, but the multipencil refuses to obey, as if to say “I can change! Please don’t tell the world about my one major design flaw! I swear I won’t do it again!….until after you’ve posted your review”)…and that unpredictability makes it all the more annoying.

I can be a good multipencil! A good multipencil like you wanted!

It’s an improvement, yes, but it still has a ways to go. If you’re looking for a good multipencil without outrageously flaring wings, I’d just load up the Mystar Meister 3-component metal body. No eraser, true, but I haven’t had any problem with components waywardly retracting in that model. And it looks all kinds of snazzy.

 Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 5 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Black – at JetPens





Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Brown

14 12 2011

I was going for "autumn" but it seems I achieved "Halloween"

I’ve been waiting for this pen body to exist ever since the first Style Fit model rolled onto my radar. Lo, I asked for a nicer body around the $15 price point, and I have received.

It's like they read my mind. Or my blog. Or really, just came to the conclusion that any sane individual would: Style Fit is awesome, needs more bodies.

The Style Fit Mystar/Meister (which is it? Jetpens says “Mystar,” which sounds demure and twinkly; the stickers on the pen say “Meister,” which sounds like Burgermeister Meisterburger, and the only thing to do at that point is just accept that Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) is made of lovely, shiny metal that looks like Serious Modern Business but isn’t heavy to hold. Deploying the components has been changed from plunger-deploy to twist-deploy, making the pen look much more neat and normal.

Mystar/Meister spelled here simply as: <>

Plus there’s a sturdy metal clip now.  I’m very happy with this model; you can have a Jetstream and a Signo DX in one sharp looking pen ….AT THE SAME TIME! The only thing missing is a Kuru Toga component (if only such were possible); that alone would make the Style Fit an instrument of utter perfection.

Now you know the difference between daylight white balance and incandescent white balance on my camera when sitting by a window inside a cafe while drinking an Irish coffee. So glad we cleared up that mystery.

The three components I chose to load the Meisterburger up with are an 0.38mm brown-black gel ink component, an 0.7mm black ballpoint ink component, and an 0.38mm golden yellow gel ink component. As I mentioned before, the gel ink is the same as that found in the Signo line, and the ballpoint ink is Jetstream ballpoint ink.

I had my Style Fit customized with an extra-dimensional portal so I could include a fourth component.

For curiosity’s sake, I swapped in one of my pencil components to see how it works in the Burgermeister. Much more comfortable than the plungers on my old Style Fit model. You just push the top down when the pencil is deployed, and the lead advances. It’s exceedingly satisfying, and unlike the previous model, doesn’t make my thumb feel like it’s going to slowly transform into a bloody stump.

Hey, the components are helpfully labeled! Hey, wait, this isn't actually helpful.

Brace yourselves for my only complaint. Though the component refills are labeled with size on a background of easy to discern color, you can’t see any of that through the window on the Mystar. They were designed for the see-through grip of the first model. It would be nice if labeling could continue up the barrel so that the little window is actually useful; the coloring on the tubes fades out right where the window starts, and there’s no indication whatsoever of tip size. But that’s a minor annoyance in light of the overall improvement that this model offers! Good job, Uni-ball.

The pen:

Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen Body Component – Brown at JetPens

The components seen here:

Uni-ball Style Fit Ballpoint Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.7 mm – Black at JetPens

Uni-ball Style Fit Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.38 mm – Brown Black at JetPens

Uni-ball Style Fit Gel Ink Multi Pen Ink Cartridge – 0.38 mm – Golden Yellow at JetPens





Pentel Vicuna Super Smooth 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil – Sky Blue Body

29 07 2011

I think if it had a highlighter too, you'd have everything you need for school in terms of writing instruments.

I think this is the last sample from the recent batch of goodies JetPens sent me. Poor thing got overshadowed by my excitement over the Jetstream alpha gel grip and the new Pilot Petit series.

Sky blue is a great color, just not as exciting as electric purple or epileptic orange.

The body’s comfortably sized, not too thick (a typical problem for some multi pens). Light plastic, smooth rubber grip. The rubber in the grip is NOT made of the typical debris-magnet material, meaning I need not worry about recklessly throwing the Vicuña into bags, pockets, sandboxes, etc. The grip has small, recessed ridges (ravines?) for better traction. I don’t have traction problems when using pens, so I can’t speak to how effective this design is.

Something is missing here

The plungers work well, no complaints. But what do you not see on the end of this thing? AN ERASER. I thought it was pen law that every multi-pen with a mandatory pencil component had to provide an eraser or face heavy fines from the Council of Regulatory Administration of Pens. Maybe no eraser is better than an insultingly dinky eraser, but I think I would have appreciated at least a token effort in the eraser department.

The weapons at your disposal

The black ballpoint was suitably smooth, but I had problems with the red. You can see up there how there’s red ink gunk caked around the rollerball. There’s clearly something not going right there, and the result is that the red was far too often being reluctant to put ink on the page. A smooth ballpoint should have no skipping; it should certainly not have so much that it’s a noticeable problem. I don’t know if the problems I had with the red ballpoint were a fluke, or a common problem.

I do not recommend writing with the barrel off.

They weren’t very good serious doodle pen components; you can see in the writing sample how streaky and icky thin, light lines often looked. Not a problem that came up in writing (except for the aforementioned red problems). The mechanical pencil performed its task as a mechanical pencil should, and I noticed nothing to complain about.

I do like how they've got the name underneath the translucent grip. Nicely done.

Is this the best smooth-ballpoint-and-mechanical-pencil multipen? Probably not—the competition in the smooth ballpoint category is fierce, and I think the Zebra Surari multi pen has the lockdown as best in the lower price tier. But I don’t think you’d be disappointed in picking one of these up. It’s thin, light, pleasing to the eyes, and if it weren’t for that red ink component and lack of eraser, I’d recommend it without any caveats.

 

Thanks again to JetPens! :)

Pentel Vicuna Super Smooth 2 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil – Sky Blue Body at JetPens





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





Zebra Surari 4 Color Emulsion Ink Multi Pen – 0.7 mm – Blue Green body

19 05 2011

These doodles started off on a downhill incline, and only progressed with even greater velocity in that initial direction as I continued.

Number 3 in the gift basket of penly delight from JetPens (for which I continue to give many thanks :D ), we have the Zebra Surari 4 Color Emulsion Ink Multi Pen. I own, but have not yet given much pen time to, a Zebra Surari emulsion ink pen in both 0.5mm and 1.0mm—this is no fault of the Surari, merely a reflection of the combined phenomena of “I probably have too many pens” and “the Jetstream has already won my heart.” But let’s see if we can’t get a little penfidelity going.

Sadly, I do not actually have 4 Zebra Surari 4C Multi Pens.

I want to say this jumped onto my wishlist when it was a hot new arrival, but I don’t remember. What I do know is that it appealed to my current obsession with blue/green/turquoise colors and my love of Zebra’s hinged pen clip. Also, I wanted to be able to try out several emulsion ink colors, but I’m too lazy to go through the rigmarole of wishlisting/buying four separate pens. I couldn’t ask for more.

The combination clip/black ink plunger strikes quite a strange profile.

The body of the pen is a great color. The only thing I might change there is make the white plastic of the clip hinge something more unobtrusive, like the like the darker-colored blue-green plastic above the grip, and make the odd metallic-periwinkle-lavender color used to pick out words on the clip be anything but that color. Just kidding, I think a plain silver, successfully used elsewhere on the barrel, would look much better here. I wouldn’t want to introduce a new and unrelated color on the clip; it would be visually incongruent.

I really like the silver ring in the middle of the barrel; it’s a nice accent, and it kind of goes along with the elements immediately above it: the rings formed by the plastic where the top of the barrel screws onto the bottom, and the silver springs of each pen component beneath the translucent blue-green plastic.

I love when the functional components of a product create an appealing design

They look cute and cozy now, but they know to keep their distance when the barrel's on and it's time to write.

In the hand, the Surari multi pen is light but big; wider than the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto Me 4 component body, but about the same weight. The grip is just a hard bit of matte rubber; I have spoiled myself into preferring extensively squishy/fancy/soft/ergonomic grips lately, so I find this grip a bit hard; its only function is to not be slick. Since the barrel is a bit bigger than most, I found my normal grip radius had me gripping too hard, but it was something I could adjust to, with practice. In spite of being mostly plastic, the body does feel well put together; nothing feels loose, nothing seems to rattle.

Right off the bat, one thing this pen excels at is the plungers. I’ve had several multi pens (Pilot Hi-Tec-C, Uni Style Fit) where components would get caught on one another or stuck in some way when switching from one component to another. Not always, but enough that it would be a notable pain. I have not once had any of the Surari plungers/components get stuck so far. Switching from one component to another always sends the last component up and leads the new one out without problem. This means that I can idly click through the plungers without having my mindless rhythm interrupted by something getting caught.

And let’s not forget that hinged clip.

It has the astounding hinge radius of an alligator with its jaw partially wired shut.

You can’t use the hinge when that plunger is deployed, and it doesn’t open super-wide, but you can still clip it onto a decent amount of stuff. Far better than a non-hinged clip.

So how does it write? Well, quite well. The components themselves are very sturdy when deployed. It really is like having four pens in one body, instead of having one pen with four shaky and schizophrenic personalities. For drawing, the 0.7mm was just too thick for the small scale of doodling I like to work on, but I’m not really imagining this pen so much as a drawing-focused pen. It’s really a little writing workhorse, especially for people who like to color-code notes, who have to grade papers, or who can’t stand to write with the same color for more than two minutes at a time.

Good things come in fours, like pen components, and ninja turtles of a teenaged persuasion.

And the smoothness? I must say I’m quite impressed with the emulsion ink. The colors are all very bright and vibrant. All four inks are buttery-buttery smooth, I daresay on par with the Jetstream. The ink does have a tendency to leave little blobs in the writing occasionally, and especially in the drawing (which is very detrimental to small-scale sketches). I’ll have to compare it to the 0.5mm to see if this is a function of tip size, or a product of this particular ink. But in most of the writing, no blobbing is evident and the lines look nice and crisp. I had no smudge problems when writing, though I did get a little ink on the side of my hand, it never came from smearing anything, and it never ended up redistributed elsewhere on the page.

To get four colors in a Jetstream multi-pen, you have to pay almost 3 times as much. Now, I love me some Jetstreams, but this Surari is an exceptionally smooth-writing ballpoint pen, even if it weren’t at such a good price. And the Surari multi pen is cheaper than buying 4 individual Surari ink pens. I’d be thrilled to see 0.5mm refill options for the Surari multi pen, but for now, this is a great bargain for a great pen. Also, the ink smells nice, like ballpoint ink should. Odorless is boring. I love the scent of a bunch of ballpoint ink on a page. But then again, I’m weird.

Thanks again to JetPens for this sample! :)

Zebra Surari 4 Color Emulsion Ink Multi Pen – 0.7 mm – Blue Green body at JetPens