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Review: Uniball Air

Here is another pen that if I’d reviewed it when I first purchased it would have received a better review than after about a month of on and off use. I resist my urge to again rant and rave against drive by beauty reviews that are pretty but lack a substantive amount of use to back the reviewer’s claims.

I picked up a 3-pack with red, blue, and black capped pens. The pen body is made of translucent plastic the same shade as the pen which is then covered in a print. The print is in black and gray and looks to me like a generalized idea of black carbon fiber… The pattern is slightly raised and feels nice. The cap is smoke colored with an inset attached to the clip matching the ink. The cap secures over the business end with a nice click. It posts deeply and I have no fear of losing it.UNI Air

The pen is lightweight and well balanced both posted and unposted.  I found that the grip section was slippery in longer writing sessions and that I could feel the coordinating colored bit. Something about this annoyed me. I think mostly that the section was slippery and thus I had to  adjust my grip frequently. I am not a sweaty hand person, I use metal and plastic sectioned pens all the time with no issues. So this was not a matter of my hand but the slick nature of the plastic.UNI Air UNI Air

The pen tips glide over every surface I’ve used them on and I think this is due to the huge ink flow. These pens are gushers. Using them in my comp books meant I had bleed and show through everywhere. This is less of an issue with these books as I don’t use the reverse of the page other than writing brief notes about things I need to address later or ideas for edits. But it does show how much the pens saturate the paper as well as how much ink is wasted. The pens were only available at target in the large 0.7 but I’d put them on most paper at a 1mm. The ink really spreads out. This is anything but a fine tip.UNI Air

These pens are so smooth that you can almost feel the ink being pushed out of the tip. My wife described these as a combination in feel of a gel ink and a fiber tipped pen, and I think that is an apt description. I did not like these for writing very much because they felt so weird, BUT they were really nice for drawing and the ink is waterproof. The high flow of ink really lent the pens to doodles and sketching. But again, because of the flow, lingering anywhere on a page will cause bleed through. These really flow so wet that writing on regular paper is akin to writing on toilet paper.

I really liked the shade of red and blue that was offered in the 3-pack. The red is a nice bright red, perfect for marking up edits. The blue is a wonderful shade that is both bright and bold. The black is deep and dark.UNI Air

Overall, I don’t really them much. I also think they are overpriced. With the ink flow being so high, I’ve used a quarter of the black already and can see myself blowing through this one if I used it more frequently very quickly. At $7.99 for 3 at Target, or $5 at Staples, and $6.57 at Walmort, or a whopping $12 on amazon, these are just not a value. Especially when you consider how quickly they squirt ink onto the page. Also, they are a little ugly. Actually, a lot ugly. The futuristic design will appeal to high school kids and possibly dudes, maybe dudebros. The slick grip was also uncomfortable even with my cool dry hands. If you must buy these, get them while they are on back-to-school sale for $5 at Staples.

There are much better options at better prices- the Uniball 207/307 or Signo gives you better feel and the same quality ink with a better grip, ink flow, and look.

Review: Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Gunmetal Mechanical Pencil

David Reese might refer to mechanical pencils as bullshit but I’ve had a long standing love affair with these wondrous pieces of awesome. From my first knurled metal gripped Koh-i-Nor to this pencil, I love ’em. Well, except for that cheap ass Kuru Toga I previously reviewed. 20141203_172208Enter the metal bodied version of the Kuru Toga, the Roulette. I have previously discussed the smooth metal bodied version, this one is knurled. And the knurling is nice, it’s crisp and grip-y and completely not slippery. Which was a problem I had with the smooth metal gripped version of this pencil.20141203_172129

The balance is just right for my hand. With the larger weighted end of the pencil being at the business end and the lighter end being the rest of the pencil. It is also important to note that Uni cheaped out and made the rest of the pencil out of colored plastic.  While the pencil is metallic and perfectly matches the paint, I do wish it was made out of the nice aluminum of the grip section. I find that the plastic is less noticeable on this version than the pink version, possibly because the grip and the plastic are the exact same color.20141203_172032

The tip floats a bit as it needs to be able to move up and down without friction thus has a loose-ish fit in the cone. It’s barely noticeable as I’m writing. The Kuru Toga “engine” does it’s job and moves the tip in miniscule amounts as I write, keeping the edge sharp and crisp. The line doesn’t widen at all, it’s stays the same. IF I remember to not rotate my pencil. Since I’ve been writing with wooden pencils all summer I have gotten back into the habit of rotating my pencil, so in effect I defeat the mechanism.20141203_172136

The key to making these pencils work well, it to not rotate the pencil as you write, something that is hard to stop yourself from doing if you’ve been making yourself do it for a full 4 or more months. It also helps if it’s held at more than a 45 degree angle. Steeper angles don’t provide quite enough force to the mechanism to actually rotate the lead. So it just acts like any old pencil.20141203_172048

Anyway, bullshit aside, this is a great looking and feeling mechanical pencil. I break very few leads with this beauty and my writing is crisp and accurate, well as crisp and accurate as my crappy handwriting can be. The price isn’t bad depending on where you purchase it. I found mine on Amazon for about $10, but they are now out of stock. On Jetpens they are $16. In my opinion, if you are looking for a great mechanical pencil, the knurled metal grip Roulette is a fine choice.

Review: Uniball Kuru Toga Starter Kit 0.7

I’m going to start off this review with a negative statement then run into the more positive. This isn’t my first Kuru Toga and won’t be my last, but you shouldn’t buy this as your introduction to Kuru Toga. Why? It’s a cheap imitation of Kuru Toga greatness. The idea of the Kuru Toga is that the lead rotates so you are always writing with a sharp crisp point. This pencil does that, and does it pretty well. If I were just reviewing the Kuru Toga “engine” this pencil would get a high five and stellar review, unfortunately the great guts are marred by a god awful pencil body.bad kuru toga bad kuru toga The body of this pencil is smokey gray plastic that allows you to see the inner workings of the pencil. In theory this is a pretty cool idea, but unless you are working in bright light you can’t really see the inner workings. For me to see through the plastic I must be under a nice bright light otherwise I can’t see anything inside moving, certainly not the small white logo on light blue that is inside this pencil.bad kuru togaThe other Kuru Togas I’ve handled have had a stainless steel tip section, this model has a chrome plated plastic section with a super wide silicone ring around it. The rubbery silicone grip keeps your fingers from sliding off the pencil. The problem is that it’s really hard, has a raised ridge, and is very uncomfortable. I consider myself to have a pretty tough writer’s callous on my right middle finger, but this pencil irritated it. bad kuru togaThe eraser is puny, but works okay once you can get it into contact with the paper. The eraser is so short that you have to flip the pencil completely upside down for it to make contact with the page, otherwise the body of the pencil gets in the way. When you do flip it over you have to press so hard you deploy the nock.  The end cap is also miniscule and easily lost. Basically, just keep a block eraser on hand for erasing. This starter set arrives with 2 extra erasers, but no case to keep them in, so you’ll lose those too.bad kuru toga bad kuru togaThe set arrives with 2 leads in the chamber and a 10-lead tube of NanoDia HB leads. While these are not my favorite leads, they are very nice and smooth for HB leads.  This is probably the best part of this $5 starter set. bad kuru togaI don’t know why Uni made such a terrible pencil package as it’s Kuru Toga starter kit. I don’t think this pencil is going to bring anyone to a love of the Kuru Toga. If anyone is interested in getting a Kuru Toga they are better off getting the rubber gripped version or one of the metal gripped versions. The rubber gripped version is only a few dollars more expensive, and has better reviews.

In short I’m saying this pencil is very cheap feeling but the Kuru Toga engine inside works just fine. I wish I had just saved my $5 and put it toward another metal bodied Kuru Toga or a package of BIC disposable mechanical pencils. The “good” thing about it is that I can use it at my internship and not worry about losing it. Since I don’t have desk space of my own, I have to carry all my stuff around either on my person or leave it in my bag, meaning I don’t leave anything of any valuable laying about.

Review: Mitsu-Bishi Matured 9800 General Writing Pencil

Another JetPens purchase was a Mitsu-Bishi 9800 HB “general writing” pencil. At a rich price of 70 cents this was the least expensive pencil of my recent purchase. And at 70 cents it was the best value. from what I’ve read the core of this pencil is the same as the Hi- Uni. In use, this HB pencil proved to be just as smooth and dark, at a fraction of the price.MaturedMatured 9800 HBThe core is well centered in the wood, which you can view at either end, as the “ferrule” end is unfinished, leaving the wood and core visible. I cannot smell if it is cedar or not, but my allergies may be blocking the scent. The wood sharpens easily in my KUM Ellipse sharpener. The pencil boasts that it is “matured.” According to the info on JetPens that is in reference to the graphite core being matured. I assume this has to do with the process of creating the core, perhaps a drying process. Whatever the process it has lead to a strong and smooth core.MaturedMaturedThe graphite core in this pencil holds a point well and is nicely dark. It allows for a range of tone in it’s use, but doesn’t need to be sharpened every minute or two. It’s perfect for general note taking or sketching. Even though it’s an HB it does give a nice enough range of tone. For more finished work a few more grades of pencil would be needed to give those deep dark areas a good drawing needs.MaturedThese are available from 2H to 2B. It’s a good range for sketching but for deeper darks you’ll need a 4B or 6B or softer from another brand. The HB is perfectly suited for writing as well. It’s a nice dark pencil.MB 9800 HB

It’s a great pencil at a great price, 70 cents is not a bad price for any art pencil, and when you start to get into “higher’ end pencils, finding a nice one under $1 each is a good deal. It’s not the best looking of my recent purchases, but it’ s a darn nice pencil.

Review: Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni Pencils

In my last JetPens purchase I ordered a pair of Mitsu-bishi Hi- Uni pencils. I picked out the HB and B grade. I refer to these as the adult, in the non-dirty manner of speaking, pencils. Their smooth burgundy paint, gold foil imprints, and slick black plastic and gold caps simply look like the kind of pencil adults might use. These aren’t kiddy styled pencils. The plastic caps remind me of old Venus drawing pencils that had smooth white plastic caps. It just screams “serious art creation happening here!” The combined package of color and crispness makes these look like nice pencils. Those looks are not deceiving, these are nice pencils.Hi-UniHi-Uni

I popped the HB into my KUM Ellipse sharpener and was quickly down to the business of writing and sketching. The cedar sharpens well. The core is smooth in the sharpener, and shaves off a nice point. This pencil is smooth and dark. As HB cores go, this one is as smooth as a Palomino HB but holds the point well. I was able to write and draw without sharpening the pencil every minute or word. The experience of writing was nice and smooth. I did not find a  single hint of grit or scratchiness. This pencil simply puts down graphite.Hi-UniI sharpened the B pencil in my KUM long point. Again no issues here. The core was well centered  and sharpened  to a perfect point. The B grade was slightly darker than the HB but just as smooth. It needed slightly more sharpening than the HB but that is expected for a B pencil.IMAG1832While I’d use the HB for class-notes the B is less well suited to note-taking given it’s need for more frequent sharpening. Either pencil erases cleanly from paper through the use of a block or click eraser. In use, these pencils certainly obtain high marks. They look fantastic and perform flawlessly. The one BUT I have is that they are a little on the expensive side. JetPens sells these as singles for $2.35. A dozen costs $28*. To put that into perspective, they are pricier than the Palomino Blackwing, which are as good for sketching, though not available in 5B to 10B or 2B to 10H.  For a full range of use, the Hi- Uni wins out. It’s price is a tad off putting.Hi-UniAgain, if you are looking for a little something to get your JetPens order over the $25 mark for free shipping, a single pencil is a great way to do it. You won’t regret the purchase, it’s a damn  fine pencil.

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Review: Mitsu-Bishi NanoDia B Pencil

The shining star of my recent Jetpens purchase is the MitsuBishi (UniBall) Nano Dia pencil with a B core, in green and white. They are available in 2B as well and in the following shades green, pink and blue. The white finish of the pencil is pearlized. It’s very similar to the pearlized finish of the Palomino Blackwing Pearl. Howeve,r the NanoDia has green triangles printed over the creamy white finish. They are semi transparent and barely noticeable. There are 2 accents of a darker bright green. One is a diamond shape and the last is a band at the ferrule end of the pencil. Together the colors work well and make for a very nice looking pencil. The green reminds me of the Staedtler Wopex coloring.NanoDia

The ferrule end of the pencil is not finished. The core and the wood of the pencil are visible. the core is well centered. The pencil sharpened to a nice point in my Kum Ellipse sharpener. Because my allergies are interfering I cannot tell if this is cedar or not, however it LOOKS like cedar and sharpened well.NanoDiananodiaThe pencil is graded as a B, and it writes like a B pencil. It’s darker than most HB pencils and is softer and smoother. However, it held it’s point well and didn’t need to be sharpened after every word or scribble. It erased cleanly with both block and stick erasers. It is be well suited to sketching or note taking. If I were to compare this to a Blackwing, I’d say it’s VERY similar to the Blackwing Pearl in darkness and softness of the core.NanoDiaAlso, it is affordable priced, arriving in a 3-pack for $3. This is again, an option to boost your JetPens purchase to being over $25 to get you to free shipping. Don’t like green? You can get it in bright blue or pink. All colors are available in B or 2B. The green is a great spring color.NanoDiaFinal word? A good looking and affordable pencil that will make you happy. I’ll be reaching for this one more than any of the others I ordered in this Jetpens package. I would say if you want the Blackwing experience with a lower cost, the B NanoDia will give you that experience. I’d rate this at a very similar level as the Blackwing Pearl.

If you don’t like wood cased pencils, Uni offers the lead for mechanical pencils. It’s as nice as what is in the wood pencils but offered in more of a range of hard and soft. I have a couple of packs and I’ve been happy with them.