Target had many of the usual offerings, Unison, Yoobi, and Up&Up; plus more poly covered Meads than you could ever want. This is the first year I’ve skipped Yoobi comps- the covers were thinner and all Marvel focused, and while my hand lingered over a Wonder Woman comp I passed on them. The price also went up- to $3. While a 50 cent increase isn’t much, it’s just enough combined with thinner covers that I chose to pass.
I ended up skipping over Mead as well. I could not find a single Mead comp bound with card, everything was poly bound. YUCK.
I ended up with 2 comps and a sketchbook. I’ll bump the sketchbook out into its own review, because it’s worth it’s own in depth review.
Let’s start with the classic winner here, Unison. I’ve had some reports that the latest iteration are not good. We’ll see. The books I picked up were marked 2020 and were made in Vietnam. I did dig through to see if I could find something from 2021 or ever 2022, and nothing. The store I visited had only Unison from 2020.
Everything about the newest book feels like the Unison of old, the covers feel the same and the paper at first touch feels the same. Gel pens feel good on them as does a Pilot Acroball. Pencil is nice and dark and smooth, though my preferred soft dark pencils do smudge a bit.
I tested a bunch of fountain pens out with a variety of different inks. As in years past the in k behaved well on the page. Though I believe I see a bit more show through than I have in years past. Though no bleed or soak through.
I am comfortable in saying that the 2020 Unison comp book is a good choice. I will check the other Target that is near me to see if I can find a newer book. They are 55 cents.
The usual loser in all of the Comp book round ups is the Up&Up, this year I was able to find a card covered version. It even had a fun hexagonal pattern.
It started off strong with gel pens. Previous iterations bleed like crazy even with gel ink, this one did not, in fact gel ink looked as good as ballpoint! WOW! Pencil looks fantastic and feels good- it’s smooth but with enough tooth that it’s dark enough to read, also less smudging.
So now the bad, fountain pens spread, feather and bleed. BUT not nearly as bad as they did in the past. Honestly if Up&Up continues this good, maybe in 2025 I can recommend them for use. As is, if you have a kid who is only going to use pencil, ball point, and gel inks these are a good choice and a good buy. This book was $1.50, which is not a good deal. But the plain cover and not fashion covers might be worth a chance.
The sketchbook I picked up was the Mondo Llama 9×12 inch sketchbook. At $6 it is a good deal. The paper is decent, the covers are hard and brightly covered. It seems well bound, and has a ribbon place marker. I did a pretty extensive test of the paper with standard sketching tools and it stood up well. The pages are bright white and micro perfed. I will do a full review soon!
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