Wandering the aisles of my local Staples looking for deals I found the Bic for Kids mechanical pencil. At $4.29 it’s not a deal but it was interesting. The package includes the pencil itself, a pack of 6 leads, and an eraser. The pencil is designed to be a finger fitter to help little kids learn how to write. They were available in 2 gendered colors of blue and pink. Sigh.*
I picked it up in the hope that the lead inside is the same as the Bic disposable mechanical but thicker. I wasn’t disappointed. It was dark and smooth for an HB. I quite like the lead. The pencil includes 3 leads inside and the little double ended tube holds 6 more. The bad thing about this pencil is that leads are not sold separately, so you can not refill them once you finish your 9 included leads. So that’s a bummer.
The pencil is tiny, one of the other reason I purchased it, thinking it would make an excellent pocket mechanical. And it is. It fits perfectly into a pocket. For people with large or even medium sized hand, this is going to be much too small to be usable. It is also very lightweight. That said the finger fitting fin is a pain in thumb. With a pencil you need to rotate it to keep it pointed. the fin prevents you from doing so.
So I cut it off. Sow and carefully I used a knife to shave off the fin. This allows me to rotate the pencil to keep the point, pointy. Without the fin the pencil is very comfortable and even enjoyable to use.
The included eraser is color coordinated to look good with the pencil. The blue eraser is a nice dark blue, while the pink eraser looks like bubblegum. The eraser is dust gathering so all the crumbs clump together and make it easy to clean your page. The Eraser also works really well and cleans the graphite entirely off the page. It is very soft and will be quickly used up.
Overall this is a fun little mechanical pencil that is limited by the finger fitting fin and its diminutive size.
Continue reading →
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. Enter 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After using wooden pencils nearly exclusively for an entire summer it feels somehow wrong to admit to using a mechanical pencil, especially a new fangled one like the Ticonderoga Sensematic. I mean a ballpoint pen is necessary for filling out forms and such, but a no knock mechanical pencil? Oh my!The Sensematic* sports a silver body made of plastic. It is roughly the same size as a regular pencil. The imprint is teal that matches the typical Ticonderoga green foil pretty well, but I find myself wishing it were green foil. The silver is tough and thus far in my week of use the imprint is staying strong.
The writing end is all black plastic. The a-typical sleeve is also black and conical is shape. The mechanism is similar to a Uniball Kuru Toga. As you write the interior of the pencil feels you writing and advances the lead just a smidge. It works really well, advancing a little tiny amount of lead each time you make a letter. Now, if you write with long flowing cursive strokes, like the Kuru Toga, this is going to be an issue. Cursive tends to defeat the mechanism, making this pencil well suited for printing and crappy cursuprint like I use.**The ferrule is metal and painted Tigonderoga colors. It’s fitted to the lead holder very well and is where one grips to remove the lead holder for refilling the pencil. After unscrewing the ferrule one finds a small white plastic tube with a black cap. This holds 3 leads.*** The cap removes with a pull. On the back end of the pencil is a black eraser, which is the same quality as any other Ticonderoga eraser. That is to say, pretty good as far as pencil cap erasers go. It appears to be the same as the Ticonderoga Noir.The lead itself is pretty meh. It is slightly scratchy and not as dark nor as smooth as most Ticonderogas. However, it will accept any 0.7 leads you have available. I’ve used about a lead and a half over the last week of use. I’ve done quite a lot of writing but no sketching. The lead in this is pretty light so I don’t find it very useful for sketching.
So what am I using this for? First off you’ll notice in the pics, I added a pencil clip. While it’s not the most secure clip in the world it does let me clip the pencil to my shirt at my internship, so that I can grab it for quick notes. The fact that I don’t have to click a knock to advance the lead is super convenient. That only a small amount of lead is exposed at any one time is great. I’m not breaking off bits of lead or stabbing myself with the pencil. With the clip this is a super convenient mechanical pencil. The final great thing is that they are not much bigger than a pocket notebook in length, so they pair wonderfully with pocket notebook in a cover for EDC.
In addition to the core being a little scratchy the big downside is that it feels really cheaply made. Granted it was merely $2 for a 2-pack (on clearance) and regularly isn’t much more expensive, but I do wonder what these would be like if made out of better quality materials. They also feel disposable, so I doubt that people, other than me, will replace the lead in them to use them over and over. Honestly a Ticonderoga is a pretty inexpensive pencil to begin with why make a cheap mechanical pencil that will be discarded when empty and pollute the environment? Why not just stick to wood?
toss out the included leads and pick up a pack of Uni NanoDia leads in B or 2B. You’ll thank me.
Continue reading →