Posts filed under Mechanical Pencil

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil Review

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

It's been a while since we gave the Kuru Toga some love around here, but that's going to change with the Roulette. This pencil has been around for quite some time, but it can be easy to overlook given the sheer number of mechanical pencil options that exist today. What sets the Roulette apart from the regular Kuru Toga, you ask? Knurling.

As opposed to the all-plastic construction of the regular Kuru Toga, the Roulette has a metal section with knurled grip. It's a nice feature, and definitely improves the writing experience of the pencil. At just a few bucks more than the regular Kuru Toga, it's a great upgrade. The knurled grip adds a lot of stability when holding the pencil, and the cool metal feels better in the hand compared to the plastic grip of the regular Kuru Toga.

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil

Underneath the metal exterior is the namesake of this pencil — the lead rotation mechanism that made the Kuru Toga famous. As you write, the lead rotates a millimeter every time you lift the lead off the paper. This ingenious design means you are always writing with perfectly rounded lead instead of ending up with sharp angled edges. With most pencils, you're probably used to rotating the pencil a bit once one side of the lead gets too dull. That creates a sharp contrast to the small edge that the fresh lead creates. With the Kuru Toga mechanism, you can enjoy a consistent line width since it's constantly rotating as you write.

This feature isn't a gimmick, either. It works flawlessly. The only case in which this lead rotation action doesn't work well is if you're making long, continuous strokes with the pencil instead of writing. It's not a good drafting pencil, but it's great for writing notes, doing math homework, and keeping handy around the house.

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil Barrel

Even though the knurled metal grip adds a touch of class to this pencil, there were some compromises made in order to keep the price low. Aside from the grip, the rest of the pencil is made of plastic and painted to mimic metal. They actually did a great job with this effect, as it can be difficult to pick out the plastic bits, but it's really obvious once you pick it up and start handling it. Even though this is a compromise, they've executed it very well, and it also keeps the cost down so the pencil is very accessible.

The clip on the pencil is removable and is very strong. Once you clip this pencil to something, it's not going to come loose on accident. As with most mechanical pencils, there's also a tiny eraser under the click cap, which is also where you can add more lead.

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil Mechanism

Speaking of lead, this pencil is only available in the 0.5mm variety, which is a bit disappointing. I'd love to see some 0.3mm and 0.7mm options as well. You can find those sizes in the regular model of Kuru Toga, so I'm a bit perplexed by the omission in this premium line. Aside from the silver featured here, you can also pick up a gun metallic variant.

As an added bonus, the grip section features a small round window that shows the internal lead rotation mechanism as it rotates round and round. If you hold the pencil just right, you can see the rotation as you write.

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil Comparison

I've always been a big fan of the Kuru Toga because of how well it works. What sounds like a gimmick is actually a great feature that Uni executed perfectly. The addition of the metal knurled grip is fantastic, drawing comparisons to much more expensive pencils and improving the grip dramatically. At just under $12, these pencils are affordable and provide an excellent value. Definitely worth having one in your arsenal!

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil Writing
Posted on June 19, 2019 and filed under Uni, Kuru Toga, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Review

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Over the last several years, I've certainly tried a fair share of mechanical pencils. These range from really high end to super affordable and ubiquitous. One genre I was reluctant to try was the ultra compact mechanical pencil market. The allure of an incredibly small and portable writing instrument is adorable at first glance, but I always figured it would be too small to use properly. As I dip my toes into this pool for the first time, I've decided to try the diminutive Zebra Techo TS-3.

First things first: this pencil makes quite a strong first impression. The tiny size is unique and not something you see often. The initial surprise of "OMG, it's adorable" is (in my opinion) worth the $5.25 price tag alone.

Once you pick it up and start writing, you'll quickly notice how much additional effort it takes to draw your usual letters. Your handwriting doesn't quite look like your own. In my case, I resorted to writing in all-caps because it's the only way I could write legible letters with such a small tool. Still, it was fun! How could something so small still work?

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil

After writing a few quick lines, my fingers and hand started to feel some fatigue, which quickly intensified as I continued writing. Phew, time for a break! Unfortunately, I could never write more than a few lines before needing to put it down and let my hand stretch out a bit. After the initial fad wore off, I quickly realized that there are major tradeoffs to such a small pencil. Sure, I knew this in my head before I even picked it up, but now I precisely understood the limitations of the design.

In my experience, a slim writing instrument is still usable as long as it's still a standard length. This gives enough balance and a good resting place for the body on the top part of your hand (you know, that place between your thumb and index finger). That little bit of stability goes a long way. Likewise, a really short pen is also easy to manage as long as it is thick enough. Think about using a Kaweco Liliput without the cap posted. It's not ideal, but you can still write in your usual style without too much discomfort.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Eraser

As the Zebra Techo TS-3 demonstrates, a writing instrument that is both slim and short is incredibly difficult to manage -- at least for me and my standard three finger grip. There just isn't enough solid object to hold on to for my fingers to properly make the letters and lines they've been trained to create over my lifetime of using "standard" size tools. It's just a no-go for regular writing, and I can't recommend it all for that purpose.

However, it does have some major advantages. The main one being the man small spaces you can store this pencil. It can fit in most spiral bound notebooks perfectly. It can clip on to a cover of a notebook while still allowing it to close. In bags, purses, and some wallets, it can stow away into a seam without disrupting the functionality of the bag at all. You'll be surprised by all the little spaces this little guy can hide.

Unfortunately, it's not a good fit for slipping into your pants pockets since the lead pipe doesn't retract. You're liable to poke (or stab?) yourself frequently with this little guy in your pocket.

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Comparison

Ultimately, I still like the Zebra Techo TS-3 strictly as a backup utilitarian option. It's not the first thing you reach for, and possibly not the second. But when all other options have failed or aren't nearby, it gets the job done. You definitely don't want to write the next American novel with this, but it's great for doing some quick math, jotting down a quick note, or throwing in your bag as a "just in case" pencil.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Zebra Techo TS-3 Mini Mechanical Pencil Writing
Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Zebra, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Pentel Kerry: A "postable" mechanical pencil with an unchanging design since 1971

(Original Mai-bun.com article, published 02/10/2019. Written by Takuya Takahashi. Translated by Bruce Eimon.)

I have started noticing "older" business people mingling amongst students in the mechanical pencil section of stationery stores in Japan. It may be that people are rediscovering the value of being able to erase what they have written, thanks to the popularity of Pilot's erasable Frixion pens. Pencils and mechanical pencils have long been tools for students, but we may be seeing a resurgence of these instruments amongst business people.

Many of the recent mechanical pencils embed advance technology, such as mechanisms that automatically twist the lead to maintain a sharp tip, or shock absorption that prevents the lead from breaking. However, when it comes to the design of these pencils, they are better suited for the classroom than the board room.

Today I would like to feature a mechanical pencil that will look right in place in the hands of any business woman or business man - the "postable" mechanical pencil, the Kerry.

Pentel Kerry

The Pentel Kerry was first released in 1971. It is long seller that has been on the market for nearly 50 years.

The engraving on the cap proudly proclaims "SINCE 1971"

The engraving on the cap proudly proclaims "SINCE 1971"

If you look at the Japanese product home page, its official name is listed as "Mannenncil Kerry." "Mannenncil" is an amalgamation of the Japanese word for fountain pen "Mannennhitsu" and "Pencil." You can tell from the name that they envisioned this product to be a mechanical pencil worthy of being carried along with your expensive fountain pens.

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You can see how the designers tried to make it resemble an elegant fountain pen. Some may feel that the look is somewhat dated, in a nice vintage kind of way.

You may not have thought about this, but you hardly ever come across mechanical pencils with caps.

To my knowledge, even in Japan there are only a few with such a design.

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By having a cap, you do not have to worry about scratching things in your pocket or having graphite dust flake out of its tip.

Unlike expensive fountain pens that have screw on caps, the Kerry has a snap-on cap. The key point of this product is that you can still click the lead out even when the cap is posted. There is a surprising amount of engineering in this cap. When the pen is capped or the cap is removed from the pen, the click-tip protrudes only slightly.

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When the cap is posted on the pen, however, the tip extends out by a fraction of an inch to give you the length needed for a satisfying click.

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This is a product designed with a lot of attention to detail. The pen can be used without the cap posted, so some people like to keep the cap hooked in their pen loop.

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Compared to standard mechanical pencils, this is a rather compact pen. When not posted, it may be barely long enough to fit in your hand.

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The whole point of this pen though, is that it can be used posted.

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Most people will want to use it posted, as this gives you much more stability. The compactness of this pen when capped makes it an ideal companion for an A6 or passport sized planner.

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The beautiful mold of the tip of this pen is also what makes the Kerry unique. This is a design choice that enables a nice balance between the thick grip and the thin lead tip.

By offering a thin tip, it makes it easier to see what you are writing too.

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While the 0.5mm size is standard in Japan, Pentel also makes a 0.7mm version for the overseas market. I was able to buy the Navy 0.7mm version on my last trip to Taiwan. It gives you a different feel on the paper, and is especially good for sketching.

With a timeless design that appeals to people of all ages, the Kerry can be a great gift item. At a price point of $15-$20+, it is a good looking pen at a reasonable price. In Japan it shouldn't be hard to find a store that will personalize it for you for that extra touch.

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There is a reason why this product has been around for nearly 50 years. If you have never used one, I suggest you give it a try!

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Recommended for:

  • People who like to use mechanical pencils
  • People who are looking for a mechanical pencil that looks more "adult"
  • People who want to carry a mechanical pencil with their planners

Information: Sharp Kerry™ Mechanical Pencil

Posted on February 27, 2019 and filed under Pentel, Kerry, Mechanical Pencil, Mai-Bun.