Posts filed under Pencil Reviews

Zebra DelGuard Limited Edition Mechanical Pencil Review

Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil Review

The Zebra DelGuard mechanism is pretty effective and ingenious, and I can't figure out why they've put it on an otherwise sub-par pencil. The trick of the mechanism is that there are springs inside that will retract the lead if too much vertical pressure is applied, or extend the nose tip if too much diagonal pressure is applied. This is meant to reduce lead breakage. I tried to break the lead on this pencil and couldn't do it. If you're a heavy-handed pencil user and frequent lead-breaker, this pencil may solve your problems.

The pencil body is made of lightweight plastic. The bottom third of it is clear, and the top two thirds are decorated with a pretty limited edition color gradient. There are other color gradients available, as well as some more plain colors, and some adorable Ghibli character prints, like Totoro and Kiki. I fully admit I would use a Totoro pencil no matter what the quality of the build, but in general this model has enough strikes against it for me that I don't see it finding a spot in my rotation.

Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil Grip

My primary issue with the pencil is the uncomfortable grip. It has a lot of inexplicable bumps and grooves and I can't find a spot on it where it feels like my fingers should rest. The plastic is also slippery, and the ridges--numerous though they are--don't aid in grip at all. It's the worst of both worlds.

Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil Eraser

Another issue is the itty bitty eraser that also doesn't do a very good job erasing. I don't care for the minuscule erasers that seem to top so many mechanical pencils. And what's with the wee metal hat for it? I'm amazed I managed to keep track of that piece for the duration of the review period. I'm sure I'll soon lose it, but perhaps not before I run out of this sliver of eraser.

Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil Lead

The lead that comes with this pencil is quite hard and draws a very pale line. It takes quite a bit of pressure to make a darker line, which works okay, since the lead hasn't ever broken for me. I'd be curious to try this mechanism with a softer lead. It can take any .5mm lead, so it should always be easy and convenient to find refills for it.

One nice thing about the build is that it has a sturdy but flexible clip. It can easily clip onto a stack of pages and it doesn't feel like it's going to snap or warp.

For me, for $8, this pencil isn't quite worth the cost. There are other models of the DelGuard that have cushioned grips that might be worth further inspection, though they're also a bit more expensive. I think the overall idea is fantastic, I just don't think it has been effectively executed. Which does not dissuade me in any way from ordering the Totoro one.

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


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Zebra DelGuard Eraser
Posted on September 19, 2019 and filed under Zebra, DelGuard, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil Review

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil Review

I have an odd habit of not reviewing some of my favorite products in a timely fashion. Maybe that’s because I’m busy using them and forgetting to set them aside to take pictures of? Who knows. What I do know is that I am enjoying the Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B pencil more than I ever thought I would. So much so that it falls into the “favorite” category.

I don’t recall exactly where I first came across this pencil, but I’d wager it was from Johnny at Pencil Revolution. I was struck by how pretty is was. Tombow already makes some of the best looking products, but this one even more so for me. And then I saw it: 4B. And at the time I began to hunt one down, only 4B. That’s a non-starter for someone like me who lives on the H side of the graphite hardness scale.

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil

Despite that fact, I picked one up during our visit to C.W. Pencil Enterprise last fall, almost begrudgingly so. I had a stack of other products, so I figured what was the harm in another $2.50 to see what the hype was about. Worse case is I have a pencil that looks great in photographs.

Then I never used used it. It sat in my pencil box for months before I decided to give it a try. Needless to say, I was mad at myself for waiting so long to sharpen it up, because it is fantastic.

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil Comparison

The product description for the KM-KKS is unlike any other pencil that I am familiar with. Words like “penmanship,” “calligraphy,” and “brush” are not normal descriptors, so I should have known this was a different animal. I noticed the moment that I started writing that it was.

How products feel is terribly difficult to describe in typed words, and honestly, I’m not sure I can do the 4B core of this pencil justice. For starters, the core is wide, which is common in softer graphite - assumedly for structural reasons. They are more fragile by nature.

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencils

While I comprehend that, what threw me off the most is how smooth the graphite is. Glassy doesn’t quite describe it, but there is no grit or texture to speak of. The best comparison I can think of is something like how a Pilot gold fountain pen nib feels different than a Platinum or Sailor nib. All of them are great, but Pilot’s nibs have a stickiness on the page - for lack of a better term - that sets it apart. This Tombow pencil feels different from its competitors in a similar way.

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil Writing

Oddly, it seems to have more of a graphite sheen to it on the page. It looks different in changing light angles more than other pencils I own.

I know this all sounds weird, but I promise I am of sound body and mind when writing this review!

Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil Tip

My writing looks great on the page, which is not something I ever expected to say about a 4B pencil. The tip obviously will wear down faster than my normal 2H, but not in a “sharpen it every two lines” kind of way. I did the short written review below without sharpening so you could see the difference from start to finish. The way the core wears I could have kept going further and been happy with the output.

In the realm of wooden pencils, this one falls in the expensive category at $2.50 a pop. I’ve gotten more value than that just looking at the darn thing, much less writing with it. It’s fun to use, looks cool, and is different than most every other pencil I own. I’m going to keep using this one down to the stub, and then buy a few more. I may even risk buying the only other model readily available in the US: the 6B version.


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Tombow Mono KM-KKS 4B Pencil Writing Sample
Posted on September 2, 2019 and filed under Tombow, Pencil Reviews.

Graf von Faber-Castell Platinum-Plated Perfect Pencil Review

Graf von Faber-Castell Platinum-Plated Perfect Pencil Review

It’s not worth it.

There is no point in burying the lede here. The Graf von Faber-Castell Platinum-Plated Perfect Pencil has not been worth the money I spent on it.

As with any product that costs a decent amount of money, I didn’t rush into the purchase. I was fascinated by the looks of the Perfect Pencil, and spent the better part of two years with it in my mind. I picked one up any chance I could, read reviews when I could find them, and generally worked through the process in my head. I do this a lot for all types of purchases.

I finally decided to bite the bullet this Spring. I was excited! And the excitement didn’t stop once I received the Perfect Pencil. But, after extended use I realized this is not a product for me. Let’s break it down.

Graf von Faber-Castell Platinum-Plated Perfect Pencil

The Good

This is a beautiful product. That’s what drew me in. It is stunning to look at, to hold, and to use. It’s an all-time design classic. The platinum-plated cap is the star of the show, with its traditional GvFC styling. You can tell from a mile away what it is. The construction is excellent too - it feels like a well-made product. Even the pencil has additional features, such as a matching platinum-plated twist cap over the eraser, and unique machined grooves down the barrel. I have zero complaints around the aesthetic of this product.

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The Bad

The price. Let’s not beat around the bush here. At $260, I knew beforehand that it was egregious for what it was, but that can be said about most any pen or pencil I buy. I buy products like this because I enjoy them, not because I need them. No one needs any of this! But if I am spending this kind of money on what is essentially a glorified pencil cap I want to feel that it is money well spent. That it was worth it. I don’t feel that at all with this model of the Perfect Pencil.

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil Sharpener

If the overall price isn't enough of a deterrent, the pencil price alone will stop you in your tracks. They are sold in a 5-pack for $50. Even I can do that math. I didn’t buy any extra pencils with my order, knowing that I would be trying and using other pencils I love in the Perfect Pencil cap. The marketing says the cap only fits GvFC pencils, but that’s just not true. It didn’t fit every pencil I tried, but more than enough worked perfectly well.

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil Shapening

The Ugly

The sharpener. This is what broke the spell for me. It’s not good enough to make me enjoy the experience of carrying a $260 pencil around. In fact, I hate it. When you are a stationery junkie like me, you learn what you like, what you accept, and what you dislike. I like long point sharpeners. I knew this wasn’t one, and I accepted that fact thinking the experience and quality of the Perfect Pencil sharpener would be fine. It wasn’t. It is frustrating to use, and worse, does a bad job at its only job.

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil Shavings

I didn’t buy the Perfect Pencil to use another sharpener with it. That defeats it’s entire purpose in my mind. But I do, because I don’t enjoy using this one.

The Wrap-up

Everyone has a different formula in determining the value of non-essential items in their life. I’ve spent far more on goods that I love and use daily, and I’ve spent far less on products that are collecting dust. My mental math told me that I would enjoy the Perfect Pencil and that the price would be justified, but I didn’t get a true feeling of the product until I put it through my own personal ringer. In the end, this product provides more frustration than enjoyment, making it not worth it in my book.

My assessment of this product leaves one big open-ended question on the table: What do I do with the Perfect Pencil now?

(I purchased this pencil at full price from C.W. Pencil Enterprise.)

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil Tip

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Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil Review
Posted on August 19, 2019 and filed under Graf von Faber Castell, Perfect Pencil, Pencil Reviews.