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.
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.
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.
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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