Posts filed under Tombow

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.

Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen Review

Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen Review

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

In my never ending quest to find better rollerball pens, I somehow totally missed the Tombow Zoom 505. I know I've seen this pen on JetPens many times, but it just didn't register in my searches or the aesthetic requirements at the time. Over the past few weeks, I've finally given this pen an honest try, and I can't believe I didn't try it sooner.

The rollerball market has always been a little slim on choices, and that's still largely true today. With the popularity of the Schmidt P8126 and similar refills, the rollerball market has boomed recently. The Tombow Zoom 505 takes a different route, though. The included refill is a 0.5mm replaceable rollerball cartridge. When it runs out, just swap it out for an entirely new cartridge. These cartridges just look like miniature Pilot Precise V5 pens, and that comparison goes a little farther than in looks alone.

Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen

A common downfall for many rollerball pens is the writing experience. It must be difficult to design and manufacture a reliable rollerball refill that also lays down a crisp line and feels smooth while doing so. I've had my fair share of disappointments over the years, but the Zoom 505 is not one of them.

The Zoom 505 refill is incredibly smooth. It's an absolute pleasure to write with, and it also managed to lay down a stunningly crisp line. There's hardly any bleed or feathering, and I haven't noticed a single skip or stutter while writing. It's an incredibly dependable and smooth writer. I compare it in my mind to the Schmidt P8126, but it has a finer line and feels a bit drier than the former. Still, it's a great performer and I really enjoy using it. The refills aren't terribly expensive either, and that opens your options up to colors (ahem, just blue) and other sizes as well. You can pick 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 1.0mm tips, but the only color options are black and blue. This is a shame! If only the Pilot Precise pens actually fit inside this Tombow body...

Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen Barrel

The exterior of the pen is shiny and elegant. It reminds me of the Pilot Metropolitan with a shiny lacquer on top of it. It's a little bland for my tastes, but the writing performance helps me get past that issue very quickly. Despite the bland exterior, it's still classy and well-made. This pen has no problem blending in during an executive meeting, but it also works great for jotting down notes while waiting in line to catch a bus into town.

Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen Grip

The refill is excellent, but the grip section is what really sells me on the overall experience with this pen. It's a delightfully soft and contoured grip that seems to hug my fingers without being so soft that it becomes hard to accurately control the pen as I write. It's a hard line to walk, but the Zoom 505 does it brilliantly. Long writing sessions are not a problem due to the grip, but it also has some help thanks to some small weights in the bottom of the pen that provides the perfect balance while holding the pen in writing position.

The cap is the same metal material as the body, and it fastens to the grip section securely. I've never felt like this will uncap by mistake in my bag. The clip is also strong enough to get the job done without being annoyingly loose or tight. The goal of any clip is that "just right" zone, and this pen falls into that category.

Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen Comparison

Overall, the Tombow Zoom 505 is a fantastic rollerball pen that writes a smooth, crisp line and feels great in the hand. It makes a great gift for those who aren't sure about the idea of paying more than $3 for a pen, but it's also a stellar everyday writer. The Zoom 505 is available in black and brown and can be yours for about $20.

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


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Tombow Zoom 505 Rollerball Pen Writing
Posted on April 24, 2019 and filed under Tombow, Rollerball, Pen Reviews.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm Review

Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm Review

The mechanical pencil lead reviews I’ve taken up this year are leading me down an interesting path. I want to find the best lead out there for me - and hopefully you - and so far, I’m waiting for one to jump out the pencil and grab me and say “I am the one!”

It hasn’t happened yet. And I’m wondering if I am being fair to one of the most basic products on the market. I think I am, for one reason alone: Marketing! With their marketing, manufactures are telling me that they are bringing something new, cool, and/or unique to the graphite market. And honestly, I’m buying what they are selling.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm

That said, the differences between the leads I’ve tested so far is minimal. I can tell a difference between each lead I’ve tested, but are those differences that great to where I can definitively recommend one over the other? So far, no. But I have a lot more to go.

The Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm is the latest to get the treatment, and maybe the easiest to explain, while confusing me the most. Kind of like I am doing to you in this review.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead Case

This is a really good lead, and that is the issue I am finding. They are all really good! Unlike gel ink pens, for example, the differences between the best in show and the worst are as minute as the leads themselves. When reviewing products, it’s a lot easier for me to discuss products that are exceptional. Exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad. Mechanical pencil leads on the whole all tend to fit in a very narrow range of the review scale. I’m looking for the one that breaks out from the pack - figuratively, of course.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead

This one is not it, but that doesn’t make it a bad lead. In fact, I’m guessing the Tombow Mono Graph Lead is the stock lead for all Tombow mechanical pencils, which is high praise if you think about it. It has all of the characteristics to give a good first impression. It’s good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like it!

I do too, yet here I am looking for something more. I want a transformative mechanical pencil lead. That may be one of the silliest sentences I’ve written in all of my years of writing. And it may be unfair, because what’s wrong with really good?

Tombow Mono Graph Lead Test

I’m determined to get to the bottom of this. I have a good 20+ leads left to test, and maybe one of them will be the one. And if not, that’s ok too. I’m lucky to have a bunch of really good leads handy to use in my favorite mechanical pencils.

(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!

Tombow Mono Graph Lead Review
Posted on February 25, 2019 and filed under Tombow, Mechanical Pencil Lead.