The prospect of dotting all my stationery with perfect little bright circles delighted me to no end, so I was excited to try these new Play Color Dot Markers from Tombow. The colors are fantastic and the dots are definitely charming, but ink issues severely limit their usage. Alas, I cannot dot all the things. These markers only work on goldilocks paper--coated enough to prevent massive bleed-though, but not so coated as to prevent drying. The design is brilliant, and with a recipe change I think these would be a staple product for me. But right now, I can't use them the way I want to.
These pens have two ends--a 5 mm round felt-tip marker that works as a fat line, or as a highlighter, or as a circle stamp. The stamping is tricky to get the hang of. You can't just do a vertical drop like you would with a rubber stamp--you have to lightly press, do a little wiggle so that the full circle makes contact, and then peel it away from the page at an angle. This prevents the pigment from pooling at one side of the circle making it uneven and causing it to bleed through. You can see on my test page a variety of circle fails before I got the hang of it. Once I did, however, the circles came out really nicely.
The pigment is bright enough to be seen when used as a line, but pale enough to use as a highlighter as well. Because it is water-based, though, be careful about what you highlight over. And be mindful of the paper you're using, too, because of the bleeding issues.
The other end of the pen is a very fine .3 mm plastic tip. It's nice for writing or coloring in fine spaces, though the water-based ink does give it that over-pigmented area where lines overlap. In contrast to the very wet broad end, I did experience some dry-out of the tip during longer coloring sessions.
The pen body is plastic, and colors are very well indicated all over it. The broad end has the cap with a clip, while the fine point has a small cap. Bothe caps click closed securely, and both caps post on each other, which is a lovely clever thing. The clip is nicely flexible and sturdy. The side of hte marker includes instructions for proper stamping technique both in Japanese text and in a small graphic. If it hadn't been for that graphic, I'd be making blobby circles, still.
The 12-pack includes brown, grey, lilac, blue, sky blue, mint green, apple green, honey yellow, orange, coral, sakura, and cherry red. The colors are all vibrant and fun--I really like the palette chosen. It includes practical staples and a few fun accents.
Now, those bleeding issues. The wide tip causes some ink to pool, and it's in those pooled spots that bad things happen. If used carefully, the pooling can be mostly avoided, but not entirely. On cheaper paper, even the lightest touch soaks right through. And if the ink really concentrates, it can bleed through even Tomoe River paper. And it has some drying issues on heavily-coated papers as well. The two best papers I found for these markers were Kokuyo and Rhodia--and I still had to be careful (and still did get some faint bleeding). It's a shame, because these would be SO useful for planners and bullet journaling, but no one wants to make a confusing mess of their planner. I sincerely hope that this design might be revisited in the future with a revised ink recipe. They're nearly perfect, but the flaw is a fatal one.
I'm still going to use these, though. The colors are too good, the dots are too fun. If I can't dot all the things, at least I can dot some of them. It's better than no dots at all!
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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