Review – Kokuyo PS-FP102 Mechanical Pencil (.7mm) (DM)

In a time where a lot of companies are trying to re-invent the wheel with their pencils, Kokuyo from Japan has made a relatively inexpensive, minimalistic, and comfortable mechanical pencil. The PS-FP102 (Pencil Sharp {my guess from the website}) omits several things that could be thought of as standard, and uses that effort on a sturdy and comfortable design (that is, from what I understand, ostensibly for children in school). Is the trade-off worth it?

photo 5-7

The body is one of the simplest to be found on a mechanical pencil, being mainly a vaguely triangular-ized (at least the “frosted” versions are triangular) cylinder with a rubbery coating for the 4 ½” body. Sticking out a quarter of an inch on the back is the click-advance button, and five eighths on the front is a plastic cone, from which a smaller metal “lead-pipe” can emerge bringing the total length of the cone to three quarter inches. Printed (maybe stamped or adhered) on one of the facets is all of the information about the pencil (which seems like it will rub off in the future but has withstood use so far).

photo 2-12

The body can be unscrewed at the cone, revealing that the rubberized triangular barrel is just a sheath, and the cone mechanism can be pulled from the front. As far as I can tell no further takedown can be done and neither of these operation provide any real benefit that I can see beyond checking how much lead is in the pencil (through a convenient window {the view on my frosted black version from the outside is blocked}) and perhaps clearing out the front mechanism.

photo 5-4

Writing performance is good; the lead is a .7mm and presumably HB (there are also .9 and 1.2mm versions). It’s a bit too thick for what I usually like to write with (.5mm) but it is fairly break-resistant and smooth, which would be good qualities for a school pencil, and from what I understand that is what it was originally designed for. There is no eraser or clip (though there is a version of the pencil that comes with a stand-alone eraser and friction-fit clip) and instead of having to remove a back piece to insert lead there is simply a hole just big enough to fit the lead through that lead can be fed into. Once it has been pushed all the way in, it enters into a larger reservoir and will not likely find the correct angle with sufficient force to come back out of the hole. It’s honestly a pretty elegant lead-feeding system if one doesn’t care about having an eraser.

photo 3-11photo 4-11

The click-advance mechanism is very smooth and workable, but unsatisfying. The metal “nib”/lead-pipe at the front does retract and advance with the lead, neatly preventing any damage that it would cause but being a bit fiddly (it’s easily possible to retract the lead and not the metal piece, which is a bit of a strange situation). And the rubberized, triangularized grip is very easy to hold, not slippery at all, and quite comfortable (though not my preference), especially for hands just learning to write (it keeps fingers in the proper orientation). I must say, though, that it only barely resists rolling off the table more than its round counterparts.

photo 1-15

So instead of an eraser or clip, this pencil provides an elegant lead-feeding system, comfortable and chucky triangular grip, and a stow-away point. All of which make it a good fiddly-bit-free pencil for students, and with a slide-over clip and external eraser (the integrated ones are never enough) it might also be a preferable one for artists or in the office. For the mostly reasonable price of ¥180 (≈$1.55) it’s a solidly designed, well built little pencil that seems like it would last under a bit of stress and is certainly worth checking out if you want a triangular grip or to forgo the standard integrated eraser for greater lead convenience.

Advertisements

Review – Kutsuwa STAD Pencil Holder

Okay, I’m going to admit here that I don’t really know the name of this product as the only English I could find on the package was a URL, “made in China”, and STAD. But I do know it’s a pencil holder, so there is that. From my research I’ve found that this is a less-common or less-popular model (as in I couldn’t find it online at all). So I feel the need to say this is not a review of the “one-push” model.

photo-130

Pencil holders have been around for a while, and there are quite a few options to choose from. In fitting with my style, I got the cheapest one (okay it was given to me, but I think that sentence suits me. I haven’t been able to find a price on these, but I bet it isn’t much). After all, it’s just a metal tube to hold a stubby pencil; can it being cheap really hurt it very much?

photo-131

The item comes in a two pack with some labels that you can stick on the side when the pencils (or whatever you’re using) information is covered up or sharpened away. There are only two labels so use them wisely. The holders themselves are very simple: they are two pieces of aluminum, a straight barrel with a stop-bump followed by some threads with cuts in them that allow the second knurled cylinder, which is tapered on the inside, to screw on and force it to act like a collet, holding the pencil in place. The finish is smooth save the knurling and resists major scratching but is quite shiny and reflective.

The pencil is held quite securely inside the device. There is the tiniest amount of give even when tightened down as far I as think I could go before damaging either the pencil or the holder. It is easily enough to allow for comfortable writing or drawing and (fairly) easy sharpening. I’m sure one could throw it hard enough to knock the pencil out, but that isn’t a normal-use scenario. Being dropped from desk or hand height won’t hurt the holder or have the pencil fly out, but it might hurt the pencil. The grip works well enough, but it is a bit slippery, the length of the barrel is enough to allow one to rest it in the webbing between their thumb and forefinger on most hands, though it isn’t the most comfortable or ergonomic. It also seems a bit front heavy with the back of barrel empty when the pencil gets very short.

To be short, no, being cheap didn’t hurt this product very much. It doesn’t feel weighty or expensive, but it does do its job. It holds a pencil that would otherwise be very uncomfortable or hard to control in a way that makes it at least tolerable to work with. It’s simple to use, and easy to handle. And with how cheap it is, I would say it would certainly be worth looking at. It isn’t as nice as the more expensive ones, but if one isn’t very picky, like me, and if you happen to find one, get it.