Review – Tombow Mono Zero Erasers

A few years ago I was aiding my brother in the search for a good separate eraser to go with lead holders (that often don’t have their own erasers), and that lead me to review the Sanford Peel-Off Magic Rub, which is essentially a Magic Rub eraser in the same body Sanford uses for their Peel-Off China Markers. And to me that was the answer. I knew there were mechanical erasers, but they were mostly cheap little things, or not available in the stores I frequented. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I found the potential simple, high-quality solution of the Tombow Mono Zero mechanical erasers and I got them as fast as I could. Are they up to the task?

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The body is super simple, being a cylinder about the size of a pencil and a little over 3½” long. It comes in 2 different colors: silver for the round eraser, and black for the rectangular one (it’s made of plastic either way). At the front there is a step-down to the “lead-pipe” of sorts. This “pipe” being cylindrical for the round and flattened for the rectangular is the only other main physical difference between the two. The (lead/eraser) pipe is a nice, stiff metal that cleanly guides the eraser as it extends. On the back, there is a non-removable, simple push-click mechanism with an integrated clip. The clip is good but not superb at clipping, while having the advantage of being very structurally sound (something most plastic integrated clips are not). On the top of this mechanism is a sticker with the eraser’s sizes: 2.3mm in diameter for the round “small” and 2.5mm x .5mm for the rectangular “slightly less small”.

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Performance is good; the click mechanism is sound and has a satisfying feel, retracting and reloading are simple and both done from the front end (reducing the number of failure points but also making disassembly functionally impossible). The erasers are of the white variety and erase very well. They aren’t the absolute best I’ve seen and they won’t get rid of every single mark, but they are both quite tiny and precise, making them very useful in those fine detail areas other eraser wouldn’t even be able to get to.

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They are very good erasers, but more as a set to complement others than on their own. For writing, pocket and backpack sketchbooks, or those who do a lot of detail work, they will be fantastic, especially if one gets both to use in different situations. But for general use, they obviously don’t have the huge, quick-erasing capabilities of a standard eraser, and I’d imagine that in most people’s use cases they’d augment and not replace one. Still, I am one of those people who like to write and do finer-detail drawings more often than other types and they have earned a place in my pencil bag that I don’t see them moving out of any time soon. So if you’re looking for a fine mechanical eraser to easily carry around, fit in with your pencils, or do detailed work, I’d say take a look at these.

Review – Slant Collections Mini Journals Preppy Stripe

I’m not exactly the type of person to be found in Tuesday Morning (the store) but I did find myself in there one day, and there was quite a bit of interesting stuff. And being someone who has been drawn to the stationery aisle since I was little I found myself in the stationery section, where I found a set of Slant Collections mini journals, this particular set in the discontinued “preppy stripe” (it was Tuesday Morning, after all). Let’s take a look.

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The books themselves are 3¼ x 5¼ inches, just smaller than a Moleskine pocket book. The cover feels like plastic-coated cardboard and in this version has a very simple design that comes in 3 colors. It is a single piece bent around and stitch-bound onto the 70 inside pages. These pages are lined with a thin 7mm ruling that is the same color as the main cover color, printed on a very white background.

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The paper itself is quite thick and a medium roughness. It is very bleed-and feathering-resistant despite this. Fountain and other liquid ink pens are handled well, and with most other writing utensils both sides of the paper can be used, though at this size I wouldn’t recommend that. The cover and binding are very well done and hold up (the stitching looks very slightly unsightly at times) and the corners are nicely rounded to prevent the corner bending that some books get. On the table the book lies adequately flat and while the cover does bend out of shape it bends back just as easily.

In the end I have been surprised by these little notebooks. They are hardy, easy to carry, great writing things. It has taken me some time to review them as they weren’t good enough to replace any of the books in my normal rotation (but that’s more because I prize consistency, a book would have to be head and shoulders above to get met to move something out of my rotation). I enjoyed using them very much (even the pink one) and if all of the Slant collection journals are as good as these were I’d consider more in the future.

Review – Pilot B2P Ballpoint Pen

I’ve come across quite a few interesting or novel pens. I’ve tested out most pens I can get my hands on and have determined my taste accordingly. But a pen caught my eye recently with a gimmick I’d never seen before. It was a Pilot B2P pen, made out of recycled bottles. I’d seen pencils made out of recycled denim, but never a recycled pen. I don’t usually pick up Pilot pens but I decided to give this one a try, if only for the novelty.

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I’ll start with the writing performance, because on this pen that’s less interesting. It’s a ballpoint, and for a ballpoint it writes amazingly smooth, even smoother than most Gel pens I’ve used. The ink is black and fairly dark. The line is thin, well, at least thinner than most ballpoints. It usually writes on the first go with no skipping, a problem I usually have with Gel pens. It’s fairly impressive, though I think it may run out of ink rather quickly.

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Onto the body, which is a fairly pleasing blue color. It’s got a fairly useless grippy-grip near the tip and a mid-way between sturdy and flimsy pocket clip on the back. The blue is dark but transparent on the back, mimicking a bottle, and to further the effect it has ridges and troughs to look and feel like a crumpled up bottle, making it feel quite nice in the hand in my opinion. There is an easily worn off label around the center of the pen that contains all useful information, though the more pertinent information is also on the clip.

The retractable mechanism works quite well and doesn’t seem break-prone, it’s nice and solid (though if they hadn’t perfected this tech by now they never would). It also disassembles easily and well into parts for replacement and refilling, though I doubt you’ll ever do either of those.

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So yes, it’s a nice ballpoint, not the nicest ballpoint, but a nice one. For the price it’s good and novel. And the feel is quite nice. Its uses are that of all ball pens and this one doesn’t stand out terribly. But it is good, and a very interesting idea. And it’s a better conversation starter than the standard click-y ballpoint.

Review – Micron 02 Red and Blue Technical Pens

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I’ve talked about Microns in the past. They are basically THE technical pen. But those are just the black ones. Are the colors any good? Do they hold up to the standard and more importantly are the colors usable in any real way? How will these red and blue 02s stack up?

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The bodies are standard Micron bodies. Slick but still grippy. With hard to rub off, easy to read information in convenient places on them and a number on the lid. The color of the base of the pen where the cap clicks in and the ink on the top has been changed to the pen’s color for easy find-ability.

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The particular pen I’m using here is an 02, so it’s far from both the stiffest and weakest nibs, though it’s closer to the weaker side. It does bend a little while writing. It’s not large enough to provide much variation, either in line weight or color density. The ink is good, standard Pigma ink, archival, stands up to almost anything. It rarely bleeds and the nib seems to give off just the right amount of ink to have a fast dry time.

But on to the color. They are unmistakably blue and red. They are bright and vibrant, even on a fairly off-white paper, such as Moleskine notebooks and the like. It is brighter than any other pen or marker I have used previously. Almost unusably bright, unfortunately, as I can find no drawing scenario where it would be useful. They are good for organization, though, especially on the aforementioned off-white paper where they don’t look so jarring. They can make handy divider writings and are good for color coded text.

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Overall these are superb pens with little purpose. They work great, are incredibly sturdy and last quite a while, though I can find no way to work them into any drawing. Notes and technical sketches are the best place for these. Or, if you just want to have a nice pen in an interesting color.

Review – 12 pack of Crayola Colored Pencils

Colored pencils, or map colors as they forced you to call them if you went to school in Texas. While they don’t give the most professional look they are still a widely used and a good tool. The variety I will be talking about is the simple 12 pack of Crayola colored pencils.

Most people know them, but for those who don’t, they come in a simple assortment of colors. The bodies are slick but grip-able as with most art utensils. The wood is splintery but easy to sharpen. And the “lead” is suitable, if a bit brittle and break prone.

The color of the pencils itself is nothing special. It is the standard bright and varied set of colors that comes in every school supply-esque box of colors. The mark is about that of a number two pencil and requires a good amount of force to be applied heavily. It leaves a waxy finish on the surface, preventing blending. Using them to color big blocks of the same color as is done in school is probably the best use for them. They have no where near the range of more expensive “art” colored pencils, and none of the blending or covering capabilities. That being said they are good for practicing and less “formal” images, working well in mixed media because of the waxy finish.

Overall, if you are looking for a good art colored pencil this is most likely not for you, and you probably didn’t even consider these. But they are still a useful tool for seeing what things will look like (drafting) or practicing technique. If you already have a set of art colored pencils you could also use these instead so you don’t use up your ludicrously priced coloring utensils.