Mechanical Pencil Day Reviews: Pentel Graphgear 1000 and Retro 51 Tornado Pencil

The 5th of July is apparently mechanical pencil day, which is something that Cult Pens started most likely out of promotional reasons. I’m all for celebrating what ever little things we have because life in general and mine in particular sucks pretty badly now, so I’m jumping on the bandwagon and posting two mechanical pencil reviews.

I mostly use mechanical pencils to sketch maps and plans.

The first mechanical pencil is actually a drafting pencil, and it’s the excellent Pentel Graphgear 1000. I actually enjoy writing with the Graphgear more than I enjoy writing with my Rotring 600 and 800 (gasp!).

Pentel Grapgear 1000.

The Graphgear is lighter than my Rotring pencils, its knurling is less harsh on the fingers particularly because of the (non-latex) pads it sports, and the retracting mechanism means business.

It also helps that this is a well designed pencil, a beautiful writing tool to use, and whoever thought of creating different colour schemes for different lead sizes and incorporating that colour subtly over the pencils should get an employee of the month prize at the very least.

The clip. This thing will stay where you put it.

The retracting mechanism for the Graphgear sits in the clip, and works beautifully and makes the most satisfying “chunk” sound in the world. It retracts the pencil tip into the pencil body, ensuring that the lead doesn’t break and you don’t get stabbed while carrying your pencil around. This is a must-have feature for drafting pencils (together with the knurled grip, lead pipe, and lead hardness indicator), and it is done to perfection here. The only minus is the cutout below the clip that tends to collect pocket lint while being carried.

Look at that sleek design!

A click on the pencil cap extracts the lead sleeve once it has been retracted, and you press on the clip to retract the lead pipe, which is something that you’d do anyway to clip the Graphgear to you pocket, so this is a very intuitive pencil to use.

The design on the clip isn’t necessary, but it is beautiful.

The grip is superb: the Graphgear won’t accidentally slip from your hand, and the knurling won’t dig into either, even if you have a “grip of death”.

Closeup on the grip and pads.

The tip of the pen cap has a lead size indicator, in this case 0.7, and right above the grip you’ll find a lead grade indicator.

The Pentel Graphgear 1000 isn’t a cheap mechanical pencil, but if you are looking for a drafting pencil to use for long periods of time, or you’re looking for a mechanical pencil that’s a cut above (except for the Uni-Ball Kuru Toga), I highly recommend this pencil.

Bonus tip: If you’re starting out in watercolour on location or urban sketching, get a pencil like the Pentel Graphgear in 0.5 or 0.7 and some H leads and use that for your preliminary sketches. Even if you don’t erase them, they’ll disappear behind the washes.

Now for the second mechanical pencil, which is also a unique beast: the Retro 51 Tornado Pencil.

The Retro 51 Tornado Pencil Crossword

There are two things that are unusual with this mechanical pencil: it uses a 1.15 mm lead, and it’s shaped like a Retro 51 Tornado rollerball. That means that this is a bigger than usual pencil that uses a bigger than usual lead. Is it any good?

It depends. I’d skip using it for drawing or sketching, because at that lead size either go the 2mm lead holder route, or stick to woodcase pencils. It is, however, a fun object to have around, and it’s pretty nifty for sudoku and crosswords. The lead size is perfect for that, creating a pretty bold line even on sub-par paper while still giving your the option to erase it.

Have a delightful mechanical pencil day, and when in doubt, Kuru Toga.

Mechanical Pencil Day Reviews: Pentel Graphgear 1000 and Retro 51 Tornado Pencil

Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen Review

I planned to review the Sharpie brush pen, after spending the best part of a week with it, but as it turns out, I forgot it at the office. I’ve been using the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen instead, so here’s a review of this boring little brush pen instead.

Today’s journal comic/review, drawn on a Moleskine Star Wars crawl text blank notebook. This paper is smooth, although not Rhodia smooth, but the pen still really dragged on it. It was worse on any sort of paper with even the slightest tooth, making it super not fun to use.

The brush pen tip is pretty firm, which means that you get a medium amount of line variation, but that it’s very easy to control. If you’re starting out in the wild world of brush pens, either for drawing or lettering, this tip grade is probably the best for you.

The black ink is black, and not greyish or brownish, and completely not waterproof, which can be a good thing (if you want to “stretch” it or use it for shading, as wet it produces a good 50% cool grey), or a terrible thing (if you want to combine it with watercolours).

A closeup of a D&D character group drawing that I did with the Pentel Fude Brush Sign Pen. 

The pen body itself looks and feels cheap and plasticy, which isn’t too unusual in the disposable brush pen market. Why do all these companies have a thing for a dark pen body with pronounced gold lettered marketing splashed all over it? Pentel’s also put sparkles in its, body, just for some extra garish fun.

 

The pen is torpedo shaped with facets along the body that somewhat help keep the pen from rolling. It’s borderline too thin to use for long periods of time without cramping, but  otherwise it’s comfortable to hold and use.

The Pentel Fude Brush Sign Pen would be a good beginners’ brush pen if there wasn’t so much competition at the same price. As it is, buy a Zebra brush pen, which allows for greater line variation, or a Kuretake brush pen, which is also waterproof, or add a little more and get the experience of two brush pens in one with the Pilot Futayaku. As it is, this Pentel pen lacks enough line variation to make it fun and interesting to use, and it isn’t cheap enough to justify buying it over the competition.

Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen Review