Friday, October 22, 2010

Pentel Vicuna Pen Review

The Pentel Vicuna is a new offering from Pentel. It isn't sold in the U.S. currently, but it is available in Asia and other areas. The first thing that struck me about the pen was the design. It looks amazing. The word "Vicuna" is embossed, but covered in a translucent gray rubber-like material. The grip extends to the perfect length for my writing style, and covers most of the pen.

The word "Vicuna" embossed underneath the rubber grip.

The Vicuna comes in a number of eye-catching barrel colors and ink colors. The black ink color comes in a number of barrel colors (blue, red, black, orange, purple, etc.), and there are also blue and red ink with corresponding barrels. It is part of Pentel's Recycology line, which by definition requires the pen to be made of at least 50% recycled materials, not including the refills. This makes the Vicuna not only comfortable and good-looking, but ecologically friendly and refillable as well.

So, is there any substance behind its striking looks? Absolutely. This pen writes so smooth and consistent and is comparable to the Uni-Ball Jetstream's hybrid ink, but in a much better barrel. According to Pentel's Japanese website, it does indeed use a pigmented hybrid ink system. It is also advertised as being water resistant or water proof. According to their slightly silly graph, the Vicuna writes 1/40 of 100 smoother than a regular ballpoint pen. While this may be true, I don't necessarily agree with Pentel's marketing strategy of targeting this product towards women, as I find it to be completely unisex and fairly masculine looking in the black/gray barrel.

Masculine, or Feminine? You make the call.

The ink is dark & vivid and doesn't skip like a traditional ball point pen sometimes does. However, I did notice a little bit of ink globbing around strokes every once in a while. It is not as prevalent as it is in the Pentel RSVP fine point pens I've purchased and used, however. Like the Jetstream, the ink dries instantly so it doesn't smear, making it great for lefties. For around $2 a pen, it is priced competitively with other pens like the Uni-Ball Jetstream. I ordered mine for $1.50 from StationeryArt but JetPens also just started carrying them, although at $2.25 a piece. StationeryArt doesn't offer it in any ink colors aside from black, while JetPens offers black, red and blue and the black ink barrel variants.

To further my testing, I had my sister try the pen without offering any of my conclusions/opinions beforehand, and she noticed that it was smooth, wrote instantly, and didn't smear. She added that it was one of the nicest pens she's ever used. To more directly quote the experience, one of the test words she wrote on my sheet of paper was "amazing."

In conclusion, even with the minor issue of occasional globbing (which, honestly, doesn't happen often at all), I still highly recommend this pen. Next time you're making an order for a new pen (or pens), definitely put this one on your list.

-Derek (ThirdeYe)

Note: I was not compensated by or provided this product from JetPens nor StationeryArt. I purchased this item myself and these opinions expressed within are my own.

Monday, October 18, 2010

More additions to my collection

I apologize for the delay since my last post. Here are the items I have acquired since the last update:

A sampling of my new Zebra Z-Grips and Paper Mate Write Bros. I already had a bunch of Write Bros. pens, but I loved these colors. I have more of both the Zebra and Write Bros., but I only pictured a few.
Some more stuff we found cleaning out the basement. A Bic Round Stic with a neat clear spiral design, 2 of my old Garfield pencils from elementary school, and a Parker Jotter of my dad's from 1986. It has the old name of the company he works for on it along with the date. I just bought some refills for it and can't wait to use it. I don't have many things of my dad's, so it means a lot to me.
Pentel Client 0.5mm Pencil
Pentel Client 0.5mm Pencil, Opened
From left to right: New Pentel Vicuna Ballpoint Pen (very similar to the Uni-Ball Jetstream), New Pentel Sharplet-2 0.7mm,  Bic Auditor's Fine Point Pen, Alexander Twist Pen, Vintage Sheaffer's Twist Pencil, Bic Ultra Fine, Vintage Pentel Quicker Clicker (needs new eraser/cap), Bic Roller Fine, Vintage Monroe Twist Pencil, Detroit Tigers promotional Bic Metal Point, 2 Pentel MGN6S refills, a Uni-Mitsubishi Boxy Eraser and a Pentel Ain Black eraser.
A special thanks to George @ My Supply Room for the Monroe and Sheaffer's pencils. The Pentel Vicuna is a very nice pen with hybrid ink similar to the Uni-Ball Jetstream, and I will be writing a review of that in the future. Stay tuned! By the way, does anyone know anything more about the Alexander pen company? I can't find much information about them at all. It's a nice looking pen.

-Derek (ThirdeYe)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A lot of new additions to my collection, ArtPrize pencil drawing update

In this post are some new (and used) items I've acquired over the past few weeks. The Sakura Gelly Roll and the Dixon SenseMatic were mine from my elementary school days. We recently found them cleaning out the garage. The Gelly Roll has been through probably 10 or 11 winters in our garage and is from 1996-1997, and still works! That's a testament to the quality of Sakura products. They can still be purchased and now come in many different varieties. My personal favorites are the simple, original Gelly Roll colors. They can be purchased here: Sakura Gelly Roll Medium Point Pen Set (10ct)

The Dixon no longer works, and I'm not sure why. There appears to still be lead in it. It used to work by simply pressing down and the sleeve would slide back allowing the lead to "automatically" advance to allow you to write continuously without stopping. A great idea/feature. I don't believe they make them anymore. The Copic 110 Wide was a gift to me from my girlfriend from when she was taking art classes. It needs a new nib/refill, but they're quite expensive. I'll get one someday. It's less expensive to just buy a new one, but it holds sentimental value to me. They still make these pens, and can be found here: 110-W Copic Wide Marker Special Black

One thing you may notice from my previous posts and upcoming posts is that I enjoy simple, low-priced items just as much as I enjoy my higher priced items.

6 Pilot H-325 0.5mm Mechanical Pencils
Bic AI Ball Pens, Bic Atlantis 0.7mm Pencils w/refills, Bic Clic Master Pencils w/refills
Copic 110 Wide Marker, Sakura Gelly Roll, Dixon SenseMatic pencil
Pentel 0.9mm HB, Pentel 0.7mm B, Pentel 0.5mm 2B, Pilot Neo-X 0.7mm HB, Pentel 0.5mm B
A vintage gold Pentel R-7 Rolling Writer. Pentel was nice enough to send me a new MG8 refill for it. Thanks Pentel!
I was told it was from the 1980s.
6 Paper Mate Dynagrip+, 2 Pentel Icy 0.7mm
Pentel P245 Bravo, Pentel 0.7mm EnerGize, Pentel Sharp P207, Pentel Sharplet 0.5mm, Pentel Graphlet PG307

Also not pictured I have a Bic Triumph 537R 0.7mm in blue, a few blue Zebra Z-grips and some new Paper Mate Write Bros. in Orange, Green and Purple that I found at Walgreens. It also came with red & blue, but I already had some of those. When I get my digital camera back, I'll take a picture of them too. 

Oh, and does anyone remember the pencil drawing I posted a few weeks back from ArtPrize? It ended up winning 1st place: $250,000. I thought it was well deserved and a very cool piece.

Any questions/comments are welcome!

If you are interested in purchasing any of the items pictured, here are some of the ones that are still being produced or very similar to them. Some of the items I couldn't find on Amazon however, so if you want help finding them feel free to leave a comment:

-Derek (ThirdeYe)

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Signo DX + Signo Bit + Vision Exact collection

Here is my quaint collection of Signo DX, Signo Bit and Vision Exact Uni-Ball pens. This is only a portion of my overall collection of Uni/Uni-Mitsubishi/Uni-Ball items. I found this nifty storage solution at a thrift store for a dollar. It's supposed to hold CDs, but it holds smaller pens/pencils just right. Hopefully I can find some more that are slightly larger to fit my larger pens like my Vision RTs, etc.

A portion of my Uni-Ball collection.

From left to right: 1 Uni-Ball Signo Bit 0.28mm gel pen, 6 Uni-Ball Signo Bit 0.7mm gel pens, 2 Uni-Ball Vision Exact pens (fine and micro), 8 Uni-Ball Signo DX in 0.38mm and 2 Uni-Ball Signo DX in 0.5mm.

-Derek (ThirdeYe)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Paper Mate eraser.max Medium Erasable Pens

I purchased some Paper Mate eraser.max erasable pens as part of a Paper Mate Value Pack at Big Lots. It came bundled with other items, such as a non-working Paper Mate Comfortmate, a Top Notch Grip pencil, and a few other assorted items.

Paper Mate eraser.max in red and blue.

For being erasable pens, they write fairly well. I use that word loosely however, because when I tested these, the blue leaves a lot of white spots. The red left hardly any, but it was somewhat of an off-red color, almost more of a pink. It was tolerable though, especially considering it's an erasable pen. There is a caveat however, after 24 hours the ink becomes permanent and can no longer be erased. From what I have seen and read, the pen comes in red, blue and black. 

Unlike the Pilot FriXion erasable pen, the eraser is an actual eraser. It will wear out over time and leave eraser dust as you use it. The eraser is located on the cap itself, so it must be posted in order to erase. I like this better than the design of the FriXion, where the eraser is located on the back of the pen, and the cap covers it up. Aside from the dust, they erase fairly clean. It didn't show up very well in the scan, but there was a slight bit of residue around the outside of where I erased from the ink being somewhat smeared from the eraser onto the paper. I couldn't wipe it off with my finger, it was kind of smeared into the paper. The writing itself erased completely and effortlessly. Another plus with these pens is they have a pressurized ink cartridge, so they can write upside down (I've tried it, it does work!)

When grading the ergonomics of writing with these pens, they are surprisingly comfortable. I typically like smaller, more narrow pens but these fit my hands nicely and the grip is soft and effective. The pens have a matte finish to them, which helps to prevent slippage and also has a pleasing feel.

In terms of a recommendation, I would choose the Pilot FriXion over these pens. In fact, I think these have been discontinued as Amazon and other office supply websites/stores no longer seem to carry them. In fact, another point I'd like to make about the FriXion is that it comes in many more colors aside from the three colors the eraser.max comes in. If you did decide to get some of these and you can find them for sale, try to get the red instead of the blue, as I find it to be a better choice. The only place I know of that still sells these is Dollar Tree where you can get 4 for a dollar (2 red, 2 blue). For that price, I would highly recommend these. At full price... I'd pass and opt for the FriXions.

-Derek (ThirdeYe)