Thursday, March 13, 2014

Caran d'Ache Ballpoint with Rolex Branding



I recently met up with a good friend, Frank, who's been in the jewelry business for many years. An item he recently shared with me over some fine ale was this Caran d'Ache ballpoint, with a brand from arguably the most well-known fine watchmaker, Rolex.

The green and gold is reminds me a bit of the 80s, an item you might expect to see in the first Wall Street movie- I dig it.


My friend handed me the pen, lamenting that the refill was empty. So the search began to find the replacement. I was fairly certain it was either the Schmidt 9000 ballpoint or another one I had heard of called the 'Goliath'. A quick search revealed that it was the Goliath that I needed, so I ordered one from The Largest Online Retailer and had it in a few days.


The refill was pricey, but it is also made in Switzerland, comes in a sturdy protective tube, and would likely last long enough to belt out a solid 200 page novel. It's called the Goliath for a reason - it's a damn big refill.


Writing with the pen was quite pleasant. I'd happily carry this pen as an every day writer. Sure, it's not the uber-dark super ballpoint ink that's out there now, but it's a worthy ink, and I, at times, enjoy the less-than-perfect ballpoints out there; the static on vinyl recordings or cassette tapes that you listened to 20+ years ago have this quality, and there's something nice about that.

This was my first experience with a Caran d'Ache product, and I often want a Caran d'Ache pencil when I see them over at one of my favorite blogs, La Vie Graphite, run by pencil friend Speculator. I think I might have to seek out a pen/pencil combo from this fine Swiss manufacturer.

My friend recently informed me that the pen is a frequent user in his daily arsenal, so my job is done. It'd be a shame to have this workhorse sitting in a drawer. The build quality is solid; so long as you find refills, this thing will last forever.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Giveaway Re-draw!


I did not hear from Hester, so a new winner is being chosen. 

Congratulations, Wade! You have one week to e-mail me your address before a new winner is selected. 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tombow 2558 B Wooden Pencil


Every now and again I get the urge to pick up a regular ol' wooden pencil, and I've heard great things about Tombow's pencil quality. 


A few things led be me to believe this was going to be a favorable experience. First, the coating of the pencil is thick and smooth, not like those shoddy pencils you often find during Back to School, what with all the flaking what such.

Plus, it say 'High Quality' right on the side, so at least there's some rhetoric in the works, too. I do prefer darker lines when I write, since I'm typically a pen user, so I like that this one is a 'B'.


 Tombow has also been making pencils for century, so I figure that counts for something. I find it amusing that this is FOR GENERAL WRITING. I wonder if worlds collide if I try to use it for sketching or as a chopstick.


Everything else is standard. Basic metal ferrule and a pink, squishy eraser.


Sharpening was ideal; the wood peeled smoothly, and the cedar smells exceptional. The point was smooth and did not break or crumble during sharpening. 


This image is a bit fuzzy, darn. I compared the Tombow with some other great pencils, and I was surprised to see how well it fared against the Staedtler Noris, which was a bit smoother due to a waxier feel. The General's has a lot of tooth and is very dark, while the Tombow has a touch of tooth and is perfectly dark. This is a soft lead, so you will likely have to resharpen the point fairly often.

I was actually quite disappointed with the Faber-Castell 9000 as it seems to be more of an 'H' in hardness, so I don't know what's going on there.


Last step was the eraser test. The pink eraser works about as well as expected. It's a bit less abrasive than some, so it doesn't shred the paper, but it's very soft, so it's not going to last very long.

Overall, I do like this pencil quite a bit. It may be on the pricey side for a basic pencil, but the lead is excellent, and there's a lot of things done well in this package.

I received my pencil, no charge, as a sample to review from JetPens.

Tombow 2558 B Wooden Pencil - $1.00 @ JetPens

Thursday, January 9, 2014

JetPens Giveaway Winner Announced!





Congratulations to Hester! You'll have one week to e-mail your address before a new winner is selected. Many thanks to everyone else who entered. I have other supplies ready to send out, so stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways!

Pentel Twist-Erase Mechanical Pencils



Pentel has a wide range of products, even within their mechanical pencil line. Shown above are variations of the Twist-Erase model. I recently reviewed the Twist-Erase Click .9 mm Orange, which I love even more now than when I first tried it, so I was excited to put these to the test.


First up is the Twist-Erase Express .7, Fashion Color Collection. From the package, we learn of the twist-up jumbo eraser, break-resistant lead, and ergonomic comfort grip. Let's dig down into the details a bit further...



Jumbo eraser is no joke - this is by no means an emergency eraser. The eraser can be a bit finicky in that the act of eraser causes the twist mechanism to retract or extend the eraser, depending on which direction you're erasing in. This can be minimized with a firm grip.

The erasing quality was pretty good (yes, I should have done a sample, but I didn't) - the marks are almost completely gone, but the eraser is not quite as good as, say, a Staedtler Mars Plastic. They are, however, readily available at most big box stores, so that's a huge plus.




The barrel is very featherweight, though everything feels sturdy and ready for work. The clip, grip, and clicky-lead-dispensing-mechanism-thing, though utilitarian, are satisfactory. I do wish the lead sleeve was retractable/pocket safe, I may be in the margins on that one, and price is always a factor.

Final verdict is that these are totally decent, and I think most people would enjoy using them. The colors might not meet everyone's tastes, but fortunately Pentel also makes the same pencil as the Twist-Erase Express, with colors in the 'Office Color Collection'. See below.


Same pencil, just a more mature, more professional look. You'll notice extra leads, an eraser, and four pencils instead of three. This pack is great because it's enough to get someone through a semester or many days at the office.


Again, if you don't mind a lightweight plastic format, then these will probably meet your needs quite well. 



Next up is the Twist-Erase GT. This variation comes with a metal clip, and a rubbery-comb style grip that is squishy, and has a fair amount of give to it. These do have a larger (than emergency size) eraser, but they are not the jumbo size, so you will have to account for a different refill if you plan on acquiring multiple Twist-Erase pencils.


Well, it's not just the materials that attract dust; our humidifier was out the week that I took these pictures, so it was uber-staticky around the house. At any rate, you can see the comb-style grip, and the whole package looks a bit 80s perhaps - a bit retro - and I have no problem with that. 


I promise that I dust my house - I really do. 


Lastly, we have what appears to be a regular Twist-Erase. When I search for the model number of QE515 or QE517, I find the name Twist-Erase III, which is not indicated on the barrel, so I guess this is just another revision? 


Of the variations I tried, I think this one was the most regular of the bunch. You get a mechanical pencil with a thicker barrel, a metal clip, and a semi-squishy grip. It will get the job done, but there are no real frills beyond the jumbo eraser.


The bottom line is that if you like lightweight mechanical pencils, and you like an integrated eraser, then there's probably a Twist-Erase model out there for you.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

JetPens Giveaway! (Two Chances to Win)




Before we get into the details of the giveaway, I've included links to my reviews of these items as a little recap of each. I've also included a link to the corresponding product page if you're interesting in picking one up (that and you can enter to win the item outright). 

Pentel EnerGel Tradio

I love this pen, I really do. One thing I can ding it for is that it tends to dry out between uses, so you will receive this, wonder why it's not writing well, and will then remember that I suggested that you write in circles until the ink flows. If you use this pen all of the time, I'm sure it will behave. I dig the retro appearance, including the little submarine window, and you can change out the refill with a few other types of cartridge, so that's a huge bonus.

$9.50 at JetPens 


Pilot Acroball 1.0 Ballpoint, Black

I think the Acroball is hugely underrated, as is the Dr. Grip. I'm not saying the Acroball isn't popular, because it is, but I'm surprised it's not more readily available and talked about. I've said it multiple times before, but I think the grip on the Acroball is second to none. You can get this pen in a variety of colors, tip sizes, as well as a multi pen format.

$2.50 at JetPens


Zebra Sarasa Push Clip 1.0 Gel, Blue-Black

An industry-leading gel pen, and for good reason; this pen is a joy to write with - the ink is opaque and smooth, the ball leaves consistent lines on the page, and this pen is available in loads of different colors and sizes. This blue-black offering was exceptional, by the way.

$2.20 at JetPems


Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel, Black

The Frixion was surprisingly fun to use - and the erasable ink feels a bit spy-like. The fine point wrote very well, and the fairly washed black ink was not undesirable in this case; the grey character of the ink alludes to a lack of permanence (but you can, so I've heard, bring the ink back with cold). I enjoyed this one very muc, and I'd still love to try the Frixion Point, too. 

$3.80 at JetPens


Uniball Jetstream BLX 1.0 Ballpoint, Green-Black

We all know the Jetstream line, but you may not have tried the BLX variant that offers traditional colors, such as green, brown, purple in a combination with black, resulting in professional colors that have a less conventional, fun undertone. As you'd probably expect, this Jetsream wrote very well, and the green-black was a welcomed deviation from my normal color choices. 

$2.60 at JetPens


OHTO Fude Ball 1.5 mm Liquid Ink, Red

If I had a more graceful hand, I'm sure I'd get more use out of this one. I like the pinkish-red color, very romantic. And the 1.5 mm ball a very different experience - like a pin ball on ice (smooth is what I mean). 
I'd like to check out the black, possibly as a good signature pen. 

$2.50 at JetPens


Pilot Cavalier Fountain Pen, Fine (not revewed)

I bought this one and never got a chance to review it. It comes with a converter, too! There's some toothiness that needs correction, and I'd rather not ruin the pen by adjusting the tines too much, so I am passing this one off with the rest of the herd. 

$49.50 at JetPens

Some of these items I received at no charge to review, others were purchased. I'm dong this to both give out some cool goodies, as well as to generate interest in some of these items on JetPens. I'm working on a sponsorship and would like to continue to write honest reviews and send out most of the items I try, so that's why this giveaway is a bit different.

There are two ways you can enter to win:

1. Leave one comment on this post. Please enter a name of some sort so I don't have to announce 'Anonymous' as a winner. This will count as your first entry.

2. Place an order at JetPens and leave a comment with your order number. I don't care if you order something for a dollar, but the order number must be placed as of today or afterward. By commenting with your order number, you qualify for a second entry in the giveaway.

  • Only U.S. residents will qualify for this giveaway. I don't mean to exclude any international readers, but I have read about several instances where people are simply not receiving their packages from international sources, and I don't want anyone to be disappointed if these items are held by Customs. 
  • Entries will be accepted between now and 11:59pm, December 31st. The winner will be posted within a few business days afteward. 

Thanks for reading, good luck, and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Monologue Ruled Notebooks


Grandluxe was kind enough to send me a variety of notebooks to try (stay tuned for some giveaways), among them being the Monologue line. Shown above are four different sizes, and colors, of the their 'ruled note book'.


As you can see from the information on the back, these are Made in Malaysia. The paper is cream, acid-free, 80gsm. The build quality seems on par with many high-end brands, and the range of colors and sizes available would appeal to just about any taste, so long as you don't mind the format (elastic band, faux leathery-type material, etc.).


I tried a variety of writing implements, and the writing experience was quite nice. There was some feathering with the liquid ink pens, but liquid ink pens almost always feather, which is the primary reason why I tend not to like them, though I love some of the hybrid ink pens that are out there.


As one might expect, the Sharpie was visible on the other side, as were the liquid ink pens. Everything else that I used would allow you to use the other side of the page, though some of you may not mind writing over bleed through like this. I cringe just thinking about that.


For my preferred color preferences, the orange was pretty sweet, and I do like the elastic bands. When I use notebooks like this, I stash cards, coupons, loose paper, under the band. It keeps me organized.


For better or worse, the elastic band is tight enough to make indentations in the cover. I don't think the band is on there crazy tight or anything, and I like knowing that it's secure, so long as it holds up over time. We shall see.