I happen to discover the Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencils recently and was intrigued by its ability to turn the pencil lead within. The highlight of this mechanical pencil is as you are writing, it can turn the lead so that you're always writing with a sharper point. That way, you won't have to use a blunt point anymore. It sounds too good to be true, but is it?
The Uni Kuru Toga are available in many different types of bodies and comes in three tip sizes: 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7mm.
The names of all the bodies are
- Standard - Comes with a clear grip section
- Rubber Grip - Has a rubber grip but has no clip
- High Grade - Polished full metal build
- Roulette - Just like High Grade but with a knurled grip
- Starter - Comes with extra pencil leads and two spare erasers
- Alpha Gel - Has a thick rubber grip and has a clip
- Pipe Slide - Turns the lead two times faster
- Advance - Just like Pipe Slide but with a metal body
The ones that I have are the Standard, Starter and Roulette. Each mechanical pencil is priced around US $10 so that's not too expensive.
The way the mechanical works is, when you are writing, as the pencil lead touches the paper and gets pushed back, it would engage a gear that's inside near the grip section, and that gear turns the lead.
With a clear grip, you can see the gear turning.
For the metal body pencils, there's a little hole that you can see through to the logo that's turning.
I recommend getting the transparent grip version if you want to see the gear turning. The Starter kit (above) has a grip tinted in colour and it's not easy to see what's inside.
You've got to hand it to the Japanese to think of such a mechanism.
So with each stroke, the lead will turn, and you will get a sharper point to write with the next stroke.
Shown above are three sets of strokes. The strokes at the top were drawn without lifting the pencil. The second set was drawn by lifting after each stroke. And the last row of strokes were drawn using the opposite side of the blunt edge.
The turning mechanism works great for writing where there are plenty of strokes. When it comes to drawing, whether or not the pencil will turn will depend on how long your lines are. So if you draw a long line, that pencil lead will only get turned once. And in that case, it's actually no different from using any typical mechanical pencil.
Of course with drawing, it's a mix of long and short strokes. In the picture above, one sketch was drawn with a normal mechanical pencil while the other with the Kuru Toga. I've forgotten which I've used for which. The visual difference is actually quite subtle. But when it comes to drawing, it does feel better to be drawing with the Kuru Toga.
You know how sometimes when you draw for too long, the pencil becomes blunt, sometimes you may rotate the pencil to the sharp side of the lead that gives you a thin line. When you're writing, you'll immediately see and feel the difference. With the Kuru Toga, I can actually feel the difference but can't really see the difference unless I'm really looking out for it.
The other thing to note is, this mechanism works best with thicker leads because the difference between blunt and sharp is quite visible. If you're just using a 0.3 lead, it's difficult to see any difference. Although you may probably feel the difference.
Third thing, it's best to write with the pencil in a more vertical manner because it's easier to push the lead back. Generally speaking, typical holding position should be fine.
Last thing to note is the lead will move slightly because it's being pushed back into the pencil to turn the gear. Some people may prefer the lead to be immobile. I'm fine with the minute movement in the Kuru Toga. It's like how sometimes you use a ball point pen and the tip would move.
The Uni Kuru Toga is a fantastic mechanical pencil for writing. When it comes to drawing, the turning mechanism may or may not work that well. But even so, it's still a mechanical pencil and will work like one. Nothing much to complaint about. And it's not too expensive.
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