Sliding sleeves, Kuru Togas, DelGuards and more

Just a few small points I want to mention:

Sliding sleeve

I have created a table showing some of the sliding sleeve pencils and the force needed to slide the sleeve. I have averaged the values displayed in previous blog posts, just to make the table sortable. I plan to add the Orenz in 0.3 and the M9 to this table very soon.

Speaking of the Orenz, there’s a new Metal Grip version of the Orenz.

Kuru Toga

I have also ordered the new sliding sleeve version of the Kuru Toga. I did learn some Japanese in the 90s, but all I remember is some Katakana characters. Just enough to figure out that this version of the Kuru Toga is called “Pipe Slide”. Michael Fryda has published a video review of this pencil.

There is also a limited Adidas edition of the Kuru Toga. There used to be a Faber-Castell and Adidas cooperation in the past, not surprising as they are both from the Nuremberg area, but now Adidas seems to cooperate with Uni Mitsubishi Pencil.

Speaking of the Kuru Toga: M&G seems to offer a Kuru Toga copy, the AMP89202, but I haven’t seen it in reality, so I am not sure whether it is functional or only copies the look, not the functionality of the Kuru Toga.


One last point to mention, I noticed that two weeks after my DelGuard blog post and its video Zebra published a video that seems somehow similar – featuring the new 0.3 mm and 0.7 mm version of the DelGuard. There’s not as much information about the force needed in the video, but they have proper equipment to take close-ups, so it looks much better. Have a look at their video.

Wooden paper

One last thing I came across: Kizara memo pads, instead of paper they use wood shavings. Reminds me of the wooden Field Notes cover.

Pilot neox Graphite

After having heard good things about Pilot’s neox Graphite leads from Lexikaliker I bought some to try them out. This blog post is just a quick comparison between the neox Graphite leads and my standard leads, Staedtler’s Mars micro carbon. In this comparison both, the neox Graphite and the Mars micro carbon, were 0.3 mm leads in B.

I know that Pentel’s Ain Stein leads are liked by many, but I don’t have those in 0.3 mm in B, so I couldn’t compare them to Pilot’s and Staedtler’s leads.

I bought my neox Graphite leads from eBay for $2.80 plus 50¢ postage, i.e. $3.30 (~£2.20; €3.10) including shipping. They came from Taiwan and took about a week to get to me.

Pilot S20 and Staedtler Mars micro
The pencils

Filling the pencils

To test the leads I put the Pilot leads in a Pilot pen and the Staedtler leads in a Staedtler pen. Without a doubt the Staedtler system has the better filling system. The opening of the lead container has a width that fits in Staedtler pens, so you can just slide all leads into the pen. The lead containers are ISO colour coded (0.3 mm is yellow). You will also find this colour coding on some other mechanical pencils, e.g. Faber-Castell’s TK-Fine 9717. Filling the Staedtler is so easy that I made a video to demonstrate it.

Lead darkness

Both leads seem to provide similarly dark lines. The neox Graphite might be a little bit darker, but I didn’t see much of a difference. I thought I have a look whether I can easily quantify the darkness of the marks made by the leads. To do this I drew a line with both leads on Brunnen Der Grüne Block paper, using ~1.2 N of pressure (axial and normal pen force) and moving both pens at ~15 mm per second. I then scanned the result using an Epson V700 scanner, turning auto improvements etc off. In the HSB representation most pixels for both leads had a brightness of between 40% and 60%. If I ever buy other leads, like the Ain Stein leads, to compare these too I might do a frequency analysis of the different levels of black to show the distribution, but I tried to keep this blog post short so didn’t do this as there are so many blog posts to write on my to do list.

Pilot neox Graphite and Staedtler Mars micro leads
The leads

Lead hardness

To test how hard the lead is, i.e. how long it will last, independent of lead darkness, I extended both leads by ~0.7 mm and drew a lines with both leads on Brunnen Der Grüne Block paper, using  ~2N of pressure (axial and normal pen force). The Mars micro lasted about 216 cm, the neox Graphite lasted about 189 cm.

Lead reflectiveness and erasability 

I didn’t try to quantify the leads reflectiveness, i.e. how much it reflects light, but if you look at the lead markings on paper at an acute angle when there is a strong light source the Mars micro lead seems to reflect the light a bit more. In terms of erasability the neox Graphite seems to perform slightly better, too.

Pilot neox Graphite and Staedtler Mars micro leads
The lines


Pilot’s neox Graphite is a great lead. Depending on where you live it might be hard to get as Pilot doesn’t sell this lead in many of their markets (including the UK). The fact that the Mars micro was able to draw longer lines with the same amount of graphite could indicate that the neox Graphite B is more similar to the Mars micro in 2B, this would not be a surprise as Japanese pencils are often softer than European pencils of the same grade, but I don’t have the leads at home to confirm that this is the case for these leads.

Price and exchange rates: November 2015

I couldn’t find any reviews of the neox Graphite leads in other blogs, but there must be some in Japanese or Korean.

Lexikaliker mentioned the neox Grpahite leads in his Sonderanfertigung blog post.

In his blog Dave talked about the Ain Stein leads I mentioned in the beginning.

Johanna Basford, the artist behind the immensely successful colouring books is using a Staedtler Mars micro in one of her latest blog posts.

If you want to see another mechanical pencil video from me have a look at this Zebra Delguard blog post.

Pilot S20, 0.3mm, dark brown


s20-bodyHow could I resist… I never had much of a chance, did I?

…not with Gunther touting his readers with his beautiful S20, again and again and again.

I gave in…

If you click to enlarge you will notice tiny dents that must have occurred during manufacturing

…and bought the S20 in dark brown and in 0.3mm from WAKU1(Japan Store) for £13.52 (~$20.80; €18.20), including postage. I got it twelve days later. A great price, especially when keeping in mind that it costs more than twice as much in the UK (because it is imported) and you will have problems finding the 0.3mm version. I bought from WAKU1 in the past, but more about that in a future blog post.

The wood of the pen is beautiful and reminds me of the ONLINE All Wood Marone.


Pilot is a bit optimistic though, offering an F in their lead grade indicator. Is there an 0.3mm lead in F? When I see F it’s usually for 0.5mm.

Please let me know if you know of a 0.3mm lead in F – I do prefer harder leads, so F would be great, even though I have to say the 0.3mm leads you get with many Faber-Castell pencils are a bit too hard and too light for my taste.


Price and exchange rates: February 2015

Late back to school offers

Two late back to school offers I picked up this week in Tesco:

A Black n’ Red polynote A7 and a Pilot V Pen.

Black n Red and Pilot

I mentioned the A7 notepad in a previous blog post. What happened since then? They dropped the ‘polynote’ part from the name and the price more than doubled! It usually sells for £2.50, so getting it for £1.25  (~$2.05; €1.60) is a good deal these days. Last time I only paid 60p – but the steep increase in stationery prices in the UK is nothing new…

Unfortunately I only bought one. I should have stocked up. Maybe I’ll be lucky and it will still be on offer next time I go to Tesco.

The other item: a Pilot V Pen for £1 (~$1.62; €1.28). You might be disappointed though if you hope to get a fountain pen with  a ‘mirrored’ nib, as displayed on the packaging 8^P. The actual nib is labelled the normal way round.

Pilot V Pen

Prices and exchange rates: September 2014.