Made in Vietnam


ippo! x MONO 3

Thanks to Shangching from East…West…Everywhere my family got a parcel with some nice stationery surprises and our son, and by extension I, were able to try out Tombow’s ippo! pencils for school children as well as the corresponding eraser.

My understanding is that the pencils from this set aim at being easily erasable, so they have soft leads that produced nice, dark lines and the special eraser makes it easy for kids to erase any mistakes cleanly and nice, making the page ready for the next attempt.

Like many other Tombow pencils, the ippo! pencils, this set came with two in red, two in blue, two in yellow, are all made in Vietnam. The eraser was manufactured in Japan.

Hats off to Tombow, this set definitely achieves what (I think) it set out to do.

The eraser performs very similar to other dust free erasers, but feels softer, so makes for pleasant erasing. The pencils, being (Japanese) 2B, are very soft. The softness of the lead will probably help in making the user press less hard, so the writing is more likely to be on top of the paper whereas a harder lead might have made the user press down more, resulting in compressed paper where the line was. No compressed paper -> no deep lines, which will still be visible after erasing as a sort of crevice on the page -> the erased area looks very clean.

I also like the fact that the eraser sleeve is perforated, so you can easily shorten it when the eraser gets used up.

Compared to another dust free eraser on paper from the Monocle by Leuchtturm notebook

Overall a very nice pencil and eraser set. Similar to other Kakikata pencils the pencils have an area for labelling with your name and are uncapped.


More Vietnamese Monos

The bottom of the box

This is just a quick follow up, linked to my previous blog post about Lexikaliker’s investigation into the Vietnamese Mono 100s [1]English translation here..

The familiar box…

The Vietnamese Mono…

If the Mono 100 is now made in Vietnam then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Mono (without the 100) is now made in Vietnam, too.

You can see the Made in Vietnam blind stamp against the light (open in a new tab to see clearly)

..and the Dong-A Fable

I would have liked to compare the Japanese and Vietnamese Mono, but everywhere where I thought I’ve seen a non-100 Mono in our house it turned out to be the similarly looking Dong-A Fable [2]To me the Fable is more common than the Mono. A fate I probably share with very few people outside Korea., a pencil that has made a few appearances on this blog since 2009.

The Tombow Mono and the Dong-A Fable

Mono’s history

Well, 1963 is not only the year Terry Farrell, Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine [3]I just had to add a Star Trek fact. , was born. It is also the year the Mono was released. It was ‘kind of’ a successor to the Homo, which was released in 1952, but wasn’t liked by Tombow anymore, or should I rather say: they didn’t like the name anymore, after the

‘diparaging slang-term “homo” became well-known in Japan’ (Tombow Pencil 100 Year History Project Committee, 2013:p.38).

Mono display from the 1960s. ¥60, seen on the display, was the original price, later lowered to ¥50. (Picture from Tombow)

In 1967, for Tombow’s 55th anniversary, the Mono 100 followed ..and two years later there was a Mono eraser, too. I don’t want to bore you with more details, but if you’re really interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll write up more when I have time.

Mono box from the 1960s (Picture from Tombow)

References

Tombow Pencil 100 Year History Project Committee. (2013) The 100 Year History of Tombow Pencil. Tokyo, Tombow Pencil Cp., Ltd.


I bought this dozen straight from Japan and paid just under £9, I think.

Unless otherwise stated pictures in my blog are taken by me. Well, this is one of those ‘otherwise stated’ occasions. The pictures marked as such are from Tombow’s book “The 100 Year History of Tombow Pencil”. In January 2015 Tombow Europe granted me permission to use them in blog posts.

References

References
1English translation here.
2To me the Fable is more common than the Mono. A fate I probably share with very few people outside Korea.
3I just had to add a Star Trek fact.

Pencil Pot Of The Month – May 2016

Another month is coming to an end, so here’s another pencil pot of the month.

Muji's plywood pencil pot

Description: A pencil stand from Muji

Price: £2.95 (~$4.30; €3.85)

Material: Plywood

Further information: Except this pen stand there’s also a desk pot and a desk rack available from the same series. All are made from plywood in Vietnam and have been discussed previously.


Price: December 2013

Exchange rates: May 2016


The Mono Zero and the Mono One 6

Today: a comparison of different Tombow erasers – the Tombow Mono Zero, available either with a 2.3 mm round tip or broad 2.5 mm * 5 mm rectangular tip, and the Tombow Mono One, an eraser that looks as if it’s supposed to be used on a keyring or as a charm. I wrote this blog post originally for The Pen Company who send me these two erasers free of charge.

Mono Zero (back)

Mono Zero (white version, back)

Mono Zero background

The Mono Zero was originally released on 12 November 2007 and since its release it has won the iF product design award 2010 and the red dot design award 2010. It has also received Japan’s eco mark certification because of its high content of (pre-consumer) recycled plastic. The body of the eraser is made in Japan, while the eraser core itself is made in Korea. The Mono Zero has been designed by Ms. Chisato Takahashi, who  is also responsible for the Mono smart. I got mine as a free sample from The Pen Company where the current retail price is £3.47.

Mono Zero (black version, front)

Mono Zero (black version, front)

Mono Zero body

The Mono Zero is available either with a 2.3 mm round tip or broad 2.5 mm * 5 mm rectangular tip and each of these versions is available in either a black body or a black, white and blue body. There used to be a silver version as well, which – to me – always used to be by far the least attractive looking version. This silver version does not seem to be available anymore.

Mono Zero eraser removed - 2.5mm * 5 mm version

Mono Zero eraser removed – 2.5mm * 5 mm version

Mono Zero eraser removed - 2.3 mm round tip version

Mono Zero eraser removed – 2.3 mm round tip version

Mono Zero eraser

The eraser itself does not fill the whole body. This might come as a surprise when you have used other pen shaped erasers that come in a plastic body, but is not not really a problem. You do get slightly less eraser for your money, but the whole eraser (body plus eraser) itself is not expensive and the eraser core will still last a long time. Just to mention is explicitely, there are also refills available for these erasers, like for most pen shaped erasers. Labelled as an elastomer eraser, the Mono Zero contains an eraser made from ethylene propylene copolymer. When I received the eraser I did try it out and compared it to my favourite kind of eraser, a dust-free  or non-dust eraser (as long as it’s a dust-free eraser I usually like it very much). It’s probably not fair to compare it to my favourite type of eraser, or let’s say not objective – others might not like dust-free erasers, but then this comparison  is a valid approach as I am writing about what I like or dislike about the Mono Zero.

Comparison on Deli paper (A6)

Comparison on Deli paper (A6)

For the pencil to be erased by the Mono Zero – I originally thought what better match could there be for the Tombow Mono erasers than a Tombow pencil, so I picked last year’s 100th anniversary special pencil.

Erasing the soft Tombow 100th anniversary pencil

Erasing the soft Tombow 100th anniversary pencil

Mono Zero performance

To my surprise the two Tombow products, pencil and eraser, didn’t seem to be able to cooperate that well with each other. This was due to the fact that the Tombow pencil is very soft. According to Pencils and other things the 100th anniversary edition has the same lead as the current Mono 100, but my 100th anniversary pencil seems much softer (and smudges easier) than a Mono 100 (both HB). I am not sure whether I’m imagining things here, or I just happened to have a softer than usual 100th anniversary pencil and a harder than usual Mono 100, or whether the lead is the same, but there’s actually a shift in grade (e.g. 100th anniversary HB = Mono 100 B). In any case, the Mono Zero was not able to eraser a strong line, i.e. drawn with some pressure, without a trace. It did however manage to eraser strong lines of harder pencils, in this case a Staedtler Mars Lumograph in HB, without a trace.

Erasing the harder Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB

Erasing the harder Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB

Mono Zero conclusion

My impression of the Mono Zero was that it’s not the greatest performer when it comes to actual erasing (worse than a non-dust / dust-free eraser), but its strong point is precise erasing …because of the tip size and shape (a bit like a Kokuyo eraser). When I was looking for other blog posts to mention in this review I rediscovered Dave’s review of the Mono Zero, which came to the same conclusion regarding eraser performance.

A great eraser, because its fine ‘tip’ allows precise erasing, even though eraser performance itself could be better.

The Monos compared to a dust free eraser

The Monos compared to a dust free eraser

 

Mono One

The Mono One, designed by Mr Kazunori Katami, who holds a lot of stationery patents, was released slightly earlier than the Mono Zero – on 5 February 2007. The Pen Company is selling this eraser for £2.60. The body of this eraser is also produced in Japan (no eco mark certification for the Mono One, though), while the eraser itself is made in in Vietnam. Labelled as a plastic eraser, the eraser is made from thermoplastic elastomers. Despite the different materials, performance seemed pretty similar between the Mono Zero and the Mono One, with the Mono One maybe performing a little bit better.

The Mono One does not offer as precise erasing as the Mono Zero, the tip is bigger, but it is a nice size, which makes it a great eraser to carry in a pencil case bag or, possibly even on your key ring.

 


I would like to thank The Pen Company for these erasers, I got them as free samples, and Mrs. Balsewicz from Tombow Europe for all the information she has given me about these erasers.

I would like thank Sean for the Tombow 100th anniversary pencils.


Plywood pencil stands

Muji - three wooden stands

Today I want to show you some wooden pencil stands from Muji: From left to right we have the wooden desk pot (originally £4.95, currently £2.45 (~$4.05; €2.95)) [1]It even has two wooden strips as “feet”., the wooden pen stand (originally £4.95, currently £2.95 (~$4.85; €3.55)) and the wooden desk rack (originally £6.95, currently £3.45 (~$5.70; €4.15)). These pencil stands have been on offer for more than a month now [2]I bought mine on 13 Dec 2013 in Manchester’s Trafford Centre.. I assume Muji has reduced the price to get rid of these items in order to make space for new stock.

The pen stands are made from plywood in Vietnam (where Banditapple’s carnets are made). I love how they look. It’s definitely an upgrade from the common plastic pen holders.

Muji - wooden desk rack

My favourite is the wooden desk rack. The top rack is great for short pens or pencils, the lower rack is great for longer pens and pencils. If you don’t want the get graphite on the desk rack it’s easy to protect the plywood at the bottom end with a small sheet of paper.

If these pencil stands are not to your liking, what about these pencil stands?

If this isn’t posh enough for you, what about Graf von Faber-Castell pencil holder? There’s also a double compartement / notelet holder version. As expected, there’s a hefty price tag. The full-grain leather is available in brown and black.


Prices: December 2013 and January 2014

Exchange rates: January 2014

References

References
1It even has two wooden strips as “feet”.
2I bought mine on 13 Dec 2013 in Manchester’s Trafford Centre.