Let’s Play: The ACME Studio Crayon Rollerball

I love where this pen takes me– right back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood (we’re talking late 60’s). There I am, watching Bugs Bunny and Road Runner in black and white (though I swear that my brain saw colors), eating Lucky Charms out of the box, and playing Trouble with my younger sister. Our parents were still sleeping so we worked hard to muffle the sound of the Pop-O-Matic (which seemed SO high tech back then). And sometimes we colored. Was there anything better than a brand new box of crayons? Especially the BIG box of 64 colors with the built-in sharpener. Now THAT was the holy grail of crayondom. I feel myself relaxing just writing about those times.

So it’s no surprise that I love this ACME Crayon Rollerball.

The spot-on crayon look brings back that flood of memories, but it’s also pure fun to write with and is SOLIDLY made. This thing, made of lacquered brass, has well-balanced heft. To deploy the rollerball tip, simply twist the back of the crayon.

The refill is also an ACME (#P8126 Capless System) and the ink flows quickly and easily. There may be just the tiniest bit of feathering on this Levenger Circa paper, but you really have to look for it.

So here we are, no longer in the 60’s, no longer lounging in front of the TV watching the (Acme!) anvil fall on the coyote’s head. Our days are packed full of the all of the stuff we HAVE TO DO. The ACME Studio Crayon Rollerball is a perfect way to counteract that; a way to play while we work. It’s simple, smooth, and a blast from your childhood.

Go ahead. Have fun. Really. You should.

Hmmmm…suddenly I’m craving Lucky Charms.

Super Fine: The Kuretake Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen

This pen really IS super fine, in more ways than one.

I have to think back– why did I buy this pen? Oh yeah, it was one of those “stream-of-consciousness” pen purchases where I started out looking at one thing, but then wound up ordering something else. The whole thing started when I caught a glimpse of this entry on Ezra Hilyer’s blog. That glimpse led to me poking around on JetPens (not that I needed my arm twisted). The body/refill that Ezra’s showing was a tad pricey for me ($30.00), but it made its way onto my wish list anyway. I read reviews and pondered and mulled it over and read more reviews and mulled and pondered ad nauseum. After all of this mental grinding, I came up with a compromise…a comparable writing experience but at a lower price point…the Kuretake Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen. At only $2.50 for the body and $3.30 for the refill, it comes at an easy to justify price. And because I wasn’t sure if I’d REALLY like it, I didn’t feel like taking a substantial financial leap. Problem solved.

Kuretake Zig Letter Pen with Doane Leather Utility Notebook Cover

When my order arrived, I played around with everything…the dark brown Zebra Surari (nice!), the Coleto Hi-Tec-C 4-Color Multipen and 0.3mm refills (jury’s still out on that one), and this pen. It’s just wonderful. The Super Fine tip is almost brush-like, but in a very sturdy way.

There is no mushiness, but there is just a little “give.” The ink is black and crisp and flows like a dream. It’s just fun to write with.

Kuretake Zig Letter Pen, disassembled

That said, there is one little oddball part. The refill threads into the body very nicely, but, as you’ve probably noticed, the end of the refill protrudes out the end of the pen body when the pen is capped. I do not know why.

Protruding refill

When the cap is posted, the protruding refill issue/feature goes away.

While this design decision nags at me a bit, the pen is just too fun to let it scare you away. I already have my second one picked out. Yup…now THIS one’s on my list. Starry Night Gray with Glitter. Too cool.

I should also mention that the body takes three types of refills…the Super Fine refill shown in this review, a brush refill, as well as a 0.3 mm rollerball refill. Mix and match bodies and refills. I don’t know how to pronounce “Cocoiro” and I don’t know why the refill is longer then the pen body, but I DO know that you will enjoy this pen.

It IS super fine. You have my word.

Get To the Point: The Uni Kuru Toga 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

First things first: JetPens provided the Kuru Toga pencil for this review, for which I thank them. This is a lovely little pencil. And it does a special little trick (ooooo, foreshadowing).

Second things second: Yes, I DID dress to match my new pencil. Is there something wrong with that? (Don’t answer.)

My handwritten review:

While I don’t find myself reaching for a pencil as much as I reach for a pen, there are times when only a pencil will do. Like for this:

Planner Pad entries. Plans change. Neatness counts, so I erase.

And this:

I’m not very good at these. I erase. A lot.

And also this:

My checkbook. I make mistakes. The bank makes mistakes. We all make mistakes.

Hey, look…the Kuru Toga comes with an eraser:

This is probably the weakest part of the pencil…its tiny eraser. Put it’ll do in a pinch.

The obvious problem with pencils is that the points become dull and the lines inconsistent and “blurry.” Obviously, this is more of an issue with wood-case pencils than with mechanical pencils, but even with mechanical pencils, the issue is there, just to a lesser degree.

While I love the look, feel, and darkeness of the Palomino Blackwing pencil, the fact that I want to jump up every two seconds to sharpen it, takes some of the fun out of the writing experience. The lead develops a flat side as I write, the line becomes broader, and I have to keep rolling the pencil around in my grip to find the “pointier” part of the lead. Otherwise, it just gets more and more blunt until I HAVE TO go sharpen it.

Even with a mechanical pencil, the lead flattens on one side and I’m constantly doing that “rolling the pencil in my grip” thing to find a fresher point.

With the Uni Kuru Toga, all you have to do is write. Everytime you lift the pencil from the paper, the inner mechanism rotates the lead ever so slightly so that a flat side cannot/does not develop. THE LINE STAYS CRISP.

Here it is explained in plain English Japanese:

And a closer look at the inner workings:

Where the magic happens

So, with the Kuru Toga, there is no more jumping up to sharpen pencils, no more broad/blurry lines, and no more pencil wrangling shenanigans.

You can just write. And isn’t that the point?!

Pun intended.

The Rotring Skynn for Dummies (and by “dummies,” I mean me)

Review: Page 1

Review: Page 2

This pen confused the heck out of me. I’m pretty pen savvy, but after I unboxed this one, I seriously COULD NOT figure out how to extend the writing tip. Baffled, is what I was. Crazy, I know.

Where’s the writee part?

I tried pushing on what appeared to be a knock, but nothing.

Nope…that won’t work

I twisted the front section of the pen. Still nothing.

What the…?!

And why, I wondered, are there TWO holes where the tip should come out??

Why two??

I couldn’t believe a pen was getting the best of me, but clearly it was. I even briefly considered googling “Rotring Skynn- how to use.” Seriously. I did.

I hate to admit how long it took me to finally realize that the front section is REMOVABLE and is A CAP. And those aren’t really holes…just pseudo holes. (It took me awhile. Yup.) Once I yanked off the cap, THERE was the point. Sheesh.


And my confusion/stupidity didn’t stop there. I kept setting the pen cap down on my desk or clutching it in my hand, then realized that it could be posted. Doh.

Posted cap

I don’t know. Maybe I need more vitamins or ginseng or something.

With all of those struggles behind me, I started playing with the Skynn, and immediately fell in love with the grip. It’s quite squishy and wonderfully shaped- super comfortable and fun to hold. The material isn’t tacky at all, so it’s not prone to picking up fuzz or dust or other pocket debris.

The grip

The writing experience (about time I got around to this, eh?!) is a smooth one and the gel (wait, it’s LIQUID ink…not gel) ink is solid and dark. The line is fairly bold, but sometimes a bold line is just what you want. The review above was written in a Levenger Circa notebook and there is maybe the tiniest amount of bleed, but on cheap (copy) paper, I did notice that feathering is more of an issue.

Larger writing sample

So if you ever pick up a Rotring Skynn, you’re now fully trained.

But then, you didn’t NEED training, did you?


A.S. Manhattaner’s NY Artist Guild 1996 -or- The Kitty In the City fountain pen

According the the nib and the cap, this is a Sailor brand, A.S. Manhattaner’s NY Artist Guild 1996 fountain pen, which is all well and good, but I really bought it for the kitty. In the city.

And here’s my review:

Which I’ll type out (and edit a bit), because it’s undoubtedly hard to read.

I’ll be honest. I almost gave up on this pen. Back when I purchased it, I didn’t realize that there was a difference between German and Japanese nib sizes. I thought a fine was a fine was a fine. So I ordered a fine nib in this Sailor pen, thinking that it would be the same as a Lamy fine. But it’s not, it’s much finer. That’s the rule. I now know- Japanese nibs are much finer than their German counterparts. Lesson learned.

As time went by, I’d doodle with this pen, but found the line a little TOO thin and the writing experience a bit dry/scratchy. I even considered selling it. BUT- I love the “kitty in the city” graphic AND and I don’t believe that these pens are available anymore. Hmmmm.

Over time, I’ve gradually become quite the fan of fine lines* so THAT problem resolved itself. The only issue left- the writing experience. I had trouble keeping the ink flowing which definitely takes all the fun out of writing.

BUT- I recently decided to give it ONE. MORE. SHOT. I flushed the nib a bit (nothing major), installed a new cartridge and scribbled away. That did the trick!

NOW I love it. So glad I didn’t sell it.


*My love of fine lines can be directly attributed to the numerous reviews of various fine line pens by our favorite pen reviewer, The Pen Addict, Brad Dowdy. Thanks, Brad, for opening my eyes.