Pleased To Meet You: TUL Pens by OfficeMax- A Review AND a Giveaway!

Meet the TUL family

Our local OfficeMax store closed a number of years ago, and since then, I’ve lost touch with the brand. So when a representative offered to send me a set of the latest generation of TUL pens, I jumped at the chance, especially because the offer included an additional set to give away. I’ve been test-drivingwriting them for most of the week, and can wholeheartedly endorse the TUL line.

Here are the players:

Medium point, black ink

Medium point, blue ink

Medium point, black ink

Fine tip, black ink

To be honest, in the past I’ve shied away from store-brand pens because of performance issues, but OfficeMax’s TUL line changes that. All of the pens in this line are stellar performers, and easily match the quality of comparable Uniball, Zebra, Pilot, and Sharpie pens. TUL pens ARE the real deal.


I’ve been particularly taken with the smooth dark line of the retractable ballpoint, which is tricky to get right, judging by the number of so-so ballpoints that are on the market. The super-affordable TUL ballpoint is the one that I’ve been reaching for since it arrived. The ink is just that good. The smooth rubber grip makes it easy to hold, and I really like the clean and simple lines of the pen. It’s minimalist in looks, but certainly not in performance.

Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The fine-line marker pen, with its clear cap, dimpled black grip, and simple branding also appeals to me. No gimmicks, just a precise line that doesn’t feather or bleed. Very nice. The fiber tip feels quite sturdy, like it’ll easily hold up for plenty of sketching or note-taking.

Top to bottom: Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The retractable gel pen is very simple looking, with a black body matching the extra-long smooth black grip. Again, the gel ink writes great. No skipping. No smearing. No complaints. Same goes for the capped rollerball…the black liquid ink is perfect making bolder lines and bolder statements.

Lest you think all of this pen goodness comes at a premium price, check out these links to for the good news:

Marker Pen

Superior performance AND pricing. Great looks and super smooth inks. That’s TUL, by OfficeMax. Check them out at your local OfficeMax store or online.

My only disappointment is that it doesn’t appear that the boxed set featured in this post & giveaway is available for purchase. (Hint, hint, OfficeMax!)

I know what you’re saying…yeah, yeah, yeah, but how do I WIN a set??!! It’s as simple as the design of the TUL pens:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Wednesday 10/31/12 (Halloween!). One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of all four TUL pens. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of November 1st. OfficeMax will ship the pens to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.
5) GOOD LUCK! Hope you win this Halloween treat!

TUL pens, I AM pleased to meet you. This looks like the start of something good.

Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

Winner: Frixion Pens!

The random number generator picked:
True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 27
Result: 23
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

So the winner is:
23. derevaun said: July 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm Sciency! I’ve been intending to try the frixion out.

I’ll email you shortly for your mailing address. Enjoy the Frixions!

Celebrate with the red, black, & blue: Pilot FriXion pens…AND a giveaway!

Pilot Frixion Retractables, 0.7 mm

The retractable Pilot FriXion pens are wonderful, but that wasn’t always the case. I first tried the FriXion pens years ago (capped version, weird tribalesque design on the barrel) and was, quite honestly, seriously underwhelmed. They erased well enough (yay!), but the ink was dreadfully washed out looking (boo!). Despite the novelty of being able to erase ink, the Frixions were quickly set aside.

THEN- a new generation of FriXion pens was born, and they truly are new and improved. The ink colors are stronger, especially the blue and red which are super. The black is much darker than the original washy gray, but isn’t super dark. Very nice, though. Take a look–

FriXion black

FriXion blue

FriXion red

The tips of these pens absolutely GLIDE across paper. They are a blast to write with. I use the pens for everyday writing but especially for writing in my Planner Pad and scribbling to-do lists in my Field Notes. A bit OCD, I hate cross-outs, so when plans and priorities change, being able to neatly erase INK is a big plus.

But how DO they erase? Let me show you–

Erased swatches

Erased letters

If you erase very soon after writing, the erasure is not as complete and clean as if you wait just a bit, but it’s still quite good.

Eraser ends

In reality, the ink is not actually erased (in the normal sense), but the “friction” (friXion, get it?!) made during the erasing action creates heat which makes the ink disappear. Which leads to one point of caution- DON’T LEAVE your notes/journals written with Frixion pens in a hot car! I’ve heard stories from distraught folks whose notes disappeared! (Hmmmm…may have to experiment with this! Be right back…I’m putting a page of notes in my car to see what happens.)

I’m back. Will report my findings later on.

After a little hiccup with my phone last week (lost all of my bookmarks for a bit…eek!), I decided to make sure that I have old school HARD COPIES of my address book and calendar, and I plan to use the FriXion pens to fill those out. Addresses & phone #’s change, as do commitments and appointments. I can erase and update without CROSSING OUT. A dream come true. (Okay, maybe a small dream, but a dream nonetheless.)

LOVE my Field Notes…but that’s another post!

Homemade Field Notes myCAL (used the 0.5 mm pens here)

I’ve also started dabbling with sketchnoting, and the FriXion line is PERFECT for this because I erase A LOT.

HAZWOPER training sketchnote

I’m certainly glad that I gave the Pilot FriXion pens a second chance because they are fun to write with, the ink colors are MUCH stronger, and the erasable feature is just too cool.

FriXion grips

FriXion clips & branding

Super smooth tips

So, this Fourth of July, think about celebrating with the RED, BLACK, and BLUE…FriXion pens, that is. These pens truly do deserve fireworks, and you can celebrate your independence from cross-outs!

Now for THE GIVEAWAY! Thanks to the fine folks at JetPens, I have a lovely little set of all three FriXions reviewed here to award to one lucky commenter. Here’s the scoop:

Leave a comment on this entry by 11:59 pm Sunday July 8th.
Each comment will be assigned a number (Comment #1 = 1, etc.).
The winning comment will be selected via random number generator on the evening of Monday July 9th and posted on this blog.

Stuff to remember:
ONE ENTRY per person, please.
USA only, at this time. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Happy Fourth of July, and good luck!

[Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.]

The page BEFORE it was placed in a hot (mid 80’s outdoor temp) car for approximately three hours…

After three hours in a hot car, the page looked like this…

You’d be screwed if these were your chemistry notes! Or WOULD you be?

Here’s the page immediately after it was removed from the car…

Looks like the writing is starting to return.

And here it is after spending a little time (1/2 hour or so) in the freezer…

Mostly back! Phew! Your chemistry notes are safe, after all!

Despite the return o’ the writing, I’d still be careful using this pen for critical notes, if there’s a chance that the paper or notebook could be left in a hot car. Why take chances?

Thus endeth this afternoon’s Frixion experiment. You may now return to your lawn chairs.

Winner: Scout’s Picks

The winner of Scout’s picks…the Zebra Sarasa Clip and the ScoutBook is…

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 7
Result: 4

4. Carrie said: June 13, 2012 at 6:50 am I never thought I would go for a brown ink but I really like it!

CONGRATULATIONS, CARRIE! The pen & notebook will be coming your way asap!!

To everyone else, thanks for entering, and keep checking in as I plan to have more giveaways throughout the summer.

In the meantime, have fun browsing at!! (I know I will!!)

Win-Win: The Uniball Jetstream, Rubber Body Series (Orange, 0.7 mm)

I remember the day distinctly. The scene: 2004, Staples, pen aisle. I was doing my usual pen stalking, on the look-out for anything new, intriguing, interesting, promising. I stalk with a very critical eye as I learned long ago that you can’t trust the promises plastered on pen packaging. Just because the package yells, “SMOOTHEST PEN ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH,” doesn’t mean it’s true. How many times had I been sucked in by promises of dark smooth lines, only to be disappointed by “meh” performances? Too many times. Too many times. And yet, the stalking continued.

This day, on an aisle end cap, I stopped. Stopped dead, and thought, “Hmmmm…what’s this?!” Maybe I even said it out loud. “Ooooo…an Uniball Jetstream…worth a shot.” I think it was a pack of Jetstream Sports that I picked up that day. Back in my car, I tore open the package and scribbled a few lines on the receipt and on the back of the package. I IMMEDIATELY knew that this pen/ink was different. No more “meh.” The ink was smooth. It was bold. It was solid. It was the blackest black I’d seen in a long time (or ever). Angels with tiny harps sang HALLELUJAH in their perfect angels voices. (Didn’t they?) The quest- the decades-long quest- was over. You don’t forget that kind of day.

Since then, I’ve been a faithful Jetstream fan. I’ve purchased and used capped versions, retractable versions, and a bunch of multipen versions. The low viscosity ink is just amazingly smooth. I’ve never been without some form of Jetstream pen. Even as I branch out into other brands, other price points, and other ink types, the Jetstream remains a “go to” pen. Want a superb writing experience? Grab a Jetstream. It’s that simple.

Uniball Jetstream Rubber Body Series

This particular model is from the Rubber Body Series (0.7 mm, orange body), purchased from JetPens, and is a current favorite. The rubber body is smooth and warm, with just a bit of grip. I like the matte finish on the knock and the…ummmm, what’s it called?…the nosecone?

At work

At play

Monday morning

Relaxing on Saturday

At $4.25, it’s a great pen at a great deal. You simply can’t go wrong with a Jetstream. And you REALLY can’t go wrong with a rubber body ORANGE Jetstream.

Writing sample

Ah, yes…2004. It was a very good year.


AND NOW, YOU can WIN this pen! That’s right (write!)…I have a brand new orange Jetstream to give away. Here’s how it works:

1) Post a comment here (one per person, please). Say hi, offer an opinion, tell me why you’d like to win, tell me about your favorite pen(s)…

2) The deadline for commenting is 11:59 pm Sunday May 27th.

3) The first entry will be assigned #1, the 2nd will be assigned #2, etc. You get the drift.

4) On Monday May 28th, I’ll select the winner via a random number generator, and post the result here. We’ll sort out the mailing details after that.

5) Until I figure out what shipping pens internationally entails, this contest is open to US residents only. (Sorry about that!)

The best part? Even if you don’t win, you can pick up this awesome pen at JetPens yourself for less than the cost of a McDonald’s lunch. THAT’S a WIN-WIN situation.

Good luck.