Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pilot Vanishing Point H1005 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pilot Vanishing Point H1005 Mechanical Pencil Review

I really have been a bit remiss. Pilot is a large manufacturer of writing instruments and I really should have reviewed something of theirs earlier on. They are a Japanese company, and their premier brand is Namiki which operates in the premium fountain pen market.
Well the main feature of the Vanishing Point is it’s “vanishing point”! That is the whole sleeve tip section retracts back into the pencil body. It's all much like a ballpoint pen, you simply push the top button down and the whole tip retracts back inside the body - you don’t have to hold the button down and push the tip back in like a ‘normal’ mechanical pencil. This really is the ultimate in easy convenience, tip protection and pocket safety. There really is no excuse for damaging the lead sleeve on this pencil.

Now you see it. Now you don't.


You activate the push-top ratchet lead mechanism by the same top button, and you do have to be a little careful as you can inadvertently push too hard and retract the tip rather than just advance the lead. There is an eraser under the top cap. It’s small, but a good compound that erases better then most.

Much like my favoured Pentel Sharp P205, the Pilot Vanishing Point mechanical pencil has that classic engineers pencil look about it. The body is smooth matt black plastic with lots of nice shiny chrome trims. It really is quite an impressive look. The 4mm long lead sleeve is for draughting work. The centre band of the pencil is an adjustable lead hardness indicator. You can turn the window around to show grades from 2B up to 4H. Like Pentel draughting pencils, the lead advance mechanism only advances a short length of lead each time it is activated.

The pocket clip is a good strong functional piece of metal. “PILOT” is stamped into it in rather small insignificant lettering; the only other markings on the pencil are the large “0.5 JAPAN” on the central band next to the lead grade window.

The semi-gloss body has no specific grip section or grip enhancements so the grip is acceptable, but not great. Overall the weight and balance are fairly neutral.

  • Best Points – The vanishing point.
  • Not So Good Points – Not much really. If I was being picky I could say maybe they could have done a bit better with the grip, and something about accidentally retracting the tip.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 140mm, diameter 9mm. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

71 comments:

Speedmaster said...

Hey Dave, great post! I've got a Namiki VP pen that I love. I've heard that a pencil existed but had never seen it. I may have to get one, thanks!

kiwi-d said...

Hello Speedmaster. Well it is a good pencil so if you think you might like it, then I'd say you definitely will like it, so go shopping.
Just a couple things to clarify - its 0.5mm. I don't think it's available in anything other size. Also Pilot do actually call it "Vanishing Point".

Pascal (France) said...

Hello Dave and all,

I am a bit surprised by this review. I have read some comments about the Pilot Vanishing Point from people who use this pen for years (sometimes 20 years) and several users say that they wouldn't exchange this mechanical pencil for any other model. What is a "surprise" for me is that you say in your review, Dave, that the grip is not so good. By the way I wonder if the tip retraction is what the users appreciate most, or if you have (maybe) a different perception of what is a good grip. Could you tell us a bit more? Is the barrel too thin or slippery? Where do you "naturally" put your finger? I am interested by these points because in fact, the comments that I have read on the Vanishing Point are so laudatory that I was thinking of buying one for my collection...

;-)

kiwi-d said...

Hi Pascal. Well nothing like asking the searching questions!
I’m not surprised that there are users who wouldn’t swap their VP for anything else. I think the retracting tip is something that many would fall in love with. It is a great feature.

I tend to hold my pencils about 30-40mm up from the tip, which I think is in the “normal” sort of zone?

Maybe we have a little bit of a misunderstanding over the grip. I wouldn’t say the grip “is not so good”. I wrote “… so the grip is acceptable, but not great.” and “If I was being picky I could say maybe they could have done a bit better with the grip”. My emphasis here is on the “being picky”, as in trying to find a problem when there isn’t really one. The barrel is average sort of thickness and there really isn’t anything wrong with the grip, it’s just there are others that are better. In hindsight, perhaps my word “acceptable” sends the wrong signal, what if I had written “…so the grip is good, but not great.”? To improve the grip I think they would need to do something like contouring, maybe a fraction thicker, roughing the finish a little, or gulp, even a little rubber insert. (Did I really write that? Have I gone completely mad?) The finish is smoothish but semi-gloss so over time could get a little slippery if you hold your pencil tightly and it’s a bit of a damp humid day.

I would absolutely say to anyone who was a bit of a collector or fan of MP’s, then this is one you should have.

Pascal (France) said...

Thank you very much Dave (!), you have answered to all my questions. I have to say that I have looked at this MP on several pictures and I am not sure that I would love to hold it, but as I have said above, several users say that they would never exchange their VP for something else, so this make me really curious. Maybe this could be a new revelation? :) I will try to buy one on eBay, then I will have more arguments to say what I think of this MP.

Regarding distance of 30-40mm. above the tip to hold a pencil, I really don't know if it is "normal" or not : I am closer from... 10 mm. ! This could be useful to know what is the distance for the other writers / drawers, maybe that would allow us to understand why some models are so appreciated by some users while they are not well considered by others (?).

Have a nice Sunday and thanks for the reply.

Anonymous said...

The grip on this pencil is fine. Maybe you could lose your grip if you have excessively sweaty hands and you hold pencils very loosely, otherwise this is the ultimate in pencils. If the grip was any wider then the pencil wouldn't be as compact when storing it in pockets or uniforms. If it was contoured inwards to reduce part of the size of the pencil, then the pencil would not be as solid and may actually break.

S said...

Where did you buy this Namiki VP pencil? I've done Google searches and can't find one!

kiwi-d said...

Hello "S".
I got mine from a USA online retailer. I have just done a google search 'pilot vanishing point pencil' and it bought up plenty of retailers, including the one I bought from. If you are still stuck then email at the address in the blog header.

Figue said...

My problem with the Pilot VP is that the lead is not very tight on the sleeve it dances around, when you are drawing you can feel the lead moving inside the sleeve. A shame because that's the only negative critic I have about this pencil.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with this pencil is that the clip is removable, and there isn't even any little grooves for it to snap into like the Pentel P205. I like the Pentel Sliding Sleeve Sharp better. It's featherweight, fixed clip, and you can replace the tight fitting cap without advancing the lead.

Time Waster said...

My new favorite pencil for drawing right here!!!! I was using these Helix drafting pencils (which is also a very good pencil the ones with the metal grip) but find the VP better balanced. I switched the lead that was included to some year old pentel lead which is harder then the current stuff on the shelf (they change the forumla every so often.

I purchased my VPs from Pilot's online store. Which end up costing me almost 40.00 just for two of them...

Dave your site Rocks not too many people review pencils in this crazy world :)

kiwi-d said...

Thanks Time Waster - I like your nickname :-)

Anonymous said...

Well, I thought I was the only one with a pencil fettish. I have been using the VP pencils for 20 years and have found nothing better. The grip is fine and you don't get that scatchy feel you get with some mechanicals.

Gunther said...

I have just noticed that there must be at least two variants of the H1005. The reviewed (and the most common) one has a smooth surface while the surface of the other is brushed. Besides that, the latter has a slightly different tip with a recess. Can somebody shed a light in this? – Shameless plug: See the pictures of the smooth version and the brushed version in my gallery.

Mike said...

Is it just me, or does that clip look suspiciously similar to the Pentel Sharp P205?

Anonymous said...

Well, it seems that the Pilot Vanishing Point will indeed be vanishing soon.

After my local stationer told me he couldn't order it anymore, I emailed Pilot. Pilot confirmed to me that it is being discontinued, but no reason why. Low sales volume? Higher production costs?

This is simply one of the best, most user-friendly mech pencils out there. I am sad to see it go...and have stocked up on some spares already.

Perhaps an email campaign to Pilot will help save this pencil.

Gunther said...

The disappearance of the Vanishing Point would be a big loss for the market of mechanical pencils, especially in view of the fact that there is to be no real alternative to that pencil (another version of that pencil, the H-3005, has only been available in Japan and is also no longer available). - For those who want to get a "backup VP": eBay.com, item 270222703064 (I am not connected with that seller, but just a satisfied customer).

Gunther said...

Ouch! Of course is should read "in view of the fact that there seems to be no real alternative".

Armitage Shanks said...

If you Google a bit, there is also a site selling VPs for only about $8.50 each when you buy a dozen.

A great deal for a phenomenal mechanical pencil.

Is there a source in Japan who will sell the H-3005 to me in the states?

Gunther said...

All my three VP's (old and new) have two strange rectangular notches about 2cm from the cap. Does anybody know what their purpose is or was? The clip doesn't fit into them – were the very old VP's equipped with a totally different clip?

Snug said...

I lost my Pilot (was over 15 yrs old) and while looking for a replacement (and hearing they may be discontinued) I grabbed several from one of the better on-line sites. Honestly I was disappointed with the quality of the newer version. The older one was heavier, had a textured barrel, the clip was stronger and the id band was machined metal. It is still a nice pencil but nothing like the its former self....

Scott said...

To All,

I too used two of these beginning in the early 80s. I absolutely loved this pencil for drafting. The lack of a distinct grip is what made it comfortable for hours on end. I mean hours on end. Ha not had one for nearly 17-18 years. did not know they were still making it. I will be bummed if they have changed the quality fromthe greatest pencil i've ever used. Have a new Kerry. Its beautiful, but not as functional. My VPs I simply wore out.

Anonymous said...

I bought a VP from the vendor Gunther mentions. It got lost in the post. Vendor sent a replacement at no cost to me. Best service on eBay!

Pencil has excellent VP mechanism. I agree grip "could be better." Slightly slim for my fingers; acknowledge comment that any fatter might make it harder to slip into pen loops etc., so textured surface might be good. Pencil looks very high-class, shame Pilot seem uninterested in pencils.

Anonymous said...

I've also used this mech pencil for years - since
the late 70s or early 80s (college drafting!)
They've recently (within 2 years?) discontinued
the .3mm version - I stocked up when my local
vendor could not replace them. The .5mm version
is still on the Pilot website.
Personally, I love the fact that the pocket clip
is removable (which I do immediately), as clips
tend to bother my hand when I write.
I hope Pilot continues to make this pencil as
I've found nothing I like as well.

Anonymous said...

Pilot has said it will discontinue this model by the end of the year. Many retailers can no longer order it, and it will most likely disappear from the Pilot web site in December.

Stock up now!

Anonymous said...

This pencil looks like the perfect replacement for the Pentel P205. It's too bad that they are discontinueing it.

There is one alternative, though. The Papermate Apex has a retractable point with an advancable eraser. It's a good pencil, but occasionally the retracting option binds up and works very stiffly. It also doesn't look as nice as this pencil.

Anonymous said...

The best pencil... EVER!

Anonymous said...

Is there any specific refilling instructions for this pencil. Mine is less than 1 month old an I am having trouble refilling

Anonymous said...

I am the poster who claim to have trouble refilling the pencil. My lead was stuck down the barrel. After I fixed that, the pencil works flawlessly.

Zijie said...

Hey DAve can u give me a reliable link to buy this product? thanks in advance

Chris said...

I've been using mine for close to 4 years now. It was a spur of the moment purchase that I happened upon because it was the only .5mm MP available at the store 15 minutes before a final exam of mine. I have to say that it's easily the best MP I've ever used.

I love the look, the weight, the balance. The grip is exactly what I like (small radius, smooth, but sufficiently grippy), and the retracting sleeve mechanism has a beefy, solid feel to it. It feels both minimalistic and substantial.

I've searched high and low for a replacement, but they're getting tougher and tougher to find. I ended up happily overpaying (~+$3 ea.) just to grab the last 5 from an online vendor. If this is the end of the line, it will be sorely missed...

Dave, do you know if Pilot plans on replacing the H1005 line with anything comparable?

kiwi-d said...

Sorry, I know nothing!

Karl Myer said...

The mechanical pencil page of the Pilot website pictures 2 of these pencils on it big main picture at the top of the page, but the pencil is not listed for sale. There's no information on it whatever. Why does the main picture at the top of the webpage still feature two of them if they're not for sale? http://www.pilotpen.us/products/mechanicalpencils/

Karl Myer said...

Also, on the web page picture (link in post immediately above) both Vanishing Point pencils are pictured with their leads fully extended. Why not have one of the two in retracted position to display a main feature of the pencil, its vanishing point? If you're going to display, in such a prominent position, a photograph showing only three mechanical pencils out the many models your company makes, why use two that are the exact same model, which is not actually available to buy?

Anonymous said...

dang it. by the look of things, literally, this has the older outdated 90's capless/vanishing point styling so that may be it, or in some part atleast. there is a capless/vp pencil carrying the neu style, but doesen't seem to be the same thing, just an ordinary pencil to match your vp/decimo (which it really shares the most traits with, same metallic color scheme). so not a replacement but something else, maybe something is under way further up the line.

i'm just bummed out just having found this and recently wishing for a good safe pocket pencil for sketching while out and about, and this fitting the bill perfectly, with the fixed sleeve and so on, and dependable retraction.

Karl Myer said...

I wrote to Pilot about a problem I was having with my Vanishing Point pencil about a week ago and, in the same email, inquired about why the webpage pictures two of these pencils prominently even though they are not available to buy. Here is the part of Pilot's response relating to the Pilot website picture:

Quote from Pilot rep email response to Karl Myer:
This particular writing instrument has been discontinued and is no
longer available. We are currently in the process of removing the
pencil from the website photos. This is the reason that it is no longer
available to be ordered. We are unable to help you with a source for
remaining inventory.

We hope this information has been helpful to you. If we can be of
further assistance, please feel free to contact us directly.

We appreciate your interest and loyalty to our products.

Sincerely,

Monica Marcus
Consumer Advisor
Pilot Corp. of America
3855 Regent Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32224
(904) 645-9999 Ext. 1097

A*B*RT F*S*EL said...

Does any one else have the point permanently sticking out? I don't know how I did it but it is no longer a "vanishing point". Any tips?

Anonymous said...

pentel sell one with vanishing point

Anonymous said...

Pilot vanishing point is really great, all good, with the exception of its body moled. I have owned at least 5 in the last 3 years, and each of them the body moled plastic cracked, just above the ring, which displayed the lead size, you were using. But, as you can see, its worth the repurchase.

Anonymous said...

Pilot USA is saying that its Japan home office made the decision to end production of the Vanishing Point.

My local stationery retailer spoke with the Pilot distributor and apparently Pilot outsourced this pencil production to another company, which is folding. And that's why Pilot has to stop offering it.

This is third-hand info, of course, but may explain why Pilot can't shift or restart production, no matter how high the demand.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe it! The best pencil ever discontinued!!!!!!!!!!Are they nuts at Pilot? We have so many yucky looking pencils in stores that I would not take for free (imagine pay for them) and they discontinue one of the few things that is god. Ahhhghhh.

Anyone still has any info where I can buy a few of these to have for backup? Tnx.

Anonymous said...

The Pilot H-1005 is a nice mechanical pencil and a lot more classy looking than Pentel's P200 series.

Though, in all fairness, the Pilot's grip is pretty worthless. And, I've also noticed that there seems to be a little bit of play in the sleeve on account of the fact it's retractatable and not fixed. It is somewhat disappointing.

Anonymous said...

I liked the grip ( I could use it for hours) as it is slim -I do not like thick heavy pencils - and for me the retractable mechanism in that Pilot pencil was the mother of all retractbale mechanisms. Otherwise I buy the 205 series in dozen and have them in the car, at work, bag, home as they are not expensive, are slim and I like to have the same feel of the pencil all the time. So, I've tried hundreds of pencils and Pentel 205 always works for me (its not fancy, but it is the best for me). Now if that pencil can be retractable (same mechanism as Pilot H-1005) that would be superb, but that will likely not happen...

a nobud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don said...

Anyone have a lead (no pun intended) on any availible stocks of the 1005 (50028). I'm in withdrawl.

Anonymous said...

Another slim, retractable-point pencil is the Staedtler Retro. Not widely available these days. I have one that I bought about 20 years ago that is still one of my favorite pencils.

Anonymous said...

Alternative vanising point is Pentel Technica-X, with very good mechanism and grippy grip (good for me, maybe too thick for some), provided you can overlook its hazardous eraser system. That requires you to extend the lead sleeve, risking poking yourself in the eye.

Anonymous said...

Having used these exclusively for 15 years, I can say that my single complaint about these pencils is that they are very prone to breaking in half at the barrel threads. On at least four occasions, I've reached into a pocket to find the remains of a VP that I had apparently leaned against at some point. Were these metal, they'd be the best ever.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe this. I have uused this exclusively for 21 years and do not want to change! We need to bring them back!

Anonymous said...

I've used this pencil for years with 2B lead on "Rite in the Rain" paper. I had been ordering them for years through Amazon and was greatly dismayed to find they are no longer available. The good thing, though, is that my search for another source brought me to this wonderful site. It's great to know that I'm not the only one who takes his pencils seriously! Anybody know of a pencil that matches the style and grace of a VP H1005?

Kiwi-d said...

I think thats a 'no' to matching the style and grace if you want a vanishing point mechanism. There are other VP pencils, but generally cheaper and plastic types if that was the feature you most liked.

Time Waster said...

Yeah I couldn't find these anywhere I might as well sell them (since I don't use them) I bought them off the Pilot website like 2 1/2 years ago for like 15.00 a piece.

Housewife in Vancouver BC said...

My husband will need to go into therapy. He is devastated that he lost his last VP H1005. Has anyone bombarded Pilot with Emails? I don't wanr my husband to resort to Pocket protectors or failing that, holes in his shirt pockets!!

Anonymous said...

Check out ebay.com for Pilot 1005 and 1003 vanishing point pencils. They are available in limited quantities.

Anonymous said...

I found this style about a year ago at a 99-cent store; didn't realize (at the time) that the tip retracted, then "one day I noticed" and was like "wow, that's cool!" Recently, though, I was checking other 99-cent/dollar stores (and big-lots/pic-n-save) because I wanted another, so I noted in particular the manufacturer and name - Papermate Apex [0.7] - couldn't find it, and in the process lost the pencil :(

[turns out it had fallen out of my pocket in the car and worked it's way to the floor of the back seat - I just "re-found" it today ;) ]

if these were originally outsourced from a chinese plant [then later "branded" depending on the plant's "client"] chances are you could find them in the "chinatown" area of any large metropolitan city...

Anonymous said...

Just found a retractable with 3 lead holders tucked in the barrel (.3,.5,.7) made by Yasutomo and Co.. A search for more info linked the company to Niji. A Niji was my favorite pencil back in college, mostly because of the satisfying click when it retracted. This new one does the same!! Does anyone know anything else about these pencils?

Anonymous said...

THIS PENCIL IS AMAZING. I SWEAR BY IT. IM A FASHION DESIGNER AND HAVE BEEN USING IT TO SKETCH NOW FOR 20 YRS

Anonymous said...

I found this pencil on the ground and it has wonderfully served me for over 3 years. Now that I finally found out what it's called, it turns out to be DISCONTINUED? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Ed said...

I love it too, here is mine with a discontinued favorite H325 pilot. It is hard to find better pencils than these. http://www.flickr.com/photos/55095728@N07/5429571675/lightbox/ I love pilot.

Anonymous said...

I found one...

I asked for one in my lokal writing supply store and they found one to me (the only one) I bought it Dkr. 160,- roughly USD 55,-

Anonymous said...

How does it compare with http://www.stationeryart.com/pilot-namiki-pilot-japan-namiki-capless-05mm-mechanical-pencil-blue-p-1017.html ?

I need a replacement.

Anonymous said...

I used one of these for roughly 2/3rds of my military flying career...only pencil which would fit in the tight sleeve pocket of a flight suit without getting hung up, and easy to use with flight gloves on. Finally broke the sleeve off after being dropped from the top of an aircraft during preflight. Down to one left and looking for a backup. Like US-made HP calculators, there is no substitute for the Pilot H1005.

fern said...

to the guy that found the niji retractables...do you want to sell the .5?

to anyone with one of these vanishiing points - do you want to sell one or three :)

my email is fern.stuff@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a fan of the now-nearly-extinct Vanishing Point. I've had two of them that have served me from 1985 until now. Just came across the Alvin Draft-tec Retrac at local college bookstore the other day. Not the same as VP, but still pretty comfy in the hand. Available in 0.3, 0.5, 0.7.

Anonymous said...

Dave - I have had a Pilot H1005 for almost 30 years and my daughter borrowed it and lost several pieces of the shell. I really would like to restore it and am looking for someone who might have a broken mechanism that I might acquire. any ideas? Tom M of Boston

Anonymous said...

To Tom M of Boston -- It can't hurt to send it back to Pilot and see if it has any spare parts. It doesn't manufacture the pencil any more, of course, but may still have some parts in inventory. I have found Pilot Customer Service to be very good and responsive.

Eric Sprehe said...

I bought about 10 of these before they were discontinued. My very favorite pencil ever. I have a broken one that I'd be willing to trade or sell if the guy looking for parts is still interested.

Gary said...

It's terrible that Pilot abandoned this mechanical pencil. I guess they weren't selling enough to justify the production. This has caused used prices to go far beyond the original MSRP. A real shame. You can bet that I'm not going to pay some $40+ for one of these. Thankfully there are other pencils of comparable function/quality for much less, like the GraphGear 1000. :-)

Vin Pen said...

Vanishing Point Mechanical Pencil - what a great toy to play with! Especially on thin lead ones - no way you can break it, unless you really try :)
@Gary - I think used mechanical pencil prices always differ the original production, the longer the time - the bigger the difference.

W. Norman said...

About 18 months ago I git a burr under my saddle and decided I wanted a 'lifetime' supply of these pencils as I have lost half a dozen over the years. Then I found they had been discontinued. I got fanatical about tracking down some and spent several days calling office supply stores around the country (couple hours a day.) Thank goodness for cell phones with nation-wide calling. Found TWO boxes! 20 should keep me for life - especially as I now take special care not to lose one. I actually felt flush enough to give one away to another pencil freak friend (well, I did it to assuage my guilt for all the other guys who will have to live without this great pencil in their futures.)

Christopher Stanton said...

The Pilot H1005 Mechanical Pencil and its H1003 counterpart were without peer and a pinnacle in mechanical pencil design. Few other writing instruments were as elegant, functional and reliable. Commenting here was entirely worthwhile as I now know that a H1007 model was produced as well. Yet another item for my wish list.