I’ve never made any secret of my high opinion of Pentel, and how my Pentel Excalibur was “the one” that started me off down this pencil track, so I expected much from the Classic Deluxe. I write this review in a slump, a “Pentel malaise” if you will, for the Classic Deluxe has not lived up to my expectations, and has not scaled the heights to challenge the revered Excalibur.
Photo: Classic Deluxe (top) and Excalibur.
Firstly, let’s be fair, by naming it the Classic Deluxe, Pentel have surely set it up as one of the lofty pinnacles of their range. Personally, with that said, and my background, comparisons with the Excalibur are unavoidable, and it would take something pretty special to live up to all that nostalgia. The Excalibur is my yardstick, the one by which all similar pencils will forever be measured. I have two Classic Deluxe, a natural or silver top S55 (0.5mm lead) and a blue top S57 (0.7mm lead). Both have the same chrome tip section, top button and pocket clip, and black plastic lower body section. It is the metal top half of the body section that varies. The blue of my S57 is a very appealing light powder blue, a very nice colour. The “natural” lightly brushed metal finish of the S55 also looks good. The lower half of the body is black plastic, and it’s a slightly unusual shape, being a 14-sided polygon at the top, tapering to round at the tip. Quite interesting. But here’s the thing that I really struggle with. The metal top half of the body doesn’t match into the plastic lower half. They screw together as you would expect, but the diameter of the metal top half is wider then the lower half and so it looks like it is sort of pushed onto the plastic half, and is overhanging. It just doesn’t look right. On something called the Classic Deluxe it just looks cheap and just a little bit nasty. Sorry Mr/Mrs/Ms Pentel Pencil Designer, I really like your stuff, but this just isn’t your best work. Two other things I don’t think look quite right. First is the rather square profile at the top of the body. A little bit of taper at the top would look better – but still, that’s just my humble opinion. The second thing is the lines on the tapering lower black plastic body section are linear up the body, and then the brushed effect on the metal top half is circular around the body. So this emphasises the discontinuity between the sections – your eye runs up the body from the tip and then hits the metal top half – change of diameter, change of colour, 90 degree change of visual flow from “vertical to horizontal”. As I said up above, it just doesn’t look right.
OK, enough negativity. This is still a top of the line Pentel, an object worthy of respect. Despite all the above, at a quick glance this pencil does have a fairly nice long sleek dart-like look about it. In the hand it’s lighter than you might expect, and not top heavy. No doubt that’s the thin alloy construction of the metal top half. The pocket clip is one of Pentel’s standard components – good, strong and functional. It won’t be falling off whatever you clipped it to. There is a small diameter, but reasonably long length eraser under the top button. No needle is provided for clearing lead jams. Access to the lead magazine is obtained by removing the eraser. The push top ratchet lead advance mechanism feels good and positive as you would expect from Pentel. 10 clicks advance 5mm of lead. The lead sleeve is a reasonably short 2mm tube, but like many (most) Pentels it is not retractable, so this isn’t a pocket safe pencil. There are no specific grip enhancements on this pencil so its just average in that respect. You tend to feel the 14-sided polygon body shape under your fingers, depending a little on high up the body you grip it.
The markings on the pencil are “S55 Japan” and “0.5 Pentel” in bold black printing at the base of the metal body section.
So overall, these are still good pencils, but they just don’t live up to my (high) expectations.
- Best Points – I’m struggling here. The blue body section looks good.
- Not So Good Points – The discontinuity of the plastic to metal body halves.
- Price Range – Low.