Look, don’t ask me why, I can’t really explain it even to myself, but whenever I look at a German pencil and read “Made in China”, well, it just doesn’t sit right. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not implying anything about inferior products standards in China, nor am I necessarily against international trade and subsidiary companies…see I can’t explain it, but it just doesn’t strike me as “right”. Putting that nagging incongruity to one side, let’s have a little about the Grip Matic.
Well, it’s a very lightweight plastic pencil, it surprises me nearly every time I pick it up just how light it is. Mine is a rather attractive fluorescent transparent green main body. It certainly stands out. The grip section is round rubber with grooves. There’s not much give in the rubber, but it is slightly “grippy”, so overall it does improve the grip. But its pretty marginal. The pocket clip is plastic, in a wave shape. Its quite good looking, but not quite so effective as an actual clip! Interestingly the faber-Castell website depicts a different pocket clip shape – a plain curved one.
The twist out eraser is a feature of this pencil. It’s a fairly hard vinyl compound, about 4mm (1/6 inch) diameter with 9m of usable length. The twist mechanism is a little disappointing. The eraser doesn’t actually move in or out - the eraser is fixed and it’s the covering sleeve that winds up or down to expose or cover the eraser. I feel a little short changed by it - compared to other twist eraser cartridges this one is no where near as satisfying winding in and out, over and over in a boring meeting!
Photo – eraser sleeve twisted out.
Photo – eraser sleeve twisted right in. Note how it is visible back down inside the green body.
You pull the eraser and sleeve off to access the lead refill chamber. My pencil is 0.5mm lead, but there is also 0.7mm available (the 1377!). The lead advance mechanism is an ordinary push top ratchet. 10 clicks to advance a might 12mm of lead. That’s a lot more than normal. The lead sleeve is a short tapering plastic cone suited for general writing rather than draughting work. The tip is retractable for pocket safety.
Despite all the lead clicking in the paragraph above, the Grip Matic is an automatic or auto-advancing pencil. When I’m using a pencil for review I keep a few notes to help write the review later on. Here’s one part of my notes regarding the auto-advance. “Auto-advance. It works. Really works. Feeds out smoothly – no “plunging” as with other auto-advancers. Lead sleeve is plastic – glides smoothly across paper – no dragging or scraping like some other auto-advancers”. Well, that’s pretty high praise from me. Unfortunately it didn’t last. Something happened and the dreaded “plunging” started to occur. It’s just so annoying. The whole tip sort of plunging back into the pencil, you just can’t write with any precision or constancy at all. Manually clicking mechanism to “start again” generally seems to help. Sometimes the plunging comes back, sometimes it doesn’t. So annoying, because when the auto-advance is working well, it’s great. One thing about auto-advancers is that they only allow a very minimal length of lead out of the tip, so lead breakages are very rare.
Overall then, a little bit of a mixed bag.
- Best Points – The fluoro barrel. When it’s working well, the automatic lead feed is good.
- Not So Good Points – When it’s not working well, the automatic lead feed is not good.
- Price Range – Low.
Dimensions – Length 148mm, diameter 10mm body. Balance point about 60mm up from the tip.
Disclaimer – this pencil was a freebie from Cult Pens over in the UK.