Sunday, November 11, 2007

Faber-Castell Grip Matic 1375 Mechanical Pencil Review

Faber-Castell Grip Matic 1375 Mechanical Pencil Review

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.


r.e.wolf said...

I'm loving that colour! Seems like you could spot it fast on a cluttered desk, in a pouch, etc.

kiwi-d said...

Yep, she's nice an' bright, that's for shure.

r.e.wolf said...

Now, if you could just get creative with a single LED and a tiny power source...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that would be cool, a lighted mechanical pencil. Hmm.. and maybe a tiny GPS system for those really expensive pencils! Nice. I have a blue Grip Matic, and it's blue, but it's not see-through. Interesting...

Great review by the way.

lastwinj said...

Gunther sent me one. It's ok. I gave it to a friend who writes all day in th emortgage industry.


B2-kun said...

Picked up the blue Gripmatic 1375 and the green 1377 at a Carrefour in Beijing mostly to add to my collection as a sample of Chinese Faber-Castell products. I've opened and tried the 0.5 mm 1375 for sketching, and discovered the unsteady lead-holding plastic cone you described. It's rather irritating and difficult to control for tight drawings, but it's ok for doodling or taking quick notes. I'm leaving the 1377 in its cardboard packaging since I already got a couple of the more reliable Grip 1337 which I had no idea were from Japan until I saw your latest entry. I could not find any markings indicating country of origin on the 1337, but found them to draw fairly steady and similar to the Sakura Sumo Grip in their handling despite the difference in width.

ryan said...

What I don't like about the Grip-matic is that there's a lot of lead wastage -- when a lead is a certain length (a length still usable in other mechanical pencils) it will just slide and fall out of the pencil by itself.

Can anyone recommend a good auto-advancing mechanical pencil?

Anonymous said...

It's very useful to me. I had one since I was in Year 1, and now I'm in Year 5, so that makes mine last for 5 years (yeah, it looks corrupted now because almost all the parts of the pencil; grip, eraser, etc. have come out or broke. I couldn't even believe myself when I knew it's been 5 years since I first bought it. It's still works, though I do wish it would last a few more years; it brings back all those wonderful drawing memories). I bought a green one from Makro in Penang, Malaysia. I'm still quite grateful it works as usual, but somehow, after some of those parts fell of of it, every time when the lead reaches about 2 and a half centimetres, my pencil would not push out more of it, and I had to adjust it every time. Well, at least it still works. And it's the only pencil I use to draw stuff (though I don't use it much for writing because it smudges a lot. I have other mechanical pencils too, but I use this one for Math and drawing).

m ades said...

i’m looking for several castell xf 0.3 9763 to buy. i had a couple for years and just lost one. no response to a
finder’s reward, either. these are a mechanical pencil with
a yellow barrel, 0.3mm lead, adjustable clip, and lead pin
under the eraser. i cannot seem to find any via the internet or local stores- they may have been discontinued,
as i bought mine some 20 years ago. they are identical to
the currently-made? faber castell colormatic except for
color and lead size. i’ve also tried to find substitutes, but
had no luck with the pentel p203 or the pentel 120 a3 dx
a313, or the alvin draftline xa03. they all had something
that prevented me from using them, like a clip that was
not adjustable or a body diameter that was too thick, or
not being available in 0.3mm. can anyone help?


m ades

McPete said...

You can get these in blue as well- I got my blue one from a Woolworths supermarket here in Australia, and two of the green ones from an office supply shop.

For $2-$3 AUD, pretty hard to top.

Anonymous said...

One of the worst mechanical pencils I've ever used! The automatic feed on mine has never worked (I changed from the standard lead to a blue, since I like to colour co-ordinate all of my mechanical pencils with the lead colour that they contain), but for drawing it is just useless! I was quite disappointed too - it is a snazzy looking pencil for the price but alas, it was retired quite soon after purchasing.

AssortedPixels said...

I picked up one of these in blue at the weekend. Sitting at home recovering from double pneumonia I discovered my cherished Tikky's are all still sat on my desk at work !!! PANIC !!! I can't believe ALL my mechanical pencils are in my desk drawer or in my pen pot on my desk.
So far the Faber-Castell Grip-Matic 0.5mm is performing well, especially considering it was so cheap.
Great blog by the way. I'm glad I'm not the only fan of mechanical pencils.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up a Grip matic as part of an office set with a Gripmatic ballpoint and a yellow highlighter. The Gripmatic in this set has no model number and bears no resemblace to the one shown here except for the pocket clip - in fact it looks more like a Grip Plus. The eraser is a twist type but with a diameter 6mm and 16mm of usable eraser. The Grip and barrell are much thicker than this example - the grip having a triangular form almost the same as the Grip Plus. I think its an OCEANIA representative only.


kiwi-d said...

Tuppencehapenny - well that just seems to be confusing the whole thing. Care to post a picture somewhere we can look at? Where does your Oceania start and finish?

Anonymous said...

you and me - Oz and NZ see
unfortunately there is no picture but this is the same set I got in Sydney at BIG W (a variety store) AND I saw it today in an ART SHOP - 4.55AUD for the set. Sorry I don't have camera and not tech savvy!!


Anonymous said...

Just having a look at the two (I also have the one above) side by side the only external componentry I can see that maybe the same is the final small conical sleeve and the clip whilst it is the same shape is broader on the office set and is fixed to the barrell differntly. Everything else is totally different. You may have noticed on the site reference above that they describe the ballpen as a "Ball Plus" inferring it as a relative of the "Grip Plus" but the actual pen lettering is "Grip Ball".


Anonymous said...

"Ball Plus" should read "Grip Plus"

Anonymous said...

Can't I buy only leads and erasers?

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone I just bought the Faber Castell Grip amatic and am finding the same problems as others have mentioned. It came with some extra leads and one in the pencil. It worked for about two to three strokes then the lead popped back into the pencil. I clicked a couple of times and then it did the same again. I tried putting a whole new lead in as the first one broke into many pieces and it wont take short leads. But the same thing happened it either falls out completely or pops back in. It is not a very good quality one. It didnt cost much only $2.00 Australian, but still it should at least work. Thanks for sharing everyone and I've had my grumble now and feel better!!! Maybe I will start a collection as others have done. Pauline

Anonymous said...

not a really good pencil. the lead breaks easily while applying a little bit more pressure than usual. I guess the design of the tip is not so well.

Anonymous said...

Great disappointment of a pencil.
The auto-advance point mechanism didn't work smoothly at all, the lead kept breaking whenever I applied a little more pressure and the pencil itself lasted less than a fortnight, it just fell from the table and the screw-on plastic that receives the metal point broke, nevertheless I was feeling creative and decided to glue it on... Ended up throwing it away a week later.
Maybe I was unlucky, but I expected this medium-end range mechanical pencil to survive an 80cm fall...


Wally said...

Hey, during a hunt for new graphite stuff i came across the Faber castell Grip Matic Super 1320 0.5, not much info on it on the internet, but it's kind of like if the Fc Grip Matic 1375 And the grip plus Had a triangular mechanical pencil baby, it seems mostly available on brazil and south america, but somehow some have made it to my country, it dosen't say where its made but im assuming china, since the color (both green) and the eraser are different than my japanese made grip plus, The auto advance works ok, it dosen't stop writing (but i preffer a little more lead sticking out), im still trying to figure out the best lead combination for it. Any advice? (BTW it only came with 1 measly lead, how cheap of them)