Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil High Grade Type M5-1012To be honest, I’m not really sure of the proper name for this mechanical pencil. First there was only the Kuru Toga, model M5-450 1P (or M3-450 1P in 0.3mm) but now there is a second model of mechanical pencil using the Kuru Toga ‘turn engine’, the M5-1012 1P. This new model is variously referred to as ‘high-grade’, ‘high specification’ or ‘2nd generation’, but high-grade seems to be the most common translation of Japanese websites so I’ll run with that. I guess it makes the 450 series Kuru Togas ‘original’. This article is mostly a quick comparison with the original Kuru Toga rather than a proper stand alone review, and should be read in conjunction with my original Kuru Toga posting.
Kuru Toga High Grade
At a quick glance the High Grade and the Original Kuru Toga don’t share many components other than the name and presumably the same internal Kuru Toga “turn engine” mechanism. You can see the differences in the pictures below.
The tip sections look similar but they are not the same.Different grip sections, main bodies, pocket clips, end sections, etc.
Clearly the extra metal components of the High Grade mean it should last a little longer.
At 15g the High Grade Kuru Toga is a medium weight mechanical pencil and about 5g heavier than the Original, but really neither of them are going to weigh your hand down. I expected the High Grade to be balanced towards the tip but it isn’t really, which was a little disconcerting until I got used to my expectation being incorrect.
The metal grip section of the High Grade is sculpted like the Original, but it’s a very slippery surface finish and I think the clear plastic of the Original actually provides a better grip.
Lead advance is achieved by a normal push top ratchet mechanism. Ten clicks will get you about 6mm of 0.5mm lead.It’s only small and emergency use, but I really like the black eraser. Black pencil, black eraser, full marks to Uni.The High Grade Kuru Toga is simple marked Kuru Toga.Is the Kuru Toga a draughting mechanical pencil? (Or drafting pencil as much of the English speaking world says.) I have seen it advertised on some websites as a drafting pencil, so let’s examine that idea. The lead sleeve is a thin metal pipe, but only about 2.75mm long. That’s a bit on the short side - 4mm is the usual length for mechanical pencils designed as drafting pencils. Quite a few people are very demanding of their precision technical mechanical pencils and the Kuru Toga has two features which might not satisfy exacting standards. Firstly the tip section steps out to full diameter quite quickly and I’m sure some folk would say it interferes with their line of sight to the lead. Secondly the turn engine means there is a small amount of vertical movement of the lead as you press down on the paper. It’s only a very small movement, but it’s different from normal lead cushioning and I know from previous comments that some of you will not find this acceptable. When you use a 0.5mm (or 0.3mm) pencil for drafting you usually hold it perpendicular to the paper so that the lead diameter is the width of the line. If you hold your pencil perpendicular to the paper then you never get a sharp or chisel point on your lead and the whole concept of the turn engine has no purpose, it’s a nullity. Lastly, as far as I can see, Mitsubishi Pencil don’t claim it as a drafting pencil. So, for my money, there is no question, the Kuru Toga is not a drafting pencil. It may have the general form of a mechanical drafting pencil, but it is not a drafting pencil.
Another question – How long will the turn engine last? The turn engine is a mechanism of toothed plates engaging and disengaging, so obviously there must be some wear, and thus the kuru toga will have a life expectancy of x-million operations before the teeth wear and jam or just don’t turn anymore. How many is x?
- Best Points – Turn, turn, turn.
- Not So Good Points – Slippery grip.
- Price Range – Low.
- Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? - No.