Friday, August 27, 2010

Paper Mate FlexGrip Elite Mechanical Pencil Review

Paper Mate FlexGrip Elite Mechanical Pencil Review

Here’s a bit of an unusual beast from the Paper Mate stable. I say unusual because it sort of looks like a MechFranken pencil to me. The head of one pencil cut off and stuck on the body of another.

paper mate flexgrip mechanical pencil
I’m not saying it’s necessarily ugly, just a bit unusual and disconcerting. I quite like the crimson red ring grooves in the grip zone and the red pocket clip moulding is quite eye-catching, but the transition from the straight thin main shaft to that large bulging silver top housing…like I say, it looks like the surgeons have been experimenting to me. I’m not sure about the colour scheme either. The main body is matt and has a brownish tinge to it that I don’t think quite goes with the metallic silver top section. And what exactly is that top section for? It looks like it should be housing something, like an extendable eraser, but it isn’t. It is apparently purely decorative. It serves no functional purpose. Just like decorative pillows…ahhh, I’m getting started…moving on now. Perhaps one of the other colour combinations available for the FlexGrip would suit me better - the black with silver trims for example!

flexgrip mechanical pencil grip
In the hand the Papermate Flexgrip Elite feels quite good. The grip is on the narrow side, but I like the feel of the grooved rings under-finger. The main body has one of those rubberised coatings which even though they are rubber I can accept. They don’t feel that rubbery, don’t look rubbery, aren’t squishy and do actually improve the grip characteristics, particularly for long term use like in a lecture or exam. Having said that, there are sometimes issues with the long term durability of these rubberised coatings…but it’s not an expensive pencil. Also despite the large top section the pencil is still lightweight and neutrally balanced.

I did note an annoying tendency for the FlexGrip to sometimes squeak when writing. I think this noise came from the lead cushioning mechanism. Also, for the heavy handed, the FlexGrip lives up to its name and you can feel some flex in the body when writing.

The lead sleeve is a retractable cone as you might expect on a general writing mechanical pencil like this one. When retracted the front section is fairly blunt so the pencil is pocket safe. Again as expected the mechanism is a standard push top ratchet, with the uncovered eraser being the push button. Ten clicks of the quiet and smooth mechanism will get you about 7mm of the 0.5mm lead.

papermate flexgrip mechanical pencil eraser
The uncovered eraser works reasonably well as an eraser but obviously won’t last that long if used frequently. Because the eraser is the push button for the lead advance mechanism you will probably inadvertently advance the lead when you use the eraser. Now there’s nothing particularly unusual about that, but for some reason I found this more of a problem than usual with the Paper Mate Flexgrip. Also of course being uncovered and out on display, when the eraser has been used and worn down, it does detract from the looks of the pencil. I don’t really think that fits with the Elite association.

refilling paper mate flexgrip mechanical pencil
You can pull either the eraser or the whole housing out of the top section to access the lead refill magazine. It is only a narrow plastic tube so you won’t get a whole heap of lead down there. The eraser housing is a push fit onto the plastic lead magazine tube.

The pocket clip is moulded plastic and quite strong, but like many such clips it does not actually touch the body so won’t securely clip onto something thin like just a couple of sheets of paper, but on something thicker though it is fine.

There are some Papermate graphics and model details printed on the body of the pencil, but these quickly wear off in use. See what a difference two weeks of use makes?

papermate flexgrip pencil graphics
‘Papermate’, the Papermate double heart logo and ‘Korea’ are moulded into the top section.

Overall then, this mechanical pencil is a bit of a mixed bag, but it doesn’t exactly cost the earth!
• Best Points – The rubberised body.
• Not So Good Points – I don’t think the whole overall look really gels together.
• Price Range – Economy.
• Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? - No.

Dimensions – Length 148mm, diameter 9mm at grip zone. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

This Papermate FlexGrip Elite mechanical pencil was supplied by Euroffice, an office supplies specialist in the UK, in exchange for a review of the pencil and an acknowledgement.


B2-kun said...

While this pencil might not be much to look at, the review certainly is thorough and informative as usual.

Kiwi-d said...

I appreciate for the compliment.

Time Waster said...

This is a masses pencil cheap and for the masses =)
Your pictures don't do this pencil justice because it's not that good I have some burried somewhere in a box.

memm said...

The 80s look of the front is kind of nice, but the end of the pencil... :(

1962PENCILS said...

Weird design, maybe they got inspired by these guys, the Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), half Zebra half Giraffe.

Lexx said...

Not so "eyecatching", but heeey, It's an mechanical pencil! ;D

Anonymous said...

can you do a review on pencils from muji?

Kiwi-d said...

Anonymous - I have heard of Muji, but never seen any and don't have any, so unfortunately I cannot.

ThirdeYe said...

It looks an awful lot like the FlexGrip Ultra, rather than the FlexGrip Elite. I can't seem to find any information about finding these in the US, only the Elite that looks more like the Elite pen we have here: