Thursday, October 28, 2010

Metaphys VISS 44050 Eraser Review

Metaphys VISS 44050 Eraser Review

I first saw the Metaphys VISS eraser back in 2008 on the ISOT (International Stationery and Office Products Tokyo) Trade Fair website, and it immediately caught my attention.

metaphys viss eraser 44050
From what I can make out, Metaphys are a design cooperative that partner with a range of manufacturers and distributors to design products that the partner then sells under the Metaphys brand. A consortium brand as it were. In this case the Viss eraser is in partnership with フエキ Fueki (Fueki Nori Kogyo Ltd) a company whose primary business is apparently industrial glues and adhesives, but who also have some presence in the stationery market, particularly products for the construction industry, e.g. carpenter pencils.

The idea behind the Viss eraser is simple. We all know that the nice sharp corners of a block eraser quickly become rounded and far less useful. The screw thread or spiral design of Viss means there is always a sharp edge available, or at least that’s the theory.

metaphys viss eraser 44050 closeup
The Viss is somewhat similar in size to your standard block eraser – it is about 58mm long and 15mm diameter. At the time of writing it is available in white, orange and black. Metaphys state it is made from “elastomer resin” so that probably means it is what many others would call a “PVC-free and latex-free” eraser.

In keeping with the premium stationery concept the Viss comes in its own little clear plastic container.

metaphys viss eraser 44050 container
Anyway, earlier this year I finally got around to getting a few of these Viss erasers to try. First off then, the spiral design provides an interesting sensation for your fingers every time you use it. An eraser and a fingertip massager all in one?

The main design concept of the Viss is that the spiral means you will always have a sharp edge available. Well, that’s a bit of a yes and no. If you hold the eraser at a relatively horizontal angle to use the edge as a thin line eraser then you will quickly wear down or blunt the peaks of the spiral. On the other hand, if you hold the eraser at a relatively vertical angle then you can use the outside edge of the spiral as the end point of what you are erasing. By that I mean you can easily erase up to a fairly well defined line from one side. The same as if you only ever held your block eraser perpendicular to the paper and just wore its end down without rounding the corners. It would still be a big fat eraser, but you could easily run the edge up to a controlled point when erasing. I think that’s the advantage of the Viss eraser, its design makes it much easier to do that. Much easier to hold it relatively perpendicular to the paper and erase up to a set point. It’s great for precisely erasing the first or last letter of a word, or even an entire word, but not so good at erasing a letter out of the middle of a word. Don’t get me wrong, you could make a reasonable attempt at erasing a letter from the middle of a word, by orientating the eraser horizontally to use a peak of the spiral but your vision is a bit restricted and the edges will blunt if used thus frequently. Of course you can re-sharpen them to some extent by later using the eraser vertically. All that aside though, long term, the spiral edges are never going to be as precise as a fine core stick eraser like Tombow Mono Zero, but they are sort of halfway between that and a traditional block eraser.

The eraser waste of Viss twists up very easily into strands. Actually it twists up better than most.

metaphys viss eraser waste
When you are doing some heavy erasing though it sometimes feels as if the eraser compound is starting to tear, or maybe even partially melt from the heat of surface friction? The eraser waste can bunch up too much and the surface of the eraser can be left looking a little torn or hairy.

Right then, time to get serious and head on down to the lab and get our highly expereinced staff to put Metaphys Viss to the test against our benchmark eraser, Staedtler Mars Plastic.
metaphys viss and staedtler mars plastic erasers
OK, first up, 0.5mm HB mechanical pencil lead.
0.5mm mechanical pencil lead test
Well, that’s a draw.

Let’s try again, this time really pressing the pencil lead hard into the paper to make it much heavier and darker.
mechanical pencil lead test 2
Again, pretty even, but perhaps Mars did a very slightly better job.

Next then let's try some wooden pencils, starting with two coloured pencils.
coloured pencil test
A clear but narrow victory to Mars. Basically Mars feels ever so slightly more abrasive in use and I imagine this was the secret to its success here.

Now wooden HB grade lead.
HB pencil test
Another draw! Well maybe Mars was an absolute fraction better. But only maybe.

Lastly then wooden 5B lead.
5B pencil test
Interesting. Mars certainly smears the lead about more. Overall it’s very close yet again, but if forced to choose a winner I think Mars erased better by a very small margin.

Frankly, I am surprised. I used Viss for several weeks and I thought it had only average erasing power, and that Mars would clearly be superior when they went head to head.

Overall then, I am very glad I spent my money to fly a couple of Metaphys Viss erasers across the ocean to my letterbox. Earlier in this review I described the Viss as “sort of halfway between that [Tombow Mono Zero] and a traditional block eraser”. Well being halfway between those two is a pretty good place to be. The Viss eraser looks cool, feels interesting in your hand, erases well, and the spiral design means you always have a reasonably sharp edge available. Get one and check it out for yourself.


Matthias said...

Thanks for showing us this eraser, I like the idea and it is good to know that it also performs well. The first photo is really great :)

Henrik said...

Thanks for a thorough review and the usual interesting backgrounds- great.
Erasers are indeed an interesting chapter in graphite writing and drawing. Especially the Japanese ones – great fun, erase your text with a piece of cheese, ice cream or similar food related items. To me this one looks like a screw without a head.

But I do love my kneadable art erasers –they do not destroy the paper or leave any residue.

Regards Henrik

razide said...

Thanks for the review of this unusual eraser although I still prefer to call them rubbers. Especially if the do more rubbing than erasing.

Good to see some innovation happening with eraser design and function.

Back in my old highschool tech drawing days we used thin metal eraser shields for precise erasure. I wonder if there has been much evolution in that field.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi razide - the eraser shield in the Staedtler catalogue looks exactly the same as the eraser shield I bought...ummm...well a few years ago :-) so i guess no.

Pamberjack said...


I that an Issey Miyake dress in the first photo?

Kiwi-d said...

Pamberjack - Crikey, award yourself a bonus point. Actually, you better have two. Well, I think it is anyway. Can't really remember.

Dwscamel said...

That is a phenomenal first picture and the eraser design is way cool!

I love the color of her dress.

Speedmaster said...

That thing looks funky but I kinda like it