Monday, September 29, 2008

Parker IM Mechanical Pencil Review

Parker IM Mechanical Pencil Review

Yet another tale of me falling victim to my own weaknesses. It was a little under two years ago, Christmas was coming, I was in a stationery shop, I was happy, there on the counter was a Parker pen and pencil set at a never to be repeated special Christmas price…you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know what happened next. Not that I’m now unhappy with my purchase, but really I shouldn’t have bought it, it doesn’t really fit my collecting criteria. But then again, most of my collection doesn’t fit my criteria.
My Parker IM mechanical pencil and ballpoint are brushed nickel with gold trims. This combination doesn’t seem to exist on the Parker website - the current IM’s seem to be mostly coloured plastic bodies, and they have a distinctly different pocket clip and top section, so I assume my version has been discontinued. But then I still see it in shops around here, so??? You can get the ballpoint by itself, but the pencil seems only available as part of a twin-set. I suppose one day I should put in the time and effort to learn to recognise a nickel from stainless steel body, but to the uneducated eye they are pretty similar. Then there’s learning to tell chrome plating from nickel plating. Too much hard work.

My first impression of the IM is that it is a bit of a “fat boy”. With an 11mm diameter it is on the large side of town, but somehow its overall appearance is of something wider again. Must just be the combination of length, angle of the tip taper, etc all just combining to give the impression of extra width. Not that I’m against width, just somehow this pencil ends up looking a bit short and squat for my personal taste.

The brushed nickel finish on my IM is quite bright and reflective. The gold trims – that’s tip, front band, pocket clip and top section inc. push top button – are quite a light gold colour so I believe that makes them a fairly low carat gold alloy. This means there isn’t a huge colour contrast between the nickel and gold in a lot of lighting situations as both are very nice and shiny. Personally I think the minimal contrast might actually be better than if there was a big contrast with a high purity gold alloy as I’m not generally a big fan of gold-silver combinations. But each to their own.
In the hand the IM is not particularly heavy for a largish metal pencil. There are no grip enhancements although the brushed finish must provide a little more grip than a polished finish. I personally found it a little too wide for my tastes as my preferred grip zone was basically up at the full diameter of the body, and the gold band was sort of in the way too. Unlike some metal pencils, this one didn’t seem to have any annoying rattles. The lead sleeve is a short fixed cone so this isn’t really a pocket friendly pencil.

Moving up to the top of the pencil, the push top button is fixed on, there is no eraser hidden underneath. Ten clicks on the button will get you about 7mm of the 0.5mm lead. I certainly had more than my usual share of lead breakages whilst using the IM, so I don’t think the lead supplied with the pencil is of a particularly high grade. Replacing the lead - well that’s a bit difficult in the absence of instructions. The push top button doesn’t come off, so that only leaves unscrewing something. The front section was the obvious choice and appears to be the correct method. As is common with these disassembly systems you have to have things all correctly aligned and positioned when you reassemble or the ratchet lead advance won’t work. So, yet again, come on, someone from the writing instrument companies read this blog and decide to supply instructions on how to refill the pencil. Seriously, this blog has taught me that there are a lot of people out there who don’t even know mechanical pencils are refillable, let alone how to work out how to refill a difficult one like this that requires significant disassembly of the writing instrument. The pocket clip is not spring loaded but is a good strong piece of metal that works well. It is of course made with the Parker arrow tradition in mind. The Parker “P” logo is embossed into the top of the push top button. The “P” logo and “Parker” are printed in black just above the front gold band. I actually really like the look of that. Quite stylish. How long the printing will last though is another question.

  • Best Points – I really like the Parker name printed down at the front.
  • Not So Good Points – Difficult to refill.
  • Price Range – Low, as part of a set.

Dimensions – Length 141mm, diameter 11mm. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.


Kiwi-d said...

Barrel – I hope this photo shoots models are slightly more acceptable to you. Trying to hire a wide selection of models representative of the general populous is actually quite challenging with my limited resources. And including a female impersonator might be taking things a bit too far.

Anonymous said...

You have demonstrated an admirable spirit of inclusiveness in your search for pencil mannequins and you really have the hirsute thing down Dave, but your understanding of posterior needs a little refinement :>))). I quite like the Bob's-your-uncle politician/ television presenter looking fellow and the wounded footballer/scrummer with the bandaged forehead, but who's the dashing chap at the bottom who looks like the cat that just swallowed the canary and is having us on?

That saucy girl on the left is looking right at me Dave, but it is her twin sister (swoon) who is beckoning me hither. Her lips are moving, she's trying to tell me something. She says to buy more pencils.

Tres bien my ami!

Barrel Of A Pencil

Kiwi-d said...

The wounded scrummager is an optical illusion - the bandage is actually the white top of the lead refill chamber, check the cross-dresser above that shot. But I can see how misleading the photo the is. Despite the cauliflower ears, the scrummager is a little fellow who I doubt was a scrummager.

The happy chap at the bottom is happy because he got a really cheap home loan from his bank.

Germ said...

can't go wrong with brushed betal barrel, IMO. :) Nice set, other than the gold trim.

Anonymous said...

Just bought one, the highly polished chrome version off Ebay. Will know more when it arrives.
A little mindful of your detaling that there is no eraser, hmm.
Hopefully will return with feedback.

Anonymous said...

I have today purchased one of these Parker I.M. pencils in the Philippines and I am absolutely delighted with it. It seems to comfortably fit my slightly large hands and the barrel sits nicely on my fingers. I chose the black one with gold trim.
You commented that the trim was quite a light gold colour, suggesting a fairly low carat gold alloy. However on the Parker pen website, it actually states that the trim is 23-carat gold plated. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that.
I agree with your remark about the longevity of the printed Parker name on the barrel. We'll see if it rubs off in a short time. I hope not, because it adds an extra touch of class to the barrel.
You also mentioned that the pencil seems to be only available as a twin-set with the ballpoint. I was able to purchase mine as a single item for the princely sum of PHP460 (about USD10.00).

You say you were unable to find this model on the Parker pen website. Just to let you know, and for anyone else who may be interested, the pencil can be found at:
To view the correct item:
Select a finish: choose your colour and trim
Select a mode: choose the pencil icon to view the pencil.

Thanks for the excellent quality of your unbiased reviews!


Kiwi-d said...

Thanks for your comments Phil. Thanks for the Parker link - they have clearly updated their website in the 18 months since I wrote this reveiw.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know more about when writing instruments have a nickel body. I have a nickel contact allergy. I am very grateful for you review. So stupid of me but I would not have realised that this sort of satinised finish could be nickel.

Anonymous said...

I have just purchased the same set but the 2011 version has some minor differences to this set. 1. There is no Black Parker stamping - now engraved into the gold ring. 2. The button has no logo on top - just a flat top gold plated button which is very "jerky" on the pencil. 3. the threading on mine is black plastic and not very easy to thread. The one in the photo looks like metal (machined?) threading. So Parker have been cost cutting by the look of it. I only got the set because it was reduced from an outrageous RRP(MSRP) of AUD65 to AUD19.95 and comes in a nice wooden box with carved inserts for the pen and pencil. I hate the thickness and heavy weight of this set. I can't complain though - I knew what I was getting. Rating 4/10 and the box is most of that. Awful set.