Friday, September 05, 2008

Sakura SumoGrip Mechanical Pencil Review

Sakura SumoGrip Mechanical Pencil Review

Ahhh, here we have it, the preferred pencil of Sumo wrestlers. Surely this will be a real handful of a mechanical pencil. Well, I have seen bigger grips (e.g. Sensa) but there is no doubting the SumoGrip is sized for big hands and those who like a jumbo sized grip. Therein lies the problem for me, I am not one of those people. To make matters even worse the grip is a bulging convex shape, widest in the middle of its length. I’m not a fan of convex – give me concave, tapering, straight, pretty much anything other than convex. So, I’ve got to say writing with the SumoGrip was not a pleasant experience for me, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who like a sumo sized grip so I’ll try to put my personal preferences aside and carry on. The cross-section of the grip is a circle that has been squashed slightly triangular and the faces have grooves cut in them to aid grip. It’s made from a rubber compound which is a little “grippy” and does have a little flex in it so I guess it does aid rather than hinder your grip. Now, here’s a point worth noting. I actually have two SumoGrips – a black (or gray) 0.7mm and a clear 0.9mm. The white translucent grip on the 0.9mm pencil is noticeably softer and tackier and really does grab your fingers. I don’t know if this is just some random batch to batch difference, or an inherent difference between the black rubber compound and the white rubber. OK, well that’s the grip done to death. At the end of the day, I prefer watching Ninja Warrior to sumo wrestling on TV, so I guess I’ll just have to wait for the Ninja Grip mechanical pencil.
Below the rubber grip the front tip is a tapering cone. From my pencils and the Sakura website it appears the 0.5 and 0.7mm versions have a metal cone and the 0.9mm has a plastic cone. The cone ends in a short conical lead sleeve, which is retractable on the metal cones but a fixed part of the plastic cone. So, this is definitely a writing only pencil, and the 0.5mm and 0.7mm versions are pocket safe.

The lead advance mechanism is a push top ratchet – 10 clicks will get you about 8mm of 0.7 or 0.9mm lead. Again, I don’t know if its just random difference but the ratchet system on my 0.9mm pencil is markedly stiffer, jerkier and clickier than my 0.7mm pencil. Jerkier and clickier? – phew, I’m using all the technical terms in this review.

The pocket clip is a basic plastic moulded plastic clip. Reasonably functional.

The main barrels are transparent, and the tip section is too on the 0.9mm version. I imagine many younger users would like to see the insides working as they click away.

Besides the grip, the other main feature of the SumoGrip is obviously the large extendable eraser. You screw the top housing around to extend or retract the eraser. The eraser core is about 7mm (a bit over ¼ inch) diameter and has about 28mm (1 1/8th inch) of usable length. The whole eraser housing cartridge pulls out of the body to allow access to the lead magazine. Here’s a quick comparison between the SumoGrip eraser and Staedtler Mars Plastic, using the leads that came supplied in the pencils.

Not much in it really. Basically a draw (tie).

“SumoGrip”, the lead size, and “Japan, Sakura” are printed on the pocket clip. The Sakura of America barcode label stuck on the barrel includes model identifications like 37655 and XCS07 for the 0.7mm pencil and 37657 and XCS09 for the 0.9mm pencil.

  • Best Points – the grip if you like a wide grip, large extendable eraser.
  • Not So Good Points – the grip if you don’t like a wide grip, or rubber grips. The tip difference with the 0.9mm version could annoy folk who have one of the other lead diameters and thought they’d try a 0.9mm too.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 139mm, main body diameter 13mm and it’s slightly triangularish but the grip diameter/width is about 15mm. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.

Note 1: I haven’t pulled them apart for detailed comparison, but I’m sure observant readers will note the striking similarities between the Sakura SumoGrip and the Staedtler Remedy. They then might think of the Faber-Castell Grip Plus and look out, it’s another attack of the clones.

2: See also
Joy of Erasers, who sent me my 0.9mm Sumo Grip. Thanks J.

3: There is also a somewhat different SumoGrip II.


Anonymous said...

Well, kudos to Sakura for releasing an inexpensive 0.9mm pencil, which I think must be a rarity.

Unknown said...

I used to enjoy them for sketching, and got the whole range of thicknesses of Sumo Grip pencils along with a few 0.7 mm Staedtler Remedy in my tool box. But lately I have switched to mostly thinner drafting mechanical pencils since the lead seems to break too often with my Sumo Grips.

Anonymous said...

after my FC emotion pencil, the 0.9mm Sumo grip is one of my favorite, I like how it fits on my hand, but there is another reason that I like this pencil. I can use it on my PDA without scratching the screen. I am not a fan of writing with plastic toothpicks, which is what usually is included as the stylus for PDAs.

garbanzito said...

i'm on my 2nd SumoGrip 0.5; the bulk is just right for me; the grip is actually _not_ convex (or is barely so) on the parts of the pads my fingers contact; they have been reliable for me, and the retractable point is nice, but the most superior aspect in comparison to other pencils i've tried is the truly usable and long-lasting eraser

the transparency doesn't really reveal much of the workings, but i think it helps the unit seem less bulky

mine currently has no bar-code, but i'm not sure if i removed it or it just rubbed off

AK said...

i'm so glad to have found your blog. i didn't know there were other mechanical pencil nerds out there besides me!

Kiwi-d said...

Welcome to the flock AK.