Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monami Gripix Mechanical Pencil Review

Monami Gripix Mechanical Pencil Review

The Monami Gripix mechanical pencil appears to be part of a small ‘Gripix’ range of products sold by the Korean stationery company Monami. There is the 0.5mm Gripix mechanical pencil, Gripix-T lead refills and a Gripix eraser. Both the eraser and lead refills include the wording “…for professional” on them so I assume Monami market the Gripix products as superior grade products.
MonAmi Gripix range items
Over the last six months or so I’ve ended up with quite a few mechanical pencils from various Korean brands. Korean people have generally implied to me that most Korean made writing instruments tend to be cheap both in price and quality, and their attempts at more expensive looking pencils are not good. This has always surprised me as many Korean manufacturing industries don’t operate in the cheap or nasty end of the market. But I did say “most”, not “all”. There are some Korean brand mechanical pencils that are not down there in the mire, and an initial glance at the Monami Gripix pencil suggested it might be one of them.

Firstly, it didn’t look cheap from a distance, and a second closer glance didn’t reveal any glaring issues either. That’s better than many Korean pencils have done.
MonAmi Gripix mechanical pencil
Gripix side view
So then, the Monami Gripix mechanical pencil is a drafting or technical style pencil. In the black and silver plus chrome colour scheme of my example it looks quite good. Close inspection though reveals the printing on the pencil body is not of a high standard – the silver rings do not completely encircle the body, and there are some dots of silver splattered on the body. The chrome appointments though look good, and the body and rubber grip appear to be well moulded.
Gripix splatterGripix rings

The Gripix is quite lightweight, only 10g, and it certainly doesn’t feel any more substantial in the hand. The round rubber grip is quite a narrow diameter, with moulded in grooves which give a little under finger pressure. Combined with a reasonably grippy compound this is a rubber grip that works well, one that actually improves grip. Although the grip is round the groove pattern is not constant and a smooth area aligns with the fixed pocket clip perhaps discouraging those who like to twirl their grip.
MonAmi Gripix mechanical pencil rubber grip
The lead sleeve is the traditional draughting pencil fixed non-retractable thin lead pipe, this time at about 3.5mm long.
Gripix mechanical pencil lead sleeve
The lead advance mechanism is a standard push top ratchet. It’s a fairly positive feeling mechanism; ten clicks will get you 7mm of the 0.5mm lead. At the time of writing Monami only offer the Gripix mechanical pencil in 0.5mm lead size. I did an unusual thing (for me) and unscrewed the tip section to have a look at the mechanism and chuck. It is an all metal chuck for those who demand that.

Just above the rubber grip is a lead hardness indicator. It is a simple rotating ring with a U-shaped cut-out to display the lead grade printed on the body underneath. Grades 2B, B, HB and H are available for display. Not a particularly large selection, and perhaps geared more towards art and general writing rather than drafting work. There is no positive lock on the ring, it just sits in position by friction. It is prone to being inadvertently rotated as you handle the pencil. Also the plastic ring is a moulded metallic silver colour and it just looks plain cheap. I think it is the single most obvious feature that detracts from the Gripix.
Lead hardness indicator ring
The pocket clip looks quite good, but is only barely adequate. It doesn’t spring well. ‘MONAMI’ is stamped into the pocket clip.
MonAmi pocket clip

Up at the top end of the pencil there is a twist out eraser cartridge. Twist out eraser cartridge
The eraser is about 3.6mm diameter and has 22mm of usable length. The twist function works well, but the small chrome ring around the top of the cartridge is loose. It spins on the black plastic cartridge. That’s no big deal, it is purely decorative, but again it just seems “not right”. I feel it should be fixed, not free to spin, and I keep expecting it to fall off. A more important point is that the eraser always has some black powder on it. Nice white eraser, clumps of black powder…again it just looks wrong. I’m not sure if the powder is graphite dust or plastic grindings, but no matter how many times I wipe the eraser clean, next time I twist it out the black stuff is back. I’ll be honest and say that from the feel of the eraser compound I had my doubts as to whether it would be any good, but I gave it a quick try and it did a respectable job of erasing HB mechanical pencil lead.

You pull the whole eraser cartridge out of the body to refill the lead chamber, which is a decent size so you’ll get a good number of spare leads in there.
Eraser cartridge access to lead refills
‘Gripix – 0.5’ is printed on the body. The barcode and price sticker states KOREA which I want to believe means “Made in Korea”, but that may not be the case at all. Somebody from Korea want to enlighten me - does stamping ‘Korea’ on an item mean ‘Made in Korea’, or just that it’s got some association with Korea, like designed in Korea but it could be made in China?
Gripix logo

Overall then, despite the mainly aesthetic faults detailed above, I quite liked this pencil, and for the peanuts that it costs, the Monami Gripix mechanical pencil is a pretty good deal.

• Best Points – The rubber grip (Have I gone crazy?).
• Not So Good Points – The lead hardness ring design and appearance really lets the side down.
• Price Range – Economy.
• Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? - No.

Dimensions – Length 145mm, diameter 10mm at widest part of grip. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

Coming soon to a blog near you…more on Gripix eraser and leads.


Prof pi (Jeff Thompson) said...

Do you have any suggestions where one can purchase the MonAmi Gripix 05, or on the web with a company that ships to the US?
Thanks, love your site, by the way.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Prof pi.
Sorry, I can't offer any suggestions.

memm said...

The twist-out eraser and the grip look quite nice, the chrome tip section too. If the grade indicator was chrome, like the clip and tip, it would actually be a good looking pencil.

Kiwi-d said...

Yes, I feel that with just a little extra effort they could make quite an improvement to this pencil.

miss.awesome.lady said...

Prof pi---Morning Glory might have it...no wait, it's not cute enough!!! Gasp!!!

Penmaniacs said...

i agree with your looks opinion. That pencil is frankly trying to be something it is not. Great review