If anyone ever asks me which mechanical pencil is the best, I always tell them to look at the Kuru Toga.
There have been three main variants I have used day-to-day as my favourite pencil since the first one came out in 2009:
From top to bottom, we have the “Original” all plastic design, the “High Grade” design featuring a smooth metal grip and a thinner overall barrel, and the “Roulette” which swapped the smooth metal grip of the High Grade with a knurled grip.
This is also the order they became available and I’ve always switched as the newer models came out. The Roulette has been the most recent design and it has been the version I have used almost exclusively since then.
(Note: there have been a few other designs, ranging from an “Î± gel” grip, to simple Disney designs – but I’ve mostly skipped trying those)
While the barrel design has got (subjectively) better each time, the internal workings of the Kuru Toga has always been the same:
As you can see above, the Kuru Toga takes a unique approach by rotating the lead. This drastically improves the consistency of the lines produced from the pencil and reduces the chance of breakage.
With the Kuru Toga, the outside edges of the lead are worn down first. To aid this, a special kind of lead was made to complement the Kuru Toga:
Earlier this year, an updated version of the Kuru Toga became available but, unlike previous revisions to the barrel, there have been changes to writing experience too…
Uni Kuru Toga Slide Pipe Mechanical Pencil
In late 2015, a new variant appeared. The Kuru Toga “Slide Pipe” has two new features:
- You can retract the lead sleeve or pipe for storage
- The sleeve slowly slides up as you use it
This is really great addition to an already fantastic pencil mechanism.
Being able to push the lead pipe up into the barrel makes the pencil much nicer for storage because the overall length of the pencil is reduced and the tip is a lot kinder to pen holders and pockets.
It makes it safer too. There have been a number of times when I’ve accidentally stabbed myself in the hand with my Kuru Toga Roulette, a less than pleasing experience – trust me.
In addition, the lead pipe slowly slides up the lead as you use it. This means you don’t need to propel the lead as often, and there’s no way that the tip of the metal pipe will ever scratch against your paper when the lead gets worn down. I hadn’t actually had this on any of my pencils before and it’s also a really great addition.
Saying that, I tend to propel the lead anyway, as I like to be able to see a larger tip. But I found that I was able to write nearly twice as long as I could with the Roulette using the same B grade Kuru Toga lead. That’s pretty amazing.
Finally, while I am pleased to see this kind of improvement come to the Kuru Toga, I must say I’m a little disappointed that they chose to only update the original design.
I have a lot of pencils I can choose from and using the same plastic design of the original Kuru Toga isn’t appealing enough to grab my top spot, I’d much rather see the Roulette design feature this new pipe.
I can only hope an updated Roulette is on the way, and I’m keeping an eye out for it.