Monday, January 25, 2016

Target Art Supply Review: Up and Up Mechanical Pencils and Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencils

This review is part of the Target Art Supply Review Series, which is a part of my Affordable Art Supply Series.  If you enjoy posts like this, please let me know, I love getting feedback from you guys!  If you're interested in helping out, a signal boost to your social networks helps me gain in popularity, and introduces your friends to my reviews and tutorials.

This is a two part review- I'm starting with the Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencils, and ending with the Up and Up Mechanical Pencils.  Although I've used mechanical pencils for drawing for more than two decades, I don't spend much time reviewing them for the blog.  Like so many things, I feel like those of us who prefer mechanical pencils to wooden pencils are specific in our needs and wants, and what works for me may be intolerable for you.  Even the difference of ten years can be huge, when I was in highschool, I liked Clearpoint side advancement mechanical pencils, and now I find them annoying to draw or write with.

That said, pencils are an important part of any artist's arsenal, and many artists find mechanical pencils to be convenient, so I thought it important to cover a couple  brands sold at Target as part of the Target Art Supply Review series.


Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencils



  • $3.62 at Target
  • 2 Pencils
  • 10 refill leads



The Package




The package includes two mechanical pencils and a pack of replacement lead, which is good, as the lead for these pencils is probably pretty hard to come by, given it's unusual shape.  The package is plastic and cardboard, not reusable.

The back of the package reads

Gorilla Lead
Combine the incredible strength and fury of a gorrila and you get our Gorilla Lead.  With premium strength and quality, you truly write with the best.
Includes:
2 Mechanical pencils with 2 1.8 mm Leads in Each

10 1.8 mm lead refills with  container
Quality Guaranteed
We guarantee the quality of Write Dudes products.  If this product does not perform properly, please contact us at:
Mega Brands America Inc Irvine CA 92618 USA
180052142 (US and Canada) support.megabrands.com
Like us on Facebook! 
www.facebook.com/WriteDudes
2015 Mega Brands International
Made in China

Mattel Sales Corp, 33 Continental Boulevard

El Segundo, CA 90245, USA

Consumer Services: 180052142
Lead conforms to ASTM D4236
Please retain this information for future references

Colors and Decorations May Vary
I'm really interested to see how plastic mechanical pencils can combine both the strength and the fury of a live gorilla, I suspect that's a difficult promise to keep.  Theoretically I should be able to drive over these pencils with no lead breakage, right?

The Pencils



Unique, and possibly difficult to replace 1.8mm rectangular B lead.  Side advancement button (not my favorite placement).  All plastic body, removable cap reveals eraser.  Oval shaped body that isn't prone to rolling.  Grip is just moulded notches on the body of the pencil.


Probably great for field sketching, given that this chunky lead would be a bit less prone to breaking.  Unfortunately, you can only load one lead at a time, so you can't carry spares in the pencil's body.



I didn't immediately realize the cap was meant to be removed regularly, it was only when checking out the lead's feed that I discovered the eraser within.


Compared to Other Mechanical Pencils

From left to right:  Pentel GraphGear 1000, Up and Up Mechanical Pencil, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencil, Color Eno Mechanical Pencil
 This pencil seems to be to mechanical pencils what a carpenter's pencil is to regular pencils.

From left to right:  Color Eno mechanical pencil, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencil, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Up and Up mechanical pencil, Pentel Graph Gear 1000
 All of the other pencils in this photo take .7 lead, which is my go-to lead as I'm fairly heavy handed, and lead is prone to break on me.
From left to right:  Color Eno mechanical pencil, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencil, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Up and Up mechanical pencil, Pentel Graph Gear 1000

From left to right:  Color Eno mechanical pencil, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencil, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Up and Up mechanical pencil, Pentel Graph Gear 1000
 I generally don't use the erasers that come with my mechanical and drafting pencils, preferring to have a dedicated standalone eraser (or four) handy instead, so most of my erasers don't see much use.  Most of my mechanical pencils have a clip on the body of the pencil that can't easily be pulled off.  The clip on the cap of the Gorilla Lead pencil may cause the cap to be subject to separation from the body if used as a clip, and may result in the loss of the pencil body.

The Field Test


Note:  This test was performed in the Up and Up Drawing Book reviewed here last week.  The paper quality is very smooth and without much tooth to hold graphite.




The unusual body shape, and side advance mechanism make this pencil difficult for me to hold and sketch with.  The wide lead becomes dull quickly, and isn't really suitable for people who sketch small, or for people who utilize multiple lines (like construction) as the area becomes overworked and overwhelmed quickly.




The eraser does not erase the included graphite cleanly.






The Verdict 


I wouldn't purchase these mechanical pencils again, as they aren't conducive to the way I work.  They seem like they'd be decent for field sketching, or for marking wood with their large, unusually sized leads, but my hand keeps catching on the side advancement, and there isn't really anywhere for me to rest my hand while I draw.


Up and Up Mechanical Pencils

  • 10 pencils in 5 grip colors
  • .7mm lead
  • back advancement
  • included eraser
  • plastic grip
  • plastic clip is moulded on body
  • $2.79 at Target





The Package







The back of the Up and Up Mechanical Pencils package is far more stark than the Write Dudes package, with very little product information available.

The Pencils


I think most people are familiar with this style of mechanical pencil- it's a pretty basic design.  The back of the pencil is depressed to advance the lead inside, and the eraser is removable should you decide to add more lead (purchased seperately).  These are .7mm mechanical pencils, which is what I usually use for my work, and have an all white plastic body with a slightly rubberized 'grip' that matches the eraser.   Regardless of the color of the grip and eraser, the lead inside is graphite.





These pencils feel very cheap in the hand, and the lead sheath rattles in the pencil.  The grip isn't soft at all, but it is a little rubbery, so it's more for slip prevention and slight ergonomics.


Compared to Other Mechanical Pencils


From left to right:  Pentel Graph Gear 1000, Target Up and Up mechanical pencil, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead Pencil, Uni Color Eno Mechanical Pencil

From left to right:  Uni Color Eno, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Pentel Graph Gear 1000

From left to right:  Uni Color Eno, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Pentel Graph Gear 1000

From left to right:  Uni Color Eno, Write Dudes Gorilla Lead, Faber Castell Grip 1347, Pentel Graph Gear 1000

As you can see from the above comparison photos, the Up and Up Mechanical pencils share a lot in common with many of the other mechanical pencils in the lineup.  Like the Faber Castell 1347 the Up and Up Mechanical pencil has a plastic, rubberized grip that offers little cushioning.  Like all of the pencils in this lineup, the Up and Up Mechanical pencil has a removable eraser that once removed, gives the owner access to the lead feed.  Like the Color Eno mechanical pencil, the plastic clip is part of the body of the pencil.

The Field Test

This field test was completed in the Up and Up Drawing Book, recently reviewed on this blog as part of the Target Art Supply Review series. 





Eraser is pretty much garbage, so if you're going to use these (or stuck using these), provide your own eraser.

Drawn as part of the field test for the Up and Up Drawing Book 

Sketches ok, lead feels like HB.   Erases fairly cleanly with another eraser such as Pentel Clic Eraser or a Mono white vinyl eraser.

The Verdict

These aren't horrible, but they're pretty cheap mechanical pencils, and feel like cheap mechanical pencils.  The grip doesn't provide much protection, but it gives you a place to rest your fingers. The lead is pretty standard, and the eraser is horrible, so if you're going to use these pencils, you should probably have another eraser ready for use.

These mechanical pencils are as basic as they come, and are available on the cheap from almost any store, and the Up and Up Mechanical pencils aren't a particularly great representation.  If you want a cheap mechanical pencil, you should probably skip these and opt for something that's built a little better.

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.