The Uni Kuru Toga has to be one of the better known mechanical pencils in use today. As you may know, the whole thing about the Kuru Toga is that it has an “engine” that rotates the graphite each time it contacts the paper. The theoretical result is that the graphite point does not become unevenly sharpened so the line width is more consistent and the frequency of graphite breakage is reduced. Does it work? It actually does. But, it’s up to the individual user to decide if this is a needed feature or if it’s a case of a solution in search of a problem. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know which camp I fall into. Part of me enjoys the bit of line variation one gets from an asymmetrically shaped graphite point. Then again, part of me enjoys tools that work consistently and effectively every time. If I had to choose, I’d say I’m a fan of the feature. If I want variation in my graphite lines I can grab a 0.9 or wider mechanical pencil or a wood case pencil with softer graphite. All that said, the Kuru Toga does have a unique writing feel. Because the graphite makes that very slight rotation when it touches the paper there is a “softness” to the writing experience. If you like a tight and precise feel when writing with a mechanical pencils, then the Kuru Toga may not be for you.
What about the build quality? I’ve had the 0.7 and 0.5 mm versions for several months and both pencils have never failed me. Even though I have the all plastic versions of these pencils and they’ve been in an out of my work bag, dropped on the floor, covered by textbooks and generally put through the ringer of everyday use for 6+ months they’re still going strong. These are fixed-post pencils so they are not 100% pocket safe. The body and grip areas are made of the same plastic piece but the grip area has some ridges to help you hold onto the pencil. As for the eraser, it’s a touch larger than those silly tiny erasers found in many mechanical pencils but smaller than those typically found on wood cased pencils. As I recall, the pack I bought included replacement erasers but I’d hard pressed to find them at this point. The eraser is covered by an easily removed plastic cap that is also easy to replace without inadvertently advancing the graphite.
I’ve facilitated on the grade of graphite used in these pencils. At one point, I thought a harder grade (F or H) made sense since the rotation feature softened the writing experience. More recently, I’ve loaded the pencils with B grade graphite in search of a darker line to compliment the consistent line put out by the Kuru Toga. If I had to pick, I’d say the softer lead option is more enjoyable and effective overall.
So, how does the Kuru Toga stack up? At the end of the day the true measure of any writing implement is your willingness/tendency to use it. On that score, the Kuru Toga does very well. It may not be the pencil I grab for first, but it is one I reach for frequently. Of the many pencils (mechanical and wood case) I’ve used over the years as a science student and science teacher, the Kuru Toga is absolutely a keeper.
(My own money was spent on the stuff in this post so it is probably a fairly honest assessment of said stuff.)