I’ve really been wanting to try out the Mitsubishi Uni HB pencils since I found out how amazing the Hi-Uni HB pencils are from Mitsubishi (honestly all of their pencils I’ve tried from them have been great thus far). The concept of the same core, but a cheaper pencil sounds like a winner to me.
As it turns out, the Uni is a very hard pencil to come by in America. Jetpens, CW Pencil, shoot even Amazon or Ebay doesn’t really have them. I was only able to source a box via The Thackery (same with my box of Kita-Boshi 9500’s), though you can get some vintage pencils from some Etsy sellers (which I generally don’t care that much about vintage). So, are they worth it?
The pencil feels great, honestly. If you had never held a Hi-Uni or a Mono 100, it’d be a really deluxe pencil. HB designation is on 3 sides, and one side says “Pressure-Proofed Hi-Density Lead”, with the Japan inprint and the barcode, and the final HB side has the lot number of that run of pencils imbedded in the barrel of the pencil. Thick lacquer paint job, though not quite as ‘perfect’ as the Hi-Uni. It feels ever so slightly bumpy-er, not quite as glassy and perfectly smooth (though just barely not).
Below you’ll see the comparison between the Uni (top/right) and the Hi-Uni (bottom/left). It’s missing the gold band, it doesn’t have the HB designation on 6 sides, nor the rounded end with the little yellow indent. The Uni does feature a finished end, which I prefer.
But most of that stuff doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the graphite core right? And they feel like 99% the same. Every now and again, I’m like “Hmm, that feels different”, but realistically they are most assuredly the same one (right?).
I’m like this with the Tombow Mono and the Tombow Mono 100, something about looking for differences in something that’s supposed to be the same drives me crazy with confirmation bias. But, they do smear. Nearly any pencil will smear. So this pencil is like all pencils.
This is a great pencil overall though. It’s very easy to control if it’s going to make a slightly lighter or a darker line, unlike some other Japanese HB pencils I’ve used. Very smooth lead, can get pretty dark if you want it, and glides on smooth papers. For writing it is amazing as well, I wrote a first draft of this review with one on paper and I really enjoyed the smooth writing (I tend to only write with American #2 pencils like a General’s Semi-Hex or a cheap USA Gold or something).
The case is large, very similar to the Tombow Mono 100 case in how it opens, and it comes with an eraser with a plastic holster which is really fancy. The pencils are held in place with little dividers, which should help your cores from shattering during shipment. I like the Hi-Uni case the best, but this is nice.
Should you get these pencils over the Hi-Uni? I’d say only do it if you are saving enough money to make it worth it. In Japan, there is huge savings between the Uni and the Hi-Uni (the Uni is effectively 2/3 the price of the Hi-Uni there). In America, the margins are much slimmer. I only had a 2 dollar difference between the Uni and the Hi-Uni ($16.99 vs $18.99), and the Hi-Uni’s are way more common to come by.
There’s nothing wrong with the Uni’s, but I’d probably just get the Hi-Uni’s from now if they are still only $2 dollars more. If I could find a pack of Uni Star’s at a decent price that could be the winner, assuming they have the same core. If you know, please email me and let me know!
With all of that in mind, I think the Mitsubishi Uni HB Pencil gets 4 Zaffino Crazy Face Franks out of 5.