Review: Tombow Fudenosuke, Brush Pen, Hard Tip


Brush pens are a tools typically used by calligraphers, and since calligraphy has never been a hobby of mine, it’s fair to say that I’m inexperienced with them. However, brush pens are still fun to write with, and that is doubly true for this hard-tipped version of Tombow’s Fudenosuke. Writing with it feels similar to writing with a porous point pen (e.g. the Sharpie Pen, Bic Intensity, Sakura Pigma Micron, etc.), making it much more practical for every day use.


Unlike porous point pens, which have needle-like tips, the Fudenosuke’s tip looks more like a very fine paintbrush. Writing with it at different angles will create lines of varying thickness. However, the Fudenosuke’s hard tip makes this line variation less extreme compared to a softer/bigger tip. Moreover, the harder tip seems to make bleed-through and smearing a lot less problematic. For basic handwriting (like I have) it adds a nice flourish, though it takes a little practice.

Anyone who prides him/herself on nice handwriting would enjoy this pen. Whereas porous point pens usually make sloppier handwriting look crisper, this hard-tip brush pen is probably better suited to those who already have nice handwriting. Using the Fudenosuke quickly/sloppily will create a mess, but if you take your time with it, this pen will reward your patience.



Review: Tombow Zoom 707, Ballpoint, 0.7mm


The Tombow Zoom 707 is nothing if not distinctive. Between the accordion-like twist, the red ball at the end of the clip, and the protruding grip, it looks like no pen I’ve seen. In fact, it seems almost like a novelty pen.

That’s not to disparage it; the Zoom 707 is clearly a high-quality pen. It has a durable, metal barrel, a clip that secures snugly, and a twist mechanism that ejects the pen’s tip smoothly. It has a soft, rubber grip and comes with a ballpoint refill that’s comparatively darker and smoother than most (though some ink blobbing does occur).


Due to its size, however, the Zoom 707 is the kind of pen that’s best slipped inside a planner or pocket-notebook. Despite the grip section, which is noticeably thicker than the pen’s barrel, the Zoom 707’s slenderness is simply impractical for writing longer notes or letters. Writing at any length quickly becomes uncomfortable.

The Zoom 707 will likely run you anywhere from 15 to 35 dollars, depending on which color you’re after, and, to me, that seems a bit pricey given its limited practicality. If you’re in the market for a super-slim pen, I’d recommend checking out the Pilot Couleur. If you just want a unique-looking Tombow pen, I’d suggest the Airpress. The Zoom 707 is a nice pen, but it’s hard to beat these alternatives, as they typically run in the 5 to 10 dollar range.


Review: Tombow Ultra, Rollerball, 0.5mm


The Tombow Ultra feels like a pen you’d whip out to write your personal number on the back of a business card. It’s a hefty, thick, and professional-looking pen. It exists to impress, but it isn’t just for show either. It’s durable and comfortable, and it comes stocked with an amazing rollerball ink.

The Ultra is in the 25-50 dollar price range, and for your money you get a good-quality metal and enamel pen. However, it does have a rubberized grip – it’s thick and comfortable, but it’s worth noting that it might wear down with heavier use.


Still, the only major flaw in the Ultra is a plastic piece inside the cap that exists to create an airtight seal around the tip of the refill, preventing it from drying out. Unfortunately, this plastic piece is too thin and malleable. It frequently gets bent out of shape when attempting to cap the pen, making it necessary to bend it back in place before the cap can be properly secured. It’s a very annoying aspect of an otherwise nice pen.

Regardless, I do like the Ultra. It even comes inside a Tombow case, making it nicely giftable. And, as I mentioned, I am very impressed with its rollerball refill, which is clean, dark, and low smear. It’s possibly the smoothest rollerball I’ve ever used, and it even comes in tip sizes as small as 0.3mm. I can’t say I’ll be using the Tombow Ultra as much as I use my (similarly-priced) Retro 51 Tornado, but I’ll definitely be looking to put that Tombow rollerball refill into any pen that will accept it.


Five Pens to Try – October 2015

There is an updated version of this list! Click Here

Not all of these pens will be a good fit for everybody, but I think they are all at least worth considering if you’re looking to try out something new.

1. For the Pen Cup: uni-ball Signo 207 micro

uni-ball Signo 207 micro

The Signo 207 micro doesn’t only look professional, it also writes very well. And unlike most other gel ink pens, the ink practically never smears on standard papers (and I really tried hard to make it smear). This is definitely one of the best pens you can find on your average store shelf, and they’re cheap enough to lose or loan without much thought. (see full review)

2. Your “Nice” Pen: Retro 51 Tornado

Retro 1951 Tornado

I’ve never owned a pen that I like to hold as much as my Retro 51 Tornado. It’s balanced nicely, looks good, and writes great. It’s perfect for writing letters, journaling, or just making you look good in a meeting where everyone else is using pens from the supply closet. And at 20-30 dollars, it wont break the bank. (see full review)

3. An On-the-Go Pen: Tombow Airpress

Tombow Airpress Orange

Need a pen that can write at odd angles or on dirty surfaces? The Tombow Airpess has got you covered. It’s also light weight, has a good clip, and fits nicely into a pocket. On top of it all, you could probably hurl the Airpress at a brick wall without doing much damage to the pen. (see full review)

4. The Everyday Writer: Sharpie Pen

The Sharpie Pen

The Sharpie Pen writes such clean and crisp lines, it seems like everybody who uses one instantly has better-looking handwriting. It’s a great pen for making lists or writing a quick note. I personally like the original model over the retractable and titanium models, as the original is relatively inexpensive and can be found in most stores. (see full review)

5. A Pen for Your Artistic Side: Kuretake Bimoji

Kuretake Bimoji

I should be clear that I’m a very inexperienced brush pen user, but I love to pull the Bimoji out and doodle all over my notebook. It might not be a great pen for writing, but you might want to bring it along to boring meetings to keep yourself entertained. At the very least, you’ll have the most unique-looking pen in the room. (see full review)

So that’s that so far. I’ve got plenty more pens to review, so this list will likely need updating eventually. If there are any pens I’ve neglected, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Review: Tombow Airpress, Ballpoint Pen, 0.7mm

Tombow Airpress Orange

If there’s one pen that belongs on a construction site, it has to be the Tombow Airpress. With a rubber body and hard-plastic trim, it feels like this pen could take a five-story drop with minimal damage. It has a spring-loaded clip that clings tight. It’s shorter than your average pen, so it nicely fits in a pocket. And it has a thick barrel which makes it easy to grip. Though other colors are available, I find that the orange nicely completes the “construction site” look.

The main feature of the Airpress is the pressurized ballpoint ink cartridge. Each click of the pen compresses the ink, which allows it to write upside down and on dirty surfaces. There’s even a little window added to the barrel that will allow you to view the process. It’s a gimmick, but it makes for a cool conversation point – I like it.

Tombow Airpress Cartridge Size

The ink cartridge is small, though it has a good flow and feel. But don’t expect to get blown away by the writing experience. The Airpress isn’t the type of pen you’d use to journal or write a thank-you note. It is, however, a really great outdoor project pen or a take-anywhere pen.

Tombow Airpress Review

Extra Links