Monday, June 16, 2014

Quick Hits: Leatherman Style PS, Tombow Airpress, Kaweco Sport, NiteIze Doohickey, and Boker JDR Toucan

So there are bunch of things I have had for a while that I'd like to get off the "On Deck Circle".  I'd also like to get you scores for these items.  For one reason or another though, I haven't been able to actually get around to writing full length reviews.  So to clean out the backlog, I am going to do a bunch of quick hits.

For reference: here are all of the scoring systems.

Leatherman Style PS

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I bought the Style PS before going on a flight.  It was basically a test to see if it did as advertised and passed TSA screening.  It worked.  There was an initial hub bub but after a few minutes I was sent on my way.  Its probably not worth the stress that it can cause in long airport lines (is it just me or does everyone hate flying since 9/11?  The airport experience is miserable now.)

Its essentially the only real option if you want to EDC something while on a plane and it is packed with a lot of the goodies you've come to expect from a Leatherman--good pliers, excellent scissors, and nice styling.  I especially like the carabiner attachment point that doubles as a bottle opener.  Copying and then shrinking the Skeletool is a good thing.  Until the TSA changes its regs, this is your very best choice in a very limited market niche.  

I am taking one point off for fit and finish as there was a surprising amount of slop in the joints and pivots; doubling surprising given its producer.  Overall, an excellent design that doesn't make you feel like your carrying some botched, half-baked tool. 

Overall Score: 19 out of 20

Tombow Airpress

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This is something of the Fisher Space Pen of Japan and as such its actually quite a good little writer, with better lines and page feel than its oil slick 'Merican counterpart.  It also lasts a long time, as I have had the review sample for over a year and it is still doing well.  The trick to the pen is that pushing the knock to extend the writing tip pressurizes the refill.   This, of course, makes me wonder if I can make the pen explode clicking the knock repeatedly.  Thus far, no kaboom.

The pen's body is very small, the clip is horrendous, and its not the best thing to pull in and out of a pocket.  It also looks like something from a Duplo set (all of them do, regardless of which of the many colors you choose).  I am taking a one off for fit and finish, two off for appearance, and two off for carry (thanks to the stinky clip and the sticky barrel).

All of that said it is an excellent value at around $8 shipped from JetPens or another online retailer.  I have yet to see one of these on the store shelves.  Compared to the much pricier Space Pen, the Tombow Airpress is a good budget option that does the task of writing better, but pretty much everything else worse.  

Overall Score: 15 out of 20

Kaweco Sport

P1010337

The score warrants its own review, but the problem is that it would be a short and boring review.  It would go something like this: BEST STARTER FOUNTAIN PEN EVER.  I know folks love the Lamy Safari and the Pilot Metropolitan, but I think those two pens miss the core fountain pen experience--the incredibly smooth and responsive writing.  The Safari does an okay approximation but in the end I liked the Kaweco nib better.  The Metropolitan similarly LOOKS like a fountain pen should, but I just can't get by the sub-par nib.  If you want a GREAT writer and don't want to spend a lot, get the Sport.

Its my go to pen for long notetaking sessions and I can easily go for hours with it (if you listen to GGL, this where Andrew or Dan usually drops a "That's what she said...").  Its so light you don't notice it in your hand, doing something as close to pure brain to page as you can get.  It rides nicely in the pocket and takes a beating well thanks to decent black plastic.  It feels flimsy, but over eight months of use it as proven to be anything but that.  I haven't babied the pen either.  I have yet to flush it out and I don't spare it from sharing a pocket with keys and it still works and writes incredibly well.  Even the lack of a pocket clip doesn't bother me.

The one ding I have is the size in hand.  When posted it is still a BIT small and some I am taking off a point for balance/in hand feel.  But don't let that discourage you.  This is an awesome pen and probably one the better fountain pens for EDC use.  I wouldn't take it to the construction site, but its pretty damn tough.  

Overall Score: 19 out of 20

NiteIze Doohickey

P1010565

"What the F is this?" I said to myself as I walked into an EMS a few months ago.  There it was, yet another tool in the growing stable of NiteIze tools.  I am wary as lot of them are good ideas on paper and no where else.  The DoohicKey is $5 so don't fret too much.

The connection point is unique for a one piece multitool (which this is technically not anymore), but the tool itself is so pared down I am not sure exactly why it is better that a dedicated keychain bottle opener.  The pry tip is so thick as to be useless.  The bottle opener is a two pull design and the thick stock makes it hard to balance.  Finally there are no real drivers as the pry tip is just too thick and there is an angle towards the end to make the snag edge.  Overall, this is exactly what you'd expect for about $5.  Skip this.  Go for a Shard.  Its better.  

I am taking 2 points off for tool selection, 2 point off for tool performance, 1 point for grip (this thing is tiny), 1 point off for design (its just too pared down), and 1 point off for fit and finish.  There are better options everywhere. 

Overall Score: 13 out of 20

Boker JDR Toucan:

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Jared Price's custom Toucan is one a handful of One Piece Multitools I like (the Chopper, the Shard...).  Its design is incredible and the kydex sheath is amazingly brilliant.  I love the design and Boker carried that over to this tool.  Unfortunately, they did as they are want to do and totally screwed up the fit and finish.  Its really an insult to the design for them to be this far off.

The Toucan is probably the one OPMT that I would consider as having a viable, true cutting edge (the RUT does as well, but it is technically not a OPMT).  Unfortunately Boker decided not to go with a chisel grind as Jared does on some of the custom versions and the grind the did put on it looks like it was done by blind and spasmatic monkey.  It is atrocious.  Everything else is okay...the pry tip works to the same extent that any of these other tools can pry, the bottle opener is okay.  And even on the production version, the sheath is very good.

I am dinging the tool 2 points for the fit and finish and 2 points for the tool performance.  The grind on the blade is not just uneven, its so acute that this thing can't slice AT ALL. 

Overall Score: 16 out of 20

Leave me feedback.  If this works I may consider doing it for other, less complex items in the future.  If it doesn't, this was a one time thing. 

All of these items can be purchased through Amazon: Everyday Commentary's Amazon Link All purchases benefit the site. 


23 comments:

  1. I like this review approach especially to smaller items such as the Toucan and Doohickey - one question though, what nib size do you run with your Kaweco? is it more or less similar to other companies' nib sizing?

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    1. Agreed on liking this review approach for smaller, less expensive items.

      I have been considering the style ps for awhile as I briefly owned a skeletool and liked it quite a bit. Every keychain multitool needs a carabiner.

      Delete
  2. I have found that the Uni Power Tank (in 1.0) is a great alternative to the Space Pen or Airpress...

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    1. I second this. The power tank is a great writer, about a tenth of the price of a Space Pen (cheaper refills too), regular pen size (unlike the airpress), and still will write in all conditions.

      Delete
  3. Nice format. Good to clear the backlog.

    I'm surprised the Style PS is allowed on a plane with scissors and stuff. I don't know what the US is like, but the UK has had very strict security long before 9/11 (what with the IRA). They take anything that could possibly be sharp or used as a weapon. I dread the day when a Kung Fu master hijacks a plane with bare hands, and then we'll all be strapped to our seats.

    On the topic of the Kaweco Sport it is a very nice pen, and I was wondering if you'd tried the AL Sport which is an aluminium barrelled version of the sport. They come in a bunch of great finishes (including the new raw finish and stonewashed finish). Also their nibs are even better (In my experience), but there is a steep price jump from the plastic version.

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    1. Scissors with blade <6cm from fulcrum should now be allowed in flight from UK. But it is always at the discretion of the airline. Tools however (screwdriver, pliers), are not allowed!

      Delete
    2. What a load. If that plane goes down and I get trapped on a desert island or in the snowy mountains I'll need all that Survival gear. And, historically, I'm pretty sure the chances of that happening are about the same as the plane being hijacked.

      Delete
  4. Glad you finally got around to the Style PS. I think yours might have been a lemon though because the joints in mine are tight.

    It's the perfect companion for someone who carries a real knife and I wish Leatherman made more knife less multi tools. I don't know anyone that actually uses the blade since they usually have a better and more practical knife on them already.

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  5. I disagree on the doohickey. I've had it and the shard and vastly prefer the doohickey. It is way easier on my leg in pocket and to me, just as useful. I use the prybar function often, the carbiner attachment all the time (to attach keys that will be used for a day or two then removed), and bottle opener on occasion. It is not the perfect multi-tool, but for a pared down minimalist multi-tool its pretty good.

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    1. I agree with Jonathan on this. I prefer the doohickey to my shard. Also the edge on it is quite useful for opening packages and boxes. I also find myself using the ruler every now and then.

      Delete
  6. I enjoyed this format for small items.

    How would you compare the Style to the PS4 and the Gerber Dime? If I wanted to grab a small pocket multitool for < $50 which would you say works best? Context: I already carry a knife so blade/no blade is irrelevant.

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    1. The style is going to be much smaller than both of those. Also, the carabiner on the style is what makes it so great. It goes on and off a keychain so well and you can carry it on a belt loop of you don't want to put it on a key ring.

      Delete
  7. This format works great, especially for OPMTs. Knife reviews are generally the only ones I pour over every word and re-read and compare to other reviews.

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  8. Agreed. You shouldn't devote a full-length review to an OPTM.
    It's not worth the time and effort.

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  9. I think this format worked great. It is especially appropriate for OPMTs.

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  10. For getting through the more uninspiring pieces this format is fine, but your writing is what makes this site work. Don't sell yourself, and us, short. I want more of your prose, not less.

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  11. The new format works well for gear which may deserve a casual nod or glance. My feedback as follows.

    The Style PS looks interesting especially for passing TSA. That means it can go almost anywhere relatively unnoticed. If the pivots were tighter then it would give Skeletool a run for it's money. I might look into it.

    I have read many reviews extensively on the Airpress and feedback on the worst feature is the clip as they are fragile and break often. Apparently the pen will explode if the button is depressed over and over continuously over short period of time. It is not a fiddler but more a curiosity. I was able to score four of the see through ones for $7 each and will be comparing it in the field against the Uni-Ball Power Tank and Fisher Space Pen.

    I am not a fountain pen guy but if I was I would get the Sport. Sounds like a bargain. I was considering trying a Lamy Safari but now my mind has been changed.

    As for the Doohickey and Toucan they sound like a pass. I will stick with my Shard. The Shard has been an essential EDC so I will stick with it for now.

    If this new format is used again then a quick post for the best price range for each of the items would help sway the decision making process. If, for example, the Doohickey were around a buck or two then it might be worth trying. But I have seen it before mostly for $5 and one can get even get OPMT for the price range.

    FWIW.

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  12. Andrew @ 555 GearJune 18, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    I enjoy the longer articles but if this format works to get reviews that would otherwise not happen, then of course, more please.

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  13. Uni, made in Japan if I am correct, is really on top of things with their pens.
    Try the Uni Jetstream. I found one laying in the street and was so impressed I checked the Internet where to get another. Looks great, inexpensive, quality, dependable writing performance. Great discovery.

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    1. The Jetstream and Signo lines are excellent for EDC but not meant for extreme conditions use. I don't like removing caps as they can be misplaced or lost. I would rather use a plunger / depress / retract button if possible.

      The Uni-Ball Power Tank is the way to go for EDC. They have one made in polycarbonate and one with an aluminum shaft. For the price it would give the Fisher Space Pen a run for the money.

      I am still withholding judgment on the Tombow Airpress till I get to try one. My criteria currently is price versus value for extreme conditions EDC pen.

      Delete
  14. Agree with others, the format is right-sized for the items reviewed.

    I own Style PS:
    Has always been allowed on flights. My experience: if you put it in the grey bin where they can see it they (TSA types) will make a big kerfuffle, they are bored and it breaks the monotony for them. They don’t actually seem to know the rules – which unambiguously permit the PS to go on with you – so make sure you do know them and explain them as politely as you can manage. If you just take the PS out of your pocket and stick it in a bag somewhere they don’t even see it and no questions asked. Again, I’ve always been able to take it on the plane in US, Canada, UK and Caribbean so far. This has been my experience on a number of flights but obviously YMMV.
    My first PS had the scissors spring break after 5 minutes, replaced by LM but I had to pay postage to ship it back. Joints are acceptable to me on the samples I’ve had, actually more play on my PS4 than PS. Conclusion: quality maybe a bit spotty.
    Size: my PS measures 75mm long closed, my PS4 measures 56mm closed, PS4 is ~3mm thicker though.
    Patrick: I have both PS4 & PS, I always have the PS with me along with a Cadet for a knife. PS & PS4 are cheap, why not try both?

    Kaweco:
    Glad you got a good nib with yours, my experience (have 4 Kaweco FPs including 2 sports, all 4 use same design/interchangeable nib unit though) is that the nibs are usually great from the start but you can get one that needs to be used a bit before it really works well. Overall agree though they have a great design there.

    Thx,

    Dave.

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    1. I bought the Style on sale and I wouldn't be able to justify another small MT to the wife just to see which is best, especially since we don't have a lot of disposable income and a son turning one in a few days.

      Delete
  15. The Doohickey could have been my ideal OPMT. I love how small, flat and pared down it is on a keychain -- a bottle opener with a pry/driver head is all I need.

    But sadly, you are right about the uninspiring Tool Performance, and that sours me on the tool.

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