Mechanical pencils with multiple usable leads can be seen at online auction sites or at the uncomfortable chair, though I have never previously seen one in person.
I also remember school days, when those Bic four colour ballpoints became popular.
My opinion was that they were a gimmick – a solution to no particular problem.
So when I heard of a pencil that used eight leads, I was somewhat surprised. And when I learned that those leads were the 2mm diameter used by leadholders, the tide seemed to turn, and I decided to get one.
I think I wanted to see just how far this idea could be taken. It is probably the oddest writing implement yet seen at pencil talk.
The pencil exterior looks kind of cheap, like something one would find at those suburban big box office supply stores.
The mechanism is quite interesting – each lead has a small metal 4mm sleeve at the end, and eight anchors hold the leads by these sleeves. Rotating the clip to a colour relases that lead, which can then be held by the clutch mechanism.
Eight leads are supplied. They are (clockwise, starting at the upper left): red, blue, brown, orange, yellow, green, Diazo non copy, and PPC non copy.
The non-copy varieties are intriguing offerings. It’s strange that a regular graphite core didn’t make the cut.
I found the pencil very easy to use. The variety of colours makes it very useful for organizational tasks that depend on colour coding. Alternately, the Multi8 could be seen as a compact colour pencil set for light use.
The pencil came with refills in each colour, an instruction leaflet (English/Japanese), and a small lead sharpener.
It is a very nice, almost unique item. I gather Pentel also manufacture a few related versions, some of which have ballpoint offerings. This particular model is the “Multi8 PH802 for checking use.” My only problems were some lead breakage, and a rattling sound that the pencil makes.