Teaching on a recent Coloured Pencil course, I had the opportunity of handling and testing out a set of these pencils made in Japan by a company within the giant Japanese Mitsubishi group. These pencils have been marketed for at least the last 2 years, but are only now available over the Internet to UK purchasers.They are described as wax based and come in a presentation box of pencils which opens up to display the contents in a unique way.The pencils are numbered and named for colour and the box has named slots for the pencils to be stored in so that they stay in order.First impressions are good. It is only when you start to examine the box and pencils closely that questions start to arise.The names on the box are not logically displayed - you have to read the names from one direction on one side and the opposite direction on the other, so standing the box upright to use, you can only read the names of half the pencils.
There is no lightfast indication and the company are reported as saying that they have not done any testing and have no plans to do so.Single pencils are not easily available to replace used ones.I understand that they are available at relatively low cost in the USA and AustraliaSo how do they perform?I carried out a brand test comparing them with Derwent Coloursoft (another wax pencil), Faber Castell Polychromos (oil based but 120 colours) and Art Spectrum (low priced, wax based with 120 colours).My thinking for this was to compare the Uni pencils with another low cost brand ( Spectrum), a wax based brand I knew well (Derwent), and an Internationally available brand with a similar large range of 120 colours (Polychromos)
CONCLUSION : The Uni pencils are harder than the Spectrum, and similar in hardness to the Polychromos. Coloursoft are the softest. Uni pencils layer in a similar way to Polychromos and the white will provide an efficient barrier on plain paper to reduce the intensity of colour laid on top. They appear to be a good working pencil though the lack of light testing and no single pencil replacements make them a poor choice for regular use. They appear to be marketed as a presentation set suitable for children ( The Mitsubishi promotional material indicates this ). I have not examined the colour selection or done a detailed comparison with other brands as I do not feel that these pencils would make a sensible purchase for someone wanting to take up coloured pencil art seriously. It is possible that there may be individual colours that are unique and would be of use to a botanical artist, but the lack of a lightfast rating would suggest caution. The lack of single replacement pencils suggests looking elsewhere.The box appears to be a win for Presentation over Practicality
PLEASE NOTE1. Comments made here are personal and are not sponsored by the manufacturers2. The order of listing is entirely down to the date the initial reviews were done, and more recently reviewed brands appear towards the end of the list.3. The guide is designed to aid those who are new to the medium of coloured pencil, helping them select a brand and product that may be most suitable for their needs.4. Just because one brand suits one person does not automatically make it ideal for everyone.