For anyone that has gone into an Office Max or Office Depot in the past few years, you likely have noticed the large TUL pen display with hundreds of pens. I tried to ignore the shiny display of writing "tuls" but finally started trying them out and want to share my thoughts on the distinct writing/drawing experiences.
To begin, the name TUL is written with a macron over the 'u' making the vowel long so it is pronounced "tool." I talked to the folks over at Office Max about these pens so you can find out more about the brand at the end of the review.
Currently, the pens offered are Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball, and each comes in Fine (0.5mm) and Medium (0.7mm) points. They did have a marker pen in the past, but they did away with these. From time to time there are also limited edition colors available, and I’ll talk about these further down.
Overall, all the pens write very wet. Even the ballpoint lets out ink much faster than any pen I can compare it to. If you like this characteristic, you will love the medium points as they put down a lot of ink, very quickly. I found this was a nice benefit the faster I wrote, but can get a bit messy.
The ballpoint pens come in the standard colors of black, blue and red. After using these pens to sketch for a while, I noticed the ink has occasionally created a small glob. After looking at other reviews, this is not uncommon and may be created from the paper being used. I tried it out on some smooth Rhodia paper, and didn’t have an issue.
The Gel pens come in a large range of colors and include some very bright color sets. These are perfect for those that like to add color to their bullet journals and planners. The ink is super smooth and the black ink lays down a very rich dark line. These are all retractable/click pens for easy transport and have sturdy clips. The color packs come in 8 or 14 sets.
The gels also include a needle tip if you are going to use them with a ruler and both tip types are well constructed with no noticeable movement when writing.
My favorite of the pens are the Rollerballs. These have a great overall design appeal, as well as a larger barrel diameter that fits very well in my hand. Again, they are quite wet even for a rollerball but the lines are still nice and clean if I write a touch slower. There are not as many color choices like with the gel pens, but the black is a great dark rich ink, and the blue is nice and bright.
Finally, the TUL line-up also includes the mechanical pencil in 0.7mm. These have a solf rubber coating on the full length of the barrel and is a nice unique touch for pencils. The barrel is also slightly larger than typical pencils and fit well in my hand. The pencils are now offered in several color choices like blue, purple, pink and black.
The really nice feature of these pencils is the 1 inch eraser built into the back of the pencil. It unscrews as you need it and fits securely to the end. The clip is the same as the pens and is solid.
The complete lineup of pens and pencil writing samples
Something I also love about these pens are the limited editions they put out roughly twice a year. Currently, the "Bright's" color pens are offered, but there is a new one coming soon! See below in the Q&A for the date. A few of the previous limited editions are available on Ebay, and the rose gold pearl edition is getting quite expensive. A set of 4 ballpoints are going for $47!
Q&A WITH NICOLE LORD AT OFFICE DEPOT
I wanted to find out more about these pens and so I reached out to Office Depot and they were kind enough to share their thoughts on a few items:
How do you come up with the new limited edition colors?
We love our limited-edition colors because they allow us to showcase the pens our customers trust for outstanding performance in a unique way. Each limited-edition story and color palette is carefully selected by our in-house designers based on the anticipated trends of the season. We also recently introduced our exclusive line of TUL notebooks and accessories into these limited-edition collections.
Can we start to get excited about a new limited edition or new product coming out soon?
Earlier this year, we launched TUL Brights pens available in 14 vivid colors and note-taking system available in four bold limited-edition colors that TUL enthusiasts can purchase online or in store. Look out for our newest limited edition pen and notebook collection in stores and online in October – our most giftable TUL collection yet!
What is the meaning/history behind the name TUL?
TUL was developed by OfficeMax in 2006 as an exclusive writing brand that delivers affordable luxury to our customers. We strive to be the go-to tools for entrepreneurs and business leaders who are seeking products that inspire with design and are precision engineered for outstanding performance.
Can you share how these pens are made or a bit about the design process?
Each one of our TUL pens is precision engineered, hand assembled, and hand tested for outstanding performance. We take pride in ensuring our customers that our pens consistently deliver smooth, vibrant lines at first write. And, we believe the discipline and rigor behind the making of these products helps us deliver on that promise.
I highly recommend you check these pens out and if you go this week they have some great Back-to-School sales. The clearance sections of the stores also have some good deals as well. Amazon carries them, but without coupons and sales available, the prices are a bit too high for my taste.
Also available under the TUL brand are the customizable notebook systems. These are getting very popular due to the growing range of paper choices, cover colors, and sizes available. I haven't used these yet, but I know from friends that they are really handy. Check them out here.
I picked up an extra set of gel color pens and want to give them away! Please sign up for my newsletter below to enter. Random drawing will be held this Friday at midnight for US residents.