I know, I know… I need more gel pens like I need a hole in my head but I decided I just had to try the whole rainbow of colors of the new-to-me Sakura Ballsign 0.4mm gel pens. These pens are Sakura’s entry into the already-heavily-fortified gel pen category with heavyweights like Uni Signo, Pilot Hi-Tec-C, Zebra Sarasa and many others. So, the question is what does Sakura bring to the category that the others don’t?
First thing to note is that the Ballsign pens are very slender with a bulbous grip section that has a grippy, elastomer material. Despite being odd looking, the shape is smooth and fits comfortably in the hand and the unusual grippy material is not as sticky and dust-collecting as silicone but still manages to feel good in the hand and counteract any slipping that might be caused by a tight or sweaty grip.
The Ballsign gel pens come in an array of colors. I purchased every color available in the small 0.4mm size which is the smallest tip available. There are neons, metallics and glitter options at 0.6mm and 0.8mm sizes. I will probably give some of those a spin based on my initial impressions of the 0.4mm gel pens.
The Ballgin gel pens are spring-loaded retractables and I quite like the mechanism. The tips are held in place pretty firmly with very little wiggle and the spring mechanism is easy to use. The clear barrels let you see not only the click mechanism and spring but there’s also a small transparent window to see how much ink is left. The top half of the barrel is painted in solid color to make it easy to find the pen you want.
The ten-pack set ($27) included: aqua blue (I labelled this Lt. Blue), black, blue, brown black, green, orange, pink, red, violet (I mislabelled this purple) and yellow. I also bought additional colors separately ($2.70 each) so that I’d have the full color range. The extra colors are: rose pink, cherry pink, lime green, red orange, and blue. I mixed up all the pink colors immediately so I’m not sure which pink is labelled which way. Reviewing the samples on JetPens, I noticed more color differences between the pink and the cherry pink. The rose pink is the one I labelled “fuchsia”.
(Sidenote: I didn’t put the pens back correctly in the package because, like a kid, I dumped them all out and organized them in rainbow order and started doodling and writing. I do not have good impulse control when it comes to new office products.)
So now that I’ve cleared up all the naming inconsistencies, let’s discuss the performance.
The ten-pack set ($27) included: aqua blue (I labelled this Lt. Blue), black, blue, brown black, green, orange, pink, red, violet (I mislabelled this purple) and yellow. I bought the additional colors separately ($2.70 each): rose pink, cherry pink, lime green, red orange, and blue. I mixed up all the pink colors immediately so I’m not sure which pink is labelled which way. Reviewing the samples on JetPens, I noticed more color differences between the pink and the cherry pink. The rose pink is the one I labelled “fuchsia”. So, now that I’ve cleared up all the naming inconsistencies, let’s discuss the performance.
The yellow is a bit too light to use for writing but all the other colors are very appealing. The lime green is also a little too light but its a bright, clean color so I’ll still probably use it. I love that they included the blue-black as a standard color in the 10-color set rather than the blue even though I like the blue color a lot. If I were to redo this order, I would still have bought the 10-color set but I would have only supplemented the basic colors with the red-orange and blue. The lime green is not the best and the pinks are all pretty similar. I’m not girly enough to need three shades of pink. But feel free to disagree.
Each pen had the little globs of blue rubber on the tip to protect them from maybe drying out that I had to flick off. Once removed, these wrote super smooth and started immediately. I ended up finding the grip, despite looking sort of bulbous, are very comfortable to hold. I love the knock retractable feature.
I know folks love the Zebra Sarasa Clip clips but I’m kind of okay with the teeny tiny Ballsign clips. They keep the pens from rolling off my desk and since I don’t keep my pens in my shirt pocket, I don’t really need a big clip.
At the last second, I realized I hadn’t done a waterproof test. Most gel pens are not particularly waterproof so I was going to skip it completely but I decided to test it anyway. I put a few Ballsign gel pens up against a few Pilot Hi-Tec-C Maica pens I had sitting on my desk. And the grand differentiating feature was revealed! The Sakura Ballsign pens are pretty darn waterproof. After I took this picture I scavenged around and found a couple Pilot Juice and Uni Signo refills and tested those as well, for comparison sake. The Pilot Juice inks smeared with water like the Hi-Tec C. The Uni Signo refills bled a little, depending on color. The red more than the blue black I had, for example. But the Ballsign gel pens definitely stand out for water resistance in the gel pen category.
So, if you’re in the market for a wide variety of colored gel ink pens and don’t mind the comewhat unorthodox shape of the Ballsigns, I highly recommend them. Even if you do think they are a little wonky looking, add one or two to your next JetPens order and let me know what you think. I think you’ll agree with me… a little odd but a comfy, good little pen!