Markiges Marketing (21) Stammbaum 


Ein bemerkenswerter Bleistift ist der überdimensionale Jumbo-uni von Mitsubishi, der ein­zeln auf einer Karte abgeben wurde.


Mit einer Länge von 24,9 cm und einem Durchmesser von 11 mm (Schlüsselweite 10 mm) übertrifft er sein normalgroßes Pendant deutlich.


Bis auf den Zusatz „Jumbo” sind die Aufdrucke nahezu gleich; Strichcode und Blindprägung gibt es auf dem Jumbo-uni nicht.


Er trägt allerdings zwei zusätzliche Kennzeichnungen, doch …


… ich habe keine Ahnung, auf was sich »85th ”Thanksgiving” anniversary« bezieht; so ken­ne ich auch nicht das Alter dieses Bleistifts.


Die Zeichen „非売品” bedeuten sinngemäß „Nicht zum Verkauf”.


Die Mine des Jumbo-uni ist 3,5 mm dick.


Ein schönes Stück!

Stichwörter: Mitsubishi

18 Kommentare zu „Jumbo-uni”

  1. Sola

    Gunther, I can help you out here. (From your posts I had thought you somehow spoke Japanese, but…?). The first page I hit upon says that the Jumbo-Uni was a limited-edition pencil produced in 1971 to commemorate the company’s 85th anniversary (Mitsubishi Pencils was founded in 1887). It was not for sale but was given away as a free gift to customers who bought 1-dozen packs. Evidently there was a ちびユニ(„shorty-Uni”) in 1981 too.

    „Thanksgiving” is probably an embarrassing mistranslation. Japanese companies do a lot of those „thank you to our faithful customers” kind of special campaigns/sales at every opportunity and I would guess this was just such an event ;)

  2. Sola

    This is a much more interesting and authoritative article.

    When Uni first went on sale in October 1958, Mitsubishi executives were in fact worried about its prospects. At that time, you could go to a public bath for 16 yen. A cup of coffee cost 50 yen. In that era, to price one pencil at 50 yen was audacious - a great risk. If the gamble failed, Mitsubishi would not be able to sell even its 30-yen pencils. But it was a runaway success. It had rode the wave of the Japanese economic boom at a perfect time. The sales were such that Mitsubishi had to switch to boxes that could be machine-made in its sixth year of Uni production because the original handmade boxes could not keep up with demand.

    The pricier Unis made better profits for Mitsubishi, and the company spared no effort in promoting the brand. It put up dedicated Uni corners in stationery stores. It also launched a number of free giveaway campaigns, such as the Jumbo-Uni in 1971 and the ユニ坊主 (Uni-bozu) eraser (both pictured) in 1972. Children often bought Unis for the giveaways. [..]

  3. Sola

    That part was only the part concerned with the Jumbo-Uni. I think the feature was part of an ongoing series highlighting top-quality Japanese products („long-sellers”) and it talks about Japanese pencil production and artisans and quality control too. It might be worth reading - and if you need help feel free to ask :)

  4. Lexikaliker

    Sola, thank you for these exciting details and for your offer! I don't speak Japanese so I need every help I can get :-) I will try to access the page's contents with an automated translation; maybe this will help.

    Do you know of the brochure which was issued on the occassion of Tombow's 100th anniversary in 2013? I was lucky to get a copy, and I find it absolutely amazing for several reasons. I mention this because both the articles you have linked to and the brochure include cultural aspects which make a different view and a better understanding of the company's decisions possible (of course this is especially interesting in view of the big differences of Western and Japanese culture).

  5. Sola

    Yes, I agree that there are differences, but there is also a real affinity between Germany and Japan too, two great engineering nations :) There are similarities in corporate culture too, one based on small-and mid-sized firms taking decisions for the longer term… or so they say in the news, don’t they?

    I know there was a limited-edition anniversary tin set of pencils, but I didn’t try to get them or the brochure because I’m not a Tombow fan. I’m actually not that much of a Uni fan either, but I have a special affection for Mitsubishi because they were the pencils of my childhood. If there are pages in the brochure you absolutely need to read and you find it a hassle to put through the translator, scan it and email it to me and I will translate it for you. I still wasn’t sure yesterday whether you could speak Japanese or not ;)

  6. Sola

    Gunther, I think I will work on the Comzine article, I only skimmed it yesterday and I would like to read it for myself too. I’m pretty fast so it won’t take up much time. I will send it to you once I finish - but maybe you have other articles you are curious about? Don’t hesitate to ask :)

  7. Lexikaliker

    Yes, there is an affinity, but I think that the differences must not be ignored. I am not very familiar with Japan's corporate culture but e. g. in Germany the relationship between company and em­ployee is not as close as it is in Japan were it also shapes a large part of the employee's free time. Besides that there are considerable differences in dealing with mistakes (at least as far as I know). But I am no expert, and the corporate culture both in Japan and Germany will most likely vary across a wide range.

    Thank you very much for your offer but fortunately my copy of the brochure is in English :-) By the way, the layout and the design of the brochure is stunning too. – May I ask why you aren't a Tombow fan? I'm not a die-hard fan either but some products are really great. – Regarding childhood: I have fond memories of using Staedtler and Eberhard Faber pencils as a young boy so this might have shaped my relationship to these brands :-)

    Re your translation: Wow, that's great! I would love to read it. – Thank you for your offer. There is nothing which comes to my mind at the moment but if it is OK with you I'll take up on your offer on the next occasion.

  8. Sola

    The reason I’m not a Tombow fan is probably cultural. In Korea, Tombow was and is first and foremost an art pencil. Art students live and breathe Tombow 4B. Also, there are many variants of the Tombow available : the Mono 100, Mono R, Mono J, etc. etc. But it remains an artist’s tool and I am not an artist. Simple :)

    For ordinary students the tool of choice would be mechanical pencils. Asian students are introduced very early on to mechanical pencils, and there are many available. This is where another difference emerges between Mitsubishi and Tombow: Mitsubishi is a big company and a major player, so it produces all kinds of pens and pencils, so even if you move on from pencils you stay with the brand. With Tombow there isn’t that much of an opportunity to develop any kind of affinity for it, unless you happen to study art.

    I know that Tombow also has a long history behind it and it also makes general writing pencils, and if you ask a Japanese person her answer might be different, but I doubt it. Mitsubishi is just too big and ubiquitous and you come to love it :)

  9. Lexikaliker

    Thank you for sharing the cultural aspects which are almost unaccessible to those not familiar with the language in these countries. Yes, I can believe that a pencil's image can cause people turn away from it.

    Re 4B: This explains why this grade appears more often than other soft grades (at least I have the impression). There are at least two pencils from Tombow and Mitsubishi which are only avail­able in 4B and 6B, including this one.

    I was (and still am) surprised about the variety of mechanical pencils from Japan and their ingenu­ity (just think of Pilot's Shaker mechanism or the Mitusbishi/uni Kuru Toga). Mitsubishi's range is indeed remarkable – I didn't know how much they offer until I got a catalogue from 2008.

    Are there any statistics about the market share of Tombow and Mitsubishi pencils?

  10. Anonymous

    Re 4B: yes, this is indeed the „standard” grade for art students. Maybe in Europe students are freer to choose?

    I have ordered the Penmanship pencil too (along with the 9850, another recent discovery) and I am looking forward to it!

    There is an interesting page that shows the overall statistics for the year 2012-2013. The first graph shows the overall figures for the industry, the second changes in volume over the years, and the third lists the top 10 players by sales figures.

    The vast majority of the companies listed are Office Depot-type firms that sell everything from staplers to furniture. The consumer brands familiar to us are: Kokuyo at No. 1 (wow), Pilot at No. 6, Mitsubishi Pencils (not to be confused with the conglomerate) at No. 8, and possibly King Jim (makes label printing machines and plastic binders).

    Links below the list show further listing by total sales figures, net income, number of employees etc. and I am happy to see that Mitsubishi and Pilot make it to the top 3 in the better lists :)

  11. Sola

    This is another article you might want to run on Google Translate.

    The gist of the article is that although the stationery/office products industry is shrinking year by year, the number of boutiques, products, fairs and overall consumer interest have grown exponentially, so much that people talk of a „stationery boom”. Books and magazines proliferate on the subject. This curious phenomenon can paradoxically be explained in part by the enduring recession - as companies cut down on stationery expenses, individual consumers seek that „small, everyday pleasure” of having beautiful things around them, which is relatively inexpensive compared to other goods.

  12. Sola

    Re Tombow: I went through all the links in the first article and Tombow does not appear in any of them. Can it be that they are owned by a differently named company. I don’t think so. I also don’t see Pentel. If I’m not mistaken, it just means that they are very small ;)

  13. Sola

    Oh and I forgot to add: the only Tombow product I remember from my youth, apart from the Mono 100s, are the erasers. They make fantastic erasers, but this too is eclipsed by the Ain!

  14. Lexikaliker

    Thank you – this explains the popularity of that grade. I am not familiar with the choices Eurpoean [art] students have so I don't know if there is some kind of standard.

    You will enjoy both the Penmanship pencil and the 9850. If you compare the first with the Mistubishi Hi-uni in the corresponding grades you will notice that the Penmanship writes considerably smoother. If I remember correctly Mistubishi state that a special impregnating oil is used but I think that there is more to that pencil, e. g. a finer ground graphite and clay or – even more probable to me – a different process in which the mixture is kneaded longer and firmer as to compress the material more and to break open conglomerates. To use this pencil is an exciting experience!

    Thank you for the link to the statistics; I will have a closer look. – Unfortunately the second link doesn't work.

    The phenomen you are describing is indeed curious!

    The fact that neither Tombow nor Pentel appear in that list is strange – both aren't small companies, at least seen from here ;-)

    Yes, Tombow's erasers are great. I am not familiar with the Ain erasers (their many variants puzzle me) but the best I have found so far is the Hinodewashi Matomaru-kun; its only drawback is the fragility but if you hold it close to the tip this isn't a problem.

  15. Sola

    The Matomaru-kun is cute, and its name is even cuter :). „kun” as if one is addressing a small boy!

    For the second link (Nikkei article), try this one.!/article/DGXZZO35917650W1A021C1000000/

  16. Sola

    Oh, you can also go straight to and copy-paste „ジャパニーズ文具” in the search box and it will turn up that one article :)

  17. Lexikaliker

    Great! I will have a look.

    Regarding „kun”: I am also fond of Number-kun :-)

  18. The Pencils of My Childhood: Mitsubishi 9800 and others | pencilsandotherthings

    […] dug up an interesting article on the history of the Uni while in conversation with Gunther at Lexikaliker. I have done a rough English translation of it so if anyone wants to read it I can email it to you. […]


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