Uni as the drafting sub-brand of Mitsubishi?

Never really thought about this before, but while organizing The Toolbox™, I’ve noticed Uni pencils come in two basic styles:

  • Drafting
  • Hybrid designs with components and styling cues from drafting pencils

Another interesting note: There are no overtly “cheap” Uni pencils, with the MX-351 being the only lineup sold for under ¥500 apiece.

And of course, the BOXY sub-brand has always been about “lifestyle” designs and lower price points; as such, there are no drafting pencils in the BOXY lineup.

But when you consider everything above, what was the point of the Mitsubishi brand? As far as I can tell, Mitsubishi pencils—at least in the early days—included a little bit of everything: Drafting, executive, hybrid, and a whole cadre of unique double-knocks.

(There’s more variety in the 1970s Mitsubishi double-knocks than you’ll find from any other brand. They made at least 8 different styles of double-knocks during this time; all were released under the Mitsubishi brand except one—a ¥300 piece for BOXY.)

There are subtle signs that Mitsubishi more or less shifted to this split-branding approach after the BOXY sub-brand took off. One of my favorites is the M5-1006, which is the companion piece to the Uni MX-1052 lineup of drafting pencils with knurled grips and o-rings.

While the MX-1052 pieces all include Uni branding, “Uni” is conspicuously absent on the M5-1006 (which is clearly a writing pencil and cannot be considered a drafting pencil). I suspect Mitsubishi brass were not comfortable designating the M5-1006 as an Uni due to its clear outsider status (among everything else in the Uni lineup), so they simply called it a Mitsubishi.

It’s also strange that Mitsubishi avoided using Uni branding on the Automatic Pencil series. The 501 probably caused the confusion, as it includes a 2mm tip that isn’t found anywhere in the Uni lineup. (With that said, the notebook-sized Unis with colored plastic end caps have a 1.5mm tip at the end of a stepped nose cone, which is more reminiscent of drafting designs.)

But the other Automatic Pencils have 4mm lead sleeves and should be considered drafting pencils by any reasonable observers. However, despite having Uni tips—and being drafting-adjacent—the Automatic Pencils fall under the Mitsubishi brand.

And now we reach the final oddity, the elusive and chuckle-inducing Mitsubishi Pecker. This series of side-knocks would have fit in with the BOXY lineup, but they may have been considered too pricey or some of the designs too “serious” for inclusion in the sub-brand.

Since the Peckers clearly aren’t drafting pencils, there was nowhere else for them to go besides the Mitsubishi brand.

I’m guessing the tension of model-naming and organization continued to mount into the 1980s, because at some point, Mitsubishi unveiled a third sub-brand, Exceed. An entire lineup of boardroom executives (robust materials, gold trim, luxurious lacquers), Exceed pencils have a lot of heart, but very little soul.

Finally, we fast-forward to today, and it kinda seems like Mitsubishi has convoluted the Uni brand with writing pencils (alpha gel and alpha gel switch). The Shift series fits the bill for drafting pencils, but the alpha gels have 2mm tips and almost certainly should have just been part of the larger Mitsubishi brand (like the Kuru Toga).

Anyway, I’m sure this is more than you ever wanted to know about Mitsubishi pencils, but I find these sub-brand gymnastics to be both fascinating and annoying (because it makes it much more difficult to organize a large collection, lol).


Interesting writeup. How about the Brain sub-brand? The Jaguar sub-brand also seemed to have a much higher coolness factor than the Exceed pencils. Weren’t many of the Exceed pencils multi-pen/pencils?

This is an interesting phrase which I find to be completely backwards:

Since the Peckers clearly aren’t drafting pencils, there was nowhere else for them to go besides the Mitsubishi brand.

Maybe it would be better to say that Mitsubishi’s Peckers were clearly not drafting pencils so there was no reason to add them to the Uni line. I get what you are saying and it makes sense that you are trying to figure out where to place the Peckers in your collection.

There were some pencils that overlapped between the mainline Mitsubishi and Boxy sub-brands. How are you organizing these?


Which pencils overlapped BOXY and Mitsubishi? Every BOXY pencil includes BOXY branding; I consider the identical pencils that don’t include the BOXY branding to be Mitsubishis (mostly).

And you’re correct about Brain and Jaguar; the Jaguar series includes the greatest Mitsubishi of them all, an etched stainless steel double knock.

You need to start writing this up and cataloging the pencils you have and putting it out there for users.


You have had several good writeups in Knockology about the Mitsubishi pencils. I read them, even though I am not interested in them (purposely keeping my focus on Pentel, otherwise I would be spending far more than I am now).

I doubt there is anyone, outside of Japan, as knowledgable about these pencils as you are.

You should write up some documents and then catalog the pencils along the lines of how I did it for Pentel. Even if you only want to do the higher end pencils, it is more than is out there coherently right now.


I may have been mistaken about the Boxy-Mitsubishi models. The ones in my collection that I was thinking about were actually both Boxy.

You are right about the Exceed pencils having no soul. They all look like they are supposed be premium pencils, but they don’t feel premium. Mostly meh.

I’ll second the nomination for the Mitsubishi Pencil identification book. It would clearly be better than what we have now.

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About ‘uni’ as a drafting focused sub-brand… I think there has been several changes to the status of ‘Mitsubishi Pencil’ and ‘Uni’ over the years.

The official history page says Mitsubishi was initially the name for an early pencil product. In 1952 it became the company name. Numbers like 9800 etc designated the type of pencil sold by Mitsubishi Pencil Co.

As the products diversified, ‘Uni’ (from ‘unique high quality products’) was introduced in 1958 as a brand that was interchangeable with Mitsubishi. ‘Hi-uni’ was introduced in 1966 (80th Anniversary) for yet another upgrade of wood cased pencils.

1967 saw the launch of the Jaguar high-end ballpoint pen.
1971 saw the introduction of uni-color pencils.
1975 saw the debut of BOXY.
1979 saw the introduction of uni-ball pens.

The first direct mention of hi-uni in relation to mechanical pencils was in 1983… and it was for pencil leads. I think hi-uni as a brand peaked around 1986 for Mitsubishi Pencil’s 100th birthday. It is possible that the 2050-5050 etc. came out around this time and lasted through the 1988 catalog scans…

As the official page says: ‘Uni’ is now the corporate brand of the Mitsubishi Pencil company. Convoluted?

P.S. the Japanese version of the corporate timeline has more entries and details compared to the English version.


Working on this. I have some examples waiting to be photographed.

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