Window to the Past… sorting vintage Pilots by type


I spent the weekend sorting through a bunch of vintage Pilots… all without model numbers. I tried to group them by common features like body type, colors and prints.


First up are these 4 shorter designs. Simple, design with vibrant body colors and the grip stripes reversed out. The smaller size and tapered style makes me think these were late 70s models. The grip stripes also remind me a lot of Mitsubishi’s prolific uni5-500 series that was produced with unending varieties of prints.


Next up are a very nice set of ‘transitional’ models. On the left are 3 of same tapered designs but now with the addition of a spiral cut groove for the grip. And, wow! No price increase!

On the right are 3 models with similar spiral cut grooves AND sporting the same colors of brown, red and silver. Except now the body style is a definite modern approach with its straight profile. I wonder if Pilot did this deliberately as the 1980s came around?


Lastly, I have the just the ‘newer’ straight profile designs together. In the middle are some of the most distinctive designs Pilot made during that era: a series of 4 pencils sporting variations of black line graphics. The one with the ‘ABC’s printed above the cone is strangely longer than the other 3. l have also seen red line versions of some of these, but in too beat up of a condition for me to bid on.

Lastly is a trio of offbeat designs that say ‘GO GO Birdie’ in red, green and blue prints AND matching highlights on their clips. Whacky, sure. But the body style fits.

Were there even more? I sure hope so!

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I call the black line pieces “aerospace” and refer to this entire genre as hybrids. The two in the middle inspired the name, but I still get that vibe when I hold these pencils :joy:

Your coverage of this part of Pilot’s catalogue is the most extensive I’ve seen. You have at least 4—and maybe 5, I need to check The Toolbox™—pieces I don’t from this genre alone :exploding_head:

And the short-barreled rainbow hybrids are perhaps the most eye-catching quartet in my Pilot drawer. You captured them beautifully!

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Thanks, Chris! These hybrids sure made ‘daily use’ or 日常用 models more fun when you have them on a desk. I wonder how many kids (or adults) back then had the resources to actually collect a full set just for the fun of it? I’m thinking ‘almost nil’… it just wasn’t a thing.

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Certainly wasn’t a thing in Kentucky in 1991 :joy:

I don’t even think retail stores near me ever showcased full sets of pencils like this. (Alas, that would have been some unforgettable imagery.)

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