I've owned the Uni Kuru Toga Roulette mechanical pencil for close to a year, and I still love it. It's affordable, has a good weight, and has a unique rotating mechanism. However, there are some small things to note before purchasing this mechanical pencil. Let me explain.
Uni's Kuru Toga series is a well-loved collection of mechanical pencils, ranging from ~$7 up to $200 (in after-market prices) for some sought-after models. I have one of the mid-range models, known as the Kuru Toga Roulette, which retails for $13.50 on JetPens (non-affiliate link). For the price, it's a solid pencil and is worth every cent.
Compared to other pencils, I'd say the Kuru Toga Roulette is in the "Goldilocks zone" for weight. Given the pencil's metal grip and plastic body, its weight becomes substantial but not overbearing. The Roulette weighs enough to invoke a sense of quality but strays far from the hefty feel of a completely metal mechanical pencil. This pencil is perfect for a long writing session; the Roulette is light enough to avoid cramps but is still substantially built.
Something else to note is the pencil's rotating "always sharp" mechanism-- it's one of the instrument's main selling points. Does it work? Yes. Is it practical? It depends.
The pencil must be lifted off the page for this mechanism to work. As a result, this mechanism could become annoying for those with a tendency to connect their letters, as the pencil could rotate and bring line inconsistencies. Here's a video demonstrating how the mechanism works (thanks, David Zhang!).
This rotation mechanism is noticeable in everyday writing, and writing doesn't feel very smooth compared to a standard drafting pencil, such as the Rotring 600. When writing with this pencil, the rotation brings a "jagged" sensation to each stroke, which was pretty bothersome. However, this may only be my opinion of the pencil, as other reviewers widely praise it, but it's still important to note. I'd recommend trying one of these pencils to see if it bothers you.
In terms of the build quality, the Roulette is good for the price. The clip is easily removable and has a nice springiness to it. A bored student could play with the clip without breaking it. The plastic parts of the pencil still look pristine even after months of usage. The knurling on the grip is starting to wear off, but I'd expect this from a metal grip.
Using this pencil is sometimes annoying. When advancing the lead, the pencil sometimes makes a terrible squeaky sound that will bother you and others around you. I'm not sure if I received a defect, but this flaw is something to note. However, something I can say with certainty is that this pencil's clicks aren't that satisfying to hear– there's a hollowness that comes from the plastic parts. The ping from a cheap, plastic pencil is also present in the Roulette. It's not too bothersome, but this is something to note.
The Roulette is an excellent option for those who plan to use a pencil for schoolwork. It's lightweight, fun, and in the price range that dabbles into premium pencils while staying affordable. However, I'd recommend skipping this and using a standard drafting pencil for more specialized work, such as sketching.
After close to a year of consistent use, this pencil has held up well. I've been nitpicking throughout this review, and the average user will likely thoroughly enjoy this pencil. The Uni Kuru Toga Roulette is a great entry point into the vast world of higher-end stationery and solidified my love for this hobby.
I purchased this pencil for myself without compensation.