Old School Review BIC 4-Color Ballpoint Multi-Pen

bic 4-color ballpoint

The Old School Bic 4 Color Multi Pen.

OK, so don’t pretend like you didn’t have a BIC 4-color ballpoint and you loved it, because I did (and now do again) and it was the best pen ever at the time.  I was thrilled when I came across this pen on my recent trip to Boston at Bob Slate Stationer.  It was a great store with a ton of awesome office supplies, and I just couldn’t pass this pen up.  If you dont live near a Bob Slate Stationer, you can also pick up this classic on Amazon.com in multiple packaging options.  I also recently was reminded of this pen by someone on Twitter (@AFondMemory) who had one pictured on her site, which brought back some…well fond memories and made me want to get my hands on one of these, she also has some nice hand modified journals for sale over there if you are in the market for something like that.

Back in the day when I was in like 5th grade or so, this BIC 4-color ballpoint was THE pen to have, and I remember having a bunch of them.  I think my favorite thing about them was using them to track all of my pre-yahoo.com and ESPN.com fantasy baseball stats in the leagues that I had with my friends.  Yep, thats right, before all of our modern day technology, I was forced to play some haphazard version of fantasy baseball the manual way.  This included daily checking of all the box scores in the news paper, and most importantly keeping handwritten logs of my stats and the rest of the league.

I love the design of the bic 4-color ballpoint pen because its so simple and unique.  I know they also came with an orange bottom instead of blue, but they did not have that one when I was at the store.  I am hoping someone can answer this for me though because I always wondered this when I was growing up and using this pen…why the little ball at the top?  Anyone? I also remember that in addition to the unique look, I also loved to waste time in class  turning and clicking each color of the BIC 4-color ballpoint for no good reason at all, which I now find myself doing again with the newly rediscovered Bic.

Writing sample of the Bic 4 color multi-pen in a Rhodia notebook.

Writing sample of the Bic 4 color multi-pen in a Rhodia notebook.

I have to be honest, although I loathe ballpoint pens for the most part, the BIC 4-color ballpoint one really is not so bad.  It writes fairly smoothly, the grip is nice and thick, and the option to have 4 colors just a click away is always nice.  As you can see from the writing sample above, the old school bic 4-color pen performs adequately.  Yes, you probably could find a multi-pen that is fancier, cooler, writes nicer, or whatever, but for today just keep that to yourself and let me bask in the glory of rediscovering this old favorite.  Sometimes its better to have a pen that just makes you happy to every time you see it, and if you feel the same way you can pick one up here.

©2014, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. 1
    winterwold says:

    That is great! This brings back a memory from when I was studying.
    I think it was the start of my third year and we had a new physics professor who was also new to the school and our country. But he was very serious and somewhat eager to start teaching.
    On top of that it was one of the first days of school and there had been a drive for school supplies which included among other things a notepad and a BIC 4-color pen! So alot of students had just bought one that day or the day before.
    So anyway it was our first lecture and he started of drawing allot of diagrams and graphs, of course using different colors. So each time he got to a new parameter that he wanted to add to the graph he would turn his back to us and start writing on the whiteboard. And each time he changed color a wave of clicking moved through the room as at least 50 of the 100 students present clicked their BIC4 color multi-pens.

    The first time he didn’t seem to react to much. But the second time he turned round somewhat startled and looked at us before continuing. The third time he spun around faster and started to look somewhat annoyed as the clicking stopped under his gaze (we where waiting to see what he would write). The fourth time he was prepared for the clicking-wave and instantly turned around and with a hint of anger and annoyance in his voice asked if we thought this was a funny prank to play on a new professor! :D

    He hadn’t realized that it was because he kept on changing colors! He thought we where playing with him and clicking our pens whenever he turned his back to us. He was a bit embarrassed when he realized what had been happening. To his credit he didn’t stop using different colors.

    Anyway it still makes me happy to this day thinking about that time.
    Thanks for bringing the memory back! I love your site, keep up the good work!

  2. 2
    nrepose says:

    These are great pens to have around and I still refer to them as “doctors’ pens” because I remember my doctor always had one. Great review! Nr

  3. 3
    JonelB says:

    I actually never had one of these as a kid. Or used one, anyways. I guess I was of the Milky Gel Pens generation. The few times I have used one, I remember not liking it so much, because of the ballpoint construction + fact that I had to press down hard to get it to write. Hence why I’m mostly using fountain pens now.
    Speaking of better multi-pens, I’ll be trying out the Hi-Tec-C Coleto multipen soon, at the urging of the jetpens forumers.
    It’ll be interesting to see how it stands up to other multipens I’ve used in the past….
    The ball on top perplexes me as well…

  4. 4
    Mack says:

    The orange bottomed ones were the fine points. Does BIC still sell refills for these things?

  5. 5

    @winterwold, I had a similar experience with a prof, but in a Hebrew class. The prof used different colors to highlight prefixes, suffixes, vowels, etc., and soon, at least half the class had 4-color pens to keep up with him. The clicking didn’t seem to bother him, though.

  6. 6
    George says:

    Great review. I have many BICs in my collection and the 4 way is on the top of the list. It seeems to me we used the top of the BIC with the ball for dialing the old phones with.

  7. 7

    Yep, I remember them well and was already thinking about the orange version before you mentioned it! I’ve seen them at stationery stores in NYC too. The Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto I just got has a similar mechanism for changing colors, but it doesn’t feel as solid as I remember the Bic did. I loath ballpoints now too and wish there were more rollerball multipen options, though the Uniball Singo MF3 is excellent.

  8. 8
    Fountain Pen in French says:

    Before fountain pens, the orange version of this pen saved my hands from endless cramps.

    Starting first grade, my school required yellow Bics in red, black, green and blue to underline grammatical concepts in phrases.

    By the end of the first semester, I complained bitterly that the pens were killing me, thin orange Bics required a death grip.

    When the orange four color Bic came out, I bought one and used it at home to do grammar homework.

    I think I took it to class in secondary school, I also used a Bic Clickster in blue.

    The little ball on top is Bic’s logo, it was first used on the Clickster, the disposable alternative to the very popular Parker Jotter.

    All those events took place in France in the early 70’s.

  9. 9
    Ivy says:

    This pen is made of epic win. Strong review, OSG!

  10. 10

    @winterwold – That is a great story, there are a few professors that I had who I could imagine reacting the same way. So glad to know that you enjoyed the post and the site, thanks for commenting.

    @nrepose – Funny how we associate things like that and they stick. :)

    @JonelB – I totally hear you on the ball point issue, and it not being the best, but for this pen, I dont mind sucking it up and just dealing with it. Looking forward to seeing your review of the Coleto.

    @Mack – Thanks for the clarification on the blue vs. orange body. If you search on Amazon.com you can find the refills, just use the search term “bic 4-color pen refill” and you will see a bunch of options.

    @MikeHickerson – Totally off topic, but that looks like an old baseball card you are holding up in your avatar, is that what it is?

    @George – Just saw your picture and write up on some of your Bics on your blog, I think the big question is “Are there any pens that you DONT have?” :) I can see the top of the pen being used for dialing an old rotary phone, that totally makes sense now…thanks for pointing that out.

    @Notebook Stories – I’ve seen mixed reviews of the Coleto, so hopefully JonelB will get a review of one for us to get another expert opinion. :) I’ve reviewed the Uniball MF2, not the MF3 yet though.

    @Fountain Pen in French – I’m with you, I know which Bics you are talking about with the yellow/orange bodies, and I can see how being forced to write with them and constantly change colors would have been awful. Also, thanks for that bit of info on the ball/logo.

    @Ivy – Thanks, glad you liked it…I think you have a much fancier pen now though, no? ;)

  11. 11
    Souvik says:

    Bic pens are just great, today personalized pens have become a new way to promote the business.

  12. 12
    Johnny says:

    I hope this isn’t repetitive, but have you seen the anniversary edition?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bata/3521107817/
    (not my photo)

    I remember in the early 90s that they had a teal version and a purple version, with inks like teal, purple, lime, orange, pink, sky blue, etc.

    I have a particular affection for this babies. I’m staring at an orange/fine one in front of my computer now.

  13. 13

    @Johnny – That is pretty cool, I never saw that one before, thanks for sharing with us. That is a nice twist on the old classic.

  14. 14
    JoeyFranz says:

    Great review!
    To answer one of the questions in the review – the little “ball” on the pen was originally intended to aid dialing a rotary phone!!

    Also, refills are available for the medium and fine point versions at http://www.bicrefills.com

    One more thing – see the original 1970s TV commercial on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcan7Ail_-c

  15. 15

    @JoeyFranz – Thanks, glad you enjoyed the review, also thanks for pointing out the purpose of that little ball at the top. The commercial is fantastic, its amazing the stuff that is out there. :)

  16. 16
    John says:

    Enjoyed the read. I was just looking for somewhere to buy some 4 colour pens.

    I remember these too. And can add that they can be towed behind lego cars.

    That is all.

  17. 17

    @John – Glad you enjoyed the review, hope you found some multi pens that you like somewhere. If you have not though, I also reviewed the Pilot Hi Tec C Coleto and the Uniball Style Fit 3 and 5.

    The comment about the lego cars cracked me up…very funny! :)

  18. 18

    Probably one of my favorite pens from middle school, I used and abused this thing to no end. The sad thing happened though after about a year of use the thing broke on me. The internal springs fell apart inside and I ended up chucking it. Had to start highschool without my trusty pen and usually having a pen last and entire year without getting lost was an amazing feat in and of itself but to have it break on me was devastating.

    Nice post

  19. 19

    [...] Bic 4 Color Ballpoint Multipen Even though I’m a grown up with Grown up Multi-Pen I have such fond memories of Bic’s classic multi-pen. I loved toggling between the different colors far more than actually writing with the pen. This might have been my first non Hello Kitty pen purchase when I was around 10. I think that’s about the time I developed my fixation with office supply products. I spent a lot of time playing officey type things. Anything involving jogging papers, writing reports, drafting memos and firing employees – after first writing detailed performance reviews or psychological profiles, using my mom’s old psych textbooks – I was all over it. I needed important looking supplies and to me this pen personified importance. [...]

  20. 20
    Magic Pen? says:

    So……I purchased a bic 4-color ball point pen, and I almost exclusively use the red and blue colors. For this reason, I knew, instinctively, that the red and blue were on either side of clip. This is confirmed by all the pictures I have seen online of this pen. HOWEVER, I just picked up my pen, and NOW the green and black are on either side of the clip. What does this mean??? Can the colors change position? Am I dreaming???!

  21. 21

    Yes, check Amazon. I just ordered some!

  22. 22

    I’ve never heard the rotary phone dialing thing. To me the ball is to hold in my teeth while I do other things with my hands. If it wasn’t designed for that, it’s still perfect for it.

  23. 23
    Shedy Mac says:

    How do you open these pens?

  24. 24
    JTD says:

    Ball with hole on top of pen is for lanyard (string) attachment, blue/white barrel = medium point, orange /white barrel = fine point (2011).  I use one to analyze stock portfolios, green = buy, red = sell, blue = hold, black = notes.  Son uses one to analyze movie scripts. Great tool.  Reliable as ever Bic ball plus these 4 color models are still made in France, not China.(2011)

  25. 25
    Thibault says:

    Lol omg i’m so many years old…
    Funny to ready a review on this old-school pen :)
    Nb: the new model with grip is nice too !

  26. 26
    HAL says:

    Great review. OSG! :)

    Just as JTD points out, AFAIK these models are still solely made in France by BIC. Of course BIC has manufacturing sites all over, but regarding production, they kind to keep these series to themselves.

    Back in Junior High School I used a two-color model, orange barrel (hence fine point as aforementioned), but it didnt hold itself together. Either that or I was too abusive with it. Since then, I got something of a crush with multi-purpose writing instruments. I’ve had of several brands, with ballpoints, and mechanical pencil, and PDA stylus, and so on. Like five years ago I purchased a four-color BIC, but of course the current trend involves less hand writing, so it has lasted almost five years unfinished. Even though I use digital tech extensively, I still keep and carry a paper binder, with my four-color BIC. ALWAYS handy, I say :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Bic 4 Color Ballpoint Multipen Even though I’m a grown up with Grown up Multi-Pen I have such fond memories of Bic’s classic multi-pen. I loved toggling between the different colors far more than actually writing with the pen. This might have been my first non Hello Kitty pen purchase when I was around 10. I think that’s about the time I developed my fixation with office supply products. I spent a lot of time playing officey type things. Anything involving jogging papers, writing reports, drafting memos and firing employees – after first writing detailed performance reviews or psychological profiles, using my mom’s old psych textbooks – I was all over it. I needed important looking supplies and to me this pen personified importance. [...]

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