See the post for full details.
There have been kid's colored pencils with multi-colored leads for years. Now Koh-I-Nor has brought out Tricolor Pencils—their version of a multi-colored lead with what they refer to as top quality pigments. You can buy these pencils in open stock or in sets. (Note: these are NOT the jumbo pencils that are triangularly shaped. I'm describing regular pencils with round barrels.)
(Of course I bought mine at Wet Paint in St. Paul, where they have both sets and open stock. You can order from them or look on the internet. I am not connected to Wet Paint, I'm just a happy customer—who spends a lot of time there.)
The leads in the pencils I purchased in open stock were what I define as hard. They keep a nice point, they are a little brittle, but not overly so. They lay down a smooth line, but unlike many brands of "soft" colored pencils with wax or oil binders the color line is a bit wimpy.
What is fun, however, is that each lead is made up of three colors of lead and at any given moment you'll wear the lead down to expose another fleck of color and that transition will show up in your drawings
I found that the lighter value pencils (ones with mixes of yellow and other high-key colors) were disappointing in trial because there wasn't a lot of variation in the color line. The same was true with some of the analogous color leads when those colors were all roughly the same value. I had the most fun working with pencils that had disparate colors in the leads.
While I find getting dark values with these pencils requires more pressure than I care to use (hence one of the reasons I prefer other lines of pencils) I do think these pencils are great for quick sketches like the one shown in today's post. I have three of these pencils in my life-drawing sketch kit.