Platinum Preppy Fluorescent Highlighter Pens

I thought that I had found my highlighter for life in the Stabilo Boss until I met the Platinum Preppy. The Boss highlighters are uniquely shaped which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending upon what grip works for you, but where they really shine is the fact that you can leave the cap off for four hours without it drying out. This is extremely convenient. Plus, they are refillable, but I digress. This isn't a review about the Stabilo Boss highlighters. It is about the Platinum Preppies. And boy did they change my perspective. 


The body of the Platinum Preppy is translucent and has a cap with a bright translucent color that matches the highlighter color. The translucence of the body is helpful as it lets you see the level of the cartridge in the pen. The Preppies come in five colors and refills for all five colors are readily available. When using the highlighter, the first thing I noticed was that it was extremely wet. The wetness fades the more you use the highlighter, but it is noticeable for the first few uses. Wetness aside, the pigments are amazingly bright and what I found to be truest to the neon many highlighters try to represent. They do go through to the other side of some papers, but it is not so much that it is distracting and there is a bit of a drying time needed (~one minute or so).


What won me over with these highlighters was the bright, bright pigment, its cartridge based refill system, the replaceable tip, and its round, pen-like barrel. Even though I still love the design of the Stabilo Bosses, the pen-like form factor of the Platinum Preppy allows it to be a bit more controllable. One cartridge for the Platinum Preppy lasted me about a week of heavy highlighting (100 pages of journal article highlighting; I'm a heavy highlighter). I definitely think the Platinum Preppies are worthy of a purchase if you like bright highlighters. You can either buy singles for $2.50 each or a 5-pack for $12.50 over at JetPens


Baron Fig Guardian Vanguard Leather Case

The moment I saw the Guardian case for the Vanguard I knew I had found my new wallet. I had been using a Mighty Wallet for about four years and it was slowly becoming worn out. I wanted something that would last a long time and be useful. I am not one to carry a lot of cards so the two slots for cards would be perfect. I love the fact that there was a spot for a Vanguard book if you wanted (or you can just use it for more storage). The color I chose was a super bright yellow and yes, it IS as bright (if not brighter) as the pictures online. I have used the wallet for over a week now and here are my thoughts:


The design of this Guardian case is amazing and the attention to detail is phenomenal. It is very minimalist and the stitching is damn near perfect. Inside the case, "Baron Fig" is neatly debossed into the lower right corner. The two slots for cards are the perfect size and fit my debit card and license with some room to spare. I decided to slip a vanguard into the right side of the case and while It fits just fine, I did have some trouble pushing the cover into the pocket. I think this difficulty will fade with time as the wallet has not broken in just yet. That brings me to my other issue I have had-- sliding money into the pocket under the cards. Again, I think that this will fade as the wallet breaks in, but it is frustrating when you are trying to put all of your things away and there is a line forming behind you. I want to point out that these minor frustrations are not a fault of the product, but merely growing pains that hopefully will fade over time.

more stitching.jpg

The wallet/case has broken in nicely this past week and I am noticing some wear on the edges. This is great as I like my leather goods to be nice and worn. The wallet/case is a bit long (5.5"x3.8") so while it fits in my back pocket ok, it *just* fits so be mindful of that. (For reference, I wear men's pants so these are deep pockets) None of the issues, if you could call them that, are disqualifications for me. I would buy this product in a heartbeat if you are looking for something that is not only functional and stylish, but well-made. The pocket-sized Guardian case comes in several colors: blue slate, fig wine, charcoal, and yellowgold and is priced at $45. You can find them here


Baron Fig Archer and Vanguard "Back to School" Edition

Anyone that knows me in the Erasable Podcast group knows two things about me: I love Casemate Neons (and all things neon) and I love me a good yellow school pencil. I have a deep nostalgia for school supplies. The smell of fresh pencil shavings, the cracking sound of the binding on a new composition notebook, and the limitless potential that lay before me on that pristine white-paper. It gets me every time. When I found out Baron Fig's latest limited edition release for the Archer and Vanguard would be school themed, I was thrilled. This is all I have dreamed for. I could not wait to tear open the package and put pencil to paper. Would the pangs of nostalgia resurface? Would I be immediately inspired by the fresh pages before me? Or would I be left longing for something more? Well, let's find out:

At first glance both the Archer and Vanguard are beautiful. The composition-styled Vanguards come with three different colored covers: black, yellow, and green. These covers match the design of the pencil which also has those three colors. The pencil actually reminds of of a Ticonderoga down to the font style on the barrel. As I always do, lets go with aesthetics first. The Archers are a classic, school pencil yellow with a green-dipped tip and green printed writing on the side. Everything-- from the print to the finish is clean and without fault. The Vanguard follows suit with a nice clean stitched binding and special consideration paid to the inside covers of the books. In the front, you have a space to write your name, address, phone number, and email and inside the back cover, there is "useful information" that includes common measurements, parts of speech, and punctuation. The paper inside is ruled with a double-lined left margin-- a detail that I find quite pleasing. 

When using both the Archer and Vanguard together, the experience is close to perfect. Baron Fig really did a good job putting together a pencil/paper combo that works well. The toothiness of the paper combined with the hardness of the pencil really makes both the Archer and Vanguard shine. I am not a huge fan of the Archer when it comes to the lines it lays down, but that is not fault of the Archer as I prefer a softer, darker graphite. What I will say about this iteration of the Archer is that the core seems more consistent than other offerings. Not sure if that was just me, but I noticed that it was not as scratchy has other Archers have been. The paper in the Vanguard as just enough tooth to make your writing experience a tactile one, but not too much tooth that you notice it in the lines you are making.  Erasing is also not a problem as each mark is removed easily with just a little bit of pressure (I was using a Hinodewashi, so YMMV). 


Overall, the Back to School editions of both the Vanguard and Archer are a grand slam. Aesthetics and performance are both on point (see what I did there) and the pricing is very reasonable at $26 for the set. I'd head over to Baron Fig soon because I can see these selling out very quickly. **Note: I was provided both the Archer and Vanguard at no charge by Baron Fig. My options are my very own and in no way influenced by said free items.**

Blackwing Volumes No. 1

It's been a while since I have reviewed any Blackwing products and I really wasn't going to do so this limited edition either, but something remarkable happened. I used a round pencil that I did not hate. Yes. You heard that correctly. I have always been a fan of hex or semi-hex pencils and prefer super sharp hex. There is a method to my madness-- I use the edge to rotate my pencil when I notice the point is wearing down at an angle. If I just rotate it ever so slightly to the next "side" it makes the point wear evenly. Needless to say, when I got the latest Volumes edition from Blackwing I first said "meh" and then was extra meh when I found out the pencils were round. As I heard others in the Erasable group talk about their own experiences with the latest edition, I heard a few people say that the finish on the barrel was unique and provided a distinct grip experience. I decided to take the plunge. I figured if I hated them I would just trade them for something else. Well I didn't. Here are my thoughts:

front of box.jpg


Let's start with aesthetics. I didn't like this pencil at first visually. I think it was because pictures online really do not capture the right color of the pencil. Same thing with the eraser. In person I will say that they look much better. The matte finish on the barrel is very thin which allows the wood grain of the pencil to show through a bit. It is very reminiscent of furniture that you can buy at IKEA or fancy hardwood flooring. The blue eraser is a nod to Guy Clarke's (the name of the person this pencil was made in tribute to) blue collar of his favorite shirt. The blue is very subtle and at a quick glance one would think that it is more of a grey/black. 


Performance wise this Blackwing edition does not disappoint. The graphite is not scratchy and erases well. The graphite formula used for this edition is the "balanced" formula. This balanced formula is what can be found in the Pearl and Volume 725. I usually prefer to 602 core to the Pearl, but I kinda liked using it this time around. Perhaps it's because I have been solely using Neon Casemates and I am used to that softer, darker core. Not sure, but I'll take it. The eraser performs better than the old formulation but still not up to the standards I like. I have been spoiled by foam erasers and the eraser on the Blackwing is a bit dusty for me and takes way to much effort to erase things cleanly. It's no Hinodewashi but it is not as bad as a Musgrave eraser. 

writing test.jpg

I am not sure I would say that I am in love with this pencil, but I like it. I purchased a dozen and will probably use half of that for trade fodder in the future. Volume 1 does its job, looks decent enough, and comes with the quality one would expect from Palomino. Seriously though, where is the estrogen in these releases? The day you devote a pencil to a woman (and not a woman that happened to use a photo process/style because that felt like an aside) is the day I become a subscriber. 


Sivo Glitter

This week, I take a look at a pencil that is produced under the umbrella of my favorite brand Hindustan-- the Sivo Glitter pencil. These pencils were originally brought to my attention by CW Pencils when they offered a free 5-pack for ordering. I wasn't sure what to expect for a 30 cent pencil, but after some time with it I was pleasantly surprised. The Sivo Glitter pencils have my favorite color scheme-- neon. Added to the pencils are a gold glitter that seems to be mixed into the paint so there is no worry of it flaking off while using the pencil. The pencils are HB and are true to grade. HB pencils are a bit too light for my liking as I prefer a 2B, but the point retention for the Sivo Glitter is right on par with more expensive HB art pencils and the like. The pencil itself is made of what I think may be basswood but I can't be sure. I was surprised since a lot of Indian pencils are made from Jelutong. Wood type aside, the Sivo Glitter sharpens beautifully. The cores on all pencils I received were centered nicely. The end of the pencil is dipped in a glittery gold like the flecks spread throughout the barrel lacquer. I will say this though-- this pencil is very light and for those of you that prefer a heavier hand feel, I'd counter balance with an eraser top or pencil cap. At 30 cents a pencil, these are definitely worth picking up. While I am not in love with them like I am with my Neon Casemates, I do love them. CW Pencil Enterprise has them in stock. 


Kutsuwa Stad Metal Pencil Cap

We take for granted that most of our trusty pens come with pen caps to protect the point of the pen and prevent the pen from getting ink on our shirts or pants, but what about pencils? Pencils have a point that needs far more protection than any pen tip (besides FPs of course) and I can't count the times that graphite has transferred to other things in my pencil case. It's a mess. When searching for the perfect pencil cap I had a few things in mind. First, it had to be cheap. Yes, the ten dollar pencil cap from Palomino is great, but I lose things. It would be far less disappointing to lose something that costs far less. Also, I want something that is lightweight and does not add much bulk to the pencil. Nothing is worse than adding weight to your pencil case because of a bunch of pencil caps. Finally, I want something that is moderately adjustable. Even though the standard pencil is the same size most of the time, some have more layers of paint which add a bit of girth to the pencil thus facilitating an adjustable cap. With all of those qualities in mind, I have searched and finally found the one pencil cap that checks all of the boxes: the Kutsuwa Stad.

Kutsuwa Stad

Kutsuwa Stad

The Kutsuwa Stad pencil caps are made of a lightweight aluminum and come in either all silver or the multi-colors that I am reviewing here. The packaging on these pencils caps is basic, but the bag is resealable (there is a sticky flap on the bottom) so it's a great way to keep the ones you are not using together. In addition to the six pencil caps, you get a mini sheet of labels. I am not sure what they say in Japanese, but I assume it is a label to write your name on. On the side of each cap is a slit that provides the flex you need to adjust to different pencil barrel size. I will say be careful with this part-- I sliced my finger on one as the edges can be pretty sharp. These sharp edges also may dig into the lacquer on your pencil, so take care not to squeeze them as you slide them on the point of the pencil. 

Once the cap is on your pencil, a slight squeeze is all you need to make sure it is secure. These caps do not add much length to the pencil you are using and allow the pencil with cap to fit in most pencil cases. What's also great is you can put the cap on the other end of the pencil while you are writing (unless you are using a Blackwing of course!) which adds a nice counter balance to ferrule-less pencils. At around three or so dollars for a six pack, you really can't go wrong with picking a few of these up. The Kutsuwa Stad not only does its job well, but they make your pencils look great as well. 

Sakura Sumo Grip Eraser

The moment I saw the Sumo Grip eraser go up for sale at CW Pencils, I was intrigued. I mean who wouldn't want a giant eraser?! Aesthetics aside, I was intrigued by its description: "Reticulated open-cell foam works like ultra-fine sandpaper to get into the small grooves and pits of the paper surface. Combining our existing Sakura Foam W™ Eraser with a firmer hybrid-matrix formula, the SumoGrip Eraser requires minimal pressure to remove graphite lead from B to 2H degrees.: Wow. Could this eraser take the place of my beloved Hinodewashi? Let's find out:

This thing is gigantic!

This thing is gigantic!

It dwarfs my Hinodewashi

It dwarfs my Hinodewashi

The Sumo Grip block eraser comes in three different sizes-- I guess I'll call them small, medium, and large. CW Pencils only carries the large version, so that is the eraser that I am reviewing here. When I first held the Sumo Grip in my hand it was quite silly. I have pretty small hands to begin with, but this eraser was as wide as my palm. The eraser itself comes wrapped in plastic and is jet black with the standard cardboard sleeve that covers most of the eraser. When I unwrapped the Sumo, I immediately was able to smell it. It wasn't a bad smell, but it was pungent. The Sumo is a bit firmer than the Sakura Foam and the Hinodewashi and has a slight stickiness to it. I suspect the firmness has to do with it's "hybrid-matrix formula."

Performance wise, the Sumo shines. It had no problem erasing and performed as well as the Hinodewashi when it came to erasing shaded blocks. Where it overtook the Hinodewashi is when I tried erasing actual handwriting. The Hinodewashi left a bit of graphite on the paper while the Sumo completely lifted any traces of graphite. As you can see in the picture, the only thing left from the Sumo is the indentation on the actual paper. I would like to add that this is great for me since I am very heavy handed when I write and I often struggle to get all of my graphite marks off the paper.





My final thought is this: If you enjoy using block erasers, buy this. It outperforms the Hinodewashi and offers an experience that is more controllable since the eraser is so firm. What I will say is that the big size really is a hindrance when using for every day writing. I see this jumbo size as being good for artists that need to erase large areas, but for the standard text erasing, the smaller form factor will serve you better. I plan on cutting my Sumo into three pieces. It will be much more manageable then. Sakura also sells much smaller stick erasers with the same formulation that would be perfect to thrown in a pencil case and give you the precision you need. If you want to pick a giant Sumo Eraser up, CW Pencils has them for $6.00 a piece. 

Which Highlighter is Right for You: A Review of the Best and Worst

Normally here at the Weekly Pencil, I talk about, well, pencils. As I began to use more and more pencil, I found that there were times when I wanted to highlight something I had written, but had no idea which highlighter I should use. For a while, I kind of just used whatever was within reach with varying results. It wasn't until I started to attend college that I began to have a need for a highlighter that worked properly for my needs and was vibrant enough to be useful. I'm not going to lie-- this task was daunting. I did eventually find my dream highlighter, but it took time and frustration. That's when it occurred to me-- what if I wrote a blog post about my experiences with different highlighters so you DON'T have to go through the aggravation like I did. Now, here we are. I review several highlighters so you don't have to. You're welcome.

Before I get started I want to define some terms. There are three different kinds of highlighters I am going to talk about in this piece. The dry, wet/marker-type, and the gel. Dry highlighters can be described as crayon-like or, for the harder ones, colored pencil. They tend to lay on top of the paper and often smudge pencil, but do a fine job with printer ink and pen ink. They need sharpening like regular pencils. The wet/marker type are the highlighters that most of you probably use on a semi-regular basis. They tend to get absorbed into the paper you are highlighting and some wet highlighters do a good job of not smearing pencil markings. Wet highlighters can either be water based or alcohol based. The alcohol based highlighters tend to work much better than the water based since they have a shorter drying time and work on a variety of papers. Water based highlighters can tear up the paper if you apply too many layers and take forever to dry. The only plus to water based highlighter usage is that they are cheaper. *note: while these statements are, in fact, true, there are some exceptions to the assertion that alcohol is better than water; it depends on the quality of the marker itself. Finally, gel highlighters are unique in that they offer a smudge-free, non-bleedthrough experience. These type of highlighters work best on thin paper such as paper found in the Bible or Quran or on surfaces that are non-porous. These highlighters come with some drawbacks though. They are not precise and often have a very large, round tip. Also, some can be incredibly waxy to the point of being unusable. I would like to note that sometimes people conflate dry and gel highlighters, but for the purposes of this overview, I will put them into two separate categories: dry (sharpenable) and gel (everything else sans wet). Now, on to the reviews!

Dry Highlighters


Kutsuwa HiLiNE Highlighter Pencil

The Kutsuwa HiLiNE is a pencil highlighter made in Japan that comes with a pencil sharpener cap. When I first recieved this highlighter I was sketptical. I figured the sharpener would be garbage and the pencil itself would not be able to offer up the vibrancy that I often look for in highlighters. I was TOTALLY wrong. First, the included sharpener works beautifully and provides a good counter weight to the pencil as you use it. Also, the small diameter of the core (3.9 mm) allows one to make precise marks and annotations. I would liken this to the Caran d'Ache Couleurs Fluos highlighter pencil. Same bright pigment and while not as creamy as the C'dA the HiLiNE offers a very velvety highlighting experience. Final Grade: A-

Caran d'Ache Couleurs Fluos

The Cd'A highlighter pencil is my dream come true. Housed in a chunky hexagonal body is a fat creamy core that offers a superb highlighting experience. The C'dA was the first highlighter pencil I used and set the bar for all others to follow. It is the closest experience to using a standard wet highlighter that I have found. The Couleurs Fluos lays down a smooth creamy line that does not smudge pen or printer ink. I will say that this is the wrong highlighter to use for highlighting pencil as it smears and mixes with the graphite on the paper. At $3.50 it may seem a bit expensive, but an entire pencil lasted me a semester (four months). The Couleurs Fluos comes in four different colors, but I found that the yellow and pink are most vibrant. Final Grade: A+

Yoobi Highlighter Pencil

The Yoobi highlighter pencil hits all the aesthetic points on my scale: natural wood barrel, hexagonal, and jumbo. That's where my love affair ends. Let not beat around the bush here: this pencil sucks. In order for the highlighting to be visible, one has to push down extremely hard in order to get the pigment to find its way into the paper. This experience is a stark contrast to that of the Caran d'Ache and Kutsuwa offerings. When one is able to get the highlighter pencil to lay down enough pigment to be effective, the color is muted and not at all vibrant. The highlighting experience itself is marred by a very scratchy feedback. While the Yoobi is a bit thicker than the C'dA jumbo, its core is about half the size. Also, the Yoobi appears to be made of basswood so it has a lighter feel in the hand. For some this is a bonus, but for me it only decreases my opinion of the pencil. The good thing is that these are super cheap. A five pack will cost you as much as one C'dA pencil. If you have $3.50 that you are wiling to waste or light on fire, pick these up. Otherwise it's a hard pass. Final Grade: D

Gel Highlighters

Staedtler Textsurfer Gel

The Staedtler Textsurfer Gel was a pleasant surprise for me. I have used gel highlighters in the past and have been extremely disappointed. For one, they require of very light hand and for someone like myself who is very heavy-handed, this can be a problem. Also, the gel highlighters I have used in the past have left a ton of chunks on the paper which then transfers to the opposite page and makes the two pages stick together. Not good. The Staedtler resolves a few of these issues. For one, it is not as clumpy as others I have used in the past. The feedback one gets when they use it is best described as that of using a gluestick. Super, super smooth and sticky feeling. The yellow pigment the Staedtler leaves on the paper is super bright and does not smudge or smear any kind of ink or graphite it goes over. The one drawback though is that it is extremely hard to be precise with it (and all of the gel highlighters I've reviewed as a matter of fact). It has a very blunt rounded tip that unless you wear it down to a point, you will not be able to highlight small lines of text accurately which is kind of silly since these are advertised at bible highlighters. Either way, they do a great job, just don't expect precision. Final Grade: B+

Ohto Rouge

The Ohto Rouge has a different design than the Staedtler and Monami gel highlighters I reviewed. It has a flatter shape to its core and comes to a dull point at the end. While not as bad as the round tipped highlighters, the Ohto still doesn't offer the precision one needs to highlight small text. One noticeable issue I had with the Ohto is that it gave me a similar experience that I had with other gel highlighters of the past-- it left small chunks on the paper. The Ohto was also much softer than the other two as well which not only adds to that chunky residue, but decreases the lifespan of the highlighter itself. These drawbacks are a shame because I really like the flatter shape of not only the core but the barrel as well. Final Grade: C

Monami Essenti Stick

The Monami Essenti Stick is very similar to the Staedtler Textsurfer. In fact, if I were blindfolded I would not be able to tell the difference between the two. Even the color that is laid down by both is similar. One cool feature of this highlighter though is that there is a window on the barrel that lets you see how much of the gel stick is left over. Also, the Monami is a dollar cheaper than the Staedtler, so I'd pick this one up instead of the Textsurfer. Final Grade: A- (for extra features and price)

Wet Highlighters

Tombow Kei Coat Dual Tip

The Tombow Kei Coat highlighter has a great design; it has a chisel tip and a fine point tip. This becomes incredibly handy during highlighting and annotating since you can quickly jot down notes with the fine point. It is a smaller highlighter pen that is made of solid plastic and has a good hand feel. The chisel tip is just the right size to accommodate small print, but for handwritten stuff I find that I need two swipes to compeletely cover my text. The one drawback to this highlighter is its pigment. Compared to others I have tested, the Tombow feels a bit washed out. Not a complete dealbreaker as the highlighter still does its job, but not for me. Final Grade: B

Zebra H-301

Let me preface this by saying that I have used the Zebra H-301 before-- quite extensively actually. The only reason I ordered a new one was because I could not find my original one. The H-301 comes with one refill which is nice, but you do go through the refills quite quickly. The design of the newer H-301 I ordered was exactly the same except for the cap which seemed to randomly pop off. Legit. I went into my office one morning and found the uncapped highlighter on the floor. I don't know if this is a fluke or if this is the new design, but it's horrible. Luckily, I did my testing already because the tip was completely dried out and required a bit of finesse and moisture to get it right again. And lets talk about that. The performance was not consistent at all. There were times when the Zebra worked flawlessly but then other times where it seemed to skip over the paper and required a few swipes to get a solid line. This is disappointing since I talked the H-301 up a bit on the latest episode of RSVP. I'd be willing to buy another to give it a second chance, but be aware: you may be disappointed as well. Final Grade: C-

Stabilo Boss Original

The Stabilo Boss is a classic and has had the same iconic design since its incarnation in 1972. Its design, while a bit awkward in the hand at first, is perfect and allows for precision usage. The brightness of the Boss is perfect-- not too bright that it is obnoxious, but just bright enough to make what you have highlighted readable. One feature of the Boss that I especially like is the fact that it can be uncapped for up to four hours without drying out. This is big since as a student I often find myself capping and uncapping highlighters as I use them. In this case, I can leave the cap off for my entire study session and not be worried about it drying out. Also, these are refillable so those that are focused on cutting down plastic waste, Stabilo has got you covered. I couldn't ask for more in a highlighter. Final Grade: A+

Staedtler Textsurfer Classic

Not unlike the Stabilo Boss, the Textsurfer Classic has a unique flat design. That's not where the innovation ends though-- the Textsurfer features an "automatic pressure equalization system" that prevents the ink from leaking while on board an aircraft. While this feature is not at all useful for me, those that travel may find this of use. The barrel has a nice design and has ridges at the top where you would put your pointer finger; this allows for a better grip as your hand does not slip like it sometimes does with the Stabilo Boss. The pigment is SUPER bright and more regular yellow than a neon yellow. Some may find this irritating, but I like the super pop of color. The Textsurfer is on the wetter side so be careful not to leave it on the paper for too long as it will bleed through. Overall, I like this marker and have made it a part of my daily carry. Final Grade: A

Zebra Mildliner

The Zebra Mildliner is just that-- mild. The Mildliner still has that glow of a neon highlighter, but it is muted just enough as to not be jarring on the eyse as a regular highlighter might be. The Mildliners are extremely popular with the journaling and studying crowd since they come in a variety of unique colors such as grey and brown. The Mildliner has both a chisel and fine point tip which proves to be especially useful when annotating. There are fifteen different colors of the Mildliner and are worth owning if you like a wide range of colors. Final Grade: B  

Kokuyo Beetle Tip

The Beetle Tip is a very unique highlighter because of the fact that there are two colors in one pen. The tip of the highlighter is divided in two and provides two chisel tips. This is great in theory, but if you do not hold it just the right way both colors will transfer to the paper. This is frustrating and a deal breaker for me. Oftentimes I am going back and forth between pencil and highlighter and the angle I have to hold the Beetle Tip is very slanted and not at all natural. The color the Beetle lays down is average, but nothing to write home about. I'd try one of these for the novelty purposes, but don't purchase if you are looking for utility since you have to work harder than you should to get this highlighter to do its thing. Final Grade: C

Platinum Preppy Highlighter

The Preppy really took me by surprise. The Preppy works extremely well and lays down the perfect shade of neon yellow. It feels great in the hand and has the same design as their Preppy fountain pens. They are also refilliable which is a huge bonus. I like the clear look of the Preppy and the cool cap design that has a spring inside of it which allows the tip to fit snugly and airtight thus making it free from drying out. I really don't have anything negative to say about the Preppy. It's chisel tip is a bit more narrow than I like, but at this point I am grasping at straws trying to find a flaw in this pen. Just buy it. Final Grade: A

Pilot Frixion Erasable Highlighter

Let's get this out of the way. This highlighter is garbage. DO NOT buy this. You will be disappointed and angry. First, the color of the ink is bad and not at all the normal neon you are used to in a highlighter. Second, its "erasable" feature requires you to almost destroy your paper to get the highlighter off the page. Finally, can we talk about the horrible 90s tribal design on the barrel?? Pilot really dropped the ball here and could have hit it out of the park, but instead they offered up a sub-par piece of junk. If you want a ticket to the land of disappointment, buy this highlighter. Final Grade: F






Baron Fig Confidant Limited Edition: Raspberry Honey

It's not often that I open a product I have been sent to review and gasp audibly. When I got the box in the mail I was immediately drawn to the artwork on the outside. Whimsical characters drawn by artist Geoff Gouveia are riding through countless bees and honey harvesting paraphernalia on what appears to be a Yak. Upon opening the box, you will find a small booklet which contains a lovely short story that introduces the characters on the box artwork and alludes to the use of a "maroon notebook." These small details in the story actually make you feel as though you, too, are holding a maroon notebook that has the potential to contain your very own ideas about honey (the short story is also written by Gouveia). The presentation of this limited edition product is phenomenal and the story just adds the perfect touch. Don't skip it. Take a few minutes and read it. 

After I read the booklet, I put it aside and got my first peek at the Raspberry Honey Confidant. It is beautiful. It's not so much maroon as it is an actual raspberryish/cranberry color. At first glance you see small things embossed on the front and back covers, but when taking a closer look, you find that they are BEES embossed on the cover (this small detail inspired my gasp). When you open the notebook, you are greeted with the same artwork you found on the box. There is a cloth bookmark like every Confidant has and this one is a mauveish color. The paper inside the book is dot grid and there have been no changes to its quality. I threw a bunch of pens and pencils at it and the paper was receptive to all. The paper in the Confidant is a bit toothier than other papers I normally use, but it's not so toothy it is a deal breaker. The amount of feedback the paper give me when I write in pencil is just right.  

Besides this Confidant, I only own one other and that is the classic. I have used to pretty extensively to jot down notes and project ideas for school as well as blog post planning. The Raspberry Honey is different. It's special and I'm not quite sure what I will pen on its pages. No matter what I do decide to fill it with, I am sure I will enjoy using it and carrying it around.If any of you are on the fence about picking up a limited edition Confidant, hop off. Now is the time to pick one up. I have a feeling this one is not going to last. 


Community Member Spotlight: Less Harper

In this installment of "Community Member Spotlight", we get to know Less Harper. Less is not only a good friend of mine, but one third of the RSVP podcast I am a part of. She is not only a dear friend, but an awesome community member all of you should know about!

What got you into pencils?  

I got started in pencils due to art classes. I distinctly remember sitting around with a friend in my undergraduate years discussing pencils and which pencils were the best. Back then it was all about the Staedtler Lumograph. General’s Kimberly were available but they were cheaper, often they had gritty bits and the Lumograph looked great and never had any grit. Back then the Lumographs were made of cedar.

For writing I used almost exclusively the Eberhard Faber EcoWriter. I started using those back in high school, I immediately noticed that they felt different than other pencils I’d been using. Sadly, EF were transitioning into Paperhate around the time I was in my undergrad years and the EcoWriter started to not be as great. Eventually it was discontinued in favor of the EarthWrite.

How do you use pencils in your everyday life?  

Sadly, I’m unable to use pencils at work for anything other than my to do lists and personal notes. So I don’t use them at work. I do use them for long form writing tasks at home. Almost all of my novel writing and journaling is done in pencil. I also draw with them, though lately I’m mostly writing.

What is your dream pencil?  

I’d love a cedar version of the Nataraj Metallic, Beauty, Pop any of the Super Black core pencils

Top five pencils?  

#1 Ito-ya Helvetica

#2 Apsara Beauty (The top 2 are pretty much tied.) or any of the Hindustan HBs

#3 Nataraj Metallic or any Super black Hindustan pencil

#4 Story Supply Company Pencil

#5 Mitsubishi 9000 2B

What do you do (for a job)?

I’m a master’s level mental health counselor aka therapist. My work environment is old school and writing loaded. Assessment tools are done with pen and paper, daily session notes are also on paper. Very little of my work is able to be done with a computer, mostly because my workplace lacks enough computers for clinicians. It’s a stark contrast from my previous work environments where they used mini networked computers and all my daily notes were kept paperless. Even my position before that was going paperless. My work environment at school was also nearly paperless, very few of my professors accepted work on paper, they wanted to track notes and changes in Word.

It’s very odd to take a step back in time for work with regards to paper. As much as it really does help me to do reviews for my blog it’s hard to reconcile the shear amount of paper that we produce with my desire to use less paper. I prefer to use paper for things I plan on arching or keeping for posterity- journals, drafts of novels and what not, but at work it’s a lot of trash paper. I hate that.