From NOPEX to WOAHPEX (sorta)

     So for all of you that know me a little bit, you know that I HATE WOPEX pencils.  For the uninitiated, WOPEX pencils are not made of just wood, but instead made up of a wood/plastic composite that uses 70 percent wood and the rest is plastic.  From the Staedtler website: "Granulates of all components are processed in a special manufacturing procedure. The pencil materials are melted at temperatures between 130 and 180°C, aligned by means of a tool and then moulded to a pencil shape. The initial outcome is an endless pencil strand which is cooled prior to cutting to the appropriate pencil length and then stamped and sharpened."  So, ok.  It's not a wooden pencil like a Blackwing or a Ticonderoga, but it's a pencil nonetheless, so it should do just job just as good, right?  WRONG.  I have a few problems with the WOPEX.  I dislike sharpening the thing.  It's smooth sharpening, but gunks up my Classroom Friendly sharpener and dulls blades on others.  I felt bad for this little pencil.   My strong dislike for this pencil came from a first experience with it, so really, I had not used a WOPEX for any length of time.  I figured I'd give it a second shot and if anything, find some justifiable reasons for hatred other than "it eats my sharpeners."  Sharpening the WOPEX was the same experience as I had previously-- it was nice and smooth although I cringed at what it was probably doing to the blade. I spent an entire day writing with it and my bubbling cauldron of hatred seemed to simmer a bit.  Yes, I still did not like the thing, but I was beginning to understand why.  

     One of the biggest reasons I use analog tools is because I like the tactile feel of things and the experience as a whole.  The WOPEX does not deliver on that.  When I write, I do not get the feedback like I do with a traditional wood pencil.  The WOPEX is also a bit heavier than the standard pencil and its finish is very rubbery feeling.  The graphite in the WOPEX actually isn't that bad.  The point retention is great and if you are writing on toothy paper, the WOPEX really shines.  Its graphite is a bit lighter than I like, but that is something you sometimes have to sacrifice for point retention.  I was pleasantly surprised this week when I was using the WOPEX.  Sharpening was a chore and the eraser on the pencil is garbage (not as bad as Musgrave though), but I gave it a chance.  Perhaps that is the lesson here.  Don't let your first experience with something be your only experience.  I still don't love the WOPEX, but I don't hate it either.  It does what a pencil should do-- write.  A lot of times us reviewers have a limited amount of time with a product due to the fact we want to publish content on a regular basis.  I think what this experience taught me was that I need to revisit some of my earlier reviews and see if things have changed.  Reviewing something is entirely subjective, so thing can and will change.  So yeah.  WOPEX.  Sorta OK?

Eraser Round Up

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This week has been a bit different.  A lot of times, people always ask me what the best eraser is for everyday use.  I usually answer "Mitsubishi Boxy", but after the nth time of recommending that glorious little black rectangular eraser I began to wonder.  What about the other ones?  Just like pencils, there are dozens of different types of erasers made of different materials that appeal to and equal amount of individuals.  I did not want to merely review erasers-- reviewing items is a subjective matter and what I may like may be completely horrible to someone else.  What follows are twelve different impressions on erasers-- some quite common and well known and some you may not have heard of.  Note: A Blackwing 602 was used on a Field Notes Shenandoah with 60# paper. Papermate Pink Pearl

PinkPearl

The Pink Pearl is perhaps the most well known eraser on this list.  I am sure all of us have fond memories of using this rubbery pink parallelogram during math classes.  We also probably remember how gritty it was and how it left horrible tears or pink smudges on the paper.  Well, this is not your 80's Pink Pearl.  I will readily admit that I expected that Pink Pearl of yesteryear; gritty, barely usable, and endlessly frustrating.  Papermate has a tendency to take good products and butcher them and the Pink Pearl-- I figured-- was no exception.  Boy was I surprised when I used the Pink Pearl for the first time in 25 years.  No grit, no smear; just buttery smooth effectiveness.  The Pink Pearl performed well beyond my expectations and has become my new favorite EDC eraser.  There is something about the nostalgia of carrying a Pink Pearl with me everywhere.  I like it.

Seed Radar  

Radar

The Radar came recommended from one of my favorite Erasables, Less (check out their page!).  It comes in a variety of subtle colors, but I gravitated towards blue.  I am kinda bummed the eraser itself is not quite blue enough, but where it lacks in vibrancy, it make up in performance.  Not only does this plastic eraser remove most traces of graphite, but its dust rolls up nicely into little bunches for easy clean up.  The Radar has a useful cardboard sheath that prevents the eraser from breaking.

Tombow MONO

Mono

I am a huge fan of Tombow products.  I have a current affair with their Brush Pens and the MONO 100 was my favorite pencil before I found the Erasable Podcast group.  I expect nothing but the best from Tombow and while the eraser does a good job with line drawing and regular handwriting, it struggled with the shading portion of the test.  At first, it smeared a bit and then managed to get the job done.  Like most plastic erasers, the dust clumps neatly together and does not leave a mess.  The MONO is affordable and worth giving a shot.

Caran D'Ache Technik

Technik

I expected a lot from the Technik for two reasons: its price and the fact that it is made by Caran D'Ache.  I was most let down by the eraser's ability to erase cleanly.  It performed OK with line drawings, but with the shading it had excessive smearing and took a lot of effort to get the most graphite cleared.  The Technik is a very hard eraser and it leaves neat rolls of eraser dust.  I posit that the hardness of the plastic has to do with its crummy erasing performance.  I know I said I wouldn't review erasers here, but I can't resist with this one.  I'd pass on purchasing and instead get 3 Pink Pearls (or really 3 of anything).

Pentel Ain

Ain

The Pentel Ain erases well, but is a bit dusty.  It showed some smearing on the shading part of the erasing test, but with some effort it came through and got the job done.  Not much to say here, because it was solidly mediocre.

Koh-I-Noor Magic

Magic

The Magic is an eraser that I have been wanting to get my hands on for some time.  I love how each eraser is different with varying colors and swirls.  As a rubber eraser, the Magic is clearly very dusty.  I'd liken the dustiness to a standard pink pencil eraser (think Ticonderoga/General's).  It has a nice pungent rubbery smell and does fantastically on regular light handwriting and lines.  It is a smeary mess on the darker lines and shading parts and actually reminds me of the Pink Pearl from years ago.  The Magic is a cool eraser nonetheless and is a nice pocket carry, but at $2.50 you are definitely paying for the novelty.

Staedtler Mars Plastic

Mars

I was quite unimpressed by the Mars plastic; it was dusty, took a lot of effort to erase things, and smeared a heck of a lot.  I expected more from Staedtler, but was left with a less than average eraser.  I do like the size of the Mars as it makes for easy erasing, but the effort you put forth getting the job done negates the bonus of a larger eraser.

Hinodewashi Matomaru-kun

Hino

The Hinodewashi came highly recommended from pretty much anyone that has used it, so I was excited to use this delightfully bright white block of plastic.  It performed beautifully with very little effort.  The dust rolled up nicely and did not smear any of what was erased.  These are hard to come by in the US, but Caroline has a few at CW Pencil Enterprise if you are interested.

Craft Design Technology No. 14

CDT

The minimalist design of CDT products always draw me in.  I enjoy a product that lets its product do all the talking and not the packaging.  Well, the CDT left a lot to be desired.  First, when opening the eraser I could not help but notice the smell.  I can't even tell you what it smelled like, but it was a chemical-like smell with a hint of plastic.  In fact, it was so pungent I could smell it without putting it up to my nose.  Once I got past the smell, the CDT was meh.  Yes, it erases, but is dustier than I had expected and it took a lot of effort to erase the samples and even then, you can see a shadow of what was once there.

Koh-I-Noor Thermoplastic

thermoplastic

I want to start off by saying this eraser was my absolute favorite design wise.  I love the hexagonal shape (which I believe is a nod to the pencil) and the recessed center that allows for a very comfortable grip.  The six corners allow for maximum control and precision.  The Thermoplastic erases OK, but does leave a shadow on both samples.  I would say that this eraser is best for light writers out there that do not press that hard or use H grade graphite.  I know this eraser says its plastic, but it was the dustiest of the plastic erasers I have tested.  The Thermoplastic comes in a myriad of colors and if not used as an every day eraser, its still a cool pocket carry (its almost reminiscent of those worry stones one would carry in their pocket).

Faber-Castell Dust Free Art Eraser

FaberCastell

Another recommendation from Less, the FC Dust Free never ceased to amaze me as I explored its qualities.  First, I love the dark green color-- it does a good job of hiding any graphite marks that may transfer to the eraser.  Second, while subtle, is the contoured edges that make for comfortable holding.  I really didn't think that this would make a difference, but it did and has a really good hand feel when erasing bigger projects.  Finally, it lives up to its name: Dust Free.  This eraser was perhaps the most effective when keeping its waste materials rolled up in tiny little bunches.  The FC Dust Free also erases beautifully.  Not the top performer in the "clean erase" field, but it definitely holds its own.

Sakura Foam

Sakura

The Sakura Foam is one of the few erasers on this list that I have used before.  I really like the way its shavings ball up together-- this makes for a quick and easy cleanup.  The Sakura does an amazing job erasing any kind of line drawing or handwriting.  Where its lacks is its ability to erase large areas of shading.  I'm not an artist, so this is not a deal breaker for me, but something to keep in mind.  Another downfall of this eraser is that it wears down pretty quickly.  That worn down edge you see in the picture is just from the two tests I did (line drawing, sentence erasing, and shading).  The Sakura definitely lives up to its "High Quality" designation, but if you make a lot of mistakes, you will blow through these pretty quickly.  With that being said, it continues to be one of my favorites for every day erasing.

 

 

 

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2B

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I have reviewed very few German pencils on this blog, so this week I grabbed a pencil from the jar that would fit that bill.  The Staedtler Mars Lumograph is perhaps one of the most accessible higher quality pencils to the non-pencil enthusiast.  Found in Staples and most arts and crafts stores, the Lumograph usually comes in a multi-pack with a few different graphite grades.  The Lumograph is mainly used for pencil drawing and sketching, but performs very well during everyday use.  Subtle yet striking, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph is a bright blue hexagonal pencil with a ferrule-less black tip.  The stamping on the barrel is a silver/grey and while pretty, it rubs off quite easily with use.20160308_161957  

The Mars Lumograph sharpens beautifully and the point does not suffer from any breakage or crumbling.  Writing with this pencil is also a joy.  It has a nice, smooth lay down and while it smears a bit, it is forgivable since the darkness of the 2B graphite is just right.  Erasing the Mars Lumograph is a breeze and my Boxy made quick work of all marks on all kinds of paper (notebook paper, copy paper, Field Notes Shenandoah).  The smoothness of this pencil really helped with differential equations notes this week (FYI: I am not that smart, I am a paid note taker.  Psych major right here.).  I cannot recommend this pencil enough and with the ability to head out to most major office supply/art stores and pick a few up, there is no reason one should pass this one by.

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Staedtler Norica HB 2

I was quite underwhelmed this week when using the Staedtler Norica: point breakage, quick wear, and crappy eraser.  I suppose I expected more out of this German-made pencil (note: this pencil is made in Thailand, I stand corrected), but-- then again-- how much could I expect from a common school pencil?  The Norica looks pretty; it has a nice, sharp hexagonal barrel and a bright white eraser held in by a silver ferrule. 20151026_173615 (1)

This pencil had a busy week between stats notes and test-taking that I began to wonder if it could keep up.  Since obtaining Kum's Masterpiece sharpener, I have not had the excessive amounts of point breakage as I did the with Long Point sharpener.  I chalk that up to less flexibility since the Masterpiece is (I think) magnesium.  This was the first pencil that proved me wrong.  I deduced that it was probably a break in the graphite core within the pencil since it was such a clean break, but nonetheless this happened about three or four times during the week.

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Another gripe was the fact that I had to sharpen the Norica so damn much while note-taking.  Usually, I sharpen once per side of paper I write on (I use B5 size paper).  The Norica sometimes barely made it through two-thirds of the page before I had to sharpen her which left me frustrated and my hand cramped from sharpening so much.  I really thought that this pencil would not make it to the end of the school week, but it did-- barely.

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The picture above shows how quick the pencil wore down (this was taken on Thursday of a week that runs until Saturday).  What the above picture also shows is the next thing I am going to gripe about: the ferrule.  I usually try to use the eraser if the pencil comes with one to see how it does and whether or not it is useful.  I wore down the eraser a lot since it had a hard time erasing and I had to follow up with my Boxy.  About halfway through the Norica, I noticed that the ferrule was loose.  Like it was separating from the barrel of the pencil.  It wobbled quite a bit while erasing or while I was using the pencil in general and I noticed that it was only attached via four little punches in the aluminum (?) that adhered it to the pencil.  The smaller the pencil got, the more I noticed the loose ferrule.

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This week was a crap week with lots of school work and a bad pencil.  I do realize that since I am working my way through my entire collection of pencils I am bound to work with some bad ones, but please pencil gods: let my next random pick be a Swiss Wood!  Overall: 4/10