When I think of BIC, I think of one thing: ball-point pens. Sure, they make other products, and they’ve got some skin in the pencil game. But their forays into pencilism seem to be limited to the Evolution-type pencils (e.g. extruded plastic) and the mechanical variety; two things that I frankly find a little repulsive.
That said, I did finally come across a BIC product that I think I might be able to appreciate: their foray into the block eraser market with the simply-titled “BIC Erasers”. I picked up a four-pack of their simple blocks on the cheap and, since I haven’t done an eraser review in a while, decided to take them for a spin today.
Form and Function
At its heart, the BIC block eraser — made in Malaysia — is similar to many others on the market in that it’s just a rectangular block of squishy material. The four pack I picked up contained one each of several fun neon colors — pink, yellow, green and orange. The consistency of the material is very similar to the Pentel Hi-Polymer; it feels about the same density and squishiness (is that actually a thing?), although at about 43 millimeters long it’s a little shorter than the Hi-Polymers of equal width.
Unlike many other block erasers, these ones don’t come in a paper sleeve; however, they do come with an ergonomic plastic grip that is adjustable and removable. The grip is pretty nice as far as making the eraser easier to wield, and protecting the user’s fingers from graphite. However, it doesn’t do much to keep it from absorbing graphite dust from a pencil bag or whatever, and gradually turning a dingy shade of black.
Other than that, there’s really not much to it. Rub the pencil lead with the eraser and, viola, that’s it. The real question is how well it works.
For my main performance review, I made a matrix of different pencils and erasers on a sheet of Docket Gold writing paper; a stock which has a little bit of a tooth to it. The y-axis of the matrix consisted of six different pencils — the Staedtler Rally, Thai Golden Bear, Ticonderoga (PRC), Mirado Classic, Tombow 8900 2B, and Blackwing Pearl. Then I made erasures down six columns, each using a different eraser. In addition to the BIC, I compared it to the Hi Polymer (both block and cap), Pink Pearl, Arrowhead cap, and Mono Zero “click” eraser.
In terms of accomplishing the task of actually erasing graphite from the paper, I’d say the BIC block falls somewhere between the Hi-Polymer and Pink Pearl block erasers. Compared to the pencil cap erasers and the Mono Zero click, I think it performs about evenly. I didn’t notice any particular trends in erasure ability, such as harder pencils versus softer. For whatever reason, the BIC was not as responsive to the Tombow 8900 and the Steadtler Rally pencils. I think the Rally might be a little harder to erase in general, regardless of which eraser you use, but I really can’t explain why the BIC doesn’t get along with the 8900 2B.
I did note one particular advantage over the Hi-Polymer, and most of the other erasers, which is that the Bic block tends to smear graphite much less, leaving a tidier page behind that requires less extra clean-up when wiping out a big mistake. On the topic of general cleanliness, the resulting rubber waste was about similar to the Hi-Polymer: a few threads to wipe away, rather than a big ol’ mess of rubble. Overall, I’d say it’s a pretty clean eraser.
I think the BIC eraser is kind of a mixed bag. On the whole, it’s not bad. The problem is that there are a million erasers out there, in all sorts of different formats, and no matter which way I try to slice things, the block o’ BIC doesn’t seem to stand out for any particular use.
As far as big rectangular block erasers go, the BIC is pretty good at making a complete erasure, but it’s not the best. I think the big selling point for me is that it does a very smudge-free job and doesn’t make a lot of mess, which would make it great for precision work…that is, if it weren’t shaped like a big ol’ box. If you’re looking for something that you do a meticulous and careful job of erasing with, you’ll probably want a pencil cap or a click eraser. If BIC produced an eraser in that format with this exact same material, it might be a hit.
At about $3.50 for the four pack, the BIC block eraser would seem to have a price advantage over the Hi-Polymer, which usually runs about $5 per four. That’s a little misleading, though, because the BIC erasers are a little smaller. Pound for pound, you’re getting about the same amount of material for your money. The ergonomic grip is nice, but the lack of a full-length sleeve or enclosure to keep the pretty neon material from turning black is a drawback.
I’m pretty lukewarm on the BIC block eraser. It’s not bad. I wouldn’t avoid using it. It just seems mediocre in every category and excellent in none. If you had to spend the rest of your life on a desert island with only one type of eraser, this might be a good one to pick. Otherwise, you’re probably better off finding something better suited for your specific needs.