Howdy, folks! Guess what? I’m not dead. I just kind of turned into a potato thanks, in part, to COVID. After falling off of my routine over the past year or so, I’m trying to get my butt back in gear — including blogging. So, I figure, what better way to pick it back up than to jump right in by finishing a review that’s been a long time in the making?
It seems like only yesterday that it was back to school time here in Alaska, whether that be literally going to a school or studying from home. Back to school means one thing — inexpensive school supplies, including pencils, everywhere — so I jumped on the chance back then and picked up some new review fodder. I’ve already reviewed some of the more common “schoolhouse” pencils out there, such as several iterations of the Dixon Ticonderoga, the Staedtler Noris that is the standard in Europe, and a few others. Today I want to review a pencil from a company whose products are perhaps as universally-used as either of those, but much lesser known: J. R. Moon.
I’m not a complete stranger to Moon pencils; in fact, I wrote a review of their Try-Rex some time ago. It would seem that the bulk of their sales, though, originate from elementary school teachers who buy the company’s colorful, cheery motivational pencils. Thus far I haven’t felt inclined to review their “Fifth Graders are No. 1!” model, or one of the numerous other similar options, so I haven’t written a whole lot about the company’s offerings. However, I recently picked up a fresh dozen of the pencil maker’s entry into the nudist pencil category — Moon’s Bare Wood. Here’s my take on it…
Hello again! It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to jot down my thoughts on a pencil. No, I didn’t catch The Rona; however, this “hunker down” thing really threw my routine for a loop. I’m back, though, and approaching this blog with renewed vigor! All I needed was a new pencil to inspire me, and browsing on Amazon the other day, something caught my eye. It was…a Dixon Ticonderoga.
Ah, but not any Dixon Ticonderoga. The world may have been out of toilet paper there for a while, but it’ll never run out of the iconic No. 2, after all. (There’s a poop/No. 2 pun there that I’m missing, I’m sure). But I happened to find a Ticonderoga you don’t often see on store shelves: the B-graded, No. 1 Dixon Ticonderoga. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing one of these pencils. I eagerly bounded to the mailbox to retrieve these (once the letter carrier was six feet away, of course) and began my review.
Cal Cedar and the Palomino brand have done a lot to make pencils cool again. By reviving the classic Blackwing product line, they introduced a gateway drug to aspiring writers everywhere; one that hooks them with the addicting realization that writing with pencils doesn’t have to suck. Then, by throwing their weight behind the Golden Bear pencil, they took a step further and proudly proclaimed that pencils can be — and still are — made in the United States of America.
But the next move was the one that really surprised me. Having already staked out their turf in the high-end segment, and put a product on the market that appeals to Made-in-USA purists, they set out to prove that there are pencils made in developing Asian economies that also don’t suck. This statement came in the form of the Made-in-Thailand edition of the Golden Bear No. 2 pencil, which I’ll be reviewing for you today.
Japanese pencils: most pencil snobs think they’re awesome. I mean, even the Blackwing pencils (everyone’s favorite) are made in Japan. And among the various Japanese pencil-makers, Mitsubishi — maker of the 9800 and the very fancy, highly-fawned-over Hi-Uni — has a reputation for making a very, very nice pencil.
Mitsubishi Pencils aren’t just for pretentious Americans, though. In Japan, their product lines reach all the way down to the everyday pencil-pusher (like me!) and even the elementary school desk, where kids grapple with writing for the first time. That’s where you’ll find pencils like the 4563. Does Mitsubishi’s quality trickle down with it? I got my hands on a box of the 2B grade pencils to find out.
This is a pencil I’ve been wanting to review for a long time, but it just hasn’t ever seemed like the right “fit” in my blog post flow. Whatever that means. But as I finished publishing my review of the Lyra Groove Slim, I decided it was time to give Miss Kimberly a long-awaited test run.
The Kimberly is a high-end offering from General Pencil Co. As such, it’s marketed toward artists, but we all know that there’s no reason a person can’t write with a drawing pencil. And even for a high-end, made-in-USA product, the Kimberly comes in at budget-friendly price, at least compared to the competitors in the drawing pencil world. So, I handled several of them in the store, and took home a couple each of the HB and 2B to test out.
I’m one of those people who like to shed all of their clothing and walk around the house bare-ass naked as soon as the kids go to bed. TMI? Whatever. This is my blog, I can say what I want. Anyway, I have an appreciation for minimal dress. Living in Alaska, and in America’s worst-dressed city, that’s a rare state of affairs since the layer system is key to comfort in our climate (and, apparently, the local fashion).
The same can be said for pencils. We’ve got schoolhouse yellow ones, red and black striped ones, even ones with weird bamboo leaf printing all over them. Layers of lacquer seems to be the norm. The inner nudist in me feels the urge to rebel against this stifling multi-layered construct! That’s why I bought the first pack of “nude” pencils I’ve ever owned — the General Pencil Co. Cedar Pointe #2HB — and decided to review them. So, without further ado…let’s get naked!
Every blog has to start somewhere. As an aspiring office-supply blogger with a particular fetish for pencils, what better place to start than a review of a benchmark pencil — nay, THE benchmark pencil — against which I can evaluate future test subjects? So let’s set that bar right now with the first Polar Pencil Pusher pencil review, a review of the most prolific pencil in North America: the Dixon Ticonderoga.
Now, I need to be specific, here: Today’s review is going to focus solely on pencils of Chinese origin. Ticonderoga pencils were previously made in the USA, but are now manufactured in Mexico and China. Spoiler alert: the Mexican variants are not identical to the Chinese ones. So we will leave those out from this review and perhaps come back to them at a later date.
Also, because Dixon makes Ticonderoga pencils in all sorts of variants, even within the same Chinese factory, simply specifying “Chinese Ticonderoga” could include any number of product lines with different lacquers, woods, barrel shapes, etc. With that in mind, I expanded the original scope of this review to cover not only the “classic” yellow cedar-bodied pencils I obtained for review purposes, but also a handful of the basswood Ticonderoga Black pencils I happened to have on hand.