Pencil Review: Deli 37016 (HB)

Of all the pencils I’ve ordered from China, the Deli brand somehow stands out to me. Perhaps its the sheer volume of different lines they have, or their success in luring me in with branding and aesthetics, but I’d say something about the company also indicates a quality product. Sad to say, and despite the numerous examples I have practically exploding from my to-review drawer, I’ve only actually reviewed one of their pencils (the S905) since I was turned on to them! And that’s hardly enough of a sample size to make an argument with any merit about quality.

So today, that’s going to change. One box of pencils I’ve been sitting on (not literally, ouch) for quite some time is the tri-barreled Deli 37106 in HB grade, which appears to be among a new line of pencils that the Chinese manufacturer began putting out at some point in the last year or so. So here, without further delay, are my notes from my latest pencil experiment.

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Pencil Review: Rite Aid Yellow Barrel Pencils

Sometimes I really enjoy scraping the bottom of the pencil barrel. That’s just kind of my approach to life in general; sure, you can drop big bucks on something and know it’s going to be good, or you can experiment and try to find a deal. I enjoy the process of finding diamonds in the rough. And let’s be honest — most people aren’t going to throw down two bucks a pop for a pencil. Sometimes you just need to grab something to write with in a hurry. Sometimes you’ve gotta outfit kids with enough pencils to make it through a school year on a budget. Those situations make it useful to be able to sort the affordable pencils from the cheap pencils. And anyway, what’s the point of writing reviews of things that everyone already knows are good?

That’s why I grabbed a box of Rite Aid “Yellow Barrel” No. 2 pencils on one of my recent trips to Seattle. We don’t have Rite Aid here in the frozen north, so I’ve actually never used one of these (to the best of my knowledge). And a box of them comes with a whopping twenty pencils. I did hesitate for a minute before making the buy — they aren’t the most inspiring subjects. But, what the hell? Let’s get weird. Here comes a review of Rite Aid’s no-name number two.

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The Alpino Junior, revisited

Thanks to a great and informative comment from reader Raúl, I have some more information on the Alpino Junior pencil, which I recently reviewed. You might recall that I speculated about the different aesthetic qualities of the barrel, as well as the wood that composes the casing, between the eraser-tipped version and the dipped one. Raúl ‘s comment sheds some more light on that question.

Apparently, Alpino pencils — previously manufactured in Catalonia — are now made in China. I’m assuming that the transition from Europe to Asia likely corresponded to a change in wood, and aesthetic design. Also worth noting is that the eraser-tipped version clearly displays “SPAIN” as its country of origin, while the dipped one is silent on the issue. I’m guessing that I picked up models of the pencil produced both before and after the transition from Catalonia to China.

It’s awesome to be able to put together a more detailed and accurate story of the Alpino Junior pencil. At the same time, I’m a little bummed that they’re no longer made in Spain. I have nothing against things made in China, but part of the fun of this blog is trying to scrounge up pencils from all over the world, and it’s getting harder to find ones that aren’t made in China. Mixed feelings. Anyway. Thanks for listening to my TED talk.

Thanks Raúl!

Pencil Review: Chung Hwa 6151 (HB)

Don’t tell Donald Trump that I told you this, but I’ve been ordering more pencils from China. It’s also been a minute since I’ve delved into my giant stash and reviewed one of them. Sure, I’ve reviewed a few pencils that were made in China in recent weeks, but I think it’s high time to look at a another pencil made for China.

A while back, I took a look at the Chung Hwa 101; a pencil which is marketed as a drawing pencil, but is often used for writing. However, China First Pencil Co. also makes a dedicated writing pencil, the Chung Hwa 6151. I picked up a package of these to have a look at, and gave them a thorough review.

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Pencil Review: Bruynzeel Burotek 1605 (HB)

The Netherlands. What comes to mind when you think of good ol’ Holland? Legalized cannabis and sex work? Wooden clogs? Europe’s best baseball team? Don’t try to tell me you thought of pencils — unless, of course, your favorite pencil ever happens to be a pencil from the Bruynzeel company. Then I might believe you.

For the rest of us, yes; believe it or not, there is a Dutch company that manufacturers pencils. Bruynzeel has been mass-producing wood & graphite writing instruments since 1948. They are still turning out a few different lines of woodcased pencils, and for today’s review I picked up a twelve-pack of their No. 1605 “Burotek” pencil in grade 2B. So get your finger out of that dike, crank up your windmill and slice open a wheel of Gouda cheese, because we’re about to talk Dutch pencils.

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Pencil Review: Dixon No. 2/HB

Most of us are probably familiar with the Dixon Ticonderoga pencil. I think pretty much everyone in the United States over the age of six has used one at some point in their lives, and I imagine that anyone reading a blog about pencils and writing supplies from abroad are at least aware that they exist.

However, you wouldn’t be blamed if you had no idea that other Dixon pencils not named “Ticonderoga” exist. The Ticonderoga is a pretty decent (but not amazing) pencil, and in the Dixon world, it’s their flagship. There is the Dixon Oriole, which I can’t comment on other than to say that it’s perceived to be a rung below the Ticonderoga [note: I do have a box in line to review at a later date, though.]. And then, below that, there is a pencil that hasn’t even earned a model name. It’s known simply as the Dixon No. 2/HB pencil.

I have no idea where I got these, because it seems pretty rare to come across them in a retail location. However, I’m certain they were very cheap, and they came in a box of 20. So the question is: what does it say about you when you’re the third-string quarterback on a team whose starter is just “pretty good”? I would guess it means that you’re either pretty lousy, or your talents are being overlooked. Let’s have a look at the Dixon “No-Name” and see which scenario best describes it…

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Pencil Review: Marco Grip-Rite (2B w/ Bonus Sharpener)

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m a little burnt out on reading about a certain pencil from a certain company that sells its products for two bucks a pop and periodically releases special editions that send the pencil nerdosphere into a Beanie Baby level craze. So for this week’s review, I’m going to go in a completely different direction. Something cheap. Something Made in China. Something nobody is buzzing about. And yet, something reminiscent (in some ways) of the aforementioned, unnamed company’s flagship offering. I’m talking about the Marco Grip-Rite 2B (model 9002).

A product of Axus Stationery in Shanghai, the Marco brand is most well known in the west due to a strong following for their affordable colored pencils. Their Raffine and Renoir colored sets have a positive reputation among artists. However, Marco is no slouch when it comes to the graphite game. They produce several lines of graphite writing pencils, and today we’re going to zero in on one that looked particularly enticing when I recently dug through my to-review drawer: the Grip-Rite 9002 in a 2B core.

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Pencil Review: Ticonderoga Renew

The Dixon Ticonderoga pencil has been around for ages, and seen numerous iterations — especially in the past decade or two, as production shifted from the U.S. to Mexico and China, production lines were changed and materials were tinkered with. The recent Chinese iteration of the well-known and often-used pencil was the subject of my first-ever review on this blog, and since then I haven’t felt particularly compelled to go back and revisit them, at least not to any extent worth writing about.

That is, until now. At this point in time I’ve got umpteen different pencil makes and models available to me, clogging up multiple desk drawers, but (in the States at least) the Dixon Ticonderoga has a funny way of hanging around and finding a way into your hand. In this case, the Ticonderoga pencil that events conspired to lead me to was one marked for its environmentally-friendly qualities and natural aesthetic: The Ticonderoga Renew.

This review was inspired in part by a post exploring the rise, fall, and perhaps second rise of the Ticonderoga by our Glorious Comrade Johnny, who stands at the vanguard of the invincible world Pencil Revolution. I’ve had this post cooking on the back burner for a while, actually; and given the aforementioned Ticonderoga buzz and the fact that my review of another pencil that shall remain nameless is taking a while, I figured it was high time to have a look at the Ticonderoga Renew.

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Notebook Review: Paper-Oh Cahier Circulo (A4)

Every day at work, I keep detailed notes on my day and the progress of my projects. It keeps me motivated, focused, helps me process through technical details, and helps make up for my extremely spotty long-term memory. It’s a pretty important part of my workflow, and for some time now I’ve been thinking of upgrading from the budget Office Depot bleach-white notebooks to something better. When I had a chance to break out of the office for a work conference, and needed a slimmer notebook to take with me, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give the Paper-Oh Cahier Circulo on A4 format a test-run.

For my second notebook review (after the recent look at the Kikkerland Writersblok New Wave) I’ve decided to approach things in a more organized, systematic way. I hope you enjoy this one! Check out more “below the fold”…

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More stuff comin’ atcha

I continue to amass to-review items faster than I can review them (which is exactly how I intend it). Check out the latest additions to the inbox:

You’re looking at several products from Asia, and one from Europe. The Yoobi pencils are an American brand, found in Target, made in Vietnam. Marco and Aishangbi are Chinese brands — Marco relatively well-known, Aishangbi not so much. The Toyo pencil sharpener is made in Japan, and the Bruynzeel pencils are from the Netherlands.

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