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.
Of the few pencil-makers still producing writing sticks in the USA, Moon Products, Inc. is probably the most stealthy. Their Tennessee plant cranks out countless lines of promotional and inspirational pencils, as well as pencils sold under other brands’ labels. The product lines that Moon puts out under it’s own name mostly fly under the radar, needles in the proverbial haystack. However, among the few models of pencil that they christen with their brand is an iconic American classic: the Try-Rex.
The Try-Rex is actually an invention of Richard Best Pencils, way back when, and was the first triangular pencil produced in the United States. Eventually Best’s outfit was bought up by the J.R. Moon company (which was later bought out itself) and its catalog folded into Moon’s holdings. However, the Try-Rex lives on, with homage paid to its originator in the B46 model number — B for “Best” — and is still made in the States, where it all began. I picked up a few of the standard-sized models so that I could give Moon pencils some love on the ol’ blog. Here, without further ado, is my review of the Try-Rex.
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.
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.
There are many pencils made in China. In fact, something like 50% of the world’s pencils are manufactured there. However, approximately 80% of them are manufactured for export — pencils such as the Dixon Ticonderoga, for example. But if you’ve read my review of the Chung Hwa 101, you know that I’m very curious about Chinese domestic brands. One of those brands is the curiously-named Deli company.
I have a bit of a hypothesis that it’s probably the brands that we in the West have never heard of that make the highest-quality pencils in China. It makes sense to me that those are the products that Chinese people want to buy, and that the random factories churning out shoddy pencils have to resort to exporting no-name products to the big box stores for pennies, because no one there wants to buy their crap. So where do products from Deli fit into all of this? Is the Deli S905 a solid product that we are missing out on here in the States? Or is it a cut-rate excuse for a writing instrument? Or is my hypothesis totally bunk?
Going all the way to Thailand to find a German pencil to bring back to Alaska may seem a bit counterintuitive, but that’s the story of three Groove Slim pencils from Lyra that came into my possession earlier this year. Given the state of globalization, and the fact that many German (and other!) pencil-makers crank out product lines in Asia, I shouldn’t be too surprised, but still yet, it was quite intriguing to come across these pencils in a chaotic Bangkok stationery shop.
With a triangular shape, notched grip barrel, and playful logo, these pencils place an emphasis on ergonomics, probably for students (it even has a space to write your name so your klepto classmates don’t make off with it). Details on the graphite Groove Slim are hard to come by; Lyra’s colored pencil version seems to be a much more prolific product. Nonetheless, I’ve dug up, tested out, and otherwise obtained as much information as possible and done a thorough write-up on these strange and interesting pencils.