Lancashire Science Festival pencil

Over the last three days the first Lancashire Science Festival took place on the premises of my employer. There were some really exciting shows – and there were souvenirs.

Titan, the robot, was one of the attractions

I couldn’t resist and bought two pencils made from recycled CD cases, for 50p each (~ 78¢; 62c). When I saw them I knew they were the same kind of pencils as the red pencil, made from recycled CD cases, discussed in the Battle of the eco pencils, but I was hoping these pencils had improved over the last two years.

The recycled pencils

This hope was unfortunately misplaced. The pencil is as bad as the red one I looked at two years ago. The lead is not very dark and writing with this pencils feels rubbery, but also a bit scratchy at the same time. After my bad experience last time I didn’t use my Deli pencil sharpener 0635 for this pencil. Instead I used the Dux 9207-N sharpener, which is so sharp that it can easily cope with the hard plastic that makes up the casing, but that only makes me happy about the good sharpener and doesn’t help at all with this horrible pencil. I only know one pencil that is worse: the Ticonderoga Renew HB.

Sharpened with a Dux 9207-N


A fantastic science festival, but horrible souvenir pencils.

Price: June 2012

Exchange rates: July 2012

I would like to thank Lexikaliker for the fantastic DUX 9207-N sharpener that has been used to sharpen the pencil for the photo.

8 thoughts on “Lancashire Science Festival pencil”

  1. I am sorry about the let-down. I love to try out eco pencils, but many of them are disappointment for some reason, besides Wopex. I guess that is part of the hunt, right?

  2. I wonder if these pencils are ever tested for usability…it seems to me they are actually “anti-eco”, because people just throw them straight in the bin…where they deserve to be. OR do regular users expect so little from their pencil, as long as it makes a mark.

  3. Awesome robot! Is the man on the left controlling it? Can the fingers flex?

    Coincidentally today I came across an array of these in a local shop. They came in several colors so at distance they look nice. But up close, just like the last picture, the surface looks kind of foamy. The casing is unyieldingly hard, not nice to touch. To me these CD case pencils are quite undesirable. No need to mention, I didn’t buy any.

  4. To add to what Kevin said: it’s almost as if pencils now are so poorly regarded, that they don’t even have to write well, or even write at all. To “be a pencil” has come to mean it only has to look like a pencil. 🙂

    Thanks for the pics, and for trying out the pencils.

  5. Thank you for your comments.

    Shangching, I did like most of the eco pencils made of rolled paper, but except the Wopex all extruded pencils were a disappointment so far.

    Kevin, that’s a good point, they are really anti-eco. Sometimes I see ball point pens that were left by their owners. It’s not very often that I see pencils being left somewhere, but when I found that red recycled CD case pencil from the previous blog post it was unsharpened – which probably means that the owner tried it out, was extremely disappointed and left it. I hope these kind of pencils don’t put people off real pencils.

    Claire, The fingers can flex, even individually (I think). The jaw and head can move. The robot can even cry, but it a very comic kind of way (which reminded me of the piano scene in Monty Python’s ‘Salad Days’). My guess would be that the man on the left decides which preprogrammed routine (with synced sound and programmed movements(including those tears)) to initiate. Was there any writing on the recycled pencils you saw?

    Sean, what you wrote does sound sad and true the same time – all that’s left of the pencil is a vague concept and a cartoon version of what it once was … something that looks like a pencil in popping colours, but that doesn’t do the job 8^(

  6. What a disappointment! I wonder if one of those who are responsible for it has ever wasted a thought on pencils.

    Kevin: Yes, regular users really expect so little from pencils – I can confirm this. However, if they are given the opportunity to try high-quality pencils and to compare them to cheap ones quite a few are very impressed. I had a few discussions in which people were very surprised about the quality a good pencil can offer.

    Claire: The foamy structure is by intention – during the extrusion of the plastic is gassed to make it lighter and easier to sharpen; besides that, it saves material.

    Sean, I second your thoughts – it’s a pity to see the culture of pencils (as I would like to name it) being damaged.

    On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau’s death the Swiss publisher Diogenes has issued a metal tin with six pencils which are disappointing in every regard. Celebrating a pencil maker with low-end pencils? Almost unbelievable (at least to me).

  7. memm: The pencil says on it that it’s made of CD case, otherwise I wouldn’t have been sure we were talking about the same pencils. I forgot the exact wording and whether or not the word UK is on it, but it was a long line, so I guess the writing is the same as on the second pencil in your second picture.

    Gunther: Thanks for the information. I thought the foam was a defect, but now it makes sense. What about Wopex? Have you noticed bubbles in Wopex? I don’t recall seeing any from the few times I used it. Do you think Wopex was also gassed? From your description the Thoreau’s set is a disappointment indeed, if only the quality matches the design!

  8. Claire, it looks like the bubbles are typical of a specific formula (you can see another example here). I haven’t noticed any bubbles in the WOPEX yet, and as far as I know this pencil isn’t gassed so there should be none. – Yes, the set is a huge disappointment despite it’s well executed design (however, unlacquered pencil would have been a better choice). To make matters worse Diogenes hasn’t replied to my question regarding the origin of the pencils.

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