Simbalion Supreme Quality Pencil 88

Simbalion 88

Simbalion’s Supreme Quality Pencil 88

Simbalion are, as far as I can tell, not very common in the West. In a previous blog post I looked at the Graphic Pencils from Simbalion, one of Taiwan’s oldest stationery manufacturers. When I visited Keyroad, a Chinese stationery chain where I bought my previous Simbalion pencils, I saw Simbalion pencils I hadn’t noticed before: Simbalions supreme quality pencil 88.  They have a very old fashioned look. Packaging-wise I thought they were the best looking pencil in the shop, because of this old fashioned look. I like the layout, the fonts and the colours used.

Simbalion 88

The bad news

When I say supreme quality I use Simbalion’s description from the packaging, so these are their words, not mine. In my opinion these aren’t exactly supreme quality pencils. …and when I say “not exactly supreme quality” I’m being kind. They aren’t horrible, but compared to good quality pencils they are a bit scratchy and the finish isn’t to a good standard either. Their lead also breaks easily when you have a long, nice point, like the one produced by my favourite pencil sharpener, the Deli 0635. Looks as if not all pencil can handle the Deli’s 17.5° point.

Simbalion 88

The good news

…but I think I should put this all in perspective. When I picked a pack with a dozen of these pencils up I thought they’d cost 8.5元 [1]I’m using the 元 sign instead of the ¥ sign, which is normally being used in Chinese shops, so that there is no confusion between the Chinese Yuan and the Japanese Yen. (~$1.40; €1.05; 90p), because that’s what the sign under the pencil said, but that sign was for another pencil. A pack containing a dozen of these pencils was actually only 4.5元 (~75¢; 55c; 45p) and thanks to my loyalty card and some other offers in store at that day I only paid 3.83元 [2]I haven’t seen Fen (分), 1/100th of a Yuan in years, so I guess they’ll round up or down if necessary.. Value for money is therefore excellent, despite them not being on par with what a would call a good pencil

…and I like them mainly because of their look anyway. Their bright, strong orange, not fluorescent, but really strong is nice, even though the package is even nicer…

Simbalion 88

Other things to mention

Other interesting points to mention are that the performance of the eraser is better than expected and similar to the quality of the kind of erasers you find on the end of good pencils. Despite this  being an Asian pencil [3]…from a Taiwanese company, but made in JiangSu province, China, just next to Shanghai. the HB classification is also more like a European HB, not like an Asian HB. If anything the pencil seems to be harder, not softer than HB, but that feeling might be caused by the slight scratchiness. I’m also not sure whether lead hardness will be consistent across a bigger sample. The length, including the eraser is slightly more than 19 cm. The diameter of the pencil is on the bigger side (7.1 – 7.2 mm edge to edge, 7.7 – 7.8 mm vertex to vertex). According to the packaging the pencil has a weight of 6.5 g ± 1. When I checked the weight  the pencils were lighter, but my scale is rather old [4]You might have seen it in some older blog posts., so I’m not sure I can trust it.

I’ll try to keep my blog posts short, because I tend to go one forever [5]This blog post ended up being longer than expected – again. so instead of talking more about Keyroad now, I’ll show you some photos  I took in Keyroad in another blog post soon.

Simbalion 88

In case you wonder why the pencil’s name is 88: 8 is seen as being an auspicious number – in Mandarin it sounds similar to the word for wealth or fortune. I think that similarity is even bigger in Cantonese, but I’m not absolutely sure.

Simbalion 88

A nice-ish pencil for a great price. I wish I’d bought more…

Price: May 2013

Exchange rates: June 2013



1 I’m using the 元 sign instead of the ¥ sign, which is normally being used in Chinese shops, so that there is no confusion between the Chinese Yuan and the Japanese Yen.
2 I haven’t seen Fen (分), 1/100th of a Yuan in years, so I guess they’ll round up or down if necessary.
3 …from a Taiwanese company, but made in JiangSu province, China, just next to Shanghai.
4 You might have seen it in some older blog posts.
5 This blog post ended up being longer than expected – again.

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Simbalion Graphic Pencils

Einszweidrei! im Sauseschritt
Läuft die Zeit, wir laufen mit.
(from Julchen by Wilhelm Busch, 1877)

It’s incredible how fast time is flying by. This blog started last November with a blog post about the Kuru Toga and now it is already more than a year old. In the first year there were altogether 65 blog posts. Now for some statistics: during the first year most visitor came from the USA, followed by the UK, then Germany, then Canada. In terms of numbers the visitors from these four countries, where more than 65% of all visitors came from, were followed by visitors from 106 other countries.

…but enough about statistics. Let’s talk about pencils!

Today I want to write about a pack of “graphic pencils” from Taiwan’s Lion Pencil Co., Ltd., better known as Simbalion. I bought this pack of pencils in December 2009 at Keyroad a shop on Shanghai’s FuZhou Road. If the name rings a bell, I mentioned it in my previous blog post about the Deli sharpener 0635. I never saw this brand in the West before. Have you seen Simbalion pencils in your country?

The pack contains twelve pencils with the grades 4H-H, F, HB, B-6B. My pencil came in an “easy to use easel box”, but this box has since been replaced and these pencil are now available in a new polypropylene case.

The Lion Pencil Company was established in 1956 and is one of Taiwan’s oldest stationery manufacturers. The Lion Pencil Company is proud of having invented the “art set”, but I am sure some other companies will lay claim to having invented the art set in the stationery context, too. Their Taiwanese factory is in Taipei county, but they also have a factory in Kunshan (Jiangsu province), very close to Shanghai and just next to Taicang, where Eisen has a factory.

In Taiwan the normal price for the new set of these pencils in a PP case is 120 NT$ ($ 3.95, £ 2.50, € 2.95). I paid much more for my old “easel box”, maybe because these pencils were imported into the Chinese mainland or maybe, this is only speculation and probably not the case, because the new set is from the factory in Kunshan. According to the labels and stamps on my pack it was produced in the factory in Taipei county on 7th May 2009 – nice to get so much information 🙂

The pencils are nice, certainly not scratchy, but I do wonder about Simbalion’s grading. The H pencil from this pack is certainly the softest H pencil I have ever used and does feel softer than the HB pencil from the same pack. The print on the pencils is uneven in places and the end of the pencil has too much paint that is not evenly distributed.

Altogether a nice set of pencils for this price. The pencils are not scratchy or bad in any other way. My main criticism would be the unpredictable hardness or softness of the lead that does not seem to be consistent with the printing on the pencil.


Nothing too fancy, nothing too bad – you get what you paid for as long as you pay not more than the official price.



Price and exchange rates: November 2010

I would like to thank Kevin Davis from O’Bon for the sugarcane paper used in these photos.

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