When I asked if they have any new products they showed me their new diary system.
Please open in a new tab to see the images in high resolution. They come with holder for business cards etc.
Also at Insights X was Platinum.
The brought some of their posh fountain pens along, including some with Urushi lacquer.
When I asked about mechanical pencils they showed me their OLEeNU+ but weren’t able to give me more information (there clearly was a language barrier, even though they brought a staff who spoke English). The normal OLEeNU (not the plus version presented at the stand) uses the lead up to the last 0.5mm, similar to the Staedtler Integrity mentioned here and reviewed here. It also has a spring to help prevent lead breakage and a sliding ‘sleeve’. The staff from the Platinum counter told me that the OLEeNU+ doesn’t have a sliding sleeve, though.
Stabilo presented some new products at Insights X, too. In terms of non-pencil products I liked their pastel coloured pens – the pastel Boss markers looked really good (not sure how it looks on paper though).
In terms of pencils I found their touch smart pencil very innovative. Their ‘touch-screen function adapter’, the red item in the photo above, makes a normal pencil touch screen ready. You touch the screen with the pencil point, but through the clear plastic. It will then register on touch screens. I wonder whether it will work better than existing touch screen technologies, which often need a lot of force to work.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the Clairefontaine/Exacompta/Quo Vadis, Koh-I-Noor, KUM or any of the other companies. What a shame.
After the quick interruption to my Insights X posts (I just had to post about October’s Pencil Pot of the Month, so that the post is on time): let’s continue with all the cool stuff from Insights X and move on to Faber-Castell.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for me to look around at their stand as much as I would have wanted to, so this is not a in-depth as I would have liked it to be.
Faber-Castell did hand out goody bags to everyone from the blogger group and I am quite happy that this included the green (Castell 9000) version of the Perfect Pencil. You might remember that I lost mine after years of use. This summer I bought a new green one in Müller, a German drug store chain. They sell them for around €8. Even though I got one again since summer it’s nice to have a spare one (the one from the goody bag) – just in case I lose it again. In my opinion the Castell 9000 version of the Perfect Pencil is by far the best product Faber-Castell is selling (but I also love their dust free eraser).
One of the new line of products Faber-Castell presented was the Pixel-it line. My guess is that if adults want to be kept busy with colouring books then children want that to. Faber-Castell thinks that with normal ‘connect the dots’ pictures you often know in advance what the final result will be.
This reminds me of a scene from Red Dwarf with our favourite Scouser. This video should hopefully start at the right scene (7 minutes 44 seconds in).
With these new Pixel pictures you don’t draw lines but colour squares / pixels that make up the picture. The colour you are supposed to use is printed as a number in the square, which solves the problem of making it too easy to recognise the shape of the final picture too soon. I think it is possible to recognise some shapes, before starting to colour the picture – especially if there are areas of colours represented by a single digit number next to areas represented by a double digit number, but the surprise doesn’t get spoiled as much as with connect the dots pictures.
Here’s a magnification of the picture above so that you can see how the numbered pixels look like:
The centrepiece of Faber-Castell’s stand was the Karl Box. They were so proud of it, they also presented it at the entrance of the trade fair Hmm, somehow reminds me of the old Remington ad.. It contains a selection of Faber-Castell pens and has been created together with Karl Lagerfeld. It’s limited to 2,500 and the price is 2,500, too – €2,500 that is.
I was quite excited to see Insights X branded Grip 2001 pencils. Unfortunately they were not part of the goody bag.
In the press pack I saw that Faber-Castell has also released
new pens in their Ambition range with a good looking guilloche pattern,
white, grey and black pencils in the style of their Grip 2001 pencils, but the dots looking like crystals, similar to the Staedtler pencils with crystal dots,
different, new sets of coloured pens and pencils
and new colours for the Grip 2010 and 2022 pens
Except the Magnum Perfect Pencil, mentioned above, Graf von Faber-Castell has also released
desk accessories made from leather
a very good looking pen roll made from leather
‘Limited Edition Heritage’ fountain pens
uni-ball / uni / Mitsubishi Pencil
This might not be well known outside the German speaking countries, but in Germany (maybe even more markets, I don’t know) Faber-Castell is distributing uni-ball products. I am not sure when this started, but when I was still living in Germany uni-ball products didn’t have the Faber-Castell logo printed on them. Now they do, so I am not sure whether the cooperation is just more obvious now or whether there was no cooperation in the past.
For the Insights X that meant that Faber-Castell and uni / Mitsubishi Pencil were next to each other. Faber-Castell also included uni-ball products in their press releases. This included the ‘Trend’ version of the uni-ball Air, a pen I was disappointed with, mainly because of the false claims in their UK advertising. Well, those claims about producing fine and broad lines are the same in Faber-Castell’s press release, but at least they don’t seem to be the big selling point for Faber-Castell. Faber-Castell also presented the uni-ball Power Tank Trend – the advertising seems to indicate that this pen is similar to a Fisher Space Pen.
When I asked at the uni / Mitsubishi Pencils stand about pencils I was told that they don’t do pencils in this market and therefore don’t have any here. Maybe not selling pencils in this market is part of the agreement they have with Faber-Castell? Who knows.
Outside Insights X – Karstadt
The most exclusive Faber-Castell products were not at Insights X though, instead I found them in Karstadt, a department store in Nuremberg’s city centre – just opposite Staedtler’s shop.
I wonder whether Faber-Castell thought something along the lines of ‘If Staedtler has a shop in the city centre we also want to make sure we have a big presence in Nuremberg, the closest city to our headquarter’. Well, what I saw in Karstadt were the most expensive Graf von Faber-Castell products I have seen in my life.
Here are some of the highlights.
Two Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam. One of them will set you back €3,500.
And here’s the pencil that is worth more than my car: a Perfect Pencil for €10,000.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take more photos with my phone because a shop employee told me off, saying that I need a signed letter from management if I want to take photos of the expensive pens. Well, luckily my wife was able to take the photo of the €10,000 pencil with her mobile, but the employee watched us with hawk eyes Suspecting we plan a heist to get the pencil out?, so we didn’t dare to take a close up photo of the pencil 8^(
I was surprised to see that Karstadt didn’t sell any Pelikan or Staedtler products. I found that rather odd as other department stores like Kaufhof sell these brands.
As usual please open the links on the images in a new tab to see them in high resolution (otherwise you can’t see the €10,000 pencil well).
convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that
convey the idea of colour through a special paint.
Well, unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of these compasses when I was at the Staedtler stand. Sorry.
Rulers and set squares for right and left handed use
I was only able to take a photo of the 30cm rulers for right and left handed use, article number 562 300 PB, but there is also a set of two 15cm rulers and a geometry set (set square, ..) for right and left handed use. The rulers will sell for €1 (~$1.10; 90p), the geometry set for €2 (~$2.20; £1.80).
The Noris eco in 2H, H, HB, B and 2B
Well, of course, I saved the best till last. We’re finally getting some pencils made from Wopex material in different grades!
The good news is that the new version of the Noris eco, available in five grades, seems to have solved this issue. I believe that they are still working on improving the ‘lead recipe’ even further, but the new grades will be available early next year.
Normal rulers are created for right-handed people, so left handed people might struggle with them?
No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with new rulers that are equally suited for right and left handed users.
Sharpeners make a mess in the pencil case?
No problem, Mr Hufnagl comes up with a sharpener that won’t leave bits of wood and graphite all over the pencil case anymore.
For 2017 he also came up with a new set of compasses that convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that convey the idea of colour through a special paint and a new set of metallic coloured sharpeners.
..but the best one is yet to come and it reminds me of a story I read many years ago about Adi Dassler, the boss of a German sports shoes and clothing manufacturer, who is also from the Nuremberg area. Not only did he equip Jesse Owens who went on to win four gold medals, he once watched the Olympic Games on his telly from his home in Bavaria and noticed that one of the athletes at the Olympic Games in Montreal 1976 was running unevenly. He advised over the phone how to adjust the shoes and Alberto Juantorena, the athlete we saw on telly, went on to win two medals.
Well, Mr Hufnagl’s story is quite similar. He spotted a problem in another part of the world when he was reading an article in Wall Street Journal about his favourite designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man who designed the original VW Golf, the DeLorean (Back to the Future), the Lotus Esprit (James Bond – The Spy Who Loved me) and many many more.
In the article in WSJ Mr Giugiaro wrote:
I can’t live without my blue Staedtler pencils. I use the pencils with the hardest lead when I have to draw the most precise contours, and softer leads for drawing shadows or for 3-D effects. When I draw one-to-one scale figurines, I prefer charcoal pencils and chalks.
The article also features a photo of Mr Giugiaro’s Staedtler ‘pencil’ – it has a beige mark, presumably to indicate which type of lead is in the lead holder. This is where Mr Hufnagl realised that it is easy to help Mr Giugiaro and others by introducing a lead hardness indicator. This was the birth of a classic with a new twist, the Mars technico 780C with a lead hardness indicator that can bet set to 4H, 2H, H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, red and blue by twisting the clip. I find it amazing how a simple idea can improve a tool that has been around for decades. The special black edition of this lead holder, pictured here, is being released at the same time as the traditional blue version gets the lead grade indicator update.
The new lead hardness or lead grade indicator is probably especially useful if you don’t use Staedtler leads. If you buy the original leads each different grade is supplied with a different colour replacement push button (they are however only push buttons, the lead holder comes with a more useful push button that doubles as a pointer/sharpener). This is not being mentioned on the Staedtler web site, but you can find this information in the comments on Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, on the Cult Pens web site or in Pen Paper Pencil’s review of the lead holder.
Mr Hufnagl is changing his role within Staedtler, he stopped working as a Product Manager in the area of sharpeners and technical drawing and has started his new role as Head of Trade Marketing. I hope he will still have an opportunity to develop new products in his new role.
Hindustan Pencils’ International Business Manager told me that they are trying to enter the European market and are currently looking for a distributor. In Europe they are not using Nataraj and Apsara, well established brand names in India. Instead they are using SiVO as their main brand name in Europe.
A lot of the pencils at their stand were colour pencils, but luckily there were some graphite pencils, too. Some had patterns printed on them and looked like they were clearly aimed at teenagers and school children.
Others looked like very affordable pencils (the ‘yelo’, shown on the right in the photo below – open in a new tab for a high res version of the image) or pencils that try to distinguish themselves with their looks (fluorescent or metallic body).
Most interesting to me was the ‘absolute’, available in a hexagonal and a triangular shape. It’s box is labelled ‘premium black lead pencil’, so I assume this is their best pencil. Its plain look makes me think it is supposed to compete with high quality pencils like the Mars Lumograph and the Castell 9000.
If there is any interest I’ll be happily having a closer look at the sample I brought home.