Korea


Morning Glory Black Grip B 5

This morning, I received Rad and Hungry‘s fourth stationery kit. You might have read about Rad and hungry before. Quite a few blogs reported about Rad and hungry’s idea of a country-themed stationery kit you can subscribe to and some blogs reviewed the kits. The Pen Addict and Pencil Revolution even had a giveaway. Bleistift was one of the many lucky blogs that got the first kit, Colombia, free of charge.  Unfortunately I never wrote a review. The kit arrived while I was in Shanghai and when I was back I was snowed under with work and the kit was snows of yesteryear (OK, I admit, it’s not funny and I shouldn’t mix contemporary and dated idioms 8^/ ), so I never reviewed it. I did however like it so much that I subscribed to these kits.

Nicely wrapped

Back to the parcel I received this morning, it was the fourth kit, Korea-themed. I do like Korea (even though I have never been there) and listen regularly to the German Service of South Korea’s KBS World Radio on short wave. Their programme is very good and introduces Korea and life there from different angles and on different levels. North Korea has a similar service, Voice of Korea – from the Radio TV broadcasting committee of the DPRK in Pyongyang. I really like the music the Voice of Korea plays. The Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble is so plasticy, it’s just great. It sounds very much like the background music from the video game Puzzle Bobble (Bust-a-Move in the USA). I think there is no need to describe what kind of non-music content you can expect to hear from North Korea’s international broadcasting service. Suffice to say that I do not listen to the North regularly – but their music is really nice.

The contents

Oh, that was off topic. Let’s talk about pencils again. The Korean kit was $26 (~ £ 16.20, € 18.70) including shipping [1] $14 for the kit (the price for a kit as part of a quarterly subscription) and $ 12 for shipping . One of the pencils in this kit is the Morning Glory Black Grip in B, which I examined a bit closer. The Black Grip is very similar to the Bauhaus 6004. Both have a triangular barrel, both are black wood pencils, both are from Korean companies, both are made in China, but the Black Grip does not come with an eraser. I assume the Black Grip is made by Marco, but I cannot be 100% sure. Other pencils similar to these two include the Rhodia pencil, reviewed at Lung Sketching Scrolls and pencil talk. Rhodia’s pencil is made in China, too. The way the ferrule is clinched in exactly the same way as the Bauhaus 6004 makes me think that this is another pencil manufactured by Marco, but it has a smoother lead than the Black Grip or the 6004. Two other, similar pencils, probably from the same factory are two “non black wood pencils”, the Marco 9001, reviewed at woodclinched, and the pencil’s from Eisen‘s fusion line, which are – in some markets – distributed by Lyra.

Stop the press! Supreme leader sees performance of women’s brass band!

Conclusion: The kit is very nice. Other items included in this kit, except the Black Grip, are more pencils, a note pad and a correction tape as well as some comments from the trip and some paper to test the items on, all wrapped up very nicely. The Morning Glory Black Grip itself is a nice every day pencil, there is no point in comparing it to some top of the line pencils, but it certainly does a good job.

 


Click image for details

Prices and exchange rates: March 2011

I would like to thank Kent for the Bauhaus 6004.

You can find a review of Rad and Hungry’s Colombian kit at Notebook love Pen and Lung Sketching Scrolls.

You can find a review of Rad and Hungry’s French kit at Okami Whatever.

You can see a reception report to KBS World radio in the second picture of the ONLINE All Wood Marone review.

You can find more Korea related blog posts at Bleistift by searching for Korea.

References

References
1 $14 for the kit (the price for a kit as part of a quarterly subscription) and $ 12 for shipping

AMOS DIXON Ticonderoga 3

Today: a tie-in with pencil talk’s blog post about FILA’s global pencil. I want to add the Korean version of the Ticonderoga to Fila’s global pencils series. According to the information from the packaging it is manufactured by Beijing Fila Dixon. One sentence printed on the packaging is very interesting: “R&D in Korea”.

Has the current Ticonderoga been developed in Korea?

Pencil talk mentioned that the different version of this pencil have different cores. This could also mean that not the whole pencil, but that only the core for the Korean version has been developed there – to fit local preferences.

Other Fila pencils I have at my disposal do not emphasise where they have been developed. A pack of Lyra pencils has this sentence printed on the packaging: “Made in China under LYRA-Germany quality standards”, while Dixon pencil packaging only states where the pencils have been produced: Triconderoga: “Made in Mexico”, Ticonderoga Renew: “Made in USA”.

FILA’s global pencil


The Triconderoga blister pack comes with a fantastic sharpener from Eisen.

 

I would like to thank Kent for the AMOS DIXON Ticonderoga.

I would like to thank Sean for the Triconderoga and the Ticonderoga Renew.


Eco Bridge Paper Pencil 3

Last time I visited Selfridges, they had the Robot Pencil Sharpener from Kikkerland on a shelf. I recognised it from Dave’s Mechnical Pencils, but I am sure I have also seen it in other blogs. Of course I could not resist and was drawn to it. Next to it there were also some other novelty pencils and eraser, including big dinosaur shaped erasers, Penguin Book pencils and paper pencils. This being Selfridges the items were not cheap, but I still bought the robot sharpener and the paper pencils.

Eco Bridge Pencils & Kikkerland Robot Pencil Sharpener

The paper pencils are from a company called Eco Bridge and are made in Korea. I paid £3.95 (~ $ 5.95, ~ € 4.40) for three pencils. The price in Korea is 2300 Won (~ £ 1.35, ~ $ 2.00, ~ € 1.50). Not cheap, especially when keeping in mind that until recently Tesco sold similar pencils made from rolled Chinese newspaper for less than 5p (~ 8¢, ~6ct) each. O’Bon’s newsprint pencils, reviewed at pencil talk, cost $5 (~ £ 3.30, ~ € 3.70) for a pack of 10.

The Eco Bridge pencils  is definitely softer than the Tesco pencil or the average European HB pencil, its softness is comparable to a Staedtler Mars Lumograph B, Faber-Castell 9000 2B or Palomino HB. Smudging is similar to other pencils of this softness. To my surprise the Eco Bridge is a very good pencil. It is much smoother than a Dong-A Fable HB, one of the few pencils from a Korean company that is, as far as I know, produced in Korea. I normally prefer pencils where the point stays sharp for longer, but softer pencils like the Eco Bridge have the advantage of delivering a nicer, darker black when writing.

Eco Bridge Pencil (front) & Tesco Pencil (back)

When it comes to sharpening the pencils the Tesco pencil performs better than the Eco Bridge. The blade of the sharpener (in this case the Eisen 402) seems to cut the Tesco paper much better, while the paper in the Eco Bridge is more likely to get ripped away. While the paper used for the Tesco pencil is rolled paper with Chinese characters on it, probably from a newspaper or something similar, all three Eco Bridge pencils have a similar colour distribution on the paper, red in the middle, near the lead, and recycling beige on the outside. I suspect that the paper used for the Eco Bridge has been recycled and printed on specifically for this pencil, in order to produce this pattern on the paper. This would also explain the higher price tag. This recycling process might be responsible for the rougher paper, compared to the Tesco pencil, which results in the paper ripping easier.

Eco Bridge & Tesco on Bloc Rhodia No 13, eraser test with Mars plastic pen, smudge test on the right

Conclusion:

The Eco Bridge is not cheap, but it is a nice pencil. It might not be able to compete with really good pencils, but it is better than most “average” pencils. If you like B or 2B pencils and happen to see the Eco Bridge pencils in a shop you could give it a try. On the other hand this money would (nearly) buy you one of the good pencils (9000, Lumograph, Palomino, Mono).

Price and exchange rates: March 2010.

I would like to thank Kent from Pencilog for the Dong-A Fable used for the comparison.


Eisen 402 8

The stationery cupboard, where my colleagues and I get our stationery supplies from, did have pencil sharpeners in the past. I am not sure why there are none left, but I assume it is because most colleagues, especially most support staff, use Paper Mate Non-Stop pencils.

Paper Mate Non-Stop

 

Paper Mate Non-Stop:

The Non-Stop is basically a SharpWriter with tip and eraser in black for the European market, or possibly for all markets outside North America. First released in 1984 the SharpWriter / Non-Stop is a disposable mechanical pencil, made in USA. You can even refill it, if you want. Unlike some other disposable mechanical pencils it is possible to refill leads when you remove the eraser. To advance the lead you twist the tip and – very positive for a cheap pencil – the lead is cushioned which should be good news for users who use more pressure when writing than I do.

The Eisen Model 402 in blue and yellow

The Eisen Model 402 in blue and yellow

 

Eisen:

But back to the pencil sharpeners… They were all the same type, had a cylinder shaped plastic container and were available in many colours. At the bottom of the plastic container you could see the wording “Made in Germany”. Some of the sharpeners had plain blades without any writing on them, some [1]I assume the older ones had “Made in Germany” and a lower case e with a crown on top written on the blade. After looking at different manufacturers’ web sites I found that this sharpener is Model 402 from Eisen [2]pronounced like iron with an s sound between the two syllables, a company manufacturing pencil sharpeners since 1921. Like nearly all other German manufacturers in the pencil and sharpener industry (e.g.  Faber-Castell, Staedtler, Schwan Stabilo, Lyra, KUM or Möbius+Ruppert) Eisen is from Franconia, an area slightly smaller than Massachusetts. Other information and figures I found about Eisen is sometimes contradicting, but apparently they have 60 employees in their Franconian factory and produce 200 million steel blades annually. In 2003 Eisen established its own factory in Taicang [3]Taicang is very popluar with companies from America, Europe, Taiwan and Japan. About 100 German SMEs settled there. near Shanghai, and production of the cheaper sharpeners was moved there while the production of more expensive sharpeners for cosmetic pencils is still taking place in the original factory in Baiersdorf. The factory in Baiersdorf is managed by Christian Eisen and the factory in Taicang by Stephan Eisen, both descendants of Christian Eisen, the founder of Eisen Metallwarenfabrik. Altogether, there are 150 employees in both factories, producing 60 – 80 million sharpeners annually.

Lyra, recently acquired by the FILA group, just started distributing Eisen sharpeners in the German-speaking countries, but I am not sure about the distribution of Eisen sharpeners in the rest of the world. They were available in the UK, probably through Impega [4]Impega became Lyreco in 2009, a supplier of stationery for companies.

 

Dong-A Fable, sharpened with (left - right) M+R grenade, Eisen 402, KUM Automatic Long Point

Dong-A Fable, sharpened with (left - right) M+R grenade, Eisen 402, KUM Automatic Long Point

Model 402:

What is so special about the Model 402, you might ask. The answer is that it is a fantastic sharpener, somewhere between a traditional sharpener and a long point . Sharpening with the Eisen 402 produces a point as smooth as one produced by Möbius+Ruppert’s grenade or by KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M. Even sharpening “difficult” pencils, like the Dong-A Fable, is no problem with the 402. When I tried to sharpen the Fable with a hardly used KUM 400-5L the lead broke every single time, with the Eisen 402 I managed to produce a great point first time trying, even though I have been using it irregularly for years and with the same blade.

 

Eisen 402 blade

Eisen 402 blade

I noticed that my yellow 402, which has an unmarked blade, is not as smooth as the blue one, which has the Eisen logo and Made in Germany written on the blade. It could be that the unmarked blades are worse, but the yellow 402 was in my office and saw much more use than its blue colleague, so I blame the slightly worse performance of the unmarked blade on the fact that the marked blade had not been used so often.

The Eisen 402 is certainly a great sharpener. It outperforms my KUM Streamline Chrome Canister Sharpener 460S and my KUM Long Point 400-5L. The only shame is that it seems to be difficult to get hold of an Eisen 402.

I would like to thank Kent for the Dong-A Fable pencils used in the comparison of different sharpeners. Kent explained me that Dong-A is one of the oldest pencil manufacturers in Korea and that Fable is a relatively new model from Dong-A.

There is a video, produced for local TV stations, with more information about Eisen at Wirtschaftstreff Bayern. Unfortunately it is only available in German and the exact link is changing every month. The video with information about Eisen is from 23 October 2009.

You can find a review of the Kum Automatic Longpoint Sharpener at pencil talk. Lexikaliker has a review of Möbius+Ruppert’s grenade (Google Translation).

References

References
1I assume the older ones
2pronounced like iron with an s sound between the two syllables
3Taicang is very popluar with companies from America, Europe, Taiwan and Japan. About 100 German SMEs settled there.
4Impega became Lyreco in 2009