Newell Rubbermaid


The Snowman and The Snowdog 2

Pencils sorted by colour (© Rare Day)

Pencils sorted by colour (Image © Rare Day)

The Snowman

I know, Christmas is over, but the weather is still fairly wintery and it’s just starting to get warmer now, so you might forgive me if I wrote about snowmen. Since 1982 Channel 4 has been showing The Snowman every year for Christmas. It’s a 26-minute animation drawn using pencils.

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (© Rare Day)

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (Image © Rare Day)

I don’t think The Snowman is very well known outside the UK, but if you’re not on the British Isles you might know another animation from the author Raymond Briggs: When the Wind Blows.

Are these Caran d'Ache pencils? (© Rare Day)

Are these Caran d’Ache pencils? (Image © Rare Day)

According to the Cumberland Pencil Museum, where you can see a making of video, it has been drawn using Derwent Cumberland pencils.

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (© Rare Day)

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (Image © Rare Day)

The sequel

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the animation Channel 4 made a sequel: The Snowman and The Snowdog. When I first heard about the sequel I was sceptical and didn’t expect it to be hand drawn using pencils, but to my surprise it’s hand made using pencils. The sequel cost £2 million and according to a documentary about the making of the sequel 200 000 sheets of paper and 5000 pencils were used.

Prismacolor 20044 blue (© Rare Day)

Prismacolor 20044 blue (Image © Rare Day)

In a documentary, also shown on Channel 4, you can see all sorts of pencils being used in the studio in North London where the cells were hand drawn. I was surprised to see fairly few Derwent Cumberland pencils1. The pencils visible in the documentary don’t have to be representative of those used for the animation, but the pencils you get to see in the documentary are not from Derwent – they are mainly Prismacolor pencils. The 20044, an eraser-tipped blue pencil, seems to be particularly often used for outline animations2. I believe the reason blue is being used is because cameras or copiers will ignore this colour or shade of colour, so that sketch lines don’t need to be erased and the final black lines can just be drawn over the sketches3. You can also see some Caran d’Ache pencils, Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph and two mechanical pencils, which I think were both Pentels.

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (© Rare Day)

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (Image © Rare Day)

Some scenes were filmed in Raymond Briggs’ House where many Derwent Cumberland pencils were visible and where you can also see him using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph.

 

Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (© Rare Day)

Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (Image © Rare Day)


The images in this blog post have been taken from Rare Day‘s documentary How the Snowman Came Back to Life. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

The Snowman and The Snowdog (© Lupus Films, Rare Day)

The Snowman and The Snowdog (Image © Lupus Films, Rare Day)

  1. I would have thought that Derwent Cumberland would have an interest in sponsoring this movie – 5000 pencils wouldn’t have been a lot for them. []
  2. If that’s the right word. []
  3. I first read about this when I discovered Staedtler’s non-photo-blue pencils. []

Reynolds 432 7

Like the Nataraj 621, reviewed at pencil talk, the Reynolds 432 is a pencil from India with a design very similar to the Staedtler tradition. The differences in appearance are minor.

  • All three pencils are red with dark coloured stripes. While the Staedtler tradition and the Nataraj 621 have black stripes, the Reynolds 432 has blue stripes.
  • All three pencils are hexagonal, but the Staedtler tradition and the Reynolds 432 have the stripes on the edges, the Nataraj has the stripes on the faces.
  • All three are eraserless with different finished caps. The quality of the finished cap of the Nataraj is rather poor.

Reynolds 432

Reynolds 432

Reynolds:

The history of Reynolds is a bit complicated.

Milton Reynolds from Chicago established the Reynolds pen company in 1945, but the company was later bought by Edmond Regnault who was running a successful pen company in France since 1927. Since 1974 the company was run by Edmond Regnault’s sons until it was sold to investors in 1993.

Reynolds 432 point

Reynolds 432 point

The company behind the Reynolds 432 pencil, G. M. Pens International Pvt. Ltd., introduced the Reynolds brand to India in 1986 and is the exclusive Licensee of Reynolds, France. Newell Rubbermaid bought Reynolds in 1999/2000, which is now part of Sanford Reynolds SA, and closed the factory in France in 2007, sparking a boycott of products from Reynolds and Newell Rubbermaid.

Today Reynolds India produces all kinds of pens, including two different types of wooden pencils and two different types of mechanical pencils.

Reynolds 432 and Nataraj 621

Reynolds 432 and Nataraj 621

The pencil:

Reynold’s website highlights the following features of this pencil, available only in HB

  • Specially bonded lead for extra strength
  • Special quality lead for clean, fine impressions
  • Conforms to European standards of child safety
  • Soft wood for easy sharpening

The fact that there are paws printed on the 432 and the child safety standards mentioned on the web site seem to suggest that this pencil is aimed at children, but the “conservative look” of the pencil would suggest otherwise.

The wood used for the Reynolds 432 seems to be the similar to the wood used for the Nataraj 621. In a comment to the Nataraj 621 review at pencil talk Harshad Raveshia identified the wood used for the 621 as Vatta wood (Macaranga Peltata). The wood used for the 432 has a similar appearance, but is not red. Instead I would describe the colour as slightly yellow.  It could of course still be the Vatta tree, just coloured differently, or it could be a normal deviation expected for this type of wood.

(L-R) Nataraj 621, Reynolds 432, Staedtler tradition

(L-R) Nataraj 621, Reynolds 432, Staedtler tradition

A few other observations:

  • The diameter of the Reynolds 432 is a bit bigger than that of a Staedtler tradition.
  • The lead of the Reynolds 432 seems to be slightly harder than that of the Nataraj 621.
  • I did not have any lead breakage with the Reynolds 432, but I did encounter this problem with the Nataraj 621.
  • The hardness of the 432 HB’s lead can be roughly compared to the hardness of a Mars Lumograph 2B or a Faber-Castell 9000 3B.
Cap comparison (L-R) Staedtler tradition, Reynolds 432, Nataraj 621

Cap comparison (L-R) Staedtler tradition, Reynolds 432, Nataraj 621

Conclusion:

The wood is a bit harder than the wood typically used for pencils in Europe. This might have implications for the blade of your sharpener, but other attributes of the wood, like the texture and appearance are very pleasant. Writing with the Reynolds 432 is fairly smooth and overall this is a very nice pencil.

I would like to thank Sameer Khanna who agreed to swap the Reynolds 432 and the Nataraj 621 for two Staedtler Noris pencils.