Monday, May 28, 2012

Pencil Review: Staedtler Wopex HB Pencil

Good thing frequently comes when you least expect it.  I often find sationery goodies at university bookstores that are not easily found elsewhere.  While I peruse through the bookstore, all of the sudden a beam of green light (very much like the one in The Great Gatsby) shining at the display.  When I look closer, this is what I see:


The surface of the pencil is satin smooth and the texture of the material resembles many pencils that are made of recycled materials that I have used in the past.  Given that Staedtler manufactures great wooden pencils, I decide to give this revolutionary material a try.

According to Staedtler, Wopex pencils are different from traditional wooden pencils in the following respects:

  • Wopex utilizes most of the tree, hence reduce total number of trees involve in pencil making.
  • The manufacturing process uses energy efficient equipment and is solvent free.
  • Lead is break resistant, so it lasts twice as long as traditional pencils.
Click here for complete details from Staedtler's official website.

As seen from the above picture, these pencils are pre-sharpened thus can be enjoyed out of the package.  First impression is that the lead is as silky smooth as the body!  It offers very little resistance and writing becomes effortless.  The writing experience is summed up with the writing sample below:

Writing sample.  I remember why I like using pencils so much!
For some reason, erasing writing done by Wopex can be tough at time, even Mars Plastic cannot remove the scribble completely.  

I have always interested in pencils made with recycle materials, so how does Wopex compare to its competitors?  I just happened to have a Ticonderoga Renew hanging around in the office, so I scribble with both pencils for comparison:


I like the idea of making pencils out of post-consumer materials, but Ticonderoga does not write as dark as conventional HB pencils, and the writing is tough to remove with eraser.  Wopex, in contrast, writes like a regular pencil if not better, and the writing is relatively easy to erase, in most cases.

One puzzling element about Wopex is sharpening.  The picture below shows how Wopex looks before sharpening:
Original look
This picture shows how it looks like after being sharpened by an electric pencil sharpener:  

A little bit more "up-do" on the sharpening edge.
The plastic coating does not sharpened as well as the wood inside.  With a regular portable sharpener, Wopex does quite well, but the lead is unevenly sharpened, but most likely because of the sharpener not the pencil.
Sharpened by KUM sharpener.
Unlike conventional wooden pencil, Wopex does not have an eraser at the end and I actually prefer that, since most eraser at the end is not of best quality.  The pack I purchased happened to come with five free PVC and latex free eraser topers, which bear the Staedtler logo.  It is a bit softer than regular Staedtler Mars plastic, but it gets the job done a lot better than the little eraser knob.  

Overall, Wopex exceeds my expectation of regular writing pencils.  Its bright shimmering coating definitely uplift user's mood.  It is dependable, and it seems to stay sharp longer than conventional pencils, so even after extended usage writing remains crisp and legible.  It is the combination of the comfort of wooden pencils and environmental consciousness.

Here are some more reviews on the same product:

Oddly, I can only find a few less-known online retailers for Wopex.  If you have seen them around, please let me know so I can add them to the list of places to buy.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link.
    The HB version in green? In Europe it's the 2H version that's green (but I can't find a difference to the HB version).
    I like the Wopex and have actually used it nearly exclusively this morning - and yesterday.
    One of the advantages is that the graphite doesn't transfer to other pages easily.

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  2. Thank you for stopping by, Matthias. Now the problem is I cannot find Wopex besides the university bookstore. This pencil ought to receive more recognition! The graphite, like you say, is not easily transfer, so I won't be "handstamping" the paper.

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  3. That's exactly why I use it in my diary. It is also great on rough paper, like Tesco's recycled Chinese-made A5 pads you can buy in the UK.
    I have never seen these erasers with a Staedtler logo. Does the reverse of your blister pack say where they are made?

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  4. I love companies that try to be eco conscious... even if it's a tiny effort, it's better than no effort. I think the color of the pencil is very appropriate for what Staedtler is striving for too! Looks like an electric pencil sharpener eats it up though... does that happen with other pencils when you use the electric sharpener?

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  5. As you can see from Matthias' comment below, apparently HB has different color casing. Oh well, I am the sucker for color, therefore, it beamed at me while I was in the store.
    Electric pencil sharpeners varied from models. I had some worked pretty gently on pencils, and some were like wood chippers. The one I used on Wopex did not produced similar effects on other pencils, hence I speculated it was the material. I guess traditional way is still better, sharpening it with a blade!

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  6. According to the packaging, everything is made in Germany and the interesting part is it is distributed by Staedtler-Mars of Canada. The eraser top as I mentioned has softer consistency than regular Staedtler Mars plastic eraser, and it is advertised as PVC free, as you observed in one of your posts. Do you think the corollation between consistency and ingredients exists?

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  7. Interesting to know that the erasers are made in Germany. Thanks. That means that they are probably made directly by Staedtler. I wonder whether they'll be on sale outside the Wopex pack. I would like to see them in shops.
    I assume there is a correlation between ingredients and consistency, but I haven't really paid any extra attention to PVC free erasers (my favourites are the dust free ones)...

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  8. I have the same Staedtler Mars eraser for the past 3 years, hence have not have a chance to use any other eraser. Any recommendation for dust-free ones?

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  9. Thank you for that review! I especially like the white eraser tops – I hope they will be available in Germany too. – Regarding your remark "The plastic coating does not sharpened as well as the wood inside": This is not the problem but the rubbing of the WOPEX' coating on the sharpener's inner side – since the coating is anti-slip it won't slip on the metal or plastic surface either so during sharpening a part of the coating is rubbed off or at least deformed (as in your photo).

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  10. Thank you for stopping by, Gunther, as well as for your explanation. It does not bother me much, but I would never thought the non-slip coating will have that effect to sharpener.

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