Is something missing?

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Lyra Groove, Stabilo EASYgraph

A new pencil trend – scallops or grooves cut into finished triangular pencils, exposing the underlying wood. Seen here, the Stabilo EASYgraph (right and left hand versions) and the LYRA Groove. Lexikaliker reports that Koh-I-Noor will be introducing a similar product in 2011.

Aimed at children, the idea is that the grip is improved, facilitating a good grasp and writing technique.

I wonder, what do the manufacturers do with the excavated pieces?

Lyra Groove, Stabilo EASYgraph

Comparing the two pencils, the Groove seems relatively simple – round scoops. The EASYgraph comes in two versions, right and left handed, with oval indentations matching the “correct writing grip”. The EASYgraph did feel much more comfortable in my hand.

Lyra Groove, Stabilo EASYgraph

The EASYgraph also has something very unusual – the lettering in different orientations according to the handedness of the pencil:

Lyra Groove, Stabilo EASYgraph

For writing, the Groove seemed quite rough and scatchy, while the EASYgraph was comparatively smooth.

My sincere thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker, who sent all three of these pencils to me eons ago.

Stabilo Boss and Swing Cool highlighters

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Stabilo Boss and Swing Cool highlighters

Did you know that Stabilo has been making the Boss highlighter since 1972?

Again thanks to Quo Vadis Canada, pencil talk has received samples of the famous Boss and newer Swing Cool highlighters.

The highlighter colours are rich and vibrant. The Boss comes in a traditional wedge form factor, which the Swing Cool’s dimensions are more similar to a pen. The Swing Cool also has a clip.

Stabilo Boss and Swing Cool highlighters

Well, Quo Vadis sent quite a few of these, so we’re going to have another draw. There are six prizes – three sets of Boss, and three sets of Swing Cool. Each set will include four highlighters. You hear that right, there are six prizes total! We’ll again random draw first the Boss then the Swing Cool sets.

To enter the draw, just leave a comment on this post before Saturday, August 28, 20:00EDT. Only one comment per person, please. Winners will be contacted by email, and prizes sent by Canada Post. Thank you Quo Vadis Canada!
Stabilo Boss and Swing Cool highlightersused in a previous draw, we have the draws for the Boss highlighters…
>>> random.randint(1,25)
6
random.randint(1,25)
22
random.randint(1,25)
4

And the draws for the Swing Cool highlighters…
>>> random.randint(1,25)
3
random.randint(1,25)
14
random.randint(1,25)
5

The winners are Jimmy, awin, Patty, Marby, Roxanne, and Futural. I will contact each of you by email. The package will be sent by Canada Post. Thank you very much to Quo Vadis Canada for supplying these great items!

Stabilo bionic worker

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Stabilo bionic worker

This is a pencil blog, not a marker blog, but I’m still happy that Quo Vadis Canada sent some samples of the Stabilo bionic worker this way. Well, I’m calling it a marker, but it is officially a “liquid ink roller ball”. And I’m not sure if it is the brand that was used by bionic public servant Steve Austin.

As well as representing Rhodia, QVC represents the famous pencil brand Stabilo in Canada. How interesting! (I wonder if they know that I like pencils?)

The bionic worker has two main special features – an ink window and a completely rubberized surface. The ink window doesn’t show me too much. To me, the grip is comfortable. And the all orange appearance can’t be ignored.

Stabilo bionic worker

I admit to not regularly using this type of product, but I think that could change. I’ve previously mentioned paper products that didn’t like graphite, and wondered if they might have another writing instrument as their ideal partner. One confirmed result: the Behance Dot Grid notebook and the Stabilo bionic worker are a fantastic combination. The colours are vibrant and vivid on this paper. I see no feathering, nor marks bleeding through to the paper’s reverse side.

Stabilo bionic worker

The only negative I can see is that I can’t find a place to buy more. These markers seem like a higher end product – not something one will see at most office supply stores.

My thanks to Quo Vadis Canada for sending these samples.

Stabilo Opéra pencil

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Stabilo Opéra pencil

At just 155 years old, Stabilo is the youngster among the Nuremberg (Nürnberg) pencil companies – Faber-Castell is the eldest at 249, and Lyra and Staedtler are in the middle at 204 and 175 respectively.

A pencil maker in origin, Stabilo now includes cosmetic products and backpacking gear in their corporate umbrella.

Their stationery products definitely display trendy and youthful themes aimed at a young demographic, and I suspect woodcase graphite pencils are now a very small portion of Stabilo’s business. Of their eight or so pencil lines, I’ve only seen the all-purpose “All” line for sale in person. In contrast, their highlighters and markers seem almost ubiquitous.

The Opéra seems to be a writing line, offered in HB, B, and 2B. The pinstripes on the pencil edges echo the better known Othello line.

Stabilo Opéra pencil

With white lettering and striping on a light burgundy body, the pencil strikes my eye as one of the most appealing on the market, and trumping the Othello. The restraint and simplicity are commendable.

Stabilo Opéra pencil

The details:

Name: Opéra.

Full name and model no: STABILO Opéra. The pencil does not display a model number, but the packaging indicates “285”.

Manufacturer: Schwann-STABILO of Heroldsberg, which is apparently about 20km from Nürnberg. The pencil packaging states “Made in CZ”, and Stabilo’s website indicates that their woodcase pencils have been made in the Czech Republic since 1992. (Some of the newer Stabilo pencils such as the Exam Grade state they are made in Indonesia.)

Stabilo seems to be doing some innovative things. They have launched a flagship store in Vienna (Wien) that looks really amazing. Notice the pencil shape!

They have put some of the construction online at YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRD1HVGvwdg

If you browse further via that video, you can find television commercials by Stabilo for various markets such as Brazil and Malaysia.

They also have various localized websites such as this one for Stabilo Japan. They sell some interesting items I like such as this desk pad.

Background: I can’t find much on the background of this particular pencil line. There is understandably no trademark attached to the “Opéra” name, and I wonder why it would have been chosen.

Stabilo Opéra pencil

Weight: About 3.9g.

Dimensions: Rounded hexagon with finished cap. Standard (~175mm) length.

Appearance: The pencils are hexagonal and sharpened. The factory sharpening is quite good – none of that scraped look that many other manufacturers seem to offer.

The pencil is marked:

Stabilo Opéra HB=21/2 (white coloured text)

The reverse says:

EAN No., Bar Code (white coloured text)

Grip: Nothing unusual to note.

Sharpening: The pencil sharpens easily. I am not sure of the species of wood used.

Writing: This is a relatively inexpensive pencil, even when procured via mail order. I was very happy to find a smooth, dark line readily produced by the lead. Each grade seems a shade different. I think it’s an excellent writer on a variety of paper types. The 2B really pops on an Exacompta Bristol card.

Erasure: A Pilot Foam eraser had no trouble with erasure.

Overall: The pencil looks great, writes well, and is inexpensive. A hard to beat combination. I’m very happy to have discovered the Opéra, and look forward to exploring Stabilo’s other graphite pencil offerings.

Stabilo GREENlighter highlighting pencils

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Stabilo GREENlighter highlighting pencils

Last month’s look at the Faber-Castell Textliner pencils elicited a response from a reader in the Netherlands, who asked me to compare them with Stabilo’s new GREENlighter products. Fortunately, the request was accompanied by a set of the pencils!

Stabilo GREENlighter highlighting pencils

The modest packaging is appealing. A cutout reveals three highlighting pencils, and the text indicates the pencils are FSC certified, with the cardboard package made from 80% recycled paper. The FSC Chain of Custody number is also listed. I tried to look it up – it is held by Stabilo’s Czech branch and covers the purchase and sale of slats, and the production and sale of pencils, in cedar, basswood, Weymouth pine, and jelutong. Does jelutong (a rainforest species) grow in central Europe? I don’t think so. This “Chain of Custody” could be more transparent.

Stabilo GREENlighter highlighting pencils

So the product – they are 12cm (70% the length of a typical pencil) oversize triangular highlighting pencils in yellow, pink, and green. The presentation and ergonomics are fantastic. They remind me very much of the Lyra Ferby.

Stabilo GREENlighter highlighting pencils

As to highlighting – the results vary by colour. On index cards and a trade paperback, the green and pink had the general issues associated with this pencil category – faint marking, even scratchiness. The yellow was excellent – rich and saturated. Side by side with the Faber-Castell textliner, I noticed that the Stabilo didn’t crumble, another plus.

Stabilo GREENlighter highlighting pencils

So the yellow is a winner – but the other colours are a disappointment.

Stabilo X-Shock 286 pencil

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Stabilo X-Shock 286 pencil

The X-Shock 286 is a surprise. It is yet another very well made pencil from a major European manufacturer that seems to be manufactured for southeast Asian markets.

The pencil’s box indicates Stabilo’s address in Germany and distributor in Malaysia, though not the country of origin.

The pencil is triangular, and finished in orange, with Stabilo’s trademark red cap and white cap ring. All markings are in white.

Stabilo X-Shock 286 pencil

The wood is clearly pulai or jelutong. It sharpens very easily.

The lead is smooth, rich and dark. The pencils weigh about 3.9g, a standard modern weight, yet feel lighter – perhaps due to the shape – in my hand.

Stabilo X-Shock 286 pencil

It is a very nice pencil, and a shocker at the price. There are some triangular shaped pencils on the market that should should be wary of this new competitor.

Though it seems to be inelegantly named (I imagine the name being appropriate for a new running shoe), it is still a great product, and highly recommended.