Review – Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencil (F)

“I use these specifically, because I like the nice blue,” is a bit of a paraphrase from a former instructor of mine when discussing what pencils to get for sketching or other artistic purposes. The main gist of this discussion was that it really comes down to personal preference, since there are so many different pencil brands that all make quality products. Aesthetics are important, and Staedtler is known for their deep blue coloring (as well as their quality craftsmanship), and that’s part of what makes the Mars Lumograph iconic, but is it what you should be using (specifically in “F” hardness because I like my pencils a little bit on the hard side)?

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The body is a standard hexagonal shape, with a similar size to your average writing pencil. A deep blue covers almost the entire pencil, save an end cap that is black and a white band just beneath it. On the end cap the hardness is stamped in a silver ink on all 6 facets, and the main product information is rendered in the same color on the back two thirds of the blue area. Opposite this facet a product number and bar code are printed in white.

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This pencil doesn’t really have any fancy features; like most sketching pencils, it doesn’t even have an eraser. But what it does have functions superbly. The wood is light but sturdy (no splintering) and the lead well centered (no weird angles or breaking because of sharpener issues). The lead itself is wonderfully smooth, even with my preference for firmer feedback.

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And that really just affirms the idea that started this off. The Lumograph is a good pencil, it can take a beating and keep on sketching. The materials are good, and the assembly is what you would want. But, aside from it being good quality and easy-to-find, there isn’t a real reason to recommend this over another drawing pencil. If you like the blue, definitely go for them. If you think blue is better than the other choices (black or green in most cases), also take a look. If you’ve been with the brand forever or just find there’s something about the feel that you really enjoy, there’s no reason to turn away.

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Review – Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser

Interesting tidbit with this review; I was ordering a replacement for this products (because spoiler: I liked it) and I ended up with something that I wasn’t expecting. While my original Mars Plastic eraser came in a humble card sleeve (as most still do) my new ones came in a fancy plastic swivel case. So this review will really be two parts. One for the eraser itself, and another for the upgraded container they can come in.

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The eraser is a standard seeming white plastic/rubber rectangular prism that measures about 2½ x ¾ x ½ inches and is marked in a regular pattern subtly with the Staedtler logo on two sides; the four smaller sides are essentially flat. Since it is an eraser there isn’t much more to say about the looks, but how does it work? Well, I really like it. I go back and forth between hard and soft (kneaded rubber) erasers. I’ve currently moved back to the hard erasers because I can see when their ability to erase starts to be diminished more clearly (by being shorter rather than slightly darker). In my experience it has erased almost every pencil line I’ve asked it to, and it is better than the ones usually found at the store (save Magic Rub), but comparing higher end erasers is very difficult. They all do their jobs well and it’s mostly a matter of personal preference (and sometime pencil choice) as anything else, but that’s where a fancy plastic case might stand out and make a difference.

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The case is slightly larger in every dimension (duh) than the eraser. The top and bottom are made to resemble the traditional card-wrapped eraser, with a white bit extending from the blue eraser identification part. A larger Staedtler logo covers the pivot on one side in this white area. On this white end attached to the pivot on the inside is a cut-out box that is about an inch on one side and an inch and a quarter on the other. This box has eight small ridges on the inside to grip the eraser, and it pivots 180 degrees from having the eraser tucked inside the rest of the case to being fully exposed. It can go farther, but at risk of breaking the back of the case. This allows for easy dispensing of the eraser with one hand and provides a nice sturdy handle when erasing. It also protects the eraser from getting gunky or gunking up other things (the inside does get a bit dirty/gunky sometimes, though). I’m a fan of the case (but being nitpicky the two smallest ends are rounded off and the eraser will not want to stand up on them).

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So in the end the Staedtler Mars Plastic is a good, but not exceptional, eraser. It’s not like it erases every pencil line in one stroke, or is virtually crumb-less, but it does get most pencil lines with relatively few crumbs. It works well, and I really like the case for the convenience and protection it provides. I’ve been using it (and flipping it open compulsively) for a bit and it doesn’t show any signs of breaking soon. Though it does make the eraser a considerable bit larger and limits use of about half of it. It’s a nice change of pace and experiment if one wants to spice up their eraser life.

Review – Staedtler AllXwrite

I’ve looked at a few all-graphite pencils in the past, but they were only sold in art supply stores and were thicker than the average pencil. The Staedlter AllXwrite is a #2 all-graphite pencil that is much more widely available. How does it hold up?

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The body of the pencil is unsurprisingly plain. It’s a standard hexagonal pencil design, all grey with silver lettering. The information printed on it is enough to get by. At the end of the pencil there is a standard metal eraser holder, and a fairly standard white eraser that works well.

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The graphite is quite hard, but still writes with the same pressure as a normal pencil. There is a coating on the outside to prevent major marks, but it is still possible to mark with it. Sharpening is easy, but wasteful, and if one adjusts their writing or drawing in such a way as to re-sharpen the pencil as they write with it, it requires none and will last for a very long time, far outstripping the eraser. Other than that, it’s a standard HB, suitable for taking tests or notes, and making lists and art.

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I like this pencil a lot. They’ll last forever and write well. I’ve flattened the ends of one of mine to make it easier to shade large areas. This, coupled with a few others at varying degrees of flatness leads to a ton of artistic options. While these pencils are a bit more fragile than wooden ones, I think that with normal use they will hold up just fine for someone interested in getting a long-lasting or quirky writing implement.