Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This showdown (of two pencils) was almost a DRAW :: Dixon Ticonderoga Product Review

Disclosure: Compensation was provided Dixon Ticonderoga company
Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative 
of the opinions or positions of Dixon Ticonderoga.

To be quite honest, I almost didn't want to do this particular review. This is because I pretty much already have my own opinions formed of Ticonderoga pencils (which is that they are the best pencils EVER) and this isn't for lack of experience with them. I've had quite a number of experiences with standard wood and graphite pencils and I have yet to find any other pencil/brand that can come even close to touching the awesomeness of Ticonderoga pencils. And for all of these reasons I haven't wanted to really review the pencils. I mean, clearly I am biased toward them on top of the fact that I am a brand loyalist on top of the fact that Ticonderoga pencils are the best! (Period)

It's like a duel of the most unexpected two subjects ever. Who will be the winner and who will be the lose?

All of this said, I still did the review and I must say... I was quite surprised by my findings about how a Walmart brand (of all brands!) was able to stand quite strong up against the ever favorite and popular Ticonderoga brand. 
Let's first just inspect the pencils as they are. I apologize that I don't have pictures of them in their original packaging. Know this: the Ticonderoga brand came in a flexible plastic pack of 30 that were pre-sharpened and the Walmart brand came in a cellophane wrapped pack of 10(?) that were unsharpened. (Pencil) point number one goes to Ticonderoga for the fact that it had way more that came in the pack AND they were pre-sharpened. 

(And also, if you want to, you can count how many terrible pencil-themed puns I use during this review. So far I have used far too many!)

Now, despite the fact that the Ticonderoga brand did come sharpened, I wanted to see how well both would sharpen in an electrical sharpener because in my experience with pencils, how they sharpen is very indicative of their quality. The Walmart pencil didn't sharpen to quite the point that Ticonderoga did and I wonder if it was because the graphite is so much harder than the Ticonderoga one. *Hmmmm...* I don't know. And honestly? It didn't bother me all that much. The Walmart one still was pretty sharp as much as you would want it to be. 

Now let's look at the other end because the build of the erasers can be just as telling as how well a pencil sharpens.

One thing I noticed almost immediately was the fact that the eraser are very different shades of pink. The Ticonderoga eraser also seems a lot softer and cushiony to the touch. The ferrules of the pencil (is that even something on a pencil? Well.. that's what the metal part is of a paintbrush. *shrug*) were two different colors and the Walmart one didn't crimp and fit so perfectly around the eraser (to hold it on and into place) as well as the Ticonderoga one was. You can even see the slight gap between the ferrule and the Walmart brand pencil's eraser. (Excuse my oil paint-stained hand. We are focusing on oil painting in 2D Design currently. Also, whenever I work with paint, I purposefully do a poor job at washing the paint stains off because I actually feel better having paint stains on my person and my clothing.) 

Anyway... let's look at something else of the pencils now. How do they write and what do they look like on paper? Check it out...

Hmmm... pretty close but you can tell a difference in the line quality of the Ticonderoga one. See where there are some places (like on the C and D) where the line looks like it is a little different - like, it's more intense in some places when compared to others? The Walmart brand didn't have that so much. I surmise that it happened like that because the Ticonderoga #2 graphite is much softer than the Walmart brand. 

OK. So now that we have continued to see how soft the lead is, let's see how it works in something other than drawing. How about some quick shading?

Edited this into grayscale to be able to neutralize the effects of weird lighting/coloring
Now, I had previously been biased against the Walmart brand and more toward Ticonderoga but after doing the written comparison, I started thinking that maybe the Walmart brand wasn't so bad. I even forgot (for this part) that I was using the Walmart brand and I was earnestly trying to shade (quickly though) each of the cylinders with as much of the same effort as possible with BOTH pencils. I mean, yeah, it's easy to see that the Walmart brand has that one really intense stripe of dark grey while the Ticonderoga one is clearly more evenly shaded but still? I don't know. I feel like the Walmart brand is holding up a lot better than I expected it to. I'd even say it's putting up a good fight! (Y'know... I mean, if pencils DID fight all by themselves and not with like how students use them to see who can get whose to break first.)

I checked out the erasers next and what I found there was more interesting than everything else so far. (At least in my opinion)

Walmart on top, Ticonderoga on the bottom. You can see the Ticonderoga has a richer graphite but the erasers? Close. 

All of that eraser "dust" is from Ticonderoga's eraser and NOT Walmart. HMMM.

One of the things I have always loved about Ticonderoga and what I feel like makes the pencils so superior is the eraser. The eraser is designed in such a way that it just erasers marks in a more clean fashion than every other eraser - even kneaded erasers or art gum erasers! There is one problem with the erasers though. THIS:

There is barely any Ticonderoga eraser left! 

Now, to be fair, I really REALLY put these two pencils through some things they probably wouldn't go through in a span of 15 minutes of use. I was extra hard on them and really tried to use them in ways that I felt would showcase how durable and tough that they are. I genuinely thought that the Ticonderoga would "school" the Walmart brand one but honestly? I feel like after seeing how much of the eraser disappeared in comparison to the Walmart one that had a lot more left of it? Well... Ticonderoga, you weren't nearly the competitor that I thought you would be. *shrug*

The end of the duel and I feel like both competitors fought quite a good fight. 

After doing this review, I still feel like Ticonderoga is one of the best pencils out there but I don't know that I feel like it wins by as much as I used to think it did. Something that surprises me even more is the fact that the Walmart pencils was the one that made me reconsider how awesome Ticonderoga is compared to other brands. Did I get a really good batch of Walmart pencils? Dixon Ticonderoga sent me the pack of competing products so did they know that Walmart would do this well but that Ticonderoga pencils would still have the edge in the end? I don't know that information either. *shrug* 

I will continue to buy Ticonderoga pencils for my classroom despite the fact that the erasers disappear so quickly with regular use and this is because (from experience) I know that they last longer than other brands that I might normally order. Perhaps though I should start taking trips to Walmart and putting them in my stock next to the Ticonderoga. 

And that finished my review on the standard graphite pencils from Dixon Ticonderoga. Come back tomorrow because I am looking at the colored pencil set that are up against a Crayola pack. We've already seen Crayola get beat once with the marker set, perhaps that sort of thing will happen again! Or... similar to today's review... the Prang (Dixon Ticonderoga) coloring pencils will have some real competition by way of Crayola. Too bad I don't have a Walmart brand instead. It would be nice to see if it was fluke that they won this one alone. 

Also, don't forget that on FRIDAY of this week I will be giving away one of my most favorite things (that I reviewed) to one lucky individual who is (perhaps) sold on Dixon Ticonderoga (Prang) products after vicariously living through my reviews this week! 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided Dixon Ticonderoga company
Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative 
of the opinions or positions of Dixon Ticonderoga.

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