Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Papermate Write Bros. Mechanical Pencil Review

Papermate Write Bros. Mechanical Pencil Review

Over the course of this blog quite a few readers have very generously sent me pencils, leads, erasers and other stuff because they liked them and thought I might too. In turn I’ve tried to do my bit, by passing on some of the random kindness. Recently though I received a slightly different sort of gift. A reader, “Barrel of a Pencil” contacted me, offering to send “the worst mechanical pencil in the world”. Normally I would not have contemplated such a thing, but how could I refuse such temptation, just what sort of shocking abomination would arrive in my letterbox? Well, the pencil was soon entrusted to the postal services, but they must have been effected by bad mojo from the parcel. Week, after week, after week went by, until finally when all had been given up, … Normally my pencil reviews are written about pencils I like or thought had something to offer. I am not in the habit of deliberately choosing a piece of junk as my review pencil. However, I felt some obligation to test and review this claim of The Worst Mechanical Pencil in the World. I hoped to give it fair hearing, but I must confess to some bias. I like mechanical pencils and I look for the good aspects, but this time I was starting from the opposite end of the spectrum. This pencil was expected to be bad, not good. Anyway, I tried to give it a shot at a fair review, so... The Papermate Write Bros. is a lightweight all-plastic pencil, clearly made as an economy grade item.My first few minutes of use were bad. The tip wobbled, squeaked and carried on. It appeared to be loose, but didn’t really want to tighten. So, I unscrewed it fully and then screwed it back up good and tight which made an immediate improvement. I am assured by the sender that the pencil was like this straight out of the pack, although on further inspection the others seemed correctly tightened.Putting that bad start aside, it is still fair to say that the body of this pencil is not particularly rigid and does flex under hand pressure. You can actually see the tip flex when you press hard. From comments and contacts I’ve had with readers, I know that many of you out there have some rather extreme ideas of lead positioning precision. Well, this pencil is your worst nightmare.

The lead diameter is 0.7mm, and the lead supplied is functional but not particularly good. It is rather coarse to write with, almost as if they use a rough coarse grade of graphite in its manufacture. It is not as pleasant and smooth a glide as that of a good quality Japanese HB polymer lead. Having said that, the lead is very strong. Bearing in mind that this is an economy grade pencil, opting for lead strength at the expense of smoothness is an understandable compromise. The leads supplied are standard 60mm length sticks, unlike some economy grade pencils which come fitted with extra long leads.

Up at the other end of the pencil there is an eraser. It is a shocker. The pictures below show the result of erasing two words under firm hand pressure. To be fair, it did a semi-reasonable job at erasing, but utterly mutilated itself in the process.
This mutilation was such that the torn abraded parts of the eraser then continued to shed eraser dust like a bad case of dandruff, e.g. when it was touched to activate the lead advance.

The lead advance mechanism is a standard push top ratchet. You push on the eraser and the whole black top section moves, including the pocket-clip, which can be a bit annoying. The pocket clip is a rather weak piece of plastic, and I wouldn’t rely on it. Ten clicks of the mechanism will get you about 10mm of lead. The lead refill chamber is accessed by removing the eraser from its housing.The grip zone of the body it a series of moulded concentric bumps which are reasonably successful.

Printed in white on the barrel is “Papermate, 0.7mm”. This is very hard to read on the yellow background. I am always annoyed by pencils that don’t give their model details when they so easily could. Other solid colours and translucent barrels are also available.

Comparisons with the recently reviewed BIC Matic Classic and other economy range mechanical pencils like the Pentel EZ#2 are inevitable. It is not fair to expect too much from an economy price range pencil, but for the price that I see the Write Bros. advertised on many online sites, I would say choose another pencil.

Anyone who has wandered the aisles of the $1 Shop and its ilk knows that the title of “The Worst Mechanical Pencil in the World” is hotly contested. So many vie for that crown, and I’m not interested in picking the winner, but despite not being impressed by the Write Bros you can find worse. It would after all be surprising if Papermate, one of the giants of stationery supplies, was crowned the Worlds Worst. So, the final verdict is...it's not much of an MP, but it ain’t the worst.

  • Best Points – Ummm….?
  • Not So Good Points – The flexing, the eraser.
  • Price Range – Economy.
  • Does This Pencil Make It Into The Top 5? – I think not.

Dimensions – Length 154mm, diameter 8mm. Balance point about 90mm up from the tip, although that is rather irrelevant with such a lightweight pencil.

29 comments:

Andrew said...

Oh my. Now I am afraid of that pencil. And they're all over the place in school!

Glen Mullaly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen Mullaly said...

That's definitely the ugliest looking used eraser I've ever seen!

mindstorm81 said...

I'm actually tempted to send you one of the Papermates I bought just the other day to try and account for this... monstrosity.

Anonymous said...

That's quite a good likeness Dave, I remember those days fondly, "...it's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a/ it's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a..." :>))).

I guess the Papermate Wrong Bros. Mechanical Pencil is not the epic failure I hoped it would be and that you were able to keep your bilge down long enough to write your characteristically tough but fair-minded review. That could not have been much fun for someone with your standards, hell, for anyone with any standards at all, please accept my fulsome apologies. That exploded shot of the Write Bros.' innards puts me in mind of sausage-making, i.e. you don't necessarily want to know what goes into the making of something. Could PaperMate possibly have found cheaper less wholesome ingredients to use? Maybe they used such strong lead to add to the rigidity?

You are right of course, this pencil is not the abomination I have made it out to be. I have wandered the dollar store aisles enough to know that there are rafts of abysmal poorly made knock-offs out there, so cheap looking not even I am remotely tempted to buy them. What made me pick up these particular PaperMates is that they are colorful and cheerful looking. In use they squeak by in a pencil emergency.

I think you've saved yourself some grief. No one will ever send you the world's worst eraser because arguably you've already found it. At the very least it is the world's worst looking eraser. What do you feed him, the souls of children? Poor thing looks like some kind of medical atrocity.

(Bottom Of The) Barrel Of A Pencil

kiwi-d said...

Glen – I’m sorry you have deleted your first comment. I thought it went well with your second comment. :-)

Barrel – Yes the Write Bros does look nice and cheerful. I should have noted that in my review; and certainly it is useable as an emergency pencil. Despite my disagreeing about the worst in the world label, you may well be right about that label regarding the eraser. I can’t fathom how Papermate can think so little of themselves and their customers that they would stoop so low as to that eraser. It is an abomination. I have been disappointed by many a mechanical pencils eraser, even those from the mighty Pentel, but this one is truly down there at the bottom of the barrel. But to be fair, even down there it does have company. So, if not the worst in the world, certainly a worthy contender.

Not wanting to open the pathway to the abyss, but I suppose it is not inappropriate to consider the possibility of a competition for the worst MP of the major “recognised” brands??? An annual ‘Pencil of Shame’ award?

Anonymous said...

Dave - A "Pencil of Shame" award would be right on target! Just looking at that eraser gives me the willies!

Shade said...

Personally for pencil I use the Bic o.7mm no. 2's with clear housing, and colored clips. As a university student, I can take my notes in anything, but I chose pencil for my anthropology courses, and these are the puppies I use. As something that's meant to be disposable, their construction is pretty good. they won't survive a good hammering, but I keep one in the elastic loop on the front of my mead folder and the little clip keeps it there, although I'm awful about shoving the notebook into my already-packed messenger bag.
Certain things you can look at in the package and know that they're not very good. For me, if I saw this at walmart or where-ever, I'd pass it up. the clip usually gives away if it's a good pencil or not, as does the colors used. I have a huge pack of super-cheapo pencils I'm putting off using because they're all neon green and such...

Anonymous said...

Peter Jackson wants his Balrog back!

Sorry, I couldn't resist further gratuitous commentary on that eraser. It's evil!

Barrel Of A Pencil

exorcist said...

i hate these they suck the barrels break to easily i sat on one while doing my home work and it crack then i decided to break out my sharbo
then homework was a charm

Glen Mullaly said...

Dave: Yes, I really need to start using the "Preview" feature before I comment!
On looking at that eraser again... are you sure it was an eraser? Could you have been possibly just wearing down the plastic end of the mechanical pencil itself?

Germ said...

love that eras....wait, can't call it that. this pencil is definitely in the top 10- worst. another papermate product that would make it is their first mechanical pencil, the twist mechanism yellow one. the barrel would crack if you stuck it in a bag. awful.

Dave B said...

I have a sibling to this mockery of a pencil. It is sold under the brand PoinTec. I picked them up at Staples, an office supply store here in the states, during a back to school sale. A four pack cost me all of $.05 USD. Thats right, four for a nickle and I still feel like I got ripped off. The barrel and eraser housing/pocket clip are slightly different but they are of the same quality (if you can call it that). The mechanism is the same. The eraser on the PoinTec is bad, but they just wore down quickly and did not mutate the way yours did.

kiwi-d said...

5 cents for 4.
Well that sounds like they realised they had made a terrible mistake and were just trying to get rid of them at any price. Still, sometimes the price is irrelevant.

kiwi-d said...

Just for the record - there are (currently) no self portaits of myself on this blog :-)

Anonymous said...

:>)))

Barrel Of A Pencil

Anonymous said...

I hate papermates, they DO snap and they are bad. Like this kid has lots of issues with his papermate sharpwriter.

nontimeosedcaveo said...

And yet, and yet... the Paper Mate PhD and PhD Ultra seem at least pretty good, and the vanishing point Apex isn't bad either.

wes said...

that pencil is a cancer that has spread throughout my middle school with its cheap pricing and papermate brand name. i am truly worried.

adel said...

at least it isn't that bad. many of my classmates use it and they said it works quite excellent. does anyone recommend that I buy it to because I'm planning to buy it

Anonymous said...

its an ok pencil...but the grip portion of mine started to crack while i was writing with it...

Lefty

Anonymous said...

Pft! No surprise here. This is just another look at Papermate's exceptionally HORRIBLE quality of products. I HATE papermate! Absolute junk!

Pilot Lover said...

...can I have my Dr. Grip back?

Danny K said...

Grrr.. Several of these appeared in the community pencil cup. I decided to use one today and I grabbed two just in case. I didn't know a pencil could be THIS bad!! After continually breaking lead because of the flex, I eventually broke the pencil while erasing a mistake caused by broken lead! How did my day end? Two broken pencils later, I am taking notes in class with my emergency pen! This really is “the worst mechanical pencil in the world”.

In response to "This is just another look at Papermate's exceptionally HORRIBLE quality of products.", you should try the Papermate Clickster. The Clickster is my favorite economy pencil!

Anonymous said...

I would rather use a bic if i had to use the economy pencils...i have a few of these..and the barrel acctually started to crack when i was writing with it...but i havent experienced the eraser problem yet...

Lefty

Casey said...

I'd rather buy a cheap BIC pencil than this. That eraser is giving me the chills. Clearly an economy product.

a person that disagree said...

if you actually used the pencil with proper care, it wouldn't be such a problem .for me, it's a decent pencil, because i write really light and don't put so much force into writing.

John said...

I have seen those pencils many times at school and I would always see ones with cracks in the barrel or broken in half. They are terrible. My brother has a few of them and I just don't know why he would choose this pencil.
By the way, have you heard of the PaperMate "Sharpwriter"? It is another low-grade "disposable" pencil that is said to be "non-refillable". I think it is still much better than the "Write Bros." I have found out how to refill the Sharpwriter. I suggest you do a review of the Sharpwriter and show its inner mechanism.

Anonymous said...

Very true i have 12 transparent barrels of these and i have just ordered 110 more paper mate write bros pencils from the usa, and there just like a typical normal mechanical pencil but there also more colourful with neon colours and primary basic colours and there slim with an ok grip there an 9/10 design and a 6/10 strength and a 7/10 durability