Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One Factory To Make Them All, One Factory To...

Somewhere in China I figure a factory is doing quite well out of this mechanical pencil.
1.85mm mechanical pencils
Here’s three branded versions of it. All have slight variations in colour scheme, branding and packaging. I have previously mentioned one of them, the MGM mechanical pencil.
mechanical pencils packaged
mechanical pencils unpackaged
A cursory look indicates they are all the same mechanical pencil, and closer examination confirms it, e.g. these moulding marks.
mechanical pencils closeup
MGM of Malaysia call it the A-200 Plus mechanical pencil, Zebra of Japan call it the MLP2 mechanical pencil, and Urban and Recipe of South Korea call it the Sketch mechanical pencil. All label it as “Made in China”. All label it as being filled with 2B lead. Zebra incorrectly state it is 0.9mm square lead. Others not depicted here call it 1.85mm lead. There seems to be a bit of variation but basically the lead is rectangular about 1.8 to 1.9mm x 0.95 to 0.98mm.
1.85 rectangular lead v 0.7mm lead
Not surprisingly you can see the Zebra and MGM lead refill containers clearly originated in the same factory too.
Zebra and MGM 1.85mm rectangular lead refills
MGM and Zebra advertise it as, amongst other uses, an examination or test taking pencil, with Zebra going so far as to categorically state ‘Use on Scantron and other OCR Scan Forms’. Yea, just what we need, lets fire up that old nonsense  ‘Must use number 2 wooden pencil’ drama. Hmmm, 2B, that should be a number 4 pencil? And it’s not wooden either. How dare they claim it's good for Scantron! Oh, hey wait, 2B has a got 2 in it so it must be a number 2 pencil too. Phew, that's OK then!
Scantron and OCR bubble tests

If I had to choose one for myself, then I like the styling of Urban and Recipe from South Korea. A pencil fit for the modern urban warrior, fighting his way through the megacity of Seoul?
Urban and Recipe Mechanical Pencil

15 comments:

che pablo said...

So, the Children of Hurin link is what? If you use these pencils you are doomed? Maybe you'll use the pencil for years and then find out...gasp...that it is a pen!? Then it's into the brink for everyone. ;-)

Kiwi-d said...

Yea, not much of a link. It was just handy at the time and I thought of the post title with Tolkein LOTR overtones, and the cover looked suitable for fighting through the magalopolis, etc.

memm said...

I have not seen the Zebra and Sketch version before, but last time I was in Shanghai I saw at least two more versions of this pencil. (A Star Wars theme might also be fitting in this case: Episode II - Attack of the Clones)

Kiwi-d said...

Hello memm.
Yes, I'm sure there are many more brands of this around, and probably similar designs made by other factories too. Once when the 'Great Firewall of China' was down or had a cool-spot and my blog was viewable in China I got a contact from someone claiming to be an employee of the factory making this pencil. Production runs were measured in the millions of pencils for local consumption by students for exams, etc.

Anonymous said...

U mean pencil blogs are banned in China?

Sapphire said...

I've been a freelance exams invigilator for years and supervised many an OCR marked test.

Last December was the first time I've been asked if a particular pencil was allowed. It was one of those ungraded jobs wrapped in paper.
As long it makes a mark .......

Chad said...

I think I also saw these sold under the Office Depot Foray brand a few years ago. I've never seen anyone offer replacement lead though.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the zebra one mentions tests because the thick lead is ideal for filling in the scantron bubbles easily.

a nobud said...

I was in a Morning Glory shop today and I saw none other than... gasp...yet another clone of this pencil, the 2B Drawing Art mechanical pencil. I didnt inspect it as far as you did, but the square lead gave it away. I'm not gonna buy it...too much hassle with the square leads and such.

Kiwi-d said...

Yeah, I've got more too...I'm becoming some sorta Clone Lord.

a nobud said...

LOL its really interesting how all these different companies sell the same thing. The question is... whose to buy.

caricaturist said...

I got a Morning Glory flat lead in my gift bag during a convention for artists in South Korea. I have to admit its the best pencil I've had for sketching. This is because the flat lead produces interesting line quality and the eraser is wonderful too. Now I'm running out of lead and want to buy more. Have not seen it around here in Singapore. Thank you for this investigation report, it was informative. I've spotted a few deals online too by looking up the brands you mentioned.

Scrwtape said...

Ok, I bought several of the Foray version of this pencil. I love to take notes with these. However, because I use them all the time, I've lost or otherwise messed them up. So I'm looking to buy more. They only seem to sell these in packages with one pencil, at outrageous prices (Amazon has the Zebra for like 7 and some change). Where can I get like three to five of these. I have all the erasures, plenty of lead, I just need the actual mechanical pencil!

Anonymous said...

These are sold as "Umix Sınav/Eskiz" in Turkey.
Sınav means test, Eskiz means draft.

Chloe said...

Hello! As an architecture student, I was wondering if there is such thing as a carpenter/ flat mechanical pencil with lead of .5 mm or smaller and with a lead of HB or harder.

Thanks!!