Review: Staedtler Wopex

Another extruded pencil mentioned on the Erasable podcast is the Staedtler Wopex. These are $5 for 18 pencils at Staples. That’s 28 cents a pencil.


These pencils are nice bright lime green in color with a silver imprint on one side. The other side has a barcode and assorted other info printed. The silver doesn’t flake off or scrape off. The black barcode is easily scraped off with a fingernail. The lime green coating is soft and can be marked with a fingernail. These are slightly smaller, roughly 1 millimeter thinner than a regular pencil. Again like the allXwrite it does not fit into a bullet pencil. The ferrule fits the pencil well and the eraser is white plastic.


In terms of use, this pencil has a waxy feel. It’s not slick but unlike other extruded pencils this feels more like a regular pencil to me. Additionally, the pencil is stiff and not flexible like older extruded pencils. It does not like the KUM long point sharpener. Rather, it works best in a sharpener that produces a shorter point. The points are somewhat crumbly but not overly bad. When sharpening the plasticized wood peels off in long curls. It’s weird and rubbery feeling.


In use the pencil is perfectly average. It's nice and smooth without a hint of scratchiness. For writing, I found it to be relatively comfortable. After writing up case notes for a paper, my wrist, hand, and fingers were less sore than with the allXwrite.


For sketching this is a lightly colored pencil. It is not going to product nice deep darks, rather it does nice even shade of gray. I was able to get a nice variety of the lighter tones of gray. Again, I have to point out that this is a pretty average pencil in terms of color and lead. it’s a very pencil colored pencil. You are not going to get deep darks out of this pencil, no matter how many layers of pencil you put down or how hard you press.  


I did find myself sharpening this pencil pretty often while writing. Because it cannot be used in the long point sharpener I found myself have to get the wedge out to keep my point pointy. Unlike the allXwrite I didn’t feel like I was constantly writing with a blunt instrument, but it wore down quickly. though this pencil is supposed to last longer than other pencils, I’m not sure that’s the case. I’ll have to get a Palomino out to test against it.


On the whole, I liked this pencil for writing but not as much for drawing. It was a pretty blah and unresponsive pencil for sketching. For writing it works just fine and I’ll throw a few into my pencil cup to use for case notes and other various school duties. At 28 cents a pencil it’s not a bad choice for writing.

Now, I have a few gripes about the so called environmental claims on the back of the package. they claim that the extruded 70% wood and plastic case is somehow better for the environment than a regular wood case. they also claim that the pencil will last twice as long as a Staedtler Norica. Wood is a renewable resource, with proper forestry techniques it will continue to be a renewable resource. Is the extrusion process somehow less energy intensive than the traditional method of pencil manufacturer? Somehow I doubt it. Anytime a company adds plastic to a biodegradable product (wood) it means that product can no longer be composted. (Yes I compost my pencil shavings.) I’m tempted to toss these pencil shavings into my compost bin just to see if they are around in a year when I turn my compost over. Again I worry about poisoning my garden with plastics. I simply can’t see how adding plastic to a product makes it less energy intensive especially when it takes it out of the biodegradable circle. Like the stone paper that is made of 2 sheets of plastic with a layer of rock dust (calcium carbonate I think) sandwiched between, I can’t see how that is somehow environmental. Again, taking a product that is made of a renewable resource and something that is biodegradable and removing it from the natural biological circle. I don’t get it. Makes no sense and certainly doesn’t seem to add to it’s ecological stance. In fact I’d say it defies ecology and commonsense.