A Quick Note On the Wopex

As part of my self-enforced reeducation program on pencils, I decided to free myself of prejudice and try the Staedtler Wopex properly. I saw them on sale as early as June 2012, but did not buy them because they looked so strange. This is how they were presented in Korea (very similar to the photos here at Lexikaliker). BTW plastic packaging is not that popular back home.

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You would forgive me for initially mistaking them for eyebrow pencils! My post on Penhood at that time records myself as saying , “the surface lacquer looks overdone and the strange grainless casing reminds one of the limbs of a Barbie doll”. There was no mention of any new technology; I thought Staedtler was trying to go fancy. The name was sometimes pronounced “woo-pex”. Overall, it was a strange pencil.

Two years later, I’m buying a blister pack here in Canada. They look a lot more like normal pencils. They are an appealing shade of green, and comes with a cool Mars-themed eraser.

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The blister pack is startlingly cheap, less than $4, which puts it squarely in the “school pencil” category (in my opinion) – although slightly more expensive than a Norica or a Papermate Mirado. I made sure to get a dedicated sharpener for it too, since many blogs mention the difficulty of sharpening one, looking for the “W” mark on the back as shown on Bleistift.

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The Wopex writes a bit waxily on some surfaces but most of the time it approximates the feel of a regular pencil well enough that it is often possible to forget the new technology behind it while writing. However, my son, whom I use from time to time as a sort of lab mouse to test new pencils (him being oblivious to the history, availability, or price), soon complained of the feel of the grip, and above all its weight. And in fact it is a bit too heavy for a child to write with – I wonder why they decided to stick the ferrule on, when a regular eraserless Wopex would already have been heavy enough. With the ferrule and eraser it threatens to tip over backwards.

Sharpening would also be a problem if it is to be used in school. It’s not that difficult if you use the dedicated sharpener, but the result looks terrible. Is the Wopex not meant for children? If so it would be a shame – if there ever was a generation to capture, it would be this one. I’m thinking of testing it on older schoolchildren and librarians later on…

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5 thoughts on “A Quick Note On the Wopex

    1. Matthias, it’s interesting to know Wopex is more expensive over there. When I look up prices in Korea the info is a bit confusing – a blister pack of 5 pencils (“3+2 pack”, meaning two pencils are thrown in for free in a 3-pencil package) costs around $2, while a proper dozen can cost anywhere from $8 to $12. I don’t get it!

      As for the pencil sharpener – I’ve been meaning to get something like that ever since I saw it on this post at La Plume. As far as I can see it is the exact same product! The Korean brand Morning Glory orders it from Deli maybe? The post says that the camera sharpener is pretty sturdy and can handle even hard pencils like the Swiss Wood without difficulty, but what I find most interesting is that it sharpens pretty short for a crank sharpener, so “you get approximately the same result as a factory-sharpened Faber-Castell”.

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  1. The price difference seems odd, but I often don’t seem to understand the reasoning behind marketing and the prices set…
    Looks as if many brands sell this sharpener. Kikkerland also had their own version. I didn’t know about the Morning Glory version before. Thanks for the link.
    The Deli 0668 is really great and it can even handle the Wopex, which is harder than any wooden pencil I’ve seen. The auto stop even works with the Wopex (nearly all the time). It sharpens with an angle of ~20° (see http://bleistift.memm.de/?page_id=2172 )

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    1. Matthias, did you actually measure all the angles?!?! Wow this is the most exhaustive list of sharpeners I’ve ever seen. It’s great, thank you for letting me know!

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