I have a new light blue pencil crayon (coloured pencil to some) to compare to some old standbys. The Staedtler Ergosoft has an appealing triangular barrel coated in a matte paint that is soft to the touch and matches the colour of the lead almost perfectly. The shape and feel of the barrel make it very comfortable to hold but not as easy to sharpen. The 3 mm lead has a white coating that is supposed to adhere it to the wood and prevent lead breakage. This may be true but it also reduced the amount of coloured lead available for colouring. I have only seen this type of lead coating on one other type of pencil crayon, its cheaper cousin, the Staedtler Norris Club. Both the Ergosoft and the Norris Club are much better than the really cheap Staples Staedtler although they all could be considered student-grade. I always think including a little space for writing a name, like the Ergosoft does, shows who you are aiming your product to.
The Ergosoft is made in Germany and like many products produced in Europe they strive for high environmental standards. The wood is from certified, sustainably managed forests.
Colour-wise, the light blue Ergosoft compares well to several other light blue pencil crayons. I have listed them from best quality to lowest:
- Vintage Berol Prismacolor Scholar 303 (made in the USA some time between 1969 and 1995);
- Vintage Eagle Canadiana sky blue 511 (made in Drummonville, Quebec before 1994);
- Crayola sky blue, this colour is found in all standard packages of Crayolas (made in Brazil or Costa Rica);
- Staedtler Ergosoft (made in Germany);
- Staples Staedtler (made in Indonesia); and
- Conté Evolution 93, a wood-free coloured pencil that strangely made no attempt to match the colour of the barrel to the pigment of the lead (made in France).
Keep in mind this list is very subjective. I asked another person to do their rating and they preferred the Eagle Canadiana over the Berol Prismacolor, although we agreed on the rest.
Thanks to Elisabet Ingibergsson for providing the beautiful picture of the pencil crayons in the sky and for taking time to provide her input on the quality ranking.
If the Staedtler Ergosoft were a person, they would first appear to be a bit non-conformist and easy-going but actually they are fairly hard-hearted. This may just be the way they were raised but it could be from working too long with children.