I have been anxious to try Baron Fig’s Archer Pencil since it first launched. I was running a bit behind when they first dropped, and shortly thereafter, Baron Fig started the mother of all subscription services. I chose to subscribe to the Archer and wait out the first release. Snakes & Ladders is now here, so let’s check it out!
Two things stand out when first picking up this pencil. One, it is beautiful. The Vermillion red paint job with the dipped cap is right up my alley. The imprints are clean, with a snake, ladder, and the Baron Fig name on three of the six hex sides of the barrel.
Secondly, it is light. Crazy light. I have a few pencils like this and I enjoy them. But there is a but. If the pencil is light, I need the lead to be firm. The HB core in the Snakes & Ladders edition is not firm.
The graphite is dark and soft, which is not my preferred setup. This is purely an individual taste thing, of course. I did get a single original Archer pencil to compare it to, and while it is also an HB core from the same factory, it is firmer, and lighter in color. This is normal variance in manufacturing I believe.
I’ve been spoiled with ultra-smooth graphite in other pencils - the Blackwing 602 for example - and the Snakes & Ladders core is grittier. This is normal in most pencils, the 602 is more of an outlier, but that begs the question: Is the Archer pencil worth the premium price for what is essentially the most basic graphite core available?
Right now, I say no. This is a very good pencil, not a special pencil. I’m happy to have my subscription, but I can’t see being a long term subscriber because I probably have a dozen pencils on my desk right now that I would pick up before this one. Hopefully Baron Fig has some graphite core experimentation up their sleeves for future releases.
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