Favorites of 2017

Favorites of 2017

2017 flew by, and I'm glad, because it was kind of a sucky year for nearly everyone involved. But, ultimately, it was a good year for Lead Fast. The site grew faster and bigger than I expected. I launched a shop with some stickers to help fund it, and the response was beyond what I expected...thanks to you! I couldn't have built the site without the help of some cool people in this community.

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Baron Fig 2017 Recap

Baron Fig 2017 Recap

Holy crap, Baron Fig launched a TON of products this year. Where some of the other companies just stuck to what works and iterated on already established markets, Baron Fig jumped into almost everything stationery related this year. This humble author may even say too many things, and not without controversy.

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Write Notepads 2017 Recap

Write Notepads 2017 Recap

Write Notepads puts out consistently great quarterly releases with seemingly little fanfare. This year was no different. They didn't have the barrage of products like Baron Fig or the quality / marketing snafus of Field Notes, so in our little stationery circles there wasn't as much discussion about them. They just kept on making Baltimore and Baltimore-adjacent themed notebooks. That's a good thing.

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Field Notes 2017 Recap

Field Notes 2017 Recap

At first glance, it seemed to me that Field Notes had a slow year, but after I looked back, it was actually a lot busier than I had initially thought. It's likely that I just didn't succumb to as much FOMO as I did in years past, and I skipped a few releases, mainly the simple collaborations. There was also a little bit of drama with them this year, first with the quality control of some of the early 2017 items, then with the tone-deaf collaboration with Abercrombie & Fitch towards the latter part of the year. First, I'll dig into the Quarterly releases, then we'll talk about the other stuff.

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Palomino Blackwing 2017 Recap

Palomino Blackwing 2017 Recap

We're into Year 3 of the Volumes series. Palomino continued to do a few different things with the limited pencils this year, some cool, some not...along with a few head scratchers. Some thoughts on each Volumes series release, then we'll get into the rest of what they did with the line.

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Palomino Blackwing 2016 Recap

We’re into Year Two of the Blackwing Volumes series and Palomino has continued to release interesting pencils, if not maybe a little stale at times…this year there were only 2 leads used out of the 4 Volumes releases. I’ll go down my thoughts on the releases, then a few items on some things that happened in 2016.

Volume 24: John Steinbeck Edition

The introduction of the extra firm lead. All black: the lacquer, the ferrule, and the eraser. Imprinted but not foil stamped. Although this is the hardest Blackwing lead, still dark and somewhat soft. I liken the core to a high-end Japanese B. My favorite of the Blackwing releases, and my favorite pencil of the year. In honor of John Steinbeck, a prolific original EF Blackwing user, who, according to his son, would’ve loved this pencil.

Volume 56: Joe DiMaggio Edition

Dedicated to the 56 game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio, this pencil is striped like the Yankee uniforms he played in. It uses the 602 core and is foil stamped in gold with a gold ferrule and blue eraser. I ended up buying red erasers for this and making it a Cubs pencil.

Volume 344: Dorothea Lange Edition

Dedicated to Dorothea Lange and her famous photographs, 344 stands for the lot number at the Library of Congress that contains many of her photos, including the famous, iconic “Migrant Mother”. The core is 602…again. It has a deep red barrel (closer to brown, to my eyes), red imprint, red ferrule and black eraser. It’s supposed to look like a 602 pencil in a dark room. This was the first Vol. Edition to get the new logo and word mark, as well as the new erasers…more on that below.

Volume 530: Gold Rush Edition

Sutter’s Mill, California is the place where gold was first discovered, and is CA Historical Site 530, the namesake of this pencil. Gold barrel and ferrule with a black stripe, black imprint and black eraser. This has the extra firm, or 24, core in it. Not dedicated to a person, but a feeling, the feeling of striking gold, of those “Eureka!” moments. See my full review and my video.

Rebranding of Palomino

This year Palomino rebranded, taking away the horse logo and replacing it with a Three Tree logo. The first Volumes pencil to have it was the 344, but they rebranded all their pencils this year. They also changed the word mark from a thin, extended sans-serif to a more geometric sans-serif, furthering the homogenization of basically every word mark on the planet. I don’t mind the logo change, Palomino is owned by Cal-Cedar and their logo is 3 trees, and it further puts the brand under the umbrella, but the word mark change bugs me. Was the old word mark ugly and dated? Yeah. It was time for something different. But to use the same thing that everyone else is doing, moving word marks to plain geometric sans-serif fonts…it just rubs me the wrong way. I would’ve rather stayed with the old ugly one than this. This is a huge misstep that’s overshadowed by the fact that no one really pays attention to this type of thing.

New wordmark. Along with everyone else.

We three trees.

New Eraser style

Finally we got dust-free erasers. They’re still nowhere near as good as the Tomboy 2558 eraser, but I can happily say that, after a few months with these, they have satisfied my want to NOT carry a separate eraser with me, and the day I’m carrying a Blackwing, I don’t have to.

Blackwing Point Guard

See my full review and video. This thing is junk and was not well thought out. I understand the need for wanting to do something different and something all-in-one, with no pieces to slide up and down to hold it in place, the need for something solid…but this ain’t it, folks. It makes a long pencil much longer, and I just don’t see the use case for it. It certainly struggles to fit in a pencil case when using it on a newly started Blackwing.

Blackwing Colors Colored Pencils

Special wax core, only 12 colors. I didn’t get any, nor do I care to. Instead, I’ll let Ana do the talking.


I think that about wraps it up for Palomino’s 2016. Overall, it was a good year for them, but not a homerun. I would like to see a little more exploration in cores next year, as they really only have 4 they play with and we only saw two this year. I would like to see a year-round offering with the Extra-Firm 24 core in it, and maybe another natural offering. More to come in my 2017 Wish List post…be on the lookout for that.