In Primary Six to about First Year [so about 1979 to 1981], the thing to have was a Papermate Replay, the first real* erasable ballpoint. Despite their waxy purplish-blue ink (which had a strong piney aroma) it was the one thing all the cool kids had. The Replay erasers were gritty and smudgy, and left black crumbs on the page. I remember the gummy click of the ball on the paper, and the rising fug of Replay ink from thirty desks. When it eventually dried, Replay ink could stick pages lightly together, a bit like paste-up wax.
With the Liquid Pencil, Sharpie probably hopes to repeat the (at least initial) success of the Replay. The technology feels similar — slightly less sticky, and the smell of the ink is different, but there’s still an unusual high note to it. The ink looks curiously as if it’s been photocopied and is of an uneven weight, just like the Replay used to be. Leaning on a freshly-written page from the Liquid Pencil smudges the ink on your hand and partially erases the text — just like the old Papermate Replay.
While the Replay really didn’t like regular erasers, the Liquid Pencil is better with them. If the LP were a real pencil, a heavy trace would conduct:
███ Liquid Pencil: ∞Ω ███ Faber-Castell 9000 HB: 400kΩ
It doesn’t, so it’s no pencil.
I’m pretty sure the Sharpie Liquid Pencil is just the naff old Replay, repackaged for a new generation. After all, Newell Rubbermaid owns both the Sharpie and Papermate brands. I bet the old news stories about Replays being used for cheque-fraud will resurface. Even writing this has given me the old Replay ink smell headache — déjà pew!
* there were the chemically erasable kind available before, which had a yellowish felt tip on one end that bleached the ink and prevented you writing over it.
Unscrewing the barrel revealed the familiar old Papermate Replay refill. I think we’ve been had.
Update: a bunch of reviews. The ones that actually tried it came to pretty much the same conclusion:
- Sharpie Liquid Pencil Review :: OfficeSupplyGeek
- Sharpie Liquid Pencil writes and erases like a pencil, dries like a Sharpie (video hands-on!) — Engadget
- Review: Sharpie Liquid Pencil
- Sharpie Reinvents Pen with Liquid Pencil | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
- Hands-on with Sharpie’s Liquid Pencil | Beyond Binary – CNET News
- Sharpie liquid pencil – Boing Boing
- Sharpie creates Liquid Pencil that becomes permanent after 3 days – New Tech Gadgets & Electronic Devices | Geek.com