Reviving the Blackwing: Understanding the Traditional Blackwing Fan
Welcome back. I hope that you’re enjoying this series of posts as we explore our company’s journey to revive the Blackwing. (To catch up if you’re new see Post One and Post Two) As promised today is the day I’ll begin focusing on our growing understanding of the traditional “Blackwing” fan and their concerns and feedback as we’ve been going through our consumer evaluation process of initial Palomino Blackwing production.
Right from the start it was clear that we had a core challenge to address in reviving the Blackwing: How to please the traditional fans with a product that honors the “original” while also developing a new Palomino Blackwing product that complements and extends our Palomino product range and can become economically successful. Ultimately, we developed and produced the product that has been distributed for these consumer evaluations. This product is in part based on my research on the internet of many, many posts about the Blackwing over the last several years. One interesting post related to designing the ideal pencil was Frankenpencil, originally published by Lisa Laughy on her Ninth Wave Designs blog and archived today in the Pencils.com community site. I also considered economic factors, design trends and perhaps a certain degree of personal preference in creating a product that I believe can ultimately be successful as well as share some consistent design elements with our Palomino product range.
So far there has been a strong overall response to the Palomino Blackwing by our testing groups and those requesting preorders. We’ve had scores of e-mails from those ready to buy the product as is now regardless of future changes we may implement, the color of eraser, finish, etc. However, it’s clear from the feedback we are getting on our surveys, blogs and e-mails that many traditional Blackwing fans expect or have a strong preference essentially for almost an exact duplication of the original Blackwing down to the finest of details. Stephan’s Pencil Talk review posted over the weekend, shows the amazing level of detail some Blackwing fans are going to assess this new item. Even down to weighing differences in erasers on a scale and enlarging images of the imprint by 50x or more . I am not sure any wood cased pencil ever has had such a degree of public scrutiny by end consumers before being introduced. Pencil Talk raises the valid comment that our new pencil is not a clone of the original, but a modern interpretation. I think this is a fair representation given my stated intent to “honor the original while extending the Palomino range”.
As good as our new item is the most unwavering Blackwing fans seem to consider it near heresy if we do not provide an exact match to the graphite writing and drawing performance of the original as well as the design and look of the finish, eraser color, etc. Thus some even feel this pencil fails to acheive the goal of “honoring the original”. Clearly the smooth writing and drawing graphite performance has always been the most important quality feature, but there are many strong emotional attachments also to the original’s lacquer finish, it’s pink eraser assembly and perhaps more importantly to the phrase “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed.” One or two even mention the painted band on the ferrule is preferred, though not all versions of the original had this feature. Most traditionalists are very happy that we revived the original classic ferrule and eraser design with the flat, removable eraser and believe we’ve improved on the original in this area.
My next post will begin to address the specific feedback on product featuers and performance, starting with Graphite Performance, and moving on in successive topics daily this week. In the meantime we’ve now also set up a new Palomino Blackwing page on Pencils.com to serve as a central point for information on this pencil including updates on product availability.