IWAKO is a Japanese brand of non-PVC and non-toxic erasers designed as miniature objects such as food, bulldozers, and tools. Their popular pieces are the miniature food erasers. It’s distribution is only limited to a few chosen retailers; as such, it is highly difficult to snag them here in the Philippines. I know of no store that carries the Iwako range as an official distributor except Daiso – which actually makes sense because Daiso is a Japanese store.
I will not lie. These Iwako erasers don’t come dirt cheap – just think of Daiso and their “default” pricing. So I hunted around SM and Trinoma to find a cheaper alternative.
And cheaper alternatives, I did find. In fact they were so cheap even the quality is cheap. These cheap alternatives are imitations from Korea, and they are EVERYWHERE! I found a bunch at Clipper and Landmark.
While the overall appearance of these imitations aren’t repulsive, a keen collector would notice the little differences. Here are some pictures that can demonstrate the noticeable differences of an original Iwako eraser and an imitation from Korea:
Color. While I am not greatly bothered by the colors, Iwako’s colors are more appealing. This is not a major issue for me though.
Weight. Since it’s non-PVC, Iwako erasers are slightly lighter than an imitation eraser, although this issue on weight is no big deal. The issue of the PVC content however raises my eyebrows.
Gloss. Iwako erasers have a little sheen on them, a little bit of gloss on the surface. The imitation pieces appear matte and dry.
Parts. Iwako erasers’ parts fit firmly and perfectly and are of proportional sizes. Notice the cupcakes’ set – the imitation cupcake’s parts do not fit right and the cream topping keeps falling off whenever I hold it up.
Details/Textures. Iwako erasers are far more realistic in terms of texture, and the details are to the dot. The strawberries are round, the cream smoothly folded, the cake looks spongy, and so on.
Cut. Perhaps the most obvious of all is the difference in cut quality. Iwako erasers are cleanly cut with smooth lines and edges. There are no stray pieces of rubber unlike the imitation erasers (just look at the third picture).
Overall, the imitation pieces aren’t really awful. As a matter of fact, they can pass off as worthy collectible items for a budding collector. Some pieces are actually above quality than the rest. Collectively, they make up a nice bunch of miniature food erasers (as shown below) although personally I still prefer the original Iwako pieces for their quality and advocacy to the preservation of the Earth.
Conclusion: If you’re not too keen on intricate details and textures, or if you are on a tight budget, Korean imitations are agreeable bets. But for quality, quality, quality, Iwako still wins hands down.
Thus I am now officially accepting Iwako food erasers as gifts. Haha. ^^
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