Re: Blick soft pastels.
I've had a sample. It was quite soft and the color, a brilliant red-orange, was vivid and strong. Not at all chalky. If you started with Faber Castells, they have a student grade that's quite similar to other student grade pastels. Blick Artist soft pastels are nothing like that, much more pigment rich and a texture more like Sennelier or Rembrandt, somewhere between those two. Sennelier is softer and Rembrandt firmer, Blick ones are in between and very good quality.
I am planning on getting a good half sticks set of 120 some time once I have more space, since I liked the sample I tried. Unfortunately I don't have space to add yet another pastels set. The full range is 180 and the price on Blick Artist is very reasonable. I'm glad they filled it out, used to be just 90 colors.