I agree - excellent question and advice given. I can't tell you how much "crap" I have sitting around bought for me by well-meaning people. The fact that you are actually asking before you buy should earn you big brownie points. I wish more people had asked me..
Totally agree on the Prismacolor - nice pencils. I also purchase most of my supplies through Blick. The prices and selection are considerably better than anything I can find locally.