I didnt care much for the popcicle sticks either. Not enough showing.
What i did was to buy some foundation and cut it into aprox. 1" strips that i used for starter. The bees seem to like it, they are drawing them out VERY fast. Combs are a bit "shakey" until they attach to the bottom bars, but the hold on top is solid, just be careful tipping the frames during inspections on hot days, they tend to droop until fastened to the bottom bars.