Hero 616: A Chinese fountain pen that is regarded as the closest looking Parker “51” copy. I chose the best one from my pack of 10. I believe the factory is located in Shanghai.
Lamy Vista: A demonstrator version of the very popular “Safari” school pens which first came out in 1980. Made in Heidelberg, Germany.
Hero 110: One of Hero’s higher end hooded nib pens. It has a 12K gold nib.
Lamy 2000: Lamy’s Flagship pen, introduced in 1966 and still is in production today. Made in Heidelberg, Germany. “A classic of the modern age” is how Lamy describes this pen.
Hero 330: Another Parker 51 copy, some believe it is of better quality than the 616. It has an arrow near the nib section.
Reform 1745: Discontinued German piston filler, aimed at students. It looks similar to the Pelikan M120.
Kaweco clear Sport: Compact German cartridge pen, which is an eyedropper.
Parker 21 Super: An inexpensive version of the Parker 51. The regular 21’s had regular nibs whereas the super 21 has the tubular octanium nib on the Parker “51”. Just a tad smaller than the “51”
Parker “51” aero: Doesn’t need an introduction… “The world’s most wanted pen”.
Appearance and Design:
These are all basically replicas of Parker hooded nibbed pens. The overall design is nice, but when holding the pen in your hand there is a “cheap” feeling about it. The plastic is acrylic on these pens and I’m sure the metal is a cheap alloy. The clutch ring is basically a clear plastic section sandwiched between two washers. The 330 is only one washer. I can say “you get what you pay for” with these pens. The plastic on the 110 is not any different as the other pens. After 1 day with the pen, the arrow came off of the pen. It is was really sharp.
The Reform 1745 is a nice classic fountain pen. It is green and black with gold trim. The piston is a bit stiff but it’s good that they incorporated this into the pen design. The nib section can screw out for easy cleaning. A bit on the narrow side, but still comfortable to write with. The ink view window is very helpful. The reform dosen’t have any “risen” area near the nib section just on the edge of the grip, so I find my hand sometimes slipping off of the grip and getting dirty. The Lamy 2000 is a peculiar looking pen. Shaped somewhat like a torpedo, it is a black and white pen, made out of steel and makrolon. It feels like wood. The piston on the 2000 is very smooth. When the pen was available for the first time in 1966 this stuff was space age material. It’s nib is partially hooded, meaning after filling minimal wiping is required. The Vista is Lamy’s student pen. Made out of ABS plastic, I believe this is one of the most tough pens I’ve handled. (I’ve dropped it numerous times with the worst damage being a bit of ink spillage in the cap) It is quite large so I tend to not use it posted (the cap can get lost). The grip is cut in a way that it forces your hand into an optimal grip. I bought this as my first fountain pen and it changed my ugly grip into a nicer looking grip. The Kaweco is quite simply designed, and is an eyedropper. It is to me a pocket pen since when capped it is so small.
These pens are quite nice. The 51‘s design is a classic. It is the original “hooded nib” pen. The “51” is made out of Lucite, which was space age at the time. I’m not sure what the 21 is made out of but it still has a nice feeling. I don’t know what it’s made out of. Maybe someone can tell me.
Hero 616: Capped: 13.8 cm; Uncapped: 12.7 cm; Posted: 14.7 cm;
Lamy Vista: Capped: 14 cm; Uncapped: 13 cm; Posted: 16.5 cm;
Lamy 2000: Capped: 14 cm; Uncapped: 12.4 cm; Posted: 15.3 cm;
Hero 110: Capped: 13.5 cm; Uncapped: 12.5 cm; Posted: 14.4 cm
Reform 1745: Capped: 13 cm; Uncapped: 12 cm; Posted: 15.2 cm.
Kaweco Sport: Capped: 10.3 cm; Uncapped: 10 cm; Posted: 13 cm.
Parker 51: Capped: 14 cm; Uncapped: 12.5 cm; Posted: 15 cm
Parker 21 Super: Capped: 13.5 cm; Uncapped: 11.9 cm; Posted: 14.5 cm
Hero 330: Capped: 13.5 cm; Uncapped: 12 cm; Posted: 14.7 cm
First, the Heroes:
The Hero’s are all push-bar fillers. The 616’s filling is horrible; ink barely gets into the pen when filling. I take of the metal sleeve and rigorously squeeze the sac to get ink in. They are hard to clean as well, and the metal sleeve is sharp and I’m sure could do some damage to my thumb. I have no problems with the Hero 110’s filler, as it’s more solidly built and the sides are a bit rounded down. The 110 is much easier to clean. I like the 330 as the filler is a bit better designed than the 330, but about the same as the 110.
Now the Germans:
The Lamy 2000’s piston is very smooth and flushing is a breeze. You can take the nib section off to clean the piston fairly easily. Just don’t lose the metal “ears”. I’ve had no problems with it. The Lamy vista has c/c filling and the converter can be had for about 5 bucks online. It holds enough ink for 1 – 1.5 days of writing for me. It’s enough, but just barely. It’s good being able to see the feed so if the pen starts to write dry, you can saturate the feed by pushing the piston forward, and it’ll write wet. The Reform 1745’s piston is a bit stiff, but considering it’s NOS and hasn’t been used in a long time I can cut it some slack. It holds quite a bit of ink. The window is very helpful, you can see when you need to refill. The Kaweco has the simplest filling system, you just get an eyedropper or syringe and put ink right into the barrel. It looks very interesting when filled.
Interesting how the Kaweco gets larger when posted:
Parkers: The pens both have irremovable aerometric filling. I find them easy to use but slightly harder to clean as you can’t take off the section from the filling system to flush it under water like the Lamy 2000.
A quick scrawl (sorry for the bad handwriting, pens and ink all over the place do not make for a good writing experience)
First, the Heroes:
The nibs on the 330 and 616 are both steel, whereas the 110 has a 12K gold nib. They all write a nice thin line, probably an EF. You can buy 10 packs of the 616 but 4/10 of the ones in my pack were good writers. The rest were dry/toothy. The 110 can be had for around the same price as the 10 pack of 616’s but the one I have is nice and smooth. The 330 was the smoothest of them all, which was quite a surprise. I also like the arrow near the nib so I can tell if I’m holding the pen in a wrong way.
The Lamy 2000 is definitely one of the smoothest nibs I have. It is a nice and wet medium nib. It has a tad bit of flex, but not enough to even call it semi flex. Springy, perhaps. Unfortunately, the pen has a relatively small sweet spot. Sometimes it results in some nice line variation. The Vista is a different story. It’s nib is a nail when it comes to flex. It shares about the same smoothness as the 2000. The 2000 has more flow and often makes inks look darker, which is to my liking.. You can change the nibs for not too much money so that is a good idea. The Reform was a bit of a disappointment. You need to apply pressure for the nib to write properly, and it’s toothy. It does have a bit of spring to it so you can get some interesting results with more pressure. You can interchange the nibs on the Reform but I have yet to find replacement nibs. It’s two-tone steel nib adds some aesthetic value to it… well at least to me it does. The kaweco is surprisingly wet, but has a thick line which dosen’t provide a nice writing experience as the 2000. It has a bit of spring but nowhere close to the Reform. I think the Reform is the most springy nib in this comparison. Unfortunately, I don’t like writing with ballpoint pressure and that’s what the Reform feels like to me. I think I just got a bad one, however.
Well the 21 and 51 have tubular nibs and they are rigid. They both write smoothly. Especially the “51”. I found the 21 to be a bit dry, but that may improve with time. The “51” is not overly wet but not dry at all. A nice wet writer. I own a regular 21 (which has the hood for sheer cosmetic value), but I believe the 21 has the hood as part of the ink delivery system like the “51”. The 21’s nib is made out of “octanium”, which is made out of 8 different metals chosen for a specific purpose. Oh well, the pen writes just better than the Hero 330, it just feels a bit better in terms of quality.
I was very disappointed with the clip on the Hero 616. It is already off to the side, and can move around. The point is pretty sharp; it cut a hole in my shirt once (since I wear my pens on the collar of my shirts). The clip on the 110 is very good. It’s as secure as any Parker clip I’ve tried. It feels heavier than the 616 because it’s probably made of better materials. All of these pens secure with a clutch ring that is formed somewhat like a sandwich of two rings with a plastic washer in between. You can see the ink within, but it still feels fairly cheap. All the pens post relatively securely, but the Hero 110 clicks when you post the pen, it feels much more secure. The clips are somewhat sandwiched between the cap and a top part. Feels like it could get loose. The 330 has a springy clip, and it clips securely.
The clip on the Lamy safari is very aesthetically appealing. It looks like a paperclip. Somehow, I feel it will wear out over time. It has a clutch ring that also looks like it’ll wear out the cap over time. It doesn’t feel extremely secure when capped. The Lamy 2000’s clip is very good. It is spring operated. The 2000 doesn’t have a clutch ring, but actually 2 metal “ears” protruding just about a centimetre from the metal section. Basically where the section connects to the body. I don’t find them annoying but some people do. They act as a clutch ring and upon closing the pen it has a satisfying “click” sound. The reform 1745 is a twist cap. The clip is sandwiched between the cap and a top part. It was a bit loose when I got it but I twisted the top part down so it could be more secure. The Kaweco has a huge cap but no clip. However it is cleverly designed so it won’t fall off of tables since it’s not rounded.
These pens all have similar parker arrow clips. They are secure, not much more to say really. They don’t cut shirts like the ones on the heroes.
Cost and Value:
I think the best value here would probably be the Lamy 2000, but I’m biased towards Lamy. I’d actually say both the Lamy and the Parker are good values. The parker can be had for about half the price of the Lamy, but when you buy the Parker off of ebay you can’t tell if it’ll have its bladder leaking, or a crack in the section, or a name engraved on the barrel. The Lamy 2000 you can buy from a store, have it serviced relatively quickly, and find new parts without having to buy an entire pen for cannibalizing. Overall these two pens are very nice. I could see someone buying these pens and still having it in rotation even when they have bought much more expensive flashy pens. The Heroes are good, but a good one is sometimes hard to find. I think I got lucky with this 330 that I find so nice and smooth. The Reform is a good value; I could see students using this pen on a regular basis as well. Unfortunately it doesn’t have many parts available, or service. The Kaweco to me is a pocket pen, something to throw into your pocket. I probably wouldn’t pay more than $10 for it, though. Something about gold on clear plastic that I just don’t like.
The reform did not do well during this test. Excuse the “51”, as there was dried ink in the collector, so I think its results should be omitted. Although I do find this pen starts well. I guess we can say all the pens are good for waiting and pausing to think before writing again, with the exception of the Reform.
I personally believe the Lamy 2000 and Parker “51” did the best in all aspects. They all wrote well, and have designs that are classics (albeit the “51” has been copied more than the 2000). The 2000 has a longer production time (1966- present) compared to the “51” which was from 1941-1972. For students that are new to fountain pens I’d have to say the Lamy 2000 is probably their best bet, especially for someone who is entering the hobby knowing nothing about fountain pens. There are so many variations of the Parker “51” it can be a bit overwhelming to the novice. The 2000’s design hasn’t changed much; The only changes have been subtle, such as part of the section being changed into all metal, or the piston getting smoother on the newer models. It feels much easier buying a 2000. However, the “51” is a fountain pen every FP enthusiast should experience. The Parker 21 super is a nice pen but you really need to try the “51” to know one of the best fountain pens ever made.
What can I say about the Heroes? SOME are decent writers, others are utter garbage. It feels a bit wasteful but I had to buy a 10 pack of 616’s just to try nib grinding on the 6 that were bad. The 330 was definitely a surprise, smoother then I’d have expected.
The Reform, available for about $18 shipped NOS, is a good value I’d say. I could see students writing with these every day. It looks tough, easy to mass produce, and easy to replace if needed. (easy on the wallet, too) It’s not too large for those small hands, and I thought it’d be too small but it felt good writing when posted. I don’t think the springy nib is good for students of today that are used to ballpoints.
The Kaweco I believe is just a pocket pen. It’s probably better for those with small hands as it’s small. It’s interesting how the pen gets large enough for proper usage pen posted. Used as an ED, I think it would be a great everyday carry pen. Looks nice as an ED.
The Vista I think is a modern student pen. It’s grip makes it easy for students to return to writing with a good grip, and it’s stiff nib makes it not too eccentric for new fountain pen users. It doesn’t have a sweet spot in it’s nib but it writes smoothly equally.
All in all, these are all decent fountain pens and all would be acceptable in a school situation.
Edited by HenryLouis, 15 July 2009 - 22:44.