I donít know if itís been done before and if it has how successful was the result, but the Hero 360 has, to me at least, a new nib that, as the Ebay advert stated ďcan be used at any angleĒ. So my curiosity peeked I decided to bid on it and, if I won, see what it was like. As Iím writing this review obviously I won!
To start with the pen came in a box, not the original, just packed in with another pen but thatís not a big thing for me because if my pens are in their boxes I donít use them!
The pen is a nice matt finished dark indigo colour with silver coloured metal appointments that suits it quite well. The cap and body of the pen have a white jewel like end, it looks nice but is subtle. Itís a plain design, understated I would call it, with the Hero name engraved on the clip and Hero written on the base of the cap in small text.
Itís a narrow bodied pen: 9 mm across the body and perhaps 10 across the cap, but not so narrow itís difficult or uncomfortable to use, itís also quite a light pen, with ink just 17 grams, and certainly one anybody could use hour after hour without discomfort.
Pen length when capped is 13.2 cm, 11.8 cm open and 15.2 cm posted. The balance is really quite good and posted or not it has a nice even feel when in your hand.
The cap when closing has a positive feel and a clearly audible click as it makes it Ďhomeí. The clip seems to be very solidly attached but still has plenty of flexibility so should survive endless uses, assuming you put it in your pocket.
The filling mechanism is with a squeezable bladder that works fine although it doesnít seem to draw in that much ink even after a couple of squeezes, but there might be a better technique to that and I simply havenít looked into it yet.
Obviously though the key element for this pen is this 360 degree nib, namely does it work? Well the quick answer is yes it does. The longer answer requires a little explanation... The pen certainly can be picked up, opened and used just as you would a ball point pen, but there are some differences to how it writes depending upon what part of the nib touches the paper. The nib produces a fine line, however at certain points it produces a wet(ish) fine line and at others a drier marginally finer line. Itís not a dramatic variation and you would have to really study the writing to notice but the extra ink in the wet areas makes the text look a little darker than when written in the drier area.
So how does it feel? The areas that produce the wet writing is smooth, OK weíre not talking buttery smooth here but it is pleasant to write with, in the areas that write slightly drier you can detect the slightest hint of scratch, itís not so noticeable that it gets on your nerves but it is a slightly different feel to the smooth.
Do I find it annoying, no not at all in fact I kept turning the pen around in my fingers to see if it was present anywhere else, because itís not present on all the quadrants it might just be one small area of the nib isnít polished quite as well as the rest.
Writing with it is quite nice, itís takes a little while to get beyond the odd trident style nib section but once I stopped myself looking at it I found it very easy to write with and just like any other fountain pen except; you donít have to think about the position of the pen in your because it doesnít matter. Iíve not encountered any skipping or sudden excess of ink and as itís a Hero I doubt I ever will if my long term work pen is anything to go by.
Its overall quality is much like any Chinese pen: perfectly acceptable and assuming it goes into full scale production and it maintains these standards I donít think many will have much to complain about should they use one.
At the start I mentioned re-inventing the wheel, Iíve been thinking about it for a while and I canít make up my mind why they developed this pen. Who did they have in mind as the principal users? I quite like it and itís certainly unusual, but I wouldnít use it in place of a standard nib. Perhaps they think itís ideal for novice fountain pen users? That may be true but if you learn to write with ink using a pen as easy to use as this, would you want to move onto a normal nibbed pen?
I do like it and it will make it into my pen rotation list but unless you want to own something of a novelty pen I couldnít in all honesty suggest you buy one, thereís nothing wrong with it but if you want something different Iíd suggest a stub.
And what did I pay for this technological advancement in fountain pens? I won it for a staggering UK 3.43 ($5.25) plus UK 5.20 ($8) P&P, do I think itís worth that - yes
The ink in the writing example is Waterman blue-black and the paper is an 80gsm note book that I use to practice upon, itís a nice enough quality with which Iíve never seen bleed-through or feathering.
To sum up: a good usable pen with perfectly acceptable build quality and nice subtle styling. An easy to use nib, good balance, good weight and a steady writer, so all in all a practical everyday user pen anyone could use.
I've added the writing sample - were I less of an idiot I'd have done so before. In the large text block the top is written with the finest point the lower in the broader point. I magnified them for comparative purposes, it's subtle but there is a difference.
Edited by MrClegg, 03 May 2010 - 17:38.