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Hero 5020 & Sonnet Flighter Comparison Review.


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#1 richardandtracy

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 09:02

Hero 5020 & Sonnet Flighter Comparison Review.

As a result of Vans4444's review of the Hero 5020 ( http://www.fountainp...3377-hero-5020/ ) I was tempted to get one, and compare with my Sonnet FP as opposed to the RB Vans4444 used. I had an ulterior motive; There are Sonnet fakes, and if the H5020 was skirting on the edge of fakery, and close enough to the Sonnet in size & everything else, I'd have a cheap body to put a spare Sonnet nib into without buying a fake. My Sonnet FP came with a glorious medium, which I've swapped out for a very nice broad italic. Well, it's supposed to be a BI, but it's nowhere near as broad as my Duofold's BI, but that's by-the-by.

My Sonnet came from JML, and has the Date Code PIII, indicating 1st quarter 2007. The Hero was bought new from ahai006 on E-Bay. Delivery from China was 25 days, the pen was vrapped in bubblewrap inside a bubblewrap lined bag. Cost including postage was £4.58.

Comparison of the Two Pens
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When capped, the most noticeable difference between the Sonnet and the Hero is the colour. The Hero has a more traditional brushed finish of a Parker Flighter, while the Sonnet has a bead blasted finish and a slightly different colour. So, the initial impression is that the Hero is more like a Parker than the Parker.. The Hero finish is very, very smooth, and it's so smooth it almost feels like polished plastic, however it's not laquered or coated. The Sonnet feel is marginally nicer, but a rougher finish from both would be more tactile and nicer still.
Both pens are an identical length when capped.
The Hero barrel is magnetic, indicating it's from a ferritic/martensitic stainless steel, while the Sonnet is non-magnetic, so the barrel is made from an austenitic stainless steel, and from the colour it's likely to be a 304 type stainless rather the more silvery 316 type.

Considering the Caps.
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The clip of the Hero is almost identical to the Parker Frontier in that the edges of the clip need to be de-burred before plating. The feathers are incised in the Hero clip less sharply than on the Sonnet, and about as well as on the Parker Frontier.
The cap finial on the Sonnet is obviously a separate piece, with a distinct curve of the body as it bends under the finial. The Hero finial, however, is flush with the body of the cap and gives a greater impression of design quality.
The Hero cap doesn't have the anti-choking breather holes around the jewel that are present on the Sonnet, so it fits rather better, and looks nicer.
The cap lip on the Parker is rather wide, and all the engraving is on the lip machining. The Hero has its engraving on the cap body just above a much thinner cap lip. The engraving is sharper than on the Parker, but not as deep. The cap lip looks to be proud of the cap body, but it can't be more than 0.1mm proud, just enough to feel but not enough to snag.

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On removal of the cap, the pens seem more differentiated. The Hero's nib protrudes 19.5mm against the 17mm of the Sonnet. However, the Sonnet section is longer, compensating exactly for the shorter nib, meaning that the uncapped length is the same, and I find the end of the pen rests in the same spot on my hand when writing.

Considering the Sections.
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The Sonnet has a metal cap click ring at the nib and a metal connector thread to the barrel. In the usual Parker manner, the connector is metal with the thread starting three millimeters above the joint. The connector forms a decorative ring visible at the base of the barrel, but it's part of the section.
The Hero has a similar metal cap click ring just above the nib. The plastic section continues up to the barrel. A diameter reduction occurs at the joint, then the barrel-section thread appears to be plastic, but it's lined with a metal insert to re-inforce this critical joint. The barrel-section thread continues to the shoulder unlike the Parker.

Considering the Barrels.
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The Sonnet barrel is lined with a plastic insert.
The Hero barrel seems to be slightly thicker & doesn't need a plastic insert to prevent denting. The decorative upper ring (that appears to be on the section) is actually part of the barrel, and re-inforces the barrel lip & incorporates the barrel-section thread.
The Hero barrel is a blind tube, rather like the Parker Frontier. The Sonnet's barrel is an open ended tube with a plastic liner - the 3mm end hole being filled by the liner, simulating a jewel.
The barrel diameters are almost identical, and the length is identical.


Interchangability
Due to the similarity of the pens you'd expect quite a bit of interchangability. Well, there is some, but the pens are not really interchangable.

The caps are interchangable. The pen lengths alter with the different caps, but they both snap securely on the other maker's pen.
The Hero barrel will screw on the Parker section, but it runs out of thread before the barrel touches the section.
The Parker barrel fits on the Hero section, but there is only a thread or two engaged, and it's not very secure.

Now, for the critical question, are the nibs interchangable?
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Unfortunately, they are not.
The Parker feed is a screw fit, the Hero is a press fit. The length is very similar and the Hero would be able to fit in the Parker with a little modification. However the Hero feed into the c/c is a smaller diameter because it's for the Pelikan/International sized cartridge which has a narrower neck than the Parker's, as a result there is no possibility of the Parker nib/feed going into the Hero.This is the only substantive reason why the Parker feed wouldn't go in the Hero. What a shame.

Conclusion
The build quality of the Hero is very high, and in places exceeds that of the Sonnet.
The overall quality of the pen is very good by any standard, so good, in fact, that it is better than lower end Parkers like the Frontier, IM and Urban.
The only area where this Hero is not quite up to the quality of the Parker Sonnet is the nib. With a tickle from a nib meister, it would be as good - but could end up costing more.
The Hero nib is no scratchier than the Parker BI nib on this Sonnet, but it's not as good as the Parker Medium that the pen came with.

I suspect the Hero 5020 was designed as a Sonnet copy, and changed just enough not to fall foul of copyright legislation. As such, it has retained much of the Sonnet's usability and design features making it a very nice pen to use and to hold.

My personal preference is still for the Sonnet, but if Chinese pens keep improving in the way they have recently, there will be nothing between them and the established pen manufacturers over any part of their ranges in a few years.

Regards,

Richard.

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#2 majorworks

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 11:10

Thanks for the thorough review! I have a Hero 5020 also, and posted this review last year:

http://www.fountainp...howtopic=133773

I was initially satisfied with the pen, but over time it became ultimately frustrating and now sits unused. I'm now in agreement with one of the commenters on my post who described it as a hard starter and prone to dryout.

I've flushed and cleaned the pen multiple times but yet it presents issues. The last time I filled it (with Herbin Eclat de Saphir) I couldn't get it to write at all.

A question: Do the nib and feed simply pull straight out of the section?
Happiness is an Indian ED!

#3 richardandtracy

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 11:35

To get the feed out, I simply wrapped a tissue around the top of the nib & under the feed. Grip between thumb & fore finger, twist and pull firmly & without snatching.

Regards,

Richard.




#4 shaqin93

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 14:34

Wonderfully thorough comparison!

#5 fabrimedeiros

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 14:50

Amazing review comparison!

#6 777

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 23:47

Great in-depth review! Looks like Hero is making some nice products.

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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