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Hero 616 Jumbos


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#1 APHK

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 14:13

I had first used Parker 51’s almost 30 years ago when I saw two belonging to my father casually stashed away in a drawer. I was using Parker 75’s in those days and do did not like the 51’s at all as they were viewed as extremely old-fashioned : sac-filled; hooded, stiff nib; and ultra-slippery section. Having joined FPN around 6 months ago, I had noticed the Parker 51 as having almost a cult status among some members and so my mind kept on wandering back to my father’s pens. Well, those pens have been thrown away a long time ago and I am hesitant to buy the 51’s at their current prices. The Hero 616 comes to the rescue!

I’d never thought that I would be buying Hero’s when I restarted my fountain pen hobby. Then I read a few reviews on FPN and saw that they could be bought for ridiculous low prices on ebay. I’d thought that the Noodler’s Flex pens at USD14 were great value but these Hero’s at USD13 for THREE were amazing value.

I having been using these pens sparingly for the past two weeks and have been so pleased that I decided I should reward them with a review.

My current collection includes a Montblanc 149 and two Pelikan M1000’s, which have already been reviewed. The scores that I shall give to the Hero cannot be directly correlated to the scores I gave those pens cost several hundred times more. When reviewing these pens, one must bear in mind that they are sold for around USD4 per pen and so the value-for-money would go through the roof but the scores for the other criteria such as build quality would tend to be low when comparing them to more expensive pens. Hence, I shall conduct this review as if the Hero is the only pen I have.

Appearance & Design (6/10)

The Hero 616 Jumbo is almost a replica of the Parker 51. At a distance, these pens would be mistaken for Parker’s. The styling is very bland as there is no bling at all but its “retro” look is quite attractive to my eyes. The three that I bought have black, red and green barrels respectively.

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Construction & Quality (6/10)

These pens look and feel very cheap but everything feels sturdy enough. When handling these pens, I do not get the feeling that they would fall apart. One area for definite improvement is the scratchiness of those rings on the barrel : they can catch fingers depending on how the pen is held.

Weight & Dimensions (8/10)

These pens measure around 137 mm when capped and, without the cap, are around 127mm from the tip of the nib to the end of the barrel. These are short pens but do not really feel short in practice. I can write with these pens without posting.

I do not have a scale so cannot weigh the pen. In my hand, these pens feel really light.

Unlike pens with tapering sections, the section on the 616 is the same width as the upper barrel and is sufficiently wide for a steady grip. The balance of these pens are wonderful.

Nib & Performance (5-9/10)

I think the nibs on the 616’s are steel. Only about 1mm of nib protrudes from the hood and there is really nothing much to look at. These nibs are all about performance (or lack of) and not about aesthetics.

These nibs are not marked for size but I think that they are all F size (similar to Montegrappa F, narrower than Montblanc F, wider than Platinum F).

Being so short and made of steel, there is no flex from these nibs at all. Absolutely nail-like.

Of the 3 pens in my batch, two of the pens have smooth nibs. But they have different sweet spots. One is smooth in an upright stance whilst the other is smooth when written at a very low angle. I would score these nibs 8-9 out of 10. The attached writing samples are from the green and black pen.

The third (red) pen is scratchy and so I definitely would not use it for long bouts of writing but I filled it with red ink (to match its colour) and will use it for writing some review comments in my work. This nib would only score 5 out of 10.

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Filling System & Maintenance (3/10)

These pens are sac-filled. I do not like these at all since they look they can puncture and take quite a few pumps to fill.

I have not tried to disassemble these pens yet and so cannot comment on how easy it is to maintain them but I think that these pens would be difficult to clean and rinse. Hence, I plan to use only 1 ink in each of these pens.

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Cost & Value (10/10)

These pens are sold individually or in packs of 3/6/9 on ebay. I would definitely recommend getting at least 3 since there is a high chance of having a dud or two. If you are lucky enough to have 3 good pens then you have 3 fountain pens that write wonderfully for an average cost of USD4. Even if just 1 out of the 3 turns out good, then you would have a wonderful pen for USD12 which is still very good value for money.

I have not seen these pens in Hong Kong. I guess that if I can find them in China they would sell for around USD2-3.

Conclusion (38-42/60)

I am pleased with these pens : they are fun to use and are good knock-about pens. I am so pleased that I am considering a Hero 100 but will probably not since, at USD40 each, they are much more expensive and so there is a higher chance of getting a dud since I would not be buying in packs of 3’s!

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#2 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 15:34

I love them; 616s are my go-to pen for ink testing and daily scribbling. Thanks for the review. Nice handwriting!

Just a hint from a longtime 616 user: if you are able to remove that metal tubie thing you get a better ink fill. You can always replace it if you wish.

#3 APHK

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 23:07

Sailor Kenshin,

Thanks for the tip; I'll be looking into that.

#4 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 00:11

Welcome!

Give the tube a gentle twist and don't force it; inside it is a rubber bulb-type fill mechanism.

I learned this tip from someone here and have been using that method ever since.

#5 adallak

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 00:47

If you examine the nibs of several 616s with a magnifier, you'll be surprised how different they are.
“Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.” Jimmy Durante quotes (American Comedian, Pianist and Singer, 1893-1980)

#6 celesul

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 00:57

Welcome!

Give the tube a gentle twist and don't force it; inside it is a rubber bulb-type fill mechanism.

I learned this tip from someone here and have been using that method ever since.


Really? I've managed to fill the 616 to very close to full with the standard squeeze filler method. Other squeeze fillers though, I might use that on. I do remove the cover for my Lanbitou mini missile, certainly.

#7 Osmaroid

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 03:10

If you examine the nibs of several 616s with a magnifier, you'll be surprised how different they are.



The question is, are they all Heros? See the multiple posts on Counterfeit Hero 616 pens, including a review done in the last couple of days. In my experience, the batches with bad writers in are the counterfeits (yes, there are many, all labelled Hero 616, but, they are pretty badly buiolt compared to real Heros)

#8 celesul

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 04:31

If you examine the nibs of several 616s with a magnifier, you'll be surprised how different they are.



The question is, are they all Heros? See the multiple posts on Counterfeit Hero 616 pens, including a review done in the last couple of days. In my experience, the batches with bad writers in are the counterfeits (yes, there are many, all labelled Hero 616, but, they are pretty badly buiolt compared to real Heros)


At least from the pictures, these look real. Hero 616s seem to vary from "it writes..." to good. The real Hero 616 has a fairly short section (like these) and the squeeze filler is rounded and looks large. So, unless it's a really, really good fake, I suspect it's real. The fakes have a nasty tendency of not working.

#9 Osmaroid

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 05:22

If you examine the nibs of several 616s with a magnifier, you'll be surprised how different they are.



The question is, are they all Heros? See the multiple posts on Counterfeit Hero 616 pens, including a review done in the last couple of days. In my experience, the batches with bad writers in are the counterfeits (yes, there are many, all labelled Hero 616, but, they are pretty badly buiolt compared to real Heros)


At least from the pictures, these look real. Hero 616s seem to vary from "it writes..." to good. The real Hero 616 has a fairly short section (like these) and the squeeze filler is rounded and looks large. So, unless it's a really, really good fake, I suspect it's real. The fakes have a nasty tendency of not working.


I must admit the fakes I have are of the regular 616, and in that case they are extremely similar to the real pen, just not finished quite as well and can be very bad writers. Regular size ones I have bought from reputable dealers write well, as do Jumbos bought the same way. EBay is a real lottery, and I suspect there are many more fakes than real ones going that route (I speak from experience - I have bought several multi-packs, and onlly one seems genuine, but the visual differences are subtle). I suspect that there are multiple manufacturers making the fakes. I even found the following quote in an eBay posting! "There are many fake Hero 616, Hero 329 & Hero 100 14K pens in China. They look almost the same as the genuine Hero pens. Their prices are cheap but the quality is poor. While writing with it, you will feel scratchy. I go to Hero factory to get Hero pens by myself."


#10 APHK

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 07:41

I'd bought mine from yespens, the guy warning against fakes. I assume that his pens are authentic, and I doubt that he would slip in a fake amongst two other real ones.

I have examined my pens; they all look similar and so either they are all real or all fake.

I guess that the variability in nib performance is due to a lower number of processes used to produce these nibs and much lower QC/QA benchmarks than their more expensive counterparts in the West. E.g. a reject at Montblanc would be deemed acceptable at Hero.

#11 saketb

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 07:53

Nice review and pictures. You've made me remember my school days when I was using the Hero everyday, but now have none.

Shall lookout for them...
Pilot Vanishing Point Royal Red
Sailor Professional Gear - Sailor Jentle Grenade
Kaweco AC Sport Red Limited Edition - Kaweco Red
Sheaffer Prelude Chrome - Private Reserve Sherwood Green
TWSBI Diamond 540 - Sheaffer Purple
Sheaffer 300 - Private Reserve Orange Crush

#12 Osmaroid

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 14:33

I'd bought mine from yespens, the guy warning against fakes. I assume that his pens are authentic, and I doubt that he would slip in a fake amongst two other real ones.

I have examined my pens; they all look similar and so either they are all real or all fake.

I guess that the variability in nib performance is due to a lower number of processes used to produce these nibs and much lower QC/QA benchmarks than their more expensive counterparts in the West. E.g. a reject at Montblanc would be deemed acceptable at Hero.



Thanks for the clarification. Your conclusion on quality control is probably spot on - at the prices even the genuine ones are sold for, I wouldn't be surprised at less quality control. I have generally found Wing Sung pens (made by Hero) scratchy, but just for the heck of it a few weeks ago, I carefully inspected the tips of the nibs on 3 of them. I found they were all slightly mis-aligned and, after adjustment, they were all quite OK - not the equivalent of a P51 or any other high end pen, but OK. By the way, I do recommend that you try a Hero 100. My experience there is that they are quite another animal to the 616 - they even feel like a good pen when you pick them up, and mine certaily writes like a P51. I heard somewhere that the Hero factory was a Parker factory prior to the revolution, which may explain why they can "get it right".

#13 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 16:23

Buy your Chinese pens from reputable dealers. I haven't had a really bad one yet.

#14 adallak

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 17:02

By the way, there are many Chinese Noname pens which are very well built and write nicely. Much better than Hero 616, but they do not get as much publicity (bad or good). I have several one dollar pens which outperform in many ways $100 pens.
As for quality control, I have recently bought two NOS Sheaffer Imperials and none wrote well. The nibs looked terrible (misaligned, gap between tines, one tine is shorter than the other). So, it is not just about Chinese pens. I had to sent the both Sheaffers back and will never try new ones...

Edited by adallak, 12 November 2011 - 17:05.

“Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.” Jimmy Durante quotes (American Comedian, Pianist and Singer, 1893-1980)

#15 APHK

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 23:15

I had decided to perform my first grinding on the red 616 since the pen is so cheap and good for experimentation. The nib is quite smooth now. The sandpaper cost USD1.5 for a pack of 8 sheets.

#16 M@rtin

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 17:23

Nice review...thanks!!! :thumbup:






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