I will preface this with a short disclaimer: This is my first review. I'm fairly new to fountain pens, but I've started a decent little collection and have spent a good amount of time with each of my pens. You're probably wondering why I'd be writing my first review on the Hero 100. Is it my first fountain pen? No. Is it the best fountain pen I own? No. So why the Hero 100? Because it was the most surprising. Being that this is my first review, I would very much appreciate any constructive criticism some of the more experienced veteran reviewers might have to offer me. I would also welcome any thoughts you all may have on this particular model, and if you'd care to, please chime in on areas where I may have not been as thorough as you think I should have been.
So, on to the review...
PEN: HERO 100,
First Impression: 9/10
Upon opening the outer carton, I was immediately impressed with the packaging. It came in a rather decent box in hunter green with gold trim. No, it's not teak and it doesn't feature any gold filigree or nifty magnets, but it was a decent box. I was expecting a cardboard sleeve with some plastic wrap inside so I was a interested to see the packaging. Upon taking the pen out of the box, I was impressed at the way it felt. It had a good heft, the color was nice and vibrant with good saturation and the components fit solidly. I was a little put off by a slightly mismatched section, but at this price point, I can't say I'm surprised. The cap fits snugly and has nice detailing. The clip is firm and well-secured with no wiggle or unnecessary embellishments. I would almost venture to say that the cap fit a little too snugly as I had to give it a good pull to get it off of the pen. This is slightly reassuring, though, as I plan to carry this pen in a jeans pocket and I can carry it confidently knowing that my pants will be safe from whichever ink graces the sack inside the pen. The cap and back of the pen have a neat little tapered finial that cap off the pen nicely. Especially on the back end. The internals are fairly straight forward. It had a typical squeeze-fill mechanism (please help me with the terminology here guys) and all seemed well upon my brief first inspections of it. Perhaps my favorite part is the engraving on the cap. The Chinese characters (I'm assuming they say "Hero") followed by the number 100 were a nice touch. And it was equally nice to see them on the filling mechanism inside the pen.
The quality of this pen seems to be on-par with what I expected out of it, if not more so. As I said above, everything fit nicely and seems to be decent quality. Especially the cap and metal bits. I'm a little annoyed by the slight color mismatch between the section and body and I don't particularly love the little metal ring between the two, but I can live with it. The nib was a little crooked when I first got it, but a gentle nudge centered it nicely and got it right where it needed to be. Overall, this pen feels really nice and solid. it doesn't rattle or make any noise and everything fits securely. I was able to fill it easily and with just a few squeezes, I got what I believe to be almost a complete fill.
Nib/Writing Ability: 10/10
I can't find anything NOT to like. I tend to write in all-caps and my lettering is a bit small. My handwriting is not excellent (or even good, for that matter), but this pen lends itself perfectly to my writing style. The nib is very firm with very little variation in line from horizontal to vertical strokes. I like this. Because I tend to write small, excessive variation in line width tends to muddy my writing. I was extremely surprised to find that the nib on this pen is exceptionally smooth on a variety of papers. I jotted a few lines in a Rhodia Spiral Grid Notebook, some basic bond paper and a Moleskine sketch book. It wrote the minute I touched the nib to paper and never failed to start up in the couple of hours I spent with it this evening. Even while scrawling quickly, the pen held up well and never skipped or faltered. I inked it with Noodler's 54th Massachusetts and it seems to really do well with it. I rarely write in cursive, but even cursive writing was a joy. Writing with the nib upside down gave an even finer line and allowed me to get some really tiny little characters (about half the size of a Rhodia grid square). At this point, I'm giving the nib on this pen a 10. Please understand that this is a performance-to-price rating. I'm sure a Mont Blanc or Aurora would warrant a similarly high rating, but in the "Less than $30" category, this nib really deserves a 10. Maybe a 9.5 for being slightly off-center, but I took a half a point off for that in the Quality section so I can't dock the pen twice for that.
Please pardon my hieroglyphs. If you can't read it, let me know and I'll be more than happy to translate. Also, the dirty spots in the top right are bleed from a previous page. I didn't want to waste the whole page though. Gives it character, don't you think?
I find this pen extremely comfortable. I have pretty large hands, but they're rather skinny. Girly, if you will. My hands are about 8" from my wrist to the tip of my middle finger. Despite that and the Hero's small size, I can grip it easily and my hand didn't tire at all. The light weight and good balance, especially when posted make for an enjoyable writing experience. I can foresee being able to use this pen for extended periods of time with no problem at all. Perhaps the only discomforting thing is the cap. I find that it seats very firmly when capping the pen as well as when posting and if the clip gets in the way of my hand, it's a slight chore to twist the cap around to a more comfortable position. A small quibble, but one worth mentioning.
Posted Size: 5 7/8"
Capped Size: 5 9/16"
Overall, I am very pleased. I found this pen to be surprisingly well made, decently presented and the nib exhibits characteristics of those in pens much more expensive than the Hero 100. I find the pen aesthetically pleasing, comfortable to hold and easy to use. It fills easily once you get used to the pump (I found that several quick squeeze-and-release with a few seconds in-between worked nicely to get a good fill). It's sort of a no-frills fountain pen that will get you through a day at school or the office. It would be an excellent pen to take travelling in lieu of a more expensive pen that you don't want to lose - not that you'd want to lose this one either. If you stumble upon one of these at one of the many excellent online resellers or on the great auction site, pick it up. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
I hope that you all have enjoyed this review and that you have found it helpful and informative. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts, questions or concerns. Constructive criticism is always welcomed and I would very much appreciate it so I can apply it to future reviews. I appreciate all of the wonderful resources presented to me on these forums and hope that I have, in some way, returned some of the favor in this writeup.
Edited by heymatthew, 15 January 2013 - 18:20.