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Expensive Might Not Always Be Winner

cheap pens hero 616 308 chinese

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12 replies to this topic

#1 circlepattern

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 03:32

I recently acquired a Hero 308 fountain pen and 10 Hero 616. These pens are very risky, they are both from the same company but one is comparatively more expensive (308) than the other (616) by about 30 times. I just wanted to show that cheap pens sometimes can outperform noticeably and can make for a better starter.

 

The 308 has a very cool looking nib, it writes OK and feels very expensive. However upon inspection, not so good. The nib and feed on mine is noticeably misaligned. The tines on the nib aren't parallel, the right tine is slightly bending up. The cap loosened after a few weeks and I had to put stickers in the cap so that the body wouldn't fall out. The metal piece connecting the two pieces of the cap already lost its grip. The piece of steel on the tail of the pen isn't soldered at the right angle so its lopsided. However, it didn't fall apart yet. 

 

The 616 on the other hand varies extremely from pen to pen. The feed and actual nib on all 10 of mine are misaligned horribly, but can be fixed in seconds. The build is plastic, so extremely light, a good transition from ballpoints to FP. The squeeze converter contains about 2 ml of ink (a lot). The flow is excellent. But if you are going to get this pen, buy at least 5, I find only 2 or 3 in my collection of 616 that actually feels extremely smooth.

 

So my point is. Maybe get several cheap pens like the 616 instead of investing on a nice display piece.

 



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#2 Lyander0012

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 08:14

Conversely, if the issue is merely a matter of QC'ing being of a sub-par standard (or as I feel is the case with most cheap, mass-produced fountain pens, non-existent), then a more practical option would be to invest in a higher-tier pen and work out the flaws by yourself, or with the assistance of a professional nibmeister, should the problem prove beyond your abilities. 

I see the attraction in having a fountain pen you wouldn't mind losing or accidentally damaging, since my current most expensive pen (only worth a relatively meager tax-inclusive 200 USD, give or take) took a nasty fall and has been away for nearly three months now, but even taking into account the whole diminishing returns curve, there's no real denying the fact that higher-priced pens usually outperform their more affordable peers by a substantial margin, as more effort will have been put into the manufacture an maintenance of said fountain pen.

 

Case in point:
I'm one of those people who really do find gold nibs more enjoyable to write with. I've nothing at all against steel nibs, and even use a Sheaffer Prelude as a daily writer (the C/C filler is admittedly a bit of a pain), what with it being a very smooth nib OOTB, but there's something about the way a gold nib glides across a page with the faintest hint of spring. Even without any appreciable line variation, the cushioning effect of such springiness adds much pleasure to the writing experience. 

 

So, that's more or less my 2 cents. Mind you, I'm not saying that I disagree with you, really; I just have way too much free time at the moment, and I happened across this thread by chance  :rolleyes:

 

Cheers!


"The price of an object should not only be what you had to pay for it, but also what you've had to sacrifice in order to obtain it." - The Wisdom of The Internet


#3 parnesh

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 09:01

I recently got a Pilot MR pen and I must say I am very pleasently surprised by the quality of the pen and especially the nib. It writes as well as and sometimes better than pens costing 10-20 times as much. This is definately one case of expensive is not necessarily better.

 

Unfortunatly for me, my wife like it too. Off it goes to her and I get her Visconti Homo Sapiens for a while :)



#4 GabrielleDuVent

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 09:46

This requires a good eye and good deal of knowledge about the brand histories and what not. 

 

Back before the war, Louis Vuitton was famed for its quality and customer service; the luggage series was especially made so it'd act as flotation devices in case the ship sank (imagine having a laptop case that'd act as a parachute when your plane crashes. I'd buy that). Each was serial-numbered, which the central office kept records of, and they fixed it for you, free of charge, any time. This is why LV is so famous as leather goods brand. Same with Coach. I have a Coach handbag that has serial number stamped into the leather, and I can bring it in, 10 years from now, to get it re-serviced, for free. It was a life-time investment. Hermes goes one step beyond: they have ONE leatherworker PER bag, and only that person touches your bag, period. (Freed of London, a ballet shoes maker, also does this with their shoes. ONE shoemaker PER dancer.)

 

Nowadays, you can get two kinds of Vuittons and Coaches; the really thin, plastic/cloth ones, and the actual leather ones that have almost no logos on them to indicate the brand. The former is marketed for the general population that wants the prestige of carrying LV around; the latter is for someone who is seeking the good ol' quality and customer care. 

 

Same with pens. Pelikan produces really cheapie pens, and then they produce Souverains; my father can bring in his Souverain, from 1980s, to a Pelikan office and get it fixed, if it breaks. It's serial-numbered and they have the records in their office. Same with my MontBlanc (although I think my MB demands a servicing fee now... they've gone cheap). They also have tighter quality control. It really is about the customer's ability to discern quality; do you just want the Pelican beak poking out from your pocket? Or do you want skip-free, gold-nib/platinum-nib fountain pens that get service from someone trained in the Pelikan pens? 

 

Brand-buying isn't just about having the prestige. For many of us, whose peers won't be able to tell the difference of prestige between a really low-end Waterman and a high-end Visconti, there isn't much point of purchasing prestige anyway. It's also about trust in the quality of the product. "It's MontBlanc, they won't give me a dud" is what I think when I go in to look at pens. Now, I don't know if people do get duds from higher-end brands, but I've never seen a dud from Souverain or Visconti or Conway. I don't use flex nibs so I can't say anything in this regard, but I'd think gold nibs would flex more easily, as well. It's also more resistant to corroding, so iron gall inks can be used with more comfort. And the weight of my MB is superbly balanced; I find that a lot of pens become top-heavy when you put the cap on the tail, therefore making fine control of the pen a little harder, but this doesn't happen with my LeGrand. 

 

They really are about priorities: are you buying high end pens because you want to look sophisticated? I often find these people not having much knowledge about pens and buying them blind, online (now, collectors are a different stock. They just want variety, and quite a few have everything from Varsities to collectibles), probably because having that white star would suffice. Then there are those who seek good use out of their pens; those tend to go into a brick-and-mortar shop and write with it to see how it's balanced, how it fits into the hand, the length, the width, the quality of the nib, e.t.c. Those are just seeking the ultimate pen, the kind you'd use until the day you die, and if you're going to use it for the next 40, 50 years, what's a 1000 dollars? That's 7 cents a day. 


Tes rires retroussés comme à son bord la rose,

Effacent mon dépit de ta métamorphose;

Tu t'éveilles, alors le rêve est oublié. 

 

-Jean Cocteau, from Plaint-Chant, 1923


#5 circlepattern

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 04:33

Good point to all of the posts, but I have to say that I love having a 616 around me all the time. I already lost one, but I didn't even spend more than 5 minutes looking for it, preferably it will show up sometime in the future, but if not, no big deal. That's what I like about cheap pens, not to mention they're also pretty decent for the price.



#6 rwilsonedn

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 19:52

[snip]

 

Brand-buying isn't just about having the prestige. For many of us, whose peers won't be able to tell the difference of prestige between a really low-end Waterman and a high-end Visconti, there isn't much point of purchasing prestige anyway. It's also about trust in the quality of the product. "It's MontBlanc, they won't give me a dud" is what I think when I go in to look at pens. Now, I don't know if people do get duds from higher-end brands, .. [snip]

Yes, unfortunately they do. And sometimes they get duds accompanied by expensive, incompetent repair and indifference. Buying a prestige brand might change your odds a little, although there is scarce data to support that, but it is no guarantee of anything except paying a lot of money.

ron



#7 Gloucesterman

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 20:35

If only cost were a clear indicator of quality?

 

It is not that way any longer with some manufacturers. And often they play to the masses who seek approval from others.

 

It's well to keep in mind that, "What others think of you is none of your business".


“Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because if you do it today and like it, you can do again tomorrow!”


#8 hsianloon

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 20:39

I've a Lamy thats costs around 20 USD, and my most expensive pen, a 720 USD Montblanc George Bernard Shaw. The GBS doesn't write 36 times better than the Lamy, if it was possible to assign a value that way. 

 

At the same time, many other pens I have which their value lie between 20-720, are outperformed by my Lamy and my newly acquired , cheap  Hero 616 (aka Doctor/Jumbo ?I've got the bigger 616 anyway)

 

I think that how good a fountain pen writes ( we won't take filling mechanisms into account, else the old pens would win hands down. c/c fillers...pffft ) stops after a pen exceeds a certain value. I can't say for certain what that value is, but after that, it's purely aesthetics/collector details. Eg My M600 Souveran writes as well as my friends M1000 Raden. For which, by the way, I was contemplating ending our friendship by sneaking away with it when he was inebriated.. :lticaptd:

 

I don't think the word service exists much these days anymore in the fountain pen world. My friend was asked a fee of 150euros by Montblanc Edgar Allen Poe to handle his nib that was getting scratchy. It was a graduation gift from his dad, so he didn't want to mess around with something he didn't know much about. You'd think buying a pen that costly would at least earn you a lifetime service/warranty ? Nope...Even my GBS only has servicing for 3 years...then bye bye , show me the money please..

 

I was somewhat surprised though, that Faber Castell offers free lifetime warranty for their pens. I didn't believe it at first, my pen being a simple Pearwood Ambition, but almost 4 years down the line, I by chance brought it to a Faber Castell shop in Germany (while traveling), told them it wasn't writing right, the shopkeeper discussed it with some guy in the backroom, and he told me to come back tomorrow. Next day, pen writing well, and none of that adjustment fee etc demanded. Even sent me on way with a few Faber Castell pencils (almost felt like a kid given candy...strange feeling)

 

So, me thinks, my next purchase will likely be a GvFC Intuition Teracota or Classic Pernambuco 


Edited by hsianloon, 03 June 2013 - 20:42.


#9 peter57

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 22:57

TWSBI Broad vs Pelikan M800 Broad

 

I recently acquired a TWSBI 580 and a Pelikan M800, both with broad nibs.  The scientist within me screamed for a comparison between the two...sooooo I inked up the former with J Herbin Rouge Hematite (1670 Anniversary Ink) and the latter with J Herbin Bleu Ocean (also 1670 Anniversary Ink), and did some writing.  Aside from the different feel in hand (which I won't go into here other than to say despite their similar weight and capped length they are two very different feeling pens, particularly when posted) there isn't a huge amount of difference between the two - certainly not enough to justify the huge difference in price - if one only considers how they write (I know...I know...I'll get to that later).

 

The Pelikan broad nib is discernibly smoother.  Not ten times as smooth as the price might suggest, but there is enough of a difference that even a ham-handed oaf like me can feel it.  The Pelikan broad nib writes with a line that is a bit thicker and wetter than the TWSBI.  The TWSBI broad nib, as is purported for Eastern pens in general, writes somewhere between the Pelikan broad nib and the two Western manufacturers' medium nibs that I had at my disposal.  The TWSBI is louder than the Pelikan - in fact, it's louder than any of my gold-nibbed pens except for one fine-nibbed European model of dubious ancestry.  Both offered nice shading and kept up with a fast pace of writing.

 

Now, does this mean that I regret having purchased the Pelikan.  CERTAINLY NOT!  The Pelikan is a timeless work of art appointed with precious metals that have intrinsic value, AND it's a piece of art that also serves a function. I expect the Pelikan will outlast me and will be used by my kids and/or grandkids for decades after I'm gone.  I'm not so sure I can say the same thing about the TWSBI, given that it recently underwent a design change to correct some quality issues, but who knows?  I can say that I'm glad I have both pens, as each will serve in its own way.  I am also glad to know that there is a nice looking, good performing fountain pen that I would feel comfortable recommending to someone who was looking for a pen with a more modest price tag. 



#10 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 00:42

Good point to all of the posts, but I have to say that I love having a 616 around me all the time. I already lost one, but I didn't even spend more than 5 minutes looking for it, preferably it will show up sometime in the future, but if not, no big deal. That's what I like about cheap pens, not to mention they're also pretty decent for the price.


No surprise that I'm with you there. My 616s are always ready, willing and able.

#11 TSherbs

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 01:19

"Expensive Might Not Always Be Winner"

 

When I actually purchase my first "expensive" pen (over, say, $50) I might be able to say.....   :huh:

 



#12 circlepattern

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 17:26

"Expensive Might Not Always Be Winner"

 

When I actually purchase my first "expensive" pen (over, say, $50) I might be able to say.....   :huh:

 

 

Expensive is only something that cost much more than what you are used to. But for now I wouldn't want to step over the $80 range, that will make me lose perspective of my pen as a writing instrument, but rather as a piece of novelty.



#13 lovemy51

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 22:14

hmmm, where is the review...?







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