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Hero 616 and Parker 21 Super


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#1 richardandtracy

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 13:23

This is a comparative review of the Hero 616 and the Parker 21 Super.
The Hero 616 has often been compared to the Parker 51, as it's considered to be the closest of the Chinese clones in shape, look and size. However, the Hero 616 is a cheap pen, while the Parker 51 was a high end pen. I think it's much more informative and reasonable to compare the Hero 616 with Parker's own accurate, low end Parker 51 clone, the Parker 21 Super.

I have not compared the Hero 616 with the standard Parker 21, as that pen is not terribly similar to the Parker 51, in that its nib and feed are very different, and the looks are no more than superficially similar.

That's enough discussion of why I've conducted this comparative review, now to do it!

Identification of the Pens.
The Parker 21 Super is a blue coloured later Parker 21 Super with a Parker 45 shaped clip, probably dating from the mid 1960's. The pen was bought from Judd Perlson for just under US$10, with a further $10 Postage to the UK. It has a clear sac and looks virtually new.
The Hero 616 was bought new as part of a pack of 10 from Speerbob just before he shut up shop in Thailand. The pen was new and cost US$5 including postage ($50 for 10). The pen was un-inked. The review pen is a black one, but it easily could have been a green or burgundy one from the same pack.

Overall looks when capped.
At first glance there is almost nothing to tell between them. They both have a silver coloured cap, the caps are of the same length (at 51mm) and both caps are a snug fit on the pen. The clips are almost the same length at 41mm. The metallic jewels on the cap are virtually the same shape, as is the barrel shape.
On a more detailed look, the P21S cap has a lovely tactile brushed stainless steel finish. The Hero 616 has a fluted chrome plate finish that just isn't quite so nice. The P21S cap fits slightly more snugly to the barrel than the Hero 616.
The capped length of the Hero is 136mm, and the Parker is 133mm.

Initial feel.
The P21S is a slightly heavier pen. The plastic on the barrels feel as if they are made from the same material - the slightly soft feel of polystyrene rather than harder acrylic of the P51. Neither pen is a heavy pen, and in isolation each feels nice and substantial. When compared to each other, the P21S just has the edge.

Overall looks when uncapped.
The Hero 616 is slightly longer when uncapped, 125mm to the 119mm of the P21S. The Hero is slimmer too, at approximately 11.5mm compared to the 12mm of the P21S. Both nibs are silver coloured stainless steel and are hooded, with the same length of nib projection from the hood.
Both pens use a fine nib.
The hood on the P21S is shorter and there is a wider decorative clutch ring (2.5mm). The clutch ring on the Hero is 1.5mm wide and is functional; being the largest diameter part of the barrel and the cap clutches it as per the Parker 51. The centre of the clutch ring on the Hero is transparent - a nice touch to enable you to see whether there is still ink in the pen. Unfortunately the clutch ring on the Hero doesn't feel properly finished; the metal washers forming the two sides of the clutch ring are stamped from sheet. The stamping process leaves rough edges - almost burrs. This could be removed by Hero with a tumbling process which would make it feel much nicer to the touch. As it is, it feels a bit cheap.
The Hero hood length is 36mm to the 33mm found on the P21S.

The Cap
Both caps are metallic, with the P21S having a more luxurious feel and look.
The P21S cap has clutch fingers which grip the section, as per the Parker 61. The cap slides on much more smoothly with the P21S, while the feel of the Hero is identical to my Parker 51's in that there is a slight 'graunching' as metal slides over metal.
The Hero has a modification of the P51's retention ring, it's a single sided ring, so that there are four clutch fingers pointing into the cap from the lip. This is a sensible, value engineered version of the P51 cap retention system.
The clip and cap end on the Hero 616 are formed from one piece of metal, as with the Aerometric P51's. If the clip were consistently formed, it would be nice. Unfortunately in the pack of 10, there were 10 slightly different shapes. The P21S has a separate clip, as per the later P61's and Mk3 P51's. This looks better, even though it performs just as well as the Hero.
I feel uncomfortable about the accuracy with which Hero have copied the Parker Arrow, however the presence of the Chinese characters on the cap lip indicates that it's a copycat pen, not a fake.
The snug fit of the P21S cap does have a disadvantage. If it doesn't go on straight, the cap's lip marks the barrel.
Overall the cap of the Hero is not as good as the P21S.

Filling System.
The P21S has the same stainless steel squeeze bar as the P51S, P21 and P17. It is not a particularly good system and leaves the sac vulnerable to casual damage.
The Hero uses a modification of the P51 fully enclosed sac, substituting aluminium for the stainless steel used in the P51. This protects the sac to a great extent. However Hero's design allows the pressure bar and guard to be pulled off fairly easily. I think this is a marvellous idea, as it allows the sac to be replaced painlessly. It does, however, have a significant disadvantage in that it allows you to play with the bare sac, and may allow damage from idle fingers.
The clear plastic connector and barrel thread on the Hero is superb at allowing the ink quantity remaining to be seen.
Overall, I prefer the Hero's filling system.

Barrel.
Both the Hero and Parker barrels are made with dense, even coloured plastic. There are no mould flow lines or flash lines visible on either, indicating that both are likely to last as long as the plastic will allow.
The Parker's barrel feels less secure when fitted to the pen. The P21S has 4mm of barrel thread, while the Hero's is 5mm, which feels considerably more secure when tightened to the same tightness on the pen. The P21S needs to be tightened very tightly to prevent the pen from bending in the middle when writing.

Hood & Feed.
I've not removed either pen's hood or feed. I think the Hero's hood is glued on - I have tried every normal method of hood removal and it has resisted. Shame, as I'm interested in what it looks like - but I'm not interested enough to destroy the pen.
The hood shape on both pens is almost identical. The Hero's shape is fractionally closer to the P51, but without a side-by-side comparison you'd never know. I like the look of both - hooded nib fanatic that I am.

Writing.
To be honest, in a blindfold test I'd not be able to tell the difference between the two pens. They feel just the same. The steel nibs feel the same, flow the same and produce the same line width. The P21's extra weight is not significant and it's difficult to feel the weight difference while writing.
The balance on both pens is identical, and is not too dissimilar to the P51.
Neither pen is as good as the P51, but they are both good, hooded pens. The nibs flow well, are not scratchy and make a line width that I, being a 'Fine Nib' hater, think is acceptable.

Overall.
The Parker 21 Super and Hero 616 are equivalent pens.
I feel that the P21S' strong points relative to the Hero 616 are out weighed by its weak points. They are both nice writing pens. If you want a P21S, get one. But don't ignore the Hero because it's a 'cheap' pen. The Hero is a good pen, not a great one. But there again, the P21S is also a good pen, not a great one.
I am happy to have both the P21S and Hero 616 in my rotation alongside P51's and P61's. Both pens, in my view, are superior to the P21.
Value for money, I have to recommend the Hero as being a superb pen for the money, while the Parker 21 Super is merely a good pen for the money.
I would not be unhappy to do a direct swap of one pen for the other. What more can I say?

Apart from the fact that within 5 minutes of opening the pack of 10 Hero's, I'd lost 4. My wife snaffled 2, and my daughters took one each. Nice pens. One other thing I should say is about the Quality Control of the Hero 616's. I identified two areas where repeatability & quality could be improved (as mentioned above). There were no other areas of concern, and all pens in the pack write as well as any other in the pack.

I'll try to get some photos tomorrow.

Regards

Richard.


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#2 Daosus

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 15:12

Very nice review. To remove the hood on the Hero, hold the hood with your left hand, the section with you right, and turn your right hand counterclockwise. You can also pull out the underfeed, but it's hard to get a good grip without having the hood off first.

#3 lovemy51

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 08:04

hello richard,
great review! i'm glad you did the comparison with the 21super rather than the p51 and i agree with you about the performance of both pens. i own 3 h616 and one came with cracked plastic, so that will be the only flaw i can see about them... like you pointed out in that respect: "the P21S just has the edge".

oh yes, and i do like the clutch ring ink window of the 616!!!

regards,

Edited by lovemy51, 20 May 2008 - 08:07.


#4 seymour

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 08:32

Hallo

I liked the review. There seem to be different versions of the Hero 616 floating around. I bought one with a gold colored cap about 18 months ago and recently I took the 10 pack and found that both pens are marked Hero 616 but that there is a big difference in dimensions. The overall length is the same but the older pen has a longer barrel and a shorter feed unit than the new version. The new version also has a shorter sac.

Interesting!

Chaim
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#5 jaromer9

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 13:06

A very nice review. Obviously, the Hero pen is made in China. Where is the Parker made? If it made by (adult) folks making decent wages, wouldn't it justify paying the hire price.

#6 richardandtracy

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 13:57

QUOTE(jaromer9 @ May 20 2008, 02:06 PM) View Post
A very nice review. Obviously, the Hero pen is made in China. Where is the Parker made? If it made by (adult) folks making decent wages, wouldn't it justify paying the hire price.

The P21S was made in the USA. The Parker 21 Super has been out of production for many years, in excess of 40 years if my info is correct.

Regards

Richard.


#7 jaromer9

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 19:10

Richards,

Thanks. I have had a Parker for a long time and have just started to look into getting few more
cheaper pens for everyday use. I just got Pelikan Technixx ($30) but would like to get
few more for less than $20 or so. I am intentionally avoiding Made in China pens as I do not
know if they are made in "sweat shops".

Is anybody aware of any information on where and by whom are Hero pens made?
Jan

#8 lovemy51

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 20:20

QUOTE(jaromer9 @ May 20 2008, 12:10 PM) View Post
Richards,

Thanks. I have had a Parker for a long time and have just started to look into getting few more
cheaper pens for everyday use. I just got Pelikan Technixx ($30) but would like to get
few more for less than $20 or so. I am intentionally avoiding Made in China pens as I do not
know if they are made in "sweat shops".

Is anybody aware of any information on where and by whom are Hero pens made?
Jan

The Shanghai Hero Pen Company is one of the oldest, and largest, pen manufacturers in China. Founded more than 65 years ago, Hero has been the major supplier of fountain pens in throughout Asia.

The Gift that Your Loved Ones will Carry Over their Hearts!


that is the intro isellpens.com has on their site: Shanghai Hero Pen Company makes them



#9 richardandtracy

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 09:35

Jan,

I have to confess I have no idea what conditions the Hero pens are made under.

I know the engineering firm I work for couldn't even get the raw materials to make a pen for as low as the finished price on the Hero pens. Yet Hero must make money, or they'd go under.

Regards

Richard.


#10 Ondina

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 10:00

Thanks for the review, is very interesting. To know that the one can get today a pen of similar quality to those wonderful Parker 21's and for a price that's unbeatable, is certainly of our interest. Humble pens, despite lacking the design and glitter of others, yield a performance that makes you love them, don't they?

#11 richardandtracy

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 12:37

A few Photos, as promised.

Regards

Richard

Attached Images

  • Hero_616___P21S_a.jpg
  • Hero_616___P21S_b.jpg
  • Hero_616___P21S_c.jpg


#12 cmeisenzahl

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 12:59

Well-done review, thanks!

#13 osnofian

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 12:09

Many thanks for the review, I was wandering if the hero pens were good enough to wander around as a everyday pen. I might give it a try one of these days smile.gif



#14 andy1m

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 10:30

Thanks for the very detail review. Very nice looking pens.

#15 Beechwood

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 18:37

Having just bought a few of the Hero 616s at the WES show I was interested to read Richards comments and agree completely, for the money, the 616 is a very good pen, better made than I expected with an even fine line.

And,as Richard says, very close behind the P21 and other cheaper Parkers in quality and performance.

 


#16 pmsalty

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 18:56

I have both pens, however the nib on my Parker 21 special is much smoother that the nibs on either my 616's. Richard's review is very accurate. My nib experience is different.
PMS
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#17 Flounder

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 18:40

I'd like to ask a question about the ink window area. Does the indentation act as a physical stop for the cap? Does the clutch cap also snap onto this ring? I dropped my Jinhao 321, horizontally while capped, and the clutch cap let go. I'd be interested in picking up one of these Heros if the caps also snap onto the ink widow thing bob.

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#18 BruceS

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 04:12

[quote name='seymour' timestamp='1211272370' post='616583']
Hallo

I liked the review. There seem to be different versions of the Hero 616 floating around. I bought one with a gold colored cap about 18 months ago and recently I took the 10 pack and found that both pens are marked Hero 616 but that there is a big difference in dimensions. The overall length is the same but the older pen has a longer barrel and a shorter feed unit than the new version. The new version also has a shorter sac.

Interesting!

Chaim



I agree the review is very good. I own a P51 Demi (Vacumatic), a P21S as well as a number of Heros for my hooded pen collection. The Hero 616 is great (specially for the cost). I also own some counterfeit Hero 616 (Yes, China does counterfeit it's own pens, as cheap as they are). The counterfeits have a low quailty construction as well as a longer section as the most obvious differentiation with the genuine H616. Some counterfeits are pretty good, and other are pretty bad. Be careful who you buy them from. I have no connection to this vendor, but know they sell the real Hero (isellpens.com). There are also other vendors of the real deal. Just buying from ebay or even through amazon, will not assure the pen is genuine.

Bruce

#19 BruceS

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 04:20

Many thanks for the review, I was wandering if the hero pens were good enough to wander around as a everyday pen. I might give it a try one of these days <img src="http://www.fountainp...IR#>/smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />



The H616 is definity great as a daily writer. At the cost of a 10 pack as back up, you would not care much if you lost one, as opposed to losing a P21

Bruce

#20 Flounder

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 18:37

I'd like to ask a question about the ink window area. Does the indentation act as a physical stop for the cap? Does the clutch cap also snap onto this ring? I dropped my Jinhao 321, horizontally while capped, and the clutch cap let go. I'd be interested in picking up one of these Heros if the caps also snap onto the ink widow thing bob.


Hi it's me from the future. The cap clutch on the 616 does grip those section rings rather than the section itself, so if you drop it, the cap should stay on rather than shoot off as your 321 did. But you won't drop a 616 anyway, at least so far (writing on 3rd March, 2013 ).

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