Hero 100 Gold - This is possibly the nicest "Parker 51" inspired Hero pen I've ever seen. It features a hooded 14K Fine nib and a handsome 2 tone gold/silver cap. The pen measures 5-1/2" when capped and about 6" posted.
The pen comes with an aerometric filler that appears to be permanently attached to the section. Filling it is quite easy and if you're familiar with earlier aerometric Parkers, then you know the drill. The section has a curious "Star Trek" looking emblem which sets it apart from other 51 clones and it actually adds a little visual flair against it's all black colour. I filled the Hero 100 with Waterman Florida Blue ink and observed that the fine nib writes consistently and reliably, but no where as smooth as my Parker 51 Special Edition. Still, the pens starts everytime and it feels like it's destined to be a good everyday writer. While the fit and finish isn't on par with a real Parker 51, the Hero 100 Gold is still a well made pen for the money and certainly looks like it should cost alot more than the $35 I paid for it.
Hero 616 - Yet another Parker 51 clone, or in this case I should say it resembles the Parker 21 more than the 51. The version I bought is the smaller M616 model which is a bit slimmer than the Parker 21 although this one does have a chrome plated cap with an arrow clip.
Like the Hero 100 Gold, the M616 is also an aerometric filler, but at just under $10 bucks, it's fit and finish is well below that of the Hero 100 and it doesn't feel as solid as the 100 does. This one does have a bit of a scratchy Fine nib, but it's still usable. One interesting feature of the M616 is that it has a transparent clutch ring which allows you to view the ink level. I think the M616 makes a great gift for a fountain pen novice, and makes an adequate user for those on extreme budgets. It certainly won't hurt the wallet should you have an M616 lost or stolen.
Wality 52 - I have to say, I don't know how I ever missed this one. An integral piston filler for just under $10! The Wality 52 is made in India and is a handsome looking black/chrome full sized fountain pen. It measures about 5 1/2" capped and about 6 1/25" with cap posted and comes with velvet pouch.
As a piston filler, you can expect this pen to hold alot more ink than your typical cartridge/converter pen, and filling it up simple and easy. I actually found the piston mechanism to work just as smooth as my Pelikans. The Fine nib is a 2 tone steel affair and it writes pretty darn good for a $10 buck pen. My Wality 52 is currently filled with PR Lake Placid Blue and so far, it's proven to be a great writer. All I can say to you budget minded individuals out there: You've got to get one of these!
Reform Skywalker - This pen certainly took me by surprise when I got it. It's a cartridge only demonstrator pen by the now defunct Reform pen company, this German made pen has the smoothest Medium steel nib I have ever seen on an $8 buck pen. Yes, that's right. $7.99. Smoother than both Heros and Wality combined. In a word...Unbelievable. My only regret is that it can only use small international carts, so a converter (even a small Monteverde type converter) is out of the question. On the plus side, you can always refill the empty carts with your favourite ink via a syringe.
Well, what can I say? You don't have to pay alot for a fine writing instrument and even cheapies can impress. The Wality 52 and Reform Skywalker definitely impressed me. I must also thank the Nussbaums at ISellPens.com for a great selection, prices and speedy delivery.
Edited by Apollo, 11 January 2006 - 00:37.