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Budget pens


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#1 Apollo

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 23:00

Hi all. I recently acquired a few inexpensive "budget" fountain pens to try out and thought it was about time for a review. The pens I bought consist of a Hero 100 Gold, a Hero 616, a Wality 52 and a Reform Skywalker. The pens were purchased from ISellPens.com.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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#2 Apollo

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 23:02

Some more pics.

Here's a size comparison of the Hero M616, Hero 100 Gold alongside a Parker 51 Special Edition, and a Parker Super 21
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Here's a shot of the Hero 100 Gold compared to the Parker 51 Special Edition
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Here's a size comparison of the Wality 52 and Reform Skywalker along with a few others.
(From left to right: Lamy 2000, Sailor 1911, Wality 52, Reform Skywalker, Pelikan M215)
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Another size comparison pic, this time a Parker Super 21, Hero M616 and Hero 100 Gold
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#3 Larry T

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 23:20

Apollo, great review! I don't have a gold 100, mine are SS, black, red and green. All very nice writers and well worth the money. I also have a 616 jumbo, Wality 52 and the Reform. Great minds think alike. :D The Wality and Reform are both terrific values too. I bought a Wality off the bay about a year ago that is a clear barreled eyedropper with a green marbled cap. I paid $11.00 shipped and it has one of the best fine nibs I have used. It looks pretty neat filled with Noodler's Forest green. Again, Thanks for the review, it's nice to see a cheapie pen in here every now and then.

Larry

#4 Apollo

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 23:27

Thanks Larry. Noodler's Forest Green, eh? Curiously, I purchased a bottle of PR Sherwood Green today and was thinking about using it on on the Wality.
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#5 zxc

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 01:16

Great review!

I'm thinking of doing my own budget review when I get the resources to do so.

#6 French

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 01:51

Another great review, Apollo.

I also own the Wality 52, a great pen for the money, and I agree the piston is just as smooth as my Pelikan GO!.

Right now I've got the Wality inked with Noodler's Eternal Brown, not an aesthetically pleasing color combination when you look through the clear window. I've been eyeing up some green ink as well.

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#7 krz

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 02:40

I have to agree the Wality 52's are a great value. I have Noodler's Walnut in one and my own Noodler's Blue-Black in the other one.

I have an older piston-filled Reform and it is indeed the smoothest nib I have.

Thanks for the reviews.
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#8 Guest_Denis Richard_*

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 03:02

Hi Apollo,

I'm a big fan of the 52 too ! I have two that are always in my bag.

Denis.

#9 Guest_JohanO_*

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 05:11

Thanks for the great review Apollo :D .

I owned a 52 some time ago, and it was a very good writer. After I sold it, I got myself a Wality 69L piston filler, because I like the design better. It is a great writer, and more comfortable to fill than the 69L eye dropper.

I have used 5 Wality's untill now, and 3 wrote great, and 2 were so bad I had to return them. Wality's are also very dirty when they are new (IMO). So I needed to flush them with an ammonia solution.

Nevertheless, I love my 69 L piston filler :P

Pic from website of Pete Bachran, retrodesk.com.

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  • Wality_69_L.jpg


#10 Apollo

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 11:31

Hi Johan, I noticed the same thing on my Wality. The feed looked nasty so I flushed mine out with mild soap and water, then I just removed the nib to give it a good cleaning before filling it with ink. Last night I decided to switch inks and found that some PR Lake Placid blue had creeped in behind the piston. I had to pump water behind it to remove the excess ink before switching to PR Sherwood Green.
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#11 Guest_JohanO_*

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 12:05

I noticed exactly the same about the leaking piston filler on my 52. I wonder if this will happen with the 69L, which I have only filled one time

#12 Larry T

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 16:25

Apollo, PR sherwood green is one of my favorites, but it smears on some paper. I've had better luck on cheap pads than my normal Ampad Gold Fiber. This is my other Wality:

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I'm not sure of the model, but it works great and I always get comments when someone sees me using it.

Larry

#13 Apollo

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 18:53

Larry, that's a great looking pen. Eyedropper too! I really like that green. Hey, if you ever want sell or trade it, let me know. ;)

Edited by Apollo, 11 January 2006 - 19:15.

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#14 southpaw

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 21:22

Great review and thanks for the comparison.

Not 100% on this, but I think Larry's pen is a Wality 69T.
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#15 Betty

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 21:44

Apollo, PR sherwood green is one of my favorites, but it smears on some paper. I've had better luck on cheap pads than my normal Ampad Gold Fiber. This is my other Wality:

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I'm not sure of the model, but it works great and I always get comments when someone sees me using it.

Larry

Wow, the transparent barrel is very neat looking :)
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#16 Goodwhiskers

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 06:54

Thanks for the great review! I'm partial to "budget" pens, so this is useful.

#17 cmeisenzahl

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 14:49

Wow, great thread and pics!

#18 pvdiamon

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 02:24

I have a Wality 77C. It is on the light side, and the fine nib may be more like a fine-medium. I"ve only filled it once so far, but I may like it better than my Hero 187. That pen writes a bit too wet for me, and the fine nib is a little too broad. My biggest complaint for the Wality is that it has an odd odor from the plastic, and posting the cap mars the pen. Is posting the cap a problem with other models?
John in NC

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#19 Apollo

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 02:47

My biggest complaint for the Wality is that it has an odd odor from the plastic, and posting the cap mars the pen. Is posting the cap a problem with other models?

That's strange. My Wality 52 doesn't have any odor I can detect.

As far as posting, I generally don't, but I just tried it on my 52 and find it still feels well balanced. It's not a heavy pen and feels great in my hand either posted or unposted. While posting does tend to mar plastic pens, I wouldn't worry about it too much considering how inexpensive Walitys are. These pens are meant to be used not babied. ;)

I ordered a Wality 69L eyedropper model as well as a Reform Bremen which should be arriving soon so I'll update this thread with a mini review of them as well.
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#20 French

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 20:02

I also can't detect any odor from my Wality 52. I agree with Apollo, it is a well balanced pen posted or not. And, lets face it, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing the experimental surgery on the pen if it had the cost of a Pelikan M200, the Wality's are users :)






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