First Impression: 7
This pen is part of Hero's mid-range lineup so it comes in a moderately attractive clamshell case. When opened, the pen is found clipped into a felt-plastic tray with a generic Hero instruction booklet beneath.
Appearance & Design: 7
The pen is great to look at, brushed steel with gold accents. I give it an 8 for that. It's also obviously a clone of the Parker 45, so I'll also give it a 3 for originality. They've differed a little from the original 45, adding some gold rings at top, middle, bottom, and around the nib hood. The finish, when inspected closely, also isn't as good as the original 45; for example, the clip is trimmed on the edges rather smoothed at the point.
Weight & Dimensions: 6
It feels about the same as a 45 in the hand. It's a little shorter, but the diameter at the section is identical. Balences well either posted or unposted. If posting, the cap clicks onto the end. Like the 45, it's a little small for someone with larger hands.
Writes a fairly wet medium. A very small bit of spring if you put some weight on it, but essentially a stiff nib. Fairly smooth, no scratch. Plain 12k gold. The nib appears to be identical to a 45 nib (unscrews the same way, with the same feed sticking out. It may well be possible to put a 45 nib into this pen, if desired.
An included squeeze converter is functional if inelegant.
For the price (about $20) it's a very attractive and reasonably well writing pen.
Overall a great pen for the money and a definite step up from Hero's lower end selections. It certainly compares favorably to anything in its price range. (For example, a Lamy Safari costs a little more and writes similarly, though it targets a different market segment. The safari is probably a bit better for someone with larger hands, the 156 looks better with a tie. It's a wash.) One concern is that the cap on the 156 is very stiff to click on and off.
Edited by mstone, 27 December 2008 - 23:57.