First impressions: 5
It's a cheap pen. No fancy box, no exotic story, just a pen. A pen obviously inspired by the Parker 51, with a hooded nib, clutch ring, a solid color plastic body, and an arrow clip. But you know going in that this is one of Hero's low tier pens, so expectations should be calibrated appropriately.
The overall appearance is that of the Parker 51, as noted above, which people either like or dislike. I'll focus instead on the build quality and the differences from the 51. No doubt that the pen is constructed on thin margins. Some parts are out of alignment, the edges are sharp (e.g., around the opening where the nib emerges from the hood). The cap and body are constructed out of lighter material than a real 51. In terms of design, ther's actually a lot of refinement for such a low end pen. The clip seems fairly solidly attached to the cap, the clutch ring and the threaded portion between the section and filler are transparent (this is actually an improvement over the 51), and there's a breather tube to help efficiently fill the bladder. Within fairly tight budget constraints, Hero has done a goo job of evolving the 51 design.
(here's a Hero 616 [green] next to a Parker 51 [burgundy])
Weight & Dimensions: 5
Smaller and lighter than a 51. A little too much so for smaller hands.
Nib & Performance: 5
Very dry writer, toothy & stiff. The nib (steel) is quite functional, however, starting reliably even if uncapped. This is not the smooth nib of the 51. I can already guess why many people consider this the perfect pen for Baystate Blue.
Filling system: 7
Functional squeeze filler.
Cost & Value: 9
These can be found for only a couple of bucks. I can't imagine a better pen for that kind of money.
Overall, a good implementation in the "cheap pen" category. It's rough to look at, and the build quality is relatively poor. But the design allows for that, and it's really functional--which is, I suppose, what counts most for a pen in this segment.
Edited by mstone, 28 December 2008 - 00:33.