The Shanghai Hero Pen Company is a Chinese pen company founded in 1931 as the Huafu Pen Company, and renamed in 1966. At first it used equipment from an old Parker factory in Shanghai. Its designs came to resemble that of Parker's. The Hero 616, and 100 resemble the Parker 51, an extremely popular pen during World War II which is still highly coveted. The 100 is more expensive while the 616 is much cheaper. This is a review of the Hero 616.
Its dimensions are 13.4cm capped, 12.6cm uncapped, 13.8cm posted, with a section diameter of 11mm at the widest part, tapering to 8mm at the narrowest part, and 10mm between the two. It is very light at 0.5 ounces (Sorry about the units.) capped and 0.3 ounces uncapped.
It has a permanent squeeze filling system, which comprises a sac which is housed in metal. One fills the pen by pressing on a bar next to the sac, which flattens the sac, forcing air out, and releasing the bar so that ink is sucked in the sac as it expands again. I find it difficult to fill the pen all the way, even with many presses. Most of the time I don't care enough to fill it all the way, and it remains half full. A converter with a piston, although having less ink capacity, is preferable.
There is a small ink window, which does nothing to indicate ink level. It only indicates the color of the ink inside and turns clear when the ink is almost out, but one might run too low on ink before it even turns clear. Still, it's better than nothing.
The clip is works as expected, with adequate clearance for a jeans pocket.
The nib is steel and very stiff. It only comes in one size, which is between XXF and XXXF (measured using Richard Binder's Stroke Width Chart for Reground Nibs). With some pressure it can widen to an XF. It is likely that such nib sizes are popular on Chinese pens because Chinese characters have higher stroke density, and look better when written with finer nibs relative to Latin characters. It isn't absolutely necessary as even the densest characters are legible when written at a normal size using a Western fine nib. Of my ten 616's 3 are a bit scratchy. The rest are quite smooth for the nib width. As the nib is hooded, it is more difficult to visually tell whether or not the nib is at its optimal writing angle on the paper.
A dense character:
I haven't taken pictures, but many have. One can find better pictures than I could take if one searches. The overall design is elegant, understated, and sleek, characteristic of pens with hooded nibs. My ten 616's came in three body colors: black, red, and green. All caps are a fingerprint-attracting steel. Many of the clips are slightly crooked.
I paid $7.72 for a 10-pack of these, which makes it about $0.77 for one. Every one of these performs as well as pens costing 50 times as much. Only the fit and finish could use more care.
Edited by Renzhe, 12 January 2009 - 06:44.