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Hero 616


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#1 Renzhe

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:16

Summary: The Hero 616 is an understated and functional pen whose value is hard to surpass.

Introduction
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.

Function
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.
Writing sample:


A dense character:



Form
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.

Value
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.

Renzhe

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#2 seymour

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 08:30

Hi

Thanks for the review. I bought a single 616 and some 6 months later bought a pack of ten.

My original had a gold coloured cap and the later ones were metallic colour. The strange thing was that the total dimensions were identical but the single pen had a longer feed and a shorter barrel than the ten packs. There seem to be different versions

Chaim
Chaim Seymour
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#3 duna

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 11:46

Thank you for this informative review. I have to add that I experienced leaks twice: after heavy shaking of the 616 left horizontal inside a notebook (even the H100 is prone to leak when misused in such a way) and after the S.Bernardino mountain pass in Switzerland. Probably the 'aerometric' system in H616s is not perfectly tuned, or the large air volume usually left in the filled sac managed to overcame the feeder's capacity. Probably the lever cannot press enough in the sac in many 616s due to simple, thin construction and obvious lack of focus on QC in a pen sold at less than a disposable ballpoint. Anyway, I totally agree the H616 is great value and a good user.

#4 chancew1

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 16:49

Also, remember that the 616 is available in two sizes. I much prefer the "jumbo" size, because of my large hands. The jumbo is the same size as a "51" (or the Hero 100).

#5 tadster

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 16:58

1000 points to you for the video game reference.

Nice handwriting!
I trade postcards.

#6 hexadecimal

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 18:16

Not the perfect pen - but excellent value (even if I had to pay the equivalent of $2.50 a pop).

I've had minor issues with ink droplets forming inside the cap. A quick wipe is no big deal.

Love the hand writing too!
Hey, I've worked out how to set up an avatar! Next week I'll move onto tying my own shoelaces...






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