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Hero 232 - A Lazy Review


A Smug Dill

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When it comes to cheap inks — both in terms of price per retail bottle and price per unit volume — from brands a fountain pen user outside of their countries of origin probably has heard of, it's hard to go past Hero inks. They even manage to "tick the box" when it comes to being primarily a manufacturer of fountain pens that also sell inks; some users seem to trust that inks would be safer to use if those are made by a "fountain pen brand".

Out of the Hero inks, Hero 232 (iron-gall) blue-black and Hero 234 (carbon) black are probably the most well-known in the Western world.

Now, of course some people think iron-gall or carbon/pigment inks implies high-maintenance and/or "damaging" to pens, and paradoxically trust inks of that type even less when they're cheap (and, well, Chinese). However, when I saw I could get some 56–60ml bottles of those Hero inks at prices per bottle of less than US$4 for Hero 232 and less than US$2 for Hero 234, I couldn't resist and wanted to satisfy my curiosity... by ordering a combined total of a dozen bottles — because the minimum shipping charges eclipse the bottle prices, but I found one seller on AliExpress with one (out of many listed) delivery method that carried a fixed charge for up to 11 bottles.

(Just in case that didn't make sense, I paid for two lots of shipping charges — one per ink colour — even though they were from the same seller and in the same shopping basket. The total of twelve (4+8) was chosen because of my assumptions on the few sensible/viable options the seller had for packaging the items. Of course, my assumptions were subsequently proven wrong!)

That was before COVID-19 turned the whole world upside down big time.

Long story short, months went by and there was no sign of my order ever going to actually be delivered even though it was purportedly sent (in two separate shipments, with distinct tracking IDs, dispatched on the same day, so I didn't get "dudded" into paying two lots of shipping charges per se). The period of inactivity was so long that the tracking IDs disappeared, and were invalidated in Australia Post's system that once had visibility of them. AliExpress gave me a full refund for the order, including the shipping charges.

Then, some weeks later, some of the bottles showed up. Not eight, not four, but nine in total over two packages, with no sign of tampering, or having been opened by Customs for inspection and packaged, etc. Given I'd already received a full refund, I didn't pursue why three bottles were missing and probably never sent in the first place.

So, for readers who demand to know whether a reviewer got received the products being reviewed at no out-of-pocket expense on his/her part, I got my Hero 232 ink effectively 'free'. Not that it's any of their business; the colour, water resistance, etc. of an ink wouldn't differ on account of commercial circumstances.

Now, onto the lazy review:

fpn_1603867082__hero_232_lazy_review_wri

Ink flow or 'wetness': All I can say is it's 'wetter' than Diamine Registrar's Ink, and it seems to flow fine in the EF-nibbed Faber-Castell pen I used when in normal orientation (as opposed to reverse-writing). Without filling the same pen with different blue-black iron-gall inks, I can't really tell you whether it's 'wetter' or 'drier' than Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black ink, for example.

 

Drying time: Longer than I expected from an iron-gall ink.

Feathering: None that I could see.

Show-through: None that I could see.

Bleed-through: None that I could see.

N.B. I pressed really hard on the pen to get the broader lines onto the page, and every stroke is clearly visible from the verso side because I put deep creases in the paper with the nib doing so. Even so, there is no apparent feathering, show-through or bleed-through.

Shading: Moderate within the first hours of laying ink onto the page, but I don't know whether it'll hold true in a day or a week after the iron-gall component 'cures'.

fpn_1603867044__hero_232_lazy_review_wri

Water resistance: Excellent, even after just a minute or two of getting onto the page, and notwithstanding that Rhodia Dotpad paper is somewhat coated (which really makes a difference to the apparent water resistance of such inks as Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz).

 

How much would I trust this ink not to 'eat' my pens? I see no indication that would lead me to suspect this ink would be any more unsafe than say Diamine Registrar's Ink, ESSRI, or KWZ Ink IG Blue-Black.

 

How expensive a pen would I fill this ink with, then? My gold-nibbed Parker Duofold Centennial Big Red Vintage, for one; but then it's no secret that I regard that pen with disdain, and I see it analogously to someone unrefined but was born with a good family name, albeit the family has been two or three generations into its spectacular decline in achievement and community standing. I can still trust it's hardy and of good stock, and the pen and nib's material should stand up to the ink just fine, even if Parker can't make a fine, precise nib these days if it must to save its life.

Edited by A Smug Dill

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Thanks for the long read. I enjoyed all the ups and downs of ink delivery intrigue....and I had a good chuckle on your note on the mighty fallen....(Parker) :D

The ink seems to be a nice shade, quite elegant I might add, begrudgingly.... ;)

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Thanks. Time to open the bottle I received as a gift couple of years ago.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Thanks for the long read. I enjoyed all the ups and downs of ink delivery intrigue....and I had a good chuckle on your note on the mighty fallen....(Parker) :D

The ink seems to be a nice shade, quite elegant I might add, begrudgingly.... ;)

 

Yep, what Yazeh said!

 

How is the bottle?

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OK, I had something similar happened form package from Japan, it was platinum carbon black ordered from amazon and after 3 weeks the tracking which earlier showed in transit was showing no item...called the seller who confirmed the issue and offered a refund, no complains so far and I went ahead with ordering again and this time package came in 3 weeks.....only my earlier package was poof...I wonder what happened to it....glad you got the bottles bundle free but still 3 less..ouch I mean if paid then it would have felt bad.

 

I agree with maintenance point, I feel they require little extra care but when I recommend others I clearly emphasize on taking extra care cos....well warn someone of danger and they are probably gonna down-plate the risks little more then should (look around us in current times )....I told a friend that he needs to take little more care and clean more frequently with carbon inks, guy left the ink in for over 3 months.....and guess who was to clean the clogged pen :lol:

 

PS ink looks good, so how has it stayed so far any shading left or change from your perspective, I am a bit curious to be honest.

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About 24 hours later:

fpn_1603964317__hero_232_lazy_review_wri

(Time to bin the writing sample sheet. No more scans!)

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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well the 232 & 234 is what they mean to be real down to earth day to day workhorse and an ink that mean to be used , used them for decades , never really had any issue with any pen , Chinese or otherwise , sure if you use the 232 on a pen for extended duration you can expect the plating on the nib to get eaten off but that happen with each and every iron gall blue black I've able to came across.

 

One neat trick, mix the 232 and the 234 1:1 and you get one of the most bulletproof ink that you can ask for ( especially at that price )

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This ink must have some kind of curse. I ordered a bottle along with Hero 233 from Lazada, which is kind of like the Thai version of Amazon. A couple weeks later I received two bottles of 233 and no 232 (plus a free cheapo Safari copy - woowee, I'll take it!). My only options were to return everything or keep it. I thought to send everything back and reorder but I checked the price - the seller had raised it over three times what I purchased it at. :/ I messaged the seller, asking that they just send me the bottle of 232 but he didn't go for that - just replied that I should return everything . Double :/ So I explained the situation to Lazada customer service - they gave me a voucher for the cost of the order and told me to keep the inks. :) (That voucher went towards a 12-color set of Ostrich's flower series ink ...)

 

I ordered 232 from Aliexpress and it should be here in the next few days (as will the Ostrich set - yes, I will likely have some explaining to do to my wife ...). I really like what I see in your review!

Edited by PithyProlix

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts." - W. H. Auden

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I received it today. I've been writing a lot - taking notes for a class I'm preparing to teach - and it works great. And looks great to me: not exciting but a mature, tastefully fine, dark blue-black that has darkened (of course) after a couple hours but also has more shading as it has darkened, at least on the Chinese-made Kokuyo paper I'm using. I expect it will remain in my main daily writer for a long time.

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts." - W. H. Auden

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Thanks for this review. My 232 (which is noticeably bluer) came directly from China and the box was crushed but not the bottle. Thus, at least the latter can be judged as well made. Har, har.... But the ink itself is -- quite apart from the stunningly low price -- one of my very best allround IG bbs.

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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My 232 (which is noticeably bluer) came directly from China and the box was crushed but not the bottle. Thus, at least the latter can be judged as well made.

 

The bottle of Hero 232 I'm using was bluer/lighter in colour when I first opened it, and I liked it less then for that reason. I wasn't expecting it to become darker in the bottle after opening (but with the lid tightly screwed back on, of course), but it seems to have happened. Or I might just have to put another fill of it in my Parker Duofold Centennial Big Red Vintage and see how it looks this time.

 

As for the condition of the retail packages, the flimsy cardboard boxes around eight out of the nine bottles arrived crushed, but surprisingly there was no breakage or leakage. The seller from whom I bought only rolled the boxes (six in one package, three in the other) together in one-and-a-quarter passes of a thin sheet of bubble wrap, taped the edges down with narrow clear tape, then shoved the 'rolls' into flimsy shipping bags with no other structured protection or void fill material. One package took 93 days (if I recall correctly) to arrive, and the other took 96 days; heaven knows where they'd been in the meantime! It was a miracle that any of that actually arrived and intact at that.

Edited by A Smug Dill

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Let's say any ol' company would offer to send us a bottle (or nine) with free shipping but it might take a year or two to arrive. Would you go along with that ?????????

 

:lticaptd:

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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  • 1 month later...

Here's what the text on the retail box for the ink bottle means:

 

large.1868588029_Hero232retailboxflattened(annotated).jpg.3864ed0bb6f1313119d71a3a6f2e8343.jpg

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Thankyou for the translation. Very useful.

 

Do you know anything about the problem with receiving inks from China? I was interested in ordering the Hero black, but didn't go ahead because of reports that shipping is not allowed.

It's all about the greys...

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4 minutes ago, AmandaW said:

Do you know anything about the problem with receiving inks from China? I was interested in ordering the Hero black, but didn't go ahead because of reports that shipping is not allowed.

 

I'm not sure what the actual regulations are. I've had one shipment of PenBBS inks, sent from Guangzhou by EMS ePacket, that was intercepted by Customs in Guangzhou and returned to sender. The seller resent the order by way of Russia (I think) via PostNL service — and I'm not sure whether it means the parcel physically passed through the Netherlands, because the tracking info entries do not specify the location(s) — and I've since received them.

 

My shipments of Hero inks (including this bottle) was sent by Sunyou service from Shenzhen via Hong Kong, and supposedly arrived in Australia without any issues through Customs late in March, although I didn't receive them until some time around the end of June or early July.

 

My previous order of PenBBS inks (last year) was sent via Vietnam, if I remember correctly.

 

Given the relatively large number of sellers on AliExpress still being prepared to take Hero (and other Chinese brands of) ink orders for delivery to Australia and other Western countries, I struggle to believe it is actually prohibited to export inks from China. I don't understand why there is usually either nil or just one seller offering PenBBS inks; the fact that PenBBS itself does not sell its inks in its Etsy store seems to indicate there is a known problem, but I don't know whether that actually extends to all brands.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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  • 2 months later...

Somewhat unrelated, what’s the language at the end with the pater noster? It’s almost the Esperanto version I’ve seen, but not quite. 

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8 minutes ago, josephholsten said:

It’s almost the Esperanto version I’ve seen, but not quite. 

 

It was meant to be the Esperanto version, but since I don't actually speak Esperanto, I made a mistake and wrote “kiel” instead of “kiu”.  😞 I was only copying what I found on Wikipedia at the time.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Any chance you still see shops in AliExpress with 232? I see lots of options for 231 (red), 233 (blue) & 234 (black), but I’m not seeing 232 unless I check in Taobao. 

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