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Maker: Hero

Currently the least expensive option I’ve sampled in Hero’s line-up, the 616 is yet another quasi-Parker.  The external shape is very similar to that of the Parker “51”, although the “clutch ring” is a relatively useless ink window.  The clear plastic centre of that window also composes the threads holding the barrel on, so once the barrel is unscrewed it’s a fairly easy task to discover how much ink is left.

How much in gets into it is a bit of a question.  Of the various Heros I’ve looked at, this model had the most consistently flimsy filler, with most examples lying across the line that lies between marginal utility and utter uselessness.  The solution a lot of users adopt is to pull the filler cage off entirely and treat the pen as a bulb filler.  Once it’s off, and these parts are usually not held down too firmly, filling is simple and complete, although a little fraught of one considers that the only parts of the pen convenient for holding onto will cause a spray of ink if held too firmly.

The writing qualities of the 616 are rather up and down.  In a package of ten I bought, four worked well enough not to need any attention, four needed the hood removed to get the tines moved close enough to work (which is fine if one is a pen repairman of some sort), and two were essentially unrecoverable messes.  They’re cheap enough that this sort of hit rate is acceptable, if looked at in just the right way, but I do find myself objecting to the waste a “fling, fling, function” approach anticipates; why not just charge three times as much for ones that are a little more consistently functional?  I mention in the page about the Hero 330 that it has an ill-defined air of cheapness; this pen has a profound air of being in the same sort of league as drug-store squirt guns.  If it works, it’s a good enough pen, but that “if” hangs over it.

There is a slight question as to whether the pens I’ve encountered are in fact Hero 616s.  There is, it seems, a bit of a market in knock-offs, something which absolutely boggles the imagination in a pen so cheap.  I’m 97% convinced that these are the actual item, since from what I can gather the guts in the knock-offs are extremely rudimentary or composed of non-functional bits of whatever lies on garage floors in east Asia, while these are least have the same basic internal anatomy as their Parker precursors.

Production run:  In current production; when it was introduced, I can’t say.

Cost When New:  In 2008, one could get a package of ten for $10.99, with free shipping.  One expects they’re even less expensive close to home.

Size: 13.5 cm long capped, 13.9 cm posted, 12.7 cm uncapped.

Point: Steel.

Body: Polystyrene, with aluminum cap.

Filler: Press-bar (technically; see preceding notes), capacity approx. 0.8 ml (or 1.3 ml if treated as a bulb-filler).

Hero 616 - it doesn't look so very bad... at a distance

The degree to which I dismantle one of these to get it filled. The ruddiness of the sac is original to the pen, as this one has not been used yet.



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