Made by the Shanghai Hero Pen Factory Company (a well-respected manufacturer of fountain pens in China), these are a pretty straight knockoff of the Parker 51.
The important question – do they work? I filled one of each color (the pack comes with three black, four green, and three red) with a different color of ink and did some scribbling.
All three pens filled okay after I ended up pulling off the cheap stamped-metal sac guard and squeezing the sacs by hand, to pull ink into the pen a few drops at a time. It almost appears as if the breather tube in the sacs is too long, rather than too short.
Once filled, the pens flow and write just fine. I think the lightness of the Gruene Eel sample is due to my not being able to get much ink into the pen – I was using a tiny sample bottle from Pear Tree Pens and could not get the end of the pen properly submerged.
The pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink flows and writes like a dream, with a wet bold line that looks great. The Aircorp Blue-Black, my favorite ink, also works great but does not leave as bold a line. I’m looking forward to trying out Baystate Blue in one of these pens once I get a full bottle of it – all I have left right now is about half a pen-fill worth in a sample bottle.
I would call the nibs a “Fine” or an “Extra Fine” – they’re just a tiny bit smaller than the “Fine” nib on my Parker 51, and a little “rougher”, although I wouldn’t call them “scratchy”.
Construction materials are much better than what you would really expect for a pen that cost $1.50/each shipped, but they’re not presentation quality.
The barrel and hood are lightweight plastic. The cap is cheap chrome-plated metal (certainly not stainless steel), and the clip is stamped and still has semi-sharp edges. The “clutch ring” on these pens is transparent plastic and is part of the section, with metal washers on either side of a part that lets you see if you’re about to run out of ink.
The sacs are transparent rubbery material, with a sac guard and filler bar made of sharp-edged stamped metal. I found it easier to pull the sac guard straight off (it’s just a friction fit) and squeeze the sac by hand to fill the pens with ink.
Despite the cheap construction and materials, I really like these pens. My wife opened up the package before I got home and filled one with her Noodler’s Saguaro Wine ink without a problem, and the three that I’ve filled so far haven’t had any issues or leaks.
For $15 shipped per pack of 10 pens, the Hero 616s are an awesome deal. They’re perfect for when you want to carry a fountain pen but don’t want to have to worry about breaking or losing one, or for giving to a friend as their first fountain pen before they move onto something nicer. I plan on using them to test various inks, and will keep a few of them on my desk at work so I don’t have to carry my Parker 21 or 51 back and forth to the office.
However, when buying from eBay, beware of certain sellers. According to this thread on the Fountain Pen Network, some people are selling fake Hero 616s as the real thing! Who would have thought that it would be profitable to sell knockoffs of a knockoff?