Hero 1588

Chinese pens have a number of things going for them. They are often ridiculously cheap and the quality has improved immeasurably compared with a decade ago. I bought several and was quite impressed with what I got for the most part. For one reason or another they didn’t really suit me and I sold them on. All except one, this Hero 1588.

It’s an entirely metal pen but it is light so I’m fairly sure the barrel and cap are made of some aluminium alloy, rather than the usual brass. The section/hood assembly is steel and therefore a little heavier but it doesn’t unduly unbalance the pen.

I don’t usually like metal sections and I’m not fond of sections that are shaped to indicate where your fingers should go. I don’t really care for hooded nibs either so why do I like this pen so much that it is the only Chinese pen remaining? First, despite being shiny metal the section is not slippery because of its sculpted shape. I’ll forgive the pen its hooded nib because the nib is so good. It’s a firm extra-fine. The ink delivery is completely reliable – no hard starting or skipping. It suits my hand so well that this £3 pen is one of my favourites, a better all-round performer than some pens I have that cost fifty times more.

Metal hooded nibs seem to be an exclusively Chinese thing. At least, I haven’t seen one on any European or Japanese pen though I confess my knowledge of modern pens is hardly comprehensive. Beyond that the pen is rather ordinary, traditional even. It’s flattopped and very gently tapered. It has an arrow-clip which strongly resembles that on recent Parker models, though I am unaware of any Parker that looks like this pen. The only thing that draws the eye is the robin’s egg blue of the cap and barrel.

Considering that a few years ago many Chinese pens were encrusted with decorations that appealed to their taste much more than ours, they have come a long way. They have learned from Parker, whose pens they often emulate, but also from Japanese pens like the various Pilots which several Chinese pens resemble. Above all their nib technology has been transformed, if this little pen is anything to go by.

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6 thoughts on “Hero 1588

  1. Vaguely reminiscent to a Parker 15 I would say, although why you would copy a budget pen currently in production escapes me.

    Tony Fischier’s page on 15s http://parkerpens.net/parker15.html

    The current incarnation of the 15 seems to be called a jotter – even though it is not a ball pen. £15-18 on Amazon

    1. I have a 15 at the moment. Perhaps the barrel resembles it but the cap is quite different, I would have said. Many Chinese pens don’t copy anything these days but just sell in their own right. Of course they make shameless copies too, but the ones I have come across only look a bit like the Parker original. In the hand they feel quite different, many being brass-bodied.

  2. People buy all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons – there’s no accounting for taste which is often lacking with budget pens, but it’s a free world etc. This subject of low cost pens from that part of the world – with knock off designs etc. is particularly contentious currently, on the other side of the pond in particular – funny really, since the source of the Hero was the origin of some of the worlds greatest inventions – paper, china, gunpowder to name but half a dozen. Perhaps innovation now escapes them.
    Unfortunately, as with many products from that area, there appears not to be a level playing field when it comes to manufacture, though as Deborah has already said, the Hero writes well “because the nib is so good”, so we tend to overlook the down side.

    That clip is very much in the style of an IM/Frontier/Sonnet, and would agree the pen does share some of the 15s appearance.
    Oddly I don’t have an example of a Mixy, but often see 15s on my travels and have both Flighters and plastic barrelled examples, though none is inspiring and is just another of Parker’s successful ventures into the budget market. I don’t buy f.ps. new so can’t comment on current retail prices, but am prepared to believe that when new the Hero is going to be a lot cheaper than a new Parker 15, even with postage, and with the intended school/college market in mind, those buyers will go for the cheaper pen since cost is everything.

    Though not a writer, I get the impression that most of Parker’s budget inventions will generally write and perform to a similar level – Vectors, P25, P15 etc. – perhaps they feel the need to tweak their range occasionally and ‘invent’ a new name, though performance is no different. None is probably noticeably better than the Hero, and certainly all are more expensive. Sometimes though it’s worth paying more for quality – look how long some of the 51s and 61s have lasted.

    Long live Tony Fischier’s site – marvellous resource. Would be good to think we all sent him a small donation occasionally:-)

    1. All sorts of things are contentious, though I would have said that the antipathy to Chinese pens is lower now than some years ago. It makes no difference anyway. The pens are on sale and people buy them.

      The resemblance to the 15 is slight. Being as simple as it is, it resembles many pens, some of them very old. As regards longevity, I agree that it is unlikely that it will outlast many earlier, much more expensive pens.

  3. Although I don’t have anything like an encyclopedic knowledge of the fountain-pen market, the Lamy 2000 strikes me as a fairly well known European pen with a metal section and a hooded nib. Whether it had predecessors or imitators in that respect I couldn’t say.

    1. Yes, I suppose. I was really thinking of a shiny metal section but I didn’t make that clear. I wouldn’t really regard the section on the Lamy 2000 as resembling the one on the Hero 1588.

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