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.