I have been amused and at times laughed at the titles of the advertisements in eBay and AliExpress when it comes to their listing for fountain pens. When it comes to titles, it seems that they load it with plenty of key words and buzz words for the algorithm to register, which at the end of the day, the whole title does not make sense. When it comes to description, they formulate a flowery and enticing description of the product, as if that would make you click the add to cart option, and do not get me started on the specifications of the pen.
In one of those online shops, I came across this pen. The title of the advertisement was "3 Inch Metal Short Fountain Pen Fine Nib F/0.5mm Writing Pocket Pen Gifts". At first glance, I was bombarded by a lot of information about the pen; the first part of the title made sense but what is "Writing Pocket Pen Gifts"? I proceeded to look at the photos and the seller's description of the pen.
To my mind, I am skeptical about this pen being made from any kind of metal with exception of the nib. As majority of the products you buy from Chinese sellers, what you see in the photo, may or may not be the product you might receive. The photos may look that the pen is made from a particular kind of metal, but once you receive the item it feels light and the metal appearance on the pen is simply a metallic paint or foil on a plastic stock. Skepticism may also rise from the description of the product. There are technical descriptions: material of the pen, nib point, length, or width, and the customary description on how the pen is "a powerful means of mankind for inheritance of civilizations". Next, I tried to look who manufactured the pen. The seller did not disclosed the manufacturer nor a model number, but there is a logo on the nib that gives an indication that the pen was made by Hero. Upon researching in forums, I found no particular information about what is the model number nor a certain idea on the manufacturer of the pen. Typically with Chinese pen manufacturers, there will be a numerical model number or name that will be displayed either in the pen or it was known to the seller.
So with a leap of faith, a month and a half of waiting, and around $8 later.
The price is around $4 and some change for each pen. To be honest, I did not know what to expect, but in purchasing this pen or any Chinese fountain pens, I keep my expectations at bay and assume the worst. It was at that moment that I proved, keeping that mindset should always be the rule, not mere guidelines.
The two pens came in a simple plastic sleeve with this sticker securing it. Having Google translate the Chinese characters: section mini short pen F tip silver 0.5mm, it somehow similar to what was advertised. The great thing is that the seller included a converter for this pen, because it would be a trial and error procedure to find a suitable reservoir for this pen.
The first thing I did was to see if it really is a "3 inch mini fountain pen" or a buzz word title to entice buyers to click that add to cart. The picture on the left would provide otherwise, as the entire pen measures 106 mm, which is far from the 76.2 mm or 3 inches from the advertisement. Even the cap, section, and barrel of the pen measures more than 25.4 mm or 1 inch each.
Although, they got one thing right: the entire pen is made from metal and not from plastic with metallic paint or foil. To differentiate on what kind of metal they used, I took a magnet and placed it near the cap and the barrel. Only the finial, screw, and the clip were magnetic; meaning it was made from steel, and the rest did not respond to the magnet. A further look into the cap and barrel revealed that the material used was brass, and the polished and satin steel appearance appears to be painted or plated. In relation to the screw on the cap, they could have used a stainless steel or nickel plated screw or placed a plastic button to protect the screw. With pocket pens and its usage, it is inevitable that the pen would be in a rough condition and drops of ink will surely interact with the screw. I understand that using a stainless steel or nickel plated screw or an addition of a plastic sleeve or button will increase the cost; maybe with the plastic sleeve or button it would, but it could have been a wonderful touch to have those details to be addressed.
Regarding the reservoir system, as mentioned earlier, the seller included a converter with the pen. However, the design of the converter for this pen looks similar.
The converter for this pen is a syringe type, piston converter. It is similar to the Kaweco Sport converter. As to the compatibility, this pen gives a clear indication that this pen is made by Hero.
There is an observation that Chinese pen manufacturers have a weird system when it comes to reservoir systems and standards. Some manufacturers, when they use either JoWo, Bock, or Schmidt nib units, they tend to comply with the standard international system. Some manufacturers like Jinhao, Wing Sung, Baoer, and Lingmo have their own proprietary systems. On the other hand, there are some manufacturers who follow suit with Hero, and when it comes to designing a reservoir system in their pens, they use Hero's specification to allow inter-compatibility. However, this are all anecdotal, and based on experience and observations, I cannot claim as to the veracity and genuineness of my observations.
As to the section of the pen, well, let us place it as little to non existent.
The pen is a screw cap mechanism, and takes two and 1/4 turns to uncap. In my opinion, a screw cap for a pocket fountain pen is not a good design choice, or if deciding on a screw cap, the amount of turns should be less than one turn to uncap. The idea for a pocket fountain pen is to have a pen that you can instantly uncap to make small notes and fits easily on your pocket. This is also similar to posting. The nib is friction fit and can be removed with a rubber material. The logo on the nib gave the indication and further reinforces the idea that this is made by Hero.
In comparing the Hero pocket fountain pen with other pocket fountain pens, I made two comparisons with its Chinese pens and the Japanese and Western pens.
(From top to bottom: Brass Kaweco Sport Copy, Bestrate pocket fountain pen, Wing Sung 3007, Hero pocket fountain pen, Wanwu 2-in-1 glass pen, and Moonman Wancai)
I do not have much for pocket pens made by Chinese manufacturers, but this would be a good sample to compare. It appears that among the smallest of the pocket pens, the Moonman Wancai is the smallest of the bunch with the Hero pocket pen coming in third. However, when it comes to the girth of these pocket fountain pens, the Hero pocket fountain pen is the thinnest next to the Wanwu 2-in-1 glass pen.
(From top to bottom: Platinum 200, Pilot Pocket, Pilot Birdie (aluminum body), Pilot Birdie (steel body), Kaweco Sport Clear, Pilot Petit, Hero Pocket fountain pen, and Ohto Tasche)
When it comes to Japanese pens, Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor comes to mind when it comes to pocket fountain pens. While I do not have a Pilot Myu, Murex, or Elite 95 to compare them with the Hero pocket fountain pen, the Birdie, Pocket, and Petit can be a viable representative. As to the girth, the Birdie is the thinnest among them compared to the Hero. As to the length, the Ohto Tasche is the shortest compared to the Hero. When it comes to Western pens, Kaweco would be a comparable pen (as far as I am aware), with the Hero. Between the Kaweco and the Hero, they are close when it comes to length but the Hero is thinner as to the girth.
One feature of the Hero pocket fountain pen that I like is, the ability to fool or prank your friends when you give them this pen.
At its face, it looks like a pen with three segments. It is intuitive that the cap of the pen is the part that has the nib. However, if you interchange the barrel segment and the cap.
You can give the pen and surprise your friends as they uncap to the converter part of the pen. The threads of the pen allows this feature to be possible.
As for the writing performance, I made this the last part because this is the one aspect of the pen that is a challenge. As mentioned earlier, my expectations with Chinese fountain pens are always at bay and I expect the worst. There are only a handful of Chinese fountain pens that out of the plastic sleeve or a box and upon filling with ink, performed beyond expectations. The Hero Pocket fountain pen gave me a hard time and a challenge to even make it work.
When I purchased two pens, I inked them with two inks from Diamine: Aurora Borealis and Pelham Blue. Both inks performed well on pens which are either smooth and dry writers. With the Hero pocket fountain pen, it revealed issues. I tried to examine the nib for any misalignment, there was none for both pens. I tried flushing the pens, refilled the ink, and flooding the feed and section with ink through the converter; still no cigar. Afterwards, I decided to take the last resort option. I pulled the nib and feed out of the section, and decided to modify the nib.
Under magnification by a loupe, I found that the slit progressed from a narrow space to none at all; aggravated by the fact that the nib has no breather hole. Looking on the tip, there was no gap that allowed for the ink to flow to the tip. I reached the determination that the slit needed to be split a little more and allow a little gap on the tip. Using a long nose pliers with a filed teeth and a thick plastic sleeve on the metal, I spread the tines and aligned them to allow a gap that narrows to the tip.
After the modification, it made the scratchy and skipping nib to a smooth flowing nib. Before the modification, it produced a fine line which is similar to an eastern fine. After modification, it produced a fine line which is similar to a western fine. This modification produced an unexpected sheen on the two inks, which can be an indication that the nib is well lubricated.
Would I recommend this pen? It would depend on your purpose.
If you are in search for a pocket pen that would be a good addition to your pocket pen line, this would be a good addition, plus it would be a novelty pen to prank your friends when they ask to borrow your pen.
If you are in search of a pocket pen for everyday use or a partner to your Traveler's Notebook or planner, I would not recommend this pen, because it is not ideal for the quick and instantaneous action of note taking; on account of the number of turns needed to uncap the pen. It would be better to get an Ohto Tasche, Pilot Birdie, or a Moonman Wancai.
For an entry level pocket pen, I would not recommend this pen. It may be that I got a pen with this problems, and that is a thing with Chinese fountain pens; a hit or miss scenario.