I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately but I think I was inspired to buy another cheap Chinese fountain pen from a photo on Economical Penster’s Instagram. All those demonstrators lined up made me weak. So I hopped over to Ebay and I bought a clear demonstrator Wing Sung 618 (approx $10.70) which is a weird attempt to copy the beloved Parker 51. I also bought a version in a pastel pink but it’s staying in the packaging because it turned out to be even more difficult to use as I’ll explain later.
Both pens came in the same packaging. Does it look familiar? It is a direct knock-off of the Lamy packaging for the Safari pens. They even clip the caps to the insert card inside just like Lamy. The diecut windows are the same as Lamy too. Weird to put a Parker 51 in a Lamy Safari box. Makes my head spin. I will deposit the box in the nearest recycling bin and we can move on.
Since there were probably few true Parker 51 demonstrators, its doubtful anyone would ever mistake this pen for a true vintage classic but the hooded nib is not something often found on modern pens and for less than $15, it was a gamble I was willing to take. I have a Wing Sung 698 that I love because I’m pretty sure the nib is a Pilot steel nib and its buttery smooth so I was willing to gamble on another Wing Sung pen on the chances that another pen would also have a super smooth nib.
The 618 also has a plunger/piston filling mechanism that is a bit janky and this is where the demonstrator model comes in handy over the solid colored plastic version. Being able to see how far I’d pulled the plunger and how much ink I’d filled was really helpful. The solid plastic was really hard to tell if I’d gotten any ink in the pen and it was possible to completely pull the plunger out of the back of the pen hence allowing the ink to leak (or flood) out the back end. The demonstrator allowed considerably more control since I could see how far I’d pulled the piston out without any unfortunate accidents. For -$15, I can’t complain too much.
The ink capacity is pretty substantial too though it took me awhile to make sure I got the mechanism properly reseated. The Wing Sung 698 is much easier to reseat and even has a bit of a locking mechanism that I think is an improvement over the actual TWSBI 580 it was aping.
The nib is fine and as smooth as I was hoping. Being able to see the ink color is also kind of cool.
As for knocking off Parker… well, I don’t quite understand the Chinese mentality behind taking design elements from other brands and using them as your own. You can either live with this or you can’t. The nib on this pen is so smooth that I am overlooking the blatant copyright infringement. I would MUCH prefer that they did something else with the clip. The cap band is not true to a Parker 51 so they are not trying to emulate or convince anyone that this is a real NOS Parker so I don’t see why they bother with the clip? Do your own clip. If you want something that feels reminiscent of the time period, that’s fine but make it your own. I digress. I knew what I was getting into when I bought it. And the clip works just fine. I just feel a little dirty when I use it.
As for the hooded nib, other brands made hooded nibs though clearly the 618 is trying to replicate the Parker 51 and its other hooded pen designs as well. Since other pen manufacturers made hooded nibs in the 60s, I’m more inclined to overlook it had it been the only retro design element. But again, I digress. The actual nib is smooth and a little springy and a delight to write with just like the Wing Sung 698 (TWSBI 580 replica with Pilot nib).
So, all-in-all, despite being a blatant knock-off of a Parker 51, the Wing Sung 618 did have the decency to choose a pen with perfect cigar lines to mimic. The cap band is a little beefy for the rest of the pen and the piston is janky but the nib more than makes up for its faults at it’s sub-$20 price. I’m on the fence as to whether I’d recommend the 618 or the 698 first if someone was looking for an inexpensive Chinese pen. For the filling mechanism, I’d go with the 698 but for looks, I like the 618 better.