Review by Tina Koyama
Around the time that I had discovered the reasonably priced Moonman S1 fountain pen with a fude nib, I noticed another, even less expensive fude: the Hero 330 ($4; available in dark red, dark green and black). After some so-so experiences with other inexpensive Heroes years ago, I have hesitated about the multitude of fountain pens that this Chinese manufacturer produces. But I reminded myself that many receive favorable ratings and reviews, and maybe I had just gotten duds. At $4, the 330 was worth a shot.
The first thing that attracted me was its retro, Parker-like appearance (Ana makes a similar comparison with the Hero 329). Made of plastic and metal and weighing 14 grams, it is a lightweight, comfortable pen to hold and use.
Also catching my eye was the hooded steel nib, which suits the slender pen body and style. It is gently curved instead of sharply bent as some fude nibs are.
Important to me is that the posted pen is well-balanced, since that’s the only way I use any capped pen. More critically, the pull-off cap posts securely (otherwise, all would be lost, especially the cap).
When I unscrewed the barrel and disassembled it, I was surprised to see that it uses a squeeze converter. I didn’t read the specs or view the detail images on JetPens, so I was expecting it to have the more common twisty converter. The squeeze converter fits with the retro style of the pen’s body, I suppose, but I’m used to syringe-filling all my converters, so this one threw me. I even tried pulling the bladder off to see if I could syringe-fill it that way, but it doesn’t come off. Needless to say, filling it squeeze by squeeze seemed endlessly tedious compared to a quick syringe. In addition, dipping the nib into an ink bottle was messy business – I had to wipe a lot of ink off the hood.
Messy as it was, the 330 fude was finally inked up with black Platinum Carbon ink, and I was ready to take it out for a ride. I had a project in mind – sketching the contents of my sketch kit – with line drawings that I would color with watercolor pencils, and the 330 seemed like a good choice.
And it was a good choice! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the nib behaved from the first mark I made (I took a chance – no test scribbling first) in my smooth Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. The smooth, responsive nib never once skipped or blobbed, and it behaved as beautifully as my much more expensive fude nibs. The only exception is seen in the closeup below of my ear plugs. I reversed the nib, which I do when I want the finest line possible from a fude, and the line was a bit shaky in places.
The “Field Notes” lettering and the heavy lines of my glasses below show the fude’s widest marks.
Happy with the sketch, I finally gave the 330 a few test scribbles to see its full range of line widths (scribbles made in Maruman Mnemosyne Notepad). Used upside-down, the line was scratchy and inconsistent, but not intolerably so.
As I know from some other inexpensive pens I’ve used, quality control and consistency may be an issue, so I can’t vouch for the one you might get, but I got a winner. The nib has a remarkably good range of line variation. I love this fude – and what a price!
Other sketchers who know I like fudes often ask me for recommendations. This inexpensive Hero is one that I would like to recommend to a fude newbie because of its price, terrific nib and familiar body type, but two things would hold me back: One is the filling mechanism, which might be OK for an experienced fountain pen user, but I would never recommend it to a fountain pen newbie. The second is the possible inconsistency in quality. I would give this one to a newbie (and I might) – but I would hesitate to tell that newbie to go get their own. But at 4 bucks, it’s probably worth the gamble.