For the third day, I chose another inexpensive pen, a Chinese Hero 616. This is a cheap clone of the Parker 51. Actually, it is made in the old factory Parker had in China. When the People's Republic of China took over the factory, they used the original tooling, with a few modifications, to turn out similar pens, made with less expensive materials and much lower quality control standards. The most striking difference between the original '51' and the reworked '616' is the narrow ink window added to the 616. Considering the Hero's heritage, it seems appropriately ironic to fill it with Noodlers Nikita.
I have several of these pens, and the filler in every one is difficult to use. I had not inked this particular pen up yet, and when I tried to fill it, I wasn't sure if it would take up enough ink to be worth writing with. I was completely unable, no matter how many times I squeezed the pressure bar, to draw up enough ink to appear - at all - in the clear sac. Even though these pens are inexpensive, this carelessness with something as simple as the filler unit seems strange. The nibs write well, but they can't even make the pen so it's able to fully load up with ink?
I was annoyed, but I decided that I'd at least give the pen a try before I moved on to something else. Stopping in the middle of writing to refill a pen is a distraction I'd rather avoid, and especially when refilling is so difficult and annoying, but since I'd decided to 'test drive' this Hero, I felt I ought to at least see how it worked. I've been using fountain pens for nearly forty years, but in testing one after another so close together, under the conditions I'm using them under, I'm learning things I've never bothered to pay attention to. In this case, I discovered that even though the pen didn't take up much ink, the fine nib used so little that I was able to keep writing all day without refilling.
I'd still like to have a filler that worked well, so the pen would hold even more ink, but even in the sorry state it came in, it is usable after all. My second surprise was to notice just how much the nib affected how many words I was able to fit on a page. I knew I could fit more words in with a finer nib, of course, but since I usually use the same pen for a certain story, I never noticed just how much difference it can make. For the same reason, I never noticed just how much a particular pen can affect my handwriting. You can tell that it was written by the same person, but every pen and every ink lends a slightly different character to my writing. Until I started this project, I never realised just how pronounced that altered character could be.
As for Nikita, it is a nice, basic red, a pure red for those who want one. It is a bit dry, like most reds, but not excessively so, and it worked and flowed well. I doubt that I'd want to write most of my manuscripts in red, as the colour can be a bit overwhelming in such quantity, but it might be an interesting option in a few cases. Such a manuscript would be very easy to mark up in black or any other dark colour, as the edits would stand out just as plainly as red or orange ink will on a manuscript written in black. And this is an excellent ink to use for marking up.
The Hero is a nice basic writer, but it might be better for markup as well. The fine nib is ideal for that purpose, and the fact that it is neither as comfortable in the hand nor as effortless a writer as the Parker 51 it is based on would make less difference under conditions where it was being used to jot words here and there, rather than writing continuously with it. It isn't a bad pen to write with, and it is cheap enough that it is another excellent choice to take with you when you don't know what might happen. But if you own any good pens, the Hero 616 is not ever going to be one of your favourite writers.
That isn't to say it is a bad pen. For the price, it's a bargain. Despite my misgivings about the amount of ink I could get into it, it wrote with no trouble and let me put 2,781 words on paper, for a total of 6,268 words through the end of the day. For those who are keeping track, to be "on target", I'd need 5,001 words by the end of the third day, so I'm actually slightly ahead of my goal.