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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So there I was, dropping off some surplus stuff again at the local charity shop and having a natter with that tall girl behind the counter, something in the display cabinet called out to me. No; not that boxed and brand new Australian-made steel Sheaffer TRZ, but the brand new Hero 121 in original box, swing tag, and slip case. Sure, they're priced to go but no prize guessing which one I took home. After all, I have a TRZ already.

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The 121 is not exactly a terribly rare model, but it is not frequently found, and one in brand new condition with almost the full kit (less factory papers) is indeed a rare find. Maybe not as rare as the original 121 which was a hooded nib one; the appellation was obviously re-used.

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If it looks a bit familiar, you're right! Apart from the cap and nib, it's identical to the Hero 240 which is easily available new. But the 240 has a gilt steel nib, the 121 has a solid 12K gold one, and oddly enough, it's not marked conspicuously at all. You have to pull the nib and feed assembly out to see it, as the "12K" marking is hidden inside the section, which has an inlaid silver "necktie" and bears some resemblance to that on the Wing Sung 730.

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The other difference is the cap, which is pretty massive: carved out of a solid billet it has grooves cut down the length, the surface blackened, and then the raised portions polished to reveal the metal underneath; on this example the cap takes a bit of effort to put on and take off. Take a look at the specs and you'll see some interesting numbers: length: pen only, 120.5mm, capped 137.5mm, posted 145.5mm, maximum diameter 11mm. Mass: pen only 9.4g, with cap 17.8g. Centre of mass: pen only 64mm from tip, posted 92mm.

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You can see that the cap is just less than one gramme lighter than the pen itself, and it brings about a 28mm centre of mass shift backwards when posted. Thankfully, the back of the pen fits deep into the cap when posted, so the shift does not feel too unwieldy. I do not have an example of the 240, but I feel its cap should be much lighter, and would be easier to live with.

As I said earlier, the nib and feed can be pulled out together; effectively it's much like the Parker 45 on steroids, which honestly is not a bad thing at all. The appearance can be said as a little unusual, some people even jokingly call it the "duckbill nib", although I have also seen similar nibs on pens by other makers.

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When I got this pen I was wondering if it's all original, as it has both silver and gold accents in some sort of a mash-up. All the brightwork is silver, except the nib, clutch ring and accent at the end, but when it is capped, you get a rather uncomfortable bit of gold colour showing at the end. Also, behind the clutch ring - which bears the model number - is a steel washer which stops the section from being pushed too far into the cap, but the solution shown by Youth on their 405 is much neater, but costlier.

To be honest I am not one who thinks gold nibs are inherently better than steel nibs in terms of performance, and I do not have a 240 for comparison. In actual use, the 121 turns out to be a total revelation. It's not tipped with a cannonball of a lump of iridium, but it is decidedly smooth and wet. If there is no significant flex offered by the nib and you only glide across the paper, the nib material is of no consequence. On the other hand, flex nibs can also be of gold or steel, the physical characteristics of the alloy blend is more important than actual material, and yet steel has a head start. This nib offers some line variation, I guess the steel nib on the 240 would perform just as well, because of the nib configuration. It's the knowing that this one is a bit different from the common-or-garden 240, that's what gives me a bit of an indulgent satisfaction - which is probably totally unwarranted!

Judging by the experiences with it so far, I would say this is one that will see a lot of use. Perhaps I'll go there again and tell the tall girl about it.
 

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Very nice Seele, thanks! I was out and about in some small towns this week in rural Georgia and must admit you are a lucky one. I was not able to find even one Parker or Sheaffer, no matter the condition, far less any pens from the Pacific Rim.

With the 12k nib, that was a nice find. Like yourself, I place no "writing" value on the nib material, but it is nice to score gold when you can.

Cheers!

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dan,

It helps to be in a populous city, and a relatively affluent area too. I have to admit that it's also the first time I have ever seen half-decent pens at a goodwill store, and I do have a habit of going into every one I walk past. Like older watches, it is likely that older pens are thrown into the bin for being "old", or kept because they're thought to be very valuable, this explains why they are not often found on the open market (as opposed to specialist market).

One of the older saleswomen there was eyeing the TRZ too, but thought it's no longer able to buy bottled ink. I gave her a lead and also told her that the Sheaffer slim converter inside the pen is worth more than three times the ticket price of the whole pen, that sure got her interested; goodwill works both ways, I hope!
 

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Hi Seele, when I first saw the section and the rest of the uncapped pen unfolding in your post, I immediately grabbed a little box sitting next to my computer, containing a brand new pen that I got a week ago, and have not even inked..... a 240! The similarity is really striking! Then I read the rest of your post, and saw the cap, which explained the differences (and similarities) of these two pens. Have mixed feelings on what to expect from the writing experience offered by the unfamiliar shaped section.

I have visited some of the antique shops in my area, which have a large population of self funded retirees. Have found some great pens. I was even considering putting an add in the local paper and see what reaction I get. But then again my "hobby disposable " funds are shared between vintage watches, fountain pens, vintage bicycles....
Cheers, Hein
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It would be interesting to see how you feel about how this "duckbill" nib appeals to you, but I do not sense any great difference from regular nibs though.

Perhaps it is not a bad idea for you to take up pen repairs and a bit of wheeling and dealing too, I am sure you're able to find some high-end pens in good condition, but with gutfuls of dried ink inside them

By the way I also used to build bikes; it's a bit of a shock when I got back into it, as I was told that what I wanted to do was considered "vintage"! Nowadays I do not ride at all, a couple of years ago I had two months feeling dizzy and I kept falling over, even now I am no longer confident, but I still have a couple of bikes, a custom one I built and one with mostly Campagnolo and Cinelli stuff, on a Reynolds 753 frame...
 

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Perhaps it is not a bad idea for you to take up pen repairs and a bit of wheeling and dealing too, I am sure you're able to find some high-end pens in good condition, but with gutfuls of dried ink inside them

I was going to leave trying this pen out untill later this week, but after all of this, I am going to do it right away! My hobby for funding my pen, watch and bicycle fetish is bespoke leatherwork, mostly watch straps and bags. I am tinkering somewhat with pens, but the ones i get to work, stay in my collection! Bad economics.
 

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Well, here it is, the Hero 240. As you will notice, the box is very basic, not displaying the same flair and anticipation of something fine hiding inside. Yet, as the photos will show, the 240 is very close to the 121. The cap is stainless steel and display the logo and name very prominently, slightly reducing the "class appeal" of an otherwise very interesting looking pen. I find the duckbill section (called "pentagonal section" in the advert..) quite understated. I barely notice it, because I seems to do most of my "gripping" before the angled section starts. However it does add a bit of an unusual design element to a pen that sold for only 9.00AU, including postage.
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I only bought one of these pens. They seem to be available at the moment, however I will not be surprised if sometime in the near future another one find its way into my collection....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The use of silver tone clutch ring and end band actually makes the 240 looks nicer than the 121 to my eye; the price makes it a no-brainer; well done!

I also discovered that the tightness of the cap is a well-known 121 trait that the 240 might have escaped. The 240 cap might look simpler but it should also be nicer to live with.
 

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hi all. I must say I like the look of the H121. I shall look for one now... thx for the review! BTW: nice photos too!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
hi all. I must say I like the look of the H121. I shall look for one now... thx for the review! BTW: nice photos too!!
Thanks for your appreciation, I see you often at FPN too.

Another pen users' forum I frequent is based in mainland China. Some time ago a member was disposing of a quantity of old stock 121 pens, some are in less-good conditions; I also understand that, unless you chance upon someone trying to sell one, they are pretty thin on the ground, so I wish you good luck securing one. In the mean time, a 240 might not be a bad purchase either, at the very least it's much less likely for them to be fraudulent.
 

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hi. yes, I had never seen the H121 swimming in the 'bay'... I had my eye on a 240, but wasn't sure how good they were. I just might give it a try -they are very affordable. regards,
 
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