I Need a “HERO”


A few weeks ago I found myself in Sabak Bernam. With nothing much to do, I browsed the few shops that lined what appeared to be the main street. For no apparent reason, my gaze locked itself onto a row of very old and very cheap-looking fountain pens displayed in a wall cabinet of a quaint little stationery shop.

While I wouldn’t actually call myself a fountain pen connoisseur, I have been known to collect a few pens now and then. Instantly, I recognised the pens in the as Hero 329s: the first fountain pen most of us – at least, those of us whose parents weren’t made of money – used at school. Little did I know then that my 329 was actually a Shanghai-made copy of the venerable Parker 51.

Since I had acquired a genuine Parker 51 a couple of years ago for about RM650.00, I was curious how much the 329s in the cabinet cost – just for the sake of comparison. Much to my disbelief, the Hero 329s were selling for RM3.90 each: not that much more than they cost back in 1972! Naturally, I am now the proud owner of those 329s.

After using the 329 again for some time, I came to an embarrassing and humbling realisation: I had been using my fountain pens – all of them, from the Montblanc 149 to the Pelikan M200 – as props! In short, I valued them for their ‘bling-factor’ rather than the way they wrote. At the sub-conscious level, they were to me, more of status symbols rather than writing instruments. Two weeks ago – before using the 329 again – I would have drilled a hole in my own skull before I would admit to this.

The fact is, the humble Hero 329 actually writes better, and is less idiosyncratic than most of my high-end pens, even the Montblanc 149. Try getting your hands on a 329 and you’ll immediately see what I mean. The 329s writes like butter and will not leak like a strainer. It is almost counter-intuitive to think that something this cheap can be so good.

Obviously, to me, writing with the 329 is a pleasure that ranks just a few notches below having great sex. Maybe that’s because I wouldn’t know what great sex is like even if it bit me in the ass. Then again, maybe I am biased because the 329 takes me back to the days when I could still fit (painlessly) into a pair of jeans. Or maybe it’s because every time I use it, I hear Uji Rashid and Hail Amir singing softly in the distance.

Then again, maybe its just because the 329 is a darn good pen.

Humbling Lesson: Expensive things aren’t necessary better quality – they just had a bigger MARKETING budget.

12 thoughts on “I Need a “HERO”

  1. Oh my… the HERO ‘329 pen. I remember using it in school. My HERO took me through secondary school. It will be nice to have one in my possession again. Not only did I use it for school, I wrote letters with it too. Ah! the memories.

    I agree with you about some products – expensive does not mean better quality. Most of the time, we are paying for the name.

  2. Hi JT

    Another HERO 329 former user, eh? If I get my hands on another one, I’ll send it to you, OK? Just let me know where I should send it to. You’ll kick yourself for forgetting how smooth and silky that bad boy writes!

  3. That’s so kind of you. I presume you have my email address (because I keyed it in to submit my comment). When you do find one, let me know. We will take it from there. Thank you once again. Appreciate it very much.

  4. Pak Tuo:
    OK, lets go for that drive. And it better be soon. Who knows, somebody else may have bought all the 329s still available there.

    Sure thing, maam. Actually, I bought all four 329s that was available. But I have given 3 away. No worries,tho. I’ll let you know when I find another one.

  5. hi there …


    this is so so good….i too was a user of HERO in those golden days….and until now i dont use mont blanc or anything that cost more than 10 dirham….i keep losing them anyway….

    fortunately, have not seen the need to make up for what i am lacking ( and there are plenty ) with expensive pens…hehehehe…

    can i too hav one please….( permintaan tak malu )


  6. Idham:

    Sure thing, bro. Pak Tuo and I will be going hunting for HEROs soon. If we get lucky, I’ll send you one.

    Selamat berpuasa!

  7. Baru baca blog ni semalam. Dah jatuh cinta. I rasa kalau any pengeluar pen baca penialaian u tentang pen HERO ni, mereka akan cari u untuk jadi Duta Pen mereka. Nak cari pen HERO la… sebagai pen untuk tahun 2008..

  8. Hi!!! I live in Peru and I used to have my wonderful hero 329! I remember it every day :((
    Someboy know where could i find some?
    I was looking in ebay and isellpens.com but i dind´t have an answer. So bad!
    Hope someboy can help me.
    Greetings from Perú

    Hi Alicia

    Yes! The venerable 329…

    Actually, 329s are difficult to find. However the Hero 331 is essentially the same pen except that the tail-end of the barrel is flat-ish. There are still a few 331s knocking about. I’ll let you know if I come across one.

    Thanks for dropping by

  9. Thank you so much for answer to my question so fast. I found some 329 in ebay but i`m not so sure that it be a sure place to buy. i`ll keep trying with hisnibs.com.
    hope it may result.

  10. same to me i still use the HERO 331 .. the best pen ever…


    The 331 is a great pen – no doubt about it! But I sort of prefer the 329, though. I think nostalgia has something to do with this.

    Thanks for visiting.

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