Hero Summer Color: The Copycat Review

Hero Summer Color

So yeah, I bought one. The Hero Summer Color, a top-to-toe replica of the Lamy Safari. I blogged about this pen recently and soon after, bought one for myself to see if it really could emulate the best parts of the Lamy Safari. It’s in my hands now, so let’s see how it compares to the Safari, but let’s also see if the parts are interchangeable!

The Packaging
Ugh, blister packaging is the worst. It’s almost like encasing a product in crap: it’s messy, and nobody wants anything to do with it. Nonetheless, I enlisted the help of a few Greek gods and seventeen male bodybuilders who eventually, after three days, tore open the pack and handed me the contents. They weren’t impressed.

Hero Summer Color Packaging

Encased inside this plastic fortress is the pen, the cap, and six cartridges plus a converter. Why anyone would include six whole cartridges in a product when they’re trying to make it as cheap as possible is beyond me, but then again, this pen isn’t exactly cheap.

The Pen Design
The colour is nice, I’ll give it that. It’s a purple I wish Lamy would use for a Limited Edition colour, but it seems they’re more interested in “slightly lighter/darker toned versions of colours we have already released”, so I guess this is as purple-y as it will get.

Hero Summer Color

Hero Summer Color Cap

Hero Summer Color Disassembled

The plastic is notably inferior, both in feel and weight. It’s like comparing Lego plastic (which is the same used in the Safari) to the plastic of Coke bottle. Not very nice, and bound to get scratched up in no time. Cost saving measures ahoy!

Really, what do you expect me to say? It’s essentially a carbon copy of the Safari, with a few minor differences and Coke bottle plastic.

Writing
Filling the pen is fairly easy. It comes with a converter already inside the thing, but I decided to give the Hero cartridges a go. I don’t know if this ink is meant to be blue, but it is definitely more blue/black.

Hero Summer Color Cartridge

Hero Summer Color Nib

Surprisingly the pen started writing but seconds after I inserted the cartridge, which is fairly impressive. Writing is smooth-ish, but in no way unpleasant. It’s nice, but fairly different to the Safari. Let’s compare the two to really get a picture of what Hero has done here!

Battle Royale with Cheese: Safari vs Summer Color
Whilst my descriptions above may have been vague, it’s because I can’t really say much about this pen without including the Safari in the mix. So is the Hero worth it, or is it a poor imitation? Let’s see.

Design
The best thing about copying something is you don’t have to pay money to design it, you just steal the designs from someone else. The caveat is that you need to make minor adjustments to your design so you aren’t completely ripping that brand off. First, let’s look at the pens as a whole.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari

Pretty identical eh? I doubt anyone would realise you’re holding a Hero and not a Safari in the middle of class or in a cafe, but there are subtle differences.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Crown

First, the crowns are different. Standard Safaris have a black or coloured cross on the top with a matte finish. The Hero has a glossy black Hero logo. Second, the obvious difference, the big “HERO” where “LAMY” normally sits on the body. Again, this is matted on the Lamy, glossy on the Hero.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Base

The base of the Safari is matte, and says “Germany”. The Hero is glossy with no writing.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari

The Safari is flat on the top and bottom of the body, the Hero is flat on one side only.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Nib

The Safari nibs have LAMY and the nib size letter laser etched onto them. The Hero nibs have HERO and the nib size letter engraved into them.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Converter Slots

The Safari has slots for the Z24 converter to latch onto, and the Hero does not.

Whilst these are minor differences, they make the Hero Summer Color look pretty shoddy compared to the Safari. The Hero is also just not as well built as the Safari. The plastic is flimsy and low quality, the finish isn’t as good, and there were marks all over the place from the manufacturing process.

Writing
The Safari is very nice to use. It has a dry flow, but is quite smooth and well matched in writing ability to other pens in the sub-$50 range. The Hero is also fairly nice to use, but it has a much wetter flow and arrived with the nib bent out of shape a little. It was a quick fix though. The Hero nib is also more of a medium than anything, a tad thicker than the Safari nib. I much prefer the Safari’s nib to the Hero’s.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Writing Sample

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Writing Tips
Left Hero, Right Safari. The Safari nib’s tip is noticeably thinner toward the end.

The Hero just doesn’t feel as nice to use as the Safari. It’s almost like you can feel that the plastic is thinner and of a lesser quality, and it’s fairly obvious too. I think a lot of people would agree with you if you told them that the Hero is not a Safari, despite the similarities.

Value
This is absolutely where the Hero falls flat on its ass. For the Hero to be worth it, with all of its shortcomings, it has to be significantly cheaper than the Safari.

It’s not.

For just a few dollars more I can have a real Lamy Safari, and that’s just buy it now listings. Auction Safaris on eBay can go for even less than that, making the Hero an essentially stupid purchase. Sure you get a few more cartridges and a converter, but those are a few dollars at most to buy for the Safari, and you can use them on all your Lamy pens.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Price
I’ll take my $4.95 and get the genuine article, thanks

This is a real kick in the crotch for the Summer Color. It simply doesn’t make sense at over fifteen dollars. If it were five dollars, then it may be a worthwhile compromise, but at the moment it is simply too much.

So I think given everything here, the Safari wins outright. Not only is it a higher quality pen, it writes better, looks better, and costs around the same. No brainer.

Bonus Round: Parts Interchangeability
Now the question on everyone’s lips: are the parts interchangeable between the Hero and the Lamy? Let’s see…

Cap
Yes. Sort of. Each pen’s cap fits on the other, but doesn’t click in nearly as well.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Cap

Body
The Safari’s body screws onto the Summer Color’s nib section easily and lines up just fine. The Hero body screws onto the Lamy, but doesn’t line up well at all.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari BodyHero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Body

Nib
Yes, the nibs are interchangeable. However, the Hero feed hangs onto the nibs much tighter, and you’ll need pliers to remove the nib of either brand from the Hero feed. The feed design is basically identical, as you can see.

Hero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari NibHero Summer Color vs Lamy Safari Nib

Feed
I couldn’t remove the Hero feed for fear of breaking it to pieces, so I don’t know at this point! I doubt it though.

Cartridges/Converters
No, the Hero cartridges/converters are completely different to the Lamy ones and they are not interchangeable.

So in the end, they’re alike in some respects, and not in others.

Conclusion
The Summer Color is nonsense. The only reason I would ever buy this is to get the purple colour, and that’s exactly why I bought it (and to give you guys a review of it). Sure you can get it for a few dollars less, but when buying a fake, saving a small percentage of the price isn’t exactly compelling.

So what’s good about the Hero Summer Colour? In its own right, it’s a fairly good pen. It writes pretty well, and feels ok, but the fact that it’s a copy makes every flaw become magnified one hundred times. As it stands, I wouldn’t recommend this pen to anyone, unless they had no way of getting a Safari. Even then, there’s better pens at lower prices anyway.

4/10
Do Not Want

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https://plus.google.com/101679157111079125767 Ecclectit bits
Very good review. One more thing: if you’re a poster, the Hero cap posts too high on the pen – this is because of the one less flat side on the barrel.

jono
Thank you!

Good point! I didn’t think much of posting the cap – as soon as I did it left marks on the body… Poor!

Gordon
Hi Jono, thanks for this review: I *was* interested in scoping out this pen, but I think you’ve talked me out of it, so thanks for saving me the money! I’m interested to know, though: is the pen compatible with international cartridges, or with Lamy, or are these some kind of proprietary thing? I ask because I was given a Hero kids’ fountain pen recently to try out, and discovered that the cartridges that came with it were wider in the mouth than a standard short international, though much the same length. The end of the cartridge most closely resembled a Parker. The ink in the cartridges I’d describe as you did: dark blue, verging on blue-black…

jono
Thanks Gordon! It really is a disappointing copy. Didn’t need to be released in my opinion.

Yes they are wider at the mouth than standards, which would mean they’re Parker style, as you have correctly pointed out 🙂 my standard int. pens don’t fit the converter or the cartridges from the Hero.

Tom Johnson
If the Hero cartridges are different than standard international, where are you supposed to buy replacement cartridges for the Hero? They are Parker style, but they look too short for a Parker cartridge to fit.

jono
You can buy cartridges from Hero, I suppose! I think a longer cartridge would fit, though.

Gordon
That’s the problem with the Hero kids’ pen I was given to check out: it won’t fit a full-sized Parker pen or cartridge converter – even the converter you got with the ‘Summer Colours’ would be too long, I suspect. Why would Hero want to start forcing customers (effectively) to buy proprietary cartridges, I wonder – unless they’re planning to come out with a wider range of colour options?

http://www.mypenneedsink.com Bob M
Thanks for the review and a great compare. I was never in the market as it saddens me to see such a blatant rip off of an iconic design. With so much design room still left to be discovered in the pen world just WHY Hero? Why?

jono
Thank you Bob!

I think it is just because they are Chinese, and China copies almost everything, and it’s cheaper to copy than to be original.

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Andrea Kirkby
The thing that strikes me is the clarity and precision of the ‘Germany’ imprint on the Lamy. It’s a tiny detail, one most people never look at, but the quality of the manufacture is evident just from looking at it. That’s why I love Lamy!

pentorium
True. The whole pen is just well made!

Hnakxr Techrg
Well… Not sure if you know that this pen is sold in China for 24RMB including shipping. 24 RMB would be around 4 dollars so it is much cheaper than safari and you certainly spent too much.

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