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Thread: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

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    Default Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff
    The Hero 359 fountain pen is a a plastic knockabout school pen that features a "triangular" grip, stainless steel nib, international cartridge/converter filling, and all the good looks of a Lamy Safari. Here is a brief rundown of the Shanghai Hero Pen Company's Lamy Safari clone, the Hero 359.

    As a longtime Lamy fan and a Lamy Safari collector of late, I was skeptical of the Hero's ability to deliver on the tried and true design of the Lamy. When news and pictures hit the Internet last summer, I was curious to get my hands on the Hero. When I saw 359s emerge on eBay earlier this week, I went to the king of Hero sales in the USA, Todd Nussbaum. (I've been buying pens from Todd for years, but he doesn't know me from Adam).

    I don't claim objectivity here, but I want to give the Hero a fair shake. Consider these initial impressions until I've had time to spend with them.

    Now where I have I seen these before?


    Ah yes...


    Look closer, there are some differences…





    Completely interchangeable nibs. The best part of the Hero 359. (That's not saying much.)


    Safari has two flat and two rounded planes (sides) on its body as seen at right; the Hero 359 is rounded most of the way around with one flat plane (side) as seen at left. Note the poorly finished plastic work on the Hero 359.

    Can't beat the real thing
    I liked Hero 359 when I unpacked the shipping box: friendly colors, good looks, cheeky ripoff. Could this be a contender? Hero 359 sits in hand much the same as Lamy Safari. The colors are subtly different (see post below for color comparisons). The clips look pretty well indistinguishable. I kept grabbing for the Hero and nabbing a Safari, and vice versa.

    The basic measurements of size, length, and weight are roughly the same, though the tolerances are not exact. For example, you can't reliably swap a Hero cap for a Lamy. The threading of section and body is not the same across brands either, so you can't create a frankenpen.

    My earliest "nice" pens were a Lamy Vista, Lamy Al-Star, and Lamy Safari. I've always appreciated their reliability and performance. However, I didn't recognize the details Lamy puts into production until I got tried the Hero 359.

    An example: The metal Lamy Safari clip exits the cap through two holes on a level horizontal plane, before being bent down. Every Safari from my collection (a large sample size) exits the whole at the exact same angle. On the 7 Hero 359 specimens, the clip exited angled up, down, and only twice on the level.

    Another: The Lamy Safari design doesn't have the most robust cap I've ever owned, but it caps and uncaps with a satisfying click. I can post the cap when I want to write and I know that it will post at the same spot across all of my pens. The Hero 359 was stiffer to cap and uncap; different colored caps didn't seem to want to switch bodies; big variation in how well the cap posted; some sections unthreaded from the body with normal writing; and so on.

    The Lamy Safari feels like it was engineered to perform well. The Hero 359 feels like it was engineered to be good enough.

    A few positives
    Hero 359 comes in purple.

    Showdown round
    (+) to the winner (-) to the loser (/) for a draw

    Filling system
    (+) Hero 359: international cart/converter filling system; converter included with pen
    (-) Lamy Safari: proprietary Lamy cart/converter filling system; cart included with pen
    Point to Hero 359 for using non-proprietary filling mechanism and supplying international converter

    Nib and writing
    (-) Hero 359: stainless steel nib. Hard to pull off/swap out. Nibs write consistently dry out of the box.
    (+) Lamy Safari: stainless steel nib. Sure you may get a dud every now and then, but these at least swap out.
    Point to Lamy Safari for quality control on nibs. (I bet you never thought you'd read that in a fountain pen review.)


    Clip
    (-) Hero 359: chrome clip. Way too stiff and tight; hard to clip to shirt placket or pants pocket using one hand.
    (+) Lamy Safari: chrome clip. Springy but secure.
    Point to Lamy Safari.

    Cap and posting
    (-) Hero 359: Wildly varying ability to post cap on the body amongst the amongst the 7 pens I tried. I felt like I had to force the caps on and off. Swapping caps and bodies didn't help.
    (+) Lamy Safari: Opens and closes with satisfying feedback. Caps are interchangeable. Caps post with no resistance.


    Presentation
    (/) Hero 359 clear plastic presentation box; some pens visibly scuffed.
    (/) Lamy Safari paper presentation box.
    Draw. They are both ugly, cheap, and functional. Who buys a pen for the box, anyway?




    A note on copyright and patent
    The Hero 359 is clearly a knockoff/clone/ripoff of the Lamy Safari. However, it is not a copyright infringement. It is not a patent infringement. It is not a trademark infringement. As odious as some might make it out to be, Hero is within its right to produce such a brazen knockoff. Here's why. (I am no legal expert, so don't base your business model on what you're about to read.)

    Copyright is generally reserved for creative endeavors: a novel, a musical recording, a painting. Section 106 of the US Copyright Act of 1976 gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive rights to reproduce a work, prepare derivative works, and distribute copies of a work to the public by sale, lease, or rental. Well, clearly the Hero 359 is a derivative of the Lamy Safari! I don't disagree. However, copyright generally does not apply to "useful articles" which have a utilitarian function, such as clothing, furniture, vehicles, and even fonts and fragrances.

    So how does Lamy protect its research and development of the Lamy Safari design if copyright protection is not available? Through patent protection. A patent gives exclusive rights to an inventor for a fixed period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of a new invention. There can be utility patents (that protect a functional process, machine, or article of manufacture), design patents (that protect ornamental design), and plant patents (that protect the breeding of agricultural good, such as apples). In this case, Lamy filed to patent the ornamental design of the Lamy Safari in the USA on July 30, 1980. While I am not familiar with German patent law, I do know that most patents expire in 17-20 years--meaning the ornamental design of the Lamy Safari is no longer protected by patent.

    Conclusion summary
    The Hero 359 looks a lot like the Lamy Safari. The nibs are even interchangeable. For me, that's where the positive comparison stops. Heidelberg has nothing to fear from Shanghai. I like owning these pens for my Lamy Safari collection; if you're only interested in trying it out, I recommend the purple pen.


    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License by Brandon Hollingshead for fpgeeks.com, October 2013. This license extends to all text, images, and videos associated with this work.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Hero 359 and Lamy Safari color comparisons


    Hero 359 color options as of this writing in October 2013.


    Hero 359s with corresponding Lamy Safaris.


    Top to bottom: Old Safari, Hero, current Safari. The hello Hero is more pale than the Safaris.


    Top to bottom: Old Safari, Hero, current Safari


    Top to bottom: Savannah Green Safari, Hero, Apple Green Safari. The Hero and Safari are not as close in color as this image would suggest.


    Top to bottom: Old Safari, Hero, current Safari. I like the Hero blue better than the Lamy blue.


    Top to bottom: Charcoal Safari, Hero, Black Safari


    Old Safari, Hero 359, current Safari


    Top to bottom: Al-Star, Hero, Pink Safari


    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License by Brandon Hollingshead for fpgeeks.com, October 2013. This license extends to all text, images, and videos associated with this work.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thanks for this extremely thorough review!

    I got the purple one FROM CHINA because at that time, isellpens only stocked black. Mine does not cap at...all.

    The carts included, and there were six of them, with blue ink, don't really look like standard internationals. I had to have this, if only to compare and contrast, but unlike other Heros, I don't think I'll be getting another.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thank you for the news and detailed comparison. Could you perhaps comment on a few more points?
    1. How is Hero's plastic. Does the material itself feel cheaper?
    2. How do the writing comfort of the gripping sections compare?
    3. I see Hero 359s selling for $15 on isellpens.com, when we can buy a Safari for $20 on eBay. Do you see a real market for them?
    Kai

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thanks for the thorough review. I think the Safari is even more impressive to me after reading this.

    My friendly intellectual property attorney came to the same conclusion Brandon did. He did offer "trade dress" as a possible issue, though that's a U.S. concept, while these are manufactured and sold in China. FWIW.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Quote Originally Posted by kaisnowbird View Post
    1. How is Hero's plastic. Does the material itself feel cheaper?
    2. How do the writing comfort of the gripping sections compare?
    3. I see Hero 359s selling for $15 on isellpens.com, when we can buy a Safari for $20 on eBay. Do you see a real market for them?
    1. Soft, easy to scratch (upon inspection, two pens have broken nipples where the feed meets the cart/converter). Yes.
    2. Not much difference.
    3. No. Get the Lamy or get what you deserve. Hero 359 isn't worth $15.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    cheeky knockoff indeed! thanks for the warning, and a fine review.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    What I find interesting is that the price of the 359 is not significantly below the item it copies. Setting aside the ethical and legal issues, I'd expect a counterfeit that close to the retail price to have better quality... for example, the Lamy Safari is made out of ABS, while the 259 looks like it's made out of softer, cheaper plastic.

    Although there's no telling whether this is simply the initial price and after early public enthusiasm fades it'll drop down to the $3-5 range, like most of Hero's other knockoffs.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Quote Originally Posted by kaisnowbird View Post
    Thank you for the news and detailed comparison. Could you perhaps comment on a few more points?
    1. How is Hero's plastic. Does the material itself feel cheaper?
    2. How do the writing comfort of the gripping sections compare?
    3. I see Hero 359s selling for $15 on isellpens.com, when we can buy a Safari for $20 on eBay. Do you see a real market for them?
    Here, the Safari costs anywhere from $25 or so, up to much more for the LE.

    Since I went direct to China I paid close to $20 for the 'Summer Colors' but I have figured out that the cap actually works. my fault, lol.

    However, the purple color is deeper than in the pics and does not suit me. But I realize this would be a favorite color for a lot of people.

    Anyone willing to swap it for another color? CONUS only, this purple Hero has never been inked, comes with con and six carts and a hard plastic tube case.
    Last edited by Sailor Kenshin; October 24th, 2013 at 06:39 AM.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thank you--as a newbie I've bought one Hero which I really like. Your review helps me decide to go for the Lamy once I get to that pen on my "To Buy" List!

    VO

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    The Safaris do have the quality edge, but yesterday I brought my Hero and my red F Safari to a pen pal's house.

    He was really impressed with both, and was able to notice the barrel shape difference immediately. Liked the Safari nib better, too.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    And because I just figgered out how:

    image.jpg

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thanks Brandon for the great review! I was curious about this pen after hearing about the purple color!!

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thanks Brandon. Still can't help admiring the purple Hero; and I'm not even a huge Safari fan. Not sure why Lamy have resisted the consumer push for this colour for so long.
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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Thanks for the review! I hadn't paid attention to the Hero pen line for quite some time. Maybe if the price drops down quite a bit, I will pick some of these up to keep at my desk at school. However, my luck with Hero pens has been almost nill.
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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    And still no Purple Safari!!

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Doesnt jinhao have a model after the lamy safari aswell? Dunno if its any better than the hero so could someone do a review or link me to a review?

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Quote Originally Posted by sparkinflint View Post
    Doesnt jinhao have a model after the lamy safari aswell? Dunno if its any better than the hero so could someone do a review or link me to a review?
    I have both the Hero and the Jinhao, and KBeezie here did a comparison, too, I think.

    My take is that the Hero has a slight edge on better build quality and better nibs in comparing the all-plastic, non-hooded versions. Last time I looked I think isellpens had the 359 at a low price.

    My purple Hero 359 is going up for sale soon.

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    I know this is old but I found this searching on the internet trying to figure out what type of cartridge the Hero 359 takes and is is definitely note a International Cartridge that is stated in this post. If you read this blog it also states this. On top of that you can look at the cartridges that the Hero 359 ship with and that are much larger (length and diameter) than international cartridges.

    Hope this saves someone some time when searching.

    https://londonpenclub.wordpress.com/...-fountain-pen/

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    Default Re: Hero 359: The Lamy Safari Knockoff

    Quote Originally Posted by kur1j View Post
    I know this is old but I found this searching on the internet trying to figure out what type of cartridge the Hero 359 takes and is is definitely note a International Cartridge that is stated in this post. If you read this blog it also states this. On top of that you can look at the cartridges that the Hero 359 ship with and that are much larger (length and diameter) than international cartridges.

    Hope this saves someone some time when searching.

    https://londonpenclub.wordpress.com/...-fountain-pen/

    It's probably some sort of proprietary. The Hero-Faris from China ebay sellers (My latest: two-tone!! With TRANSPARENT section!!) come with about a half-dozen carts of a very nice blue-black. I'm saving them to refill.

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