Anyone who knows one or two things about Chinese pen may have acknowledged years ago that Wing Sung was dead.
Once a great brand, Wing Sung, along with HERO, was among the first Chinese companies to be listed on the Shanghai stock market in the early 1990s, only to find itself haunted by the upcoming shrinkage of Chinese domestic pen market. During Wing Sung’s downtime, HERO purchased its pen-related capital, including the brand Wing Sung, a sentence means ‘Living Forever’ in Chinese and was transliterated in the Wade–Giles system in the old time.
By that time, HERO did run a diversified brand portfolio, ranging from Guanleming (actually the Rockman from New York) to Doctor, but mysteriously, Wing Sung brand ended up nowhere after being merged. Throughout the decades after purchasing, this once reputable brand remained almost lifeless, leaving considerable opportunities for pen shops in Jiangxi and Zhejiang province to make terrible fake Wing Sung pens.
Looking back on the degenerating route HERO was and still is on, the withholding of producing Wing Sung pens may be the best thing they have done to preserve its equity, ironically. It was clearly around 2012 there was a financial crisis within HERO, and consequently the year around 2013, a decision was made by the state-owned HERO: licensing the Wing Sung brand to companies from the private sector.
Yes, that’s the word ‘company’ in plural form, a whole bunch of businesses.
A Unique Breed
Let’s save the criticism for such a business decision for the future, and now I just want to focus on one of those names from the private sector: the Shanghai Green Stationery.
To me, I didn’t care too much for Green’s Wing Sung project, cause what it was doing seemed no different from what other authorized pen makers’ practice: copycatting. It is a real shame to see this brand, though nothing more than a shallow brand name, is bearing more and more replicas of TWSBI AL series, LAMY Safaris and in Green’s case, a whole colorful line of Pilot 78G under the code name 659. It is true that both HERO and Wing Sung were the pros in producing knockoffs of Parker and Sheaffer’s in the 20th century, but from the standpoint of brand equity, I am just fed up of those dirt-cheap homage pens.
However, my attitudes towards Green began to shift after witnessing the introduction of Wing Sung 698, the first modern piston filler in China. Despite some immatureness, this model must be highlighted in the log of Chinese stationery industry as a milestone.
Further investigation revealed that Green is the company behind Junlai, the online pen retalier that come neck-in-neck with Jingdian in recent years. They have an enormous old stock of the 80s and 90s HERO and Wing Sung pens, some of them are the particular exporting version salvaged from Hongkong, and by selling those NOS vintage pens, Green has accumulated a group of loyal fans of vintage Chinese pens. And less known to the West, its first attempt to make a Wing Sung in-house should be the introduction of Wing Sung 613 Mark II, a HERO 616 replica that features a c/c filler, a signal that it still care about the issue of consistency and tradition. When those practices and elements combined, it must have given Green quite different framework to reckon what it is dealing with and become more careful when planning its Wing Sung project.
This summer, the Wing Sung 618 (the TUSU), a WOW Pen in some pen reviewers’ eyes, was added to Green’s lineup, proving again that Green may have more things to care rather than simply reverse-engineering.
I don’t have enough time review the about the two TUSUs I have, and I am posting some pictures of it to get you some rough idea about this new breed of Wing Sung. There are lots of reviews already on the internet, do check them out if you have time.
Next in Line
According to some trusted sources in the pen community, Green is planning something even bigger: in the coming months, we will probably see the new Vacumatic and Plunger version of 618, along with a new Balance-inspired model build wholly from celluloid.
As for Green’s counterparts, my thoughts on them are simple: they still have a long way to go, though bizarrely, they can enjoy free riding on the momentum built by Green. In a bigger picture, there also lies tremendous risk and uncertainty due to the way HERO licensed the Wing Sung brand to them. Hope at some time, one player can stand out and consolidate the brand before things get wrong and literally make the Wing Sung’s story a long living one.
8 Replies to “The New Wing Sung(s), Explained.”
very interesting intro and history to this brand! thanks for sharing
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc0bQY8nyQ0/ The Green Wing Sung’s Vacumatic filler is out next month.
Nice explanartion of how tghe business model works – this is what I’d picked up, but not the company name which makes the 698, 618 and now my absolute favourite, the 601. Interewsting to see the 1950s Wing Sung has certain similarities with the modern 601, in particular the ink-window. I was originally attracted to the 601 as I wanted a ‘dail driver’ Parker 51 type I could take out and use without worry. This was the closest. Intiailly, I found the ink-window a shame, but in use it has won me over as a practical improvement over the Parker. i’ve not tried their imitation Lamys, but with the quality of my 601s and the 698s I’ve owned (which compare very favourably to the much more expensaive TWSBIs I’ve tried), I’m veyr much sold on Wing Sung now.
Hi, is AliExpress a reliable source of wing sung or hero pens?
I have exactly the same question. I’ve bought several products on Aliexpress and I can say it’s usually a reliable source of goods, as long as you make sure that the seller has been around for at least one year, has a good rating and the product you want has enough good reviews. The problem here seems to be not the sellers, but the manufacturers.
I mean, for example, I’m currently looking for a cheap pen I can take here and there without worrying about losing or damaging it. The Wing Sung 6359 looks like a great option because it’s an aluminium Lamy knockoff, hence cheap but more durable than plastic pens. However, I’ve found tenths of posts complaining about fake Wing Sungs, mentioning the existence of two different qualities. Doing some research I came across this post, which says: “licensing the Wing Sung brand to companies from the private sector”. So that means there’s not just one manufacturer? That’d explain why there are different qualities and why buying one of these pens is like a coin in the air: you either get a pen from a good manufacturer or a bad quality one. Now, the question is, which seller has which?
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A great Place to buy Wing Sung 233.
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