Oh, so Retro… 51, that is: Retro 51 Tornado Review

Retro51 Kiwi

The Retro 51 Tornado Review

After lots of teasing and cajoling, I have finally given in and purchased a Retro 51 Tornado ($21 through our favorite online retailer, JetPens). I wanted to buy one of the Vintage Surf models but decided spending $55+ on a limited edition model pen that I wasn’t sure if I would actually like might not be the best course of action. So, I decided to purchase a classic lacquer first to make sure the Retro 51 Tornado was a pen I would like. Of course, I purchased the kiwi green color which I loved how it looked. The sales clerk at the Pen Place let me choose my refill but was not terribly helpful about what the advantages or disadvantages of each were. I asked for a fine rollerball and he offered the Parker-Style ceramic gel refill made by Monetverde that they were available in an array of colors so I chose a blue-black .

Retro51 clip and knurled twist mechanism

I like the metallic sheen of the body of the pen and the knurled twist mechanism. The clip is elegant and simple.

Retro51 disassembled

I loved the color and consistency of the Monteverde blue-black gel ink but when I started writing with it and there was a peculiar looseness in the tip. It wasn’t a perfect fit in the body so it wiggled a little and I immediately disliked it. I went onto Twitter and ADN and started asking if my experience was typical. “Nope, It shouldn’t wiggle” was the consensus. The refill I got was not a good fit.

Kindly, Lilardie on Twitter offered to send me a Retro51 branded refill and VOILA! it was such an improvement. For the record, I (the awkward lefty) had no issues with the performance of the Retro 51 rollerball refill. It writes like buttah for me and I have to say, with rollerballs, that’s not always the case so I was pleasantly surprised. With the spring and the better fitting refill, the tip is solid and completely stationary. It does not wiggle at all making the writing experience vastly improved. The refill is listed as 0.7mm but doesn’t seem too wide for me. I’d compare it to a 0.5mm Pilot Hi-Tec C or thereabouts.

Retro51 writing sample

The pen is not very long at 5″ with the tip extended and the clip is positioned low enough (2.25″ down from the top) on the pen that if the pen twists in your hand and the clip can bite into your hand. I just had to be aware when I picked it up that the clip needed to face up for maximum comfort. The knurled end does make the pen a little top heavy on the end but it gives it a nice heft. The Retro51 refill is so yummy that once I start writing, I forget about the lovely pen and the fact that my only ink color options are blue and black and just write. That’s a pretty good thing.

The Giveaway

You too can be the proud owner of a Kiwi Green (or any of the dozen classic lacquer colors) Retro51 Tornado thanks to JetPens. Leave a comment below and tell me which of the colors you like best to be entered to win.

The Fine Print

Giveaway ends at 10pm on Monday, June 10, 2013 (US Central Time). All comment must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form (you don’t have to put in in your comment) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone β€” pinky swear. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money.

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0 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Looks like kiwi green is the winner for me too! (Although orange or Lincoln/Antique Copper tie for a close second colour.)

  2. I love the steel blue, but there’s a limited edition one called The Monroe which is red with crosshatching on it and it is…the sex.

  3. It’s hard to decide between purple and peacock blue. I would love either one and be happy to be surprised. Thanks for the opportunity!

  4. LOVE the ice blue and the stainless steel… they also happen to the be the only ones that are sold out…the peacock blue is really growing on me though.

  5. I’ve been fondly admiring the Kiwi green Tornado, so that’s the one I’d pick IF I was lucky enough to win. Enjoyed the review!! Can’t get enough of that knurling.

  6. I absolutely love the Orange and Red Retro 51s! I want the Tornado to be my first “real” rollerball. I need something other than fountain pens for my internship!

  7. Since the copper Lincoln is not part of it (gorgeous!), stainless or ice blue (kiwi if the sold out ones aren’t included).

  8. Ana,

    It’s me, Randy, who, along with you, coined the sobriquet “His Bradness” for the esteemed Mr. Dowdy. I’m not generally a fan of rollerballs–I prefer gels or fountain pens–but I’ve heard Myke Hurley rhapsodize about Retro 51s for so long that I feel duty-bound to try one. Not one of the custom editions, mind you–$50 for a rollerball seems too steep–but the orange and purple standard varieties really look stunning.

    Here’s to you,

    Randy Schwartz

  9. My favorite Lacquer is the green but that’s the one I already have along with the Lincoln antique copper. The Kiwi looks rather nice. Hard to choose. Thanks!

  10. Brown body with gold trim is awesome and definetly one of a kind! In silver, I like the pink body! Thanks for the chance to win! I love following your blog!

  11. I love the unique look of the gold one. I’ve heard so many good things about Retro 51’s that I really have to try one!
    Thank you for the awesome giveaway!

  12. The green body, please. I have too many black, blue and red pens. A little variety would be nice.

  13. I’ve got a black tornado and I LOVE it, use it on a daily basis. I love the idea of collecting the tornados and have had my eye on an ice blue one for a while now.

  14. Tough choice, but I think my favorite is the brown with gold trim. Classy and earthy at the same time.

  15. I keep hearing Brad and Myke talking about these and would love to try one. I like the way the non-lacquered parts on the brown model are subtly colour-matched.

  16. I’m glad you finally got yourself one of these.

    I really love the Pop Zag, but as far as the non-limited ones, ice blue!

  17. With three kids in college even pen purchases have been curtailed. I must win. I must. Black. Red. Ice Blue.

  18. The Brown Body with Gold Trim is very classy looking. Retro 51 have a very unique looking pen in the Tornados.

  19. I’ve had the Vintage Metalsmith Franklin on my wish list for a while now – maybe I’ll get lucky!

  20. Tough decision. I like the Lincoln and Jefferson, but in the classic lacquer series I’d probably go with purple or orange.

  21. The Vintage ones are beautiful. The Jefferson and Lincoln are just fantastic, but all of them are special in their own way.

  22. Oh, and as far as a color, my mother always said that beggars can’t be choosers so any would be pleasing to me.

  23. I had a very bright green Retro almost five years ago. It was a great pen that walked off with someone at work. But the orange is beautiful.

  24. Thanks for the opportunity! I think the Ice Blue’s a great look! I guess it would be one which would require a wait to be stocked, though.

  25. I am pretty old so the most retro to me is my fav: brown body with luxurious
    gold trim. How can you go wrong?
    Terrific giveaway.

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