Posts filed under Retro 51

Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen New Model Review

Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen New Model Review

Retro 51 makes some of the best - and most popular - rollerball and ballpoint pens on the market. In fact, they have made their own market by creating pens that are of a high quality, and are as fun as they are functional.

They make fountain pens too, but those take a backseat to their other offerings. I reviewed the previous version of the Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen in 2014, and while it was fine, it wasn’t compelling enough to recommend in it’s price bracket.

At the time, its clear flaw was the grip section. It was slick, and had a straight taper. It was just asking your fingers to slide right off. It wrote well enough, but the balance was a bit off, even unposted. In short, Retro 51 had some work to do to make their fountain pen a product worth standing next to the rest of their product lineup.

Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen

They did it with newly updated Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen.

Retro 51 took the universal feedback they received on the old version of the pen and fixed all of it. First off, the grip section is enjoyable! It is concave, and has a different finish that eliminates the majority of the slippage the previous version had. Secondly, the balance of the pen unposted is right on the money. When writing, you don’t necessarily want to feel the pen in your hand when doing so. You just want it to exist, and be enjoyable. This one is.

Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen Grip Section

When posted, it is still going to be top-heavy, but that is because this is a metal barrel pen, and any posted metal barrel pen will have the same issue.

With those two main issues out of the way, Retro 51 went ahead and upgraded the nib. They went from a good one in Schmidt, to a great one in Jowo. And it is stamped with their logo too, which is something I personally enjoy.

Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen Cap

If you couldn’t tell by my handwriting on the page, this EF steel nib was perfect right out of the box. I inked it up with Rohrer & Klingner Aubergine, broke out my Yoseka notebook, and enjoyed the writing experience.

That’s what I want every time I pick up a product. To enjoy the experience. In the past, the Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen didn’t give me that. It does now.

Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen Writing

At it’s price point ($52 on Goldspot for the base level Tornado) it is now a compelling product versus the competition, such as TWSBI and Faber-Castell. And I think that is a good place to be.

(Retro 51 provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen Review
Posted on August 5, 2019 and filed under Retro 51, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic Edition Review

Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic Edition Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

In my brief stint living in California, I quickly fell in love with the California state flag. I'd seen it before, but when you're in the state of California, you definitely see it a lot more often. I have my fair share of mugs, shirts, stickers, and other trinkets that sport this iconic symbol. When JetPens unveiled a limited edition Retro 51 Tornado that used the same design, I knew I had to have one.

The California Republic Edition Tornado from JetPens is a perfect example of why some people are such loyal fans of the Retro 51 brand. It's the same pen, but the unique designs that borrow meaningful symbology keep people coming back for more and also suck in new people who don't already spend a lot of time in stationery circles.

Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic Edition

At $40, this Tornado is priced on par with other limited editions. It's a limited edition in the sense that only JetPens sell it, but according to the description, "quantities produced will be determined according to demand," which implies that this isn't a limited production. That being said, if you want one of these pens, snag one while you can!

Before we get in to look at the pen, there's also another special feature of this limited edition pen. For every pen sold, JetPens will donate $5 to the California Fire Foundation. This is a worthy cause to support, and one that I'm glad JetPens have decided to set up. Fires are tragic disasters that are impossible to control, and the damage they cause can go far beyond what any monetary support can provide. Still, monetary support always helps when battling these natural disasters, and I appreciate JetPens setting this up.

Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic

Now, if you're familiar with the Retro 51 Tornado, then you already know this pen. It features the deliciously smooth P8126 refill from Schmidt, which glides over paper like butter in a hot pan. It's a delightful writing experience, and I believe everyone should own at least one. The pen is on the short side overall, but it manages to keep a comfortable weight and shape for long writing sessions. From the top of the pen down to the tip, there's a pleasant taper that provides visual design and a great writing grip.

Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic Edition Refill

The pen is extended and retracted by twisting the top finial. The twist motion is smooth and quick, but you'll never have to worry about the tip extending by accident. The front section of the pen also unscrews so that you can replace the Schmidt refill.

The best part about this pen is the barrel design and finial. The California Republic flag wraps around the barrel, providing a fantastic view of the walking bear. The color scheme of the barrel is borrowed directly from the flag, but the metal accents match the color scheme perfectly. The aged bronze bits add a lot of visual interest and warmth to the pen.

Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic Edition Number

The top finial has a lovely red star on a white background to compliment the star on the flag. It's one of my favorite elements on this pen. Also, the section that holds the knurled twist mechanism contains some light Tornado branding along with a unique serial number.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the Retro 51 Tornado California Republic Edition. I knew exactly what I was getting when I first saw the pictures online, and it delivered in person 100%. At $40, the price is a bit higher than the regular Tornado line, but this is a special edition and this price range is normal for special Tornado editions. If you like the design, the flag, or just the general look fo this pen, you won't be sorry you picked one up!

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Retro 51 Tornado JetPens California Republic Edition Comparison
Posted on December 19, 2018 and filed under Retro 51, Pen Reviews.

Retro 51 Tornado Dmitri Mechanical Pencil Review

Retro 51 Tornado Dmitri Mechanical Pencil Review

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to mechanical pencils. Give me a classic design over most anything. Bonus points if it is an engineering-style mechanical pencil, like my beloved Rotring 600.

That’s what has kept me away from the Retro 51 Mechanical Pencil for so long. Not that this isn’t a classic style with it’s twist mechanism. In fact, it may be more classic than the standard click mechanism. But the twist pencil is no longer the expectation for mechanical pencils, nor has it been for decades.

Retro 51 Tornado Dmitri Mechanical Pencil

It took Retro 51 to design one to get me interested. The Dmitri, named after Dr. Dmitri Mendeleev, the father of the Periodic Table, is not only a great bit of scientific history, but is beautiful to look at.

Unfortunately, that’s where my joy with this product ended.

Retro 51 Tornado Dmitri

Retro 51’s Tornado mechanical pencils are designed around 1.15 mm graphite diameters. I like larger diameters, regularly using both 0.9 mm and 2.0 mm varieties in various products I own. But, the graphite has to be good. I’m not sure this graphite is good. It has a more plasticky feel than I would like. That makes it smooth and firm, but it has no character. No depth. No darkness.

With a more standard lead size I would happily swap in a different brand, like I do with ballpoint and rollerball refills. 1.15 mm is such a peculiar size that it makes swapping the lead out more difficult than with other mechanical pencils. Quick Googling shows a dearth of options.

Retro 51 Tornado Mechanical Pencil 1.15 mm

Even the times I am content with the lead situation in this pencil, I’m not content with the mechanism. It works fine extending and retracting the lead, but when I’m writing and the tip hits the page between words, the lead scoots back into the barrel slightly. Not every single time, but enough to be noticeable. It’s like there is some play in the twist, allowing it to backtrack if it’s hit in the right spot.

Retro 51 Tornado Dmitri Mechanical Pencil Eraser

And finally, the eraser. It erases fine, that’s if it remains in place long enough to get the job done. I figured out immediately that if I erased in a left to right fashion, the eraser would pop out of the barrel. If I erased in an up and down fashion, it stayed in place. End of the world? No. Annoyance? Yes.

Does the style of the pencil outweigh the annoyances I had with it? No, it doesn’t. There is no doubt it is a stunner, and would make a great gift for the right person. But if you aren’t looking for a gift and instead want a great writing experience, you should look elsewhere.

(Retro 51 provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Retro 51 Tornado Mechanical Pencil Review
Posted on November 19, 2018 and filed under Retro 51, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.