The Retro 51 Ocean Slim Tornado is a new addition and part of Retro 51’s 2016 line up. This is my first foray into the world of Retro 51 Tornado pens. Before now I never found a Tornado that captured my attention enough to buy it, or pay a premium price for a pen I hadn't used or wasn't sure I would like (I'm looking at you Surfin').
Anyway focusing now on the Ocean Slim Tornado there are some real highlights to this pen. Firstly the slim barrel of is a big seller for me. I think the standard Tornados would be too wide and generally I don’t like fat pens as I find them uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. The slim versions of the Tornado are more of a standard pen width and therefore better suited to me.
The design of this pen is something I was really drawn to. In addition to the Ocean colour there is a Graphite and Electron (a darker blue). On close inspection of each colour they have a slightly different pattern on the barrel. Viewing this online I wasn’t sure if this was etched into the pen, or just a printed pattern. It turns out it is only printed. The Ocean design is fab and I love the colours used. The only aspect I don’t like is the end of the pen. The change of material and the colour used here breaks up the seemless fade on the barrel. It's almost like Retro 51 had some trouble achieving the desired finish. It’s not too noticeable but it's not the perfect finish.
I really like the packaging of the Retro 51’s. The box that the Ocean Slim arrives in really is very cool and gives a great first impression. The tag line - ‘Life’s too short to carry an ugly pen’ is fab. It’s a really nice little branding touch. Normally I am not bothered by pen packaging, but I do appreciate the thought that companies spend on packaging. To me it shows consideration of the whole product and it helps set the tone of then pen you have bought. The box is so nice it could double up as a presentation box sitting proudly on your desk.
This pen comes with a Schmidt REF71 ballpoint refill. The Tornado refills tend to get some good write ups, and as ballpoint refills go its good. The thing is I am just not a fan of a ballpoint refill when they are some really great alternative options.
The below photo shows how the refill performs. You get a nice black line on the page and it is a smooth writer. This refill has a wider line than I would like, around 0.7mm. You can however swap out this refill for a G2 refill (check out Ana’s amazing Epic Refill Guide for a list of compatible refills). After using the ballpoint for some time and giving it a chance I will definitely be finding an alternative option or perhaps even trying a refill hack. This will vastly improve my enjoyment of this pen and put it in the realm of the Karas Kustoms Render K.
Twist don’t click
The one element of the Tornado that I wasn’t expecting is the twist action to get the refill to appear. I was expecting the knock to click down like many other ballpoint pens, however the Tornado’s distinctive knurled knock is actually a twist mechanism. Who knew!
I really like this pen. It’s a great design and the slim barrel works really well. It has become a pen that I carry with me on the move and use in my Leuchtuem1917 pen loop as it fits in snugly. The downside for me is the refill. This issue can be fixed very easily by swapping it out for a refill I know I will enjoy. I can see why there is hype around the Retro 51 pens and why people enjoy the limited editions and various colours available. For me I don't think I will be adding other Retro 51's to my pen collection, however I am pleased I own this one and will enjoy using it.