Retro 51 writing tools are known for their good looks and solid performance, so for that reason I was thrilled to get my hands on their Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen -Lincoln EXT when I saw it available from JetPens. Thanks to the folks at JetPens for providing this sample free of charge for this review.
The folks at Retro 51 don’t stop at making just great looking pens, but the packaging for their pens is also well done and has great visual appeal. The round cardboard tube with foam insert looks cool and does a great job of holding the pen in place and protecting it. Back to the pen though because there are probably other blogs about product packaging, I guess? I was really struck when I saw this pen because of the look of copper with patina on it. It seems to match well with the Retro 51 brand itself as compared ot the other more modern (but still nice looking) pens in this line.
A close up of the nib and cap on the Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen -Lincoln EXT show some of the very nice visual detail on this antique looking fountain pen. The solid copper color of the cap and body have a find brushing of black highlights that give that patina look. I do have to say though that I was a little bit disappointed because for some reason I was expecting those black lines to be somewhat raised and/or embedded in the body of the pen to provide more of a tactile feel similar to a brushed metal. Visually it looks great, but I think that brushed texture would have also made it feel great in the hand. What you can also see in this photo though is the almost slick feeling plastic grip section that doesn’t offer much in the way of a firm grip.
You can see that the nib here is a Schmidt iridium tipped steel nib which has a great reputation for being an economical but great writer. The version I have here is the Fine nib which for my personal preference is a hair thicker than I’d prefer, but with such amazing performance, its hard to nitpick about such a minor detail.
Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen -Lincoln EXT Fine Nib Writing Sample
A good looking pen is only going to get you so far, and unfortunately the Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen hits that wall fairly quickly once you start to write with it. For me the slick feeling plastic grip section was the biggest downside of writing with this pen. It caused me to have to hold the pen way too tight for fear of it slipping while I was writing. This makes for a very tiresome writing experience that puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your fingers and hand. When writing with the cap posted I feel that the Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Pen becomes very top heavy, so the obvious answer there is to write without the cap posted. With the cap not being posted, the writing experience was slightly improved but still not ideal. This is a shame not only because its a great looking pen, but also because the Schmidt nib is just an incredibly smooth writing nib thats fun to write with. I couldn’t help pairing this pen with my Levenger Cocoa ink just because it added to the antique look and feel when writing with this pen.
Overall it seems that a few minor adjustments in the grip and the weight of the Retro 51 Tornato Fountain Pen could make a big difference in how well it performs. And if you think its limited to just the Lincoln EXT version, I would suggest you check out Brad’s review of the Black Acrylic version where he experienced similar issues. Thanks again to JetPens for making this review possible by providing the Retro 51 Tornado for us to test with.