Retro 51 Tornado: Vintage Metalsmith Lincoln

I NEVER WIN ANYTHING! Welllllll…until now! I recently took a stab at a photo captioning contest on the Retro 51 blog and…amazingly…won! Me! The never-winner! The prize? One of the new, very cool Retro 51 Tornado Rollerballs- Lincoln (Antique Copper) model. Oh, I had been eyeing these, and now one was on its way to me. Just knowing this polished up a plain old Thursday into a much shinier day.

Killer packaging

The pen arrived on Saturday and it’s a beauty. The antique copper design looks truly vintage. Sort of modern vintage. (The best of both worlds, really.) Even the clip and knurled twist mechanism look like a well-worn penny. The finish is smooth, much smoother than it appears in some promotional photos, where it almost looks rough and rusty. I like the classic lacquers (have a couple), but this is a fresh departure…very sharp.

“Life Is Too Short To Carry An Ugly Pen”

Clip & knurling

Of course, the packaging is killer. As you can see above, the box I received has the “man on scooter” graphic, which I particularly enjoy because it reminds me of my sweet Vespa. The inner “tube” is bright orange and blue- classic Retro 51 stylin’. (The tube says “Please recycle” But I can’t imagine anyone throwing away this packaging.)

The complete package

The liquid ink/rollerball lays down a bold, solid line- very smooth. I DO wish that there was the option for a finer rollerball point, but this one is fine when I’m in the mood to write BOLDLY.

Rollerball writing sample

I did swap out the rollerball for a fine point Parker ballpoint refill, which is a nice option. I found that I had to turn around the spring (which is slightly tapered), so that the narrower end of the spring points towards the back of the pen. Otherwise, the spring catches and the tip doesn’t deploy/retract smoothly. Reversing the spring solves this little issue. The Parker refill isn’t Jetstream quality, but it’s a perfectly good option, especially for a finer line.

Retro 51 Tornado refill options

Ballpoint refill writing sample

Oh- and I almost forgot to mention that the fine folks at Retro 1951 sent along a t-shirt as an added, surprise bonus– very cool! Who knew Retro 51 t-shirts existed? Well, we do now! (I wore mine IMMEDIATELY.)

Retro 51 t-shirt

I love my prize, and not just because it’s the only prize I’ve ever won. To me, I hit the Retro 51 JACKPOT.

Check out the rest of the Vintage Metalsmith line here. They all look vintage…AND modern…and very cool.

A couple of additional notes:
Though the Vintage Metalsmith Rollerballs are not yet available at JetPens, they do offer a great collection of the Classic Lacquers, as well as a few other special editions here.

While rooting through my treasure chest of refills last night, I discovered that the Schmidt refill P8126 (Short Body) is a perfect finer point rollerball option for the Tornados. It probably runs around 0.5 mm and has made this pen absolutely perfect. SO perfect, in fact, that I quickly ordered a handful via Daly’s Pen Shop.

I think that covers it!

Kickstarter #1: KarasKustoms Render K + Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills

Render K by KarasKustoms

The Render K was the first project I ever backed on Kickstarter, and the experience was a great one. KarasKustoms, a machine shop in Arizona and the maker of the Render K, posted frequent updates throughout the process, including a number of videos that showed our pens being “born.” I bonded with my pen, even before I held it in my hands. But I worried (as I am prone to do) that there might be a letdown when the Render K actually arrived and fantasy met reality. As it turns out, there was no need to fret- the real live pen blew me away.

Why was I worried?

My pen was machined from aluminum (there’s also a brass version available) and feels like a precision tool. Mated with the Pilot Hi-Tec-C (0.4 mm, black ink, is my choice), it’s one of the pens that I reach for every single day.

Built to last, then last some more

The stainless steel clip is ultra-reliable, and keeps the pen secure whether clipped to pocket or purse or messenger bag. NO worries about clip failure. I really love the look of the knurled cap. Mmmmm…knurled. Cool word.

The ultimate clip

Awesome knurling

Technically, the cap can be (loosely) posted, but I never use it that way as the added weight of cap makes the pen top heavy. The weight is perfectly balanced sans cap.

The cap threads onto the pen body and I love this feature, too. As with the Kaweco Liliput, I enjoy the tiny ritual of unscrewing the cap before sitting down to write. This action forces me to slow down for just a moment. And sometimes, a moment is all you need to get a grip. And who couldn’t use a little more grip? (Me! Me!)

Before using the Render K, I liked the Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens, but honestly, I didn’t LOVE them. Turns out that it must’ve been the pen BODY that wasn’t my favorite because the the Hi-Tec-C refill in the Render K body is an absolutely stellar combination.

This was my first venture into the world of Kickstarter projects, but it’s not my last. KarasKustoms, though, set the bar very high with their frequent updates, and ultimately, with the execution of the Render K. It’s a fine, fine pen.

Missed the Render K as a Kickstarter project? No worries…the pen body (and its brass counterpart) are available here. Note that a refill DOES NOT ship with the pen so that you can select what works for you. In addition to the Hi-Tec-C refills, KarasKustoms includes a spacer that makes it possible to use Fisher Space Pen refills as well.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C refills are available via JetPens, and so are the Fisher Space Pen refills. One stop refill shopping!

For another take on the same pen, check out this wonderfully detailed review at Gourmet Pens.

Winner: Scout’s Picks

The winner of Scout’s picks…the Zebra Sarasa Clip and the ScoutBook is…

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 7
Result: 4

4. Carrie said: June 13, 2012 at 6:50 am I never thought I would go for a brown ink but I really like it!

CONGRATULATIONS, CARRIE! The pen & notebook will be coming your way asap!!

To everyone else, thanks for entering, and keep checking in as I plan to have more giveaways throughout the summer.

In the meantime, have fun browsing at!! (I know I will!!)

Scout’s Picks: The Zebra Sarasa Clip Pen & The JetPens ScoutBook

This is Scout…

Hi, Scout!

He’s a VERY smart dog. So smart that he’s picked out a couple of favorites from JetPens.

Favorite #1:

Zebra Sarasa Clip, 0.3mm, in brown

Scout loves the Sarasa Clip because:
THE TIP is fine, fine, fine, and leaves a very crisp line. (Scout’s kind of a perfectionist.)

THE PIGMENT INK is water-resistant. (Who can resist a puddle?)

THE CLIP is sturdy and substantial…perfect for attaching to a notebook or journal (or leash).

THE INK is BROWN. (Scout’s favorite color…coincidence?)

THE PRICE is only $2.20 a pop (which leaves more money for chew toys and treats).

Favorite #2:

JetPens ScoutBook- Pentown

Ooooo, grids!

Scout’s a little shallow. He picked the notebook based on name alone, but little does he know that the Pentown ScoutBook is made in the USA with 100% recycled paper, and is printed with vegetable-based inks. It’s pocket-size, and perfect for documenting…

Fun adventures with the family

Packing lists

Life’s injustices


Good boy, Scout, good boy!


YOU CAN WIN Scout’s picks. (He’s smart AND generous!). Leave a comment on this entry by 11:59 pm Sunday June 17th. Each comment will be assigned a number (Comment #1 = 1, etc.). The winning comment will be selected via random number generator on the evening of Monday June 18th and posted on this blog.

Stuff to remember:
ONE ENTRY per person, please.
USA only, at this time. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Brown not your thing? Check out JetPens for the full range of colors available in the Zebra Sarasa Clip pens. Just don’t tell Scout that you didn’t pick brown.

Right Brain-Left Brain: The Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Marker Pen

JetPens was kind enough to send along a Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Marker pen on the EXACT day I needed a little pen pick-me-up. I’d had sort of a “Grrrrrrrrrr” day and the surprise arrival of the purple pen did wonders for my mood. (It’s the little things, doncha know?!) I’ve never used a Pigma Micron before, but I quickly learned a bit about the pen from scanning the information on the barrel. The ink is archival, waterproof, and fade-proof, which are certainly sought-after qualities in ink. So far, so good.

The pen felt very “artisty” in my hand, so I sat down to create my purple masterpiece. TA DA!

What can I say? I was hungry.

Obviously, I’m no artist (and I don’t even play one on TV), but I can easily see myself using this pen for my card-making projects….for lettering or for adding little designs, or even just for signing the cards.

A couple of washi tape birthday cards

For REAL artists, illustrators, and cartoonists, the Sakura Pigma Micron is a perfect choice. The metal-sheathed tip is firm, and the ink flow is precise and consistent. Add these attributes to the fact that the pen is offered in a range of colors and nib sizes (0.20, 0.25, 0.30, 0.35, 0.40, 0.45, and 0.50 mm) and the Pigma Micron is easily a go-to pen for folks who are serious about their art (and even for those of us who just doodle, dabble, and play).

Like I said, I’m not an artist, but I’ve worked in the sciences since 19XX, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Sakura Pigma Micron is ALSO the pen of choice for scientists, architects, anthropologists, entomologists, archivists, and even precise diamond cutters (according to the Sakura website) because of the properties of the patented Pigma ink. Now SCIENCE, I can relate to. Having worked in laboratories for years, and now working in the sciences in a college setting, I can fully appreciate the need for archival, waterproof, and fade-proof ink. Sakura explains this piece very thoroughly on their website. When documentation MUST BE precise and permanent, the Sakura Pigma Micron is the answer.

The Sakura Pigma Micron at work…

When permanance counts

When precision counts

The color & nib size are easy to see (05 = 0.45mm)

So really- the Sakura Pigma Micron is very right brain-left brain. It’s artistic AND scientific. It’s precise AND expressive. It comes in (fun) colors. It comes in (serious) black. It’s super fun to draw with AND it protects your scientific data.

You have a right brain. You have a left brain. One of them wants you to buy this pen.

Obey your brain.