Jolly Good: The Retro 51 Tornado Touch

Many thanks to my friends at JetPens for sponsoring my purchase of the pen reviewed here. I was not compensated in any other way and this review describes my experiences and observations with the pen.

Standard Retro 51 Tornado vs Tornado Touch
Standard Retro 51 Tornado (the new “Flipper”) vs. the petite Tornado Touch

The Retro 51 Tornado Touch is both dapper and darling. It’s a teeny thing, but still packed full of Retro 51 goodness. At 4-3/8″, this isn’t a pen that you’ll want to use to write a novel, but for jotting down a grocery list, signing paperwork, or capturing on-the-fly notes, it’s ideal. Ideal AND classy.

This is a “honey, I shrunk the pen” version of the standard Retro 51 Tornado, with a couple of bonus features that add to its charm. The first is the “bowler hat” stylus on the end of the pen. As a kid, I used to religiously watch “Family Affair“— a sitcom that featured a British butler named Mr. French. Mr. French typically wore a suit and a bowler to run errands (as you do). Whenever I look at the Retro 51 Tornado Touch, I picture good old Mr. French, his smooth manners, and lovely accent.

Retro 51 Torndao Touch bowler hat and mustache

The stylus is not only stylish but works very well on both my iPad and iPhone. In fact, it’s one of my favorite styluses (stylii?). I rarely have to repeat a motion while typing or swiping through pages or dragging letters around on the Words With Friends board. Very responsive.

The second feature is not functional in the least but adds a splash of whimsical charm to this diminutive pen. A mustache. That’s right— the pen sports a tiny mustache, because why not?! The pen is available in three finishes— Lincoln Copper, Stainless, and Black (the one featured in this review). Though the copper version tugged at me, I ultimately chose the black version because it made the pen look like it was wearing a little suit. (And for some reason it was important to me that my pen be properly attired in formal wear.)

Ballpoint refill

The D1 refill that comes loaded in the pen is made by Schmidt and writes quite well for a ballpoint. What’s great, though, is that because the refill IS the D1 style/size, there are plenty of D1 refill options available should the included one not thrill you. I picked up some Uni-ball Jetstream D1 refills that I’m anxious to try when the the current one needs to be replaced. You can also swap in D1 gel refills, if that’s your favorite type of ink. There are plenty of ways to make the Retro 51 Tornado Touch your own, ink-wise.

Accessing the D1 refill
Accessing the D1 refill

Disassembled
Refill removed (refill extender still in place)

Swapping the refill is not super intuitive (I had to Google it) so here’s how that works. Grab the knurled section, just below the bowler stylus and give it a good yank until it pulls out of the body of the pen. Looking into the pen body, you’ll see the end of the refill assembly. Using a small Philips head screwdriver (or your Swiss Army knife), unscrew the refill housing until it can be pulled out of the pen. Pull the refill extender off of the D1 refill, and place it onto the new refill, then reverse the steps to install the assembly back in the pen. [Updated to add: Click HERE for a video that details the process.]

Disassembled
Refill extender removed from D1 refill

If there’s any downside to this pen, I’d say it’s the price. At $27 from JetPens, it costs a few dollars more than many of the standard size Tornado rollerballs. That said, the small premium buys you an awfully cute pen that successfully combines both novelty and panache. That’s a tricky combination, but Retro 51 pulls it off with ease.

The packaging is a scaled down version of the usual Tornado tube, and it’s as adorable as the pen inside.

Tornado Touch pen and packaging

The Retro 51 Tornado Touch is a cool little pen that oozes charm with its distinctive bowler and well-groomed mustache. It’s dapper, dashing, and debonair; both well-groomed and well-designed. If your everyday carry needs just a little more class, this is your pen. A very good writer with an excellent stylus and lots of D1 refill options, it’s another clever AND solid offering from the folks at Retro 51.

The Tornado Touch is, I can safely say, “jolly good.”

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