Okay, full disclosure: I’m a fan of the Retro 51 Tornado. I’ve got a bunch of them. So when I saw the new Slim line of Tornado pens in the recent Retro 51 catalog, I knew right away that I was going to buy one. My only difficulty was deciding which one I wanted most.
For a while the Slim Tornado was made only in partnership with Apple, with four designs that match the four iPhone colors. The problem is that these pens are available only at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. If you live outside of California then you’re out of luck, unless you’ve either got a good friend on the West Coast or you’re willing to pay triple the retail price on eBay. But have no fear, Retro 51 has three new designs for the Slim Tornado that are available everywhere.
While I was initially tempted by the Graphite design, I was a bit more intrigued by the Electron. Unlike the other designs, which have a printed wrap, the Electron has a metallic barrel, anodized with a light blue color that covers the entirety of the pen’s body – tip, clip, twist, and all. It looks great, plus the barrel is acid etched with a hexagonal design that’s reminiscent of a carbon nanotube.
Compared to a standard Tornado, the Slim is slightly thinner, lighter by a hair, and has a shorter clip. However, both pens are the same length, and unless you’ve got them side-by-side, the differences aren’t overt. The Slim Tornado also uses a ballpoint refill, the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000, rather than the Schmidt Rollerball refill typically found in a Tornado (which is just too fat for this pen). As ballpoints go, I like it quite a bit. However, that may be because it feels much more like rollerball ink. It’s dark and smooth, but it smears more than your average ballpoint, especially on glossy paper.
Overall, I really like this Retro 51 Slim Tornado, which perhaps is no surprise. I still prefer the larger-sized Tornado original, but that’s just a personal preference. My girlfriend, with her smaller hands, says she prefers the Slim. And, regardless, if you’re a fan of the Tornado like I am, then I would definitely suggest adding one of these to the collection.