Retro Talk: The Birthday Tornado


Take a look through any Retro 51 collection, and you’re bound to find a lot of really amazing designs. And though a simple classic lacquer Tornado costs only about $20, you’ll have to shell out around $25 to $50 for a special or limited edition Tornado or sometimes upwards of $100 for a Tornado design that’s discontinued or currently out of production. There is, however, one exception that I know of: the Retro 51 ‘Birthday Greetings’ Tornado series.

At one point in time, Retro 51 was making a bunch of these ‘Greeting Series’ pens. There’s the ‘Happy Holidays’ Tornado, the ‘Congrats’ Tornado, and even the simple ‘Thanks’ Tornado, but these days they are all pretty difficult to find for a reasonable price. But for whatever reason, the ‘Happy Birthday’ Tornado can easily be found for under 15 dollars.


The ‘Birthday Greeting’ series was made with three different colors/designs: blue (shown above), yellow (shown below), and red (shown here). Apart from the colors, the red and yellow pens are identical. They have phrases and icons pictured all over the barrel, and the word “BIRTHDAY!” is splashed across the side. The blue version is subtler, and it mainly consists of numbers/ages. The blue design still contains an assortment of birthday-ish words and icons, but you’d really need to examine it in order to see the theme.

Perhaps it feels like you can only use this pen one day a year, but I actually use mine all the time (I bought the blue version for myself last year). It’s also a nice and easy present. In fact, I just gave away the yellow version as a gift, and I might just stockpile the red version to give away sometime next year. And as an unskilled gift wrapper, I always appreciate when a product comes in its own gift box.


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