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Review: the @Retro1951 Tornado Rollerball.


This is a review I’ve been meaning to do since I started actually doing them more seriously. I have had this pen a very long time – About a year and a bit if the date on the terrible photos of the awesome packaging are to go by. (And you can see that packaging here.) I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t done this sooner. Maybe it’s because I don’t use it as much as I should. And that is because I keep putting it somewhere safe, in its little sleeve – so when I’m looking for it, I’m looking for the bright blue, not the black of the sleeve because I’m an idiot, so then I keep thinking that I’ve lost it. And believe me, that makes me very unhappy. However, every time I do use it, it’s the only pen I’ll use until my fountain pens call out for me again.

(Can you tell that I’m in love with the Staples Arc range?)


When it comes to pens that cost more than a packet of say… Five from a local store, it normally boils down to the refill – some people can deal with an ugly pen body as long as the refill is pretty good. Especially in this day and age of the Kickstarter projects. You can probably find a prettier/nicer body for your favourite refill on there if the original body isn’t to your liking. Actually, I guess that extends both ways, except for the fact that a terrible refill is often much cheaper to replace. The refill in the Retro is just… Gosh. It’s lovely, it really is. As I said in the handwritten bit, it even makes me not mind black so much. I think that’s because it’s a gel refill instead of a ballpoint. Although it’s right up there at the top of the list of black gel refills/pens I’ve used and enjoyed. I’m sure that I can find something just as nice that will fit (I believe Parker have some gel refills, one of those might do.) Sure it won’t be quite the same, but anything to keep using the pen, right?

The knurling and the blue (or whatever colour your pen is, if you’ve got one of the “Classic Lacquers” versions – I can’t speak ifor the others) disc on the top of the twist mechanism are probably my favourite details of this pen. I can’t really say why – probably because I have a thing for texture and continued use of the main body colour in pen design. I even like the way the pen tapers towards the tip – normally that sort of thing gets a bit too skinny for my liking, but the Tornado is… It has a chubby tapering.

What else can I tell you that hasn’t already been covered in the hadnwritten portion, or by others? Not an awful lot really.

The Retro 51 Tornado is a gorgeous pen. It’s… Classic in its design. There are so many colours and finishes (and even limited editions) that there’s one for everyone. Unless you’re like one of those people who likes to collect things then yes, they’ll all be for you. Personally, I’m probably going to stick with the one (unless they bring out one that knocks my socks off) because it has sentimental value. (Which, may I add, has nothing to do with how the pen writes, just so you know.)

If you don’t have one, I really think you should get one.

Other reviews – because if we all agree, then surely it’s a pen worth checking out, no? And let’s not forget it’s one of The Pens That Shall Not Be Named on the Pen Addict podcast! 😀
~ The Pen Addict’s review.
~ The Well Appointed Desk’s review.
~ Gourmet Pens’ review.
~ From The Pen Cup’s review.
~ Clicky Post’s review and why this is a great first pen.


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Review: Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Ballpoint Pen

Oh no, a ballpoint! Ha. No, I kid. I don’t mind them.

I won this pen during National Stationery Week this year… I won it from… I actually don’t remember? But I won it. That was a fairly long time ago, now I think about it. So, I obviously didn’t buy it, and I wasn’t asked to review it, I’ve just been using it for the last couple of days and thought that I would.


This ballpoint is triangular in shape, and most of the body is covered in small, raised dots that act like a grip section. Faber Castell actually do pencils like this, and I’m not a fan of those for some reason; I like the triangular shape but the dots feel odd on a pencil (and I think the lead is too light for my taste, even though they write well for pencils, but I digress). But on this pen? Love them. I’m also one of those people who turns their pens while writing so the triangular shape makes that much easier. Oddly, I don’t do it as much with pencils or at all with fountain pens, but I do with everything else? The shape of the pen and the dots make this pen really rather comfortable to hold, unlike a lot of other ballpoints I have.

There are ten different body colours; mine is the “petrol” colour and I love it. It’s so pretty. There’s plenty of different body colours (ten!) to suit anyone’s taste, and there’s a pretty decent range of refills (Faber-Castell do a ‘gel-refill’ in the right style, as do Parker I believe but there are plenty of others that will fit). I’ve only tried the one it comes with in mine – that’s the Faber-Castell Ballpoint Pen Refill – Medium, Blue. I’ve only ever tried that one because… I haven’t used it up yet and I don’t have any other refills to hand to swap out.

Speaking of the refill though… I actually quite like it. I think it’s pretty smooth for what it is – a ballpoint refill. And not just on good paper; it feels pretty nice on mega cheap sticky notes too. I haven’t experienced any blobbing, and I don’t think it really skips a lot; but that’s my personal opinion. That might have something to do with the fact that I have an average-ly heavy hand and I don’t write at the speed of the Flash or something.

The clip is pretty solid, I think but also pretty rigid – it’ll fit onto a cotton shirt pocket and maybe some sheets of paper but nothing too thick. It looks good though and I do think it feels pretty effortless to write with.

Final verdict? Pick one up and play with refills; there’s bound to be a combination for you. Sometimes a ballpoint will just have to do, or it’ll be the only thing that will work, so you might as well make it a good one, right?

Get your own from Cult Pens, here.
No, I’m not sponsored(I wish right? Ha.) – I’m just a really happy customer.

img041(My goodness my handwriting is terrible. I am so sorry.)

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Review: Online Germany’s “All You Need” 3 -in-1 Pen @ONLINEgermany

As you may or may not know, it was my birthday last Friday. I saw my father and step-mother on the Saturday where they presented me with, amongst other things, this nifty little pen. I got home and inked it up, and I’ve been switching between the nib units since then.


Now, quick disclaimer; obviously, I didn’t pay for this. And I wasn’t asked to review it, but I’m going to because, why not?

I think this pen is labelled as part of the “College” range of pens, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what that means. However, I do know that this is part of the new “Save My World” collection to raise awareness for endangered animals. Mine’s the Ocean one but it also comes in Asia and Africa, I belive. Here it is on their website. (Of course, there are loads more designs and lots more pen sets too but I like this collection.) Now, I don’t know exactly how much it cost, because it was a present, and it came from Gent, Belgium, so maybe the same price as on the website. I’m not sure.

Paper: Staples Arc, A5 Lined.
~ Calligraphy nib – Pelikan Turquoise cartridge.
~ Fountain pen nib – Pelikan Pink cartridge.
~ Rollerball nib – Pelikan Violet cartridge.


Some Basics.
So, it’s a plastic pen body with three different nib-units – a rollerball, a fountain pen and a 1.4mm calligraphy nib. (Which is a really weird number to pick for a calligraphy nib, but hey.) This pen takes standard cartridges and therefore will take a standard converter and I think it might take international long cartridges, but I’m not sure. It probably does because the body is long enough to hold an in-use standard, short, international cartridge, with another as back up. But I know for a fact that it takes international short cartridges for two reasons: a) it says so on the box and b) I’m using Pelikan violet, turquoise and pink cartridges with it. I haven’t tried using a converter with it yet but I have a basic, standard converter and it does fit (and stay).


The pen is super light, even when posted (posting does help if you like a little bit more weight, though it won’t weigh that much more) but that’s because the whole pen is made of plastic as far as I can tell; nib bits excluded, obviously, which are iridium with the Online logo on them – simple and uncluttered. It’s not a very thick plastic, but it’s not flimsy – if you give the lid/body a gentle squeeze, it doesn’t move and it feels pretty stable. I like the fact that it’s light, and I like the points on the top of the cap and the bottom of the body; I think they’re a little different and I like different. I think the points give the illusion that the pen is a little longer than it is, which isn’t that needed because it’s a fairly average length. But I find that posting the cap does make it a little too long for my liking.

Oh, speaking of the cap. There is a clip on the lid, but this is made out of plastic on this model (I can’t speak for the other clips on other pens, just this one) and it’s not… You could slip it onto a shirt pocket and it would hold for a bit, but you couldn’t clip it to anything thicker than cotton because it’s not a very flexible clip and I think it would snap easily.

Capped length: 13.5cm
Uncapped/unposted length: just over 12cm.
Posted length: just over 16cm.


There is one thing I must point out before I take a closer look at each nib unit – there is a tiny bit of a drop/step between the body and the nib section. It’s really only a couple of millimetres, but that may bother some; especially on the calligraphy unit due to the texture of the grip section. You might be able to see in the photo above; the fountain pen on the left has a smooth/non textured, slightly molded grip section that’s similar in shape to the Lamy (but skinnier and really not too obvious), the rollerball in the middle has an ever so slightly rubbery-like grip, and the calligraphy nib on the right has a grip covered in ridges.

I think that’s it for that. Now, the most important thing – how do they write?

The Calligraphy Nib.

You even get to see my very first impressions here. If you can read my writing at all.

You even get to see my very first impressions here. If you can read my writing at all.

As I said earlier, this is a 1.4mm calligraphy nib, which I think is a rather bizarre number choice, but, I really like it. It’s not too obvious that it’s a calligraphy nib, at least not with my handwriting (your mileage may vary) but there’s a certain… Flair to some of the letters. It’s understated, in my opinion, and I like that. Plus it makes Pelikan Turquoise look gorgeous.

I put the ink cartridge in the nib unit and the pen started writing on the second stroke. That’s more than acceptable for me – the first stroke was the letter O and I think I write those backwards so that’s more an issue on my end, not the pen’s. I found the flow very good and I didn’t notice any skipping/flow issues – not even if I left the pen sitting for a little while.

This unit is a smooth writer with no physical feedback, I think. There’s a little audio feedback but I couldn’t feel any resistance when I was writing, and really the scritch-scractch noise of a nib on paper is pleasing to me so the noise doesn’t matter. There’s nothing there that affects my writing speed or anything.

As previously mentioned, the grip is clear plastic with ridges, which can be uncomfortable to hold after a little while, especially if you grip your pens tightly. That’s something I discovered accidentally on Sunday afternoon, and I don’t normally hold my pens very tightly, so I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to use an almost death-grip. That was a freak incident for me and hasn’t happened since. Maybe I just have tougher fingertips but aside from that one time, I don’t find that grip section uncomfortable.

The Fountain Pen Nib.


As you can see in that scan up there, I’ve written that I think that this nib can be between a European Medium and a European Fine. Maybe it’s more medium but there are some sections in the things I’ve written since Saturday where the line looks on the finer side. Whatever it is, it’s even smoother than the calligraphy nib, if that’s possible, and it starts writing just as quickly as that nib too.

The grip of this section is by far my favourite of the three, which surprised me because I think it’s very skinny. I kinda with it wasn’t black and was clear like the calligraphy nib though, but I can deal with it the way it is. The nib is a very nice writer and there’s even less feedback than with the calligraphy nib – I don’t even think there’s any gentle scritch-scratch noises when I write.

I really like this nib unit and I keep going back to it the most.

The Rollerball Nib.


Ah, the rollerball nib unit. How much I want to love you. And yet, how little I do. This one took longer to get going, and, as you can see from the sample above, it didn’t stay going very well or for very long. I don’t know if that’s because it needs time, or because of the paper. It might be a little of both, because I tried using it on some standard, basic printer paper and it wrote instantly. There was a little feathering and some bleeding but that’s what you get with cheap printer paper. I’m not quite sure what to do with it apart from trying more papers. Then again, I haven’t tried using a converter with it, so I guess I’ll try that too. But, at the end of the day I’m honestly not too fussed if I can’t get this nib unit to work because I’m very happy with the other two. I guess maybe it’s possible I just got a stubborn one. It is comfortable to hold though; the grip’s a good one!

Overall? Love this little pen set. I would recommend it; going by the price on the website, it might be a little pricey for some, but, it’s what? Twenty Euros? (And I’ve just noticed that I don’t have a Euros key on my keyboard…) Which is roughly £15, I think? And you essentially get two pens for that, which I think is good. That is, if you get a stubborn rollerball like me. If you don’t, then you get three pens which is even better. And, if you keep the nib units in little plastic baggies, you can keep cartridges in all three at the same time and just swap when you please. Or you could keep the cartridges in them and keep the nib units clipped in the packaging; that would work too.

To be honest, I would totally recommend one of the regular fountain pens by the brand too, or even a pen set with the three calligraphy nibs (I’m thinking about getting one of those at some point).

Plus, I can’t resist a pen with animals on it.

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An Unexpected Discovery: the Parker 45 Flighter (I think)

Slight warning: Bit of an unstructured read today.


I don’t know exactly where I got this pen. I think it came from my mum; she must’ve given me a pencil case and said, “you can have this and everything in it.” It might’ve even come from my grandfather/her father. I don’t really know. All I know is that I did not buy it myself. I found it in the pen roll/case thing I keep most of my fountain pens in, pulled it out, cleaned it up and then did a little research on it.

Apparently, it’s a Parker 45 Flighter – the UK version (due to the lack of a black bit on the end? I don’t know). It does have “made in the UK” stamped on the lid as well as a “45” and “Parker” with the little logo. There’s no mistaking that arrow shaped clip though. I’m not sure exactly how old this particular one is, but I think Parker started producing the Flighters in 1964? But, I think this particular one is from the 1970s. Again, I’m not sure, so feel free to correct me if you know.

Let’s see. It’s about 136mm when it’s capped and… just under 130mm uncapped. According to the research I’ve done, it’s “brushed stainless steel with a 14ct nib and gold trimmings” (that’ll be the clip and the ring around the black plastic grip section). The nib is a Medium on this one. It’s in pretty good condition actually. You can still see the “brushed” part of the stainless steel, but it’s got a few little marks on it. As one would expect for a metal pen that was kicking around inside a pencil case alongside who knows what.


When I was given it… Or when I re-found it, there wasn’t a cartridge or a converter in it, but that’s no big deal to me. I have a lot of cartridges and a couple of the Parker converters kicking around. Because it’s a fairly old (to me!) pen though, I think I’ll stick with Parker cartridges.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t expect to put the cartridge in, give it a minute and then for it to work as soon as the nib touched the paper. Not with how long this pen had been sitting around, unclean and unused for (a long time. A very, very long time. Easily more than five years. Probably more than seven.) To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work at all, but after a couple of minutes holding the pen nib down and after a couple of gentle dips in water, the ink started flowing. Paler than it was supposed to be, naturally due to the water, but it was working.

Man, using it was a struggle though. I was writing on the Arc paper from Staples and I had to keep going back over my letters. Only a couple of letters at a time though, not whole words or anything. But it seemed to be struggling considerably, thus making the writing sample very difficult to get through. So, I tried it on some cheap printer paper. That worked like a charm, so I don’t know. Maybe it’s to do with the coating on the Arc paper, maybe it’s because the pen hasn’t been used in donkey’s years and needs awhile to get going.

I am really sorry for my utterly horrible handwriting in this, by the way. It’s even more terrible than normal.

Can I blame the pen for being… Disagreable? I don’t think I can at this point in time – mostly because I literally stuck a cartridge in and wrote the samples with it – I didn’t use it for about a week or so like I normally do. I personally think that as soon as the ink starts flowing through the feed a bit more, it’ll work just fine. And if it doesn’t like more expensive papers? That doesn’t bother me – not every piece of paper I write on has to be Rhodia or Clairefontaine or whatever. I have plenty of paper that isn’t.

I’m surprised I own this thing, to be honest. Well, actually, no. If it came from my mother or my grandfather, I’m not. My grandfather is the type of man to use a fountain pen, and my mother is the type to pick up on her dad’s habits. Plus I think fountain pens were just… The things you used, when she was at school. It seems like the sort of pen he would’ve given her, and she’s the type to pass things down to me so, no I guess I’m not surprised I’ve got it. That is, if it came from my family at all. I think it did; I’m not entirely sure where else it would’ve or could’ve come from. But! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I’m going to put it through some more vigarious use soon and then I’ll see how it does, but if I can only use it on cheaper paper, that’s no big deal – I care more about where it came from. I really am more of a sentimental kinda gal.

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