Saturday, January 7, 2023

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 448

So far, our 2023 blog reviews have covered fountain pens, ballpoints and pen-related accessories... so before we move on to inks (with one of Lawrence's awesome reviews on Monday), I thought I'd post a review of a pretty rollerball pen I acquired a few months ago...

(all photos by Maja ~ please click on images to enlarge)
Meet my lovely Retro 51 'Tornado Big Shot' "Majestic" Limited Edition made for Freckles Stationery and Gifts in Fulshear, Texas (just outside of Houston)!

I'm a huge fan of Retro 51 writing instruments so I'd heard about this particular limited edition quite a while ago (it was released in March 2021). Due to a huge variety of hurdles (US-Canada border rules re: COVID-19 testing, no shipping option listed for international orders on the Freckles website, my email inquiry about this that wasn't received, the closing of Freckles' brick & mortar store in May 2022, followed by their website being down for two months for maintenance/updates), I didn't acquire the pen until September 2022...but it was worth the wait!

The pen arrived safe and sound (and quickly-- the store's owner, Carla Casey, offered excellent customer service and her emails were very helpful and friendly) ---along with a nice 'thank you' card and a complimentary Freckles notepad:

This isn't the first limited edition (LE) Retro 51 'Tornado' made for Freckles --- there were several others made in different materials and patterns (the "Sweet Stripes", "Sweet Starburst", "Sweet Serendipity", "Bubble Up!" and "Psychedelic Twist" LE models) but they all had one thing in common--- bright, cheery colours and designs. Many of the designs were created by Freckles' owner Carla herself.

The "Majestic" model has an acrylic body, with a mixture of  pearlescent white, pink, blue, purple, and lime green colours, shiny chrome trim, and a pink disc on top. Only 528 "Majestic" pens were made, and no two pens look alike, due to the varying nature of the acrylic material. Each pen is individually numbered, with the number engraved on the metal collar below the turning knob.

The pen was $69 USD + shipping and is only available via the Freckles webstore (they still have a few pens in this model--as well as the "Sweet Starburst"-- left, as of this writing). It can also be found on the secondary market (e.g. eBay).

The "Majestic" and the "Psychedelic Twist" were the only two Freckles Retro 51 models that were made in the 'Tornado Big Shot" size, the largest Retro 51 'Tornado' rollerball size.
The pen has a whopping maximum barrel diameter of 14.5 mm and weighs 37.3 grams; though that might seem a bit unwieldy, it's actually very comfortable to hold and use. It's a capless rollerball and comes with a Retro 51-branded rollerball refill (in black ink) with a one year cap-off time (ie. the refill won't dry out for one year). To use the pen, you simply twist the knurled metal turning knob to extend and retract the refill.

I often find myself reaching for one of my Retro 51 capless rollerballs when I want to jot down a quick note as they don't require uncapping, and the refills lay down a nice, smooth, dark line. If you wish, you can also use a Parker/Parker-style gel/ballpoint refill in them (no hacking required!).

Above: the four sizes of Retro 51 Tornado rollerballs that I currently own (top to bottom): "Big Shot Tornado", "Standard "Tornado", "Slim Tornado" and the diminutive "Elite Tornado". The first three models are all the same length, but they differ in width.

There was also a Retro 51 "Twin Tornado" (a 2-in-1 ballpoint/ underliner/ stylus) model, a "Tornado Touch" (ballpoint with a stylus) model and the "Agenda Tornado" (a ballpoint-only "Tornado Touch"), but I don't own those (yet, heh).
(above: very useful illustration 
from Retro 51's Facebook account - link)

All Retro 51 'Tornado' ballpoints/rollerballs have decorative discs on top, but some are more more decorative than others. I'm still trying to figure out what the disc on top of my brushed stainless steel 'Tornado'  (seen above) represents--it has an odd-looking black & yellow symbol---so if you know, please drop me a line at our club's Gmail address :)

I love my "Majestic" rollerball from Retro 51, so I was thrilled to see (on their Instagram account
) that Freckles are working on future collaborations with Retro 51 😊 Many thanks to Carla at Freckles for this beautiful rollerball, and her great customer service!

(~review by Maja~)

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