Retro 51 does make some pretty sweet products. The Snapper? Not so much in my opinion, but we won't really rehash that.
I don't often write with pencils, nor do I own very many. I'm pretty sold on ink... The Retro 51 Tornado pencil I thought might be cool, but never really had plans of acquiring one. That was until I went to Scottsdale Pen about 6 months ago...
While perusing the displays at Scottsdale Pen I noticed that Jay had a stainless steel gift set of both the rollerball Tornado as well as the pencil which caught my eye. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the price on it was only $30 which I thought was crazy, but he may have just been trying to clear it out. The wheels began to turn... I had plans of buying my wife a stainless steel Tornado soon anyway, and thought, "she could get the pen and I could get the pencil." That logic seemed sound to me, so I went home with a new set to share with Mrs. Dudek. Win-Win, right?
The Tornado pencil is built solid like the regular rollerballs which I was very pleased with. It feels great in your hand and has a nice weight to it. It isn't a click mechanism pencil, but a twist. The knurled section on the top spins and extends and retracts the lead and feels really smooth. Essentially, if you've used a Tornado, this thing is identical; no shortcuts or changes, but just an eraser.
The eraser on the top is pretty huge, but goes with the overall aesthetic of the pen I think. It is nice and squishy and does the job well. Retro sells both black or white erasers if you felt inclined to live a bit on the wild side...
To be honest, as neat as this pencil is I don't know if I quite have a purpose for it. This would not be a good every day writer in my opinion because the oddly sized 1.15mm lead (can we say proprietary?) is like writing with the blunt end of a stick. I mean, this sized lead might be good for marking a scorecard or something, but it doesn't strike me as a size that would be comfortable to use for extended periods of time. To keep a remotely clean line you have to turn this one pretty often to keep on the sharp side (if you consider 1.15mm sharp...).
To load the lead is kind of an ordeal too as it works kind of like a lead holder. No, popping out the eraser to shove about 5 leads in there to use for awhile. You put a single piece of lead down into the tip and then twist the knurled section to retract it back until it is loaded. I guess it isn't that weird considering it is a twist mechanism, but isn't overly convenient to store spares if you did opt to use it for writing.
Retro still makes their Hex-o-matic pencils (nod to Rotring 600) in a 0.7mm which would make for a good every day use pencil. It would be nice if the Tornado pencil had a thinner line, or at least the option of buying a Tornado in a 0.7mm or even a 0.9mm.
Very cool product that is well built; don't really have a use for it unfortunately.