I have done a few posts about various models of the Retro 51 Tornado, but discussing the model as a whole is something I feel could make up a great post. This post may not be for the current pen enthusiast that knows all about the Tornado line, but may be more for someone newer to the arena that is seeking opinions.
For me, there is a bit of a story associated with the Retro 51 and my pen journey. The Tornado was my "gateway" pen certainly.
One of my first "nice" pens was a Retro 51 Tornado rollerball in the Stealth edition which I bought from my friend Jay up at Scottsdale Pen. At that time, my pen addiction consisted of me visiting my local office supply stores and binging on the various gels, rollerballs, or ballpoints you can get "over the counter". I'm sure I am not alone in this... After awhile you feel that there must be more to it!
Upon even learning that there were stores dedicated to selling "nice" pens, I was a bit floored, but my interest was piqued and I had to visit. Surrounded by brands like Waterman, Visconti, Mont Blanc, and others, the Retro 51's seemed to fit what was my current price ceiling (as I'd never spent more than $5 on a pen), so $30 was a big jump. I had purchased the pen while out for lunch one day, and upon returning to work I couldn't help but show this fancy new pen I'd bought to my coworkers (whom were mostly aware of my issues...).
It's all been downhill ever since.
So why the Retro 51 Tornado? I feel there are a lot of reasons why the Tornado is a perfect first pen to buy outside of your disposable office supply pens. For the price, the Tornado really can't be beat in quality. Hands down it is probably the best feeling, weightiest, and smoothest writing option available in the $30 or less range. I would not recommend the Snapper version unfortunately, but the rollerball is a winner.
The selection of options available in colors and finishes in the Tornado line is astounding. They have their core Classic Lacquers series which consists of either stainless steel or 11 bright color options, so whatever fits your fancy they'll likely have something for you. These versions can even run as low as $20 at times depending on where you buy from.
They make a version in bamboo (which supports the rainforest; kudos) which has been recently released, or if you wanted to take a slight step up into the $35-40 range, the metalsmith series is phenomenal and they keep coming out with new versions. Even though I have several of these pens, the new Roosevelt edition is on my radar for a soon-to-be-acquired item.
Leading to the last point of why the rollerball Tornado is a great first pen is the writing experience. I do love Schmidt refills it seems, and the Schmidt Capless System rollerball refill lays down a dark, smooth line that I've yet to hear too many complaints about. The standard size comes in a 0.7mm which runs a little broad for some people, but they also make a 0.6mm (wouldn't seem like a huge jump) that the finer crowd enjoys a bit more. I am a blue refill person all the way, so usually have to order my own anyway when a new model arrives.
If you are in the market to make a leap into a slightly more expensive pen I'd say the Retro 51 Tornado is a solid first step. You may have a "gulp" moment dropping $30 on a new pen if it is your first time, but will give you that "this is my pen" feeling. Spending even just a little more than what you would on the standard office aisle pens goes a long way. Don't feel like you'll lose the pen, because now it has become a possession rather than just a disposable item. Oddly enough, you're going to bond with the thing.
My wife, a non-pen person, even has two Tornados!