Category Archives: Collectible


Nothing beats waking up on Christmas Day to see all the gifts wrapped under the tree. The excitement and thrill of fun new toys or gadgets that await you. Maybe you won’t be getting a pony or train set this year, but a fun new Retro51 always brings smiles, some ooohs and ahhhs and you never know what other surprises. Let us help you with some shiny new (or vintage) pen designs with a little something for everyone. 

Start your engines! These Retro Racers are sure to get your adrenaline going even when you are sitting at the office. Rallye (Red) and Bumper (Blue) are two rollerball pens that speed across the page and corner with the best of them! The stainless steel barrels are printed with vintage slot car designs, topped with a checkered flag and complete with stonewashed pewter trim. 951 of each color.

Who wants a pony when you can have a unicorn! Stardust comes in both a fountain and ballpoint model and have a glittering glow in the dark barrels with a blue luminescence. Unicorns, rainbows and stars, OH MY! What else could you ask for? 951 Ballpoints and 250 Fountains.

Who? What! Where? Wow, you heard it, the ultimate outdoors person is sure to love this rollerball pen covered in forest creatures both big and small, legendary and breathtaking. The design is acid-etched on stonewashed brass barrel that’s finished with stonewashed pewter trim and topped with a wise owl…hoooty hooo! 951 Rollerballs.

Dyn-o-mite! This rollerball pen has four of America’s great Presidents from Mt. Rushmore acid-etched into the barrel. It’s complete with stonewashed brass accents and topped with South Dakota’s sun shining on the top. Perfect for the historian or to remind you of that grand family summer vacation! 958 Rollerballs

These are available at all participating Retro51 Dealers while supplies last. Please check your Retro dealer of choice for availability. If you need help finding a dealer please email customer service[at]retro51[dot]com.

Happy Holidays from the Retro51 Team!


Filed under Collectible, fashion accessory, fine writing, Gift Ideas, great gifts, life is too short, Retro 51, Uncategorized, Writing pens

The Shield – Tornado Popper


Police officers have the toughest job and we really need more than just one week to show our appreciation! The latest Tornado Popper is dedicated to the blue, to the men and women who serve and protect us. This rollerball’s central feature is an acid-etch police badge in a stonewashed pewter finish with police cruiser inspired graphics printed around the barrel. It is complete with stealth black accents, engraved limited edition number and top ring with shield print. Whether you are an officer, retired officer or the loving family behind them, The Shield is dedicated to you.

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A portion of  the proceeds will be donated to Assist the Officer Foundation – Dallas, Texas Chapter to help provide assistance to officers and their families facing any number of life-altering situations incurred as a result of the officer’s service. For more information on ATO visit


·         Rollerball refill – REF5P
·         Limited Edition of 1515 pieces (significant for May 15th – Peace Officer’s Memorial Day). 
·         Standard Tornado size
·         Printed graphics + acid-etched badge on the barrel
·         Top Disc imprint – Police Shield
·         Stealth Black accents 
·         Limited Edition numbering on top ring 
·         Graphic packaging tube

Contact us if you need help finding a dealer for The Shield. For other Retro51 Fine Writing Pens visit

Life is too short to carry an Ugly Pen!®




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Filed under Collectible, fashion accessory, fathers day, fine writing, Gift Ideas, great gifts, Holidays, Life's Too Short, Organization, Penmanship, Tornado Collection, Tornado POP Series, Uncategorized, Writing pens

Designing a Popper – Nine Lives

This is a behind the scene look on how the Nine Lives Popper came to life. The end product you see took several months of work by several people. We hope you enjoy this step by step process.

The first step in designing any Popper is coming up with a concept, this one was of course cats. The cat theme was proposed with several other themes to the product development team to gauge an interest. From there, I start working on how this pen will be stylized. For the cat pen, several doodles and sketches were drawn (with a Tornado of course).


They were rough drawings, but I scanned them and turned them in vector based artwork.


That’s when color was brought into the design. After playing with the original doodles I presented two rough ideas , plus three different looks. From simple to more complicated, everyone has different tastes, so I try to cover a broad range.


These concepts are then off to the product development team for review. A vote is taken and revisions are requested. Some designs are lucky enough to be “one and done,” but this cat design was scrutinized for optimal cuteness! The team liked option three but for several reasons we decided on a less colorful approach. Here was the second revision:


The product development team was happy with this design… woo hoo! The next step is prepping the art to produce a sample. This is the technical part of the design, and it can be tedious separating the artwork in color layers plus choosing Pantone colors. Finally it’s off to the printer and a couple weeks later we get a sample back…


The first sample came in and they looked great! Sometimes colors need to be changed or an art layer printed incorrectly and revisions are necessary, but this time it was “one and done.” Now it’s onto the product development team to see if it’s cool enough to produce for the Popper line. After more scrutinizing, we all agreed that the “cat pen” was going to be a Popper! Now onto the next steps, because yes there are more! First, we need an official name and then we need a packaging label. Several names were thrown out including: BOO, Superstitious, Tom Kat, but Nine Lives was the winner.


Since the cats were hand drawn, I felt the name should have the same rough, hairy, fun feeling to match.  I hand drew all verbiage and repeated the same process for the name as done for the pen. After approval from the team, it’s sent out for production and a sample comes in for our review. Finally after weeks of production, the product is delivered and the final step of making a sale sheet (this one was an animated version), photographing the product plus writing sales copy is done.



After several months of work, the Nine Lives Popper was released to our retailers for sale. The design process is complete, but the promotion, sales and customer service support are more steps to complete the Popper release. On the design side, it’s back to square one. Time to create another design fast, pronto, like yesterday!

The best part of the process is hearing our customers response to the designs. It makes the months of work worthwhile knowing that someone cherishes this pen and it brings them such pleasure. We hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at Retro 51’s design process. Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you.


Filed under Collectible, Uncategorized

Q&A with Retro 51 Collector Aaron C.

A big thanks to Aaron for taking part in this question and answer! We hope our fans enjoy these posts as much as we do.

Retro: How many Retro pens and products do you own:
Aaaron:  I have 800+ pens and many desk accessories, games and displays.  I am only a handful away from owning at least one of every Retro 51 Tornado model ever made (excluding the one of kinds).  I actually fear the day I do have them all, because it is so much fun finding ones I don’t have.


Which Retro was your first one? Was it a gift or purchase for yourself?

I purchased my first Retro 51 Tornado, which was a “Denim” lacquer roller ball, at a Franklin Covey store in the mall in San Jose, CA.


What characteristic about our products are you drawn to?

Retro 51 Tornado pens are well designed, high quality and offered at a great value.  Naturally I really enjoyed my first Tornado and all the others since. 
The other attraction is the story behind the Texas-based company. If anyone out there hasn’t read the Pen World article , I highly recommend it.

Do you have a favorite or a top five favorites?
My favorites are the Ceramics, Fiberglass, Carbon Fiber, Woods, Cioppino (Abalone shells), Acrylics, Atomic Series (PVDT Plating), Anitque Metalsmith Series and Sterling.  Sorry for going way, way past 5.
How long have you been collecting Retro 51’s?

Shortly after I bought my first in 2006.

What made you start collecting Retro products?

A pen I like in so many cool finishes and themes, I had to have more.  I started my collection by adding the Franklin Covey Denim pencil, then the other lacquers, then the Disco Groove Writer.  It just continued on from there.  The Poppers are especially fun to hear about since they come at random times and are a complete surprise.
Which Popper theme do you think we need to come out with next?
Here are a few ideas:
1.       Materials –gold, gem stones, marble, granite, metamorphic rock, glass, silicon ingot, sand
2.       Planetary Series
3.       Weather Series (How about a Tornado Tornado?)
4.       Musical Series: music notes, musical instruments, guitar fret, piano keyboard, etc.
5.       National Parks / Monuments / Popular Places In World Series
6.       Holiday Series
7.       Hobbies / Fitness / Entertainment Series
8.       Foods Series – I loved the ice cream and donuts pens you designed but never made; a watermelon with seeds design would be cool)
9.       A circuit board design, schematic design
10.     NASCAR!

What is your next Retro 51 purchase?
Hopefully one of the ones I am missing.  🙂
We have more Q&A’s with Retro collectors coming soon. If you have a large Retro collection please contact us via our Facebook or Twitter accounts.


Filed under Collectible, fashion accessory, fathers day, fine writing, Gift Ideas, graduation gift, great gifts, Life's Too Short, mothers day, Uncategorized, Writing pens