Last year I wrote up what I thought were the best & worst sex toys of 2011 and here I am again. My reviewing slowed down this year so I’m afraid I may have missed one or two that would deserve a spot on this list. If you can think of anything that I would consider worthy of this list, mention it! It will give me something to try in the new year. I’ve also included a few things on the list that I haven’t personally tried (*), but my Spidey Sense tells me my hunches are spot-on. That and reading from reviewers that I trust.
Best Sex Toys of 2012
Last year I could rattle off a few really stand-out new products. This year I’m having trouble coming up with more truly “wow” items simply because my tippy top favorite wins by such a giant landslide that everything is just “good” in comparison.
Best Vibrator: Tango & Salsa by We-Vibe – (Some of my research says these came out Dec2011/Jan2012, some research says earlier.) It’s no surprise to regular readers of my blog that this would be my number one pick as I have adored these vibrators for a multitude of reasons. They’re one of the few “luxury” sex toys that I fully stand behind the price tag and I will recommend these to just about anybody. I pretty much compare everything to them now and they can sometimes be the only vibrator that I use for weeks on end. Solo, partnered, stand-alone or paired with a dildo…it doesn’t matter. Best external vibrator, ever. Period. It is simply the most powerful mini vibe on the market – and it’s rechargeable. Those two facts don’t usually go hand in hand. It’s more rumbly than just about anything else, too. Pick any external vibe and this will blow it out of the water. Don’t let that scare off the sensitive girls though, because there are 4 speeds.
p.s. – Grab up the Salsa while you can at SheVibe.com if you prefer the red, black or white color, as it appears that We-Vibe has discontinued Salsa – Salsa & Tango are virtually identical except for the tip’s shape and the colors. Tango comes in baby blue, pink and purple. I also feel that the Salsa is more versatile for replacing the RO-80mm bullets.
Best Dildo: This year’s best dildo is also one of the more unique things. Tantus came out with three new dildos this year specially made for people with short arms. Um, I think. Actually I don’t know what the idea was behind making dildos with handles, but I’d like to think the short-arms theory came up in the drawing room. The Anaconda is my favorite but for those that prefer a little more texture and a little less girth, the Echo and Goddess versions are awesome as well. While Tantus didn’t pioneer the whole handle-on-a-dildo thing, I think they perfected it. I’ve only ever seen similar styles in icky rubber dildos. You don’t want an icky, rubber dildo.
Sometimes Tantus has sales on these, so keep an eye on their site as well for the Anaconda, Echo Handle and Goddess Handle.
Best New-to-Me Find: Aslan Leather Harness – I’m one of those people who has a visceral reaction to the smell of true leather. Aslan Harnesses are made from the most awesome leather, ever. It’s buttery soft and beautiful. The Cherry color is just so incredibly sexy. While I can’t consider myself a harness expert, I’ve tried on a few and the Cherry Minx was the most comfortable one I’ve had on and that says a lot. I always used to think that being fat with hips and a gut meant I couldn’t find a harness but this company proves that thought wrong. The Cherry Jaguar is better for slimmer-to-curvy women, as the Minx adds in a corset backpad that allows for a bigger size increase if you need it. Really though, I think you’ll love any harness from Aslan. They’re just beautifully made and look awesome.
Best Sex Toy Accessory: Vibrator Enhancer* – It doesn’t cost much and it doesn’t really do much but yet if you’re really into anal play and like vibrations in your butt, then you need to own this. Nothing more than a stretchy hunk of silicone, it gives vibrators a flared base which is essential for safe anal play. Small, medium and large sizes will accommodate just about any sex toy on the market I think. I’ve read in more than one place that it can also turn a standard vibe into a dual stimulator, but I just don’t buy that. Anatomy doesn’t work that way for one, and two as we learned from the We-Vibe Touch, a hunk of silicone seriously dampens vibrations. The Enhancers are sold alone or in a three-pack; for the price, you should just get the three-pack, that way you’re certain to get the best fit. You want the enhancer to fit pretty tight – a barely-there grasp will be useless as an anal-play-safety device. Also keep in mind depending on where you’re able to put the enhancer, the all-around pressure on the vibrator might dampen vibrations on some toys. Just try to keep this thing on the handle of your favorite vibe.
Honorable Mention: Lelo Smart Wand Large – I love the deep, rumbly vibrations and feel that they are less numbing than the Hitachi. It’s not as powerful but sometimes buzzy things like the Hitachi need to be more powerful in order to get some people off…..like me. I need less power when the vibrations are truly deep and rumbly. This doesn’t receive a ribbon though because you really get the most out of it as a sex toy only by adding in a Hitachi-compatible attachment like the Gee Whiz…plus the price tag of everything is a bit of a hindrance. But for rumble-enthusiasts and lovers of the posh look of Lelo, it’s a Good Thing. Heavy? Kinda. Much better as a back and body massager though than the Medium version, which earned a place down below. If I could manage to keep this thing charged up all the time, I would use it more often than I do.
Best Re-Vamp Efforts: Lelo has revamped, for the better, the Tiani 2 (and I think anything else from the SenseMotion line), Tor II cock ring, Ina, Mona, and Elise. Lelo actually listened to the complaints of reviewers and while they obviously could not alleviate all concerns and please everyone, their efforts are worth mentioning. The Mona was never really a bad toy, but with a power boost to the Mona 2 and a change towards a more rumbly motor, it seems to be even better. They even addressed that demarcation line between silicone and plastic, making things easier to clean! The TorII cock ring (I’m told) was made more stretchy after my review, although it never really was the strongest contender in their line of revamps. Ina 2 gets a more flexible clitoral arm so that there’s less clamping going on, plus more rumbly power.
Worst Sex Toys of 2012
Hold on to Me Kegel Exercisers from the Bedroom Kandi line – Some women will love how these look, some women will hate them. I actually preferred the color scheme to the Lelo Luna Beads but that was the only singular positive thing about this utter failure. I had the head guy from OhMiBod (the manufacturer) insisting up down left and right that the holder for the beads was pure silicone. My insistence that it was not led to my Silicone Flame Testing post and video. The fails on the HOTM begin with the name and end at “will snap your vag like a rubber band oh and the paint flakes off”. Yeah.
Fixsation Couples Vibe – I knew the very second I opened the package that I was going to hate this item. Hate. It’s worthless for women who need more than just a little vibration and generic pressure to get off. At best it was annoying, at worst it was quite painful. It’s definitely not a “fat chick approved” sex toy, despite them offering the “”"panty”"” (I cannot put enough sardonic quotes around that word to describe it) in plus sizes.
We-Vibe Thrill – Part of the reason I hated the Thrill so badly was that I was expecting it to have the same motor as my beloved Tango/Salsa. It might, buried somewhere in the confines of the Dumbest Sex Toy Design This Year. It didn’t do anything for any part of my genitals, but hey my thumb got quite the buzz! Wait. Thumb? This toy would be great for women who require feather touches to their clit and a little buzz to the g-spot. If you need anything more than that, keep on lookin.
Lelo’s Smart Wand in Medium – As much as I enjoyed the Large Smart Wand, the Medium left a lot to be desired. Wimpy (equal to the original Mona), not at all living up to the “wand” name, worthless as a sex toy and more worthless as a body massager, it felt like an overpriced (but pretty) waste of money.
Duet by Crave – I didn’t review this, Epiphora gave us that honor. It confirmed my fears and despite being a giant geek, I was not at all willing to shell out $150 of my own money to echo her review. When we first saw this sex toy it was in beta, and all that was talked about was the fact that it was USB storage AND a vibrator ALL IN ONE. Sure…..if you wanna pay something like $225. For 16GB of storage. I always thought that the Lelo Mia would be better if it had USB storage capability but Piph made a very valid point: Unless you were to copy the porn file to the computer in question, it’s not like you can watch porn from the vibrator while you’re using it. Unless you truly enjoy something clamping your clit in a pinch that could turn ugly at the wrong moment, the vibrations are paltry and frankly…Crave should be ashamed of themselves. The vibe was also a lot bigger than I had expected and not even the posh look and adorable black leather carrying case could charm me. * It should be noted that this opinion is based on the original version of the Duet, and since then Crave has re-vamped the vibe with more power and less pinchy tips. I haven’t personally tried it, so I can’t speak for the updated version.
Evi by Aneros – Aneros should stick to prostate toys. The idea behind the EVI is the same as their prostate toys – hands-free, it works by you clenching and unclenching muscles, basically. It may work for some (I’ve heard some glowing reviews, boggled as I may be) but it was an utter failure for me. It is supposed to stimulate both clit and g-spot in a back-and-forth motion via pressure alone. It doesn’t come anywhere near my g-spot OR my clit. It’s, quite honestly, a very boring sex toy. Just looking at the photos on the site again boggles me as the majority of dual-stim toys are C-shaped…and this is um, not. It felt like it was pressing into my ass.
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The Bedroom Kandi line’s Hold On To Me is a kegel exerciser set that is similar in execution to the Lelo Luna Beads. There are a lot of differences between the two products but a lot of similarities, namely, the ability to gradually increase the weight of the beads as your muscles get stronger. Both products feature 4 ABS plastic spheres/balls/beads, the ability to use one or two at a time, and a silicone “holster” for when you want to use two at a time. Since I do a lot of comparisons in my reviews it’s only natural that I’ll be doing a lot of comparing in this one to the Lelo Luna Beads because it is a product that has been around for years and so many are familiar with them. The Hold On To Me spheres are a lot more femme-y and girly looking whereas the Luna Beads look more plain. This is a type of product though that, for me, design is a far distant second to function.
While the Luna Beads are only 2 different weights (the pink beads are 28 grams each and the blue beads are 37 grams each) the Hold On To Me set contains 1 bead each of 4 different weights. All beads look identical, but there is gold paint on the outside to differentiate between them, like dots on dice. The bead weights are: 25 grams, 30 grams, 35 grams, 40 grams. A big different between the HOTM and Luna beads is the size. Luna Beads are 36mm while HOTM beads are only 30mm. 6mm might not seem like a lot but it matters. Users of the Luna Bead system who found that the beads were a little too big for comfort might enjoy the smaller size of the Bedroom Kandi Hold On To Me set. The holster for the HOTM beads is also more diminutive and a lot more flexible – this can be a good thing or bad. I personally found that this floppiness made the 2-bead set harder to insert than the more sturdy Luna Beads. Also, for the Luna Beads the retrieval cord appears to simply be cotton string but it is a nylon coated string. It doesn’t absorb fluids or stain, and it is attached to the bead itself. For the HOTM set, the retrieval cord is part of the holster – and it is very stretchy. In fact, it stretches out to double the original length. This is bad. You do not want stretch on a removal cord. Why?
It’s like a rubberband. Literally. The sleekness of the material combined with the small size and stretch is a recipe for disaster when met with slippery fingers. And your fingers will be slippery because in most women the use of kegel beads increases their natural vaginal lubrication. I had an issue with this and it resulted in a rubberband-like painful snap to my labia. Yes, you’re all cringing and crossing your legs right now as well you should be. I’m not the only reviewer who had this problem, Sada K did as well.
Another problem with the design is this “dot” system for designating the weights. The paint is on the outside of the plastic spheres, not the inside. And it does indeed rub off. I used my double set twice and washed them 4 times. You can see below that the gold painted dots are completely gone and the BK logo has faded considerably. Where did this paint go? What is it made of?? I don’t know, and it concerns me. Sada had this same problem as well.
The spheres look quite a bit different in the online photos than in person. Online they appear to be mostly magenta but in reality it is a clear ABS plastic sphere with a magenta colored weight inside that rattles around. When reading about how the Lelo Luna Beads work, they specifically state that you don’t have to do anything, that it is basically a passive exerciser. As the weights “vibrate” (they don’t really, it just sorta feels that way) and rattle around inside the plastic outer ball, that whole motion is tapping your kegel muscles, making them contract slightly without intervention. I can confirm that is true because one time I just stepped right up to using both of the blue Luna Beads for a few hours (stupid) and the next day my kegel muscles were sore. Like “too many sit-ups” sore. Except, ya know, not my abs. Some people don’t like that obvious rattling feeling of the Luna Beads; those people would perhaps appreciate the Hold On To Me spheres better. The plastic sphere is smaller but the size of the weight appears to be the same so you don’t get that somewhat-pronounced rattle that the Luna Beads produce, the HOTM is more subtle. So subtle that for me it didn’t really do anything. I tried the 2 lighter weight beads at first and then the next day the 2 heavier ones and I never felt the “whoa too much” soreness.
However, the manual never claims that the spheres will work that way. The manual actually tells you to do active kegel exercises while wearing the beads. Which, to me, defeats the purpose. Other kegel exercisers that you are meant to work against are larger, more solid, somewhat like a dildo. You clench around it, and well….I don’t know how they work exactly, I’ll be honest. But I know that you don’t insert them up inside the vaginal canal completely, like you do with balls/beads/spheres. So judging from the manual, the whole thing seems very pointless. I did do kegel exercises while wearing these and couldn’t discern that they were helping me in that way. And it’s not like you have to walk around all clenched up lest they fall out.
Speaking of the manual and instruction, I ran across some very troubling information in the exercises section. OhMiBod/Bedroom Kandi was actually recommending that if you’re unsure how to clench the PC muscles, you repeatedly stop and re-start the flow of urine while on the toilet. Repeatedly. As an exercise, not as a “training” guide to familiarize yourself with how and where and what to clench. That is not healthy! I can remember hearing from Ducky Doolittle (whom I consider to be the kegel master, she knows more than the average doctor) that it is problematic because it can cause infection and it can also bring about “overactive” bladder, which is the opposite of what you want! I immediately emailed BK via OMB about this, and heard back from Brian, founder of OhMiBod. According to him there was only a small run produced and many of these went to reviewers and such so a change in the manual is possible; he said they would change that part, I hope they do.
Finally, my biggest problem with the HOTM product is the material. It is stated that the black holster is silicone. I questioned Brian on this after I performed a flame test (which failed spectacularly) and he has held fast to the statement that the material is silicone, food-grade. I questioned if it might be a blend and he claimed that he consulted the lab paperwork to find that it was not a blend. He also tried the flame test himself and says that he did not have the results that I did. I don’t have proof of this, but he came off as a fairly honest individual. However, I took the item in question with me to MomentumCon knowing that there would be retailers and manufacturers present. I showed my holster to them and no one hesitated to say that it didn’t appear to be pure silicone. You can see the destruction of material in the photos below, but a video and more in-depth post
will be published very shortly is up explaining the flame test and showing various results. The behavior of the HOTM “silicone” material matched exactly that of the Screaming O Studio Line Vibrating Makeup Brush, which I know now to be a “silicone elastomer blend” product.
All in all, I’m not a fan of this product and I can’t recommend it. Silly name aside, the material safety issues and ineffectiveness of the weighted balls leaves me cold. The color scheme is pretty (to me, but then I love black and magenta). The box and packaging is nice and reminiscent (at first) to a cross between Njoy and Lelo. Except that it’s not. When you first open the container you see the spheres all nestled in a cloud of black satin. This is achieved by a cardboard riser with holes in it that are just barely big enough for the spheres to lay partially in but not fall through. They’re held in place firmly, though. Too firmly. In fact I had trouble pulling the ones in holsters out (that damn stretchy cord) so I had to remove the whole thing and push them out from underneath. After that the magic was lost and I tossed that part. However if you’re willing to forgive it, it would make for a decent travel case – albeit large – because they wouldn’t rattle. They do include though a satin drawstring pouch for travel.
I really think that the idea of gradually increasing the weights is ingenious and so I’ll continue to recommend the Lelo Luna beads instead.Read More
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