Jan 282018
 

Zumio Classic Review - Zumio shown on top of multi-colored papers with craft scissors and a paint markerI don’t think I’ve ever held a sex toy as awkwardly as I hold the Zumio. It doesn’t endear me to the strange, purple antenna. Every single time I’ve used the Zumio I curse the button location. They had so much room to work with, but instead one button is nearly inaccessible to me. And so, this review begins on an ominous note. I’ll warn you right now: while many other reviewers really enjoyed the Zumio I’ve found too many quirks and problems to be able to recommend it. I’ve had my Zumio since November. Like the original Womanizer I didn’t want to like it, but suspected I would. Unlike the Womanizer I found I was different from most folks who’ve reviewed it. I consider myself to have a very hearty and stoic clitoris but even mine cowered in fear of the sometimes-painful Zumio.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Zumio

Many sex toys that I like end up being pretty versatile – you can use a lot of G-spot vibrators externally with great success, many clitoral vibes are great for perineum, penis, testicle, external anal stim, labia stim, etc. I’d say that the only sex toy I really love that is limited in use is the Womanizer and all other varitions/knock-offs. I’ve been told that it can work great applied to the frenulum on the penis but haven’t had my partner agree. But the Zumio – right out of the gate they’re telling you how it’s supposed to be held and then damn near giving you a paint-by-numbers diagram of how to use it, and what spots to hit in which order. There are literal instructions on how to achieve this supposed (not guaranteed) 60-second orgasm that the Zumio was invented to provide.

It wasn’t until I really poked around the website that I realized why it’s so awkward for me to hold and use the Zumio – I’ve been holding it “wrong”. They’re holding it like a paintbrush and I’m still holding it like, well, a vibrator. With the buttons facing me and the body perpendicular to my vulva. So I tried to hold it their way and it was worse – the power button is the most obvious to my fingers so I kept accidentally turning it off because I just couldn’t remember that the other buttons are that damn far down the body, so close to the tip.

Folks who are flatter in chest and tummy and can easily see what they’re doing, folks without reach issues and “short arms” will find this less awkward. Folks with less pubic mound padding and less labia may not have a problem accessing the top-most1 button but the top-heavy feel of it in your hands, the overwhelming feeling that you’re not about to buzz your way to orgasm but paint your clitoris, may deter you like it’s deterring me. Those with wrist/hand pain/arthritis may also find that holding the Zumio is painful.

I also want to address another aspect of Zumio’s prescriptive stance: their early marketing “studies” and ridiculous “proof” of the ultra-quick orgasm that is supposedly the hallmark of the Zumio. Early on they kept throwing around these comparisons and percentages that, frankly, are a terrible way to market. You end up alienating people for whom your product doesn’t work. You may make people feel broken. I repeatedly called them out on this and pressed for more details; it was then we found out that this study they’ve been touting like it’s a religious tome was based on a mere SIXTY FOUR SUBJECTS. That’s it. 64. They claimed a wide range of participants but they eventually stopped using these numbers and claims. It also took them awhile to “gather the responses” to give me more data. Can you feel my side-eye from there? I haven’t seen them trot these percentages out in awhile and can’t find them on their site anymore. Hmmm…

But Lilly, Don’t You Love Pinpoint Stimulation?

I agreed to review the Zumio because it’s supposed to be the be-all end-all pinpoint sex toy2 and we all know how much I love pinpoint vibrators. Except Zumio isn’t really a vibrator, technically speaking, it oscillates3. And despite the company’s ridiculous claims and promises of a quick orgasm, I had problems and found that, perhaps, there was such a thing as too pinpoint for me. Quelle surprise!  Sometimes I was able to orgasm in a few minutes  – but I can with the Womanizer, too. Sometimes I wasn’t.

Every other pinpoint vibrator I’ve tried and liked was pinpoint, yes, but they also provided just enough extra surface area to stimulate more than the exact spot they were honing in on, not to mention stimulating the internal clitoris legs to some degree. Not the Zumio. For once I had trouble finding my spot, that one spot on the right side of my clit, because the tip of the Zumio is so precise and rigid that I simply don’t feel much pleasure until X marks the spot. It was a frustrating game of pin-the-tail-on-the-clitoris. Zumio acknowledges this on their site, buried in the FAQ. If you look at the question “Is Zumio as strong as a vibrator?” you’ll see that they say no, it is not. “Vibrators shake everything that touches them including the clitoral region, hand and arm and even the entire body. Your body is full of nerve endings. All of them pick up these energy pulses in some form and can be overwhelming signals to your brain. It’s like a sledge hammer to drive a tack!”

Your entire body? Really?

It is a big pet peeve of mine when a sex toy manufacturer puts so much emphasis on putting down other, similar products. You don’t need to be like “Vibrators? PAH. THEY SUCK. TRY ZUMIO” to get sales.

The Zumio claims to replicate the feeling of your finger circling your clitoris – which couldn’t be farther from the truth. It feels exactly like what it is – a vibrating plastic tip. It’s intense. It feels a lot like if you took the vibrator motor – the kind with the off-balance head that wobbles around – and applied it directly to your clitoris. I would know, I did that once with my first sex toy.

I’m also usually a person who needs pressure – whether it’s applying pressure to my clitoris or needing a vibrator that won’t be diminished under the “pressure” of my surrounding labia. When I apply a very light amount of pressure, the sensations change and feel less intense and almost more rumbly, if that’s possible. But when I apply a little bit more pressure the Tip stops moving completely although the motor is still going. A number of times during use as I tried to find the right combination of my spot and Zumio placement and intensity I would apply enough pressure for it to stop moving. 

A Strange Orgasm

I can orgasm, but not in 60 seconds, on the lowest setting of the Zumio if I’m aroused or watching something erotic on Tumblr. The resulting orgasm is mild and feels like nothing within seconds. It takes awhile, anywhere from 10-20 minutes.The Zumio is too intense, too direct, for me to continue to use it for additional orgasms like I can with the Womanizer, so if I want another orgasm – because the first one was disappointing – I have to wait a little bit.

I can increase the speed on the Zumio – I can only go to 3 or 4 because any higher than that and it’s even more sensitive to whatever pressure I am trying not to apply – and the resulting orgasm is stronger but afterwards I still don’t feel like anything happened, if that makes sense. At level 3, the Zumio did force an orgasm but it was an empty orgasm. It left me as quickly as it started and I don’t feel it bodily – it’s like the orgasm and its aftershocks are strictly located in my clitoris and I just don’t feel it anywhere else.

Every time I’ve used the Zumio I looked longingly at my Womanizer Pro40 and wanted to abandon ship for it, but “I must continue on. For science.”

A Few SpiroTIP Warnings

FYI, the following is not mentioned in the manual. I’d assumed that the Tip was purely ABS plastic, through and through. But one weekend I was carrying the Zumio in my handbag. When I finally removed it I panicked because the Tip was bent at almost a 75-degree angle. I thought I ruined it completely. It seems that the top half of the tip is bendable wire covered in a plastic of some type? After I accidentally bent it once it was easy to accidentally bend it again, and now the purple plastic in the spot is lighter, showing signs of stress. The moment there’s a break in that covering, the Zumio won’t be safe for use anymore4.

Zumio only gives you a standard-issue drawstring pouch for storage so I feel like this damage to the Tip could happen to anyone, whether they’re carrying it in their pocket, their handbag, their suitcase or even if it’s just in a jumbled nightstand drawer.

This second problem happened as I was preparing to take a photo of the tip to show the damage to the plastic. As I was cleaning my Zumio I noted that a not-inconsiderable amount of dried lube/fluid had congregated in the space between the base of the plastic-covered tip and the silicone of the body. I gently ran my fingernail along the seam, like you do. This caused the plastic portion of the Tip to pop out of the body. I was able to eventually work the tip back into place, as the silicone covering is flexible around the joint of the tip, but the damage was done. My Zumio is now completely dead. The tip is covering a metal rod which feeds into the motor – the metal rod isn’t fixed into place so when it was lifted up along with the plastic SpiroTip I couldn’t get it back into place again so that it works.

Close-up image of the broken Zumio - the plastic tip slightly separated from the body, with a lighter purple spot in the center of the tip, indicitative of where it bent

And this part leads me to concerns about their Limited Warranty…

Notes on the Zumio Limited Warranty

The warranty only covers any defects in material or workmanship under normal use during the warranty period of 1 year after the date of purchase. Is my accident with the bent SpiroTip considered a defect? I spoke with a rep from Zumio who said that no, it’s not considered a defect5 and probably wouldn’t be covered under warranty. Yet they do not warn about this and give you no way to to prevent it happening during travel. I haven’t bothered to ask if my second, and fatal, break would be covered under warranty – I doubt it. At this point, I have serious concerns about the build quality and their warranty.

I would also like to note that despite their constant claims of a 60-second orgasm on their site and social media there is no “satisfaction guarantee” and if this product doesn’t give you the 60-second orgasm they talk so much about don’t expect to get your money back. You wouldn’t expect that with any other sex toy, I know, but this feels like a weird juxtiposition to me.

It’s also noted that, according to the manufacturer, the average life span of the Zumio is about 2 years, which may vary with usage patterns. I suppose this might mean that if you apply a little pressure and if you really love it and use it a lot, it probably won’t last you two years. While the Zumio is 10 times more intense than the Eroscillator, to me, the Eroscillator has a much better track record for longevity even though their warranty period is the same.

An Exceedingly Long Charge Time

It’s not noted on their website but it is noted on the SheVibe page that charge time is “16 hours, from low battery to full battery” and this charge time gets you up to 4 hours of use, but as little as 75 minutes of use if you apply pressure and use it on a higher intensity setting a lot. Since applying pressure dampens the action considerably, you probably will have to increase the intensity, like I did. I can tell you I got nowhere near 4 hours of use on a full charge. I never ran a stop-watch while I was using it but if your use time on a full charge is under an hour then you have a defective unit. You can absolutely just pop it in the charging stand and charge for say, an hour or two, and then use the Zumio again. You don’t always have to fully charge it.

If you’re lucky enough that the Zumio works quickly for you then even just 75 minutes of total use time would equal a lot of orgasms, right? Except that I don’t know how normal non-use battery drainage works here. It’s not a lithium battery, it’s NiMH 350mAh. I’ve had plenty of sex toys lose their charge during dormant periods of use and I don’t claim to know if it’s related to a certain battery type.

Should You Buy The Zumio?

Obviously, I’m not a fan. I don’t hate the Zumio and it’s not the worst thing ever but it’s certainly not what I would expect from an “award winning” sex toy. If I do my best to get over my hatred of their prescribed useage and empty promises full of marketing lingo that makes me stabby, my opinion still slants towards “maybe give this a pass”. The button placement is a major issue for me and while the sensation it provides is certainly unique it’s also only going to be perfectly right for a small portion of people. I can’t just say “if you know you like pinpoint vibrations” because that’s me and I didn’t love it. The Zumio Classic is currently $140 – a lot of money to spend on such a finicky sex toy. Given my problems with the build quality and the extremely restrictive warranty I’m reluctant to recommend purchase. I can’t recommend the Eroscillator instead simply because the Eroscillator isn’t nearly as intense so it’s still apples and oranges. I’d pick the Tango but I’ve been told that for some folks it’s not pinpoint enough. The Womanizer feels nothing like the Zumio but, for me, is much more satisfying and provides a true build-up in intensity from light to “whoa nelly”.

The company has already created a slightly different model, the Zumio Caress, which will be out in a few months. I’ve attached a guide sheet that the company provided me with and it shows that the Caress has a shorter tip made out of softer material (I don’t know what it is) and that it is less intense than the Zumio Classic. The overall design is still the same and with a shorter tip I would have even more difficulty accessing the buttons, making this even more awkward to hold and frustrating to use. I think that I could appreciate the Tip redesign but it needs a body overhaul.

 

My thanks to Shevibe for providing me with the Zumio in exchange for my honest review! You can get the Zumio at Shevibe here.

  1. lowest? depends on orientation – regardless, I mean the “increase” button
  2. according to the manufacturer, of course
  3. but not nearly as effectively as the Eroscillator
  4. Why? Because the cracks in the plastic will harbor bacteria and potentially scratch/abrade/irritate the delicate tissue of the labia and clitoris
  5. In fact, they expressed surprise at what happened and said that it would take “considerable force” to bend the tip – I disagree
Dec 312014
 

LeloMona2If you at all frequent the world of sex toy review blogs (or even Reddit) you’d probably think that the Lelo Mona 2 is one of the three Holy Grail sex toys (the other two being the We-Vibe Tango and the Njoy Pure Wand). So you may be able to understand why I feel like the black sheep (oh wait, I am!) for not loving the Lelo Mona 2. I ask that you hear me out before you light the torches and brandish the pitchforks. I like it well enough; it’s okay. But I don’t long for it. In fact, I don’t ever use it….unless I’m writing a review.

“How can you not love the Mona 2?!?”

Since my body requires a ton of vibration strength for it to matter to my g-spot, the vibrations of the Mona 2 don’t quite cut it for me as an internal vibe. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, and it’s fairly strong, but I need something more…. more than most people. I need the serious rumbles, like those found in the L’amourose Rosa Rouge.  The vibrations of the Lelo Mona 2 are good enough to help stimulate my internal clitoris but not enough to really wake up my g-spot. It’s pretty good as an external vibe if you don’t like pinpoint vibrations, and want something with a handle, but it’s still not going to be my top recommendation. I actually can’t think of a situation where I’ve chosen the Mona over the We-Vibe Tango for external stimulation – I guess I prefer something more pinpoint (like the Tango). I find that using a vibe like the Lelo Mona 2 as an external stimulator during partnered PIV sex is a little less awkward because it gets my hand out of the way a bit, versus using the Tango, but the effort required for me to come using the Mona 2’s more broad stimulation isn’t worth the saved hassle.  Plus, after trying vibes like the Je Joue Uma, the half-plastic half-silicone design of the Mona 2 combined with the buttons makes clean-up a bit more of a hassle than I feel up for most times. Yes, I’m lazy. The Uma is totally encased in a silicone skin, and the buttons on the end are just a bit easier for me to access. 

Better than, Worse than

If we’re comparing Lelo to Lelo, I’d definitely pick the Mona 2 over the Gigi 2 any day.  Lelo Mona 2 provides the fullness I need with a longer overall design that I also really need. The vibrations of the Mona 2 are definitely stronger and better than the Gigi 2. While I do love everything about the L’amourose Rosa Rouge much more than the Lelo Mona 2, for those who need a lot of firm pressure on their g-spot, I’d recommend the Mona 2 (or Uma) over the Rosa Rouge. But if you want something easier to hold and with more powerful vibrations, I’d recommend the Rosa (or heated version, Rouge) any day. There is an increased cost there, of course. Je Joue’s Uma is about $20 less than Mona 2 and I feel the vibrations are just a bit more rumbly. 

Like most higher-end sex toys, Mona 2 is rechargeable, waterproof, has varied levels of vibration intensity and has a few pulsating settings. I’m never a fan of patterns, so I stick with the straight vibrations. There’s a warranty but experiences from fellow readers have shown that there’s a few issues with the Lelo customer claims department.  Unlike most newer rechargeable sex toys, though, the Lelo Mona 2 isn’t USB-rechargeable. This means you’ll have to purchase from a store in the country you live in, to ensure your charger is the right voltage and prongs and whatnot for you.  The silicone is a silky-smooth skin overtop a hard plastic vibrator, so there’s no give and no squish. If you need something softer and thinner, try the Tenga Iroha Minamo.

Want it?

As with all Lelo creations, Mona 2 is a bit pricey. As of this writing, SheVibe.com sells it for $129.99. Every now and then you’ll be able to catch a Lelo sale or just an overall site sale to save a bit. So far, I’ve received fewer complaints about the Mona 2 failing than other Lelo items, but I’m skeptical overall on their brand. Of course, now that I’ve taken so long to write this review the Mona Wave is out.

 

All purchase links here go to Shevibe, the best retailer on earth.  And Canadians, check out Come As You Are

Oct 072014
 

Tenga Iroha MikazukiFor as much as I love the Tenga Iroha Minamo, I’m underwhelmed by the Iroha Mikazuki. The Iroha Minamo arrived first on my doorstep; I was so excited about it and liked it so much that I asked Tenga if I could review both. I wanted to be certain that I could recommend them interchangeably. I’m so glad I did because I am more reluctant to recommend the Mikazuki.

My first Iroha vibe was the Iroha Midori. I had expected a lot more squish and give than I experienced with the Midori and felt a bit let down but it all. The Minamo delivered on that squish, and how. But the Iroha Mikazuki goes back to being barely squishy. The tip is very squishy, like Vixskin heads, and this continues for about the first inch because there’s no plastic body underneath, it’s simply all soft material. But after that first inch it’s just not as soft. However, the Mikazuki is thinner than the Minamo and still could be a decent insertable vibe for those who are very new to penetration or have vaginismus. The slender shape starts out very slim, 0.75″ wide and gradually enlarges to a max width of 1.25″ at about 4.5″ of insertable length, or just below the buttons.

The color is hard to pinpoint, and photograph. The yellow is just a bit more yellow than it appeared onscreen to me. It’s not quite a banana yellow. It’s maybe a tad bit more than butter yellow. It perfectly matches the color of raw sweet bi-color corn on the cob. Yet in certain lighting it’s just….not an appealing yellow. I super appreciate this color deviation, but I foresee a lot of people possibly passing this up because of the less-than-popular color. Tenga is definitely one company totally ignoring the American gendering of colors, though, I’ll give em that. They’re also bucking the marketing standpoint. I’ve been told by more than one company that orange and yellow barely sell in sex toys.

The Iroha Mikazuki is very much like the Minamo in most ways; the charging, the vibration strength, the feel of the silicone skin, it’s waterproof, and flexible-ish. For some reason I thought at first that the Mikazuki would be a little *more* flexible than the Minamo, but it’s not. It’s the same, which is to say….not a whole lot. It’s nowhere NEAR as flexible as the photos from Iroha show on Shevibe

Tenga Iroha Mikazuki vs Minamo

All in all, my relative meh-ness on the Iroha Mikazuki can be attributed directly to the level of squish. If it had just a tiny bit more squish all over, then I would love it a lot more. The way it currently is, though, is underwhelming. I think the slender size and silkiness of the silicone is still great for the newbies, those who’ve not experienced vaginal penetration, those with medical issues and so on…..and of course the tip is very squishy, which could make for a very pleasant and comfortable clitoral/vulva vibrator. But for those who really want the comfort and forgiveness of soft and squish for an insertable vibe? I really need to recommend Minamo, instead. It might be slightly bigger, but that extra tiny amount of girth is all super-soft squish. .

 

I was give the Mikazuki in exchange for my honest review, courtesy of Tenga Iroha. You can find the Iroha Mikazuki at my favorite retailer, SheVibe.

Apr 102014
 

We-Vibe 4UPDATE: The We-Vibe 4 has been replaced by the We-Vibe Sync.

I’ve been reviewing the We-Vibe ever since it first came out, so it’s been interesting to watch the changes they’ve made over the years. The first We-Vibe was simple–no remote, no patterns–but lacking in vibration strength. We-Vibe 21 added in a bunch of patterns. We-Vibe 3 added in a remote and a bit of a power increase, along with an easier method of charging–the induction base–which also made it waterproof. So far though, We-Vibes 1 through 3 all looked about the same. Finally We-Vibe 4 is out and the changes are significant2. I admit that the We-Vibe has historically never had enough power for me, although I’ve read plenty of reviews from satisfied people. I’ve been hoping that one of these versions, the changes will be significant enough for me to finally love it as much as I want to. 

New Silicone–Finally!

We-Vibe 3 compared to We-Vibe 4. We-Vibe 3's remote had one button, We-Vibe 4's has 4 in a circle. The We-Vibe 3 is shown in a U shape with glossy silicone covered in dust, fur and other crap. The We-Vibe 4 is a much tighter U shape, shown to be relatively free of dust and fur. Previously, We-Vibe had used the shiny silicone that attracts dust/fur/lint like a magnet. You couldn’t keep it clean. The We-Vibe 4 features their new, silky-smooth matte finish silicone which stays clean! It’s much nicer during use, too, it glides against skin better. With the previous We-Vibes there was a drag to the silicone and much lube was required. Another aspect of the silicone that helps is that is isn’t so slippery anymore when wet with fluids or lube, which makes it much easier to press the button on the We-Vibe during use if you don’t have the remote handy.  In the photos below comparing the We-Vibe 3 and the We-Vibe 4, I purposely didn’t clean either one of them before taking pictures. I wanted to show you the drastic difference the silicone makes in how clean it stays. The We-Vibe 3 wasn’t hiding under the bed, as the fur and dust might suggest. I’d gotten the We-Vibe 3 out of storage two days before taking these photos. It sat on my desk for those two days.

New, Better Design

According to the site:

Clitoral stimulator  ~Curved to fit her body  ~Contoured to gently rest between the labia  ~Maintains contact to deliver deep, rumbling vibrations

Mid-section  ~Slim design allows for penetration  ~Snug fit for direct vibrations

G-spot stimulator  ~Shaped for stability  ~Rests in place behind the pelvic bone ~Comfortable for both partners

We-Vibe 4 features a more streamlined design, and the U-shape curve is also tighter. It gives a more snug fit which is beneficial if you’re wearing it solo and for public play, or just during PIV sex. The tighter curve combined with the new silicone and streamlined design makes it less likely to move around wildly during sex–but it can still move around a bit. We had a little bit of an issue with that in version 4, still3, but not as much as we did previous versions. I do vastly prefer the new, more snug fit. Even with my full, “chubby” outer labia it is comfortable. I completely surround the We-Vibe 4 but that’s fine. If your g-spot is located deeper inside the vagina, you might not love the redesign. For me personally it’s a better fit, though.

Another design change is the location of the power button. It’s always been a tiny button; the first We-Vibe was a switch rather than push-button which was even more difficult. And the button has always been located on the very tip–this means it would be buried in the labia, and made it difficult to turn on/off/change settings during use. But now, the button is slightly bigger and it’s moved back just enough from the tip so that everything is so much easier to use.

The We-Vibe 4 and 3 are shown to reveal the difference in the U shape The We-Vibe 4's g-spot portion is very different. The head is smaller and arrow-shaped, whereas the 3 was more tear-drop shaped. The 3 had more pronounced ridges. The 3 also got fatter closer to the middle, which could make it more uncomfortble during use with a partner that is more well-endowed.  Showing the back side of the g-spot arm, We-Vibe 4 is on the left We-Vibe 4 is on the left. You can clearly see the power button. The We-Vibe 3 power button is smaller and located at the front tip.

Still a Lack of Power

For whatever reasons, be it how I’m wired, how I’m built, dopamine levels….my external clitoris (and g-spot, for that matter) aren’t very sensitive. I require MORE. More power, sure, but more rumblies. If the We-Vibe had the same motor as the Tango–not the same power, it can be only as powerful as level 2 of 4 on the Tango otherwise it might overwhelm everyone–then the We-Vibe might be something I rave about.  Not even g-spot stimulation can make the vibrations of the We-Vibe 4 bring me to a clitoral orgasm during penetration. It can’t even do it solo. In fact I drained the charge one day trying in vain for 45 minutes to draw out even the tiniest of orgasms. It does have vibrations that are more rumbly than buzzy, but it just isn’t powerful enough for me. Currently even level 1 on the Tango is more powerful than the top level on the We-Vibe 4.

So, that’s it. If the We-Vibe 4 had the same motor as the Tango, we’d be in business. Of course I say that about many toys, because the Tango is my holy grail of vibrators, but surely the possibility exists for Standard Innovations to utilize that same motor? The bottom line here is that they’ve made some really great changes to the We-Vibe 4. Every change is necessary. Every change is good. But that one thing….the vibrations….keep me from being able to really recommend it to most. I think that if you’re more sensitive, you will really like it. We-Vibe does listen to customer feedback, as you can see with all the changes they’ve made.

 

My apologies to the RSS/Email only crowd. The following sections are made to be click-to-see on the site, to make this post less lengthy but you folks will see this no matter what. Since I feel that the opinion is the most important part of the review, that’s the focus. But some want to read more about how it functions, the specs, etc so if you click on each heading, you’ll see that info.

 

UPDATE: The We-Vibe 4 has been replaced by the We-Vibe Sync.

  1. Apparently they recently added a 2 Plus – it uses the same base-style charging as the 3 and 4, and has that tiny bit of a power boost over the 1 and 2
  2. The only odd thing is that We-Vibe still sells the 2, 2 Plus, 3 and now the 4. I don’t get that. Why have so many options? It’s very confusing. Offer a cheaper one, no remote, and one with the remote. Done and done. Get rid of 2, 2 plus and 3. Make the two options both just like the 4. There’s my advice, take it or leave it, Standard Innovations
  3. I think that is due to the size of my husband’s cock, it’s larger than average
Jun 112013
 

When you review a sex toy, do you talk price? Is it just me? I feel that it’s an important point to cover, one that my readers would want to know. If I were reading a sex toy review of an item priced well over $100, I would need a fuck ton of convincing that that item is going to rock my fucking world for that price.

A potential relationship with a retailer who thought I was new to the scene back in 2012 ended quickly when we discussed the finer points of reviewing. They didn’t want me to just review one item, they wanted me to review a lot. Primarily I turned them down because they didn’t have an affiliate program (I work from home now, I need all the income I can get) but also because our views just didn’t mesh.

I’m actually not going to publicly name names here, because the point I want to make really doesn’t have anything to do with the company – my point is that it’s an aspect I care about. But in our very short discussion, as a response to me detailing that I do not sugarcoat my reviews and I am bluntly honest, always, this was mentioned:

“It’s a product review… Let the customers decide if it’s worth it.  Most all of my product are over $100, so if that’s an issue and your readers don’t want to spend that, I don’t want to be skewered because you don’t believe in buying $150 toys.  If a toy is good, and gives orgasms, or does its job, give it a good review.  Let the buyer decide if it’s worth it.  I’m a high end retailer, and carry great products.  I need good, honest reviewers, that have good audiences that might buy.  Let me know what you think.  I repost on my blog, from your blog, word for word, so no editorializing or such.”

Well, I’ve already talked about my feelings on someone re-posting my review on their site and I was not okay with that aspect of their conditions. But I had a real head-scratcher over the “let the buyer decide if it’s worth it”. Um….isn’t that what I’m doing here?? I’m presenting them with the information but also my opinion. If they wanted pure information, they’d read the copy from the website. I responded with:

“I personally expect every, single luxury sex toy to live up to the high expectations that come along with a high price tag, and from everything I’ve seen, so do my readers. I’ve reviewed so many luxury toys that were such a let-down that I fear I’ve become a little jaded. I am hard on toys though; I expect great things for the price tag. I’ve been unable to fully recommend items such as some Lelo, Je Joue, Zini, JimmyJane, etc because there are less expensive items that perform better. In my opinion, I do reviews to help the buyer decide if a toy is worth the money – be it $25 or $125. I wasted a lot of my own money (both prior to reviewing and even recently) on toys that appeared to have glowing on-site reviews. That was what led me to reviewing, ultimately – I was searching for women who’d tried the toys I was considering, to ask them a few questions, and that was how I found out about blog reviewers. There are so many items out there that I don’t think are worth the price and I don’t hesitate to tell my readers that. To me, that’s half the point of a review. They’re looking for reassurance in our reviews, reassurance that they won’t be dropping a week’s worth of grocery money on a toy that just isn’t worth it. I get disappointed with items/manufacturers but in the end I actually like all the reviews I write – I love being able to tell someone that something is awesome and I feel good about telling someone to avoid something that sucks. I don’t gloss over just for sales. In the end, I want my readers to be happy with their purchase and feel that I truly helped them.”

This didn’t go over well, I guess. I never heard from the person again. Apparently, I’m not the type of reviewer they want on their side. They clearly wanted reviewers who would drive people to buy, and it almost seems like they were angling for some sugar-coating. Thus far all of the places I review for have never taken issue with my reviews, no matter how harsh they are and boy howdy have some1 been2 harsh3.

Do you talk about price? Do you feel the need to justify super-pricey toys to your readers, assuring them it is worth it? If that same toy that you feel is decent, but not wonderful, cost half the price would you be more likely to recommend it?

  1. Hello Touch, how I hate thee
  2. We-Vibe Thrill made me angry I wasted my money
  3. Fixsation review was so harsh, the creator tried to slam me in comments by pretending (badly) to be someone else
Jun 072013
 

Novelty disclaimer on a sex toy box

The sex toy industry is rife with half-truths, flat-out lies, confusing names for materials and more. When information is put out there that seems to make sense and seems credible, it gets passed on and shared until it’s viewed as fact. A prime example is that, for awhile, we all believed that a sex toy had to contain at least 10% silicone in order to be labeled as just merely “silicone” by the manufacturer (as if 10% silicone mixed with 90% PVC somehow makes it better….hint: it doesn’t) but I found out at CatalystCon’s Toxic Toys session in March that that isn’t true at all. In fact, they can claim whatever they want if they’re unethical. And some are.

noveltyImagine my surprise when an industry friend, who knows how much I love to write about things like this, tells me that the “Novelty” term is used mainly because of export and tariffs….NOT to create a legal loophole relieving them of responsibility if you get injured, or because they don’t care. True, I’m sure some companies don’t care. But the “Novelty” disclaimer isn’t 100% indicative of that. It does absolutely nothing to relieve the company of legal liability.

I’ve seen a shit ton of blame being laid on China and companies who use the “Novelty” disclaimer as to why there are so many “bad” sex toys. You’ll find many articles online that talk about toxic toys and they will also usually fall back on the “blame the novelty tag”. I did too, because when I first wrote my posts, I was calling on what I’d found. This is how it happens; I couldn’t find anything to the contrary, so I figured it must be true! It’s a confusing subject. The subject of this post is something I’ve been researching for literally months. I wanted to get as many ducks in a row as possible before writing, and see if I could really nail down facts and get back-up information to everything my friend below told me. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t get straight answers from many of the manufacturers. I’ll be sharing all of that in Part 2 but for now I’m working on the basic debunking.

My friend needs to remain anonymous because they have worked for a few manufacturers and by extension, retailers, in their time in the industry. This is what they had to say on the subject:

From a stand point of importing into the US, it has more to do with the cost of customs fees and duties and possible certifications that may be required depending on how it’s classified.  In regards to exporting products to other countries, each country has their own regulation in what they will accept on packaging or product descriptions.  Some companies have started omitting the words “for novelty use only” on the packaging, but my understanding is in those cases they are registered (not approved) with the FDA.

 

Everything is imported or exported under what’s called a Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code (Harmonized Code). This code determines the customs fees and duties that will be paid on every shipment coming in to this country and are based in part on 1) materials and 2) intended use. 

 

So basically, the bottom line is the wording that is chosen can effect the cost of the product when importing to the US and exporting to other countries.  In addition, if certain wording is used (ie. “toys” without the word “novelty”),  manufacturers face the possibility of needing additional certifications for the US & EU and the possibility of certain non-US countries denying shipment altogether. The only reason anyone tries to “skirt” the FDA is for customs fees, duties and taxes.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the product, but rather cost of importing. When importing to the US (and possibly exporting, depending on the country), if any products are labeled as “toys” (or NOT labeled as “For novelty use only/not intended as a medical device”) then they may be subject to  Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008“.

What about the legal loophole theory? I talked with K.M. Davis,  a lawyer who has worked with numerous adult industry companies. I asked: “DOES the disclaimer make any lawsuit null and void? What if a company claims their product is phthalates-free, but a customer gets a chemical burn from using it, sends it off to be lab-tested and finds a bunch of toxic chemicals. Can they sue?”

I can say, having worked with manufacturers in a number of industries, not just sex toys, that there is often a “what is everyone else doing, I better do that too” mentality among lawyers, insurance folks and manufacturers related to disclaimers. So, often one company ends up putting something on their packaging for no better reason than “everyone else was doing it.”

 

I have heard speculation among industry folks that the “novelty use” disclaimer is an attempt to avoid lawsuits if a consumer somehow injures themselves using the product (either because it is toxic or a bad design) and have heard others speculate that it is used to avoid potential prosecution if the products are sold somewhere where sex toys are banned or regulated. However, nothing can make a lawsuit null and void, as a judge is always free to say that despite a disclaimer, the manufacturer could reasonably have known what the consumer would use it for.

 

As to saying your product is free of something but not actually being free of that, because sex toys are completely unregulated, there’s really not much a consumer can do. One could sue if they tested something and found the claim untrue, but you’d have to prove what your personal damages were1. It’s unlikely anyone would want to pursue that claim either, which is what manufacturers rely on….

Here’s the tl;dr for Part 1:

1. They’re likely doing it because it’s just always been done, and the company lawyers are sticking with tradition.

2. You can still sue

3. It’s likely more for exporting reasons than anything else, for most companies – if it’s not “novelty”, then the FDA thinks it is medical and they will require formal approval, photos, and a 3-page paper written on the subject. In blood2.

So should you avoid all companies who use such disclaimers? What about the companies who don’t use the warning words? Come back for Part 2 next week!

  1. Meaning: If you suffered chemical burns, you’d have to hope that your doctor knows it’s a chemical burn and not try to treat it as an infection. You have to be upfront with your doctor. Then you’d have to get the funds for testing the sex toy from an accredited lab. Then find a lawyer, like Davis. It’ll be a years-long event, I’m sure
  2. I might be exaggerating a little…