Jun 052012
 

Toy: Lyla (sent by Babeland.com)
Type: Remote Bullet Vibe
Power source: Dual (bullet recharges, remote takes 2 AAA)
Intensity: 3 out of 5 (from Babeland.com)
Manufacturer: Lelo
Material: Silicone & ABS Plastic
Price: $139.00
Sizes: 3.15 X 1.3 X 1.3 in.

Oh Lyla. How I wanted to love you. Your gorgeous color, silky silicone and fun remote thingy seduced me. But, alas, you just … well … you just have so many flaws!

Lelo's Lyla is full of promise, but unfortunately not worth your time

Yes, the Lelo Lyla is riddled with flaws but before we get into what Lyla ISN’T, let’s talk about what it IS. Lyla is part of Lelo’s new Sensemotion line of toys. This bullet type toy was designed for both solo and partner play and comes with a remote that controls the main portion of the toy from up to 39 ft away. The remote can be tilted, circled or shaken to change the intensity and pulsations of the toy. The remote also vibrates along with the main potion of the toy so the partner operating the remote knows exactly what they are doing. This is a really neat feature that I was very excited about.

Like most of Lelo’s toys, the bullet has a nice range of vibration intensities, ranging from whisper soft to a medium/strong speed as well as an array of vibration patterns which you can also increase or decrease the intensity of. Also, like all of Lelo’s toys, the Lyla is rechargeable. (well, the bullet is rechargeable … we will talk about the remote in a minute). Add all this to the fantastic feeling silicone and shiny ABS plastic accents and it sounds great, right? Well it is … for about 5 minutes. The 5 minutes from the moment you to open the box and ogle your new toy to when you try to put the batteries in the remote and then struggle to turn the damn thing on.

Lyla’s first major flaw becomes apparent almost as soon as you remove it from the box. The bullet is totally rechargeable, which is great. You just unscrew the small plastic cap, plug it in and let it charge for a few hours. Simple, great, done. The remote, however, is battery operated. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but the cover on the back of the remote must be removed with a key. Not a house key, not a nickel, not a screw driver but a specially designed plastic slot key that Lelo gives you in the package. Reading the directions, Lelo specifies that you are not to use any coins or tools to open the back cover (presumably because it may ding up the ABS cover or the metallic finish) and that you must turn the cover “a 10 degree turn counter clockwise”. Apparently they measured it. Once you do that, you can kind of dig the cap up off the remote and insert your 2 AAA batteries (which, to Lelo’s credit, they provide for you). To put the cap back on you must turn it “a 10 degree turn clockwise. Insure controller is fastened shut”. Here lies the problem, there is no real way to check that. No click, no dot to line up, nothing. Since the plastic cap is already about a 1/16 of an inch off the silicone base to begin with, it’s hard to tell if you have it back on properly. I took it off and put it back on about 5 times because I was convinced I did something wrong. If you have any sort of vision impairment, it’s going to be doubly hard to line it up and twist it back on and you are going to have to just tug at it to make sure it’s on there all nice and secure. Lovely.

The second major flaw is in how you actually turn this thing on. The remote has 3 modes – “Sensemotion mode 1, Sensemotion mode 2 and manual mode”. Ok, not too hard, right?  Here are Lelo’s instructions, slightly abbreviated. “Establish a wireless connection by pressing the + button on your controller. Press activation button on Lyla for 1 second. For Mode 1 press center button on remote once. For Mode 2, press center button on remote once more. For manual mode press the center button on the remote twice. To turn off vibration in remote during manual mode press and hold center button for 3 seconds.” Right, ok. This is all well and good when reading it. Try changing modes while you are actually using it! It’s difficult. No matter how many times I tried to change modes, it just wouldn’t work. Either I wasn’t pressing the buttons hard enough or I wasn’t pressing them fast enough or maybe I was pushing them too fast. The world may never know. It just isn’t intuitive. I don’t want to have to stop what I am doing with my partner and grab my toy manual so I can change modes (which I actually did … and they weren’t happy. But hey, this is for science!).

Oh, and speaking of stopping what you are doing – that leads to the third major flaw. If your body or your partner’s body ends up covering the toy, the wireless connection to the remote is broken and it stops. Let me repeat that. If you put it between your body and your partner’s body, IT STOPS WORKING! No wonder Lelo designed the remote to be used up to 39 ft away. Your partner needs to be about that far away for the thing to continue to work! And this is in all modes, not just the Sensemotion modes. Seriously? Why on earth would you design a “couples vibrator” that stops vibrating if you get near each other? It makes no sense. Think it will be ok if you are just using it by yourself? Think again. If you have a larger body and any part of that body covers over the toy, it will also stop working. So, as long as you are very thin, are willing to lay completely still and don’t want to get within 10 feet of your partner, this is the toy for you!

I could go on and on with the flaws (dirt can collect between the cap and the toy making cleaning a bother, the remote is really loud when it’s vibrating, etc.) but I am going to stop here. There is honestly no way I can recommend this toy to anyone in good conscience. The idea behind the toy is brilliant and the materials are lovely but the execution is just too flawed to be believed. Lelo really needs to go back to the drawing board with this one.

May 272012
 

Toy: Hold on to Me (sent by Babeland.com)
Type: Kegel Exercisers
Manufacturer: Bedroom Kandi w/ OhMiBod
Material: ABS Plastic & Silicone
Price: $39.00
Sizes: All balls are 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″
Weights: 1 dot weight: 0.9 oz
2 dots weight: 1.1 oz.
3 dots weight: 1.2 oz.
4 dots weight: 1.4 oz.

Bedroom Kandi's Hold On To Me are a Kegel exerciser set with graduated weights

Bedroom Kandi is a new line of toys designed by Kandi Burruss of Real Housewives and produced by the folks over at OhMiBod. The Hold on to Me is Kandi’s cleverly named addition to the kegel exerciser world. If you are unfamiliar with Kegel exercise balls, they work in two ways. First and foremost, these balls are weighted and, when inserted vaginally, they force the vaginal muscles to contract in order to hold them in, thus working the pelvic floor. Additionally, there are exercises that you can do with the balls, such as trying to expel them or tugging on the silicone cord while clenching down on them, that can increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

There are a few things I really like about this set (and two things I really don’t). First off, this set is smaller than a lot of the kegel balls on the market. These will be a lot more comfortable for folks with a bit of vaginal atrophy or who may just not be comfortable inserting and wearing larger objects vaginally. That being said however, smaller kegel balls can sometimes be harder to hold in if you have particularly weak muscles so test drive this set at home before heading out on your morning jog!

Another great thing about  this set is that it comes with two types of silicone holders – a single ball holder and a double ball holder. This allows you to really vary the weight you want to use and also gives you the option of how many balls you want to insert.

Now, as much as I like the fact that this set comes with 2 silicone holders, there are two major flaws with them as well. First off, the plastic balls have a curved ridge around them that allows them to nestle nicely into the holder. However, the ridge has a wavy design that you must match up in order for the balls to pop in to place. If you don’t line them up right, the silicone overlaps the ball and creates an uncomfortable sensation when you try to insert them. The balls and the holders are very tiny so if you have any vision impairment or dexterity issues, this may become an problem for you. Secondly, the silicone cord on the holders, meant to aid in removing the balls from the body, is very stretchy and seems very flimsy. If you tug on the cord too hard it could snap back and feel unpleasant or it could break. You will still be able to remove the balls but it will be slightly more inconvenient.

Overall I don’t dislike this set. They are easy to clean with soap and water once you remove the balls from their holster, they come in a nice case and they are well weighted. If the above flaws don’t bother you and you are looking for a smaller sized Kegel set that gives you lots of options for changing the weight then this isn’t a bad one to go with.

 

Apr 102012
 

Sometimes, what you really need is a great big dildo.  Maybe you need it to accessorize for your next party, maybe you need a little something masculine for your altar, or maybe that special someone just knows what they like!  No matter what, you’ll be ready to give it to ’em with the Tantus T-Rex and a lot of lube.

  • Toy:  T-Rex (sent by Babeland.com for review)
  • Type: (Very big) Dildo
  • Manufacturer: Tantus
  • Material: Silicone
  • Price: $99
  • SMT rating: N/A
Nowhere near actual size

The Tantus T-Rex lives up to its name

Let’s get the obvious, most important point out of the way first: the T-Rex is big.  This high-quality silicone dildo by Tantus measures 2-1/4″ across and 6-7″ insertable length.  I think that numbers don’t really communicate the massive-feeling girth of this toy, so you’re well-advised to check out the video above so you can see how it looks in relation to other objects, like a hand (I can’t even get mine all the way around it!).
So, other than its hulking presence, what else is there to know about the T-Rex?  Well, it’s by Tantus, and that means it’s high-quality.  It is also quite lovely, and could be considered a functional piece of art.    It’s nicely detailed, with some well-formed ridges, ‘veins,’ and other flourishes, enough to make it semi-realistic, but not enough to make it uncannily so.  Since it’s made from high-quality silicone, it’s easily cleanable (like most Tantus toys)–you can boil it, run it through the dishwasher without soap or bleach, or wash it with antibacterial hand soap.  It’s also fairly heavy, around 1.5-2 pounds.  Since it’s got some attached balls, it’s harness-compatible, but be aware that you’ll need a larger ring than most other harness-compatible dildos, and a stretchy one at that.   It has a nice bit of flexibility, but is still firm enough to be usable for anal play.
Bottom line, make sure you’re really looking for something this large and get a sense for how thick it is.  If you do want a large toy, this is a fantastic one, because it is difficult to find high-quality toys in this size.  If it’s what you’re looking for, you’re very likely to be happy with the T-Rex.  And, hey, even if you don’t know anyone who can take it, you can wear it around to make one hell of a first impression.
Dec 112011
 

The Honi is a cute, larger-sized bullet vibe, but it’s just not sweet enough to be worth the effort.  It could use a bit more power, unless you’re a light touch, and (in what seems to be a pattern for the Picobong brand and, to a lesser extent, its parent brand, Lelo), it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to ease of cleaning.

  • Toy: Honi (sent by Babeland.com for review)
  • Type: Bullet vibrator
  • Manufacturer: Picobong
  • Material: Silicone and ABS plastic
  • Price: $34
  • SMT rating: 0
The Picobong Honi lacks the power and ease of cleaning necessary to capture our hearts
The Picobong Honi is a fairly standard bullet vibrator.  It’s made from silicone (for the vibrating end) and ABS plastic (for the screw-cap/battery case end) and, at 3″ long and 1″ wide, is a little larger than the standard bullet vibe.  This larger size is nice, giving bullet vibe users more of a choice in terms of size variety, and is one of the Honi’s strengths.  It also has a nice, solid retrieval cord that makes it easy to remove if it’s being used internally.  Plus, it runs on a single AAA battery rather than expensive and harder to obtain watch batteries like some of its bullet relatives.
The Honi, however, failed to impress on several levels.  First, its vibration felt a bit lackluster, and we would’ve preferred a strong motor.  Those who prefer a lighter vibration, of course, may consider this a  pro instead of a con.  Second, the section where the plastic battery-cap screws onto the body leaves a small ridge that collects lube and body fluids; this section will need special attention during cleaning but this cleaning must be done carefully to avoid getting water in the battery area.  Furthermore, the unscrewing cap portion has hollow areas that require a Q-tip to get clean.  And, as a lesser cleaning complaint, the engraved Picobong lettering can be somewhat annoying to properly scrub out, as well.  On a non-cleaning note, the +/- buttons are hidden in the engraved Picobong logo lettering, which will make them difficult to find for visually-disabled users.  Overall, the Picobong just didn’t seem to have a lot of thought put into its design, particularly for cleaning purposes, and wasn’t powerful enough to be worth using, in our opinion.
Dec 112011
 

They say that the winter holidays are a time for giving and that giving is more fun than receiving, but I think that you can have fun on either end–or both–with this toy.  The Cush is a dual-density silicone dildo by Tantus with a semi-realistic shape and a gorgeous, unrealistic color.  It’s on the hefty side of moderate (see the video) and plenty firm with a wide flared base, for fun anywhere you want to put it.  In addition to the great feel of the firmer core and the somewhat softer outer layer, this is a uniquely beautiful dildo.  It makes use of having two layers of silicone by putting a frosty white color over a rich purple core.

  • Toy: Cush (sent by Babeland.com for review)
  • Type: Dildo
  • Manufacturer: Tantus
  • Material: Silicone
  • Price: $62
  • SMT rating: N/A
The Tantus Cush is a gorgeous and delicious-feeling silicone dildo
Like the previously reviewed Tantus Bandit and Mark, the Cush is a dual-density dildo; it has a firm silicone core, with a softer, squishier silicone outer layer.  As with the Bandit and Mark, this dual-density silicone gives the Cush a deliciously realistic feel.  The Cush’s density is a little firmer than some other dual-density toys, making it plenty flexible but not too much so.  It has a very nice feel to the touch and is enjoyable to squeeze with a hand or other body parts.  The Cush’s 6.5″ are pleasantly smooth with some texturing on the shaft, and its 1.75″ width gives it some nice heft.
The best part, however, of the Cush is how beautiful it is.  Unlike the Bandit and Mark, which are flesh-colored, the Cush embraces an unrealistic aesthetic, with a frosted-white outer layer and purple core.  The purple of the core peeks through differently depending on the thickness of the outer layer in the given area, and gives it a very pretty sort of “icicle with snow on top” look.
As far as I’m concerned, the Cush doesn’t really have any downsides or caveats to speak of.  As usual, it is important to note that since the Cush is a silicone toy, it shouldn’t be used with silicone lubricant.  This is particularly important for these dual-density toys, as the squishy outer layer of silicone can be particularly vulnerable to a conflict with silicone lube.

Nov 042011
 

  • Toy: Mahana Duo Vibe (sent by Babeland.com for review)
  • Type: AAA battery powered vibrator, dual vibe innie/outtie combo
  • Manufacturer: Picobong
  • Material: silicone and hard (ABS) plastic
  • Price: $69
  • SMT rating: 0, low to  moderate strength vibes
While rumor has it that I’ve never met a toy I didn’t like, I’m sad to report that I am not a fan of the Mahana Duo vibe.  It’s not that it’s crappy, it’s just not worth your time or money.

The Mahana Duo is not twice the fun

The Mahana Duo vibe from Picobong is meant as a lower-cost alternative to the high-quality, classy but more high-end toys from Lelo (which shares the same toy design team).  Unfortunately, it ends up being a get-what-you-pay-for situation, and so is hard to recommend.  The Mahana Duo is a combination innie-outtie vibrator, like several other toys that have been previously reviewed here (see the bullet list at the bottom for these more highly-recommended toys of a similar style).  It has a flexible C-shape with both ends containing vibrators; one end is meant to be inserted, while the other should rest against the clitoris.  It’s about 1/2″ wide at its widest, and takes 2 AAA batteries (one for each vibrating end).
On the plus side, since it’s from the same design team as Lelo toys, the Mahana Duo has a reputable brand to back it up, and is made from body-safe silicone and ABS plastic, as we’ve come to expect from its higher-end siblings.  It comes in two cute colors (pink and blue) and has a smooth, simple, non-intimidating visual design.  If the C-shape stays in place correctly, then its innie-outtie design can be useful (but see below on our testers’ feelings on how well it stayed in place).
Unfortunately, the Mahana Duo raised many qualms and negative points in testing.  First of all, it’s difficult to clean well; the engraved Picobong logo and the edges where the vibrator-ends screw onto the plastic are both grooved in a hard-to-get-at way.  Cleaning the Duo thoroughly would require Q-tips and a lot of patience.  It didn’t come packaged with any directions, instead opting to include a little six-sided die with various toy emblems on it.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the controls are somewhat non-intuitive; the buttons aren’t readily visible, and are hidden beneath plus and minus signs that blend into the logo.  It just feels cheaply made, with little aesthetic appeal and the sharp contrast between silicone ends and plastic middle.  The vibrations are fairly low-level and lackluster.  Additionally, C-shaped innie-outtie toys are meant to be able to stay in place without help (and maybe even be able to stay in place during intercourse or other play).  None of our testers, however, reported that the Duo could stay in place without constant assistance.  Finally, if you’ll watch the video review, you can see that the toy began making loud, ugly buzzing noises during the course of the review after only a couple of uses.  It’s normal for vibrators to become slowly louder over the course of many uses, but to have a toy start making such obtrusive noises so early in its life is a bad sign.  Overall, it’s hard to justify spending the money on the Duo–it has no special qualities to recommend it and several flaws that speak against it.  Here are some better alternatives that fulfill the same functionality and general design of the Mahana Duo, but are worth your time and money: