Last week in my BLOG Post I told you the tale of the flogger I bought at Folsom Europe last year, this got me thinking that buying kink toys is actually not as easy as you think, Ive had good experiences and bad ones!
The mistake I made buying that flogger was that it was way too cheap considering the materials and the craftsmanship required to make it. Kink toys are not always expensive, but if a craftsman or any in depth skill is required to make them - this will be reflected in the price tag.
Last year - for my BFF's birthday, I bought him the Neon Wand from KinkLab. When in Quaelgeist he used it on his boy, and I could see that he was not that happy with it. He asked me to try it on my boy, I took it - restrained the boy on a table and tried the device. First of all at a lower power setting, and slowly increased the power. At maximum power, my boy said "Sir, it tickles a bit" this was not the reaction I wanted!
I bought this device not long after it was released, so there were no reviews available, and none of my friends had used it or heard of it. A few weeks later I saw several people complaining about it, some even asking if it was for cosmetic use! Several months later KinkLab released an "addon" called Power Tripper which facilitated a much more intense effect - but in my opinion it didnt achieve the original objective of the device. What I thought I was buying was a modern "Violet Wand" it wasnt!
At our workshops this year, several of our instructors will discuss buying toys. Mason and Bob will discuss the types of floggers and whips available and what makes good and bad items and where to buy them. The making of whips especially is a true craft and craftsmanship usually leads to a higher price. Often whips are difficult to test in a store, you can assess its weight, see the uniformity of the make, see how it moves in a restricted space, however for longer whips its sometimes impractical to try to use them at the point of purchase. This is where the community can help! Ask people about preferred suppliers and also ask the reasons they like those suppliers. In the case of Bullwhips and Single Tails I can wholehartedly recommend Murphy Whips in Australia - I have bought a couple of whips there and the quality is mindblowing. Each Whip is custom made to order and the enthusiasm of the craftsmen who make them immediately give you a sense of security that you are buying a quality item.
Those of you that know me well, will know that one of my obsessions is Nipples - and the different ways that they can be played with. TT is one of my specialities. One local slave once told me "Sir, my nipples have taken a lot in the past, you wont get a reaction from me playing with my nipples anymore" Silly boy, it took me 3 seconds on his nips and he fell to his knees ;-) What did I use? My fingers and they cost nothing! This does not mean I dont have an extensive collection of tit clamps - I do and I use them as each boy has different nipples and different levels of sensitivity and one size does not fit all. And here again, I have made purchasing errors.
Not long after meeting my own boy, realizing the experience he had in TT, and the fact that my existing collection of clamps were not best-suited to his nipples I invested in 3 new pairs; one good, two bad.
I already had a pair of the excellent Chinese clover clamps that I had already successfully used on the boy, however after years of use the spring mechanism was weakening and they needed to be replaced. I found a pair similar (though slightly stronger) to what I had; and bought them - this was the good purchase.
Since my boy had experience, I also wanted a pair of end-game clamps - those that I would finish with after a longer session of TT and extensive build-up. I found a pair of evil looking, black plastic clamps. I tried these on my fingers, and it was a strong feeling, I then tried on my own nips - and they hurt! I bought them. My boy has experienced nips - and are slightly larger than my own. The evil looking clamps did almost nothing to him, the only reaction I got was when I ripped them off after he chuckled at their weakness! This was not an expensive mistake - the clamps were cheap - and nipple clamps should never be expensive.
My second error had a higher price tag. I found a beautiful pair of brass clamps, made incredibly well. These were brass claw clamps with a brass barrell that could be rotated to tighten the clamps. These beauties cost nearly 120 Euros but I was so impressed with the craftsmanship and their uniqueness that I was confident in buying them. Unfortunately there was a problem - practical usage. The ends of the clamps, though covered in rubber, had a small point, this caused them to slip off the nipples that they were attached to no matter how securely they were attached. If used on a boy with much softer nipples, they may have worked, but would probably be too intense for such a boy with inexperienced nips since they were so heavy.
Ive learned my lessons but Im sure I will still make some mistakes. However now, I tend to be more careful and would rather postpone a purchase if I cant find exactly what I want. For a couple of years now Ive been looking for some anal balls to use on my boy. All the types I have seen so far have flaws in my opinion. The steel ones with a rope/string connection would, in my opinion, be difficult to keep clean and are not easily disassembled to replace the rope or string. The plastic/rubber ones I have found often have ridges along the edge that would cause irritation, not something I want to use on my boy. I have found some that are made of rubber or latex and the ridges are filed off - however the rubber that connects each ball is too thick in my opinion to have the required flexibility while in his ass - Im still searching, I dont mind as kink shopping is one of my favorite activities.
So, what am I saying? what are the best guides for buying toys.
1) Ask people you respect in the community who have the toy that you are interested in, or have experience in using it, and from subs who have had the item used on them! (I bought a great ball paddle from Master U in London based on a recommendation from Nigel the BLUF Webmaster)
2) Consider the materials in the item and the skills required to make it, if the price seems too low dont buy it! The reverse is also true!
3) Look at the website of the retailer, if he shows enthusiasm for the product, describes how it is made, perhaps even offers courses or advice in making their own - these are good signs (Puppy Cages and Murphy Whips are great examples of these)
4) Search the Web, there are plenty of sites out there that offer independent user reviews of products. Just be aware that if the reviewer is a lady, their tolerance and reaction may be considerably different to ours!
5) Go to a workshop on the kink that uses the product you are interested in, the instructor is sure to have purchasing advice!
And, if your budget is limited, dont underestimate the power of a good pervertable. An every day item that can be used in kinky ways! This may be a subject of an upcomming workshop from AKA - watch this space!