This post is not to give Cal Exotics a bad name. I just feel the need to let my readers know why I will no longer be reviewing their products or accept offers from other companies to review products made by Cal Exotics.
Overall, they’ve been very nice about all of the issues, and not all of the products have been iffy. Still, with the paranoia created by the iffy toys, it kept me from enjoying the ones that were alright.
As I felt I could no longer give unbiased reviews, I felt that it was my duty to the company, to my readers, and myself to resign. I resigned as of November 10, 2010. An email was sent to the Sexpert program email. No response has been received yet.
If you’re wondering why I stayed with Cal Exotics for so long, it’s because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to keep an eye on the quality of their products. However, with the paranoia I now have in regards to their toys, it’s unfair of me to continue with them.
The Blossom Sleeve
In early stages of reviewing, I had received the Blossom Sleeve. It smelled off, so I decided to contact Cal Exotics. I wrote:
I recently received your Devinn Succulent Blossom sleeve as a review product. I chose to review it because it was advertised as tpr, which I thought was phthalates-free. When it came, the box said at the very top right "phthalates-free". It smelled and felt like jelly. I decided to look it up on Edenfantasys and saw them list the toy as jelly and the picture of the packaging showed no "pthalates-free" stamp in the upper right corner. I would like to know if this toy is truly free of phthalates. At this point, I doubt it. Thank you for your time and help. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
The same day, I received a response from a rather courteous gentleman named Dave. He wrote:
First off, thanks for asking your question. We’re glad you investigated about our product while writing your review.
The Devinn Succulent Blossom IS phthalates-free.
We use our own material called Senso® for the manufacture of the product — which is a TPR (Thermoplastic rubber, a polymer blend, is hypoallergenic, nontoxic and phthalate
Hope this helps
This put my mind at ease a bit, but I was still a little leery. He sent another email after that one to let me know about their Sexpert program. I decided to join. Afterall, he was very nice about everything and quick to answer. I had a fairly good opinion of the company, at that point.
The Double Diver
I was very excited when a new company allowed me to review the Double Diver from Cal Exotics. It came, and I almost passed out. Why? It wasn’t from excitement; it was because TPR should not smell like jelly rubber. The cock ring was not stretchy at all and the smell lingered on my hands and gave me a headache. It had to contain phthalates. There was no way I was going to use it. It was not TPR.
I contacted Cal Exotics about it September 18th and got a response back the next day from Al Bloom. He stated that he was waiting confirmation from the factory but all the records said it was TPR, and he would have confirmation the following Monday.
September 21st, I received this message:
“The item was specc’d as TPR, and now we are getting conflicting reports on what they actually used! You may have discovered a manufacturing error, which we are very grateful for, but we want to give the factory a chance to (a) define exactly what they have been shipping us, and (b) get you the correct information, or (c) did we just get an incorrect shipment of many that we receive.”
Four days went by after I had replied to the last message. I decided to send a reminder and was sent further information.
“It turns out that a single order of relatively small size was shipped to us in PVC material. It took time to track down the exact shipment, and we have now identified it and sequestered it for destruction. We are now awaiting a replacement shipment for these in TPR. We thank you for bringing this to our attention.
The most distressing part about this is that our QC person in receiving should have caught this when they came in, and didn’t….so, a change was made there. Also, we paid the factory for TPR, and received a careless substitution. Since our molds are with them, and only compatable with their machinery, our only recourse is a slap on the wrist and their assumption of all costs of replacement. It turns out that a relatively small number of these ended up in the field, and we were able to identify almost all shipments, and we have asked for their return…which is not always guaranteed, but we are giving it our best efforts. I will send you a TPR model as soon as they arrive for your review, and ask that you reserve judgement until you have the correct item.”
I sent a reply that day, and sent another reminder email October 5th. I was told remaking them was taking longer than expected. By now, I was feeling a bit antsy. I was supposed to be getting this review done for another company, but couldn’t.
October 30th, I was told:
The factory is having a problem with the mold. So sorry to inconvenience you, but with over 30,000 styles and components that we source, this occasionally happens. May I suggest you just move on to something else? I will notify you the minute the new stock arrives. Tentative ETA is 30 days.
I couldn’t move on to something else. I had to get this done, and I had made this clear before. By the 7th of December, a new Double Diver was finally in my hands. This one didn’t wreak like jelly rubber and it actually stretched. I asked if a recall had been done to prevent customers from getting the unsafe Double Divers, but I was told this was too difficult to be done.
I realize that companies make mistakes and have issues, but that wasn’t a good start to my recent joining of their Sexpert program.
The Thrusting Jack Rabbit
The next product I was worried about was the Thrusting Jack Rabbit. It smelled like nail polish remover. I wrote:
I hate to keep complaining. Really, there was enough of that with the whole Double Diver issue. However, I’m concerned about my Sexperts review product that just came.
Upon opening the bag, it smelled like a bottle of nail polish remover had recently been spilled. The Thrusting Jack Rabbit that was sent to me smells of acetone. I saw the "Safe and Pure" stamp on the front of the package and looked around it to see what it was made of. It said it’s made of TPE, but I have my doubts. I have other TPE toys, and they don’t smell like nail polish remover. This strange chemical smell has me worried about another manufacturer error similar to the Double Diver issue. Could you please let me know why my new Thrusting Jack Rabbit smells like nail polish remover?
Mr. Bloom emailed me that same day and said they were pulling stock, but all of their samples were fine. He also said that the packaging is acetate, which may create a residual odor like paint or nail polish when sealed in a closed space, but should quickly dissipate. It didn’t. I washed it several times and left it out in the open. Still stinky.
I received an email from Mr. Bloom the next day. Here is an excerpt:
The good news is, it is TPE. The bad news is the odor, which was caused by the accelerant that is used to clear the molds in production. When the concentartion of this (by the way, harmless) chemical does not have a chance to dissipate prior to the item going into the package, the odor is trapped, and even intensifies in travel. I unboxed 6 of them last night, and left them overnite in my office. This morning, the smell was gone almost 100%….there was still a slight odor, but it was not "unpleasant."
The factory said that it was probably one run, so we are now checking by lot # and pulling any we feel are offensive. They have agreed to pay more attention to the use of this chemical, and the resulting smell. We will be destroying the lot(s) that have the odor.
In the reply, their Engineer assures us that the chemical used for cleaning/clearing the molds is totally harmless, hypo allergenic, and is the same cleaner that they would use for medical materials made in similar type injection molds…and, it is TPE.
Still, mine stunk. The odor was not almost 100% gone like his. It smelled only a little better than the day I had received it. He was understanding, though, and let me pick out whatever I wanted. I figured for the trouble of this and the past trouble of the Double Diver, I would ask for the Luv-u-Lounge. He agreed and it was sent. I was also sent a further update on the Thrusting Jack Rabbit:
Further update. Upon receipt of the samples we sent back to the factory, they have determined that the odor was caused by the glue used in assembly. They state that 72 hours is usually allowed for the glue and TPE to cure before packaging the items. They state that the batch that the items with the strong "nail polish" smell was not allowed to cure properly before packaging, thus the odor from the glue has permeated the material. The glue itself is non-toxic…it is just a strong odor that normally would never present itself unless it is "trapped" in the confined space of the packaging, which is what happened here. Again, they assure us that there are no harmful affects.
The Luv-u-Lounge and the Ecstasy Couture
Ok, I already knew that the PVC lounge would not be phthalates-free. No matter what companies may tell you, it will always have at least a small amount of phthalates. I was fine with that. I figured I would never be able to get any inflatable furniture that wasn’t PVC, so I had accepted that. Still, the dong stunk and I had been told it was TPR and phthalates free. Turns out, after a bit of research, it was a futurotic dong.
The Ecstasy Couture that I had received as a Sexpert review assignment that month also had a strange smell. I cut it open and found some sticky, smelly gunk that was really difficult to wash off my hand.
Email sent by me on January 31st:
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me complain about products that smell funny. Trust me, I feel bad having to bring up another problem, but I have some things I need to discuss with you.
First, the Ecstasy Couture that was sent smells somewhat like alcohol. I have a dildo from Ophoria made of Japanese silicone like the box of the Ecstasy Couture says, and it does not have any odor at all. I’ve washed it and let it air out for about three days. It still smells, so I decided to contact one of my close friends and an expert on materials. She recognized the name of the product and showed me a picture of another Couture item that was dissected and had a styrofoam core (http://twitpic.com/z9vi3).
A toy that says it is Japanese silicone should fully be Japanese silicone, not a skin over a foam core. That is lying to the customer and very bad ethics. With that thought in mind, I felt around on the Ecstasy Couture. Nothing felt like foam, but I figured that something on the inside must be leeching through to produce the smell. I carefully sliced it open and found nothing but small plastic balls coated with a sticky white substance that I can only assume is some sort of grease. I smelled it to see if that was the source. As far as I can tell, the white substance is the source of the smell. I tried to wash it off my hands, but my finger is still sticky.
Second, I would like to thank you for sending the Luv-U-Lounge. I appreciate the gesture very much. However, the futurotic vibrator that came with it has me concerned. I was told by you that futurotic is a phthalate-free material. I’ve done my research, and I have not found that to be true. The smell is similar to a shower curtain, and the websites I’ve researched say that futurotic does contain phthalates. I’m not sure who to believe right now.
With all the problems I’ve had, it’s getting to the point where I worry about each product you send me. Is it really made of the material it says on the box? Is it really safe? Why does it smell like that? Please understand that I’m not trying to get on your case. I’m just concerned with the safety of the products that I’ve been sent. After a few issues, it’s hard for me to trust your products completely. I hope you can understand, and don’t find any of what I said offensive in any way.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing your reply, and am sorry I had to bring something like this upon again.
Mr. Bloom was very nice about the situation and replied with this email on February 1st:
You are no problem. I would rather hear from a friend than an enemy…which is exactly who the gal is that cut up the Couture product. We have not had a single complaint about the Couture products..if what you saw was the beads inside, they are solid ABS plastic, and I just cut up 3 of them and there is no lubricant of any kind inside…I believe you are seeing (and getting sticky with) something…we just emailed the factory to ask what, if anything they may have used? Right now, it’s a mystery.
As far as the other model that is filled with foam (I’m calling it foam for lack of the proper material)…these are pure vibrators that are designed to flex and bend. Making it a solid probe that’s 100% silicone is (a) cost prohibitive, and (b) well, just wouldn’t work. The motor, which is the beauty of these, is in the tip, and the support rod that holds it is wrapped with the foam (unlike older styles that just had a wire in it). The Silicone itself is at least 1/8" thick, making anything "inside" the shaft pretty much isolated from the skin. As far as we are concerned, we are not deceiving anyone…any part of the body that would ever touch a person is as advertised, 100% Japanese Silicone.
I have been doing this for 40 years, and I have to tell you that manufacturing-wise, if this or any of the Couture items were solid silicone, they would not be able to rotate or vibrate…you could not imbed a rotation or vibration device to approach the power of these units…a motor would be at the end towards the controller, which just would not work.
The Futurotic unit in the Luv-U-Lounge is TPR, which is phthalate free.
Now that you cut up your Couture, could you please send it to me…I promise to replace it! Your choice of replacement, but I want to get to the bottom of this…nobody is trying to fool anyone, and we want to see what you found. It has to be produced with a "skin" over something to allow it to work…and the positive reviews for performance, both in the U.S. and Europe are overwhemilngly positive (and the Europeans are much more critical than we ever imagined in the US). These things are injection molded, as opposed to a "pour" in a mold, which would make any vibrating or rotating device imbedded in a block of silicone…impossible, and it simply would not work as these do.
Thanks…we have to stop meeting like this! Al B
I asked if he would be willing to pay the return shipping and sent photos of the inside of the Ecstasy Couture. After 2 weeks, there still hadn’t been an update on what that white sticky substance was. I sent a follow-up email to ask and was sent the email below on the same day:
Not yet…almost impossible around Chinese New Year to get any factory response. I just sent a reminder…last word was they were meeting with the Silicone supplier and the Plant Manager to find out what the white stuff is. We have cut open about a dozen here, and don’t see/smell anything. Just your luck! As soon as I hear, I will contact you. Al
By March 2nd, I had already received an email from the Sexperts program that my next product was sent out. I figured I had better email Al Bloom again since the one for the Ecstasy Couture was being held up.
His reply March 3rd:
You will receive 2 nice new items from us this month. As far as the other problem, the factory, their silicone supplier, and the plant manager have no clue what it could be, unless an untrained worker happened to be on the line and used a white lubricant that they sometimes employ with use of power tools….that’s the only white substance out on the floor, and not even near the line where these are assembled. Basically, they say they have no idea. They have checked any work in progress, as we have spot checked our stock, and can’t duplicate the problem. Don’t know what to say at this point, other than we are sorry this seems to befall you, but we appreciate the input and your honesty. Thanks, Al B
He made good on his promise for 2 new items, but he never did ask me to send the Ecstasy Couture back after I had asked about return shipping. Maybe he forgot about it. Maybe he just didn’t want to pay for it. Oh well. It went to recycling anyway.
Paranoia Sets in Further…
After a few more sketchy products (supposedly silicone dildos that catch fire in a couple seconds when pure silicone should be able to withstand the heat for a while), I found myself unable to continue. I fretted about the safety of every new product and had come to dread testing them.
As stated earlier, I sent a resignation email November 10th, but still received another product to review. Hopefully I can do “Return to Sender” with UPS because I do not want it.