2 March 2012

Open Letter to Rocks Off

Rocks Off is a company that I really really want to like, and not just because it's British and I'm a big supporter of local industry, but because their designers are actually quite creative and innovative in what they do, and they're willing to use colours in their products which is something I care about. This just makes it all the more frustrating, however, when I find silly flaws in their products which devalue them and prevent me from liking them. I'm going to go through a list of the top problems as I see them, after the jump.


The materials and manufacturing
Rocks Off manufacture the sleeves of all their toys from silicone, which should be cause for praise, surely? It's not often you'll hear me criticise silicone, but I'm really not fond of the blend they use. Of all the varying types employed by different manufacturers, Rocks Off has chosen one of the hardest and most inflexible silicones I've encountered. It's really not comfortable to use in my opinion; it doesn't bend easily, it doesn't compress, and it doesn't warm up with your body heat. At the risk of hyperbole, I've had silicone bakeware which felt like it would be more gentle to my insides than what they use. The exterior of the silicone is also inexplicably textured and matte, not smooth and shiny, and it has visible mould lines. The obvious result is that it does not glide easily. When I'm using a prostate massager I want it to slip in there gently, I don't want to be aware of signs of friction and drag.

The other problem I have is with the use of materials that pretend to be something they're not. The standard model of the RO-80mm has a chrome finish, and the RO-160mm comes with a choice of metallic blue or metallic pink finish. The thing is, neither of these toys is actually made of metal; they're made of ABS plastic with a metallic coating, so instantly you're met with disappointment. What springs to mind when I think of things made of plastic, with a metallic coating, is the inside of a bag of crisps. It doesn't especially project class, and already the blue paint is scraping off my RO-160mm, I hesitate to add.

Over reliance on the RO-80mm Bullet
The RO-80mm Ammunition for Love is an award-winning bullet, as they like to keep telling us. The problem is that bullet vibes are designed for a very specific purpose - stimulating women clitorally - and while I have no doubt that this buzzy little vibe does that well, this singular accolade does not warrant putting the bullet inside every toy they make. It's a single speed bullet vibe, not a powerhouse; once you slip it inside the thick silicone sleeve of a butt plug or prostate massager, and insert it into the body, most of the sensation is lost as the waves of vibration are dampened, leaving behind only a weak tingling feeling. Rocks Off really need to abandon this approach, and invest in powerful, rumbly, fully-integrated vibration motors in their toys. They try to market it as a positive that the bullet can be removed, but truthfully it's just a matter of keeping costs down; they don't need to redesign anything if they can just create a variety of silicone sleeves to fit around an existing product. How many men do you think actually remove the bullet from their prostate massager and use it alone? I tried it, and frankly it wasn't great. It's not truthfully a selling point if no one actually uses it, and if a man for some mysterious reason actually wanted an RO-80mm by itself they only cost £9.99, it's pocket change.

Impractical product designs
As much as I enjoy the appearance of many of the Rocks Off toys, some of the design considerations, aesthetic or otherwise, leave the final product flawed. 

Firstly if we take the Assberries butt plugs, the Blackberry has a flared base as all anal toys should, but the problem is that the base is short and no wider than the main body of the toy. Sure, it looks nice that way, but if you push a little too hard your already relaxed sphincter muscle is just going to swallow the whole thing up. I've had a couple of close calls, because you do have to push hard to operate the fiddly on/off button at the end of the bullet. If aesthetic considerations are so important, then one need only look at the Tantus A-Bomb; the base of the product takes on a completely different appearance simply by rotating it 90 degrees, and is still safe. The other problem is with the bullet itself; it has to stick out of the end of the plug so you can grab onto it and remove it in case you want to use it separately, but with it sticking out like that you can't sit down while wearing the plug, which limits how you can use it.

The Bad-Boy range of prostate massagers is another thing I have issues with, but I won't go into too much detail as I've talked about it before. The hooked shape just doesn't work for everyone, it won't fit inside everyone's body, and so they're alienating a good portion of their consumer base with this, and leaving them with a product they simply cannot use. It's all very well making a one-size-fits-all product, but you need to have some flexibility and adaptability in the design, so that it's functional for the vast majority of the population bell curve.

As a final note I would just like to mention the Hand Solo, a new Rocks Off toy which to my amazement won the 2012 ETO Award for Best Male Product. This is a product which I really feel never should have been. Once again I appreciate that they're trying to innovate, but in my opinion this just wasn't the right direction to go in. There are companies out there with years of experience in making masturbators, and anyone trying to crack that market is going to have a difficult time under the best of circumstances. The problem is that when you haven't even begun to iron out the issues in your core products, it isn't the time to start branching out. Already so many issues are just glaring at me: a bumpy device which only covers half the penis, made from that same hard silicone, and powered by that same mediocre RO-80mm bullet. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a cheese grater, and unfortunately judging from a couple of the reviews I've read so far, I image that rubbing my penis on it would be at a similar level of pleasure.


I've realised as I've gone on, and as this piece became longer than I ever intended, that I am being quite harsh and critical, but I must stress that it all comes from a good place. As I said at the start, I really want to like Rocks Off, and I want to support them, but until these issues are addressed I simply can't. I believe they're a well intentioned company, struggling to walk the line of offering both quality and affordability, and not quite succeeding on either. Ultimately I do wish them the very best, and hope that in the future they can develop a product that I can proudly recommend here. Maybe this piece will be one of the kicks they need to spur themselves on.



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