22 March 2013

Tantus Echo Handle


It's the March round of sex toy testing over at SexToys.co.uk, and this month I was chosen to review the Echo Handle from Tantus. It can be amusing the way things turn out sometimes; a while back I was sent the Goddess Handle to review by another company, and I liked it so much that I bought an original Goddess to go with it. This time around I've been sent the handle version of a toy which I already own and love, the original Tantus Echo. It's nice to have a matching set of these toys, and given how much I like the idea behind putting handles on dildos, I'm very eager to see how it performs.

The Echo Handle is a one of a pair of new products which Tantus brought out last year, including the Goddess Handle. They follow on from the success of Tantus's first handled dildo, the Anaconda, by adding a handle to the base of a couple of their most popular designs. 

The dildo has a total length of just over 11", with 7" of this designed to be insertable, and the remainder taken up by the 4 1/8" handle. The handle itself has a matte finish to add grip, while the insertable portion is similar to the original Echo in design, and features a smooth shiny surface.

The Echo Handle has broadly the same shape as the original Echo, even down to the strange leftward lean, and as such it's quite a richly textured toy. There are, however, two significant differences to the design which you'll need to be aware of. The first is the girth; compared the original Echo the Echo Handle is quite a slimline toy, with a circumference ranging from 4 3/4" at the top to 4 3/8" near the bottom of the insertable portion, in contrast to the original Echo's 4 7/8" - 4 5/8". It may not sound like a huge deal but place them side-by-side and it's definitely noticeable. The second thing is that the texture of the shaft is rather less pronounced and less prominent than on the original Echo, and overall  it appears more subtle.

At the top of the dildo is a nice bulbous head which resembles the glans of the penis in shape, and while the tip of it is nicely rounded, it's a little on the blunt side and without significant taper. The head portion has a reasonably pronounced coronal ridge which forms the thickest point of the dildo, and below it are five more successive ridges going down the shaft. These ridges each follow the same design of the corona, giving the dildo its distinctive look, and they wrap around the sides of the shaft, but not quite all the way. The underside of the dildo has a subtle indicator of a raised column running vertically down from the head towards the handle, which gives the dildo a wonderful contrast of being highly textured on one side, but largely smooth on the other. The texture stops short of the handle, leaving a 1 1/8" section that is completely smooth, and that has the narrowest circumference of the shaft.

The Echo Handle is made from 100% platinum silicone, like all Tantus products, but what's unusual for Tantus is that the silicone is very firm. Most Tantus toys have a nice degree squishiness and flex in them, and you can squeeze them and bend them about with relative ease. The Echo Handle is quite different though; there's little give in the material at all when you try to squeeze it, and it's rather inflexible. The need for this rigidity is understandable when considering the addition of the handle, as due to the extra length and weight of material it needs to hold its shape and not bend about too much during use. The construction of the Echo Handle is impeccable, as I've come to expect from Tantus. The dildo is made entirely in one piece, and the surface is free from any mould lines or imperfections. It comes in the same deep "midnight purple" colour as the original Echo and some other Tantus toys, and it gives a really nice look overall.

The slender design of the Echo Handle makes it nice and easy to insert, especially if you're using it anally, but you still get a little "pop" from the flare of the head as it goes in. Because the end is somewhat blunt, when it comes to a complete novice it might not be the best toy for first anal use. As you continue to push the dildo in deeper then this sensation is followed by several smaller "pops" as you traverse each ridge. The rich texture of the Echo makes it an ideal toy for thrusting, and the whole dildo slides in and out of the body seamlessly, with very little friction. If you're completely relaxed when thrusting then the texture isn't too apparent, but if you squeeze down tightly against the dildo with your muscles then you can really feel the sphincter bumping over each ridge. The differences between the Echo Handle and the original Echo can really be felt during use, in terms of both the size and the prominence of the texture. Thrusting while clenching the sphincter feels less intense now, so its better suited to people who can't completely relax themselves on command, but may disappoint those who really love strong texture. The slim girth of the dildo also means that it doesn't feel that filling when it's inside, so again it'll suit a novice but it's a double hit if you like both size and texture. One of my favourite things about the original Echo was how well it stimulated the prostate, and thankfully the Echo Handle doesn't disappoint in this regard. The subtlety of the ridges reduces their effect by a degree, but once you get a good rhythm going you definitely feel them rippling over the surface of the prostate to a very pleasurable end. One other nice feature of the dildo is how well the material reacts to the body; the longer you're using it the more of your body heat the silicone will soak up, until the temperature reaches equilibrium and a wonderfully natural feeling results. 

One of the main features of the Echo Handle is in fact the handle itself, and this is useful in more than one way; if you like to squat over your dildos and ride them, as opposed to manually thrusting, then you can still do that, the handle just provides a little extra height so you don't need to squat so low, which can be quite useful. The handle can also be used in the manner that it's intended - to aid thrusting - whether by yourself or with a partner. The handle is very solid, providing a firm grip, and there's just something wonderfully straightforward about lying back with your legs in the air, your fingers wrapped around the handle, and steadily pulling the dildo into your body. It's so much easier to manipulate than grabbing onto the base of an ordinary dildo. Equally it's going to work exceedingly well with a partner, because they can take advantage of the handle to really help target the prostate when using it on you.

One thing I'm not so keen on with the Echo Handle is the aforementioned firmness of the material. If you're thrusting quite vigorously with the dildo, or you happen to have a partner that's using it on you, and you accidentally go too deep then it can be quite painful, especially anally. The rectum is notably quite shallow, so if you happen to hit the top of it when you're thrusting then it can feel like a battering ram, as there's not enough give in the material to cushion the impact, nor enough flex for the dildo to bend around and go deeper into the colon. Personally I find that this lets the product down a little, as it really is designed to be used on you by another person, but you have to make sure that they're going to be extra careful with it, or else you're going to be too apprehensive about them potentially injuring you to enjoy the experience. I think it would have been better if Tantus had designed it with the firmer silicone only in the bottom half of the dildo, much like the dual-density approach in the Pack 'n' Play, so as to allow for some flexibility near the tip where it's needed.

When it comes for caring for the dildo it's a very simple affair. Silicone is a naturally odourless and non-porous material, which lends itself to a variety of cleaning methods, including sterilisation. You can wash it with antibacterial soap and hot water, use a toy wipe, pop it in the dishwasher, wipe it down with a 10% bleach solution, and even leave it submerged in boiling water for a couple of minutes - provided you can find a pan large enough to put it in. The only downside is that you'll probably want to wash the dildo before use as well as after, as the material does attract a lot of dust. As always with silicone, remember to only use water-based lubes.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the Echo Handle. It's another quality product from Tantus that certainly has its own variety of uses. The only slight let downs for me are just how firm the material is, and the reduction in the level of texture. For those reasons I'll probably find myself sticking with the regular Echo instead most of the time for solo play, but when a partner comes along I'll definitely break out the handled toys.

Unfortunately the Echo Handle is no longer available from SexToys.co.uk but can be purchased directly from Tantus.

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