20 April 2013

Fun Factory Stronic Zwei

Not long ago the German manufacturer Fun Factory came out with a revolutionary new thrusting vibrator for women, called the Stronic Eins. After reading several reviews of it I immediately became curious about how it would actually feel to experience the sensations from it first hand, and being the fan of innovation that I am I  began to wonder if there was any way that I could use it myself. Luckily for me, however, Fun Factory have just released the all-new Stronic Zwei, with a flared based specifically designed for anal use, so I need wonder no longer.

When Sam from Simply Pleasure asked if I'd like to try one out I have to say that I was thrilled by the offer and positively ecstatic, so huge, huge, thanks to them for sending it to me.

I feel that I should begin this review by saying that the Stronic Zwei is a big toy, and this is definitely something which anyone considering it should bear in mind. Often manufacturers try to take a safe middle road when designing the dimensions of these things, take for example my favourite anal vibrator, the Lelo Billy, it's wonderfully powerful but only about an inch wide, so fill you up it does not. The Stronic Zwei, in contrast, throws this out the window and is proudly girthy. I'm not sure whether this was intentional, or rather a necessity in order to house the complex mechanism inside, but either way it's probably going to be a bit of a gamble. While those such as myself will love the girthiness that it has to offer, just as many people - if not more - will be put off by the fact that they're simply not able to insert something of that size. The question is, though, if you can't currently insert it, is it worth the effort to reach a point where you can?

The differences between the Stronic Zwei and its predecessor the Stronic Eins are largely cosmetic, but these are enough to completely change its purpose, making one anal-safe while the other is not. For the curious "Eins" and "Zwei" are simply the German words for "one" and "two," so while it may sound exotic to the ears of those of us in the Anglosphere, it transpires to be a rather simplistic naming technique. Recently Fun Factory have even come out with a third addition to the line, the Stronic Drei, which I hope to try at some point. The common feature in all the Stronics is the handle which is made out of a black matte plastic, and located on it are the three buttons used to operate the Stronic, along with charging contacts which connect to the power cable.

The insertable portion of the Stronic takes its somewhat familiar shape from the thick layer of silicone which covers its inner workings. The silicone itself is soft and velvety with a matte finish, and somewhat extraordinarily for an electronic toy has not even a hint of a mould line. Down by the handle the silicone flares out on two sides, like the hand guard on a sword, giving the Zwei its anal-safe credentials, and then the shaft itself undulates down its length with two main bulges which mirror the shape of many prostate toys. On the whole only around 4 1/2" of the toy are actually insertable, but the circumference of the largest bulge is an even 6", making it short yet girthy. What's interesting is that the two "fins" of the guard piece don't lie completely perpendicular to the shaft, and sit at a slight diagonal angle, and I'm not entirely certain of the thought behind this design. The shaft of the toy itself is quite rigid due to the solid core, so while the surface of the silicone does have some give to it, there's largely no flex to the toy at all. The only exception to this is at the very tip, because the core only extends around 3" of the way down the shaft, so the last 1 1/2" at the end is just silicone all the way through. The overall appearance of the Stronic Zwei does rather remind me of a torch, and I'm not referring to the electric kind, it's more like the sort of flaming torch you'd find at an Olympic relay, or I guess if I were American I'd liken it to the Torch of Freedom that the Statue of Liberty holds as she stands watch over New York harbour. You have to hold it at just the right angle to get the full effect of it, but the top half does look like a torch flame flickering in the wind if you hold it aloft.

The Stronic Zwei has a total of ten different settings which are comprised of three "algorithmic" modes, three constant speeds, three "dynamic" modes (patterns) and a generic "on" setting. What's different about Stronics is that they're not vibrators in the traditional sense, they thrust, and this is immediately apparent as soon as you turn one on. Inside the core of the shaft is a solid mass which oscillates back and forth when the toy is activated, and this is what generates the thrusting sensation. It's very impressive to see it in action, and just holding it in your hands is enough to get a good sense of how it's going to feel as it shakes around like a pneumatic drill. The toy is turned on by holding down a button labelled "Fun" and then off again by pressing it a second time. It begins on the default setting and then you have the choice to either switch down into the algorithmic modes by pressing the (-) button or go up through the constant and then dynamic modes by pressing the (+) button. It can be slightly confusing without consulting the manual, and in fact I missed the three algorithmic modes altogether the first few times I used it, so I've included a copy of the relevant page below. The different modes don't all loop together like a cycle, and are instead arranged in a linear fashion, so once you press a particular button all the way through to the end of that section you'll need to switch over and start moving back through them all again in the opposite direction. The button system works well for the most part, and the buttons are nice and responsive, but my only minor niggle would be that the toy doesn't remember which setting you were last using when you turn it off and on again, instead always reverting to the same default, so each time you need to cycle back to your speed or pattern of choice.

Inserting the Stronic Zwei is relatively simple to begin with, provided that you're used to the size, and the squishy silicone tip makes it a rather comfortable experience without the need for warm up, while the matte surface holds onto lube nicely and allows the shaft to glide into the body. The second bulge along the shaft can be a little tricky to overcome and requires a bit of force to encourage it into the body. What hinders things somewhat is the guard piece built into the silicone, because frankly it's the wrong shape. I mentioned previously that it's not perpendicular with the shaft, and herein lies the problem, because not only is it diagonal, but it slants the wrong way. You'll find that as you're trying to insert the second bulge the front fin of the guard will begin really digging into the perineum, while the fin at the back is an inch away from ever touching the body. It turns out that the only way to get the guard piece to sit flush with the exterior of the body is to rotate the whole toy by 180 degrees, but this isn't ideal because then the buttons on the handle are pointed downwards and out of sight, and the curved tip of the shaft is no longer angled into the prostate. Your only option is to restore the toy to its original position and live with it not sitting quite right, but it does seem like rather a ridiculous design mistake to make, and not something that I'd expect from Fun Factory. When the toy is fully inserted the girthiness of it does feel pleasantly filling, but I have to say that it doesn't stay in place very securely, and this is distracting, so you need to retain a constant grip on the handle. This is down to two things really: firstly there isn't a sufficient neck on the shaft below the second bulge, so the sphincter really has no place to clamp down around to hold the toy in position, and secondly the pressure that the uppermost guard fin applies to the perineum acts like a lever, and the result is that the second bulge will try to work its way out at the slightest provocation.

When you first turn on the Stronic Zwei it is a completely unique sensation, and slightly strange at that. I was talking the other week about the Revo 2 being a pretty innovative anal toy, but I feel that the Stronic goes so much further than that. Even at low speeds it really does feel like thrusting, but what's funny is that you can feel the inertia of this mass moving in and out, but with a complete lack of friction to the surrounding areas, and without the sensation of the rectum expanding and contracting. Immediately I found I had to urge to crank up the power to see what more it could do. One small let down is that it's not an especially deep thrusting sensation; because the mechanism of the toy only extends 3" into the shaft, and not all the way to the tip, that's all you're going to get, and possibly less if the guard piece interferes with your ability to insert the entire shaft. The result is that the thrusts feel quite shallow, sort of like if you were having sex with someone and instead of doing a full stroke they opted just to continually pop the head of their member in and out of you, and it does leave you craving more. Thankfully the  power settings do go some way towards compensating for this, and when you have it set to number 4 it does feel quite strong. The rapid thrusts of this power level feel vigorous and produce a deep rumbling vibration which permeates through every part of the body in the near vicinity, and especially into the prostate. At this point all you're focussed on is the effect on the prostate, and I found that this is the feature that really makes the toy worthwhile. The throbbing, pulsing sensation delivered by the thrusts into the prostate is really quite wonderful, and while it's not marketed specifically as a prostate massager is definitely performs well in this regard. I have to say that as always I couldn't help but crave a little more power. I kept thinking back to the surprise I had with the Palm Power and wondering what the Stronic Zwei might have been able to offer if it was mains operated rather than rechargeable.

Feeling the rhythm and vibrations of the toy alone is pretty nice, but the experience is really improved if you help it along a bit with some manual manipulation. Using a very gentle thrusting action to massage the prostate with the shaft of the toy really improves the sensations it provides, and after a while of this I did start to feel as though I may be on the road towards a prostate orgasm as there was a steady build up of feeling in the area.

The three patterns of vibrations add some nice variety to the toy and in fact I found myself alternating between all of them just to mix things up. They feature various sequences which include a mixture of slower weaker thrusts and faster more powerful ones, so it's harder to get accustomed to the rhythm like you can with the steady thrusts.

The Stronic Zwei is a rechargeable toy and it utilises Fun Factory's magnetic "Click 'n' Charge" system, just like their other products that I've reviewed, the Duke and Cobra Libre. The end of the charging lead clips onto the contacts at the base of the handle and stays firmly in place thanks to the strong magnets, so it won't accidentally become dislodged. During charging a red light on the plug illuminates to indicate the flow of power, as well as the buttons on the Stronic which glow sequentially, and everything conveniently extinguishes when the charge is complete, letting you know that it's ready to use. Because the charging system is the same on all Fun Factory toys it means that the adaptors are interchangeable, so they sell them separately from the toys themselves so you don't end up with more than you need. It makes it it very easy to find the right charger for your Fun Factory toys and relatively hassle-free.

The Stronic is also a completely waterproof toy which makes cleaning it a breeze, and the silicone allows it to be carefully sterilised using a mild bleach solution, which is always a handy thing for any toy being used anally.

Overall the Stronic Zwei is a rather tricky toy to evaluate because it definitely has its high points and its low points, but what its design really highlights is the potential for this sort of toy, which currently is the first of its kind. It's a really well made product which utilises quality materials, as well as being both rechargeable and waterproof. The shape can be pretty annoying with its backwards guard piece and the fact that it doesn't stay in place well, but it's also pleasantly girthy. I think that possibly the overriding factor has to be how it feels, and it really is unique, unique in a way that I think you have to experience for yourself. The thrusting sensation is like nothing you'll feel from any other toy, but more importantly it feels good. It really targets the prostate in a deep permeating way which few other toys do, and for that reason I'd have to suggest trying it. The real difficulty for me is the price, because it is expensive. I couldn't honestly sit here and say to people that this is the be all and end all of anal toys, and that they should splash out safe in the knowledge that they'd never need to buy another toy, because that simply isn't the case. What I can say though is that by and large it delivers, and it delivers something pleasurable. If you want something that's new, that's different, and that's going to take you to somewhere you haven't quite been before, and if you can comfortably afford it, then the Stronic Zwei is definitely a worthwhile piece to invest in, flaws and all.

You can buy the Stronic Zwei from Simply Pleasure.

Simply Pleasure, click here

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