Today’s review is singularly and easily the most work I’ve had to put into any review to date. I’ve noticed that when I’m on the fence about something the urge to do the deep dive gets very strong. When something is obviously bad or obviously good there’s a lot less work to do in parsing where something falls short and where personal preference is or isn’t asserting itself. But we go a bit further than that today, our little journey is going to take us straight into the heart of the manufacturing process, cross a bridge of changing preferences, and coin the term soft-spoiled.
I was mulling over my older and newer reviews a week back and thinking I might want to return to the format I used for the Apollo review, but after I started to write this one I realized that the format of each individual review was going to vary by what I needed to say about it. This one is going to be more of an essay. For those of you who need a tl;dr version, the Hookah we purchased is a rough ride due to the combination of shape and hardness, but on the balance Emily enjoys it. There are big caveats though, including the fact that your Hookah may be substantially softer and squishier than ours. Before we really get started with that in earnest though, have some pretty pictures of Hookah. It’s mirin’ time.
All hand poured silicone toys are going to have some variance in them, and the Hookah is no exception, but the variance in the Hookah’s hardness was so substantial that Tantus made some changes to the manufacturing process as a result of our investigation. Kudos to Tantus for taking feedback seriously enough to do that in the first place, but now it’s time to start our story in earnest.
When Tantus released their Magma model it stuck out to me as a lot bolder of a design than I was accustomed to seeing from them. Up to that point Tantus was the manufacturer that offered body safe silicone design in mainstream shapes, to us anyway. That’s not really a criticism per se, that approach was effective in securing a lot of our business as we transitioned out of potentially toxic toys—shout out to Dangerous Lilly—to body safe toys, but Emily quickly desired something more than a proximal penis out of her toys and we both got sucked head-long into the world of fantasy dildos. For a while, we didn’t buy from Tantus anymore, and the reasons why are very important. Tantus’ toys did not get worse, they are as good as ever, the company didn’t do something bad to us, our experiences had been great. Heck, we own an O2 from the original discontinued run. We were changing and leaving their target demographic. I saw the Magma and was excited. Was Tantus moving in our direction? We went to their website and saw it even came in two sizes and two colors. Surely, we thought to ourselves, this is Tantus dipping their toe into the unusual designs side of the market, Steamhunk not withstanding. We read the dimensions on Magma, too small for Emily in either size really, but we started keeping a very close eye on what Tantus was doing and had very positive feelings about this direction.
Then the Hookah dropped. This was even more obviously targeted at the fantasy crowd, or perhaps people leaning that way. We think that’s great either way and I in particular am critical of the human penis replacement design philosophy for dildos and much prefer a designed for pleasure approach. That could and perhaps should be its own blog post. It was enough that we committed to give it a try. It was cast in the new ‘super soft’ formula and that appealed to us too. We checked out the dimensions and they were definitely enough for Emily. We placed an order fairly quickly.
It wasn’t long before our Hookah arrived. We chose blue, we had more than enough pink toys and Emily deliberately wanted more blue in her collection. It doesn’t seem to matter how many of these toys we get, sometimes we misjudge the size. Hookah was significantly bigger than we anticipated, but what we anticipated was at the low end of Emily’s tastes, so we were quite happy about this particular misjudgment. On close inspection of the toy we found some beads of silicone in the grooves that form the ‘swirly’ look for Hookah. I must say we were a little disappointed by this. Yes these are hand made toys, we get that imperfections happen, but this seemed like a lot of them and for a simple detail. We own a lot of toys with much finer and more detailed features in softer silicone that are absolutely flawless. Something with that mold? I dunno, but it was a bit of a hype killer. The finish was nice and satiny, similar to the Vamp, also from Tantus, and we prefer this finish to the glossier one found on a lot of our Tantus toys. Emily wasted no time giving it a go, and that was the first time we noticed something was off.
Almost immediately Emily was complaining about how rough of a ride Hookah was. I found this very strange as Emily typically gets the firmer options from our favorite fantasy toy makers, enjoys glass toys, and enjoys toys much bigger than Hookah. Emily had to stop using it and didn’t find it pleasurable. I reminded Emily that she may still be sore from having ridden her firm Nova from the night before. Nova dwarfs Hookah and always leaves Emily sore for a few days, and she begrudgingly agreed to try it again later—yeah she was that convinced it was a no go. Nova by the way, is purportedly in Shore 8A hardness. That purportedly bit is going to get some attention later. Hookah felt firmer than that. This struck me as odd. “Super soft compared to what?” I asked myself.
My curiosity could not wait until Emily had recovered, I went and purchased a deurometer to test the hardness of our toys. It was something I felt I needed for the blog anyway but it was one of those eventually kind of things, at least up until that point. My curiosity demanded I get to the bottom of this. I had recently been educating myself on the finer details of silicone firmness ratings at Felicity’s blog. She has a lovely comprehensive guide to toy firmness on her website that I encourage you to check out. I immediately went to town on everything measured on the A scale in our collection. I wasn’t getting the numbers I thought I would, our 8A firm toys from Bad Dragon for instance were measuring at ~3A, and our Shore 5A toys from the same manufacturer weren’t even registering on the scale. I tested on other manufacturers toys. Tantus’ older—and I do mean old, like Echo w/handle and the version of Vamp with the bullet hole old—models were measuring between ~30 and ~40 where I expected them to. A Shore 10A tentacle from Pleasure Forge was registering about where it should, between 7A and 10A depending on where I poked it. I could never get the Shore 5A tentacle from Goblin to register either. The ‘bases’ of any of these toys seemed to be a place where the reading would be lower. Hookah was consistently getting between 10A and 14A, 10 being the lowest measurement at the base. This lined up with hand feel and experience, for us ‘Super Soft’ super wasn’t.
I had to sit back and stew on the numerical facts, Emily’s period had arrived and while that’s not a problem for me it tends to make her feel very unsexy and she typically doesn’t engage in any pleasurable activity while that’s happening, especially on heavier days. So here I was spinning my wheels about this ‘super soft’ branding while waiting for that to be over. I could see labeling it as that from the standpoint of comparing it to the 30A and 40A toys they have for sure. We however, review from a fantasy toy enthusiast perspective and when we hear ‘super soft’ we’re thinking 3A tops, maybe 00-50 or 00-30. It was jarring for us, and I was starting to wonder exactly who it was Tantus was marketing to, because it didn’t feel like it was us. I also considered mass market appeal and the details that go with. I don’t actually consider 00-30 and 00-50 hard enough for mass market, not because they aren’t enjoyable, but because it takes enthusiast level care to keep those things around. Silicone that soft is prone to nicks and cuts from almost anything, especially finger nails. I can just see the support tickets now from launching a mass market toy in that firmness. In fact, that original O2 we have? We retired it. We keep it around for memories sake and because we think that maybe one day we’ll try to repair it, but it has scratches and nicks and lacerations in the soft outer layer that appeared not only from finger nails and things like that, but just by being stretched repeatedly during thrusting. That’s where the largest tear came from actually, located just beneath the coronal ridge. I also ruminated on the idea that Emily used to enjoy those 30A and 40A toys. Even on our own blog the Vamp gets a glowing review. So why was 10A-14A suddenly a problem? Why could Emily still enjoy glass toys and not this one? Well, I think that’s two things. One, Hookah has much more aggressive features than those toys, and two, Emily has gotten very used to the much softer firmnesses of fantasy toys. I remarked to her that her vagina had become soft-spoiled. We had a giggle over that one.
I’m happy we kept the old retired O2 around though. I like that we can still include our old O2 in pictures like this.
Eventually we got to a place where we could try Hookah again. Soreness from Nova was indeed a factor, and Emily managed to bring herself to orgasm with Hookah this time and even engage in some DP play. Hooray! Emily noted that Hookah was still on the very edge of too firm for her and that while the ride was worth it, it was still rough. It should be noted at this time though, that for those of you who like ‘knot’ play Hookah is essentially a series of knots. Neither of us feel comfortable calling those features merely ridges.
I sat down to prepare our review, but something didn’t feel right. My investigative curiosity was not satisfied. Something felt off to me. Surely, this wasn’t what ‘super soft’ was meant to be. As luck would have it, a brief engagement with Felicity regarding her Magma review revealed that Tantus had intended Hookah to be a ~8.5A experience. I inquired further as Shore 8.5A is a firmness I think this toy would absolutely shine in. We got into a brief chat about deurometer technique and it seemed I was doing everything right. We talked about Bad Dragon firmness and yep, we both got low readings from their toys, wasn’t just me. What did seem to be just me however was how hard Hookah was. I reached out to Tantus for comment informing them that I’d be delaying my review slightly to give them a chance to respond to my inquiry about the seemingly abberant hardness of our Hookah. I was about to go ahead with the review, having not heard from them in six days when I got a curious but short response in my email from Tantus support.
Thank you for alerting us to this issue. After much digging we found a procedural issue in production that ended up making the toys inconsistent. This has now been addressed and the shore hardness of the Super Soft is now consistently soft. Quality Control is also empowered and encouraged to stop the line if they find any more inconsistencies.
Again, your voice really matters, and we are very grateful for your input.
Well okay then. My gut instincts win again. Seriously I always get into trouble any time I ignore those. However, without any offer to send us a toy in the intended verified firmness, we can only review what we have. I imagine there are also still plenty of Hookahs made with the old process sitting in the channel, which means if you buy one today, by Tantus’ own admission, the firmness you’re getting could vary significantly which kinda makes the Hookah hard to review in the first place.
So what’s the bottom line here? Well we think we’ve hit a situation where our personal tastes and acclimation to softer toys are already pre-disposing our experience to be worse with Hookah than yours might be. I think the combination of 10A+ firmness in our Hookah and the aggressive features of the design make for a rougher experience than intended. Even in the intended ~8.5A of the Hookah I think that might be the case. As I stated earlier, Emily still enjoys her glass toys, like her Twist from Crystal Delights, she loves her girthy Nova even if it leaves her a bit sore later. It’s not even necessarily that Hookah’s girth is the issue, it’s the changes in girth that are resulting in this experience. Some of you though, some of you really enjoy a rough ride, especially you knot enthusiasts, and if that’s you, hoh boy I think you’ll have fun with Hookah. We have to be a little more careful about when and how we use it than we were expecting. Hookah by the way, even with the production flaws I was talking about earlier, is a beautifully crafted toy and sits with the rest of our collection not looking a bit out of place. On that note, that confirms to us that Hookah is an attempt to market towards the fantasy crowd and in that capacity I have some advice for Tantus, don’t call anything 5A or higher super soft if it is indeed those people you are trying to make into satisfied customers, our crowd looks at Shore 8A with skepticism about comfort.
I’d like to reiterate at this juncture that our second go round with Hookah did provide a significant degree of pleasure and we did end up enjoying it on the whole. It won’t however be enjoying reach-for-first status with that degree of firmness. Hookah also comes with some classic Tantus staple features, like harness compatibility and that same flared base makes Hookah anal safe. We don’t think we’ll be trying Hookah that way though. If you go to Hookah’s product page here, they also have a very well done sizing chart that describes every single knot on this the toy. Very handy indeed as we generally don’t bother with anything but ballpark measurements on shapes this irregular. You can get Hookah in two colors, as we mentioned before we chose Rockabilly Blue, but it also comes in Punk Rock Pink and both models have a high degree of sparkle to them.
I think the hardest thing about this review has been that Hookah is neither a recommend or a don’t recommend. It comes with a pile of caveats that essentially boil down to the idea that you’ll have to use your past experience as a guide for whether or not you’ll enjoy Hookah. With that comes the only concrete recommendation we can make. Hookah is not a toy I’d recommend to newbies. I think the strongest recommendation we can give for the toy are to people who are really into knotting and people who crave a rough ride now and again. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading and sticking with us to the end. I hope you’ve found this useful. Until next time!