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Piston powered pleasures – The Hot Octopuss toys review (and designer interview)

Remember when I told you that original sex toys are too few to make reviewing them interesting? Well, guess who made a fool of himself – the Hot Octopuss guys from London promptly sent me not one, but two technically unique items for me to test. And, lo and behold, I actually mean it: one of them in fact is among the rare high-tech toys specifically designed for men, so I got to live the reverse experience I had with the Sona, where I had to blindly trust my (female) partners about its very gender-specific effects.

The toy in question is the Pulse III Duo, affectionately called a “guybrator”. The immediate reaction as you unbox it recalls the perplexity before the infamous Demolition Man shells: you kinda sorta guess how it is supposed to be used, but I sifted through the manual just to make sure anyway. The shape is best described as a cross between a large silicone teardrop and a curled leaf designed to embrace the penis from the underside. The key feature of the Pulse however is its “PulsePlate Technology™”, a unique type of inner oscillating unit derived from the medical field, where they are used to remedy a series of andrological issues in obscenely expensive… well, robo-wank tubes. This toy is their debauched little brother: the genes are the same, but it looks way cooler and turns the fun factor all the way up.

What happens when you use it is that a coin-sized area which ends up right under your frenulum pulses up and down with a minimal excursion but more power and speed that you could ever think possible, stimulating just the right spot and getting the whole toy to vibrate. The power button on the left cycles through various oscillation patterns, while two more buttons on the right regulate the intensity, ranging from «Whoa!» to «Let’s hope you don’t warp to hyperspace now». Really brave – or clumsy – guys can hit the ‘plus’ button for a specific length of time and have the motor jump from zero to maximum, which I am pretty sure mimics shagging a hurricane.

The ‘Duo’ part of the name refers to an additional feature designed for heterosexual couples, in which the underside of the toy tip hides a regular vibrator controlled via a small, round, single-button remote. The idea here is to place it over the clitoris of a partner laying on her back, give her the remote and slide into the Pulse as it does its job. The result is a powerful, unusual and a bit awkward form of couple stimulation meant for foreplay or as an alternative to penetration.
The non-Duo version, by the way, lacks the vibrator and is slightly differently shaped, but it is otherwise identical – even in the genius USB magnetic recharger. The elimination of a charging jack means the unit is completely waterproof: not only easier to clean, then, but more importantly able to be used in the tub. This is where the Pulse shines, at least for me. The water transmits the vibrations with an especially pleasurable effect, not to mention making extra cool ripple patterns for the physics geeks in the audience. In other situations… well, it’s complicated.

Let me get this straight: for me the Pulse wasn’t an especially unforgettable experience, no matter its wonderful high-tech wizardry. Besides being a so-loud-it-is-distracting kind of toy, it managed to be too much and too little at the same time. Maybe it is a matter of anatomical sizes or of personal preferences, but I found only one pulse pattern that wasn’t unduly overwhelming, and out of the bathtub the general effect mostly reminded me of when your back itches and are so close to scratching the right spot, but you just can’t get to it properly.
Used as a couple’s toy, instead, you can understand why it is marketed specifically as a “foreplay toy”: it is fun in an odd way, but it rapidly brings you to a point where you just want to silence it and do it the old-fashioned way. But then again: I am probably not the ideal Pulse user.

Regarding this, there is ample praise for this sex toy from several categories of people. Men with erectile dysfunctions, who can be stimulated to orgasm and experience a satisfying quasi-intercourse even if flaccid; mobility-challenged persons or suffering from certain disabilities preventing them from easily masturbating; couples in which penetration is not an option; people enjoying multiple forced orgasms domination scenes. For them the Pulse is a godsend, period, and I honestly believe there should be an effort to reach them with the good news of an item which may turn their erotic lives in unexpectedly good new directions. I for one am relieved to know objects like this will be available when I’ll grow older. But we are not done with the PulsePlate technology just yet.

Coming in a similarly hip, eco-friendly box to the Pulse and featuring the same shiny black purse and magnetic USB charging system, the Queen Bee can be described as the female-oriented version of the sex toy described above. It is a surprisingly lightweight paddle covered with a thin silicone-like outer layer: one of its sides is sculpted in a diamonds pattern, while the other is smooth but hosting an oval pulsing plate.
I could wear my self-important sex toy reviewer’s hat here and drone about the QB’s tiniest details, but let me cut to the chase. This item feels a little less powerful than the Pulse but it is practically the same thing in a different form factor, so it is just as absurdly intense as and possibly even louder than its brother – not to mention the part about feeling best when surrounded by the soap bubbles of a nice, warm bath. The “tapping” motion is so fast that you would be fooled into thinking the plate is just vibrating in the usual way, but my female testing partners report the Queen Bee does feel different in a very pleasant way. «It is a little gentler than a power tool like the Magic Wand,» they actually said, «and definitely better than a regular vibrator». And it is great as a back massager, I might add, but I am told I am the only one who contemplates using a sex toy like that outside of old-fashioned ads.

All thing considered, both items are now permanent residents of my toys cabinet – just not the one closest to the bed as they represent a very nice occasional variation, but not something that I can see as a major “signature trick”.  Your mileage may vary, however, and especially if you are a male with special needs do yourself a favor and get a Pulse now: you can thank me (and its designers) later.
Or, even better… since you are here, what about meeting them right in the next paragraph? You see, the Hot Octopuss story tickled my curiosity, so I reached out for an interview. Here’s what we said.

Adam Lewis

Hi, Adam! Can you introduce yourself to the readers?

Sure. Well, what can I say? I’m the founder and CEO of Hot Octopuss, a British sex toy company that creates products that we believe are the most powerful and beautiful on the market, in order to enable people from all walks of life to experience fantastic sex and orgasms. 


Since the turn of the century the sex toy market has bloomed with an abundance of products: some of them innovative, most of them pretty uninspiring behind the marketing glitz, but all of them crowding the stores in a rather confusing bunch for the average customer. How was it that you chose to enter such an overcompetitive field?

When I first started looking at the sex toy market, particularly the male market, where vibrations were barely being used at the time, I was surprised and disappointed by the lack of choice and innovation. One of the motivations for creating Pulse, our flagship product, was to address this. I believe that the reason our products have been so successful is that, unfortunately for the customer, very few other companies bother to put the necessary thought and effort into designing and producing sex toys. It took us six years to make our first toy. Perhaps that’s excessive but we wanted to make something that would really work, for everyone. Now we are focused on continuing to innovate to produce more original and effective products to spice up the market. 


Your signature toy is based on a technology originally developed for the medical sector. Can you describe the process that lead to the current design?

I came up with the idea for Pulse when I was actually looking for a toy for myself: having experimented with various vibrating women’s toys over the years, I realised that they didn’t quite work as well for me as they did for women and saw a gap in the market. 
As I began researching possible ideas, I came upon a scientific article on ‘penile vibratory stimulation’, a medical technique used to enable men with spinal cord injury or paralysis to ejaculate and therefore have children. I took this idea to several London design companies and this became the basis for the Pulse that you see today. There were many challenges – the first design company we approached literally dropped his jaw in horror at what we were proposing, and licensing the tech was not straightforward: even once we’d sorted that aspect, we soon realised we’d have to completely redesign the mechanism to make it suitable for a small sex toy. 


The Pulse line is highly regarded among people suffering from erectile dysfunction, reduced mobility and other disabilities. Did you design it with them in mind from the start, or did this application accidentally arise?  

The tech in Pulse works differently to a typical vibrator – it oscillates, creating very powerful stimulation, which is why it is so effective for all men but particularly those who can’t orgasm from typical sexual activity. Having been originally devised for people with erectile problems, we knew it would work for these groups, but were committed to making this technology available to everyone. Of course we were excited about the fact that this product would enable people who had problems achieving an erection or orgasm – who were totally under-serviced by the current market – to do so. 


Tell me about branching into a fiercer competition with the Queen Bee. Do you plan to add more female or unisex toys to your catalog? Come to think of it, are there new designs in the works in general?

We are always innovating and currently have an exciting range of new toys in the pipeline, using different approaches to deliver the uniquely powerful orgasms that we consider to be our unique selling proposition, which will be coming to market over the next two years.


How do you see the future of sex toys?

I hope and anticipate that the sex toy market will continue to grow: there are twice as many buyers now as there were a decade ago. As acceptance and recognition of the importance of sex, orgasms and intimacy to self esteem, wellbeing and happiness increases, I believe sex toys will feature more and more prominently in people’s lives.

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