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Anatomy of a negative sex toy review (or: the Mimic)

The thesaurus has given you many words to describe this vibrator. One of them is “worthless.”

Clandestine Devices Mimic vibrator on an ancient-looking egg scale. The cons outweigh the pros.
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You’re mid-masturbation and you’ve forgotten what it’s like for orgasm to feel achievable. You’re doing everything right, theoretically: the vibrator’s cranked up to its highest intensity, held faithfully against the favored side of your clit. You’re watching queer porn. Your vulva is well-lubricated. The cats are at bay. There is no reason this should be unpleasant.

Except that the vibrator you’re using is absolute shit.

Does it even qualify as a vibrator, really? These “vibrations” are pathetic and so, so buzzy. It’d be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Actually, the emotion you feel is irritation — and it’s tainting everything. You become inordinately annoyed at the porn for daring to jump between sex and interviews; you need all the eroticism you can get right now, goddamnit, and this pitiful excuse for a vibrator is offering no stimulation whatsoever.

This is not good. Not good at all. At alllllllllllllllllllllll.

Finally, after a while, a frustration-driven arousal sets in. It occurs to you that covering more surface area with the toy might improve the experience. You wedge it against your vulva, eschewing the pinpoint tip. It feels, incredibly, even worse. But your sensitive clit accepts the continuing vibration as just barely enough to induce an orgasm. A paltry, weak-ass orgasm. The kind that makes you want to flip a table. The kind that makes you question your sex toy reviewer career choice.

In a fit of rage, you pull up your masturbation notes and type: I… just had an orgasm that made me angry.

The Clandestine Devices Mimic first entered your consciousness two years ago, in a ballroom at the Hard Rock Las Vegas. It was the annual adult novelty expo, ground zero for new sex toy inventions. As you strolled past table after table strewn with vibrators in familiar shapes and colors, the Mimic caught your eye. Standing up on its own in a vibrant turquoise, it seemed elegant, unique, promising.

In a fit of rage, you pull up your masturbation notes and type: “I… just had an orgasm that made me angry.

Until you turned it on.

With some sex toys, you can’t tell they suck until they’re actually against your genitals. Not this one. The company rep behind the table, a fan of your blog, watched your reaction.

You said: “it needs a better motor.”

“Oh, I know,” she replied. The toy was a prototype, after all. They’d work on it.

One year later, the finished product arrives at your door. It’s accompanied by a note from the rep which reads, Here it is — hopefully you’ll like the improvements we’ve made — but you still terrify me (all the respect!)

Unboxing of the Clandestine Devices Mimic vibrator, with a note which reads "Hey Piph! Here it is — hopefully you'll like the improvements we've made — but you still terrify me (all the respect!)"

You unbox the toy, feeling its flaps and its powdery-soft silicone. The color is gorgeous, still. Its sloped body is symmetrical and seductive. But did they follow your advice and give it a rumbly motor? The answer is clear when you turn the toy on and involuntarily wince. Maybe it’s not fully charged, you lie to yourself, knowing this is a lie.

Sex toy reviewer protocol calls for at least one paragraph of unbiased facts. So: the Mimic is a manta ray shaped vibrator that costs $110 and comes in turquoise, black, and purple. Its base lights up during use and while charging, and it holds a charge reasonably well. It comes with a drawstring storage bag and 1-year warranty. This toy is body-safe, waterproof, rechargeable, all those little buzzwords.

Which is what makes it so insidious.

In early tests, your initial impressions about the motor are confirmed. The stimulation is dismal, absolutely dismal. Shallow as a kiddie pool. On par with some of the worst vibrators you’ve ever tried. The pretty shape doesn’t even fit well in your hand! The wings jut out exactly where you want to wrap your fingers around the thing. The company’s graphics show a hand holding the toy so gracefully, but if you hold it that way, your thumb is nowhere near the controls and your pinkie ends up poking your labia.

This shit doesn’t make sense — and it certainly doesn’t feel good.

You tuck the toy away in your over-the-door dildo organizer, wishing never to be subjected to it again. In a way, you’re relieved — you didn’t agree to write a review of this one, so no further misery is required.

But people keep emailing you asking you about the Mimic. Word is getting around. Big media outlets have written about it. People are drawn to its color, its sea creature aesthetic. They have noticed that you own it and, as a trusted authority on sex toys, they want to know your opinion. You vehemently advise everyone not to buy it. “Even if the shape has the potential to feel unique,” you write back, “the vibrations ruin it.”

Then one evening, leafing through an industry magazine with a friend, you happen upon an ad for the Mimic. “God, that toy sucks,” you find yourself saying at the mere sight of it.

Clandestine Devices Mimic vibrator on an ancient-looking egg scale. The cons outweigh the pros.

So many sex toys are mediocre, forgettable, adequate. This one, you realize anew, is not. This one is exceptionally terrible, so terrible that by experiencing it and not writing about it you are doing the world an injustice. You start imagining dissatisfied clits, hard-earned money wasted, consumers who didn’t know any better, people who were swayed by the color and the curves.

You weren’t going to say anything. But it’s kinda your civic duty at this point.

Clear your schedule. Pencil in some masturbation sessions. Find yourself saying to your partner, “I have to go masturbate. I really don’t want to.” This toy must be given chances to succeed, but it’s failing at every turn. You flip it around, pressing each flap against your clit from multiple angles. Everything is disappointing, doubly so because the pinpoint shape would totally be your jam if the vibrations weren’t so one-dimensional and weak. You can feel the potential, occasionally — a brief flash of pleasure, when you’re turned on enough — but it’s fleeting and lackluster.

At least the Mimic is an easy toy to photograph. Unlike others, it doesn’t attract every bit of cat hair; it doesn’t look like a shapeless lump; it isn’t a bright pink that translates poorly to photos. If nothing else, the toy has given you this one small gift: an effortless photoshoot.

I don’t know what this toy is aiming to mimic, but it can’t possibly be “being a good vibrator.”

You keep testing the Mimic, but eventually you start questioning yourself. You have literally never had a positive experience with this toy. Its vibrations, so superficial in their quality, are never going to change. Why are you making yourself suffer? Thoroughness, that’s why. It’s who you are. It’s a valiant effort, but at some point you have to admit the truth: this toy has nothing more to give, and you have nothing more to learn. It’s time to review this fucking thing.

You pull up your blog’s backend and start typing. It comes in a beautiful color, you write, but colors can’t get me off. The shape is interesting. Interesting shapes alone can’t get me off. I don’t know what this toy is aiming to mimic, but it can’t possibly be “being a good vibrator.”

Good, yes. Be honest. Be ruthless. Remember how you terrify them? Show them why.

The base blinks at you when the battery’s about to die. Now would be a good time to grab a different toy and remind yourself how much better masturbation can be.

The thesaurus has given you many words to describe this vibrator. One of them is “worthless.”

Stand by it. It’s true.

A good sex toy reviewer knows to recommend alternatives, and you can do so with ease: for pinpoint stimulation backed by a decent motor, get the Touch, Life, Tori, Zumio, or Magic Wand with Nuzzle Tip. There are so many better things. My god. So many.

Now, two years after you first held the Mimic, you feel sadly validated by your acute gut reaction about the motor. Now, if anyone emails you asking about this toy, you’ll have a review to show them. Now, if anyone Googles this vibrator, they will be warded off from buying it. Everyone will know how unequivocally bad it is.

Rest easy. Your work here is done.

Similarly-salacious material


  1. They are making one with a better motor now 😉 I’ve felt it at eroFame and it definately is much better.

  2. I have come to the conclusion you and I are polar opposite on the spectrum of vulvas. I loved the Mimic! I’ve noticed over the years many of the toys you dislike I love and vice versa. AND I AM FASCINATED! I want to study us and figure out exactly and precisely WHY! Like I want to make a long questionnaire and get people with lab coats and clipboards looking through one-way glass mirrors LOL!

    Really though, I have noticed you prefer rumbly while I often like buzzy so that’s got to be a big part of it. But there’s other stuff too I’d like to figure out. I am so completely fascinated by the variety in what people find pleasurable and why.

  3. Piph, I would pay you to drag me. I mean, jesus, as much as I love your positive reviews, I LIVE for your negative reviews. It’s the best when your anger/irritation/disappointment spurs you to such enjoyable creativity.

  4. Well, I hope it’s 300% better than this because that’s how different it would have to be to even be decent. Considering this is the “improved” version from what I felt at AVN, I’m not holding my breath…

  5. Your reviews are legitimately art. I, too, grew interested in its gorgeous color and interesting shape. But I’m really glad I wanted until you went ahead and reviewed it. The influence you have in the industry saves so many vulvas (and prostates! And penises, I’m sure) every time a company tries to pull a fast one over on its consumer base. Thanks for suffering so that we may not. God speed, Piph.

  6. I’m so relieved this review exists; I remember when the Mimic was first mentioned on your blog forever ago and was really intrigued by it, but never actually picked it up. I was planning on it. Now, I don’t have to.

  7. When a review of the mimic didn’t materialize well after you had received it, I suspected this might be the case. As grandmothers the world round say ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. Except sometimes you really do need to say something. Thanks for saving fellow vulva owners from wasting their hard earned cash on this thing! There are so many really wonderful toys you can buy for that price (in fact, you would even have spare change to buy a nice looking ornament as well – which is basically what the mimic is mimicking)

  8. I think this is what makes sex toy reviewing so fascinating! Every body is different and will have a different experience of exactly the same toy.

    The engineer in me thinks a toy can be designed and built in ways that are objectively good (body safe is a good start), but its not as simple as that, as you can never please everyone (although we-vibe tango…comes close).

    The scientist side of my brain is in wonder of the complex biology of how the human body interacts with the toy to create pleasure. Literally no one on the planet seems to fully understand what is going on.

    And then there is the artistic aspect of how to communicate all of this in an engaging and socially aware manner. Something that Piph has managed to do in this review, despite the mimic being an epic let down in all previous categories (other than photogenic merit of course).

    Also if you ever get that scientific study commissioned, I’d totally be in!

  9. The Tango apparently *does* come pretty close to pleasing most users, but in between arthritis/fine motor issues in my hands and sensory hardwiring that is WAY non-standard, every time I pick up one to contemplate buying it I end up at the “this feels BUZZY AS FUCK to me in ways I do not appreciate” point again.

    So yeah, there is no One True Sex Toy, and designers should be more aware of that than many of them are. For instance, given that I’d *guess* (did not research) people with disabilities are probably slightly more likely to at least TRY a wand vibrator, BSwish’s BThrilled Classic is otherwise pretty decent for the price (and comes in teal yay) but the battery compartment cap is tricky as hell to work if your hands aren’t stellar and I think they should have gone with something a little more ergonomic because I definitely have ones that aren’t as much a pain to get on.

    Engineering BS here, geek solidarity forever. Starting with “why the fuck doesn’t EVERY site list toy material/BOTH diameter or girth and length if applicable/what if anything is powering it?” But yeah, it’d be entirely possible to build something body-safe and pretty that’s still a shit TOY, because that’s so dependent on users’ bodies.

    (Any UK peeps know what the ACTUAL diameter/girth of Ann Summers’ Sleek Rampant Rabbit is, please let me know because their customer service team literally emailed me that they didn’t have that information available and to go to a store. Guess they failed to notice my shipping address is American.)

  10. oh, hell yeah. i reread the slush pile when i need a good laugh. and the princessa and “cats review toys” april fools’ posts will remain things of beauty forever.

  11. I am SO WITH YOU about the inadequate information provided by retailers. I’ve started a thing where I do a ‘Quick Specifications’ table at the end of all my reviews for easy reference. That way you don’t have to pick through the review to find the required stats (if they are there are at – I mean I know ‘no one’ likes patterns, but I do, and I want to know what they are!). What can I say – my electronics background gives me a love of data sheets.

    Thanks for pointing out the downside of the we-vibe tango. I can see how that could be a real deal breaker since you basically have to hold it by the motor! I knew that while it is a great toy, there MUST be some people it doesn’t work for – that is just the way the cookie crumbles.

  12. I agree completely on the Tango! I am not a fan because it’s so painful and irritating to hold. But yes, I’ve got arthritis in my hands and hypersensitivity issues where anything that buzzes in my hand and tickles it is too much to tolerate. I wondered if that’s part of why I like the Mimic? It’s very comfy for my hands to hold and I also very much like the sensation of a fine tip flicking my clit. With this toy I can get that flicking sensation without having to move my hands too much or be very precise with my movements (the toy doesn’t flick on it’s own but however it’s deigned I can make it flick easily without it hurting my hands). Also most toys that are designed to flick don’t have enough power for me (I need an incredible amount of power) but this one does. I’m wondering if I got the later version with more power?

  13. I definitely have some vibrating toys that don’t have patterns that I enjoy, but the really non-standard sensory hardwiring means I”m +1 when it comes to being a patterns fan. And yeah, those patterns should be described imo, because “pattern” and “pattern I like” are not identical by any stretch of the imagination. (Seeing the wave vibration pattern graphically depicted is potentially useful additional information, but I mostly want to know written/verbal descriptions on that one.)

    One of the other things I get to deal with routinely is “can’t remember DETAILS” (to the point that I keep a log of the TV I watch so I don’t waste DVR space on reruns that aren’t worth it), so I’m totally here for “data sheets are our FRIENDS” and my browser bookmark organization would probably amuse you because some of it’s three or four sublevels deep.

    (Also, if you ever want to dissect toys for science, I have a dead Shibari Halo Mini knock-off and an Ina 2 that’s also dead, if you’re continental US and okay with providing a shipping address, hit me up at [email protected]. I just want to be amused by the resulting video.)

    The Tango/Dusk combo MIGHT work since that’s pretty much a hands-free (or at least *minimal* use of hands) setup, but in general.I’m “if my hands don’t like it I’m betting the rest of me isn’t going to either”, both for *toy* use and because a lot of the vibrating items in the toy box get broken out for minor pain management every now and then as opposed to “purposes intended”.


    Epiphora, thank you so much for doing this review, because I can totally see *somebody* mail-ordering the Mimic for silicone/rechargeable/design/YAY IT COMES IN TEAL reasons and being hideously disappointed. I remember you telling me “I’m sorry but it is just way too buzzy on all settings” and me being AGREED when a nice employee let me hand-test theirs. (Also, you trashing a toy is basically guaranteed quality reading and this was definitely an A+ read for that alone.)

  14. Somehow I feel insulted that a vibrator shaped like one of the best undersea inhabitants is so terrible. Manta rays deserve a better legacy than this!

  15. Yaaaaaassss finally! I tagged you begging for a review as the moment I saw this. I was confident it would be a trainwreck, but damnit its so prettyyyy.

  16. that is such a kind offer Taylor, you don’t get to take apart a Lelo product every day! unfortunately I’m all the way in New Zealand and it costs a small fortune to ship from the US :(. I was thinking it might be fun to take apart some broken and/or shitty toys for science! I wonder if the manufacturers might get annoyed if I’m ‘sharing company secrets’ – but presumably competing manufacturers could take sample products apart themselves if they wanted to? I would really love to know what the R&D process is for some toys (i.e. the terrible ones – how did they think this was going to get ANYONE off?)

    As for patterns I love ramping ones. But ones that just go on and off? Its like getting kicked in the clitoris. I do not enjoy.

  17. I have pretty similar feels on patterns. On-and-off are just WHY? (*maybe* as an internal choice when I’m putting together a combo platter but my clit is offended by them too and they don’t even feel good as minor pain management normally), but the kind that stay on low-level and increase intensity/ramp up/change where the *most* intense vibration is (for a longer toy) work way better.

    And yeah, sorry, I suspect I can’t afford to ship my crap to you, even for amusement/SCIENCE purposes.

  18. I wonder if the second version would be something you’d like. I just read JoEllen’s review of it and it sounds like they made some substantial motor improvements to the Mimic Plus.

  19. have you actually tried the Mimic+? (it fails on teal, but i could deal with slate gray if it wasn’t as “i actually LIKE buzz sometimes but definitely NOT THIS” as the original).

  20. I finally got my hands on it by borrowing JoEllen’s, and it’s true. The motor is A LOT better. I still find the shape really awkward though.

  21. well, THAT’S good to know, but why the FUCK couldn’t they have made the + version in teal?

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