Major adult novelty manufacturers Doc Johnson, Topco Sales and California Exotic Novelties have developed collections of branded vibrators, strokers and dildos for more than a decade and have watched as they've catapulted performers' careers. CalExotics developed its first line of toys with Wicked Pictures in 1997, and since then has come out with toys designed specifically with contract stars in mind for Wicked, Digital Playground and, most recently, reality porn studio Shane's World.
CalExotics Marketing Director Al Bloom said that the company began working with adult studios to develop star-branded toy lines because of the benefits that name recognition brings to all parties involved.
"The basic outlets for toys at that time were adult bookstores, and for people who frequented those stores, it meant something," Bloom said.
People are apt to purchase a product when they recognize the person on the box, and owning a sex toy that a star says he or she uses personally makes it more appealing to newbie users, and for seasoned porn fans, it extends the fantasy that these stars create.
"It helps [stars'] entire persona in the industry," Bloom said. "They have more billboards with their names on them and it increases their value, just as being in movies increases their value for personal appearances and dancing gigs."
Shane's World Vice President of Sales Megan Stokes said that the company has had a successful line of Shane's World-branded toys through CalExotics for some time, but when the studio signed starlet Casey Parker, the toy manufacturer didn't wait long to sign her up.
"Usually girls who get their own sex toy lines have been in the business for a couple of years and have an established name," Stokes said. "CalExotics saw in Casey what we saw, and for her toys to do as well as they did right out the door only proves to us that the branding of who she is really comes across to everyone."
Parker signed with CalExotics in November 2006 to develop her own line of vibrators and strokers, and her debut product was the CalExotics' signature ass and pussy mold.
Bloom said that every girl who signs with his company is molded for strokers and high-end realistic molds, which are huge sellers for male clientele. For the high-end molds made using the company's Better-Than-Real material, Bloom said, attention to detail is key.
"We have a [prosthetics] company do the molding," Bloom said. "It's pretty clinical. Then we send it to the manufacturer. If it's our higher-end lifelike molds, they are hand-painted and hand-finished. If it's for a smaller masturbator, we go for shape and likeness."
Parker's ass and pussy mold was hand-painted to look exactly like the real thing, and when she received the final product, she was amazed. She said it felt like holding her own vagina.
"It looks exactly like my pussy," Parker said. "Every little fold is in it."
Parker described the molding process as "like having warm oatmeal poured all over your pussy," and when the final mold was complete and ready to ship in April, she was particularly excited to see what her fans would think. "It's so cool that everyone can have a piece of me," Parker said.
Though every star contracted with CalExotics has a mold made, each one's own collection of vibrators and dildos are personal and specific to his or her personality. Bloom said that the company meets one-on-one with the stars so they can share preferences and unique ideas about what they want to see in their lines.
CalExotics keeps a book for each contracted star that contains every color, material, shape and style preference discussed during the meeting.
"As we develop products, we see if they will fit in with their area of interest," Bloom said. "When we develop it to the point that it covers most of their basics, we then send it to them and they get a chance to look at it and say 'yea' or 'nay.'"
Stokes said that all of the women at Shane's World's office get together to check out the prototypes that CalExotics sends them and it's almost become a regular event.
"You have to send [the toys] back [to CalExotics] with notes," Stokes said. "No matter what position you're in [at Shane's World] we get together and ask each other, 'What do you think of this one?'"
Stokes said everyone was especially excited when CalExotics put glitter into the toys, as that's "very Shane's World."
Digital Playground star Shay Jordan said that her contract included a branded toy line, and she was excited to be a part of the process because she has a lot of ideas and wants her line with CalExotics to reflect that.
"The first toy I saw [of mine] was Shay's Purple Penguin," Jordan said. "It helps my image because I like vibrators better — I don't like to use dildos. If there is a dildo in the line, I want to have a vibe put in it."
Jordan said she and her girlfriend use her branded vibrators all the time and looks forward to developing some more personal toys.
"It's more publicity and it gets your name out there more," Jordan said. "It shows people that you're a real star and you're doing more than just performing on camera, and you have more to offer."
Digital Playground Director of Marketing Adella O'Neal said that her contract girls' toy lines raise the studio's visibility, as well as the stars', and reach a slightly wider demographic. The additional branding also helps the company create a strong presence within multiple adult markets.
"Digital Playground and CalExotics work together to design the toys and it is always with quality and our brand in mind," Adella said. "The girls can design the types of toys they like, the sizes, colors, smells, materials and functions. It's a very personal experience and they like to share what they like with their fans."
Adult star Tommy Gunn just recently was molded for his first branded toy with Topco Sales, the first in a special collection to be released in the spring. Topco CEO Scott Tucker said he was elated to have Gunn join the company as its newest contract model and has no doubt that his persona within the industry will make it a success.
"He has a great image and an outstanding reputation," Tucker said. "With the recent molding, we are now 'locked and loaded' to make several Tommy Gunn toys in the near future."
Gunn's line will be a part of the company's Wildfire Celebrity Series and will join other top stars, such as Peter North, Burning Angel's Joanna Angel and Memphis Monroe.
The shelves of adult superstores and chains across the country are increasingly being stocked with star- and studio-branded toys, and there's no doubt that they're selling like hot cakes. Having the notoriety of a trusted studio, image of a favorite adult performer and the understanding that the star designed the product in the box personally is a major selling point.
These toy collections not only benefit the studios, manufacturers and star's branding — it makes shopping and searching for the right toy that much easier for seasoned and newbie users.