There is an ethical question when it comes to buying cheap imitations of anything. Presumably, the original manufacturer spent lots of time and money developing the product. All the imitator had to do was copy it. When it comes to chastity devices, there are knockoffs of the plastic devices; you know, the CB 3000, and most recently the Nub. Virtually the entire Al Miller CB’s and the Holy Trainer lines are available at a fraction of their original price from Chinese merchants.
This isn’t as true of stainless steel devices. For one thing, there aren’t that many possibilities in terms of design choices. The Chinese versions aren’t exact copies of the pricier originals. As a result, the imitations tend to be less comfortable or in some other way flawed.
In many cases when you buy a copy, you get what you pay for. The CB copies tend to split at the welded seam that divides the tube in half. That’s not to say the original doesn’t have the same problem. It just happens less often. Apparently, in order to build an injection mold for that particular line, it’s necessary to fabricate the tube in two pieces and then join them.
The Holy Trainer models are much more mold-friendly. Their cages (tubes) are molded in one piece. The Chinese imitations are exactly the same as the originals. I would guess that Holy Trainer has a Chinese company fabricate their products. If it does, perhaps the original molds are being used for the knockoffs. If not, the Chinese machine shops have done a superb job of duplicating the mold.
From a legal perspective, I don’t believe any of the chastity devices are patented. If they are, I have not seen any such notice. That means, of course, that it’s perfectly legal to sell copies. I assume that the names of the products are either copyrighted or trademarked.
It’s very expensive and time-consuming to patent something. Searches of old patents must be made to assure that the new product is not already covered by someone else’s patent. Detailed drawings and descriptions must be produced. Lawyers have to carefully prepare the actual application. It takes months, sometimes years for the patent to be finally granted.
No matter how enthusiastic we may be about enforced male chastity, there isn’t a giant market for these products. I’m sure that the best sellers don’t get out of four digit production. Obviously, it has to be worth someone’s while to make and sell these things. What makes them worth marketing is the obscene markup exploitative manufacturers make on each item.
Consider the Holy Trainer Nub: it has only a few ounces of plastic in it. Holy Trainer sells it for about $175 USD for the tube and one base ring. It includes a vinyl zipper case for packaging. I am reasonably sure that the total produced cost, including case, is less than five dollars USD. That means there is $170 profit on each item.
Of course, there is the cost of producing the injection mold required to make the product. If the mold is machined in the Far East, I’m fairly certain it can be done for less than $25,000 USD. For arguments sake, let’s assume they project sales of the Nub at 1000 units. To amortize the cost of the mold, we would have to add $25 in cost to each unit. Combine that with the five dollars for the actual device and its packaging and we have a cost of $30. That gives them an 80% profit.
A profit margin that large is an engraved invitation to be knocked off. If they sell more than one thousand units every unit after that first thousand will have a profit margin of $170. My point is that people who make chastity devices understand how specialized this kinky marketplace can be. They take advantage of this by charging as much as the traffic will bear.
I think it’s very shortsighted of Holy Trainer and Al Miller to continue charging inflated prices giving them outrageous profits. Injected molded products are by definition very cheap to fabricate. Yes, there is a high initial investment for the mold. But once the mold is complete, a very large number of devices can be produced at very low cost.
Skilled labor is inexpensive in China. A machinist who would earn $40 or $50 an hour in the US will be paid four dollars an hour in the Far East. Do the math. A mold that costs $50,000 in the US, will probably cost $5,000 in China. While lots of Chinese merchants sell these molded products, there is probably only one factory and one set of molds producing all of them.
If the Chinese manufacturer expects to sell just 1000 products, he has to add $5 to the manufactured cost to amortize the mold. Since we know, the plastic that goes into any of these devices is going to be very cheap, less than two dollars, the total manufactured cost including amortization is seven bucks. I’m very sure that the real estimate for the number of items sold will be well over 1000. But even at a thousand, if the manufacturer sells them to the dealers for $12, there’s decent profit.
All this goes to explain why I feel fine about buying a knockoff Nub. As long as the quality of the knockoff is as good as the original, I am ending up with exactly what I want at less than 1/5 the price charged by the greedy Holy Trainer people.
You could argue that Holy Trainer has invested many hours of expensive design time coming up with the product. I buy that. Still, this isn’t rocket science. Also, the Holy Trainer people would be fools not to have the mold built in the Far East. They would be equally foolish to manufacture their product anywhere else. The only skilled labor needed in making this product are the machinists who build that injection mold. China’s a completely acceptable place to do this work. Apple makes all of its phones and other products there.
My point is that if you’re going to make a product capable of mass production, like the Nub, you have to realistically price it so that others won’t knock it off and sell it at a tiny fraction of your retail price. Traditionally, people who make sexually-oriented toys believe that there is little or no competition for what they do. Certainly, those people who make chastity devices know that they are working in a limited market.
In the last decade or so, thanks largely to the Internet, it’s possible for people who would normally never have access to American consumers, to market their own products and far lower costs. Several companies have built global websites that allow small merchants in China and other Far East countries, to sell directly to American and European consumers.
It didn’t take the Chinese merchants long to realize that there was enormous profit in sexual products. The mom-and-pop Western manufacturers never saw it coming. They assumed that because their market was very small and specialized (i.e. male chastity devices), that they were safe from competitive pressure.
If you believe that you have only a few thousand potential customers, you probably also believe that it isn’t worth anyone’s while to compete with you. Those people should take a trip to China. If you think capitalism is alive and well in the United States, you’ll be amazed to see what’s happening in communist China.
When I visited there several years ago, I found 20 story buildings filled with booths manned by single merchants selling all nature of products. Competition was fierce. The mantra was to sell things cheaper if you want to stay in business.
The Swiss folks at Holy Trainer could learn something from these people. In a world where every single consumer has access to global sources for every single product, it’s fatal to assume you have the market cornered. I just bought an exact copy down to the plastic itself, of a Holy Trainer Nub. I don’t feel a bit guilty about it. I believe that people like me buying these copies is justice being served on overly-greedy, exploitative people who think that just because we are kinky we will pay anything, no matter how outrageous, for the toys we want.