Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Merbella Studio's Review

This is a review of Merbella Studio's, the business whom I purchased my professional tail from. Raven is the creative genius behind these incredible tails, tops and accessories!
Within a few weeks of seeing that Raven was selling tails, I began saving like a mad person. I knew the exact design I wanted, as I'd started a fabric tail just like it, so I was more determined than ever to have such a realistic, beautiful tail. I wanted a professional tail to take my Mizuko business one step further- I couldn't afford the 100% silicone tails, but I knew I could save up enough for her just as amazing neoprene/silicone designs!

~I was really hoping to have some professional photos from my shoot a few weeks ago for this review, but unfortunately the photographer has not given them to me yet, so I'm sorry for the iPhone photos! The only nice photos I have are the ones underwater! ^_^ ~


Cost: $1000 for tail ( plus $130 for elaborate shell bra and $80 for scale bra )
Features: Pure dragonskin silicone on a neoprene lining, a finis wave monofin, raised and rounded scales, personalized paint job.
Use for: Professional and Recreational mermaiding!
Overall Rating: 5/5 (I would go 10/5 but that would just blow everyones minds! lol!)

The Process:
I sent Raven an email in early August, however due to her spam problems I resent it to her new email a week later and got a response right away. She gave me the cost for the tail as well as for an elaborate shell bra, which I both ordered! I sent her a dodgy Paint picture of my design, and I paid that same day. There was a gap of two weeks between sending payment and receiving the measurement chart, but Raven was apologetic for the delay- I sent my measurements through on the same day again (I made my partner measure me twice, then I measured myself twice too! Haha! Cant be too careful!) and waited for the next news.
Unfortunately, my wait felt rather long! I'd ordered around the time of the huge silicone shortage- Raven was waiting for supplies before she could start any tails! I didn't hear anything except Facebook updates until December, when I received some money from Christmas and decided to add a scale bra to my order. Raven replied instantly, and said my tail would be done shortly.
Sure enough, about a week later she linked me the first photos of my tail being painted! I was so excited I think my neighbours heard my squealing. A few days after were photos of my scale bra!
Around early February I was booked a big gig, and although I hadn't heard anything regarding my shell bra I sent Raven an email asking if I could have the tail and scale bra sent asap, and I would pay for the shipping of the shell bra separately when it was ready. She was happy to do so and within two days had shipped it out and I paid via Paypal for the cost.
Living in Australia, postage was super expensive, but thankfully my parents decided to help me out! (Thanks Mum and Dad!) However, it only took 4 days to arrive (minus the weekend). It was in a huge sturdy box that just fit in the back of my car when I picked it up! Unfortunately, I had to finish work for the day and spent the next 4 hours staring longingly at the box beside my work desk- I didn't want to open it until I was home with my partner! It was tough. Haha!

The box in the back of my car!!
Pulling the tail out of the box was one of the best things ever. It was safely surrounded by styrofoam balls and the top was folded gently near a corner. Raven had also sent me a beautiful hair piece and cute earrings as extras!
Hair clip and earrings that Raven included in my order as a gift!

Although I have never owned a silicone/neoprene tail before, I can honestly say I am so impressed with Raven's craftsmanship. Firstly, the paint job is more beautiful than I had expected. Raven had followed my design but made it look so bright and vibrant, I am really in love with it! I'm a pastel girl who loves her pink and baby-blues, so this tail is just perfect. I wanted gold along the waist line to help blend, and it really does blend so well into my skin!
The silicone is amazing, I love the feel when I poke it. Lol. It has been molded and then stuck over the top of the pre-sewn neoprene, so it fits PERFECTLY. My one issue is that when I sit up if I'm not careful I do get a bit of a plumbers-crack; but this is because of movement/swimming which pulls the tail down JUST enough that if I dont re-adjust before sitting up, the clients get an eye-full. Haha! This is possibly from my own shotty measuring skills, as I can recall getting a few different measurements on my waist-to-ankle measurements and I went with the average. :P I know for next time! Haha! Other than that, as I said, the fitting is perfect. Nice and tight on my knees, calves, and hips! Stretch is not lost, either, I was surprised at the amount of movement I still had- it was comfortable. The scales are all raised and rounded- a few appear like they had air-bubbles in them during the curing process, but personally I really love the look. It looks so much more organic and realistic! The fluke/scale area is completely seamless- or at least I cant see it no matter how hard I search! The fluke itself has the neoprene exposed on the very end (the silicone does not join at the seams), and I'm assuming this is for drainage/air release purposes, however I haven't seen them in action, even with swimming.
As for the seams, the actual tail has two silicone seams and two inner neoprene seams. Both run down the sides of the tail. The neoprene was sewn before the silicone was added (this is an assumption, however) so these seams dont even matter! The silicone scales themselves have been molded in two pieces and stuck on front/back, overlapped and cut really well. I dont think the seams are messy- they blend in naturally. I've found ONE scale that flops around a wee bit near my calf, because when I roll it up my legs I feel it, but there are no gaps or untidy bits (I'm happy to fix this singular scale with a drop of silicone myself, its no big deal). You can only notice the seams if you look closely, and lets just be honest- this tail is so pretty I still get taken aback by it. Lol!
Super unattractive photo of me trying it on as soon as it was out of the box! lol!
The total weight is around 5-6 kilograms- it is heavier after swimming due to the neoprene soaking up water, but probably only by 1 or 2 kilos. It feels really substantial- there is NO way I will tear or poke a finger through it! I'm still careful with storage, I lay it flat and out of the sun, and I make sure its completely dry before storing it away. That is all basic tail maintenance, though! Lol! This is a sturdy tail, for me doing children's parties this is great- kids pull on the fluke, sit on it, etc, but I've had no damage and I'm not particularly worried about damage because its so well made. Raven is open to help repair damage too, which I think is wonderful!

So far I've only been able to swim in it properly once outside of gigs, as I dont have a proper drying-stand and I'm afraid of mold. Lol! However, this first swim was incredible. Despite being layered with neoprene, I had no buoyancy issues- I could sink and float just as easily as I normally could. This was probably the most surprising thing for me! My surfing wetsuits make me float- but this tail felt almost neutral.
The second awesome thing about this tail: it suctions to you. I've read how full silicone tails suction to your legs like a second-skin once they get water in them, but I did not realise it would happen with neoprene too. I have to roll onto my back and get someone to hold my legs up to drain the tail of water- and only then can I managed to wiggle out! What does this mean when swimming? Oh man. It felt like I was just wearing a monofin. It was so cool! I felt faster, more agile than in a fabric tail, even though my legs are more restricted.
I personally love how the tail is floppy at the end of the fluke, underwater it looks so beautiful! I get a small bit of drag around the waist area at the back, but its fixed with a simple belt. Because of this drag the tail does creep down slightly- as I mentioned above- so that if I sit up without pulling it up I show the top of my bum crack. I dont see this as a fault, especially because the belt solves it, and once you get moving it is so amazing to swim in.

Scaled Bra:
Dodgy photo of the scale bra... sorry about the quality!
The scaled bra is really cool. It fits snuggly, and does NOT slide down when swimming! The silicone scales overlap the natural bra band which actually grips my skin to prevent slipping; I've also had a lot of people comment on how natural it looks because of this. I have big boobs/a small back and this bra is really lovely without showing off the full extent of my cleavage! I dont feel like I have to cover up for children's parties (I've had little boys say 'naughty mermaid' in the past when I wore just bikini tops! LOL!). I've even wore this top to a dress up party because I wanted to show off how cool it was. Haha!

Final Thoughts:
As far as the wait goes, it is totally worth it. This tail is just amazing. I feel so privileged and lucky to have one! It may not be a 'super professional' 100% silicone tail, but as far as professionalism and make goes, this is top of the market. I can and will be using this tail for years to come! The top is just perfect too; I am still waiting on my shell bra but I have no doubt that it will be absolutely incredible, as is everything Raven produces. The feel, fit and movement in this tail is amazing. The urge to start saving for another one is hard to resist. I'll finish this review off with the best description that comes to mind when I look at my tail: Dream-like.
Thank you so much!

Find my mermaid page here:

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