The whole Pawn is made of plastic. Most of it is a PU-Coated plastic, very similar to a velvet cote to the touch. It's smooth and has a matte appearance and finish, and the fingers slide over it very easily. A small section at the end of the battery cap is a shinier white plastic. There's no taste or smell to anything, it's free of phthalates and anything else icky.
The Pawn was designed to look like, well, a chess pawn. And aside from the rounded end of the battery cap, it does. While a flat end it could stand on would make it look more like a chess pawn and less like a banister on a railing, the rounded end does serve a purpose; making it a lot easier to hold onto the base and twist to change the vibration speeds.
It's very small, at least for a vibrator that isn't classified as a bullet. Easily held in even the smallest of hands, it comes in at about 4" in length, with about 1 3/4" of that being the base with the battery cap. It features two bulbous ends, the end you hold being about 4 3/4" around, and the end you can insert shallowly being about 4 1/8" around. That bulb tapers down to a neck that bulges back out again slightly, which is then met by the white plastic of the end of the battery cap.
The unique design also makes it fairly discreet. Sure, it may not be that hard to figure out that it vibrates if left out with the battery in, but it's also not the least bit offensive, and very easy to pass off as a small massager instead. The small size also makes it a great travel buddy, since it won't take up much room.
To get started you'll have to locate one AAA battery. The base twists off easily, and while it's off you'll notice a clear(ish) o-ring. That o-ring is designed to make the Pawn completely waterproof. It will be fine if you're running water over it for cleaning or playing in the shower, but since the base appears to have a very slight gap when closed, water may still get in if fully submerged for an extended period of time. It should be fine, but it's something to keep in mind.
Once you've got everything on all secure, you just twist the base to start the vibrations. There are three levels of vibrations, but they graduate as you twist the dial so it can be hard to tell them apart. The lowest one you'll obviously be able to tell is the lowest right when you turn it on, and then it gradually gets a little stronger as you keep twisting. If you twist all the way to the right, you'll get the strongest vibration setting. Even though it's not that powerful, for an AAA battery it's really not that bad. Touching it with my fingers results in the kind of slow numbness that you don't notice until you're done playing with the vibrator, and I never got any itchiness from them. They're a bit more buzzy than rumbly, but they're not whiny at all. The sound level is also pretty impressive as well. Under the blankets, you won't be able to hear it. Want to play out in the open? Just shut the door. Add background noise for comfort if you like, but the Pawn isn't any louder than a cell phone vibrating.
Caring for a plastic vibrator is pretty darn easy. First of all, you can use either a water or a silicone based lube for extra slipperiness when playing if you want. You can clean it using a toy wipe, warm soapy water, or you could even wipe it down with a 10% bleach solution to sanitize it. Since it can't be fully sterilized, you'll probably want to use a condom if you're sharing between partners, and definitely if you're sharing during the same session. The only downside there is that the base will be a bit trickier to twist.
You can store it any number of ways. The original packaging is small enough that you can keep it in there and still have plenty of room wherever you're storing it. Or you can just toss it in a drawer on its own.
The packaging is on par with the rest of Evolved's mini vibes, in a small plastic cylinder with a removable base. The front tells you that it's the Pawn in the Check Mates series and is multi-speed. The back lists that it's waterproof, multi-speed, phthalate and latex free, made from body safe ABS plastic with a satin smooth coating, and is silicone and water based lube friendly. It's also got a 1 year warranty, requires 1 AAA battery, and should be washed with mild soap and water or toy cleaner.
The packaging can easily be used for storage, and as long as your recipient has no qualms with getting a vibrator, it's good for a gift as well.
I've got a few pictures for you here, showing the packaging, the Pawn separated in its two halves, and also the Pawn next to my Blackberry Bold to give you a better idea of size.
I've been curious about the Check Mates line from Evolved since I first caught wind of it, so I was excited to get a chance to review one of them. After getting a chance to try it out, I'm pretty pleased with it. It's definitely not going to work for those with a clit'o'steel, but for those of us who don't need very strong vibrations to get off, it's going to work quite nicely. The unique shape is also awesome because I can leave it out without people going "oh, I know what you were doing this afternoon..."
While I may not recommend it to absolutely everybody, it is a great beginner vibrator, and should last a long time.