Top critical review
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Interesting design, bad craftmanship
on April 22, 2010
I will admit, I had higher hopes for this toy. I have several sonic screwdrivers (9/10 UV light edition, Future Sonic from "Silence in the Library", the Master's Laser Screwdriver), and have always been impressed by the quality of the product and it's versatility during cosplay. Aside from a few instances where the screwdriver felt a bit brittle, I've dropped them all only to find them in perfect condition afterwards. So I expected nothing less than similar quality when I ordered the new 11th Doctor screwdriver.
Right off the bat, things went horribly wrong. After a gut-wrenching time trying to twist off the top to access the battery case (I felt like I was going to snap the extender arms), I found that one of the screws (the one closest to the inside) was of extremely poor quality and stripped as I was trying to open it. So here I was, unable to open the casing without cracking it. I eventually had to break the casing off just to access the batteries, and smooth down the sides so the device would extend properly. (It still doesn't, it only extends halfway on the initial press, and halfway when the button is released, unless you tap it very fast, at which point it will extend fully in one shot.)
After inserting the batteries and testing the device out, I found that the only way to turn on the SFX while the device was extended was to use the second access button, hidden at the base of the handle. While mine worked (I know this is a common issue- several of my friends have found the second button does not work at all, even when extended), it feels like an incredibly poor idea to have the second button be the only one that works while the device is extended. It would have made more sense for the buttons to work the other way around- it makes the device ungainly to hold and wield while extended.
Speaking of extension: I tried to place mine back in the box for display, only to find that once it clicked back into the holding tray, the device would turn on...and stay on. None of the buttons were being pressed, it just refused to shut off until I removed it from the tray. I've read reviews that this sometimes happen when the device is extended, but the seemingly random nature behind mine made me remove the batteries before I could store it.
As to the design of the torch itself: I have no real complaints. While the screwdriver resembles a single handed lightsaber hilt (a friend of mine refers to it as a cattle prod as well), it has a strangely comfortable grip and is easy to twirl around. From a strictly aesthetic point of view, I don't dislike it. It looks a lot more "futuristic" than other screwdriver models (even the Future Screwdriver, which I jokingly say looks like something out of steampunk), and it is a bit more fun to wave around. But all the aesthetics in the world cannot save this from being poorly produced and designed. I have the distinct feeling they rushed this out as fast as they could without proper testing, from the fans or designers. Character Options needs to seriously review their design schematics before producing more of these.
On a side note: as I write this, I am chatting with a friend who is messing with his screwdriver. He said that while we were going over the flaws in the design, his backfired and now no longer makes any sounds or lights. Like some others, the hidden button on his never worked properly, and two of the clamps were loose out of the box. I would like to test mine out to see if the same issues would happen, but at the same time am reluctant to see my screwdriver break any further.