Friday, April 30, 2010

Jam's Toy Box

Hello all, it's me again! Yes, I've been sick as of late, it's been a bummer. But thanks to the miracle of online shopping courtesy of, I've had one thing to keep me company these past few days. Ladies and gentlemen, kicking off a new topic I'll be writing up randomly whenever I feel like it, welcome to Jam's Toy Box! *sparkle sparkle*

My first review is of a toy I WISH I had two weekends ago at Kawaii-Kon that would have been wonderful to tote around, but I don't think I'll get tired of it any time soon. As a nerd, I have to own some kind of merchandise from my IP of choice. That's just how it works. :) Star Trek fans probably have a Starfleet emblem pin, or perhaps a Tricorder or Phaser toy, or model of their favorite Enterprise. Star Wars fans most likely have one of the spiffy new spring loaded lightsaber toys to swing around just for fun (I've got Vader's!). For me (and Mr. A, Zyconis, Maka and most recently Totoro) there's Doctor Who, and nothing says "Doctor Who fanboy" like a sonic screwdriver. :D Well, to be honest, nothing says "extraterrestrial" like a sonic screwdriver. ;) Anyway, on to the review!

Don't you just love nice, pristine boxes from your favorite websites? *rip rip rip*

Packaging - 8/10
I was as excited as a kid on Christmas opening my ThinkGeek box, knowing that the new sonic screwdriver was inside. When I pulled it out, I was pleased with how they packed it. It takes up minimal space and the plastic shell included inside secures it nicely without letting it knock around, and keeps the outside tube nice and uniform. The window art on the front is simple, with a picture of Matt Smith holding his screwdriver in a similar way the previous toy had David Tennant. Looks good, just not magnificent. There's nothing particularly wrong with the packaging, it just doesn't really pop. If you saw this in Sam Goody/Suncoast/FYE, your eye would look right past it thinking it's a piece of stereo equipment.

"Ah, a new one! Thanks, dear."

The clear tube packaging makes it seem like something you'd get from a board game and calendar store, but it succeeds at putting the toy on display. In it's package, it can be seen clearly. For collectors, this is a huge plus over having to look at art on a cardboard box. It's shipped in its "open" position, with the emitter fully exposed and the claws extended and open. The screwdriver's "claws" are spring loaded and made to open at the press of a button, so much like the lightsabers, is shipped open in order to preserve the spring inside. Looking at it standing upright, the package reminds me of the glass tube holding the endoskeleton arm in Terminator 2. Except this thing hasn't tried to kill Sarah Connor.

Does bigger equal better? Kinda, yeah.

Sculpt - 8.5/10

Like so many other toy props based on television and movies, the sonic screwdriver has scaling issues. Mainly, it's bulky! However, this actually isn't as dramatically different from the show - the new screwdriver is in fact much larger than the previous one. Seen here is a size comparison of the old screwdriver in its open position compared to the new one in its closed position. It's still bigger even when it's closed! As to it's actual scaling issues, it's only maybe a few millimeters wider and longer than the TV prop, probably to make room for the battery console inside (which is difficult to get to without feeling like you're going to break it) and sound emitter.

The plastic itself is hard enough to withstand abuse, so you don't have to carry it around like it's going to break. It also has a nice feel of weight to it. Unlike the 10th Doctor's and River Song's screwdriver, this doesn't feel light and semi-flexible, it feels like you could do some action scenes with it. It's colored nicely for what looks like is supposed to be a pearl handle, leather grip, brass fixings and silver moving parts. Besides the claws being on hinges, I'd feel okay carrying this around in my jacket pocket, though I would probably do so in the closed position. The claws are my biggest gripe with it, in that they look like they belong on a toy in the open position. Though as I've said before, it isn't that big of an issue. The claws on the real screwdriver are kinda chunky, and the reason they bother me is because for the most part, the show has the screwdriver left in the closed position.

"Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age."

Features - 9/10

Like the show, the toy sonic screwdriver lights up (in both the open and closed positions) and telescopes out. In the closed position, your options can both be activated with your thumb. A small circular button activates both the sound and the LED light in the emitter. The sound coming from inside the screwdriver is vastly improved over previous ones, I assume because they have more space to work with inside, they've gone and made it louder. Pressing the button once gives you one frequency, and pressing it again gives you another. There are also ways to press the button in order to activate two "secret" sounds, which we can only assume have some reason to be there. It's a nice little bonus that gives this toy a bit of an edge to it.

In its open position, the light and sound can only be activated by a small button located under a cap at the bottom of the screwdriver. Flip it up like a little doomsday button cover and you reveal a small red button that activates your NOS. :P Just kidding, this is how you get it to work when it's open, and you can use either button in either position to activate the secret sounds.

Pressing the larger rectangular button on the grip pops it open when it's closed. The emitter comes out about an inch and a half or so and the claws are pushed up and out. In the show, when the Doctor does this, he stares at it sideways. I assume this is because he now reads it this way, because for now it seems mostly a scanning tool instead of a weapon. Between the silver parts you can see the clear green plastic tube that goes up to become the emitter, and inside that the wires leading up to the LED bulb. Unlike the last screwdriver, these wires have no central casing, so if you hold it up to light you can see the inner workings of the electronics. It's not a big deal really, the center of the screwdriver doesn't light up in the show. So unless your screwdriver stops functioning, you shouldn't have to worry about seeing two small wires inside.

The light, it burns!

In low light, this LED actually burns pretty brightly. If I had to compare it to something, I'd say it's about equal to the luminousity of River Song's red setting. The surface area of the emitter is the key, as it's about twice the size of the previous toys and can be seen very well from the side. A flashlight it is not, but I have every confidence that on a dark setting with a slow shutter speed, this thing would produce a nice lens flare if pointed at a camera.

While this particular screwdriver doesn't have some nifty added feature like a secret pen nib or ghost light reader, it's a solid prop from an awesome show and I'm glad I own it. It's a bit pricey (in the high $20's or low $30's depending where you go, high $30's and you're just paying too much) compared to a toy lightsaber, phaser or even some prop swords, but I'm a fan of Doctor Who and this is my universe of choice. :)

All in all I give this toy a 9/10. If you like the new Doctor, you can't go wrong with owning this. Especially if you intend to dress up like him. ;)

- Jam

I could have used this LAST weekend!

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