I’ve slowly been building my collection of Sonic Screwdrivers from Character Options, starting with the Classic ones and working my way up. I’ve looked at the 3rd and 4th Doctor’s trusty audible tools here already, now its time to jump ahead and take a look at the 10th Doctor’s sonic. Yes, technically, this could be considered the 9th or 10th Doctor’s screwdriver, but in this case, it’s been reissued in a very specific package to commemorate the regeneration of Doctor number 10 into Doctor number 11. And the 11th Doctor did afterall still carry it throughout most of his premier episode “The Eleventh Hour” so the packaging is pretty appropriate.
The aforementioned package is similar to the two Classic sonic releases as it’s basically a plastic clamshell with an illustrated insert. You practically need your own real sonic screwdriver to get into it, although a pair of scissors or a boxcutter works fine too. The illustrated insert is very attractive, with a foil image of both the 10th and 11th Doctors flanking an image of the exploding TARDIS. The back panel has a blurb about the device along with a helpful schematic to show you how to put the batteries inside, which is not as easy as you might suspect and will require a small philips screwdriver. Oh, the irony. You really need to take a good deal of the toy apart and be careful not to loose the cap for the thumb lever. Yes, the batteries come mounted beside the screwdriver in the package, so there’s no Try Me feature as found in many electronic toys these days.
There’s a lot to love about this sonic, but there’s also a fair number of things that bug me about it, so let’s get those out of the way first. For starters, this one doubles as a ballpoint pen with two interchangeable tips. One writes in normal ink, and the other writes in invisible UV ink that can only be read when the light is directed at it. That’s cool, I guess, but not really relevant to the device at hand. Kids may have fun with hit, but it doesn’t do anything for me. Fortunately, the pen is hidden in the butt of the screwdriver, so it doesn’t detract from its qualities as a toy-prop, but it does occasionally fall off. If you’re like me and don’t care about the pen gimmick, this problem is easily solved with a couple dabs of Gorilla Glue.
The other thing that bugs me a bit about this sonic is the way the buttons and electronics are situated. You can activate the emitter with the device extended or retracted, which is fine. But, there’s a separate slider to extend the device, which means there’s no fluid way to extend it and activate it at the same time. You have to extend it, take your thumb off the lever and reposition it on another button. Yes, there are two activation buttons, one for when the emitter is extended and one for when its retracted. It makes the operation overly clumsy. Lastly, the sound chip in this one is nowhere near as loud as the ones found in the Classic sonic screwdrivers. Even with brand new batteries, you have to strain to hear it.
But this little guy isn’t all bad, not by a long shot. In fact, it really looks fantastic. The textured grip looks suitably old and the parts above and below the grip have a shiny silver finish that make for a pretty convincing faux metal look. When the device is extended, the exposed part of the shaft is transparent with a cool twisting core inside just like the real prop. The emitter tip glows a nice bright purplish-blue, which is vibrant enough to almost make up for the muffled sound chip. Most importantly, the sonic is nicely sized when compared to the onscreen prop. I was seriously afraid it would be oversized like a children’s toy, but it actually feels comfortable in my hand and properly scaled.
Despite being a lot more complex than the Classic sonic toys by CO, and doubling as a pen, this version of the 10th Doctor’s screwdriver tends to retail about five bucks less than the Classic ones. It might be because the Classic ones are considered more of a niche item, or maybe I just lucked out and got this one on sale, but either way at just under $20, it’s easy to overlook some of this toy-prop’s shortcomings and overall I’m very happy with the purchase.