Doug, Cant help you on the bird, but I did purchase a hex bumper this weekend at Scheels and it's really nice for long marks, I would recommend the 2" over the 3 though because its a little awkward for the dogs mouth. Still can't beat the Dokken for realism though. Just my .2
The ones in the store are the the regular ATB's. The Ez-bird is new this year. I have had one for about 3 or 4 months and have had zero problems. The ez-bird is a touch smaller then the regular ATB and the head is soft. As far as the rope I do know they worked on putting a more durable rope in the new ATB's and EZ-birds. They are trying to keep the rope softer then the Dokens yet just as durable. I think they kinks have been worked out. A plus with the ATB's and the EZ-bird over the Dokens is they are designed to never absorb water like the Dokens will do after a little use. This way they do not rot and become water logged. If any of you are in the CR are let me know and I can show you an EZ-bird if you want.
Kinda salty that they sent me a black and white one when I ordered a mallard. HUH? I can also see why they are breaking eye sockets, that head is like a stone. I re rigged it so the head sits tight to the body and won't flop up and punch him in the face(I Hope).