Lots of the flocked decoys in my hunting rig are 4 and 5 years old now. I've never had any trouble with the heads since I quit using wood. I started out with wood heads,( I'm primarily a woodcarver), but didn't like the issues with transition in the neck or the counterbalance problem with weight above an otherwise light body, causing me to add more keel weight. Being able to carve heads in more positions became less of a problem with foam. I've had two people over the years send decoys back with head damage, both were dropped from a shelf in the home. The evolution of the foamer decoy has come a long way in the past 8 years, durability of carved foamers depends a lot on the density of the foam. I don't use foam like what is found at tractor supply, it's just too soft for me. A decoy like this one with a wood head would have been a balance nightmare.
Trying to figure all the angles in a wood head to work for this full body pintail would have been very difficult.
Flocking has gone through a similar growth period, both for commercial decoy companies and those of us who make our own decoy. I started flocking my own decoys 4 years ago and although the first hunt was a real eye opener, the flocking was easily rubbed off at the end of the hunt. I had a kit from a decoy company to flock with and the latex based glue didn't work on a foamer decoy. What did work was the decoys, I was hunting over 3 newly flocked goldeneye decoys on the snake river. My hunting buddy was about 75 yards upstream with a typical 3 dozen mixed spread of wigeon, mallard, and goldeneye plastics. We started our hunt at about noon that day and for an hour mallards, wigeons and goldeneye poured into our three decoys, virtually ignoring the 3 dozen spread just upstream. I had hundreds of mallards and goldeneye at point blank range, I swear I had to kill a couple in self defense. I'd never seen anything like that, especially in that location, birds just don't want to be there and decoying was always tough. Since that time we have been on a mission to make flocking more durable and since that time, limits are the rule, not the exceptional day.
As far as durablity I have some three year old goldeneye decoys that still have no rub marks on them or any sign of wear. However I treat them like any other custom wood or cork decoy, I slot bag them and I take care of them. Flocked decoys aren't for everyone, if you want to throw your decoys in the back of the truck a dozen at a time, flocked decoys aren't for you. I know people who could damage an anvil. I take care of all my duck hunting gear, so it's not much of an issue for me to have my decoys stay in great condition. We stumbled onto a flocking process about 10 months ago that is very durable and we have gone through the season with it being tested across the country on over 5000 decoys, some of those decoys were left out the entire season, some picked up daily and we have had less than a dozen reported to us with problems.
here is one of my first flocked goldeneye decoys after it's third year, I didn't wash it, this is how it came out of the bag, of course our water is very clear in Idaho, but we have lots of issues with moss.
I am aware that many brands of flocked decoys fail, we refurbish them all the time. We've had some brands that we could peel the flocking off of them in sheets and others that the flocking has literally fallen off, all of those were flocked with latex based glue. Even commercially flocked decoys are getting better over the past couple years. The process we use is time consuming, up to 10 days for some species from start to finish.
Honestly even if we never figured out how to keep the flocking on after the first day, I'd still use it and reapply it before each hunt, it's that important to me.