I was trying to hold off until the official release came available, but once I started reading the list of newly added features, well, I caved–downloaded–installed–played for five hours. Yes, I could not stop drooling over some of the new features and bug fixes that are on this new version of Blender 2.74RC3. My poor old PC does not crash when rendering hair particles in Cycles Render (that are over two thousands strands) now. The new “spiral” hair feature is awesome, and just the way it renders, has changed. So many added little new things added that I did not get a chance to play with them all.
The above image took me about thirty minutes to create, and about ten minutes of rendering time to produce this. It is just a simple sphere mesh, with a hair particle system added, plus the very minimum of modelling to insert an eye-ball.