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Found 11 results

  1. http://www.force3progear.com/product/pro-mask-sun-shield/ Force3 trotted out a brand-new visor for their Defender TM, and of course, it's designed to fit to the unique geometry of the Defender's upper cage. There are two tab slots instead of one, and there is a notch to accommodate the centerline mounting clip. It even has the Force3 logo (which should, and hopefully someday will, supplant the Big Yellow W) laser-engraved. ... I'm shocked I beat @gnhbua93 in this announcement. If/when I get a Defender TM, though, it will surely have one of these on it.
  2. For the 2016 season, All-Star supplied one of its marquee sponsored catchers, Jonathan Lucroy, with a FM4000 mask. In the past, Lucroy had utilized the latest titanium models All-Star offered, typically the venerable FM25. This particular FM4000 looked a bit strange, though, appearing to have tin-foil clad ear struts and some of the cleanest welds I'd ever seen. That last photo, from the side, those bars look kinda... bloated... for being hollow steel. Turns out, it might not be a hollow-steel FM4000 after all... Lucroy was equipped with the ultra-brand-new Magnesium FM4000MAG: http://www.baseballmonkey.com/all-star-fm4000mag-magnesium-catchers-mask.html All-Star hasn't even listed it on their site yet; but then again, they didn't publish the 2015 FM25Ti either, leaving it to forum and discussion sites to show details about it.
  3. In the effort to minimize the risks of concussions and head impacts, Major League Baseball Umpires advises changing out mask pads every year. Now, keep in mind, this is for near-constant use in "high-impact" environments (the speeds of Minor and Major -league baseballs). Also, this does not include the advanced, spring-suspension mask from Force3, the Defender, since the pads are specially designed for the mask, and the mask's springs and struts are taking a significant share of the impacting force. Mask pads themselves vary greatly, and it is equal parts construction, performance and feel (against your face). The two that are the most noteworthy are the Zorbium© pads from Team Wendy and the MemoryFoam pads from Wilson. Other pad sets that work very well are the All-Star LUC pads, Wilson doeskins, Wilson wrap-a-rounds (which are being phased out, IIRC), or any of the "boutique outfitter shops" (such as +POS or Honig's). In fact, the lighter the mask – by using materials such as Magnesium, Aluminum, and Titanium – the more supple and energy absorbent the pads have to be. The "show ponies" from Nike, Wilson, and Rawlings1 (the Titaniums) and the "experimentals" from +POS, Champro and Diamond (two Magnesiums and an Aluminum) are heavily reliant on more-than-adequate pad sets. Diamond skimped by with woeful, paltry pads for 2-3 years, until finally forced encouraged to dramatically improve their stock pads on their aluminum mask, even though one should strongly consider using one of the premier pad sets if using a mask like that frequently. Does that mean get a whole new mask? Not exactly! Most of these pads are available individually. Since the pads are sold separate from the mask, then... well... naturally there are mask frames that are sold bereft of any pathetic sub-optimum pads. Three great outfitters offering bare mask frames, ready to take pads and harness of your choosing are: +POS – Offering its light-as-a-feather-strong-as-an-ox hollow steel ZRO-G mask frame, in silver. Lightweight, great sight lines , rounded chin guard, classic look evocative of the Nike and older Wilson frames (perhaps there's substance to the myth that Nike used the ZRO-G planform when designing their Titanium & Steel iconic masks).Ump-Attire – The Emporium Co-Op of All Things Umpire offers Diamond's DFM-UMP-iX3 mask frame, in black. Aluminum, light but unyielding, with great sight lines, squared chin guard and extended crown guard. And with it sold through Ump-Attire, it has nearly the entire array of pads and harnesses to outfit it, as well as U-A's outstanding customer support.Honig's – The Outfitter keeps their trademark K4 mask frame out there, in black. Hollow plugged-end steel affording excellent, resilient protection, with a brief chin guard (ideally suited for any of a number of dangling throat protectors), "blowback" ear guards and an extended crown guard contributing to a sophisticated look. Nice feature of Honig's site, the frame can be ordered bare, or outfitted with any of the pads Honig's has in stock directly on the online page.1- All-Star is, unfortunately, not listed as their titanium show pony, the FM25Ti with its dual-wire eye slot and huge, radar-tower-like ear guards, is intended for catchers.
  4. The ZERO-G Umpire Face Mask from +POS is constructed with Ultra-Lite Tubular Stage 3 Alloy and comes complete with Ultra-Lite memory foam pads, making it extremely light weight and very comfortable to wear. Moisture wicking memory foam padsHeavy duty nylon Ultra-Lite harness makes for a sure fitWeighs approximately 16ozThis product is available from Ump-Attire.com.
  5. +POS Umpire Equipment You guys remember +POS, right? No? Ah, new to umpiring? +POS has been around for at least a few decades as a "boutique" umpire (and other sports official) gear producer. In no way can it rival the mass produced quantities of a Wilson or an All-Star, but its real strength resides in innovation. Dan (founder) is a true gear engineer, and several of his designs have found their way into the production pieces for several of the "big guys". Recently, +POS rolled out a new website, and most of their catalog is currently on sale! That's significant discounts on the Mag-T magnesium alloy, 14oz mask, the iconic Zero-G mask, the Zero-G Chest Protector (doesn't a Douglas look alot like it? Hmmm), and select jackets. Oh, and while not on sale per se, the Zero-G mask makes an appearance as a naked frame! Get an iconic mask, throw a harness on it (they've got harnesses there for $3, seriously) and put your own pads – TWs, Wilson MFs, just about anything other than the Diamond stock pads – on it, and you've got a top-notch mask! Keep things POSitive!
  6. Time marches on, and we've got some new offerings in masks for the upcoming season... Hockey -Style Masks (HSM) All-Star is still the iconic HSM producer, but several rivals have made significant improvements to their product lineups. • All-Star: Showing focused refinement, the MVP4000-UMP and MVP2500-UMP models get updated padding and (supposedly) better paint jobs. In fact, the MVP2500 "Molded" is now black through-and-through, meaning that a ding or knick isn't going to discolor the shell. The MVP4000 is now offering a titanium cage, to keep pace with Wilson (see below). The System 7's, showcasing their I-Bar Vision construction, really allow the best sightlines of the HSMs on the market. • Diamond: The brand-new iX5 system is now on the scene, featuring a much more sculpted shell and 3D-formed cage. Unique to Diamond, the iX5 is the only HSM with a "shovel-front chin" on the cage. Looking like a throat-guard on a TM, this adds another deflective geometry to the mask, especially for those that drop the chin. The iX3 name has been dropped, and the previous model (the iX3) received some tweaking and has been released as a value-price-point named the EDGE Core. Of course, because umpires get much less "love" from the manufacturers, the "for-umpires" HSM is an EDGE Core labeled as DCH-EDGE-UMP. While it doesn't have the curves of the iX5, it still has the pronounced chin cage guard. • Easton: Made some needed improvements to the Mako, and are heavily marketing it as their flagship unit. For 2015, they've introduced the M7 (in two finishes – "grip" (matte) and "gloss"), which is a less-technical, slightly-lighter-weight unit that is posed to be their workhorse. It has a 3D-formed cage and a sculpted shell, indicating that is concentrating on deflective properties instead of mass and bulk, and appears to be so much more comfortable than the elder Rival. With the M7 now on the scene, Easton looks to be consolidating the Rival and the Stealth into a mask named Black Magic, and is aiming that more on youth (ie. 12U) baseball, and the budget price points. • Mizuno: Nothing new to report in their Samurai G4 line. It has the largest standoff and padding concentration in the crown of an HSM. • Nike: ... (sigh)... uh... Yes, Nike makes a HSM. It's called the De3539, and is made more as a branding piece (see? We're in baseball!) than as an advanced piece of protective gear. Unlike rival UnderArmour, who re-branded All-Star units, Nike... you can't tell who produces the Nike unit. • Rawlings: The Slowest-to-Update-Baseball-Company-In-the-World finally, finally introduced a new HSM after All-Star kicked their keester all down the 1BL. The CH1 (which, undoubtedly, stood for "Catching Helmet One") saw its shell redesigned, outfitted with new CoolFlo pads, and stuck with a curvy, sleek new cage that, strangely, looks like the negative (opposite) of All-Star's System 7 geometry. Hmmm. But it does look impressive! Debuting as the CH950 (so what happened to the 948 other versions?), look for this to be on a Molina near you soon. The entire lineup received CoolFlo pads. • Schutt: As one of the premier football helmet manufacturers, Schutt took their AiR technology and (finally!) applied it to their baseball HSMs. The catcher's HSM gets the AiR treatment first, labeled the AiR Maxx 2966. Unique and intriguing, Schutt extended the cage back along the temples, covering the ears and flanks of the shell. That means that's even more protection on the sides, and the cage carries and dissipates more energy before it reaches the shell. No one else is doing that! If you don't need the customizable comfort-fit of the AiR system, the 2966 is offered as an "umpire" version, but it (appears) to not get quite the cage treatment, still using the fall-2014 cage. • UnderArmour: UA is really trying to make headway in baseball, and they partnered up with one of the best in the business to do so in All-Star. UA's "Pro", though, is a re-branded All-Star MVP2300, which has the same shell, but doesn't have the iconic System 7 cage. • Wilson: Having already seen a significant improvement mid-season in 2014, the Shock FX 2.0 returns to the field, this time showcasing a titanium cage. The most technologically-advanced HSM of the bunch (for now, unless and until Force3 debuts a HSM entry), the SFX 2.0 is the apex protector for umpires; it just gets kinda haughty about it with the ... ahem... particular paint-job Wilson loves to show off. If you can't afford a Shock FX, but still want an HSM with the... Wilson paint job... look for the Prestige. Traditional Masks • All-Star: With a trimmer, more defined lineup, All-Star presses forward with the FM25Ti, FM25, FM4000 and FM2000. All four are offered as "umpire versions" with a hat-harness (instead of the Delta-Flex helmet harness), and give All-Star some distinction between itself and Wilson. This is noteworthy with the FM25Ti, which may be physically (titanium alloy and double-wire, more difficult to deform) and financially (titanium alloy, less costly) more appealing to a mid-level umpire than the pure-titanium show ponies Wilson and Nike trot out. Besides that, the FM4000 and FM2000 are instantly recognizable because of their bar layouts. • Diamond: How can you mess with one of the best-selling TMs in the industry, but still make it more appealing? Fix the pads! The iX3's geometry didn't change, but Diamond now offers new, improved pads on a re-labeled mask called DFM-UMP-BL (for "Big League", woo woo). This, and the venerable iX3, are one-in-the-same mask... one's named Ed, the other Fred. Oh, and you can get pads that have no logos on them. For those who really cling to tradition – we're talking Charleton Heston's grip – the DRM-PRO (used to be iX3) and DFM-43 double-bar masks are still available. • Easton: The Speed Elite returns, still with exceptionally lightweight construction in a robust geometry. It has some of the largest ear-guards in the business, and very reliable pads (think the complete opposite of the miserable pads on the Diamond iX3). It also has one of the smallest chin-throat guards, such that it encourages and makes easy the mounting of a hanging supplemental throat guard. • Force3: The mask everyone is rooting for. Now available in colors (and tan pads!! Sexxxxyyyyy), the Defender is a tangible promise that someone, somewhere is looking out for us who stand behind the plate. While it still is noticeably heavy, that weight has been steadily declining as Force3 continues to pare down the geometry and improve the hardware. The standoff distance is still something to be negotiated, as it feels like you're in cage, but this is the mask that should be your chief candidate if frontal, concussion-inducing impacts are your main concern. • Mizuno: Nothing new to report on out of Japan. • Nike: Unknown if Nike is even going to offer a mask for retail sale this year. • Schutt: Teamed up with Diamond, and offers the DFM-UMP labeled as the Comfort-Lite Mask. (If anyone from Schutt ever reads these forums, please contact me – I've got an intriguing mask design for you.) • UnderArmour: Continuing the relationship with All-Star, UA's UAFM Pro is a rebranded FM25, complete with I-Bar advertising tab on the chin. • Wilson: The big news came during the 2014 season, with the debut of new Memory Foam pads! They are meeting with rave feedback, and are probably the best rival to Team Wendys. Additionally, while the pads were developed independently, they debuted with the new Dynalite Aluminum mask, taking the spot as Wilson's lightest traditional mask in their lineup. This mask may be a Titanium-slayer, because with the lighter weight (marginal, but still), better pads, and lower cost, it addresses the three main issues umpires face (bad pun!) when selecting a mask. Disclaimer: I did not list Champro nor +POS because Champro's HSMs are rebrandings, and they have nothing new in TMs, while +POS designs some really innovative TMs, but has nothing obviously new for 2015 announced yet. Bonus Note: For those needing to protect a banged-up forearm, these might do the trick: https://www.underarmour.com/en-us/ua-forearm-pad/pid1220728-001
  7. I'm not fishing for replies on this posting. In fact, if we don't post much on this thread other than the occasional Discount or Sale or Promotion as they come up, and notify the rest of the community, that would be ideal and appreciated. With that said... Better Baseball is running a 15%-off Catcher's Gear Weekend, this includes traditional masks and HSM's. May apply to certain CP's and shinguards too. Sale runs 9/5/14 - 9/7/14 at www.betterbaseball.com and use the promo code: "CATCH15" when checking out.
  8. The folks at All-Star disturb me. Oh, I applaud the effort and attention to detail their product designers have. The FM2000 (which @Thunderheads loves) screams "Branding!" with its bar layout in the shape of the company logo. Cute. Verrrrry cute. Then, All-Star took an even more aggressive step in the development of their System 7 MVP masks (MVP4000, MVP2500, et.al.) and gave them an iconic, readily-recognized grill layout, different from everyone else's (at the time). Nearly every HSM-wearing catcher in the Majors was equipped with one, and that form has since driven the market. The grill layout got to be so recognizable and trustworthy that the design team then placed it as the foundation for their debuting FM4000 traditional mask {TM}. It really stands out amongst the rest of the U-&-inverted-U masks on the market. Now, in a super-hush-hush move, it looks like the design team has been at it again... or, a MVP2500 and a FM2000 were left alone overnight in the lab together. Cue the Barry White... The FM1500 - A few online retailers have it available, but I can't tell if it's a legit baseball mask, or is intended for softball only... Or this is the mask that All-Star doesn't want us to know about yet. Oh the scandal!
  9. My fellow umpires – As a designer, I am constantly looking at equipment, structures, systems and processes and analyzing their features and flaws, their successes and failures, and developing ways of championing them or improving them. I have read, heard and witnessed many umpires convey that they either wear a HSM because of the total head coverage, or wear a catcher's skullcap because of the additional head protection from a foul ball ricocheting off the (closely placed) backstop, or careening off the overhead netting. There are also some concerns expressed by some umpires who may be turning their heads. My professional opinion is that a TM reduces concussions more so than a HSM. I won't totally poo-pooh a HSM, but when I hear from HSM users why they wear a HSM – namely, because they don't want to get hit in the head by a ball off the backstop – I start thinking of ways to address that, and at least present another option. I think I'm on to something. I've found a hybrid – one part helmet, one part hat – and am about to make some adjustments to it and possibly put it to prototyping and eventual production. It's very good as is, allowing you to easily wear (and remove) a TM with it. I'd like to hear from you, though, what sort of interest you might have in it. Please respond to the poll, and/or if you have any other feedback, drop me a PM. Thanks for your time.
  10. With all of the talk about Powder Coating around these parts late last year I got to thinking that I might like a different look on a frame or two. I picked Mask-It Sports to do the Powder Coating. I priced a couple of companies locally and even with the shipping, Mask-It was going to cost the same, so I picked them based on the recommendations of others on the site. I sent them a Champro Pro-Plus Magnesium frame that I wanted powder coated Matte Black and the Titanium Cage from my MVP4000 that I wanted powder coated silver (the original silver was starting to oxidize like some All-Star sliver finishes tend to do over time and it also had a weld that I wanted him to fix). The final result was great. The powder coating is excellent, but it did take more time than the three day turnaround that was advertised (both of these were back-ups so I told him I was not in a rush, but it still took longer than I would have liked). While the result was great there were a few issues along the way. Issue #1- Magnesium Frame does not like the torch According to the owner, after they used a torch to burn off the previous coating and before they put it in the oven to prepare for powder coating, the frame exploded. Kind of crazy. He thinks it was due to the Magnesium Alloy reacting to the heat. Said it was the first time he has had this happen. Issue #2- Time According to the owner, the masks had been finished 10 days before I was notified about the issue. He was on a trip for work and the masks were done and he would ship them out when he got back. The masks were to ship on a Friday when he returned from the trip. It was the next Tuesday that I was notified about the issue. The masks had been in his possession for a couple of weeks at this point. Not bashing him, but I just want full disclosure in case someone else wants to use the service. Issue #3- Making things Right After I was notified of the explosion, I thought I would just be out of a frame. It was a back-up that I got for a really good price when SOS Sports went out of business a couple of years ago. So it was sad to lose it, but not a huge issue. It was then that he offered...at his expense to buy me a Honig's K4 frame and powder coat it Matte Black. Which he did. The powder job is great, but the Honig's mask was not put together well. This is not his fault, but If I would have ordered this frame I would have sent it back and had Honig's get me one that was put together better. As you can see by the images below, the piece that protects the top of the head was not put on straight and the center U shaped bar on the lower part of the mask is crooked. This is not Mask-It's fault, but a Honig's issue. While I wish my Champro Pro-Plus Magnesium frame had not exploded, he did everything he could do within reason to make things right. The work on the TI cage was great. Here you see it pictured next to my stock MVP4000 TI. The one on the left is the stock MVP4000TI and the one on the right has had the helmet shell painted Matte Black and the cage powdered a silver color with a little metal fleck in it. Here is a close-up of the powder work A shot of just the custom MVP4000Ti The bottom Line: I am happy with Mask-It. I will use them again when my stock TI cage needs to powdered in a couple of years...when the finish wears off. I also have a FM25Ti that I will probably send in the next year or so. The finish is failing on it as well. Not sure what All-Star does on their sliver finishes, but they don't seem to hold up on the steel frames or the Ti ones. Mask-it was a great company to work with. If you are in a hurry and are getting your primary mask done and don't have a backup I would contact them first and see what the current turnaround time is. He has a "day job" so sometimes life gets busy for him I am sure.
  11. I friend sent me this link and asked if that was a legit Nike mask. The padding doesn't look the same as what I've seen, but I don't know these masks that well, So I pointed him over here to the guru's of gear junkies. http://www.ebay.com/...=item2c6895bbd7