This past year, Wilson ended production of the Shock FX line of Hockey Style masks. While technically progressive, the unit represented a customer service headache for Wilson and a marketing dud when put up against the more sculpted, more rugged, and yet less expensive All-Star System7 series and Easton M series. With cages being bent by impacts, or the shocks becoming fouled up by constant frequent tossings or hurlings to the ground by catchers, more than a few were being sent back to be replaced by all-new units. At one time, Wilson did offer a replacement cage alone, but that option was quickly exhausted. Then, with a substantial portion of their production run going to replace returned units, the Shock FX wasn't generating a sufficient profit margin. Thus, last year, Wilson debuted the Pro Stock HSM, which is a great catchers HSM, as it is very sleek and looks like an even more sculpted and tapered All-Star System7.
But where does that leave Shock FX users? As far as umpires were concerned, the Shock FX was a rather well-designed and accommodating HSM, offering very good viewing space and the critical stand-off distance – supplemented by the shock suspension – necessary for good forward protection. It wasn't too heavy of a unit either, all things considered, but did have some shortcomings that could have been addressed and remedied in subsequent versions. The leather pads would unfortunately retain oils and grime, and made laundering and cleaning a challenge; to their credit, Wilson did offer a replacement pad set (still may, but supplies are likely limited). Then, of course, no cage is impervious to the tremendous energy that a ball potentially carries, and the cages would get bent. Compounding this was Wilson's dalliance into titanium which, while lighter and thinner than steel, cost a substantial amount more and were "impossible" for Wilson and the average user to repair. So while Wilson was closing the line down, and supplies of replacement parts dwindled, the response back to users became, "Sorry, you'll have to purchase another one".
Frustrating, to say the least. Especially when a retail Shock FX was $150 - $200 and a retail All-Star System7 was $115 - $150.
Well good folks, that bent-up Shock FX can get a new lease on life. Mask-It can make repairs on the cages of the Shock FX, as the cage does remove rather easily. Two screws – one at the forehead, one at the chin – hold the cage in place, then the cage merely slides forward and free of its shock-&-spring suspension. Take note of how the parts are arranged, put them in a zip-lock bag or a jar, and then send the cage alone to Tony and his crew at Mask-It. The one they just did for @KenBAZ had a fairly large dent in the eyebrow region, and the paint was long gone to corrosion. Mask-It not only trued the mask back up, but filed the bar ends smooth (before, they were blunt and sharp) and gave it a powdercoat job in Liquid Gunmetal – one of the sexiest colors in their palette.
Looks good as new, doesn't it? It came to $40, but it sure does beat trying to find and purchase a new one!
Oh, I do recommend wrapping the four mounting posts in masking tape. I forgot to, and suddenly remembered an episode of American Chopper wherein powdercoat was applied to the sleeve mountings of the front fork, and they had to file and grind it off to get the fork struts in. Same thing here, I had to file the powdercoat off the four mounting posts so the springs and bushings would fit.
I'm sitting in a Texas Roadhouse after calling 9 baseball games over the past 3 days in 117°+ Arizona heat, watching the Mets get shellacked yet again by the Dodgers, when I notice the camera zoom way, way, waaaaaayyyyy in on Travis d'Arnaud and the Force3 Defender mask he's wearing. Travis is new to the Defender TM, having previously used the Mizuno Samurai HSM. The Samurai is one of the most thoroughly padded HSMs on the market, but doesn't get enough play besides the sleeker, more sculpted All-Star System 7's and Easton M-series.
With the camera zoomed in on the telltale, trademark springs of the Defender, I begin reading the closed captioning of the two ESPN broadcasters discussing the details of the mask, and how it is progressively suited to reducing impact force and the likelihood of concussions. The camera pans to show all three spring points, and even shows the profile shape, with the broadcasters pointing out the standoff distance. They go on to say several catchers in the league are now using it, and there is now a hockey-style version on the market (the Defender HSM).
In a move of directorial brilliance (the guy in the truck should get an Emmy nomination), the camera then pans to zoom in on Lance Barksdale as PU for tonight's game... wearing a Wilson Titanium Low Profile... with Wilson leather wraparound pads...
The broadcasters then contrast the Defender TM against the Wilson TiLP, and how little protection it affords the umpire. Barksdale's nose is on the verge of poking out of the eyeport, and the mask is nearly flat on his face. One of the broadcasters laments, "I never saw the point of that mask".
#TimeForChange #GetWiseOffWilson #OtherOptionsExist #HeadInTheGame