I'm thinking of getting one but pricing and opinions are hugely variable.
I'm more than happy with my current F3v2 mask as my daily driver, so to speak, but I'm still concerned about broken bats and other flying objects that could hit me in the side of the head, so I've been contemplating biting the bullet and grabbing a HSM to use in higher-level wood bat leagues.
So far the ones in contention are (in order of preference) the F3v2 Defender HSM, the All-Star MVP4000, and the Wilson MLB Pro Stock.
From my perspective, the F3v2 still has the upper hand because of the springs and the extra bit of steel that extends over the forehead area, à la Gary Cederstrom's custom Wilson cage, not to mention it's over $100 cheaper than the All-Star. I'm not terribly concerned about more weight from the HSM as I didn't find the extra weight much of an issue when I switched from my +POS Zero-G to the F3v2 so I suspect I'll be fine going to the heavier HSM-style anyway.
Anyone have experience with any of these masks? Things I should know that I might have missed or might not have thought about?
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.
Another fantastic experience with customer service associated with our chosen Profession/Hobby!
I ordered the All-Star MVP2510m (small head) Catcher/Umpire helmet on Sunday of this week (3/6/17). I received the helmet today (3/10/17).
After examination of the helmet I discovered a gouge in the plastic. Almost as if they started to drill the hole for the screw in the wrong place, and purple paint on the silver guard.
I contacted All-Star and spoke to Lisa. She had me send her the pictures of the defects. I let them know that I intended to use the mask as is on Tuesday. The spots aren't detrimental to the functionality of the mask. I just wanted to let them know, so they can be aware incase someone else has something like this.
They advised me that they are sending me a new helmet and I can keep this one as a backup. Between All-Star and Force3, they have made this years experiences amazing getting ready for season and during the start of this season.
I need some input. I have the Wilson 36" Bag and need to pack it differently to make everything fit. That being said I am having some logistical issues with making everything fit.
Here is what I used to do when I used the Champro Pro Plus - Uniforms in the bottom, jackets, undergarments, hats, belts. Leg Guards, mask, ballbags, accessory bag (have since went to a tackle box), and CP over the top of all that. Shoes in one end of the top, and cleaning supplies and towels in the other.
Now since I have moved to the Unequal Force3 CP V1, All-Star 2510m Helmet. These are much bulkier. I have taken out all my Navy and put it in a separate bag. I have 4 pairs of pants in the top middle compartment, 4 short sleeve, one long sleeve, socks, undergarments, Plate shoes in one end, base in the other with the cleaning supplies.