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?
By Umpire in Chief
Designed by umpires and made for umpires! The new Force3 Pro Gear bag has updated zippers, corner protectors, rugged wheels, new internal structure changes, a larger outside pocket, and a protective fabric between the wheels protecting the bag while you roll!
Every part of this bag was designed for optimal efficiency and storage, keeping the weight to under 14 pounds!
Features a 32″ x 15″ x 9″ compartment on top for all your equipment and a 6″ deep separate zippered bottom compartment for all of your clothing and uniforms underneath. The bottom compartment features two elastic straps to help keep your clothes organized and in place. This bag conforms to all airline specifications for checked luggage with a 62″ maximum allowance.
The main compartment has two very large pockets that run down each side. There are also two large pockets that run along the front outside of the bag.
Made of the highest quality materials to last for many years. No detail was overlooked from the leather luggage tag, padded handles, angled wheels for wheeling stability, to the length of the pull handle to minimize stress on the handle to prevent it from breaking or bending.
This product is available from Ump-Attire.com.
Up for sale the following items:
1 Wilson A3009x - with wrap around pads
1 Wilson A3009 - with wrap around pads
2 Wilson A3077 steel powder coated in shiny black by Mask-It Sports - in excellent condition
2 Wilson A3077 titanium - in excellent condition
2 Wilson Platinum shin guards 18.5" - 1 in very good condition 1 in excellent condition
1 Gerry Davis 17.5" Original shin guards - in excellent condition
1 Gerry Davis 17.5" new version shin guards - brand new in package
1 Honig's shin guards 19" - in excellent condition
1 Vintage WV Gold M/L - in excellent condition
1 Wilson umpire equipment bag - in very good condition
1 Wilson catcher equipment bag - in very good condition
1 FUL bag - brand new in the box
3 Tan Team Wendy pads - in excellent condition
2 Wilson A3815 wrap around tan pads - in excellent condition
2 Nike pads navy blue - brand new
2 Wilson foam pads - brand new
1 New Balance 950 B/W mid cut base shoe 11.5 EEEE - brand new
1 New Balance 450 B/W 450 plate shoe 14 EEEE - in brand new
1 New Balance 450 B/W 450 plate shoe 14 D - in good condition
1 Mizuno Japan 2QA-122 - in excellent condition
1 Mizuno Japan 2QA-129 - in excellent condition
1 navy blue plate coat 44L - in new condition
1 New Balance T550 low cut base shoe 13 D with an additional New Balance sure lace 54" in black - brand new
All the items in brand new, excellent or very good condition. Prices to be determined later. PayPal Friends and Family. Seller pays shipping.
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.
By Umpire in Chief
My Diamond Ultimate 30" Equipment bag has reached it end of life. This year it remained on life support having had to glue one of the wheels in with Gorilla Glue.
So now find myself contemplating 2 bags:
FORCE3 ULTIMATE 32" UMPIRE EQUIPMENT BAG ON WHEELS
eBags TLS Mother Lode 29" Wheeled Duffel
They both get a lot of positive mentions here. But here is one thing that is somewhat important to me, but I've never seen mentioned here; breath-ability.
Why you ask? After a game here in the summer my equipment is weighed down with tons of nasty sweat. So after my game I don't put my equipment back in the bag so it can air out - the best they can in my trunk. I would like to put it back where it belongs in my bag, but if I did my equipment would never dry out.
I'd love your thoughts pros/cons on each!