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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Photo Study #39: Hair Apparent


I had come across a picture of the model Samuel Schimi and I was thinking to myself, "Self, having a head of platinum silver hair with darker facial hair and/or stubble looks really, really good..."

So I embarked on a journey to find a good wig to make that combination happen. I have enough masks that I could mix and match between them, but "off the shelf" wigs were either the wrong color, wrong style or the ebay sellers had enough bad feedback to avoid them altogether. After one initial callback and an email with the reference pics to Herohair.com, they wouldn't even return emails- so much for their customer service.

But I persevered. This is a high-end wig made by JJ Studio here in NYC.


I brought my reference pics and I was given the full treatment - I had my head measured, (with the Bryan Silva "Chiseled" mask on - which I think was a first for them!) a soft plastic mold made, and I got to pick out the colors for the wig and left it in their more than capable hands. We also decided on doing a full silicone membrane since the only thing that sticks to silicone ... is SILICONE... and this would assure that the hairline would not leave gaps and would not move. I've had previous experience with toupee tape and that stuff - even the most powerful on the planet - works about as well as a post-it pad on a mask. Ordinarily, a full silicone membrane on real skin would be too hot and sweaty, so there was some reassurances made to the French company making the wig that it would not be a problem.

The Chiseled mask below was made to resemble the "Renegade" version of Commander Shepard from Mass Effect, but I have yet to be able to find a decent (read "hero level") set of N7 armor to go with it.

Waste not, want not … I decided to mix the wig, the mask and the leather eyepatch used for Xander Cannon to form a new character. And what better season to introduce Eliot Nakimoto, an ex-Special Forces mercenary whose silvery-white hair is a mere reflection of his ice-cold calculating intelligence and ruthlessness??

And no, I am NOT going for an evil Bill Clinton! He and his wife are evil enough thankyouverymuch.


 


Finally, I want to sincerely thank all my readers who visit the blog and inspire me to write these stories and reviews. On behalf of me, mobsters, monsters, cops, dark-skinned thugs (Converted or not) and all my other characters...

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays a very Happy (and kinky) New Year!

(And yes - this is some of Zack's latest work... )


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Photo Study #38: Masters of the Universe (and of anal probes as well)

Little green men. Aliens. Greys. The Asgard (if you're a SG-1 fan). The fellas from the big ship in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

Enigmatic and shadowy, with a backstory no doubt longer than a few million years.

 
You know, those smaller-statured, big eyed sentients with no clothing and long fingers that love abducting people and subjecting them to medical experiments.

Just my type of guys!

Alien masks have been around for a while, and many of the other mask makers have them in some shape or form:

  • Composite Effects: "Gray The Alien"
  • Immortal Masks: "The Other"
  • ShatteredFX: "V'ok The Alien"
  • O'Neail FX Studios: "Mr. Gray"
  • Darkride Studios: "The Visitor"

But there was always something not "just right" ... on all of these that held me back.

Then Yves Gravelle came out with "The Grey"

THIS was the type of mask that really hit the nail on the head when you thought of grey aliens. There was a lot of R&D done on the lenses - materials, forming, durability and attachment into the mask.

The mask is a bit heavy since the back of the head is solid silicone, but it's fairly easy to adjust to the change in balance once it's on your head. I also have a demon with ram horns, and it took me longer to not bang into doorways than adjust to the balance of the mask.

The lenses are great - it's like looking through a pair of medium-dark sunglasses. There is a little bit of distortion in them, but nothing that affects normal activities - I definitely wouldn't drive a car with this mask on - and fogging is not an issue either. I use a mask defogger for scuba divers and it works like a charm.


Mouth movement is excellent - Yves' design has also been completely faithful to the proportions of the grey alien - smaller than normal, but still full movement available.




I'll admit ... I'm at a bit of a loss for the outfit, now that I have the mask... I was thinking somewhat of a military type costume, but now I'm having second thoughts. I do have a horror mask that makes an excellent alien soldier/mercenary, so perhaps this mask should represent something else. I had one person suggest the flowing robes that were in the original Star Trek pilot "The Menagerie".



I really would appreciate any suggestions from my readers as well!

Below is a quick movement video I did of the mask:


Photo Study #37: Worthy of the Mjolnir

I generally like my masks to be clean-shaven, or when there is facial hair involved, well-trimmed and generally short. Too much facial hair seems to make the mask look older and more disheveled, and that's not the look that I prefer.

Except if I could look like Lasse Matberg.


Lasse Matberg is a Norwegian naval officer and he is the physical embodiment of the character "Thor" from the Marvel universe.


Of all the realistic masks that have been made, there hadn't been one in existence that looked close enough to him to actually plunk down the money for the mask and the hairing to create this look.

Until Yves Gravelle came out with his "Clark" mask.


I've purchased several masks from Metamorphose already - his Superhero and his Soul Man - all are well-made, beautifully painted and finished, with excellent eye and lip fitment. I didn't expect any less with this one, and I was not disappointed. Yves is really stepping up his game for his masks and each one is improving on the last.

The "Clark" mask is a bit lighter than his earlier masks, but still has a comfortable heft to it. It's also a bit snugger on my face and neck, which I appreciate - the worst thing in wearing a realistic mask is having the neck wrinkle if you turn your head.

One item that is a new innovation is his nose bridge. I've been involved for a long time with silicone masks, going back to when Rusty Slusser first made his "Thug". And I was also working with Rusty when he came out with his nose bridge as well. His initial concept was far more flexible and customizable than the thermoplastic he eventually included in his masks, but his implementation was not well-suited for the long-term.

THIS bridge design is one of the top-of-the-line. It is comfortable and infinitely adjustable and allows the perfect drape of the silicone across your nose to keep the lower eyeholes tight to your face. By either pressing or pinching it, the mask will conform to your own individual nose shape.

 

Yves also did the hairing on the mask and as usual, he did an amazing job as well. I love this mask and it's one of the most realistic masks I own.

And I've done a video review of the mask as well...


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Il volto dell'Italia

CreaFX is a silicone mask maker based in Italy, and I've been intrigued by their masks for a while now. Two of the things that made me hesitant however, were two of the most important things in a mask - ears and eye fit.

From the pictures I had seen, the ears looked a bit... unformed... and the eyeholes always seemed to be cut a bit too large.

I was also warned that the mask is thin - about half the thickness of a CFX mask. Supposedly, this makes the mask more flexible on your face. After my experience with the Asian mask from RealMaskMaster, this sort of set off some warning bells, but I figured, "If it's a tighter fit, it should be okay."

The tipping point was some pictures of the mask being worn by the guy who runs the "Adam Chang" page on Facebook. It really looked good as far as the eyeholes went. So I contacted the company and placed an order. I also asked if they could possibly reduce the size of the eyeholes.


This was also my first purchase from Italy, and I was surprised that there was some customs duty on it. Not a lot - about $31USD - but I've never had to pay duty on anything from overseas before - Germany, Austria, UK, China, etc.

When I opened the package, I was very surprised at how light the mask was. It was thin - probably as thin as the RealMaskMaster - but definitely had a more substantial texture to it.

And then I tried it on.

FUCK.

The eyeholes were too big on the outer edges and the ears appeared to be a little too low and a little too forward. I can't believe that I just wasted money on another poorly made mask. And because it was so thin, I had also had CreaFX hair it as I was afraid my regular hair guy could pull it out of shape. Good money after bad.

Now, this was when I got home from work and was a bit sticky from the commute home. At that point, I was figuring to put it on sale and take a loss. With the Euro exchange rate, there would be no way in hell for me to recoup my purchase price. So for the sales photo shoot the next day, I washed up right before, put a little bit of talcum in the mask and put it back on.

What a difference a clean, dry face makes!

The mask being as thin as it is requires a bit more fiddling on the face to get it just right. Heavier masks (Immortal, CFX, Realflesh, Metamorphose, Studio135, Evolution, ShatteredFX - basically all the North American manufacturers) have a tendency to settle onto your face immediately with a minimal adjustment necessary. The "Frank" mask also has an adjustable nose bridge (much smaller than the other manfacturers' ones) so again, more fiddling is required to get a decent fit.

I will be the first to admit that ear sculpting is one of the hardest things in designing a mask, but the ears here don't lend themselves on being seen in their altogether - you really need a wig on this mask to disguise them a bit. With the ear issue resolved somewhat; the eyes were much better, but still could have been cut smaller on the outer edges - see the area in red below...


Quality of the hairing was good, but not great. I guess I'm spoiled rotten with my hair guys here. I send them reference pics and I get exactly what I asked for. Or better. Here, I sent CreaFX some specific pics for a very short-cut beard stubble, and I was informed that they couldn't go that short, but would make it as short as possible.


The eyebrows and beard were done well, but not 100% of what I was looking for. Also, the sealing on the beard is a few generations back from the North American process. Here, the hair is kept longer on the inside, steamed flat, and then a thin layer of silicone is used to produce a smooth surface on the inside. The CreaFX mask left a very short bit on the inside without any smooth sealing. This has the potential to become very itchy, but thankfully, the hair used in the "Frank" mask did not do that.

The bib on the mask is also very small. You can get away with the collar button and one button open on a shirt. Because of the thinness of the mask, however, there is a tendency when you move your head forward and down that you will get some minor wrinkling.


To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the CreaFX mask

PROS
  • Well made
  • Well painted
  • Well seamed/flashed
  • Nose is good with a small, adjustable bridge
  • Lip fitment is good. About 7/10 on the Silva scale 
  • Mask thinness does not subtract from a well-made feeling. Actually a bit cooler to wear.
  • Fit around the face and head is very good

CONS
  • Ears could be little better placed, but can be adjusted to look okay. Ear design is still below North American standards. The necessity of wearing a wig is higher with this mask
  • Eyeholes are definitely too big. They need to be reduced by about 2mm on the outer edge. Judicious adjustment of the mask to place the ears helps fix (but not remove) the eyehole issue in conjunction with adjusting the nose bridge.
  • Short bib can produce some neck wrinkling. 
  • Requires more "fiddling" once on to achieve a realistic look

Overall, I'd give this a 7.5-8/10.

But this is not up to my expectations and I'm selling it.

 

UPDATE:

Danilo (the owner of CreaFX) listened to the constructive criticism and did make the eyeholes smaller. I'm glad that he did, but I still don't think I'm going to purchase another one.