Thursday, April 14, 2011

REVIEW: Dye I4 Mask, DyeCam

        Those of you who know me, and those who have been around to read the reviews of the V-Force Grillz and Sly Profit masks which appeared in close proximity to each other, know I'm often in a bind for a mask that agrees with me. My old Grillz is hanging on for dear life in my gear bag as I wright this, and the Profit mangled my head so bad I sold it as promptly as I could since returning it over the border was not cost effective. I had no idea what I should do for a mask this season and was seriously contemplating the Angel Eyes up until Dye announced their plans to hop on the Milsim bandwagon and release the Dye I4 in “DyeCam” (homage to Crye Precision Multicam). Being the obsessive compulsive that I am, I decided I should try them since DyeCam camoflage scheme would
compliment the Valken V-Cam gear I was planning on ordering at the time.
        So what is the mask like? Tiny, for one thing; this is Dye's ultra small profile mask for itty bitty speedballers with a camoflage skin draped over it in lieu of the vibrant colorful highlights the mask typically has. Fit-wise, it's tight, at least on me. When I put the mask on my abnormally large head, I need to loosen the straps of the mask all the way to make it slide it on and then it fits just right. My jaw line is definitely quite exposed when I wear it but surprisingly my chin is not, and fully opening my mouth does not quite expose my teeth which is a plus given this issue on some other small masks. The other highly exposed part of my face is my forehead, again, larger than most (it is my room mate, not me in the pictures). The mask comes with no visor in case you didn't know, however this adds to the masks very small profile as a result, and lacking that visor definitely does something for air flow to prevent fogging. There isn't much more to the mask than the lens itself, the rubbery material along the bottom and pads on the ears make up an exceptionally small part of the masks remaining surface area and are just barely adequate to protect the remaining parts the lens does not cover.
That optic is not on a riser, and if it weren't for the blur caused
by all the extra glass, you would see the shooter's eye
        It's a small mask with a minimalist design for sure. If you're interested in buying one and have done your research you likely know this already. If it sounded like I had some complaints in the last paragraph, I really didn't. I don't mind any of exposed areas on my face that wearing this mask results in, it actually provides almost equal protection to the Grillz without having excess material hanging off my face. My forehead is big, so no matter what mask I wear, that's going to be exposed for sure, I'm only a little worried about my jaw line and even there not so much given my jaw is protected by the stock of my gun usually while the other half is tucked behind my cover. Weight wise, you can barely tell the mask is on your face but here's where the mask really shines: a tight enough profile to use your iron sights. We've all put a stock on a Milsim gun at some point, whether we play with one on all the time or not. This mask is so tight to my face that I can put my head to the stock and sight in a target using the iron sites that are normally unusable due to mask bulk preventing one from getting their head low enough to do so. No riser is needed with this mask to look down an optic, and no pressure is needed to force your head down low enough to use the sights, you can literally rest your head on the stock and see down them as you would if you weren't wearing the mask at all! Coming from a guy who's head is as enormous as mine, that's really saying something.
You can see the jaw line below the mask, as well as a little bit
of chin, the forehead is not quite as visible on my model in
this shot
        Some who've read the Sly Profit review might be wondering why I'm showering the Dye I4 with praise after griping about size and protection issues with the Profit the whole way through. I was really expecting a heftier mask when I purchased that one. I did my research before ordering since I couldn't try before purchasing given my semi-remote location and was really expecting the V-Force Grills with newer anti-fog features, a different profile and that neat dual strap feature. It turned out to be a vice grip on my head that was fogging before the day was half over and I wasn't even exerting myself much since it was a reffing day. This time around I was expecting the smaller size and knew I'd be exposed with a Dye I4, I did try it on and liked the feel, the profile was nice, and although it's tight to my head, it doesn't hurt my ears nearly as much as the Profit did.
        I must confess that aside from fit and feel tests, I haven't run this mask through sufficient trials just yet. Testing the mask thus far has included wearing it around the house for long periods at a time, a hot shower which didn't induce any fogging, and two days of reffing games at the local field. Those field days yielded some impressive results though: Fogging was a huge issue for all the renters, regulars, and other refs on both days as it's still cold there while remaining hot in our masks. The Dye I4 had no issues with even a little condensation anywhere but directly in front of my mouth. This condensation was much more manageable than that which occurs on the Sly Profit as this mask doesn't hook under your chin, causing spittle to transfer onto, and later dribble down your neck. *shiver*
        I plan on putting up and addendum review for this mask later in the season once it's been beat on some more, and I'll probably do a few more follow ups on things like the Valken Zulu and Sierra line (soon to be reviewed) as well as the Milsig RRV vest once those have been run through some more paces. Until then however, I'm very pleased with these goggles from Dye and have a feeling they'll be in my gear bag for a very long time.
       ADDENDUM: I still love the mask, have worn it in every kind of weather imaginable barring a tornado or hurricane and they have never once fogged on me or any other heavy breather at my field whose purchased one. Since buying one and sporting it at my field earlier this season, it's become the most sought after mask in Kamloops. Most people still wear JT hard plastic Flex masks at KPG but those are usually what they purchased as a first mask. If an upgrade from an entry level face protector is what those people are after, then they usually end up buying an I4, the I4's only competition up there being the Sly Profit and more than 50% of those who have purchased those are having buyer's remorse! I have encountered two issues though, one very small, and one somewhat bigger: Due to lacking a visor of any kind, the vent above the lens are exposed to the elements, this allows paint spray to fall into the mask sometimes, as well as rain water. Not a huge deal if you clean it quickly after but if outside pollutants fall inside and aren't cleaned quickly, it will lead to problem 2. The mask will bubble a bit. The coating itself doesn't come off or rise off the surface of the mask and it's only the inside surface where it's an issue, but anywhere I had outside pollutants touch, there is a permanently distorted spot if I didn't clean it immediately. On the bright side, if you have this issue, Dye makes very affordable replacement lenses at only 30$ CAD from

PS: this is the same mask as in the Feb 22nd Valken Milsig gear shoot a few posts back, you can find more mask media Here

Monday, April 11, 2011

RANT: "It's Not Real Enough" Part I

        I don't think I've done this yet, I haven't gone off on a seemingly vicious tirade regarding some paintball related topic on the blog yet so I'm actually going to try and be nice when I do right now so as not piss any readers off. Oh I'm back on the Milsim path again, FYI, I know I was branching off there for awhile but we're definitely back on topic talking about all things that are meant to look black, brown, and green. I digress... I call this the “Not Real Enough Part One” Rant because I know there will be more realism posts in the future. There is a certain something I bump into on forums in particular that grinds my gears more and more every time I see it and it's so silly... it's aesthetics. Not what owners do to their guns but the way the markers come from the manufacturer.
TPN Bravo One
BT Omega
Milsig Commando
RAP4 T68
Real Life Colt M4
        There's too many complaints to tackle at once, or perhaps ever so I'll mention the most common one I encounter, especially with Milsigs and other assault rifle Milsim markers: gaps between magazine wells and triggers. There are a lot of stocks and front ends that look and feel delightful, and barrel wise most tactical marker manufacturers do a really good job of making a barrel that looks and performs well given the .68 calibre parameters they have to work with. Receiver-wise though things aren't always so great and some people just can't be reasoned with. I can't address every issue that every receiver has which makes nay-sayers say nay, but every Milsim marker receiver has one of three problems which haven't effectively been worked around yet. One and two are closely related: if you manage to rig the marker so that mag well and trigger are smack together like on the real thing, you end up with (1) a whole length of extra marker receiver hanging off the front or (2) hanging off the back. In the case of the BT Omega it's particularly pronounced at the front, less so on the TPN Bravo One, and it can be seen at the back of the RAP4 T68 (Images below for your reference). With Milsigs and souped up Tippmann A5's and 98 Customs, there is a gap between the trigger and mag well and no extra receiver hanging off the back or front. What you gain is return is another spot for air supply in that spot, though not on the C98. Look to the left and you can see all the markers I'm talking about as well as the actual Colt M4and can decide for yourself what looks most real. Keeping in mind of course that ll of these markers can be mag fed with the new Tacamo receiver modification kits. I have to say that I'm really partial to the Milsig design, and I'm not saying that just because I own one. You can run an air through stock or air in stock system, and if that's not your cup of tea you can connect your air directly to the bottom of the power tube between the mag and trigger or run a steel braided bottom line to connect your air on the back of the pistol grip. Not even the Tippmann A5 offers that many options for air connections.
        What's really mind boggling about aesthetic and realism complaints is when they come from someone using a hopper fed Milsim-like scenario marker or when a speedballer has something to say regarding realism! I've been on the receiving end of this treatment before: “Nah, that gun doesn't look real enough, I'll do it right or not do it at all. 'Scuse me while a fling some ropes of balls, bro.” Wow, just wow. I have nothing against hopper-ballers, having a hopper on your gun means nothing to me at all and I'd hate for anyone to think I'm being an elitist and saying if you don't run magazines you're not Milsim. Tac-cap, 200 round, Rotor or Prophecy, it's all great as long as you're playing and having a good time but I have to grimace and roll my eyes when someone lectures me on how real my M-Series Paradigm ISN'T while they walk onto the field with a TM-15 which has no gap between the trigger and *fake* magazine, and more paint than I shoot in a day.
        Muffin, I'm sorry it's not real enough for you, but until you become a wiz kid with pneumatics and deliver your proof of concept Milsim marker, could you maybe keep the arrogant aesthetics critiques to yourself? I'm not calling anyone on the Milsig forums out here, 99% of the guys who have made the comment there I have a lot of respect for and they haven't let this hinder them in buying a Milsig. The only reason this bothers me is because I really have encountered hyper anal milsimmers, speedballers, and airsofters who make aesthetics the most important factor in a purchase and disregard performance. It's so phenomenally unimportant.... missing that gap between the mag-well and trigger guard still makes you less intimidating than a clever new player with a rental gun.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kamloops Paintball Games: Team Fusion

        A few short months ago, Valken, via their Facebook page put up a shout out for paintball teams they were looking to sponsor for the 2011 season. This was in early February when new blog posts on here were a much more frequent occurrence. Being the charismatic fellow that I am, I decided to contact the gentleman at the email address provided in the call out in regards as to what it would take to get a team in Kamloops sponsored, and what the team's obligation to Valken would be in return for a gear discount deal. After several days of back and forth emailing, the creation of a group Facebook page as a communication hub for a team, and rounding up some players since I had no people on board at the time of first contact, a Valken sponsored Kamloops paintball team was created.
         As something of a shameless self plug, I'm going to announce all you regular readers the creation of the Kamloops Paintball Games: Fusion paintball team. The choice in team name can be best explained in the last 'Haters Gonna Hate' post on the next page of posts. Some might describe the team as a clutch of recreational paintballers but I'm hoping to quickly shape this team into just the right kind of effective blend of both speedball and milsim play styles working in tandem with eachother.
         I know, it seems like I'm doing a big self plug for myself and the team mates here but the experience is going to be a great thing for the blog as well. Aside from just being able to make nice big galleries of not one, but all six of the camoflages that Valken offers in the V-tac line, I'll be able to provide reviews of both the Sierra and Zulu builds of the gear. The blog will also start to double as a log of the goings on in the team, from start to finish so not only myself, but you as well can read along about the good moves we make in regards to gaining sponsorship and attending events and some of the bad ones we make too. This team was non existent at first contact with Valken and now it's really starting to take shape so I'll also be able to make some 'how-to' posts for new teams regarding approaching companies for sponsorships, how to structure your letters, what to have on hand when you first try to get their attention.
          It's going to be awhile until the blog sees a new post as two weeks of non stop school work and season's opening clean up work at the field are fast approaching. Four weeks until school is out for summer and many months of reffing, playing and blogging are to be had, so for you guys in the lower latitudes who are already out of the snow, happy playing until then