We Are Catching Up, While the Horse Goes to Market – AUCTION UPDATE

Gasping for air (or rather, some time to sit down and write), we can now bring you a much-needed update. Lets knock that Further Confusion post further down the page while giving you a bit of insight into what has been happening with us.

Since returning from Califur, our team had to get back into the flow of our primary jobs. It has been demanding and our respective work schedules have put us out of synch with one another.  On the plus side, we do have some inventory left over from the convention, which is still available on our Wild and Free page.

Admittedly, we are not producing masks as quickly as we normally expect to (6-8 weeks for standard mask orders). As much as we regret the way our customers may feel about this, our Real Life obligations need to come first.   Fortunately, demand for our products has not diminished, and consequently the wait has grown to full expectancy. We continue to do our best to meet customers’ desires,  including answering emails from an ever-increasing amount of prospective customers.

Of note, if you like our horse masks and desire a hood, we have been made aware that our friend Spring Pony is selling her hooded mask.  Details can be seen after the jump.

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Of Holidays and Hoods

Is it December already?

Man, time really did just pass by and I do not even feel like any of us even blinked. And yet, here we are facing the end of 2014. When autumn arrived, it seems that all three of us became really busy with our respective families and friends.  When November came, there was no shortage of birthday, Thanksgiving and anniversary celebrations for that month.  So, things got a bit hectic around here, with us having just a few opportunities to get together after work and brainstorm/toss some ideas around.

Such brainstorming has also been related to hooded masks, which we closed orders for back in August. When winter falls, and the temperature drops (well…by Southern California standards anyway), its harder to achieve the finished quality of each latex coat/pouring.  So, some of those moments of brainstorming and breaking out our supplies have been geared towards this popular option.   We have been re-tooling our hood making process, identifying some better materials to use when creating and sizing them.  This should eliminate some of the problems and other issues that made the process take that much more time for us to complete each hooded order.

Once the holiday season is over and our outdoor workshop is more suitable, we will be opening back up for the more complex orders. However, while you wait, hop on over to our Wild-and-Free listings to see some of our ready-to-ship products.  For those in the US, there is still just a little more time to grab one of these and get it to its destination in time for Christmas morning.

Wildgasmasks…Version 4.0

Yes, its finally here…. the new Wildgasmasks website. Its been a long time coming (and long overdue) but finally we have something a little (*ahem*) better than before. For over a year, I have given much thought into what I wanted our website to be (vs what was thrown up years ago, when we were just starting). With a vast improvement in the information we can provide, Wildgasmasks Version 4.0 features:

  • Options List for every product
  • Link to product Manuals
  • Order Queue with Email Notification (for those who were already on our queue, you may be getting a few test emails in the next few days)
  • Listing of all our accessories, including lens colors some of our customers may not have seen before.
  • Fantastic new Header Graphic, courtesy of Iron Raptor Studios. Its the Year of the Horse, afterall.
  • Galleries showing everything from custom one-off work to rough WIP photos shot around our busy lab.
  • Responsive design – you dont have to be at a computer to peruse our wares and check out reference photos

In the next few weeks, there will be daily updates as we process the backlog of great photos of custom work, inspiring customer photos and more. Although I spent a lot of time ensuring accessibility, I do expect a few site kinks to pop up. So, feel free to drop us a line if you notice anything that seems amiss.

I do apologize if responses to order inquires have been a bit slow as of late but as you can see, it was all for a good cause.  Stego just got home from the land of the large cowboy hats (Texas) and shall be doing his best to catch up on his duties around the jackal lab. He is going to have quite a surprise once he sees that Wildgasmasks has now been brought current.


The Jackal Rises from its Pyre

On a random day in July, Wildgasmasks found itself faced with a heavy reality when it came to our signature design. While fulfilling the last JG1 in a 3-jackal order, the impermanence of our creations was obvious. The mold had been used far longer than its expected life. With a heavy heart, we left those 6 broken pieces to rest.

….but that hiatus was never meant to be permanent. Stego and meddle (our newest addition to the jackal lab) had enough interest (not to mention interest from our customer base) to set upon a new-but-familiar path. Over a year later, the original jackal gasmask has been rebuilt, and with a few subtle changes.

  • The JG-1 has been corrected from a slight misalignment at the eyes.  It might not be noticeable to anyone else but us, but our new design has corrected the asymmetry.
  • The Face Seal is now an integral part of the mask, built in to the shell itself. Our JG1 mold required us to create the seal separately and attach it later. No longer!
  • The addition of lens clamps. Following the designs used in our HG1 and HG2 (horse) masks, jackal mask lenses are now clamped into place rather than being held by the rubber alone.
  • Improvements made to the mold, especially in regard to how it goes together. Sure, many of our customers wont see this but it is was definitely worth Stego and meddle’s efforts, now allowing for a faster turnaround time

I cant tell you how happy we are that this day has finally come– the day that sweat, tears, and frustration turns into joy and opportunity. meddlesome pony and Stego have birthed a new era of jackal gasmasks, and the day has come when we can open up for orders.

Currently, from viewing our queue page, we look a bit full while we take care of our normal workload.  In addition, we have been taking on a few orders from those “left behind” when our mold broke all that time ago. So, we want to start compiling a waiting list, creating the first big wave of JG 1.5s that will be released into the world.

While hooded mask orders are being accepted, they will be placed on a separate waiting list, due to the longer turnaround time and needing to space them out a bit. Placement on either of the two lists will be in chronological order and we will send out another email when we are ready to put you on the queue.  If that wait doesn’t bother you, please contact us, and we will get you started.

Queue and Inventory Update

Our Marbled Madness gasmask just recently sold,

It seems like the stampede of ponies will just never end. When I look at the available inventory in the lab, as well as the most recent sales here, it has been all equines all the time. Shop pony couldn’t be happier. In fact, shop pony is even more happy to hear that his creation “Marbled Madness” has sold. It was from a return customer at that and one of the quickest situations where a customer bought something from us and returned to us for a second time. Congratulations to …well… you know who you are.

Either way, we still have some inventory to sell off and many queue slots that are open, in addition to the Midnight Blue sparkle pony below.  Check out our page to get yourself in the queue today!

Midnight Blu Sparkle Mask - Design by Stego S. Aurus
Midnight Blue Sparkle Pony – $500USD
Midnight Blu Sparkle Mask - Design by Stego S. Aurus
Midnight Blue Sparkle Pony – $500USD

A Short Update This Time

Two months into the new year and we are quite the productive rubber elves here at Wildgasmasks.  Hoods are getting fitted, more latex goes into the mold, and , with that, more dreams are being brought closer to reality.

We are very happy to have gotten to the point where we can take on orders that require the full encasement.  Since opening up for hoods and working with the queue a bit, we have at least 3 hooded orders at any given time.

In addition, please check out the following “wild and free” masks which we have up for sale. These were brought to Further Confusion 2013.  The sparklepony (blue) was designed by Stego, the genius himself. Meanwhile, our shop pony Meddle got to experiment with a marbled effect for a mask paintjob.  While many people were admiring them, these 2 models did not sell, and were brought back with us. Please inquire should you be interested in the masks below. Each one is $500USD, not counting shipping fees.

Marbled Madness Mask - Design by Meddlesome Pony
Marbled Madness Mask – $500USD
Marbled Madness Mask - Design by Meddlesome Pony
Marbled Madness Mask – $500USD
Midnight Blu Sparkle Mask - Design by Stego S. Aurus
Midnight Blue Sparkle Pony – $500USD
Midnight Blu Sparkle Mask - Design by Stego S. Aurus
Midnight Blue Sparkle Pony – $500USD

Endangered Jackals / Angled Hose Set

Looks like our misfortunes with mold continue.  As of November, we found another irreversible breakage that we had to deal with.  In an equally unfortunate manner, our JG2 mold broke at the ears.  The breakage is definitely significant and, given the specifics of where it broke, its non-salvageable at this point.  So, with that, jackals have met the end of 2012 with tragedy.

I guess we cant say its fully end-game for these jackals.  Before the breakage of the JG1 had even happened, we were considering (and in the process of finding time) reviving the masks  with new versions of our molds.  Now, its become a must and we have no jackals to offer in the meantime.

Please note that, we still need BUSTS.  Read this post (if you havent already) and it may explain about what we are looking for specifically.  First order of business is these new JG 1.5 and JG 3.0 molds, but we still need a solution that will enable us to take hooded orders again.

In the meantime, we have one object of “new-ness” in the lab — a set of double hoses which uses an angled entry points instead of the usual hoses that we carry. This setup is designed for any of our double-port masks (including all our non-muzzle-mount HG1s and HG2s).   This set up is available for $80USD, and includes the pictured rubber cover for your wye hose.

Time continues to be fleeting and we shall be on holiday around 12/20/2012.  We will still be taking and handling orders, but at a slower pace.  So, for now, we work hard.  Morale continues to be good….

…our sanity on the other hand….

What a Bust!

A week or so ago, you may of seen our tweet (and Stego’s post located here: http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/3678499/) regarding the demise of our signature JG1 mold. The timing of this event has come at quite a detrimental time, as some long term problems of ours have not been solved before this inevitable day had come.

Busts….. WE NEEED BUSTS!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes! That’s right! We need work surfaces. With some key steps requiring the use of busts, this has been detrimental to the maintanance of our current line as well as stunted the growth of our product line. Simply put, without these busts, we have nothing to stand on (literally!)

Hoods are not formed by taking pieces of latex sheets and gluing them together. We make them as big, thick solid pieces of rubber. That is done by choosing from our arsenal of busts, finding the one closest in measurements to the commissioner’s head and then doing a number of things upon that head for a good fit. Hoods take at least 8 days to produce (5 days to pour and cure a hood + 3 day for using that bust as a work surface for fusing/attaching). It can even be longer than that 8 days because we are juggling this with FT jobs (both Shop Pony and Stego), family obligations, additional work obligations and other life things that are beyond our control.   Our lab, done out of our SoCal home, is also a factor as we could not do the work we do in it if we lost our house and moved into a rental.  So FT jobs are always going to be #1.

As for custom molds, the amount of “head time” required to complete that task is far longer— months…and even up to a year (give or take). Currently we have such a custom commission and the current “head time” that has engaged one of our larger headed busts has been going on 5 months! Just like with the hood creation process, this also means we lose a bust head during this time. Any hooded orders of the same head size are stuck behind until we free up that bust head.

As you might imagine, this can be very detrimental and has already shown up in cases where someone’s order was unexpectedly delayed because of this. It was even worse when we had a bust head shatter and found ourselves unable to replace it due to the vendor (Monster Makers) discontinuing that particular bust head.  So, time (which basically equates to money given that we are stretched with regular  jobs) had to be taken to glue our current one back together.  In fact, there is a severe shortage of armature/mask-making heads available that have full shoulders. The full shoulders are important for marking proportion as well as letting us fill orders that want a long or extra long hood. To give you an idea of what we consider a shortage, here is an inventory of our current line of bust heads:

  • 1 casting of Stego’s head — This is great for people with forehead circumferences of around 24 inches.  This is the one currently engaged for 10 months and counting
  • 1 casting of Kat’s head  — Made in a makeshift fashion, this can only be used for a work surface to perch a head on while painting or other minute things.  It has no shoulders nor is it of the right foam to create hoods upon
  • 1 Monster Makers bust with shoulders – This is a great bust for hoods and new  designs to be created upon. It has shoulders.  However, this is the one that shattered and had to be glued back together.  It is debatable if we could ever use this one again if it should break but this is the model that Monster Maker’s discontinued when thier mold broke.  Currently, they only offer one model for sale, which is inadequate: http://www.monstermakers.com/category/sculpting-armatures/
  • 2-3 hard busts – These are only a work surface, as they are too small (21 inch forehead, while it exists, is not common for our customer base)
  • 1 Mostly Fantasy foam bust – This is a great bust for hoods and new  designs to be created upon as it has shoulders and is very durable.

Heck, we are even using double-sized wine bottles for painting/detail work surfaces because so much chaos buildup has occurred.  I wish I was kidding about this! :/  Kat has been searching for a comporable shouldered bust made of flexible foam (for placing pins) for over a year now.  Yes, that means that she was looking in advance with the idea that, by the time the JG1 mold was done for, we’d have more bust heads.   She has looked high and low and for now, only 2 solutions exist if we dont lose more money/time making it ourselves.  As of last night, this also puts Kat’s vision off the backburner and into an indefinite delay — the VG1 (Vixen Gasmask).  While Kat hides it well…. she is a very unhappy artist seeing her vision of 4 years ago still unable to be placed into tangible form.  Its to a point, she is prepared to throw in the towel as this isnt the first time a vision of hers has been dashed by lack of supply resources and capital/sales to fund it.

Between the 2 solutions, working with Mostly Fantasy is by far cheaper than a local mannequin supplier who seems more designed for big companies (vs small companies like ours).  Mostly Fantasy produces bust heads out of foam that is carved from a machine.  3 days ago we sent them a detailed shot of our Monster Maker’s bust and exact measurements we needed for re-creating the one from Monster Makers.  Mostly Fantasy’s estimate was approximately $250 per bust head, not counting shipping (but they are a USA based company).  Its significantly cheaper than the local vendor who wanted $490 for each size type we needed plus $148 for producing one bust head from that mold. Still…. that rough figure of $250 is juuuustttt out of our range anyway since we are working on such tight budgets here in California.

At this point, we see a third solution but its going to take alot of our time (which again, equals money) , and that is in short supply as you can probably tell.  Stego has enough drive towards this business that he will come up with a solution, but until then….we are going to be having alot more delays and no ETA on our JG3 (the replacement for our JG1).  There is basically nothing we can do about it and, if you look at some popular fursuit creation studios, we are no more special in getting our monetary  shortcomings solved.  Its a fight but we just cant see ourselves cutting corners and creating low-quality cookie cutters that are a shadow of what we currently produce.

Wish I had better news for you guys.  So, I just hope you will be patient with our shortcomings.  There is no telling what is going to happen down the road, but all we can do is hang in there. Hopefully, it is not unreasonable to hope that at least *some* of our customer base will grasp the above information and understand.