The gaming industry isn't at a lack for accessory manufacturers, and even console skins, for that matter. While big names like Mad Catz might lead the way in both respects, smaller companies like Exo-Flex are proving that you don't need a big name to provide big style.
Exo-Flex are the makers of Snakeskin, a new form of durable, high quality adhesives for not just gaming consoles, but most items in a techie's arsenal, including laptops and cell phones. I had the chance to test out a few Exo-Flex products, and was very impressed with what I saw.
Where other companies create skins based on established properties, whether that be video games, films or otherwise, Exo-Flex offers an extensive collection of original artwork, split into groups of either more muted solids or bright patterns, with solids being mostly monochromatic affairs, while the patterned skins offer a look at some clever creatures ranging from wide-eyed aliens and black globs of goo, to a bunch of colorful bacteria that are flying through a cloudy sky in one skin, only to meet their maker in another, as you come upon their strangely adorable corpses.
While Exo-Flex's Snakeskin products come in a variety of awesome patterns, they do take a bit of time to apply, as there is a slight stretch to the material that causes some pre-cut holes (like cut-outs for the Wii's power button, for example) to increase or change in size just enough to force you to set the product down for a few minutes, allowing it to shrink to its original shape.
That being said, the entire process of applying skins is fairly forgiving. Each skin is split into the appropriate pieces for side panels, faceplates and so on, and if you happen to put a piece on crooked, it is easily removable and repositionable (two of the three R's in Exo-Flex's Triple R feature - the third being "can be reapplied"). As an example, contrary to what one might expect, I found that no matter how many times I removed the front panel sticker on my Wii (easily the hardest piece of any skin I tested, due to the multitude of cutouts that needed to be accurately positioned), the skin never lost its adhesive power.
Once the completed skin is placed on your console, there are the understandable white or black peak-a-boo lines in between two stickers or near disc trays where placing anything closer could tamper with the system's function. But, especially with the skins I tested, the patterns are so bold and colorful to begin with, that these splits are only noticeable for those who are actively searching for them.
Even though these skins are made to be placed on items that are for the most part stationary, that doesn't mean they lack in durability. Each skin is said to never smear or fade, or be susceptible to slight exposure to moisture, but each Exo-Flex Snakeskin also come with a lifetime extended warranty, should you experience the reverse of any one of these claims.
Perhaps the best thing about the skins' triple layer design, however, is the RapidAir Technology, that eliminates the presence of air bubbles under the skin. While most of these products require the use of a squeegee or other flat object to force the air from under the sticker as you place it, here, you can slap the sticker onto the system and simply push down on whatever bubbles may be present to watch them disappear.
That feature, combined with the true ability to remove and reapply, make Exo-Flex skins perfect for the more obsessive group of gamers out there (of which I am a member), who would be bothered by anything other than perfection in each piece's placement. While this, again, adds more time to the application process, for those that take the time to make sure everything is on straight, you are rewarded with a fantastic looking system that is not only a conversation starter, but is also protected from future cosmetic injuries due to light scratches and the like, since the skin will take the damage and your system won't.
The only thing that stops me from screaming the Exo-Flex name from the rooftops is the price tag - a hefty $14.99 for even something as small as an iPhone skin, with Wii skins and larger costing $20 a piece. While the price is understandable from a quality standpoint, if you're out to cover ever piece of gaming paraphernalia you own, you're looking at a large chunk of cash. However, for the one-time buyer, who is looking for a truly unique way to express themselves through their consoles, Exo-Flex skins are a great way to do just that.
Special thanks to Daniel Workman and Exo-Flex for providing review material.