I know I said my next reviews would be of The Mind Reading Goose and Branded (and I will be posting those reviews shortly) but I wanted to touch upon Mona Lisa 2 briefly as Paul Romhany pointed it out in his blog.
I have been using the original version of this effect since 2003 and it is SUPERB.
Here are some details...
THE ROUTINE: A see-through bag full of different over-sized jig saw puzzle pieces is shown. A volunteer is invited to the stage and is asked to reach into the bag and remove a handful of pieces and to verify that all the pieces are different. Individual pieces can be show to the audience to prove each is entirely different fro each other in terms of color, pattern and 'cut' of each piece.
The volunteer then reaches into the bag again, eyes closed, digs around the pieces and removes just one piece. (Note: The volunteer really does feel many different pieces and can choose exactly which piece to remove. No dual reality here.) When the piece is removed and shown to the audience, the performer shows an upright easel that is covered with an elegant black cloth. The cloth is removed, showing a framed jig saw puzzle of the famed Mona Lisa....with just one piece missing.
The volunteer places the piece that he selected into the puzzle, showing that he was able to pick the correct piece from amongst the many different pieces...with his eyes closed.
As I said, I LOVE this. I use this all the time. Available here at Hocus Pocus, the full ad copy and link to purchase is available here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=8593
Now, the details...
WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive the beautiful framed Mona Lisa puzzle that is very large, and can be seen by BIG audiences. You receive a durable plastic carrying case, and the black velvert cloth. Finally, you receive the see-through bag of puzzle pieces. The pieces are huge, necessary for visibility, and thus this makes the idea of replicating this trick yourself unrealistic, as most jig saw puzzles have very tiny pieces. You also receive a CD of classical music. Very nice.
My original version only allowed one possible outcome, while Mona Lisa 2 gives you two outcomes, meaning if you do repeat shows, you're covered.
DIFFICULTY: This is essentially self working, but I refuse to label any effect as "easy." The skill and impact comes from presentation. Nevertheless, dexterity requirements are minimal.
ANGLES: Even though the bag is see through, this piece is essentially angle proof, providing your audience is not right on top of you. The construction of the bag is interesting in that it apparently allows viewers to see through the bag but it also camouflages the secret as long as people are seated away from you. Again, this is a stage piece, so that's not a big deal.
QUALITY OF PROPS: Top-notch. While I would not recommend putting this prop on an airplane (it would be destroyed) it will, because of the carrying case, hold up just fine. Mine has lasted 7 years and I'm pretty rough on props. Everything looks good, too, which for me is necessary...cheap looking props can cause some clients to re-think their decision to hire you.
MARKET: This is not a piece for daycares or very small children, but I use it all the time for adults, high schools, middle schools, and mixed family audiences.
INSTRUCTION: The written instructions are sparse, but adequate. No complaints here.
ONE QUIBBLE: The prop needs an easel, which means you'll need to purchase one separetely. I bought one at Office Max that folds up to a small 12'' compact bundle that fits in nicely with the Mona Lisa's case.
OVERALL RATING: I would have to rate this as a 10, especially because Mona Lisa 2 gives you the ability to do this for repeat audiences. My gut instinct tells me mentalists will reject this as being too "prop like," which is a shame because it's visible and very fair looking. Magicians wanting to add a piece where a volunteer is able to do something magicial (one of my favorite plots) would do well to consider this prop. Magicians looking for something that features the power of the mind would also do themselves a favor to consider this. HIGHLY recommended.
Later today I'll be posting the Mind Reading Goose and Branded as separate reviews.