Hello everyone, I'm back from two school shows in Delaware where I "test-drove" The Magellan Master Levitation for the first time.
The Magellan Levitation is designed, for those who don't know, for a self-levitation where there is nothing attached to you and very little set-up. What's unique about this effect is that it's an actual levitation - in other words, there is upward movement, as opposed to something like a Chair Suspension, where the "floating" person simply remains stationary while supprts are pulled away. With Magellan, the audience sees you pick up a cloth and levitate almost two feet into the air and then you drop one end of the cloth you're holding and everyone can clearly see underneath both feet. You then hold the cloth in two hands once more as you descend to the ground. The cloth lies on the ground, in a crumpled pile. You are free to walk away.
FEE: It's $1495.00 and available at Hocus Pocus. Here's a link to the ad copy: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=435
WHAT YOU GET: You receive the gimmick, which I really can only talk about in general terms. I will say this: my immediate reaction when I opened the box was, "This thing will never break." This gimmick is built to LAST. You also receive a huge satin cloth and some smaller do-dads. You also receive an instructional DVD of creator Jimmy Fingers demonstrating the effect in his home. He then runs through all of the details of the how's and why's of this effect.
The gimmick is roughly 12lbs or so and fits into a duffle bag. I can fly with this - a big plus for me, as I hop on planes enough. It's small enough to bring into homes for house parties and will play for 1000 people onstage.
INSTRUCTION: Jimmy explains and demonstrates the effect well enough. The picture is clear and shot with a good camera and good lighting. It's not Lucasfilms or ILM, but it's good enough. My one gripe? I would have loved to have seen a live shot of this in front of lay people. Every video of this effect online in front of a live audience is in front of magicians. I'm sorry, but magicians perceive things differently then laypeople (more on this later) and in fact I have witnessed effects popular in front of magicians lay an egg in front of laypeople. The two groups just look at things differently.
I received this Christmas Eve and today was my first performance. I've been rehearsing it for hours a day - I'm a perfectionist. Long story short: this is NOT an effect you pull ouyt of the box and perform it the next day. There are no complicated moves, but it's what I would call "sleight of body," in that your entire body plays a part in this illusion and you must get the sequence into your muscle memory. However, the illusion is fun to perform, so rehearsal is fun.
My wife would ask, as I headed to my office (even on Christmas Day,) "Going to float?" She understands my addiction.:)
VALUE: The gimmick is tough and well designed. As Jimmy gets into the details of the gimmick construction, it's clear this has been carefully designed and tweaked over many versions. To me, it's a good value, as I feel if you were to try and cobble together your own version, you might seriously injure yourself - I read somewhere that this unit is rated for about 250lbs, so it's good quality. There are no moving parts, so operation is silent. High marks from me.
ANGLES: The angles are roughly the same as a Magic Flying Carpet. You can't have anyone behind you during this effect and you have to watch your sides. That being said, I was on a stage in front of about 250 kids per show today and the seats were set up kind of horseshoe style, so there were people slightly (though not severely) to my sides and I was able to cope just fine, if that makes sense.
HOW IT "PLAYS": As I said, the true value in my eyes is how an effect plays in the real world. Today ROCKED. Both of my audiences completely flipped out. What interesting about this is when I watched the online videos of this effect, I "thought like a magician" and thought that Jimmy holding the cloth up during the 'rise' looked hokey. I incorrectly assumed the only part of this effect that would get a reaction was the "money shot" when the audience can clearly see beneath your feet.
I was WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! When I started to rise, everyone really reacted! I was hoping to get good demo video footage, but everyone stood up! They REALY came unhinged when I dropped the cloth and showed my feet. that felt GREAT.
Interestingly, I almost lost my balance - not because of the gimmick, but because of my nerves! I had rehearsed my butt off, but the audience's positive reaction gave me an adrenaline rush and caused me to falter a bit. Fortunately, Jimmy's superior design allows for awesome stability. You're not balanced on a bottle-cap sized platform - you're comfortable as you levitate. Mad props to Jimmy.
After the show, a ton of kids wanted to talk to me about the levitation - kids from age 6 to age 12. I haven't tested it on teens yet, but it plays GREAT for kids and adults.
AD COPY: My only caveat with this product is I feel the adcopy should reflect the fact that you need fairly strong knees to perform this effect. You do NOT have to be a power lifter and nearly anyone with an average build and average health will be fine, but if you've had knee replacements or if you're on the husky side, let the buyer beware. It's not a big issue, but considering the cost, I really feel this should have been mentioned right in the ad copy.
OVERALL: I'll take a few points off the ad copy - 8 out of 10 there, but for the effect itself, a rock solid 10 out of 10. HIGHLY recommended for working pros looking to add a stage self-levitation. This is not designed for strolling or table-to-table.
OTHER THOUGHTS: Some magicians on forums have griped about the need for the cloth. Let's face it - unless you have Criss Angel's or Copperfield's bank account, this is about the most economical self-levitation on the market. It rocks, period. My audiences today (and after having performed in thousands of schools, I have NO reason to believe this will not play amazingly well) LOVED it. Audiences don't think like magicians, especially something as surprising as making yourself float!
Now, onto another popular self-levitation - Fearson's Fantastic Flotation.
With this levitation, users can walk out and at any time, remove his/her cloat and suddenly the audience will see your body floating horizontally! There's no floor attachments and you end clean...relatively speaking.
WHAT YOU GET: You get some tough, plastic gimmicks and attachments which allow you to modify your pants to accomplish the effect. You also receive a DVD explaining how to put everything together. You also receive written instructions, which to me were kinda poorly written.
FEE: It's about a 100 bucks, and available at Hocus Pocus. Here's the link. http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=435
VALUE: Obviously, this is a LOT cheaper than the Magellan, which may make this more attractive to some magicians. I believe it's a fair price, considering how much work you have to do to make the gimmick. I understand, as magicians come in all shapes and sizes. Good value.
ANGLES: The angles are less forgiving than the Magellan, because you're only using your coat for cover. I think the coat looks a little more natural, but Magellan's angles are a bit better. It's not a huge difference, but it's there.
Here's where things get tricky...I never actually put my gimmicks together. One of my desires, when I buy magic effects, is to open the box, read the book or watch the DVD, rehearse the effect til I have it down great, script it to fit my shows, re-fine the scripts and perform it. I'm not an arts & crafts kinda guy. I simply don't have the patience.
So, when I received my Flotation package, I quickly realized that in the right person's hands, this could be very good. Knowing my construction skills, I knew it would be a horrifying mess. That is NOT a criticism of the effect's design, more of my own problem!
This effect, to do properly, will require a pain-in-the-butt amount of work to build the gimmick...and you'll need the help of a friend. A LOT of tweaking. If you're looking to save money but want to float, you can give this a shot.
The other issue I had with this was the fact that when completed, the gimmick is on the bulky side. You're altering a pair of pants (as the ad copy admits, so I'm not exposing), and when altered, this pair of pants is bulky. Too bulky for me to get onto a plane in addition to all of my other props. That's another strike against it, just for me.
Finally, after the gimmick is completed..how do you clean your pants?? I suppose you can take it to a cleaner, but then again, I imagine they might shake their head and send you on your way. I didn't do it, so I don't know.
Another magician I talked to about this issue admitted he simply gets a new pair of pants and alters them whenever he needs it, which, depending on how often you perform, might mean you're installing your gimmick into a new pair of pants every few days, weeks, or months.
At the very least, you'd need to tear about the gimmick, have the pants cleaned, and re-assembly the gimmick with the now-cleaned pants.
Again, if you're looking for a great self-levitation, I really think the Fearson Flotation looks great..there's just too much hassle for me.
Please understand that I'm aproaching this from my own standpoint. My concerns may mean nothing to you and thus this may be GREAT for you.
Therefore, I'm going to give this a solid 9 for effect - I think it looks GREAT - a 9 for the DVD video instructions as they are very clear, but a 2 out of 10 for a pain-in-the-butt factor. I'm NOT saying it's a bad product, but I simply feel that it's not for me. If you're an arts & crafts kind of person, it might be great for you, as I think the effect looks amazing. If you do not have the time or patience to put props or anything together, I would advise avoiding this.
Next week, I'll be reviewing the DVD "Gum," which is FANTASTIC.
Thanks for reading! As always, any comments can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.