Hello, loyal readers!
Quick housekeeping note: My review of Jom Kleefeld's wonderful water-magic themed CD is going to be delayed. It's over 100 pages and I have been on the road constantly for two weeks. I hope to finish it and post a review as early as tomorrow.
Also, just a few days left to win the contest to name my new monthly magic-themed ezine! Each month it will be loaded with articles, optional Q & A, and more. It's FREE, so to sign up, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
The contest winner (who picks the name I like for the ezine) wins a copy of Jon Allen's Infinity Deck!
On to today's review...
This review is of Jay Leslie's version of the classic Cube A Libre effect. It retails for $575 at Hocus Pocus and can be found here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=8692
In addition to this version, there's a "short stack" version, a moderbistic version that red and white, and a jumbo version. This means if you're really into this effect, you have plenty of choices - simply type "Jay Leslie" or "cube" into the product search in Hocus Pocus and you can compare the different versions.
EFFECT & PRODUCT DETAILS:
Two stacks of six separate blocks are displayed. Both sets are numbered from 1 to 6, as in the picture. The performer explains to the audience that one stack may be arranged in any order and yet the other stack will magically rearrange itself and match. The actions are performed several times in an easy to follow sequence. Each time the second stack is revealed you will experience a resounding round of applause as the audience acknowledges how perplexed and entertained they are.
The best way to describe this effect is to say "This trick is the reason people want to see a magic show". You'll get the satisfaction of appearing to do nothing yet the magic happens in your hands. The entire routine is logical from beginning to end. The first stack of blocks are rearranged several times including turning some of them backwards and upside down. In each case, the second stack matches, and it's a mind blower to the audience no matter what age they are and how much magic they have seen in their lifetime. Even other magicians are without a clue if you don't tell them the secret.
The conclusion happens when a volunteer gives you an irregular order to stack the first set of blocks and the second stack still matches perfectly. The conclusion always generates a swell of emotion from the audience followed by spontaneous applause. It's an automatic applause que.
Here is what you get:
12 blocks with permanent numbers (The blocks are 3 inches CUBEd)
The tube (18.5 inches tall) and strong enough to stand on!
A DVD with complete instructions and an actual performance in front of a live audience
A custom made cardboard box to transport the complete set
And the secret something that makes it work
Here are the special features: Each block is hollow which reduces the weight by approximately 50 percent. The entire set weighs approximately 5 pounds including the storage box . The tube is ultra nice. Each decoration on the tube is inset to the surface, not painted. The materials look great from a distance. Each block is 3 inches square making this trick a great size for a living room show, banquet / auditorium or cruise ship.
Another excellent reason to buy this model is because your audience will see the numbers better then other versions. Others use "reverse" printing making their numbers smaller and more difficult to read. If you perform a side by side comparison of Jay Leslie's model to all others of the same size, it's instantly obvious our larger numbers will be seen more clearly from any distance and the entire reason to buy a model with three inch blocks is so it can be seen.
Jay Leslie's DVD covers all aspects of the routine based on Conradi's original moves but has variations and tips as well. We guarantee this effect will become one of your favorites weather you do psychic shows, corporate gigs or parties in the home & school OR If you present your show purely as entertainment. No matter how you perform CUBE A Libra you will be happy thrilled every time the audience gives you a solid round of applause.
Just one word of warning, put everything away as soon as the show is over or you'll have people swarming the stage just wanting to examine it. Jay Leslie's CUBE A Libra is sure to be a collectors item that will also be featured in many professionals shows. Each CUBE A Libra goes through a few hundred machine and hand fitting procedures. There will probably be a slight learning curve to perfect this trick but since it's intended for professionals we believe, once learned it will be always be performed with pride and a sense of mastery of the arts.
MY HISTORY WITH THIS EFFECT: For seven years I performed a Harries Magic version of this effect. I LOVED it and it was always a highlight whenever I used it. hen, on a trip to South Dakota, Delta Airlines apparently felt I'd had the props long enugh as they destroyed it, leaving me in need of a new version. Enter Jay Leslie's version.
VISIBILITY: The ad copy is correct, as with the black matte finish and the bright yellow numbers, this effect really "pops" for very large audiences. I've presented this for 500-600 people and visibility is not an issue.
ANGLES: The working is this particular version is very simple and extremely reliable. However, due to the fact that for people to see and appreciate the effect, it is necessary that the audience be located in front of you. I feel you could easily get away with having people on three sides of you, and possibly behind you, but again, since you'll need people to be able to see the numbers, you really must have your audience in front of you, not due to angles but more for effect appreciation.
DIFFICULTY: There is a tiny bit of memory work involved, matching numbers together and so forth. Also, because the effect is a multi-phase effect, you'll need to remember each phase because if you mess up the order of the phases, you'll be lost and darn near impossible to 'fix' the effect during the performance. It's less physical dexterity and more mental. It's not like remembering a card deck stack, so don't worry. The physical demands of the effect are minimal, but like any effect, you'll want to rehearse it a LOT to do this smoothly. The good news is it's well within the reach of anyone who has opposable digits.:)
INSTRUCTION: Jay's DVD instructions include him filming his background info on his version of the effect while driving to a gig to perform the effect. I'm not kidding - the camera appears to be on the floor near the gas pedal aimed up at Jay and you can see the background sailing by as he drives! It's an odd choice. Then we cut to a live performance where the effect gets a great response at what appears to be a blue & gold banquet...perhaps the toughest "family show" type of audience ever, IMO.:) After that, we cut to Jay in his studio where he explains the effect.
The production values are simple, but the lighting and sound is decent, so everything is clearly explained.
I should point out that Jay's routine consists of (if memory serves) 6 or 7 phases. Personally, I've always felt that's just too many. I've always performed it with four phases and it plays just fine, but that's just me. Once you're familiar with the concept, you'll be able to take out certain phases, if you wish, as I did.
QUALITY: On one hand, the quality of this prop, visually, is far superior to the old Harries Magic version I was using. On the other hand, as Jay himself admits on the DVD, this prop has a trade off - if you're not careful, it will scratch, rather easily. Jay explains the pros and cons of different versions of this effect and while his modifications have made the physical workings far more natural and easier, the plastic (or plastic-like material) the props are made of do scratch.
Jay recommends performing the effect and then immediately putting it away to preserve it. This is a nice idea, but the prop is large enough that it will not easily fit in the metal briefcase sized cases available for tools at Home Depot, which is how I transport many of my larger props. I've got six of those silver Home Depot cases and they're GREAT, but I digress.
Jay provides a cardboard box that is the right size to transport the prop. Maybe I'm a snob, but I can't stand the idea of transporting my props to a show with a cardboard box. I think it demeans you in the eyes of the client.
What I wound up doing was ordering a custom-made wooden case for the props built by Jay, sold through Hocus Pocus. The case was nicely lined with felt and does a GREAT job of protecting the props and it looks great carrying it to the gig. Sure, it cost me some extra money (I think around $170 or so, but don't quote me) but after spending nearly $600 on the effect itself, I wanted it protected.
I certainly understand Jay trying to keep the cost of the effect down, but I wish he would have just added the cost of the wooden box to the effect - believe me, for the professionals who may use this effect. it's well worth it, as Jay's craftsmanship of both the props and the custom carrying box are superb.
FINAL IMPRESSION: I know I spent a lot of space talking about a box to protect the props, but I feel if you're going to invest in a product like this, it's a good idea to protect it. It's a great prop, but I have to take off a point because the props are a bit on the delicate side. I'm also going to take off a full point because the ad copy talking about the tube being strong enough to "stand on" seems to imply this prop will take a beating. You might be able to stand on it, but as far as the overall look - scratches and such - it will not.
Nevertheless, with all of that in mind, the workings of the effect itself is fantastic, and far superior to the flimsey mechanism that accomplished the dirty work on my old version. Plus, the effect plays GREAT for lay audiences - always a plus! I've been using this version for almost 2 years now and I like it a LOT better than my old Harries version. I give it an 8 out of 10. Fantastic effect that looks great, plays great and the working for this version is a dream...but it scratches easily, so if you order it, I highly recommend immediately ordering a custom wooden carrying case to protect your investmemt.
I'll try to post my Jim Kleefeld review of his water magic CD later this week, and next week, there will be more reviews, of course.:)
Do you have a review request of a product here at Hocus Pocus? Let me know - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time...