Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brad Manuel's Buckethead

Yo, what up, readers?

OK, that was SAD. Just wanted to change things up a bit....

Cris Johnson here with another review! A few housekeeping things...

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Today's review will be a bit of a departure for me as this is unabashedly a kids' effect. On to the review...

Today's review is Bad Manuel's Buckethead. It's available for $149.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link to the info: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=1816

EFFECT: Bring a child or adult spectator on stage to help you with your next trick. But before they are to help, they must expand their mind a bit. And you have just the way to do it. A bucket-like container with a flat oversized top hat is placed over their head. Next you insert a tube into the side of the bucket and attach an oversized bellows style pump. Now the fun begins. You begin to pump and squeeze the bellows, each time you do, the top hat begins to inflate atop the bucket. Your audience will die with laughter as the hat slowly becomes fully inflated. But wait! The best is yet to come! Open the front hatch of the bucket, and the spectator's actual head is seen inflated several times its normal size! They look just like a human cartoon!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The pump, the special bucket, the hat, written instructions.

QUALITY OF PROPS: The pump is very rugged and very heavy (more on that later) and very well made. the hat is made of good solid material and the bucket is made from your usual household bucket. The clear panel that allows the audience to see the volunteer's face is a bit on the flimsy side and while strong, does scratch somewhat easily. Fortunately, it comes with that white cover to facilitate the big reveal for the effect but it also serves to protect the clear panel. Don't throw other props into the bucket for transport to your gig and this effect will hold up over time.

MARKETS: This is obviously designed as a kids' effect, although when I was performing this regularly, my wife insisted I should try it in my adult shows! I never did, but the idea is there.

Here, in the 'markets' section, I do have to address a limitation of this effect. In my experience, after having performed this hundreds of times (I bought mine back in '03 or so...glad to see it's back) I have found that this will not play too well for very large audience of 400 or so.

I believe the issue is the clear panel. Because of the nature of the effect and illusion, visibility is hampered because of the said panel. I don't think I'm ruining the effect by saying that the "secret" to the kids' heads looking so large is exactly what you think it is. It's not a weakness, just an acknowledgement.

Anyway, because of the nature of the illusion, the visibility, for me, was poor the further back the audience sat.

With that in mind, I found this to be perfect for audiences of 100 or so or less. it kills for birthday shows, daycare shows, smaller family shows, etc.

ANGLES: There are no angle considerations, although if anyone is to the sides or in back, they won't see the humor of the effect.

MY THOUGHTS: As I said, I bought this several years ago and used it constantly for 4 years or so. If I hadn't insisted on transporting the pump and other heavy props, I'd still have it today. It was my own fault that the clear panel got scuffed up and not a reflection on the quality of the prop. DON'T transport things by using the bucket and it will last quite a few years.

Also, the clear panel is covered by the white panel that is inturn held on by velcro. If you leave the bucket in your car, the velcro on the white panel may come off if it gets too hot. that's a limitation of velcro and the "sticky" stuff and not a reflection on the quality of the prop. try not to let it sit in your car for days at a time.

Also, I do not recommend putting the bucket on anyone younger than 5 or 6 as they may become frightened. It's not a scary effect, but some kids are scared of their own shadows.

Is this effective? In my experience, it kills. It's certainly not a "fooler," as even the smallest child knows what's causing the illusion, but in this case, it's played strictly for laughs. This is a sight gag and nothing more, but do not let that sway you away from the effect. When I was using this, I constantly had both kids and adults telling me it was so funny and was their favorite parts of the show.

This effect is a lesson worthy of study: It does not matter what you do, as long as you entertain your audience.

If you're looking for something to make your audience laugh, I can think of nothing stronger. Based on my experience and having performed this hundreds of times, I give it a 10 out of 10.

I know this review may be shorter than what I normally write, but this is a much simpler effect and there is not as much "secret stuff" to dance around.

Until next week, send all questions, comments and gripes to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.



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