Thursday, July 8, 2010

Airborne Wine & Glass is to be AVOIDED!

Howdy, loyal readers!

Cris Johnson here back with a summer-time fun magic review...and for those of you wondering why I give the majority of my reviews glowing praise, well, this week will be one for the ages!

First, some housekkeeping...

Once again, I am truly flattered by the continuing sign-ups for my free magic ezine, "Cause & Effects." Each month it's loaded with great content: one 'feature' article on performing, marketing or philosophy related to magic, a road story (the strange & true!) and other surprises each issue. Signups are free - shoot me an email to

Finally, I'm putting the finishing touches on "Cause & Effects Volume 2" which will be stuffed to the brim with more of my own presentations and handlings for different effects, including my laugh-out loud presentation for the classic Arm Chopper, Disecto or Guillotine. I recently counted up the laugh lines and there are 10 laugh lines in my original script BEFORE the prop is even introduced! It's taken me 10 years to fine-tune this baby and I'm setting it free!

Watch this blog for the release date. Maybe I'll even talk to Paul about putting together a special "pre-publication special."

On to this week's review...

This week, I'm tackling Visual Magic's Airborne Wine & Glass. It retails for $74.95 and is available from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link to the short-as-can-be ad copy.

The ad copy, such as it is, is fascinating for reasons I'll get to a bit later. First, let's look at...

WHAT YOU GET: You recive the gimicked glass, the wine bottle with the 'airborn' gimmick installed and a one-page instruction sheet complete with blurry photo.:)

A SPECIAL NOTE: This is going to be a very negative review. Paul Gross has assured me many times that he wants me to be honest in my reviews - the whole reason he asked me to write this blog. I also want to point out that some people have questioned my reviews, saying that I'm positive in many of them. This is a fair question.

I'll briefly address this - thus far, the majority of my reviews have been for items I've purchased for myself. A lot of them are higher dollar items, so I ask a lot of questions. I know what the item can and more importantly cannot do. I think a lot of magic tricks get thrashed & trashed in reviews because people want the dream..they want the item to do things it was never meant to do...not all, but many. Therefore, I go into my reviews (and purchases) with a realistic idea of the item's limitations. My main source of income is performing on stage - I don't worry about what other magicians or my friends think, just my clients. I'm not judging, only explaining why I tend to give positive reviews...I've done the research before I buy most of my stuff.

Now, I'm only mentioning all of this because the product of this week's review is going to get thumped quite a bit and I do not want first time readers to read this week's entry and think that I'm this brutal all the time.

Finally, I have the utmost respect for the staff at Hocus Pocus and consider Paul & Ken in particular to be good friends. This review is my opinion only and I will not let it tarnish an otherwise stellar track record of carrying killer stuff.

MY BACKGROUND: I've loved the Airborn effect - the floating glass as water is poured into it from a bottle - ever since I saw Lance Burton do it on TV. Despite my love of the effect, I fought the urge to buy it until the heat had died down.:)

Once I did invest in a version, I got one that allowed users to quickly and easily install the main gimmick in virtually any bottle. For me, it worked like a charm and I used it successfully for 8 years. I finally decided to replace it about 18 months ago after it was discolored. (It still worked great, but the wear & tear meant the glass in particular looked beat-up.

My original version was no longer available. I tried a model for about $30 that was installed in a 7-up can. I couldn't get it to work consistently and after others I talked to expressed a similar experience, I moved on. I then found an $80 model which worked OK for about 20 shows. I was happy...until the poorly made hot-glued gimmick fell apart. Not good.

Then, about 2-3 months ago (forget when) I bought this version that I'm reviewing today and after several weeks of struggle, I tossed it in the trash.

The only reason I give this much background is to show you that when it comes to Airborne, I've been around the block with different versions and am not trying to learn this for the first time.

THE PROPS: First, the ad copy makes a big fuss over the fact that the floating glass is clear. When I received my glass, I was expecting to see something wonderous and new, but the fact is, this Airborne glass is built just like every other version out there, except in this case, the glass is clear. I don't know if the audience really cares if the glass is clear or not - when the Airborne effect is done properly, the audience freaks and my other versions have used frosted glasses or those plastic tumblers with the 'ridged' finish that obscures the inside. Again, I don't see the importance, but whatever.

Next, the bottle. The mechanism that is installed in the bottle, upon a cursury examination, looks to be well engineered - no cheap crappy hot glued garbage. This gimmick looks (to me at least) as though it was made specifically for this effect. I like that - i can't stand it when I buy a trick and the $.05 gimmick is clearly 'wooly nylon from Michaels fabric store wrapped around a playing card' but I pay $30 for a promised "customized gimmick."

So the gmmick looks like it was in fact custom...which makes the fact that it works very badly even more amazing. First, a note on water flow.

For the Airborne effect to work, the water flow out of the bottle must be even and constant, a stream that does what it needs: hide what it is that makes the glass float. So, one thing that a gimmick needs is proper air flow. Ever drink Juicy Juice or any of those sugar-laden fruit drinks out of those half gallon cans?

When you open the can, you probably grabbed the can opener and pierced the can, making two triangle-shaped openings in the can, with the two openings at opposite sides of the can. Why? For proper air flow - without the air flow, the liquid kind "blub blubs' out, in a constantly shifting stream that is hard as hell to keep confined to the cup you're pouring it in.

In regards to this Airborne's gimmick, there's no such additional opening for the air flow, so when the liquid comes out, it 'blub blubs' quite a bit. I could almost make it work, but for there are other things that fried me.

The secret something that makes the glass float in the probably know what it is. In the interest of being coy, let's just say that the main support of said floating glass rhymes with "Dishing Mine." Got it? Good. All Airborne versions rely on this. there's no other way unless you sell your soul to some guy named Mr. Louis Cyfer (yeah, a Mickey Rourke movie reference...)

Anyway, this "Dishing Mine" is far too thick, so when you float the glass and go to detach it, you angle the mouth of the glass up and a weight is supposed to pull the...uh..."Dishing Mine" back into the bottle. The weight is not strong enough, so you're left with your "Dishing Mine" showing for all the world to see.

Now, I have to break in - I know these things take practice, but this cost $75 and after two months of fighting with it, it sucks. That original version I mentioned? It cost $35 and after a few days of practice, I was a master.

After a while (weeks of frustration) I suddenly got the bright idea to swipe the too-thick gimmick for one a little thinner. I then re-read the ad copy - the gimmick supposedly can be transferred to any other bottle.

Yeah, right.

The gimmck is mounted in the bottle VERY tightly and is seated down just below the neck of the bottle - I'm sure this was done to hide the gimmick (all well and good) but this meant to remove it I had to pry it out and after 30 minutes of careful prying, I still managed to mangle the heck out of the gimmick.

Despite the partial mangling, I was still able to reinstall it and still try new, thinner gimmcks and finally decided that life was too short.

THE END RESULT: This prop is absolute garbage in my opinion and as a result, I'm giving it my first (and hopefully only) 0 out of 10.

Next week's review will be much more's going to be Peter Loughran's Entity, which I've used for 2 years now and can offer some terrific insights.

Until next time, send any questions, comments or review requests to


Cris Johnson

1 comment:

  1. Pretty sure I bought the same gimmick... Came with a bottle which was completely unnecessary and just added to postage. Utter shit and unreliable as hell. Agree that the flow of liquid is poor... Also have major issues with the 'hook' disappearing too far down the hole and not doing what it needs to do. Applied a blob of glue to prevent this happening. Just about ready to give up with it... am going to try and improve on it and am toying with the use of two small magnets rather than the hook. PS: What was the 'better' brand you used prior to it breaking? Cheers - rob