Cris Johnson here with a review of an older effect that's been out for quite a while, but before I get to that, some housekeeping...
First, I'm THRILLED that so many of you are taking advantage of our pre-sale for my new product, Clear-View Airborne. Here's the update: ALL of the bottles have been gimmicked and are ready to ship. I have personally tested each one and with a little practice, you'll have a GREAT version of the "glass floats in the air while you pour water into it" effect. The gimmicks are built to last. It's not a fancy, complicated set-up with microchips or anything...the design is great because of the simplicity.
The CD-ROMs, instruction booklets and storage tubes are also ready to go. My wife & I are just waiting on the glasses. Our UPS tracker says they should arrive at our doorstep on August 30th. It will take my wife only a day or so to gimmick all of the glasses, so the product should ship out to Hocus Pocus on August 31st or September 1st at the latest. That means Paul & Co. should receive them by September 6 or 7, well ahead of our mid-September deadline.
Now for the bad news...last time I checked, half of this shipment has been bought & paid for, meaning if you don't order right away, you'll have to wait for the next batch.
You can read all about it here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13716
Second point of housekeeping: The newest issue of "Cause & Effects," my FREE ezine, is due out next week. This will feature a really fun article in which I explore how movie sequels can serve as a blueprint to designing a show for a repeat client. It's not the only way to structure a show for a repeat client, but it's served me well in the past and you may find it useful.
Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not done so before.
Third and final housekeeping note...I've performed Anthony Linden's wonderful Incredible Suit Jacket Escape three times. The first time, I put it in the middle of the show, in case it didn't go over with the crowd. Second time, second from last. Last time, closed with it. That should tell you a LOT. This is definitely a "Top 10" item for me when I put together my "Top 10 Purchases of 2010" list in December.
On to the review!
This week, I take on Floating SUNGLASSES by Yigal Mesika. It's available for $70.95 and is available at Hocus Pocus. You can read the sparse ad copy here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=1054
I know this has been out a while, but I do like to re-visit older stuff as often you can find the COOLEST items.
EFFECT: The magician takes off his sunglasses and they float in the air, from hand to hand, through a 'hoop' made from his arms, up and down and more.
WHAT YOU GET: The gimmicked glasses, invisible thread (how else?), wax, a case for the glasses, written instructions, video instructions.
QUALITY OF PROPS: I admit, I was skeptical when I bought this effect. Knowing a little about invisible thread, I thought that either the glasses would be flimsy pieces of trash, or the thread would be fragile or something. Truthfully, the glasses are more or less regular sunglasses, meaning they will hold up. You can wear them as regular sunglasses. The 'gimmicked' part comes from the fact that the arms will open on their own for a little bonus effect. I never bothered with it when I performed this.
The other 'gimmicked' aspect of the glasses are places where you tie the invisible thread. (By the way, I know the ad doesn't state the effect uses thread, but really, other than REAL MAGIC, to expect otherwise is silly, so I don't mind tipping it here...besides, it impacts my final review.)
The thread dispenser is very cool and is designed to to make getting the perfect length fast & easy. The thread itself is quite strong - when I was doing this effect, I was able to hook-up the thread to the glasses and keep using the hook-up over and over. This thread is not suited for closeup work, however.
The wax is, well, wax. Good stuff.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The written instructions are a joke - not that they don't help, because they are all right, but more because they're so small, like 6pt type. REALLY hard on my eyes.
The video instructions are better. The picture is clear and Yigal demonstrates everything clearly, including the set-up and performance. In the video, he uses thick, bright string so you can see what he's doing. Obviously you wouldn't want to do that unless you want to look silly.:)
The video is all visual - no speaking at all, so you just watch Yigal's hand motions. It's clear enough, but I wish they'd selected a different music track, as I kept thinking that it sounded like porn music!
Not that I know what porn music sounds like....I've just heard stories from people while I was donating my time helping the needy...yeah, that's it.
The product I bought had the video on a VHS tape. The current ad copy still lists it coming with a videotape, so you may want to check into that before purchasing unless you still have a VHS player.
DIFFICULTY: This effect does not rely on any intricate sleight of hand, but it does require a good amount of patience, both in terms of set up and in performance. You must have a steady hand and be extremely aware of every movement as even the slightest off kilter movement of your body will throw the effect way off. I'll give it a 6 out of 10 - not insanely difficult, but it will require patience to master.
QUALITY OF EFFECT: Honestly, when done properly, this is a thing of beauty. When performed and set up correctly, the glasses balance horizontally and this looks absolutely incredible. It's one of the few effects I kept practicing even after I took it out of my actual performing set lists.
It's one of the most incredible, astonishing effects I've ever performed....which is why the rest of this review is so tough. Read on...
MARKETS: I first performed this for a group of families and the adults went absolutely crazy for this effect. I thought I had a winner. Then, each time after that, I performed it in schools, which is where I perform the most. From there, all down hill.
Despite the fact that the kids could not see anything, they still whispered "it's a string" over and over. I video taped my performances and honestly, it looked great, but kids are skeptical and much more savy about magic these days.
With regret, I can't recommend this effect for kids based on my own experiences. Family shows? Perhaps. Adult shows? A definite maybe...but there's one BIG flaw still to discuss...
THE BIG FLAW: This effect uses a variation of Steve Fearson's hookup for his floating cigarrette. I won't tip it here, but if you know what I'm talking about then you know that with the sunglasses used in such a hookup means that when you're done performing the effect, you have two chooses: either break the thread as you're putting the sunglasses away as you transition to your next effect or finish your show with the sunglasses perched on your forehead.
Because of the pain-in-the-butt factor of thread setup, I didn't want to break the thread and I didn't care for the idea of doing the rest of my show with sunglasses on my forehead.
With that, I sadly dropped the effect from my show.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Honestly, if my reviews were based on nothing more than sheer beauty, this would be a 10 out of 10. And if you're the kind of performer who works gigs where you're only doing 5-15 minute spots, this may be for you. For me, I typically do 45-60 minute shows with the occasional 90 minute show as well.
Adding that in to the fact that kids completely rejected it when I performed it (despite ideal lighting & distance conditions) I can only give this effect a 5 out of 10.
It's a stunning, workable effect, but not the best for real-world, working pros who perform onstage for longer than 5 minutes!
Until next time...
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