Draven Reviews: The Box By Mark Southworth

approvedTitle: The Box
Artist: Mark Southworth
Producers: Visual Deceptions
Link:     http://www.murphysmagic.com/Product.aspx?id=52223
Retail Price: 75.00
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Notes: Some assembly maybe required for creating new gimmicks.
Run Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
Features:
•    Play All

Includes:
•    The Box Gimmick
•    The Resetting Tool
•    Spare Box
•    Extra Secret Stuff to Make New Reveals

A small bag is laid on the table, a padlock through the corner sealing it off from the rest of the world.  A spectator selects a card, signs the card, and the card does all sorts of wonderous things, changes places, appears inside wallets, is produced from shoes, and at the very end disappears all together.  Attention is drawn to the bag.  The spectator unlocks it, inside a small plastic case is removed and inside the case… visible for all to see is a folded up card.  The card is dumped out and low and behold it’s the signed card!  The applause is yours; the secret is Mark Southworth’s The Box!

There are a couple of products on the market that do something similar to The Box, and you’ll pay a pretty penny for them too.  Two of the most immediate ones that come to mind is The Clarity Box by David Regal which runs around the range of about $70-80.  The original Myster Box, that nice wooden box which was a John Kennedy creation is no longer in print.  It is noted though that the new Mystery Box v.2.0 by John Kennedy is no longer a nice looking wooden box.  Its new design pales in comparison to the original masterpiece in my unflattering honest opinion.  The new Mystery Box 2.0 will also cost you around $70 bucks.  Lastly Modern Magic has a wooden version very similar to the Kennedy box on sale for around $40.    All of these do the same thing.  They allow you to switch out an apparent card for the spectators signed card under impossible conditions.  The nice thing about The Box is that it looks really unsuspecting, which is disarming to the spectators, and it allows you to easily switch out the reveal to be anything you want from a folded up playing card to a folded up bank note, to even a folded up piece of prediction paper.  You can customize The Box to fit your show needs.

Having had a chance to play with The Box, and compared it side by side with an original Kennedy Mystery Box I can say there is something appealing to the simplicity of the prop and yet at the exact same time that simplicity is going to be one of its largest weaknesses.  For the magicians who prefer to have nice, fancy looking, dressed up boxes, and especially fans of Kennedy’s original, are going to hate how this thing looks.  The Box is of simple construction.  It looks like a cheap plastic jewelry box the kind of thing you’d expect to find a lapel pin packaged in.  It’s a far cry from the elegance in appearance to the Mystery Box though functionally it’s the same thing.  However where some close up workers find weakness with the device’s appearance others will find strength.  This thing looks like something you picked up out of a junk drawer on the way to your show.  It’s ordinary looking, and everyone has seen something like this before.  It’s so cheaply made it couldn’t possibly contain any trickery!  So you can expect the jury of magicians to be split on this product. Personally I rather like it.  The simplicity works for me in my walk around because I don’t carry a lot of expensive looking props with me when I table hop.  If the most expensive thing I normally produce is a fancy looking deck of cards and all of a sudden I have this nice wood box on the table that just screams prop.  In my hands this cheap little device actually doesn’t draw as much attention.  Go figure.

The Box comes with an instructional DVD, and for how simple the darn thing is you’d be amazed at how much material they managed to pack onto that disk.  It’s over an hour long!  Needless to say Mark teaches you how to make your own gimmick, how to change the gimmick out to fit your show needs, and how to quickly reset this gimmick for a new presentation.  Yes it does reset quickly, and can almost be done under the spectators noses.  The DVD is an eye sore though.  There is no DVD cover art; it’s just a blank white disk.  For the price of this product you’d think they would have invested in a decent graphic artist to do a DVD cover image!  There are no chapter displays, no menu to flip through.  You have one option:  Press Play and sit back for an hour and eight minutes.  Of course you can always hit the next chapter button on your DVD remote, and that will skip forward through the sections but if you want to review something quickly there’s no easy way to go to it.  The videography was apparently shot by a student filmmaker as well considering Mark is washed out in lights for most of it, the sound isn’t crisp, and the video footage is grainy at times.  So I guess if you’re intent is to learn a magic trick and you care less about how it’s taught then these things wouldn’t bother you.  For me, if I’m paying 75$ for a product that comes with a DVD, and the product itself could be bought at the store for less than 5 bucks I’d better see some god damn production value in that DVD!

Practicality wise if you’re going to run a loaded prediction box effect you’ve got a few options to choose from and they are all going to cost you a pretty penny.  As for performing; The Box holds up.  It’s easy to use, simple to reset,   and it does pack a punch when it comes to the big reveal time.  It’s a great way to end any card trick, and it fits nicely into your pockets without taking up a lot of valuable space.  It’s customizable, and it’s clean with a quick reset.  Street, restaurant workers, and close up artists are all going to like it.

Over all I have to say that I liked The Box.  I’ve been getting some consistently good reactions with it, and it’s flexible enough to do just about anything I want it to do reveal wise.  The cheap construction works for me, though I know that won’t be something everyone is going to appreciate.  The price though is leaving a sour taste in my mouth.  If this thing was like $40 or even maybe $50 bucks it wouldn’t be all that bad, but at $75 bucks you’re going to be in the spending range of any other box prediction out there, and frankly there are others that look better than this one.  So there really is no clear winner when it comes to price points alone.  If anything The Box loses on price points because of how cheap the prop is, how much you pay for it, and the DVD is utter shit from a production quality point of view.  At the end of the day, it works.  So if you are after something that gets the job done then there is no false advertisement here.  It’ll do what it’s supposed to.  But this isn’t something you’d want if you’re going for form over function.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 4
This product is overpriced for the cheap construction of the product and the nonexistent production quality of the DVD.

Teaching Quality: 8
Mark is really easy to listen to.  He teaches well, it’s easy to follow along with what you need to do construction wise, and it’s not hard to learn all the moves.

Video & Sound Quality: 4
My nephew could, and has, produced better quality video’s using Windows Movie Maker and an I-phone.

Overall Quality: 5
The product works.  It’s portable, and it packs a punch.  You can customize it to fit your needs, and it easily resets in a matter of seconds.  However on the down side it costs a lot of money for apparently not a lot of value, and other products do similar things that aren’t that much more expensive but look better.  It’s your call folks.  I’m not sure I would have bought this thing over again if I was given the choice.

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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