Artist: Jon Allen
Price: £40 (plus postage)
Producers: Jon Allen & D’Trik
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: About 30 Minutes long
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I had the privileged to witness Jon perform Paragon first hand while he was visiting California and performing at the Magic Castle. What I saw before me was the cleanest and most visual mystery box presentation that I’ve ever seen. I witnessed magic during that presentation, and being keen to the operations other lesser clear box principles I was blown away at how examinable his was. The box was clean from start to finish. Jaded after having reviewed a few mystery boxes before this one, I have to say Jon reduced me to child like wonder of someone watching a magic trick being performed for the very first time. Hands down Paragon has set the bar for crystal clear mystery boxes at an insane height. It will be some time before someone can come up with a better solution to this old plot.
You’re not going to get much with this product. Then again you don’t really NEED much either. When you open up your Paragon you’ll find the crystal clear box, a DVD, and a little extra secret something that will be useful during the construction phase of your “gimmick.” I’m going to put gimmick in quotation marks because it’s more like a non gimmick-gimmick and it’s really freaking hard to explain that any better without strait out giving it away. If you’ve worked with mystery box’s before in the past you may have a better clue what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, buy Paragon, get with the program, and you’ll probably never buy another mystery box again. There done. Said. Easy peasy.
The crystal box is relatively small and made from a really strong and durable acrylic plastic. I really don’t think you’ll ever have to worry about wearing this sucker out or breaking it. The lid comes completely off, and the lid and box can be examined completely after the trick is done. I guess in theory, depending on how you worked your routine the lid and box could be examined before the trick is done as well. That’d would just be up to you and maybe more hand washing than what is really necessary. I digress.
The box itself is about two fingers width wide, and half a thumb tall so it will travel comfortably inside your trouser or jacket pocket. With minimal props needed and a wide range of reveals possible, from billets, to cards, to money, to business cards, to blank pieces of paper, this is a powerful multi-tool for magical mischief.
The construction of the gimmick… thing… takes roughly ten minutes, and that’s including ample time to allow the glue to dry. I’m all thumbs at making these things and it frustrates the hell out of me that magic has found a way to incorporate a do-it-yourself element with the products you buy these days on the market but hey… I can’t complain too much. At least the thing is simple to make. You’ll get enough secret stuff to make one gimmick, though the applications feature a wider range of possibilities. Part of me says “grr.” I’d like to have everything I need strait out of the box, but thankfully the DVD provides some really simple solutions and resources to make more secret stuff is easy enough to come by. In fact I didn’t have to leave my home even! I already had what I needed. And there’s some considerably flexibility too in what you can use to construct your secret stuff. Also, realistically, your average performer is going to use this for one type of revelation anyways, so the need for multiple gimmicks becomes moot. At the end of the day if you need to make up more gimmicks they’re bloody easy to make, and the materials are stuff you probably already have in your home. The only thing really that could make this any better is if Jon included some magical little Elf that assembled everything for you while you slept. Jon… for future product releases look at including Elves.
Executing the magic move that makes Paragon the well…paragon of mystery boxes is so bloody simple. The move can be a little knacky to get right, so some practice maybe required for those of us who are a little uncoordinated or a little clumsy but it’s by far not impossible. Once you get this move mastered you will be so far ahead of your audience by the time you finish the trick that it will literally be impossible for them to catch up to you. Jon performed this three times right before my eyes and even I couldn’t catch him. Dear god though let me tell you I had a hand print on my forehead for a few days after I learned how he did it. It’s brilliant.
Paragon is going to change the way you look at the Mystery Box plot. It’s elegant in form and function, but not cumbersome to carry around with you. It’s minimalistic in what props it uses but it maximizes on magical potential by giving you a range of reveal options. It is powerful in close up, great for street, and visual enough to be seen from stage. With minimal effort to your presentation you can change up whether you want the card to be unfolded by the spectator or unfolded by you. Honestly I think it’s more magical when you unfold it because it builds suspense but who am I to tell you how to do your reveals? Signed card to impossible location will never be the same again. With a little creativity you can easily put Paragon into another sealed box thus changing the dynamic from a card in mystery crystal box to card in sealed nesting boxes a.k.a. impossible location. From magical applications, to mentalism, to just about any format you wish I’m sure you’ll be able to find a valuable place for this product in your repertoire.
Overall I’m very impressed with this product. I think it has a wide range of uses, and quite frankly I don’t think there’s going to be another Mystery Box that is going to come along for some time that is going to provide a cleaner, better solution than what Jon Allen has accomplished with Paragon. After having reviewed a few of these kinds of effects I can say if you’re only going to buy one, Paragon is it.
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: 10
Solid construction, easy to make gimmicks, secret stuff for gimmicks widely easy to come by, multiple applications, and visual impossible magic.
Teaching Quality: 10
Great tutorial. Easy to follow, simple to learn. The moves take a bit of practice but it isn’t impossible. Bonus- British accent.
Video & Sound Quality: 9
Sound and video aren’t exactly production studio quality, but it gets the job done.
Overall Quality: 10
I’ll never use another Mystery Box again. Not until something better comes along, and that isn’t going to be for quite a long time I’d imagine. Jon has set the bar high with Paragon.
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