It would be an exaggeration to say that the thing I liked most about Burn Notice was the packaging (although that has been very nicely done!). Let me try to unpack my feelings around this new release from Takel.
What is it?
Burn Notice promises to “take the strongest elements of the mystery box and blend them with an organic every day object that everyone is familiar with: a simple match box.” If I’m honest I’m not even sure what that means. The ‘elements’ of the mystery box plot are a chosen card being found in a box which has been on display from the start of the effect. And that is what you have here.
There have been a whole raft of these kinds of effect over recent years – Mystery Solved, The Box, Cell, Paragon 3D, or if you’re really flush, Destination Box – to name just a few that spring to mind. So this is a well-worn path.
Burn Notice’s great strength is that (perhaps matched only by Mint) the use of a matchbox is totally ‘organic’ – it carries little or no suspicion which means the gimmick is hidden in plain sight.
Not so hot?
To my mind, despite that significant strength, this release disappoints somewhat. On the plus side the gimmick comes ready-made – so no craft skills are needed unless you want to repair the gimmick or make a variation of it. And you are given a generous set of ‘supplies’ to enable you to make or repair several gimmicks.
However, I found the supplied matchbox (tray) somewhat flimsy and in practise my gimmick was slightly liable to stick. It could be that would loosen up with more use, but it didn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence. And the ‘speed’ of the gimmick means that a fair bit of cover is necessary for the switch. It’s a simple and neat idea – but the execution is a little lacking for me.
The teaching was also very skimpy. You’re provided with a link to an online tutorial which runs for under 12 minutes, of which a fair bit is on making/changing the gimmick. There are no spoken words, so instructions are mainly ‘mimed’. The necessary sleights (controlling a card to the top, mercury card fold) are either not taught or simply demonstrated once – so this wouldn’t be suitable for someone with little basic card magic understanding.
Variations on a theme
On the plus side the concept and gimmick are easily modified – and I can see this having some more applications in mentalism, for example. The box could be used to switch a prediction very easily. And if you can’t do a mercury card fold (and you’re unlikely to be able to learn it from this release!) he does provide a couple of alternatives where you don’t need to use it. However, the trick is immeasurably stronger if you can do it.
So all in all I find myself underwhelmed by Burn Notice. It doesn’t really quite live up to its promise. In fact, on the same day I watched the tutorial for this effect I saw a friend perform an older release – Inferno (no longer available standalone but you can learn the effect on this DVD). Although the effect is slightly different – in this instance a merely thought of card appears in a matchbox which has been in the spectator’s possession throughout – it retains much of the strength of Burn Notice without some of the weaknesses.
But then again, it does come in very nice packaging…
Burn Notice is available from the Merchant of Magic for £23.99 (at the time of writing).
Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.