Here is my review of a newly released project from Michael Paul and 'Mental Playground Productions'. Effect/Product - Reality Check Creator/Performer - Michael Paul Company - Mental Playground Productions Format - Available in download form as Mov files, will also be available as a DVD Available - http://www.theinvisiblethread.com/prelaunch.html Price - 25 Dollars for the complete 'Reality Check', or can purchase each effect from within for 9.99 Dollars each Reality Check: This is a new project/release from Michael Paul, containing 3 pieces... Phantom, Atomic 2.0, and UVAC. The downloads themselves: Before going into detail about the pieces within etc, i'd like to start with the actual downloads themselves. Firstly the quality is exceptional, it really is very good, with clear picture and audio, good camera work, excellent presentation, all combining to make for a fantastic product. Excellent work in this regards, easily one of the best vid downloads i've ever come across. PS - That start-up sequence is just killer, I love it. PSS - Just to let others know that the files for the download version come in at a total of just over 830mb. Effects: Phantom - A coin vanish Ok, saying this is simply a 'coin vanish' is not really doing this justice, or giving you nearly enough info as to what this actually is... but basically it is a coin vanish. What MP has done is take a very old gimmick/idea, and come up with multiple handlings that breath new life into it. Yes, there IS a gimmick in play, but what this allows is for some truly astonishing vanishes that really do look unbelievable. I have to admit that I am not exactly fond of having gimmicks for a simple coin vanish, but at the same time can see how these simply would not be doable without something to help along, so the tradeoff of having to have something extra is just how incredible these look. So you know that there is something extra needed, but don't go thinking this is some complicated hook-up that is gonna get in your way, limit your movement, take up pocket space and the like... it won't. You can wear what you like, even be naked if you so wish, and you'd still be able to utilize this... of course ditching whilst naked may be uncomfortable as there's not many hiding places, but it CAN be done... though admittedly I have not tried myself. One thing you should know though, and that's that MP teaches this whilst making use of a certain coin gimmick... now this CAN be done with just a normal coin (though this is not covered), but to do it exactly as taught you will need to have a specific gimmick... PM Michael Paul if you have any questions in this regard. So what you getting with this is a new handling for an old idea/gimmick that allows for some of the most visually appealing and strong coin vanishes possible. Difficulty: Not difficult at all really, it will take practice just like anything in this art, but I cannot see anyone having any problems with being able to pick this up. I'd rate it as easy. Pros: Very visual Ease of use Takes up next to no pocket space whilst not in use Well routined No clothing restrictions Cons: Not immediately clean Not actual magic, I was severely disappointed to have not been witness to the coin thieving fairies... the tears are still trickling down my cheek Overall: 'Insane' would be one way to describe this, 'Impossible' another, 'Crazy' would also be a good choice of word... whatever way you look at it, Phantom is a wickedly visual and astonishing coin vanish that others truly won't see coming. Very cool. Atomic 2.0 - Read on to find out exactly what this is... but in a word AMAZING! This is an evolved look at what was first brought to us within 'Show No Mercy', but here it has been refined and fine tuned, aswell as having formed some variations. At it's most basic this is a production, vanish, then reproduction... and what this will do is give what I would consider one of the greatest openers for a close-up/walkaround performer that there is. Now that may be a bold statement, but this truly deserves such praise. Multiple versions are taught, but there are really 2 main versions, one being the fireball candy one, the other the lifesaver mint version. Now don't think that this is limited to just those 2 sweets as it's most certainly not, but the fireball candy is the best sweet for version one due to the routining (it includes fire... so fireball candy - fire... you get it right?!?), and the same goes for the lifesaver version, the lifesaver being the most well suited for the routine. The effect is the production of the sweet, followed by the sweet vanishing from within it's wrapper, as it vanishes it appears within your mouth. Now my words may not make it sound too thrilling, but just trust me on this, this is sooo fun to perform, it gets a laugh, it genuinely surprises them, and is just such a cool effect. It does not require talking, so can be done in loud environments, is an attention getter, and unique. So with all the praise and good things im saying there surely must be some points that are not so perfect... well yes and no. Yes because these are not impromptu... No because who cares, the set-up is minimal and the reset basically instant. Difficulty: Not difficult, but as with all effects, will require practice. Pros: Visual Great Attention getter Unique and fun Basically instantly reset Multiple versions Not limited to fireball candy and lifesavers Cons: Not impromptu Lifesaver version requires a gimmick (though easily obtainable and cheap) As with 'Phantom', those fairies did not come and spread the joy of magical dancing happiness dust... come on, where's the REAL magic?!? At this rate im gonna be scarred for life Overall: Fantastic idea, fantastic effect, fantastic routining and handling, FANTASTIC! UVAC - Ultra Visual Ambitious Card aka the 'Hannah Montanna' effect This is MP's full ambitous card routine, and what a routine it is... it has a nice flow, has been wonderfully thought through and rotined, and has some cool phases. Among the phases is a nice visual rise of a card from the center to the top, where the card makes it's journey visually. An instant rise of a card, and when I say instant I really mean INSTANT (For those who have seen Rannie Raymundos unpublished instant rise move... well this is just like that, so in a word FANTASTIC!), and a seemingly no move signature vanish bringing the card back to it's original state. I am not too keen on the ambitiuous card plot, and I see too many performances that just drag on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and... you get the idea, and have no sense of building to a climax or are simply a mish mash of card rising phases plastered together and performed until the specs are literally scratching ot there eyes, chewing through there cheeks and screaming for someone to come and castrate them for that would be immense pleasure compared to seeing the card come up to the top one more time. Well I can safely say that MP's brings none of these feelings, infact it's the first ambitious card routine i've seen for some time that I actually enjoyed watching, and the first for a VERY long time that has techniques within it's phases that I will utilize. Difficulty: Hmmmm, this will depend on how well you can handle cards... there is nothing really knuckle busting within the routine, but practice will be required just as with anything in magic/mentalism. I know im a bit vague on difficulty levels, but it's hard to judge as everyone is different and everyone will learn at a different pace etc. Pros: Well thought out routine Just the right length Great phases The first routine of this kind I have enjoyed in quite a while Impromptu Cons: My cuppa tea has got cold... oh you mean about this piece, ok, sorry bout that... erm... hmmm... well you see... meh, can't find any. Overall: For me this is as follows - BEST AMBITIOUS CARD ROUTINE... PERIOD! For everyone else - You'll be getting a very clever, well routined, visual ambitious card routine, or at least something to add to your existing routine, something which im sure many will do as MP's one is simply brilliant. Teaching: The teaching throughout is great, it's 1-on-1 with Michael Paul as he takes you through the material every step of the way, covering the handling,mechanics, routining, subtleties and everything in between. I like the relaxed atmosphere, it doesn't come across forced or unnatural, it has a personal and friendly feel. Excellent in this regard, you'll have no problems understanding and MP covers everything you'll need to get the most out of the material. Great stuff. Overall overall: Reality Check is a fantastic project, bringing you 3 very different and workable pieces that you will be able to use in the real world. Michael Paul is a real world performer, he uses this material in paid gigs, this stuff was born and raised in the trenches, and so you can be sure that this stuff works and works well. I cannot recommend this enough, the material is killer, the production and presentation is killer, Ted Bundy's a killer... but that's a different story... but back to what I was saying, oh yeah, this stuff is KILLER! PS - For those who do not want to kill there spectators... here is another way to look at it, in a more fluffy duffy outlook - This material is just fantasticarooni, the production and presentation is just delicious, like little chocolate cup cakes, and overall is just a heart warming, cuddly and wonderlicious experience! Excellent stuff, highly recommended!