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[quote] On 2012-05-03 18:19, Harry Murphy wrote: This is my Review of the “Kubusspiel de Luxe” (aka Cube a Libre/Bewildering Blocks/Sympathetic Cubes/etc.) made and sold by Future Magic of Germany. http://future-magic.de The first part is history and discussion as to why I got this prop/set. Then comes the actual review. If you would like to skip my typical long-winded wind-up and get to the review just scroll down to REVIEW. Anyone who has read my posts on "Cube a Libre" knows that I love the trick. Honestly I thought I had “THE” set and the only set I’d ever need. I had a sweet looking and well-made (in Germany also) Voit style of, what was called when I bought them, “Sympathetic Cubes”. I’ve had the prop for 15 or more years and couldn’t tell you who actually made it. I’ve had and used (or at least played with) most , if not all, of the versions of “Cube a Libre” made and sold over the past 40 years (or more). My first set was a rather primitive wooden set with stenciled numbers and simple non-mechanical workings. It was the Bema model made by the House of Enchantment. I think that model was made and sold from the late 1940s. I used this primitive little prop for decades until an accident destroyed it. I’ve been using the Gimpy “Demi” version for small venues. like house parties (birthday parties). and the German made Voit, full-size, model for larger venues. I had plans to take the Gimpy Demi on the streets with me for this season of fairs. I have been enamored with Geoffrey Dunham thinking on the routine and was going to refinish my Voit to make the stacks of blocks two contrasting colors and do a little modification to the tube. Well a couple of years have passed and I just never got around to it. I have to admit to myself that I probably never will. Along comes a discussion on the merits of the various models and Jan Forester shows us a photo of a very high-end version being made in Germany. Jan noted that this set worked differently than any other model on the market. What further piqued my interest was that Jan’s set had the two contrasting color stacks of blocks. Jan is one of those individuals whose opinion I trust and value. He said the prop was well made and the workings were bullet proof! He described a prop made for the rigors of professional performing. More important Jan said that I could get the set custom made with contrasting blocks for just a little extra. So several PMs later Jan hooked me up with Mr. Karl-Heinz Tanczer who said it would be little trouble to custom make me a similar set. Needles to say I sprung for it. So thanks to Café member and friend, Jan Forster, I managed to get Mr. Tanczer of Future Magic to custom make me a “Cube A Libre” with two different colored stacks of blocks. Three weeks later and I am the proud owner of a “Deluxe set of Cube a Libre”. As of now I think that there are only two of these custom made sets in existence. I know of only three sets (including mine) that actually use the contrasting colored blocks. There may be more but clearly it is not commonplace. Here is a photo of the actual prop/set: http://s185.photobucket.com/albums/x211/sirtarnish/Kubusspiel%20de%20Luxe/?action=view¤t=100_4799.jpg Are you still with me? That’s the history now for the… REVIEW: This set is indeed a product of superior German engineering and craftsmanship. It is well designed, well thought-out, and well built. First let me discuss the “workings”. I think everyone knows that there is a “something” (gimmick) that is controlled to create the illusion of the blocks rearranging themselves into the proper, matching order. In most of today’s versions the working is mechanical. There is at least one version (only one that I know of) that the working is not mechanical but uses direct thumb pressure to do the dirty work. OK why is this even of interest? Well in every one of the other versions, including the non-mechanical, the pressure is applied to work the gimmick. Further the pressure must be maintained to move and show the tube when the gimmick is engaged. Now this is not a big problem once the routine and handling technique is learned. Any release of pressure at the wrong time and the gimmick is exposed prematurely. This model is exactly the reverse. Pressure is released to engage the gimmicks. They are held in place with no pressure at all. The tube can be freely waved around (if desired). This is a vast improvement (IMHO) over the positive pressure methodologies. The challenge here is remembering to apply pressure to replace the tube over the tabled gimmicks. If you don’t apply the pressure while covering the gimmicks you risk scratching them. The trigger to the working mechanism is centered on the back and incorporated into the design. it is all but invisible. Handling the tube and triggering the works is natural appearing. You pick the tube up from the middle. That’s it nothing more. By contrast Gimpy’s is triggered from the top, Voit’s from off center toward the bottom, and the thumb pressure (Bema style methodologies) from the bottom of the tube. The “gimmicks” are fairly thick walled, square plastic. They are not as flimsy or as fragile as some of the thin metal gimmicks that come with some sets. These will take a beating and still stand up. You can’t sit or stand on them but they are not all that fragile and cannot accidentally be crushed or distorted out of shape without really trying.. The tube is made of heavy but light weight plastic and covered with vinyl (contact paper like) appliques. The color (red and black) and design is eye appealing . It is almost 18” long and 3 3/4” square (O.D.). It has a lip built into the top end to hold the gimmicks in place but allow the blocks to move in or out freely. It is built rock solid. The “works” inside are metal, well concealed and, as mentioned above, easily triggered. The blocks are made from wood and are light. I don’t believe that they are hollow but sure feel like it. They are about 2 and 3/4 inches cubed. Each edge is beveled and the color is vinyl appliques with vinyl number appliques centered on them. The numbers are large, a contrasting color to the background color, and clearly visible even in a large venue. Overall this is a superior prop/set. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a quality, rugged, highly visible, working prop. I think the Deluxe set, as advertised (one color of blocks), would suffice for dozens of years of regular and frequent performances. It is truly a professional prop. [/quote]
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