Eclipse by Dee Christopher & The 1914 review

With the new Ghostbusters movie just released, now is a perfect time to perform some magic or mentalism using ESP or to give them their correct name, Zener cards, and Eclipse gives you both a great set of cards and some great effects to use them in taught by Dee Christopher and Lewis Le’Val

So what is Eclipse?

It’s a Zener deck with a great marking system and just shy of two and a half hours of tuition. It’s retailing at £30 (or $40 depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on), and they really could have charged that for either just the cards or just the tuition. Getting both for that is a fantastic deal.

What’s in the Box:

Dee runs through what you physically get, the cards in a plain box. No “This is a magic trick” or “These are from a pretend psychic research lab” here. Obviously, nobody wants the former, but if you do want to use the latter in your presentation, the plain box doesn’t prevent this. Just say they came from a lab and you are good. The cards themselves are plastic rather than paper. Depending on how you like to perform, this could be either a positive or a negative. For me, it’s a negative, purely because your creativity is limited as card splitting is ruled out. I do expect to be in the minority here, and most people will think the ability to have drinks spilled on them without harming them of more importance than gaff and gimmick making, so I’ll leave you to decide for yourself if this is good or bad. The cards are five sets of the five symbols, three double facers, and a double backer.

The Marking System:

It’s a clever system, that really can be read from across the room and not just in your hand which opens up new performance opportunities. They are encoded rather than being open readers, but you will learn the system in seconds and will have no difficulty using them right away. When Dee was talking about the markings being small but still readable from far away, I did get hints of Father Ted. No idea if it was deliberate or not, but it did amuse me regardless. You can’t fully read the markings from a fan/spread, unless it’s a really wide spread/fan, so this may rule out some routines, but as corner marked Zener cards are very much the exception not the rule, this probably isn’t much of an issue (if you even see it as an issue at all).

ESP Opener:

The first of the effects taught is a simple, straight to the point quick opener. The method is nothing new and something you will already know very well, but that doesn’t mean it not a good effect. When performed well, it will get great reactions right out the door. Depending on how you perform it, you can finish with it completely reset, ready to go again, or left to continue to the next effect. Lewis has a fantastic idea on how to use this to set something up for later in the same performance.

Sensor:

A three phase routine starting with divining the cards by touch alone, leading into a divination of the order of shuffled cards in an envelope, then a Free Will type effect to round off the set. Lovely little theatrical touch with the first part that should be obvious, but until it’s pointed out, it really isn’t. Lewis also suggests a really nice one ahead routine here that could have been a separate section on its own rather than tagged onto this one.

Gambit ESP:

A two-phase effect where the spec correctly divines a card themself, then the magician reveals a bank note serial from a note (or bill as the Americans call them) provided by the spec earlier. I like this one the least of the provided routines. That’s not to say it’s terrible, many will think it’s great. I just don’t like serial number reveals. I may take the first part, which is quite clever, and add that to something else though.

Distance:

As the name suggests, this is a long distance divination. Something that is either impossible or very hard with other Zener decks. This is very much showing off what the marking system is capable of rather than something you’d actually perform. You could perform it, and I’m sure it would hit quite well. I just feel it would need more dressing to be something I’d ever consider performing.

Le’Val’s ESP:

This section covers a lot of Lewis’ thoughts and routines. It starts with how he introduces the cards and the symbols on them rather than the standard patter. The first routine is his card matching routine. His approach for this is more of a reading than as a prediction, which is how this type of thing is normally performed. Sadly “I’m not going to teach that here” is repeated a lot, if you know his work (and I hope you do) you’ll have a good idea of what he’s talking about, but I feel it would have been nice for him to go into a little detail about metaphorical readings for each symbol rather than just brushing them off. The couples version of the matching cards has a lovely touch at the end. The Butterfly is a pseudo-muscle reading routine that can be used to test if that person is usable for actual muscle reading. Next is a lucky/favorite card add-on that can be used with other routines. Some great tips on how to deal with difficult/challenging specs round off the section.

The Full Act:

This section is how to set everything up if you want to do all of Dee’s routines together as a full act. All of Dee’s stuff is taught so that it can be performed stand-alone or put together into a full act. Although I personally wouldn’t perform this act (nothing against it, it’s just not me), but it’s fantastic to see this in a release in this day and age. With so many single effect releases being pumped out every day it’s hard for people starting out to get a feel for putting a set or a show together, so full marks for including this in the project.

Overall:

Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin are often considered the manufactured TV reality show boy band of magic. If that is the case then Dee Christopher and Lewis Le’Val are the rock stars of mentalism. It’s always great to see Dee and Lewis teaming up as they do here. You can tell they are great mates and thrive off each others energy. They are both fantastic at what they do and their ideas and advice is always worth listening to.

The construction of a gimmick for one part is shown, and although it will work, there are far better ways to build the same thing (or you can buy them ready made), I know it’s just a quicky to save getting anything else on top of what’s provided, but the version they teach can easily be spotted by the audience, so be careful.

It’s mentioned the back design is meant to look like sacred geometry, but to me it looks much more art deco. This isn’t a complaint, just a comment. The back design would have been great for an animated card/moving ink effect, but as it’s plastic rather than paper, the construction of the gimmick would be harder.

Conclusion:

If you don’t already have a favourite Zener deck, this is a great buy. If you do, it’s still worth getting just for the tuition. I’m still not 100% sure if I like the backs of this deck more or less than my old default deck. The design is needed for the system to work, but depending on your performing persona, they may or may not be a great fit for you. Getting a reading from across the room is really cool, but how often will you actually use that feature? Even though they are plastic (I outlined my dislike of this at the start of the review) they are still good cards and will serve you well, I mean at least they aren’t see through like some other Zener cards released not too long ago (you can read about them HERE) so don’t think I’m trying to put you off if you aren’t bothered by that. I like this project a great deal and I am sure you will too.

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