The Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

Way back in 2021 there was some discussion of the Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic on The Magic Cafe. In their advertising they say that it’s exactly like in the book, and I bought one of sets from the first run. The cage wasn’t made right and neither was the pull, and I mentioned this is a thread on The Magic Cafe.

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic


I probably get an email every couple months about this post and just got one and figured I would share my most recent response with my experience with the cage. Before you read my thoughts and experience on the Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic, I want to be clear that I’ve heard they’ve correct some (possibly all) of the issues below.

The message begins below:

Yes, that’s the TW cage set I was referring to.  I bought one from the first run and when I brought up the issue with the reel not having the second lock, here’s their reply:

MESSAGE FROM THEIR REP IN THE USA:

We are aware of the second lock. It has two functions as described in the book: “They guide the cord as it winds around the reel-drum, and they halt the cord-stop, so that the ratchet arm can lock it in place.”

But we found two problems when we made it according to the book.

The first is that the locking device will produce a certain resistance, hinder the cord to pull back, and will wear the cord, make the cord break very soon. If that happens, we need to replace the cord frequently, and that will increase the risk of breaking the cord during the performance.

The second is that our reel’s pulling force is large enough, the gravity of the cage or other forces will not pull the cord out, only when people pull the cord out. So the lock is dispensable and will produce additional friction.

It’s great for making yourself and repairing yourself but people do not want to “buy” a product that they will constantly have to fix. This was the case with the double lock.

For this reason, we have made the following improvements: In order to reduce the friction between the cord and other parts when the line is pulled back, we made a rubber pad at the opening of the tube, and the inner part of the housing is chamfered.

Therefore, based on the above considerations of friction, service life and functionality, we did not make this locking device

JM Magic USA rep

Their response is 100% BS, first of all it contradicts their marketing that the props are exactly like what’s in the book.  If they made it correctly, there is no issue…AND their reel definitely wasn’t strong enough to resist the force of the vanish without giving out some line.

Then a few days later I got this email from their main email.

MESSAGE FROM JM MAGIC

Thank you very much for your purchase and feedback.

After receiving your feedback, our team studied the problem again and found that the problem is very serious, so we will make a new version of the reel as soon as possible, and add this second lock. Then we will contact our agent, who will contact you to send back the reel and replace it for the new version.

We think you are a person who knows TW’s props very well. Are there any other problems with the vanishing birdcage you received?

And your insight makes us do better. In order to express our gratitude, we will send you another set of props made by our team. Could you provide us with your address?

Hope ur reply

JM Magic (asia)

OK, so they’ve admitted they’ve made it incorrectly. They never sent me a replacement set as they promised two years ago, however here was my reply with the things wrong with it.  I replied with the other issues with the set, like the double action pull being made wrong and parts of the cage being made backwards, so you can’t hold it properly.  The attached pics are what are referenced in the following email:

MY MESSAGE TO JM MAGIC

The “Single action double action” pull that came with my birdcage set was made incorrectly.  I attached a picture titled: pull

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

The pull that I received had the cord stop circled in the green placed on the wrong side of the pulley.  It was placed where the red dot is, making it non-functioning. 

Also for the shoulder strap circled in Blue in the picture wasn’t there.  It had a metal pin and loop, that I’m not sure how I was supposed to attach it to my shoulder based on the description in the books.

As for the cage, if you look at the attached picture: cage1  

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

In the picture you will see the two circled pieces. The pieces circled in red and blue are different shapes in the books.  The cage I got had two shaped like what I circled in red.  Both of those being the same shape makes it very difficult to hold the cage properly.  You need the one shaped like what is circled in blue.

Now look at the attached picture: cage2

Tommy Wonder Vanishing Birdcage by JM Magic

The rivets in the cage you sent were like what is circled in red.  Tommy made them like what is circled in blue.  The reason for this reduces the chances they could snag and decreases the wear on the cage with use. 

Hope that helps, and I look forward to seeing the this made correctly!

Louie

That’s the end of our correspondence, and I never got a replacement set or even a thank you.  I have no idea if they corrected the issues or not, however I will not buy anything from their TW line as it’s not how they advertise it as being what’s in the books and are cutting corners. 

Vanishing Birdcage with Sleeves Rolled Up

Today I was playing with doing the vanishing birdcage with my sleeves rolled up like Tommy Wonder.

I’m using my Take Up Reel, but I’m not using a double action pull like Tommy Wonder used. The double action pull would reduce arm movement a little bit, however I have a lot of stuff happening on my back and I’m worried that adding another line and the bulk associated with that would be asking for trouble!

Honestly, I’m fine doing the vanishing birdcage with my sleeves down, it was fun to play with it today to see if I could!

-Louie

Vanishing Bird Cage on the News

Here’s one of the short media spots that I recently did. For the short spot, I decided to do the vanishing bird cage.

@louiefoxx Parakeet Trick on the News! #birdtricks #parakeet #birdcage #magictrick #kgw8 #magician #washingtoncountyfair #bigfairfun #louiefoxx #disappear #drewcarney ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

The nice thing about this trick is that it’s really visual, and doesn’t require really any explanation. For something like a pick a card type trick, there’s a lot of explanation and process that needs to happen before the magic. With these news spots, they say you have a minute or whatever, but in reality you may have a lot less!

-Louie

Take Up Reel Question

A question I recently got asked about my Take Up Reel for the vanishing bird cage is how much can you move around with it on. My answers is that it gives you pretty much full range of motion.

For the last month I’ve been performing 2-3 shows a day and my 45 minutes show ends with the vanishing birdcage. I’m pretty physical in the show, and in the middle of the show I do some trick roping with the take up reel on my left wrist with the pull set to the long position.

trick roping

Right after the trick roping routine, I could reach over, grab the cage and vanish it. I don’t as the cage is about 15 mins later in the show, but in that picture the working end of the take up reel is in my right sleeve.

For me and how I perform, using a take up reel allows me to do the vanishing birdcage. It’d be impossible using just a wrist to wrist pull.

-Louie

Riser / Summers Vanishing Birdcage

I’m just wrapping up run of 8 days of shows using the Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage. This is the first long run of shows that I’ve done using the cage. First of all, this cage has really no break in time, it’s good to go right out of the box and for me it’s the perfect amount of rigidity.

Jim Riser Dan Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage

I use a Nielsen rubber canary in my cage, and currently the Riser/Summers cage comes with one, which is nice. I’ve noticed that there are two types of the canaries that Nielsen has put out over the years. One of them is a lighter yellow and one is a brighter yellow. The lighter yellow one is a thinner latex than the brighter yellow one. I prefer the lighter one inside of my cage as it collapses much flatter and if any of it is sticking out of the cage, it doesn’t really provide any resistance if it catches on my sleeve.

This cage works perfectly with my Take Up Reel, so I’m able to close the show with it. The other thing that’s great about this cage’s size is that I’m able to bend my elbow with it all the way up my sleeve, making the motions of my arm much more natural feeling (at least to me) after the vanish.

I’m having a great time with this cage and if you’re in the market for a cage, I recommend the Riser/Summers Baby Lindy Vanishing Birdcage!
-Louie

Baby Lindy Vanishing Bird Cage!

A while ago I order one of Daniel Summers’s Baby Lindy Vanishing Bird Cages. This is the Jim Riser Baby Lindy Vanishing Cage that’s built by Daniel. Jim Riser’s cages are sought after for magicians as he didn’t make a lot of them as he’s not currently making them, didn’t sell them to just anyone, you had to prove you could do the cage for him to sell you one. It’s great that Jim has authorized Summers to make them for him.

Mine showed up in the mail the other day:

Jim Riser Baby Lindy Vanishing Bird Cage by Daniel Summers

It comes with a pull, canary and carrying bag.

When collapsed it will fit through my wedding ring:

Jim Riser Baby Lindy Vanishing Bird Cage by Daniel Summers

I hooked it up to my Take Up Reel and in theory, I won’t need to change the pull length as it will take the corner to the same spot in my sleeve as the Owen Vanishing Bird Cage that I’m currently using.

After practicing with it, there’s a lot I like about it. It’s just the right amount of rigid, not too stiff and not too floppy. It’s smaller than I thought it would be, for some perspective, it’s slightly larger than a Milson Worth Silver Meteor Vanishing Cage. When the vanish is complete, the bottom goes past my elbow, so I have more use of my are than I do with the Owen cage.

As for what I don’t like about it, there’s really nothing I don’t like about it. If I had to come up with something, I guess it would be the price. I’m not complaining about the price, I understand what goes into making them, it’s just a big leap from the cost of an Owen cage. I do think the Summers/Riser cage is 100% worth it!

I really like this cage, and can’t wait to start to use it in my shows next week!
-Louie

Using the Take Up Reel…

One thing I’ve realized as I’m out there talking more and more about the vanishing birdcage is how many magicians have never actually seen it done live. Many have seen it on an old video of Blackstone, but not live. At a virtual magic lecture someone asked me about my Take Up Reel that I used with a vanishing birdcage, so I gave a quick talk about it.

I think most magicians dismiss the cage as they think it’s much simpler than it actually is. There’s a lot more to doing it consistently than simply pushing your arms forward. However when they see it done in real time they realize how amazing the trick is!
-Louie

Economy of Motion…

Yesterday was a building day over here. Just me with my headphones in listening to music and working on building props for other performers. I’m very thankful for days when I can spend the day just building props without any distractions.

It’s also nice to be able to get ahead and build some extra things so I have some things in stock. Today I managed to be able to get a couple of extra Take Up Reels finished, so now I have some in stock and can ship them out immediately.

take up reel vanishing birdcage

Before 2020, I really didn’t keep anything in stock, and everything was made to order. At that point you could really only get my magic tricks from Hocus-Pocus.com. After the venues closed in 2020 I started offering my magic trick for sale here and have a lot more in stock, that’s ready to ship out than I did two years ago.

It’s been great to learn that making items in batches, even when I only need to ship out one of them is a HUGE timesaver. It’s like in sleight of hand, it comes down to the economy of motion. With magic manufacturing, making four of them is usually the same effort as making one.

Now look at what you do in performing. Do you do several different shows, that may share a prop? Would it be easier and ultimately save you a lot of time if you had two of that prop, so you didn’t need to move it case to case? Could you have more than one of your show costume to save time taking it to the cleaners? All of these things could potentially save you a lot of time when you add up all the wasted time over the months and years.

-Louie

Cheap Vanishing Birdcages…

People still shoot me notes asking questions about my Take Up Reel. One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “will it work with the vanishing birdcages from India?

The answer is yes, here’s a video of me doing it with one of them:

Pretty much if you can vanish it with a traditional wrist to wrist birdcage pull, then you can vanish it with my take up reel!

Wrist to Wrist Pull…

There’s a lot of misinformation around about the Vanishing Birdcage. I have never really considered myself an expert about that trick, but recently it’s become clear that I know a lot more than most people, but still don’t consider myself an expert. It’s a trick I’ve been fascinated with for a long time, I’ve used off and on since I was a teenager and tried different styles, at one point I even did the Tommy Wonder vanish with the sleeves rolled up.

In a facebook group someone posted a link to a reel that was being sold as a door closer. Then this conversation happened:

You really can’t beat a wrist to wrist pull for the actual vanish of the birdcage. The power needed for the vanish happens before the vanish happens and there’s no way a reel or elastic can reasonably come close to the power your arms can. For the flash vanish, right before you are going to put tension on the pull’s cord by pushing the cage away from the body as hard as you can. This is going to start building up energy and when you let go of the cage you are releasing all of that energy and that explosion of power is what sends the cage up your sleeve. Once you let go of the string the pull doesn’t really do anything…except at the very end, it may help keep it high up your sleeve so it doesn’t peek out.

Most magicians think it’s pull dragging the cage up your sleeve, and not the cage shooting up your sleeve. Yes, you can vanish the cage by pulling it up your sleeve, however it’s an inefficient use of energy and you need a lot of arm movement to accomplish this. Having the cage shoot up your sleeve requires very little arm movement. The exception to this is Billy McComb’s Slow Motion Vanishing Birdcage, however it’s still a situation where a reel or elastic would be inferior as you lack control of the vanish.

When using a reel or elastic for the vanish (this is different from how a Take Up Reel is used) you are going to have constant tension on the corner of the cage that’s attached to the elastic. That means you are going to be fighting that tension to keep the cage upright. It would virtually rule out using an Abbott’s / Blackstone style Vanishing Birdcage, and make using a semi-rigid card really difficult. From the audience’s perspective your arms are going to be tense the whole time you’re holding the birdcage. You’ll be holding it like it’s 20 pounds, not less than a pound. This is the huge advantage of a wrist to wrist pull, you can instantly add the tension to the line whenever you want. In the case of the vanishing birdcage, you can do it a fraction of a second before the vanish.

For the actual power of the vanish, to get a reel strong enough to match the tension you can put on the cord with a wrist to wrist pull, the reel would have to be massive. Same with an elastic cord, it would be very thick.

Something else to consider is that with elastic or a reel is if there is any clean up, or to keep the cage up your sleeve. If the arm that it’s anchored on moves away, the cord will stretch. That will cause you to have to make exaggerated motions to compensate for the stretch to move the cage in your sleeve. Also after the vanish and the cage is in your sleeve, the cage’s weight will be pulling on the line, so you’ll be fighting it wanting to crawl back out of your sleeve. Sure you could have the elastic super short, but then there will be constant tension on your arms after the vanish.

I think people want to complicate the vanishing birdcage by adding things to it because a wrist to wrist pull is too simple to be what’s connected to the complex cage. Yes, a Take Up Reel is something that an addition to the trick, but something that helps with everything except the trick. The Take Up Reel has done it’s job before the vanish happens. When the actual vanish happens the Take Up Reel is functioning like a wrist to wrist pull.

If you’re going to do the Vanishing Birdcage, learn to do it with a wrist to wrist pull before you start playing with elastic, or whatever. That will give you a baseline for how the vanish should look.