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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Boxes, tubes & bags » » Best Zombie Ball Available (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Paul Rathbun
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Now that Morrissey is no longer in production, who do you think makes the best zombie ball available?

I think in my search for one, I am am looking for one that is slightly larger than a standard size. That makes my search that much harder to find exactly what I am looking for. If any of you know of a good resource for zombies please let me know. Thanks.

-Paul
John Martin
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Morrisey's products are still available. http://spectram.com/vas/products.php?category_id=0&manf=11

John
Paul Rathbun
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John,

You are right, I did find that the Morrissey still can be found if you look around, but I also found some comments here on the Café saying they are not the best quality. It sounds like the one at Viking magic that is imported from Europe is the best quality for the money.
Bill Hegbli
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No Rings and Things 2 is the best quality for the money. They are expensive, but worth it if you take pride in your props.

General Grant had Morrissey make him his Zombies to his specifications, you can contact him to see if he has any left. He had some special sizes. He also has the be 2 finger gimmick ever made, and a nice dragon foulard. He only can be emailed and only takes mail orders. Not internet payments or charge cards. He can email you his price list.
Paul Rathbun
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Bill,

Do you happen to know what his current email address is?
makeupguy
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The one from Viking is the best for the money. Hands down. Rings N Things is also very very good, but for the money, I'd go with the Viking one.

Morrisey's zombie has NEVER been good, the seam is obvious, it's not polished like it used to be, and, sorry Bill, but why would you EVER want to use a dragon foulard? Unless you're doing a retro act from the 60's and 70's? It seems as if so many magicians still are.. but by accident.
Jef Eaton
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FAB Magic has some kind of zombie that is unbreakable and comes in a larger size than most. I haven't seen it, but it might be worth a try.
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<BR>Creator of what my Mom thinks are the funniest kid show props around!
Paul Rathbun
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Jef,

I do like the options they offer for sizes over at FAB magic but wonder about the quality. Does anyone out there own the FAB version that can give a review about the quality?
makeupguy
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Any unbreakable zombie is probably plastic.. and plastic looks exactly like what it is.. plastic.

Even chromed or vacuum metalized plastic looks like plastic.

in the long run.. a good, well polished ball will be the best.. and like I said.. Viking makes the best ball for the price on the market now.

If you buy a low priced sub standard zombie.. you'll get exactly what you paid for.... and believe it or not... audience know.
Rick Fisher
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Beg to differ - our 'plastic' zombies look as good if not better than the metal ones - the seam runs vertically so it can't be seen by the audience and I disagree the audience does not know if it is metal or plastic - like any other prop its the way you handle it that 'sells' - not what it is made of. Look at our reviews - we just recently sold our 4,000th unit - guess they must be fooling somebody Smile
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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I’ve seen, handled, used, just about every variation and aberration of “zombie” floating balls for the last 40 years. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an obsessed, addicted, infatuated, passionate, compulsive, and over the top, floating Ball fanatic.

Of metal styles, I’ve seen the wretched (Morrissey among those) and the divine, (No longer made Karson/Abbotts, and R&T, Owen Supreme.)

I’d get the Viking while you can. The lovely balls from Italy are the best under $50 option since Abbotts stopped making the genuine Karson balls.

In the ideal balls the hemispheres should not be identical and I’ve not seen the proper weight distribution in plastic. Plastic has a different sheen and reflection. Plastic makes an odd hollow plastically sound. Plastic has a different density/weight from aluminum. I can spot a plastic ball from the second balcony.

Though the nubby gray plastic Vernet must take the ugly and wrong weight prize. What is FAR worse than any plastic ball is trying to skate by with a plastic holiday ornament. They don’t cut it for anyone over twelve who wants to be perceived as a quality or pro magician.

Morrissey sold an astronomical number of their balls and that did not make them correct or quality, it was just a number’s game. I spoke with Herb once and he said “Why should I make them right when I can sell these.” Even Herb knew that hundreds sold did not translate to made right.

In my (not humble at all on this topic) opinion Mr. Mosher is spot on. If in the next 40 years I’m EVER presented with a plastic ball that I feel can stand head-to-head with a metal ball I’ll gladly print a retraction and even endorse it as a viable alternative.

Magically, Walt
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ADDENDUM to above post:

This is an actual Zombie testimonial:
“So easy to perform a 7 year old can do it - and so can YOU!”…Thank you your product is perfect for a 7 year old.”

I could not believe I read this. You can buy a Stradivarius violin for a seven year old, and he’ll be able to take bow to strings and make screechy painful noise. In a few years with concentration and passion he might make good music. With dedication when he’s thirty maybe perform in a world class symphony.

It is the same with zombie, some kid can toss a scarf over a ball and poke it around the air, but that is not “performing” a floating ball. It is certainly far from MAGIC.

After decades of working with this effect I’m still refining and growing. I did not put it into my public act until I’d worked on it for almost 15 years. That’s the level of respect I have for this piece.

Zombie can be one of the most banal and obvious effects in magic, or a purely stunning celestial miracle. To believe a child can do it justice is incomprehensible to me. Neil Foster must be spinning in his grave!

My two-cents (again)
Walt
Jeffrey Korst
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If the Italian balls that Viking sells are the best for under $50, what do you think is the best ball out there regardless of price?
Why, yes. I do need new pictures. Why do you ask?

Jeffrey Korst
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hi Jeffery! Here’s your answer. You do really good Zombie work and you deserve the best tools to work with.

I’m talking about only the balls here. None of the gimmicks are impressive, standard-to-okay. Get your gimmicks from Jim Sommers (via Klamm Magic) or General Grant. Don’t get a commercial foulard either, get the right weight of silk fabric, double it, and have it made. The original double-weight Rice Dragon Silks are perfect… but only if you have an act were a dragon theme is relevant of meaningful. Skip the bases, they are of little or no use.

From what’s out there at this point in time, I really love the George’s Viking ball, it’s the closest I’ve seen to the original Abbotts/Karson balls. It’s made right, well balanced, it has a great finish, you’d almost think it was an Abbotts from the Neil Foster era. ($45)

Neck and neck is the Owen Magic Supreme. They have an inner circle or “core” that connects the two halves rather than a flange. This makes for a very tight seam and a very round ball. Maybe a tad heavier than Viking, but very durable. The polish is extraordinarily mirror like. (approximately $125 last I checked.) They also have a very large (heavy) six inch for more money. Don’t get the satin finish or anodized colors they are not good at all.

Rings & Things II is nice too. Donnie’s are machined exactly like the original Rings & Things. The balance is perfect. There is a curve into the gimmick recess which I’ve never understood. Donnie takes a lot of care with these and is deservedly proud of them. (They top the scale at $160) I don’t care for the satin finish here either.

Next we have the sloppy Morrissey balls, basically two halves jammed together without the flange, slightly egg shape, poor polishing job, poor balance. Yeah, they’ve sold thousands, but so what. Do big sales make a Whopper better than prime rib? (Were about $35)

Then we have the balls from India, about the level of Morrissey, maybe a tad better, but the spinning is not smooth and dent easily. ($20 - $35)

I won’t go into the plastic balls for the many reasons stated above, I researched one of the more popular and found a lot of pro-and-con reviews, so I’m not the only skeptic. As I said above the ugly prize goes to Vernet, it’s gray/silver and bumpy all over with a visible seam and weighs a lot.

There are “fad” balls that look like fishbowls or cages or soccer balls, or crystals, and god knows what else, I’d avoid these like the plague, they are a splash in the ocean, not really any improvements, and end up in bottom drawers and closets.

The “Miracle Ball” of my childhood and still around is Styrofoam, it looks like what it is, and catches on the cloth with too much friction. A ball that does not look solid and hefty defeats much of the purpose of the illusions. The original concept is that the ball was quite heavy (like a large ball bearing) and that make it more spectacular when it defied gravity and moved on it’s own. If the ball is perceived as light then half the impact is gone.

The Ball is a TOOL, it’s what the craftsman does with his tools, but a skilled craftsman who wants a good reputation and job referrals uses the best quality tools he can lay his hands on. Same here, get a good ball then learn HOW to use it properly. 95% of the routines I see are weak, haphazard, too long, done without skill or care, and are not deceptive or enchanting.

I have all the above balls. I use my old Abbotts most (why did they stop making then and carry low quality ones?) I love my Viking and enjoy working with it a lot. As a collector I do treasrue my Owen because of the “Tiffany” quality, just like I love their Linking Rings. And the R&T II is right up there, it’s beautiful and I’d use it more if it were not for the inward curve.

So this has turned into “Part Three” of my floating ball post, I’d read them in order if you have an interest. Or use the “search” and you’ll find almost ten years of my advice and rants on this effect. Or get my book there’s a whole chapter on this topic.

Magically, Walt
Rick Fisher
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That testimonial came from one of our customers - the 7 year old who is still performing this effect to this day - couldn't have performed this effect with any other ball because of the weight. He now has a nice zombie that is easy for him to use and enjoys practicing it every day according to his parents. So believe it ... its a nice ball and perhaps you ought to try it before making irrelevant remarks.

We all have opinions but if you have never used one how can you make judgement? Must be magic
Rick Fisher, President FAB Magic

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George Ledo
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There's a fact that we often seem to ignore, and I frequently have to remind theater producers (especially the smaller local groups) about it.

Audiences do notice things. They are not dumb.

Over the past two weeks I've had this discussion with the builders on a production of "Spamalot," i.e.:

"Do you think the audience will notice that the top of the castle isn't such-and-such?" "Do you think the audience will notice the chandelier isn't medieval?"

Yes and yes. The people who spend $20 and up to go see a live theatre production -- even in community theater -- are the same ones who spend more or less $10 to go see a movie. And they are the same ones who watch TV. They are used to seeing professionally-done sets, lights, costumes, props, and so forth. I'm not talking storylines or acting here; that's a whole separate conversation. When they go to a live theater production where the producers have taken it upon themselves to believe and act like the audiences won't notice things (mostly because they're too lazy to do it right), they are just reinforcing the audience's assumption that live theater is "amateur hour." Which is why so many small live theater companies struggle to survive.

If the audiences are so dumb they won't notice things, then why do the actors have to memorize lines? Hey, they won't notice if the guy is carrying a script, right?

Audiences don't go to the movies to "support" the stars; they go to enjoy the experience, the story, and, yes, sometimes their favorite stars. But, in live theater, the idea of "supporting your local community theater" is very often used. That just tells me that the groups expect people to go see a show in spite of the fact that it's poorly done.

There have been gads of discussions here as to why magic has such a low esteem from the general public. Given my experience in live theater, I have to believe that the reason for magic having such a low esteem is that people who perform magic generally meet the audience's expectations of an amateurish presentation. And even if they do present something professional, they often still have a hard time selling it bacause of the public's assumptions.

So what's the solution? I don't know what the solution is in magic, but the one I give smaller theater groups every single time is to mount productions that they can afford to do extremely well, and to exceed the audience's expectations. IOW, don't do Gilbert and Sullivan if you can't find the proper voices, don't do Shakespeare if you can't find a director and actors who understand Shakespeare, and don't do "Show Boat" or "Mame" if you can't afford the sets and costumes. Find other plays and musicals -- there are lots out there that can provide the audience with a moving, memorable experience of live theater -- and totally exceed their expectations.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Inviso
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SpellbinderEntertainmnet wrote:
"A ball that does not look solid and hefty defeats much of the purpose of the illusions. The original concept is that the ball was quite heavy (like a large ball bearing) and that make it more spectacular when it defied gravity and moved on it’s own. If the ball is perceived as light then half the impact is gone."

Walt, great information, obviously from your experience.
I've heard the above comment before and am curious if that is truly how an audience sees this. With such a collection of Zombie balls I imagine you have performed with them once or twice. Have you, or have you heard of anyone, asking the audience perception of what they have just seen?
I'm sure none have seen a 6" ball bearing but they have seen large, light glass Christmas ornaments. Some may correctly perceive it as lighter than we imagine we want them to. Some may not really care how heavy it is supposed to appear and simply enjoy a floating ball.
Would a Zombie bowling ball (perhaps after bowling ball from briefcase) not be more impressive?

Not trying to start any sort of argument here just to trying to understand the psychology a little more. Should one make more effort to prove that the ball is heavy?
I do want to include a Zombie in my act but I have magicians guilt on this that it isn't nearly as impressive as I want to believe it is.

Randy
SpellbinderEntertainment
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Hi Randy,
You’re certainly on the right track!

There’s a magician who takes a bowling ball our of it’s bowling bag (and maybe even uses a gym towel for the cloth, can’t recall) and he’s makes a huge audience impact. Impressive YES you’re right. (it’s not something for others to copy of course as it’s his creation.)

A large heavy ball is one of the least “odd’ objects in most magic shows, ubiquitous garish boxes and tubes are far more suspicious I think. Maybe even make it look like an old cannon ball?

It’s not what the prop is or looks like, it’s good acting, and strong mime that sells the heavy weight (look at what Raymond Crowe does with zombie mime.)

It’s logical that a light ornament or mylar balloon could float, and that’s okay magic if done well. But, if it’s a five or ten pound object just think how impossible the magic seems now! It ups the mystery factor and helps steer the audience away from method if the ball has weight.

I think there should be a ton of “magician’s guilt” when you start to take your floating ball work seriously. There’s a lot of reason for audience apathy and guilt if you watch it on YouTube. The solution is to make it magical and believe your magic. That ingredient is skill and mastery and imagination. This effect takes as much work as an elegant well done Cups & Balls, Card or Card Manipulation, or Billiard Balls… and you know how much work those are!

As I said I’ve experimented untold hours with this effect, seemingly light and heavy, and I’ve found from experience and feedback that in my context heavy is more mindboggling.

The “go to” resources in order for mastering the Floating Ball are:
1) Al Schneider on Zombie (book not video! You can download it)
2) Jeb Sherrill’s Zombie DVD Set (!!!!!)
3) Losander’s / Tommy Wonder video
4) Tim Wright’s Zombie video
And I’d work using all four of those.

You’ll not only be non-guiltless, but extremely proud with this becomes the finale to your show because the audience is in awe, gasps, applauds, and talks about it after the show. It can be a “toy” or a literal showstopper.

Magically, Walt
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Part #2 of 2-12-14 post:

Hi Rick,
I’m opposed to plastic looking balls in general, and un-mastered performances specifically, hence all my examples above.

Very true, I have not worked with your particular ball. I’d love to …and have to eat my words about your particular plastic version. I have seen lots photos, I have talked to floating ball aficionados about the pros-and-cons they’ve found. I’ve read the good and also critical reviews. I’m familiar with your hook-up and construction details. There are some cool things you’ve covered. However, to me the ball still appears to be a plastic lightweight ball that audiences might assume to be a holiday ornament. Even if I did not know the material my first guess would be that.

It’s great a 7 year old works on a hard effect and gets better. I was working on magic at that age. But, I did not have the maturity to carry it off in a performance. If the child can become a whiz at a fairly complicated cup & ball routine or a good card manipulation act, THEN he’s ready to perform a deceptive and amazing zombie. The Floating Ball takes the same level of effort and expertise… and is as challenging as those other classic effects. I hope he keeps working on it (for only friends and family) until he has the maturely to do it effectively in public shows.

So I’m not trying to bash you or your product, as you say I’ve not worked with it. I don’t think a plastic alternative can match up with a Viking, Owen, or R&T, which those are quite deceptive when performed with skill.

-------
To magicians: I hope you’ll be inventive, creative. Like the magician who uses a bowling ball. Just because Karson started the whole thing with a silver ball does not mean another finish would not be as effective. So long as the refinished ball is still perfectly round (that’s needed for the method) looks substantial and doesn’t look like a plastic bubble with a plastic goldfish in it
Magically, Walt
Snidini
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Walt, is there an ideal diameter ball for the effect. I understand that 5 1/2 to 6 inch ball is the best to work with. With all the variations of balls and sizes out there, what are your recommendations? Thanks.

Scott
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