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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Hot off the Press! » » Theory 11 Mystery Box (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Redfoot
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I studied Creative English at university. It's a tiny course that specialises in the creative use of the English language using words and developing ideas that can tap into the audiences emotions - something the greats do with ease. The course was split 50/50 between lectures and group discussions. One of the other students on my course was a middle aged lady who didn't seem particularly special to me until the penultimate discussion we had.

Along with poetry, writing for children, and the language used in non-fiction, we'd also spent the first year devising our idea for a novel. In turn we pitched our ideas to the rest of the group. Most of them were the standard cliches you'd expect from a group of young students - mine included. But then we heard her pitch. I wish I could remember her name.

She described how she'd decided to quit her job and travel the world. She was older than all of us by a good 30 years, thin and tired but with bright eyes and long, dark hair. She wasn't tied down to a mortgage or kids and took the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures before she lost that chance. Before she left, a friend of hers gave her a box. She was instructed to take that box with her wherever she went but to never open it. Each country she visited she must always have the box, but not submit to the temptation to find out what was inside. Only when she was in the deepest desperation, when she was in trouble and saw no way out was she allowed to open the box and see what was inside.

Obviously we were intrigued.

She described her trip to Asia, the new people she met and made friends with, the adventures she had. Off she went to America, Australia, Europe, all the time carrying the box with her but never opening it. Then one day she found herself in a situation where she felt the need to open the box. She sat down, knowing that when she opened the box and saw what was inside it would be the end of another journey she had been taking: one of curiosity and restraint. The box was wrapped in thick kraft paper and tied with heavy parcel string, knotted at the top. She pulled the knot loose and dropped the string. Peeling back the brown paper she found a simple white cardboard container with a hinged lid. Slowly she opened the lid, each second reviewing whether this was the right time to find out what was inside, what was so important that it should only be revealed in the most dire of circumstances...

And that's where her pitch ended. If we wanted to know what was in the box we'd have to buy her book!

Yes this J.J. Abrams/Theory 11 product is a rip off at $150 for a fancy box with some cards in it, but imagine the intrigue you can build, the stories that could be created around that box. Has anyone read Derren Brown's Confessions of a Conjurer? There's a section where he talks about the box that his grandfather had. This box could be used the same as that.

JamieD has it right. Yeah it's an expensive box with some inexpensive cards in it, but utilised in the right way it could become a decade long mystery to everyone you introduce it to. Build enough tension into a story and you can affect someone for the rest of their lives. Sure you could do it with any household container as long as you set the scene right, but this is a beautiful box. The spell is broken as soon as you discover the contents, so it becomes your job to hide what's inside. This practice should be second nature to everyone on here.

That's the basis of every illusion.
JackMagic
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Some people have just got money to burn !
1KJ
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On Mar 1, 2014, Redfoot wrote:
I studied Creative English at university... If we wanted to know what was in the box we'd have to buy her book!



Great post, Redfoot!

I have a question: Can anyone think of a way to lock a box, perhaps with a word combination lock, that can only be opened in the future? Perhaps a way for a single letter to be revealed at a time?

KJ
paisa23
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I love the box and like the cards but for the price I honestly would have hoped that I could use the box. IE Kennedy box or something similar. Would be a lot more fun to come up with a tale for the box if you can have something re-appear in there.
1KJ
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On Mar 29, 2014, paisa23 wrote:
I love the box and like the cards but for the price I honestly would have hoped that I could use the box. IE Kennedy box or something similar. Would be a lot more fun to come up with a tale for the box if you can have something re-appear in there.


Yes, you are right. the price is high. I AM planning on using this in performance in some way. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but I just love the box and particularly the combination lock. I'm thinking I'm going to do something with the combination and something to impossible location.

kj
1KJ
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I received my box, and it looks real good. However, it didn't come with instructions or the combination to open it. Unlike JJ, I AM planning on using my box... So, opening it would be of some importance.

KJ
1KJ
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I'm thinking about a routine with a borrowed dollar bill where the bill with the same serial number appears in the box and the serial number is also the key to the combination.

Do do this, I would need to do both a bill switch, and a bill vanish. I'm thinking I could use a TT for both. Any other ideas?

KJ
1KJ
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I received an email from Theory 11 saying they don't provide the combination with the box. There are clues. They cite the TED speech with a sort of hint that you might want to never open the box, as per his TED speech. While I enjoyed the speech, I have a different purpose for the box than to let it sit unopened for decades. They did tell me how to get the combination if I so desired.

Now that I have opened it, I am disappointed with the lock. The combination can't be changed! For this much money, I would think they would have gone the extra inches to create a re-settable combination lock. It really isn't that difficult to do, and they have been making re-settable letter combination locks for many years. I have a lock similar to the lock in the movie "DaVinci code", and it is re-settable.

The fact that it isn't re-settable... is regrettable.

KJ
teevtee
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Was anything if interest in the box aside from the expected cards?
They hint that much more is contained within but it appears to be 12 decks and a letter... And I think the letter is not even in the box- true?
1KJ
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On Apr 3, 2014, teevtee wrote:
Was anything if interest in the box aside from the expected cards?
They hint that much more is contained within but it appears to be 12 decks and a letter... And I think the letter is not even in the box- true?

Sadly... no. At least, I didn't see anything.

I think they expected everyone to purchase the box and never open it. While that may have been an interesting notion and the making of an interesting TED talk, I purchased this box with a purpose to use it in a show. I really purchased the box for the cool lock. I was very disappointed in the lock and I am now looking for a cool lock where the combination can be changed.

KJ
teevtee
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Sorry to hear that KJ.

The box itself looks cool and I almost bought it in that alone but I'm not a big card guy so I frankly don't need a dozen Bad Robot decks.
Is buy the empty box no problem and maybe one deck. But a dozen is overkill for me.

I think that they thought the actual card boxes were the mystery box. They look cool and match the real box. That's fine. If they just said "hey, here is a cool Mystery Box inspired deck if cards" then I think people would be cool with it.

But they made the wood box and have implied that there is much more than cards in it.
It's just odd to have a mystery box and then tell people what's in it but then also imply that there is more... When it seems there is not.

There is a good unboxing video on YouTube. It shows all the cards and they even unwrap all 12 packs. Then the video ends saying the rest will be left a mystery. What rest!?!

Thanks for the info.
1KJ
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You are welcome. I am planning on using the box for an effect with a bill, not even for cards. The box is cool, but could be easily made for a fraction of the cost. The cards are just OK, nothing special about them.
1KJ
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When I say nothing special about the cards, I mean, for me, personally. I suppose a card collector might really like them.

I don't need a dozen boxes of the cards. If someone wants 10, I would sell them for $95, you save $25. Shipping to US included. PM me.

KJ
1KJ
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I was working on the box, to make it look more aged. I discovered another discouraging item. The bottom of the box is not made from the same "100 year old reclaimed wood" as the rest of the box. It is made of plywood. This should have been disclosed.

KJ
teevtee
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Really?!?

That's a shame. And honestly this whole 100 year old wood thing is kind if a joke to begin with.
Most wood is old. 100 year old wood is everywhere. It's like saying I have a 100 year old rock.
1KJ
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Well, to their credit, it looks like they took old barnwood and used it. It does have a unique quality to it. Also, I used a dremmel tool with a metal wire brush on it. It ages the wood, bringing out the grain in the wood. The box will still work very well in a routine. I looked up the history of plywood and found that it dates back to ancient Egyptian times, with more widespread use in the 1700s, so I think I can work with the box.
teevtee
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Thanks again for all the info... very useful.

I am glad you have found a good use for the box which despite the plywood is still quite handsome.
samuelk
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Hi, guys.

I purchased the Mystery Box, and yes, it comes with 12 decks of Mystery Box cards, a letter pressed note from J. J. Abrams, and the box itself. One thing that hasn't been mentioned here is that purchasing this box also supports 826 National, a non-profit dedicated to promoting creative writing in schools and workshops around the USA. $1 of every deck purchased goes towards 826 National. I confirmed with the Theory 11 guys that since the Box contains 12 decks, purchasing the Mystery Box = $12 donated to 826 National.

The box itself does have character. I actually got two Mystery Boxes after I found the first one had a cracked lid. Theory 11 sent me a second empty box for free, so I was able to compare the two. The wood has old nail holes and other marks that definitely show it's recycled/reclaimed wood.

Also, I keep hearing the T11 guys mention that there are some surprises to the Mystery Box. Now I'm certain that there's nothing else in the box, but they keep mentioning additional "mysteries". I have a feeling that there's something coded in the Mystery Box cards, but they're being coy about not revealing anything further.

I'm pretty happy with the purchase. I plan on filling my Mystery Box with personal objects and giving it to my son when he's grown. I think Theory11 missed the mark on the idea behind an actual "Mystery Box", but I get where they were going. Still, I now have the opportunity to create my own Mystery Box.
teevtee
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Thanks for the extra info. You are lucky to get two.

Yes the charitable aspect is admirable for sure. As you said though I think they kind of missed the mark with the actual Mystery Box seeing that there is no mystery whatsoever to it.

The cards themselves look nice, the box looks great but I wish they made it a true mystery box even with each being unique.

I'm holding off mainly because I don't want 12 decks of the cards. If the box was offered alone if probably be a buyer. If it was filled with mystery magic if be a buyer for sure.
pepka
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Same here. The box is more interesting to me than a deck of cards I'd never use.....or 12 of them. Disappointed that it's partly made of ply-wood. Any other reviews on the box itself?
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