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Prison Box Review

Official Review

November 25th, 2016 9:52pm
Reviewed by Doc Johnson

This is one of my favorite Tenyo products. The effect is you show a box with three compartments that represent three prison cells. A ring is held with a bolt and nut to one of the end compartments. You cover the box with a handkerchief or silk, remove the silk and the ring has traveled from one end of the box to the other. Clearly a gag as all you did was turn the box around. However, you cover it again, then remove the silk and the ring has travelled to the middle compartment. The box can be handed out for inspection and the participant will not be able to see how this is done.

It is a beautiful prop and the method is really ingenious. The explanation is typical of Tenyo, on paper, but well explained.

The quality of the prop is top notch. While it shouldn’t be handled roughly, it should last a very long time.

This is something I use, and I will explain my routine in the suggestions section. The response to the routine has been tremendous.


As with many Tenyo products, the prop is not likely the smallest one in your arsenal of close-up routines. However, it is small enough to place in your coat pocket or to carry in a bag. You could even put it in a shirt pocket, but it would likely stick out the top.


Skill level required: 1 of 5.
Audience management skill required: 2 of 5.
Performance angles: 360 degrees
The reset time required: Immediate.
The DIY time involved in advance: None.


Another wonderful effect from Tenyo. It is amongst my list of favorites. I really enjoy performing with it as there is so much opportunity for audience interaction. See the “Suggestions” section for the explanation of the routine I use.

Suggestions from the Reviewer

I love this effect, and I have used it as an opener for table strolling. Here is a routine I have used as an opener for table hopping:

“Hello. Bob, the owner has asked me to come by your table and entertain you. I am a magician. Would you like to see something interesting? You know, I went to school to become a magician, and in school they taught us how important it is to make a connection with you audience and to establish something in common. So, how many of you have ever been to prison?” Pause for reaction, then say: “Good, me neither. See? We already have something in common!” Have the Prison box in a paper bag and roll the paper bag around the prop. On one side of the bag, in advance, write “Tenyo Prison”. In performance, take out the Prison box from the bag, being careful to not show the side with the writing. Place the bag writing down on the table. Let’s say you are doing a show in Boston. Show the prop and say: “I travel all over the world and once while I was in the far east…. “ pause, “… of Boston, there was this three story prison… called… Tenyo Prison.” Turn the bag over to show the writing. If there are any magicians in the audience, they will get a kick out of this. For non-magicians, it is just part of a wacky story. “There was a man who was imprisoned on the top floor. We will use this ring to represent the prisoner.” Show how there is no way for the “prisoner” to escape. Turn to an audience member and ask: “Do you know what the prisoner’s name was?” If they say “No”, you say: “He was a famous escape artist.” Wait for someone to say: “Houdini”. You can continue to give them clues until they say “Houdini’. If they really aren't getting it, my final clue will be "His name starts with a 'Huh' sound. Once they say "Houdini", you say “No, his name was Howard.” Then, without hesitation, continue with the story. You are going to have a reason for him wanting to go from floor to floor. It could be to escape, it could be for the best food, the most comfortable bed, etc. For this explanation, we’ll use escape. “Anyway, Howard had heard that on one of the floors of the prison, there was a way to escape.” Hold the “prison” with “Howard” on the top floor and say: “The first day he was on the top floor and there was no way to escape.” Demonstrate again how there is no way to get out. Then, place the cover over the prison. “At night, they would put the prison in a large paper bag.” Hold up the paper bag with the writing toward them as you say: “No really, the Tenyo Prison paper bag”. Then, place the box in the bag. Fumble around with it for a few seconds, turn it around in the bag, and remove it with the ring on the bottom as you say: “Howard magically went from the top floor to the bottom floor.” People should clearly see this as a gag. However, if someone is truly mystified by it (and that does happen), then take a moment to explain what you did. Then, go on with the story: “Howard got to the first floor and realized there was no way to escape.” Place him back in the bag and do the required moves so he goes to the middle as you say: “That evening, he decided to go back to the top floor to try it again.” Take out the box and show that he has magically moved to the middle floor. Remove the clear cover and either hand it out for examination or demonstrate how he finally figured out how to escape by removing the nut and bolt. I personally don’t like to hand it out because while the prop is pretty sturdy, I wouldn’t want someone to handle it roughly to try to force it. By demonstrating what it takes to free "Howard", you demonstrate the impossibility of what just happened.
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Product info for Prison Box

Author: Tenyo Magic
Publisher: Tenyo
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $25.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Allow your spectator to completely examine a case that is divided into three compartments. Have him screw three metal nuts and bolts into the case. The nuts and bolts are not gimmicked in any way. The spectator locks his own finger ring onto one of the end bolts. Slide a transparent cover onto the case so that it is impossible to remove the ring. However, when you cover the box briefly with a handkerchief, the ring has magically jumped onto the middle bolt.

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