Ok, this is sort of OT, but as the circus art connection will always be present, even if not appreciated by all, I’m going for it.
I just got a brand spanking new bright red Nils Poll Manipollater today. I had been wanting one for a while and I got some money recently as a gift so I sprang for the $80.
First off, the hat is a round bowler, so there’s no front, back, or sides. This makes all tricks that much easier as you don’t have to worry about where you’re holding the hat when a trick starts and finishes. Very nice. It also makes rolls that much easier as the hat will not tend to roll off to the side or onto its side.
The hat is made of 3 ply wool felt. Essentially 3 hats in one. It is heavy and, I’m told, durable. The weight means that when you toss it up it lands solidly and squarely on your head. It doesn’t bounce off as do lighter bowlers. I have tried some hat manipulation while unicycling and this will be advantageous for working on combining these skills. (Ooh, ooh, I just made this review on-topic!) The weight also gives one much more control when doing tosses hand to hand, hand to head, foot to foot and foot to head; already my foot to head tosses are more accurate and my success rate has increased.
The Manipollater being rounder and larger than a standard bowler is a more comical looking hat, particularly in colors other than plain black. My wife detests this hat, as she tends to hate the “clown” look. This hat is not limited to a “clown” look, but it lends itself to that more than the traditional bowler. I already have two standard Dube bowlers and wanted something in the comic style and this is it. If you’re looking for a heavier hat for manipulation and don’t want the comedy aspect to dominate, a black Nils Poll Manipollater would probably do.
What’s not so good is that this hat is soft not firm or stiff. This makes twirls particularly on the finger a bit more difficult. It’ll take a bit to get used to this. The softness is also an impediment to brim balances, on the nose, for example.
On the plus side though, it’s softness allows it to be shaped a bit more readily for temporarily making it look like other hat styles and for grabbing the crown more tightly.
The softness is also a plus in preventing the hat from bouncing off one’s head when landing tosses.
Time will tell if I truly love this hat, but my initial impression is very favorable. I’m looking forward to working with it and hopefully using it to get a few laughs (even if not from my wife).
According to Brian Dube, they are also now selling a traditional bowler that is the 3 ply weight. I considered getting one, but went for the Nils Poll hat because I was interested in trying something new that I had heard good things about and that had the extra comedy potential. Give Dube a call or send them an email, if the heavier traditional bowler interests you; they aren’t on their website or in their catalog, yet.
Note: The Dube website lists the red Nils Poll Bowler as having a black inside. The one I received does not; its inside is also red. This was not a selling point for me, but if it is for you, make sure to enquire about this. It is also worth mentioning that other vendors have a larger selection of colors for the Nils Poll hats; check them out if red and black do not interest you.
PS I’m not endorsing Dube for any personal gain. It’s simply that I have dealt with them for most of my juggling supplies and have never had a bad experience with them. Brian himself, in fact, hand delivered my first set of clubs to me in Washington Square Park back sometime around 1978. You’d think I’d be a better juggler by now.