Magic Products Review

AROUND THE WORLD MIND READING DECK by Magic Makers

Written by John Teo

The “Fred” card trick has become a classic novelty card prediction effect.  There are now numerous variations of it both in terms of performances as well as in the methods.

This is a new application of the “Fred” trick using names and flags of countries instead of names of a person.

In effect, a boxed deck of cards is placed on the table.  A spectator is asked to think of any of the 52 cards in the deck.  The performer writes something on a piece of paper, folds it, and leaves it in the safe keeping of the spectator.

The spectator is asked to name her thought-of card.  Let us assume she names the Seven of Diamonds.  The performer unboxes the deck of cards and shows that on the back of each card is printed the name of a different country in the world.  The spectator withdraws her Seven of Diamonds from the deck and it has CANADA on its back.  The prediction is unfoled and it states exactly CANADA!

This is the routine performed and taught by Rob Stiff of Magic Makers, Inc.  I prefer to perform this type of effect without a written prediction.  It also has a nice play on the phrase “I will name your card”.  You are welcome to use my presentation if you wish.

Place a boxed deck of playing cards in a conspicuous place on the table.  Ask a spectator to think of any one of the 52 cards in a deck of cards, and say you will name her card.  When she indicates she has thought of one card, tell her that the name of her card is CANADA.   She will not understand you.  You then jokingly remind her that you promise to “name” your card and you just did it – you name it CANADA, the name of a country. You unbox the deck of cards on the table and show her that on the backs of every card is printed a name and flag of a different country in the world.  She takes out her Seven of Diamonds and turns over the card – it has CANADA printed on its back!

You are supplied with a special deck of cards that allows you to perform this effect sleight free.  Any one of the 52 cards can be named and you will know the country printed on its back.  The deck of cards is nicely printed not only with the names of different countries, but also their respective flags.  The effect is easy to do and fast to reset.  You are also given a printed instruction and a link to the internet to watch both a performance and an explanation video.

Highly recommended!

COMPRESS by Brian Kennedy

Written by Bernard Sim

Compress is an effect whereby you can shrink the length of bills. Compress uses 5 bills and 1 of the bill is used for wrapping around the middle of the rest of the bills.  They are then seen to slowly shrink and then restored. Everything can be examined.

Again, like all Sansminds products, the DVD will start with a guy saying how great this looks and how it will blow the minds of your spectators, how organic (whatever that means) this is and with all the spectators shouting. While I agree this type of intro/ trailer will impress certain people, I find it kind of a turn off with the overhyped description.

This effect is impromptu and can be performed anywhere. The only restriction would be the angle. You can only perform it with your spectators in front of you. The sides are sensitive and will give away the secret. I am not impressed by the effect itself.  Seeing bill shrinking is not the same as seeing a human in a box shrinking. When I first saw the performance of Compress, all I can think of is how they are hiding the folds, I even managed to make a close guess on the method. The actually method is not easy and you’d need lots of practice before you can perform it.

While looking at the product description on Murphy’s website, I see the excerpts of positive reviews for this item at the bottom of the page. I somehow don’t agree with what they say on how good this effect is. I don’t think your spectators will think of this as a piece of magic, I’d think that they will see this as a piece of clever origami style of folding.

Something very important to note before you purchase this. You can perform this with any paper currency so plastic currency is out. I don’t think this is worth the asking price of $19.95 and this is not worthy of being released as an effect by itself.  This is probably more suitable to be released as part of other compilation of effects or even in a magazine. I feel that this effect was created as a product to make money and not as something you are using for a long time before you decide to release it. 

Rating:  4/10

AMAZEBOX by Mark Shortland

Written by Bernard Sim

I had this thing sitting on my office floor for a long time before I finally open it for review. The packing for this thing is flat but big. It’s like the size of A2. When I opened it, there is a white piece of cardboard with lines for easy folding.  So far, I haven’t a single clue on what it does or how it works. Inside the package, there is a card that tells you not to assemble the box before watching the video. As for the video, it’s a link to an online video and this is the first time I watch an instructional video without having to key in a password. I guess the creator doesn’t see the need for a password which I more or less agree as a general password doesn’t really help in protecting it. Anyway, back to the review.

While watching how the box is being folded, I can’t help but wonder how the creator can come up with such an idea. The folds of the box are rather clever and fit nicely. I think this box has many potential uses. You can easily force a billet; do predictions and a LOT more. I am not a mentalist and I can see so much use for this box. Mentalist will surely have many ideas for the use of this box. Imagine a force bag made in the shape of a box, much like a suggestion box with a slot where you can put in pieces of paper. The box doesn’t look like a magic prop and thus will not create suspicion. This box works great in a stage or parlour setting. You can still use it in a close-up setting if you don’t mind bringing the box around. The video doesn’t teach you any routines but I think you can easily come up with a few routines with it. The box can be packed flat and bring around. However, due to the material of the box, it will eventually succumb to wear and tear.

While I like the construction of the box and its secret, I wish a different material is used. Nonetheless, I still think this is a great utility device.

Rating:  8/10 Highly Recommended.

50 FIFTY by Brian Kennedy

Written by Bernard Sim

Effect:

A sawing a woman in half type of illusion using cards.

Product description:

The description states what this product can do but I am slightly disappointed by the video demo. In the demo, you can see the performance but in edited segments. A weak point in the routine was edited out. But then again, if that weak part is in it, it probably gives away the method.

Method:

I wouldn’t say the method is neither sound nor weak, I can tell where and how the card is placed before I watched the explanation part of the DVD. The weakest part of the routine is when the card is being taken out of the box. You can see a little fumbling when the hand is inside the box trying to retrieve the card. Without giving away the method, if you don’t do the last “move” properly, your spectator will see how the effect is done.

Quality

Part of the materials required to construct the box is included. You will need to supply your own card boxes, tapes, glue, superglue, ruler, knife etc. From the video, it took him about 17 minutes to make 1 box. These 17 minutes does not include preparing some of the pre-cut parts. Actual time spent to make the box will take much longer than that, especially if you have not done it before. I feel that the box will eventually give way to wear and tear given the weak parts in the constructions.

Pricing

At US$38, this is way overpriced, especially when you have to spend time on a tedious process of constructing the card. At this priced, I would think that the finished gimmick should be included. But I guess having to spend time to construct the gimmick is not feasible to include this in the product.

Verdict

It’s a no go for me; somehow, I don’t feel that this is magic. Somehow, it looks more like a puzzle to me. You can probably use this as a filler.... a rather weak one though and that is if you still want to construct the gimmick after you go through the instructions.

Rating:  3/10

HELIX by Tom Elderfield

Written by Bernard Sim

Helix is a novel way of moving a small object, well not really moving, more like turning.

This comes in a really small package and it really intrigues me as what is inside that is able to “move” things.  Due to the small and flat package, I immediately rule out magnet and due to the product description, I also ruled out IT / loops.  I had to open it to see what’s in it.   When I saw what was inside, I was even more intrigued.   The gimmick doesn’t give me any hint that it could do any of the things as written in the product description.  So I had to watch the online video to learn how to do it.

I had not watch any trailer prior to watching the instructions video, so I had no idea what the ”moving” was all about.  When I finally saw the moving action, I was really looking forward to learn how this was done.  The method was really unorthodox; it truly is unique in method.  Notice I say “method” and not “effect”.  We’ll talk about this later.

When Tom Elderfield began the video with his introduction, you can clearly hear a voiceover when he mentioned the name “Helix”.  So clearly, Helix was not the original name when they filmed the video, but that’s not important.  The method is really easy and you are supplied with about 30 of these gimmicks as they are expandable.  Each gimmick may allow you to performance once only, depending on what effects you are doing.  There are 4 effects taught (effects not routines), turning Tic Tac box, “haunted” deck, turning of the “angel” in a bicycle deck and a linking rubber band routine. 

I find that the effects are nothing spectacular and there are many other methods which are better than this.  You don’t have much control when you perform Helix.  Once you set-up, leave the hands off the object, it will start turning immediately.  There is no way you can delay this and this really makes routining difficult.  The instructions except for the card effects didn’t show you how to do it in a full routine.  I actually tried to film a video of this and I had to give up eventually as the effect was too short to be worth uploading.  The turn for the object is about a quarter turn of the clock and it is restricted to small and light objects.  To turn a card box, you’d need to empty the box in order to turn it.

While method is unique, the effect has been around for a long time.  In the trailer, you can see a slow spinning straw, this could have easily been replicated by the effect PENomenom which requires no gimmick.  In fact, you could replicate it with using magnet or IT.  I think other methods are more superior than Helix.

I admire the method but I won’t replace other methods with this.  The effect is too short and to put this into a routine is also not easy.  IT is still the best way for such effects.

Rating:  6/10.

FLASHY by SansMinds Creative Lab

Written by Bernard Sim

I always wonder how Sandsminds can come up with so many ideas and products for sale.  Products that were created by Sandsminds Creative Lab seems like a factory churning out products to make money.  I’m not saying that is a bad thing, occasionally, they do have good products.  As for flashy, I’m kinda mixed here.
Flashy allows you to visually vanish a Smartphone with the blink of the flash of the Smartphone.  While the method and effect is not new, the gimmick’s material is new (at least to my knowledge).  While this material is more sturdy than the traditional material, I have a feeling that this won’t last due to repeated use. 

Eventually, this will wear out and I don’t know if this is easily replaceable.  Sandsminds call this “The System” it sounds really cool but not so after you see what “The System” consists of.


Apart from vanishing phones, you can also use this to vanish anything that has a hard and smooth surface such as a credit card.  While I like the effect, I don’t like the way the phone is being held prior to the vanish, it just looks like the magician is doing something fishy for the get ready.  The flash of the camera helps to make the vanish looks more magical but I think the flash is not mandatory.


Flashy is limited to what it can vanish due to the gimmick used.  A more versatile prop would be Gecko.  Gecko can do what Flashy can and also do what Flashy can’t.  Both gimmick requires you to wear a jacket to perform it.  Another option is to use a Topit, no get ready prior to vanish.


I like the effect but I’m not overly impressed by it as there are many other options out there for the same effect.  At US$29.95, the price is not very attractive too.
Rating: 6/10.