Magic Products Review

UNSHUFFLED KICKER by Paul Gertner

Written by John Teo

Paul Gertner created “Unshuffling The Faro Shuffle” some 30 years ago and it has quickly become a classic in card magic because it is a novelty to find a message inked on the edges of the cards, and then by shuffling the cards, the original message changes into a different one.  It is unthinkable to be able to improve upon this already wonderful creation.Paul Gertner created “Unshuffling The Faro Shuffle” some 30 years ago and it has quickly become a classic in card magic because it is a novelty to find a message inked on the edges of the cards, and then by shuffling the cards, the original message changes into a different one.  It is unthinkable to be able to improve upon this already wonderful creation.


Perhaps, the motivation to fool Penn and Teller in their show “Fool Us” had led Paul to come out with a kicker to his original routine.  He performed this improved version in “Fool Us” and caught Penn and Teller by surprise and indeed fooled them.


In effect, a deck of cards is shown mixed up.  The performer explains that each card is identified by a marking along its thin edge.  When assembled together, the markings along the edge of the deck of cards form a meaningless pattern.  A card is selected and lost in the deck.  The deck is shuffled, but the performer calls it anti-shuffling or “unshuffling”!  Strangely, the markings on the edge of the deck rearrange to form 4 identical rows of the word UNSHUFFLED.  One more mxing of the cards, like a riffle shuffle, and the markings on the edge become 2 rows of the word UNSHUFFLED.  One final shuffle and the marking becomes one large word UNSHUFFLED!  To prove that the entire deck has been “unshuffled”, the deck is spread face upwards to show that every card is now nicely arranged as in a new deck order!  However, the identitiy of the selected card has yet to be revealed.  One more shuffle and the message on the edge now rearranges to spell the name of the selected card!  This impossible looking routine must have been either accomplished using very advanced card techniques, or, it is indeed done by unexplainable magic!  This is the original effect of “Unshuffling The Faro Shuffle” by Paul Gertner.


The Paul Gertner’s “kicker” is to perform yet another “unshuffle” and the entire deck is shown to now consist of all red cards gathered together in one half of the deck while the black cards are together in the other half.  The deck is squared up and the message on the edge now slowly morphs into PENN & TELLER, an unexpected kicker!  Of course, this kicker message can be customised to whatever message you wish.  It can be the name of a second selected card, or even HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


You receive a very well produced instructional DVD with an easily manoeuverable menu, and a precision made gimmick for the “kicker” ending.  Unlike his first effect “Unshuffling The Faro Shuffle”, this does not come with the ready-made deck.  You are taught how to construct this deck in the DVD.  Paul is a very good teacher and everything is explained in a well organised and easy to understand manner.  The kicker gimmick is ingeniously conceived and well-made.  It enables a blurred message on the edge of the deck to slowly morph into your kicker message.  You are taught how to customise this gimmick to suit the brand of poker-sized deck that you are using.  You are also shown how to properly ink your kicker message on this gaff and how to maintain the gimmick so that it will give you prolonged use.


2 methods are taught on how to use this kicker device.  One is used in conjunction with your card box – this is the easy method.  The second method is the one used by Paul for “Fool Us”.  This requires some DIY on your close-up pad.


Reading the effect, it becomes clear that you need to do several perfect Faro shuffles.  Paul covers this very well in the DVD.  


For those who are not confident in doing perfect Faro shuffles, Paul teaches a “no Faro” version which is also quite effective.  You do not have the UNSHUFFLED message on the deck, but the inked markings on the edges of the cards magically morph into the name of the selected card!  In other words, you have only one transformation of the haphazard markings to the revelation of the selected card. The selected card is then found inside the empty card box.  This part of the effect is not found in the original routine.  Then, as a bonus, if you wish to have it, the deck unshuffles itself into new deck order except for the missing selected card!  The entire deck can then be examined.


Many performer will want to practise and perfect their Faro shuffle in order to do Paul Gertner’s original effect as he performed it for Penn & Teller.  Whichever version you choose, you will want to include “Unshuffled Kicker” in your performing repertoire.  (10/10 star rating)

SECRETS by Anthony Owen

Written by John Teo

Anthony Owen is a creative British magician who was the editor of “The Magic Circular” as well as “The Dungeon”.  He has won awards especially for his TV work such as in “The Quick Trick Show”, a kids magic TV series.  He also produced Derren Brown’s TV shows.  Together with another ritish magician, John Lenahan, he started a magic and comedy clu show entitled “Monday Night Magic”.Anthony Owen is a creative British magician who was the editor of “The Magic Circular” as well as “The Dungeon”.  He has won awards especially for his TV work such as in “The Quick Trick Show”, a kids magic TV series.  He also produced Derren Brown’s TV shows.  Together with another ritish magician, John Lenahan, he started a magic and comedy clu show entitled “Monday Night Magic”.“Secrets” is a well produced hard cover book by Anthony Owen.  He said in his own Introduction to the book that his approach to magic is to strive for the strongest possible effect.  You can expect that this book contains his greatest creations.

Published by Vanishing Inc, this 237-page book contains 43 effects divided into 8 chapters.
The first chapter is a bulky one entitled “Sticky Tricks” and occupies about a third of the book.  It is based in parts on his original booklet “The Sticky Blue Book 2.0.”  It comprises 14 tricks utilizing a special 2-way glue that is more superior to magician’s wax.  This chapter includes his super-clean oil-and-water effect called SOBW (Sticky Oil, Blue Water) with alternative endings, as well as his marketed effect “Miracle Monte 2.0” which is another super-clean find-the-lady 3-card monte type trick using the Queen and blank cards.  Other effects worthy of consideration in this chapter are “Sticky Blue Danube”, an anniversary waltz card effect, and “Signed Card Anywhere” based on Chuck Fayne’s card-on-seat.
In the next chapter, “Sleights And Sorcery”, Anthony teaches 2 sleights.  “The Caravan Move” is a useful move for the “tent-vanish” of a face-up card on top of a face-down deck, but it requires a knack to perform it well.  Applications of the sleight are a colour change as well as a peek.  4 effects using this move are then described.  The second sleight is his window-stealing bottom palm, which is dependent on the size and shape of your hand.  It is used in a pop-up finale to an ambitious card routine.    Two effects are described in the “Coins” chapter.  There is an interesting handling for pen

cil-through-coin where the spectator removes the coin from the pencil herself, and an easy but creative method of performing coin matrix without using any sleight-of-hand or shell coin.
In the fourth chapter “Out Of This Chapter”, Anthony gives 3 variations of Paul Curry’s original “Out-Of-This-World” effect.  His main objectives are to enable a spectator to shuffle the deck of cards, and that there is no swapping of packets half-way through the routine.  His 3 contributions achieved both aims. 
“Cards” contains 4 card tricks utilizing gaffed cards.  There is “The Birthday Deck”, his take on Dan Halan’s Card-Toon Deck, a version of his “Holy Sh*t” trick and a transposition card effect called “The Miracle Card” that he collaborated with John Lenahan.
“Situational Sorcery” in a chapter on magic for special occasions.  Anthony discusses how to approach spectators at a table using the “Silk Handkerchief To Spectator’s Sleeve” effect.  There is a brilliant knife swallowing trick which he used as an induction test to a magician’s club, and a signature transposition effect using paper matches as an interesting ic

e breaker.
The “Mentalism” chapter showcases 4 excellent effects.  “Killer Kombustion” is a cunning take on Kenton Knepper’s “Kolossal Killer” that eliminates the “one off” ploy.  “Re:Monition” is smart method of vanishing a randomly named card in a blue deck to have it reappeared face downwards in a cased red deck.  “Number At Card” is a devious presentation for ACAAN where the card named and the number called are totally random.  

“The Natural Lottery” is an interesting creation of Anthony where the 6 numbers in a lottery ticket are divined by 6 different members of the audience.
The final and eighth chapter is entitled “Television Trickery”.  It includes 3 magic effects each fashioned after a popular TV game or reality show.  “Who Wants To Be A Magician?” allows a spectator to always choose the correct answer among 3 others to any question asked, although her choice each time is random.  In “Big Survivor 2”, the magician predicts in advance which one of 5 spectators the audience will pick to survive to the end.  In “Deal Or No Deal”, a spectator wins a million dollar when she picks one out of a dozen sealed envelopes.  These are followed by 2 highly visual effects.  One is the vanish of a borrowed finger ring to reappear trapped within the metal bindings of a small notepad.  The other one is a weird trick where the magician drinks white coffee and then spits out its various ingredients such as water, milk, a lump of sugar and coffee beans.  Anthony also offers 3 interactive magic popularized by Max Maven where the audience at home can interact with the performer in the TV.  Rounding up this chapter are 10 valuable tips provided by Anthony for performing on TV.
The book is choke full of magic for all occasions and all types of performers.  There are effects that depend on sleight-of-hand, others that work on subtleties, methods that rely on gimmicks, and tricks that are self-working.  Many of the effects include the patter used by Anthony.  Credits are given where they are due, and these make for interesting reading of the history and evolution of a trick.
The ingenuity of the author is evident in all the effects.  The entire book is a study on how Anthony is able to use creative thinking to come out with solutions to overcome the weaknesses in a classic trick.  
Any magician should be able to find more than a couple of effects to add to his performing repertoire.  Some of ideas expounded in this book can help you come out with new effects or improve on your existing tricks.  
You will be pleased to add this beautifully produced book to your library.  It will be money well invested.  (10/10 star rating
)

CHANGELING ODO by Marc Lavelle

Written by John Teo

Changeling Odo is actually an improved version of Changeling.  Changeling is a method for performing a bill change.  The main advantage of Changeling over the old classical method of bill change is that Changeling enables the gimmick to “lock” itself and this allows the bill change to take place outside the performer’s hand, for example, in the spectator’s own hand or isolated inside a glass tumbler.Changeling Odo is actually an improved version of Changeling.  Changeling is a method for performing a bill change.  The main advantage of Changeling over the old classical method of bill change is that Changeling enables the gimmick to “lock” itself and this allows the bill change to take place outside the performer’s hand, for example, in the spectator’s own hand or isolated inside a glass tumbler.


If you have Changeling, you will appreciate the improvements made in Changeling Odo.  It is a huge change in terms of both the design of the gimmick as well as the benefits.  The 2 main advantages of Changeling Odo over Changeling are:

It allows 2 changes instead of one;

The gimmick is removable, allowing the final transformed bill to be fully examinable.  


If you do not own Changeling, do not fret.  The downloadable instructions include the video for the original Changeling.  However, in this video, the audio and the visual are out of sync – the visual is lagging behind the audio and can make viewing it very uncomfortable.  The video features Marc Lavelle and he is quite long-winded and repetitive at times, and you have to sit through 1 hour and 35 mins of it.  You need to view the Changeling video because it allows you to understand the Changeling method of transforming bill and its applications in 3 different presentations.You receive the necessary gimmicks to construct your own bill gimmicks.  You need to construct the gimmick yourself to suit your own currency bills as well as their denominations.  You are also given a link to download 3 videos: the original Changeling video (as mentioned), the Changeling Odo video, and a short video as an afterthought of the Changeling Odo video.


Marc Lavelle will again take you through how to construct your Changeling Odo gimmick and how to use it.  You will have to sit through 1 hour 15 minutes of this video.


The DIY is not difficult, it is just tedious and demands precision work so that the gimmick will appear invisible to the audience.


It is best to construct both the Changeling as well as the Changeling Odo gimmicks because both have their individual strengths depending on the routines you are performing.  In the original Changeling video, following 3 effects are performed and explained:


Bill Monte – performer and spectator fold their £10 and £5 bills respectively into quarters.  Both folded bills are placed inside the spectator fist.  Performer takes out the £5 bill, which magically changes into his £10 bill.  Inside the spectator’s fist is her £5 bill.

2-Bill Transpo – performer folds his £10 bill into quarters, and spectator folds her £5 bill into quarters.  Performer isolates spectator’s £5 bill inside a glass tumbler.  Spectator covers both the bottom as well as the open top of the tumbler with both her hands.  The tumbler is held horizontally.  With a sharp jerk, the £5 bill inside the tumbler magically changes into a £10 bill. The performer places his £10 bill inside his hand and it changes into the £5 bill.  Both bill transpositions are quite visual

Note-Possible – spectator signs her £10 bill and fold it into quarters.  Performer changes it into a £5 bill.  The spectator’s signed £10 bill in found inside the performer’s wallet inside his trouser pocket. The “afterthought” video, which is less than 6 minutes long, explains the use of a special panel together with the Changeling Odo gimmick.  This allows you to add in more changes.  T

his video shows and explains the following routine:

A blank piece of paper is folded into quarters where it changes into a lottery ticket, which then changes into a £5 bill, then into a £10 bill, and finally into a £20 bill which can then be fully examinable – a total number of 5 changes!The videos also discusses about 10 different methods and variations of effecting the bill change.  If you are creative, you can find other applications of either of the gimmicks and come out with your own customised bill routine.The gimmicks are easy to work with, but here are some concerns

:• Performing with borrowed plastic bills will pose a problem.  The spectator’s bill will tend to spring open and cannot be folded flat.  A way of overcoming this is to provide your own plastic bills which are already folded flat.  Keep one bill for yourself and give the other ungimmick bill to the spectator.  She can then feel and examine this bill.

Switching between gimmicked and ungimmicked bills are required in some routines and will require good audience management.

There may be an audibile sound when operating the gimmick bills when performing in a very quiet setting.

The numer of gimmick accessories supplied is sufficient for you to construct the Changeling Odo gimmick and one panel.  They may not be enough if you want to construct more gimmicks or panels.  You may have to write to the manufacturer to purchase more gimmicks.

Everyone is interested in magic involving bills and money.  These concerns are considered minor when compared with the powerful and visual impact that the Changeling gimmicks bring to bill transposition magic!  (9/10 star rating)

INVISIBLE TRIUMPH by Jim Krenz

Written by John Teo

The name “Invisible Triumph” is interesting.  It suggests that it is a triumph card effect utilising, in part, the invisible deck principle.  The handling of this special deck is even more intriquing.  Several portions of the deck are mixed up with cards facing upwards and cards facing downwards.  Yet, without any funny move, the entire deck straightens itself with all the cards facing one way, except for a chosen card which is facing the other way!The name “Invisible Triumph” is interesting.  It suggests that it is a triumph card effect utilising, in part, the invisible deck principle.  The handling of this special deck is even more intriquing.  Several portions of the deck are mixed up with cards facing upwards and cards facing downwards.  Yet, without any funny move, the entire deck straightens itself with all the cards facing one way, except for a chosen card which is facing the other way!


Here is how the actual routine looks.  A spectator selects a card.  The deck is divided into 4 piles.  The spectator is told to shuffle and lose her chosen card in one pile.  The other 3 piles are given to 3 members of the audience to shuffle.  One pile is then shuffled face downwards into the spectator’s pile which is face upwards.  The next pile is turned face upwards and shuffled into the mixed-up pile.  Finally, the last pile is shuffled fasce downwards into the mixed-up pile.  For the finale, the cards are gathered together and spread.  All the cards have straightened themselves and are now facing upwards, with the exception of one card which remains facing downwards.  This card is turned over to reveal that it is the spectator’s chosen card!


You receive the special deck and a link to online video instructions.  The video has Jim Krenz himself performing and explaining Invisile Triumph.  Jim has a comical personality and is an entertaining performer.  He offers 2 presentations, one using a stranger card while the other using just the special deck, all 52 cards of the deck.  In the latter version, the spectator can merely think of her card, and need not take it out of the deck.


The deck looks and handles like a normal deck of cards.  You can use it to perform other card effects.  But you will not want to do that because it will worn out the special deck and replacement is costly.  However, if you wish to perform Invisible Triumph as part of your card act which includes other effects, it makes sense to use this deck throughout so that there is no need to switch decks.  Please note that because of its special property for the triumph effect, you should refrain from doing tricks that involve cards facing up and down.


The specialty of Invisible Triumph is that your triumph effect looks straight-forward and very convincing, but is easy to do.  The property of the deck does all the hard work for you.  You only need to understand the procedure of handling the deck.


A triumph card effect requires intermediate skills.  Invisile Triumph requires no skill and yet makes you seem like a card pro.  (10/10 star rating)

WITHDRAWAL by Jeff Prace and Josh Janousky

Written by John Teo

Withdrawal is a plastic gift card that allows you to withdraw money from it.  As the money appears from the card, the printed value of the card reduces accordingly!Withdrawal is a plastic gift card that allows you to withdraw money from it.  As the money appears from the card, the printed value of the card reduces accordingly!


Here is how the actual effect appears to the audience.  The performer tells his audience that sometimes he runs out of cash and there is no ATM machine nearby.


He takes out a gift card from his wallet.  This card carries a Starbucks logo and has a printed value of $25.  He asks a spectator to cup both her hands.  Suddenly, a folded $1 bill pops out of the card, and the printed value of the card magically changes to $24!  He has just magically extracted a $1 ill from the gift card!


He continues and says that often, $1 is hardly enough for him.  He then proceeds to pluck a folded $10 bill from the card.  Once again, the printed value on the card now reduces to $14 accordingly!  The card can be handed out for examination.   


You receive the specially printed gift card and all the necessary gimmicks.  You need to construct your own finished prop.  Because of this, you are also supplied a couple of construction materials.  You are given a link to an online video instructions.  In the instructions, Josh Janousky takes you through step-by-step how to construct the gimmicked card.  You need to supply your own bills, super glue, glue, repositioning glue and a pair of scissors.


The product is available in the following currencies: USA dollars, British pounds, Euros, and Japanese Yen.  In the Japanese version, the card supplied is not the Starbuck gift card, but a music stored card.  This is to justify for the currency used.  The card shows a value of ¥2,500.  You first extract ¥100 from it, leaving the card at ¥2,400, and then ¥1,000, leaving the card at ¥1,400.It would be more convenient if the gimmicked gift card is supplied complete and ready for performance, instead of the purchaser having to construct his own.  However, this would probably push up the price and make it unaffordable for most people.  For those who are not good at DIY, you need to get someone to construct the prop for you.    


In the video, you are taught 2 different handlings.  One is by Josh Janousky and the other one by Jeff Prace.  You can choose to use either one, or a mixture of the two.


The design of the prop is very well thought-out.  The effect is very visual with the magic occurring not once but twice.  The handling is not difficult, but you need to be aware of certain performing angles.  (8/10 star rating)

NEOMIX by Jim Krenz

Written by John Teo

There are several classic magic tricks that do not seem to have a climatic ending.  Take the linking rings for example.  The entire routine is about metal rings linking and unlinking one another, although the performer may show various ways of doing that.There are several classic magic tricks that do not seem to have a climatic ending.  Take the linking rings for example.  The entire routine is about metal rings linking and unlinking one another, although the performer may show various ways of doing that.


The Oil and Water card trick is another example.  The entire act is about black colour cards being able to be separated from red colour cards even though they have been thoroughly mixed.  Some performer transform all the cards into 2 sets of different cards altogether as the finale.  But this is not consistent with the Oil and Water theme.


Here comes Jim Krenz with a truly unexxpected climax that remains true to the mix and non-mix theme.


In effect, the performer takes out 4 black cards and 4 red cards from a deck of cards.  He then mixes them by alternating black and red cards.  When the packet is turned over, the 4 black cards magically separate from the 4 red cards, like oil and water that do not mix.  This is carried out one more time.  The black and red cards alternate – still they mysteriously separate themselves.  The performer takes the packet comprising 4 black cards together and 4 red cards together, and isolate it inside the empty card box.  This time, the reverse happens.  The black and red cards become magically mixed in a most unexpected way.  Each and every card now comprises mixed red and black pips!  They are actually printed in permanent inks!  Laypeople have never seen such cards before.  


You receive 8 specially printed cards and a link to online video instructions.  The cards are nicely printed in blue bicycle backs.  These cards are meant to be used as the climax to your Oil and Water routine.  You can use them in the final phase of your own routine. 


The manner that these cards are designed, they allow you to show 8 cards in a fan with 4 red cards together and 4 black cards together.  Then, with a magical gesture, the cards now alternate black and red in the fan.  When you separate the cards, the audience gets to see that the pips are mysteriously printed in both black and red colours all over the face of each card – the cards are magically mixed indeed!If you do not have your own routine, the video shows Jim Krenz teaching you his routine.  Jim’s routine requires the use of 2 gimmick cards in the earlier phase – these cards are not included in this package, since, as mentioned previously, the supplied cards are to be used in the final phase of your own Oil and Water effect.


Jim’s routine is straight-forward and convincing.  But, not only do you need the 2 gimmick cards, his routine requires you to be able to do the Hamman’s double turn-over move, the Olram sutlety, to palm cards and to do a packet switch.  If these are of concern to you, there are many resources availale where you can learn an easier version of Oil and Water.


For the more advanced card performer, Jim’s Oil and Water routine is a good one to use.  The 2 gimmick cards can be easily purchased from any magic dealer.  (9/10 star rating)