Magic Products Review

THE 80's CALLED...THEY WANT THEIR MAGIC BOOK BACK (VOL 1) by Jonathan Friedman

Written by Bernard Sim

When was the last time you bought a magic book?  When was the last time you read a magic book?  Do you simply skip and don’t bother to find out what’s in it once you realized that you have to read it?  I have asked many people this question and many magicians I know don’t read anymore.  The best effects I knows comes from books and I have always encouraged magicians to read more.  In recent times, I am also guilty of not reading as often as I use to, but at least I still buy books...some of them still in shrink wraps J.

Anyway, let’s talk about this book.  As the saying goes, “Never judge a book by its cover”  , the design of the cover has a retro style but that has nothing to do with what’s in it.  The book has 22 effects in it and they are pretty fun effects.

The book is arranged for easy reading and photos makes learning easier.  The good thing about this book is that the patter is even included.  When we watch a DVD, one would probably perform and imitate what we see on the DVD.  By reading a book, we can only rely on our imagination on how the effect looks like.  With the written patter, the reader would also be performing it in their own style rather than copying from the originator. 

Let’s talk about some of the effect in it.

Feats of Strength:

This is a keybending routine whereby the key is bent and then snapped into 2 parts, it is then tossed together and the key is then restored.  This effect looks like the spoon bending effect we are accustomed to.  It is visual and easy to do too.  You’d need some preparation but the initial setup is worth the trouble for this effect.  The key can be borrowed and there is no harm done to the borrowed key.

Coins A La Carte:

A one coin routine that uses 2 coins...interested?  Well, the statement is not entirely true.  You borrow a coin from a spectator and then split it into 2 coins, and then you return the borrowed coin and continue to do a one coin routine.  There are 6 moves that are being put together for this routine.  They are a series of coin productions, vanishes and complete vanish.  I like the phase where a move is done to show/ proved coin is in the hand when it is no longer there.  This is the clever use of sound illusion.

Spoonmelt:

A very clever plastic spoon “bending” routine.  The plastic spoon is melted after passing it through a lighter.  It is then covered by napkin and handed to a spectator to hold.  The spoon is then restored.  In order for this effect to work, you’d need to purchase the proper spoons for it to work.  The spoons are easily available online. The preparation is easy and performance is even easier, best of all, the spectator gets to keep the spoon as a souvenir.

There are many good effects in this book, majority of the effects are cards but you still get a variety.  At $24.95, this is a steal.  Definitely way better than those single effect DVDs you see nowadays.

Rating:  9/10

Highly recommended. 

OVER THIS WORLD by Alex Pandrea

Written by Bernard Sim

Effect: A red and black playing card separation aka Out of this world.

I have always like Paul Curry’s Out Of This World and there are many versions in the market, I have seen a few versions and some are truly baffling and some are too lengthy.  The baffling ones are gimmicked which have its pros and cons.  Gimmicked versions looks very clean but can’t be examined.  Non-gimmicked versions can be examined but the effect may not be as strong.  I guess there is always a trade off.  Over this world belongs to the non-gimmicked version but I don’t think this version of OOTW is strong enough.

The strength of the classic OOTW lies on the spectator being able to separate the cards.  In this version, the magicians will do all the separation in the first 2 phases.  The spectators will separate the cards for the 3rd phase.  When I first looked at the performance of Over This World, “marked deck” immediately came to my mind.   However, Pandrea’s version doesn’t use a marked deck but I am pretty sure that the spectator’s will think it s a marked deck.  If you know how to do a version of any OOTW, you’d know how to do Over This World.  While the first 2 phase presentation is different from the standard OOTW, it is not better IMO.  However, the 3rd and last phase saves the entire routine.  This phase will make the spectator think that they have the power to separate the cards.  The good thing about this is that this can be done with a borrowed deck, that is if you have the skill or time to do a setup. 

The instructions are pretty clear and you will learn how to do the setup.  I think some of the moves are pretty ingenious.  I also feel that a marked deck would make the work easier.  For OOTW hardcore fans, you’d probably like it.

Though I like OOTW, I am not really blown away by this version

Rating:  6/10 

REDUCTION by Nicholas Lawrence

Written by Bernard Sim

Effect:

A diminishing deck effect (cards in a deck get lesser visibly, not smaller as in the diminishing card).

Product description:

In a previous review on Pop Change (also by SansMinds), I wrote about how Sansmind describe an included prop as a “gimmick included” in their product description.  Reduction is the opposite.  It says that there is no gimmicked required.  This may lead to some people believing that this can be done impromptu.  Well that is not entirely true per se.  Read on to find out.

Method:

The method is pretty unorthodox, it does require you to prepare in advance.  And the preparation DOES REQUIRE you to use something easily available.  I’d consider using that as a “gimmick”, something you’d need that in order for the effect to work. The preparation is easy and fast, shouldn’t take more than 5 mins.  The routine is pretty easy and you’d need to make another gimmick for that routine, so now you’re require two gimmicks.  However, to be fair, there is also another method which don’t require you to make the 2nd gimmick.

Like all effects, you’d need to put in some practice to make the performance smooth. The routine is not difficult but the nature of the prepared cards will require you to put in some practice for the handling.

Quality:

Like all Sansminds products, the DVD is top notch.  The product description can be improved though.

There is a bonus in this DVD, this “bonus” is just a verbal description on how to make a card box flip as shown in the Reduction routine.  This bonus will require you to make the card box with some items which some of you may already have, you can also buy this from magic shops.  The bonus routine is pretty restricted to where you can perform it.

Pricing:

I think at $19.95, it is a bit on the high side.  This could’ve have been included in a bigger project with several effects on a DVD.

Verdict:

I’d say this is a very clever and visual effect. Nicholas Lawrence is a very clever person.  I just don’t like how SansMinds word their products.  Somehow, they always word their description to their advantage.  Despite this and the pricing, I’m going to recommend this because it’s a Nicholas Lawrence’s effect; you just have to keep in mind that you are required to prepare the deck with a simple “gimmick” easily available.

Rating:  7.5/10

THE MAGICIAN’S DECK by Jeremy Pei

Written by John Teo

When you read the effect, you will find it familiar to you.

The performer states that as a magician, he not only loves to perform magic with cards, he also likes to collect playing cards with different back designs as souvenirs.

He brings out and displays a deck with different card back designs.  Two cards are face upwards.  They are the six of spades and six of clubs – the 2 black sixes.  He wishes to do an experiment with these two black sixes.

He deals cards face downwards from the deck.  The audience can see and appreciate the various colourful back design of each card.  A spectator stops him at any point.  He places one of the two sixes, say, the six of spades, face up on top of the dealt pile.  The remainder of the deck is placed on top, burying the six of spades. 

Once again the performer deals cards face downwards, and the spectator stops him at any point.  The other six, the six of clubs, is now placed at this point and the other packet is placed on top.

The two black sixes are buried in the deck at two different locations purely determined by the spectator.  The deck is spread and the two sixes together with their neighbouring cards are isolated.  It is found that the two neighbouring cards are of the same back design – in this case, both have the rider bicycle design – one is red back and the other is blue back.  This is the first coincidence.

When these two cards are turned face upwards, they are found to match exactly their mates – ie six of spades and six of clubs.  Second coincidence!

The original six of spades and six of clubs are turned over face downwards.  Their back designs match those of their mates – red rider bicycle back with red rider bicycle back, and blue rider bicycle back and blue rider bicycle back.  Third coincidence!

When everyone thinks the effect is over, the performer spreads his entire deck face upwards, and they are all of the same card – the Jack of Diamonds!  Somehow, the spectator is able to find the only two cards matching the original six of spades and six of clubs from this deck!  This makes a very showy display for the ending of a trick, and it also signals a tremendous round of applause from the audience.

Many of you will recognise this as a similar trick to Lennart Green’s “Stolen Cards”.  Actually, this has the same effect as Scotty York and David Van Vranken’s “Quintuplicate Coincidence”.  This, in turn, goes a long way back to the “Kaleidoscope Deck”, a popular marketed effect.  Roberto Giobbi also has a variation of this – he called it “Gemini Calling”.

Yet, nobody is accusing anybody of “stealing” this trick from another person.  The multi-design back deck has become so popular that it is now a classic magic trick, attracting many variations in presentation.  The root can be traced to the Rainbow Deck.  It is performed using the “clock” principle to force a card.  Karl Fulves’ “Gemini Twins” enables a different presentation of the Rainbow Deck. 

Jeremy Pei’s “The Magician’s Deck” is yet one more different presentation of the Kaleidoscope/Rainbow Deck.  To the lay audience, the multi design card back is a novelty and the multiple magic climaxes is quite stunning.  This trick never fails to bring laughter and applause from the audience.  It is so strong that Jeremy Pei closes his close-up act with this trick.

If you have not owned a Rainbow Deck, this is a very good buy.  You receive the necessary Rainbow Deck and a link to a tutorial online.  In the tutorial, Jeremy gives a couple of nice touches to this trick.  If you do have a Rainbow Deck, this serves as a spare for you, and you also get Jeremy’s routine for performing it.

Highly recommended!

STORYTELLER by Ravi Mayar

Written by Bernard Sim

Whooo hooo!  I was so happy when I saw “No Card Tricks” in the product description.  How many multi tricks DVDs without card tricks (apart from coin guys) can you find on the market?  I’m not saying that card trick is not good, I’m saying that the effects in this DVD uses other props instead of cards and this could be a refreshing change.

The effects in this DVD are visual and easy to do.  There are 7 effects in this DVD.

1. M.B.Z : A matchbox visually changes into a Zippo lighter.

The gimmick is easy to prepare but you’ll need to find a suitable lighter for this but that’s not going to be a problem considering Zippos are pretty common.

2. Post X : A “X” written on a post-it pad vanishes and travels from the magician’s pad to a sheet of post-it pad the spectator is holding.

Easy to prepare and a stunning effect for the spectator, especially when the spectator is holding a piece of empty post-it pad before the “X” appears.  You can even do a signed variation whereby the spectators can signed on the empty post-it pad.

3. Mini Bar : A “in the hand” production of a clear mini bottle ending with the label appearing on the bottle.

Like all the previous effect, you are required to make the gimmick and like the previous effects, they are easy to make.  This one again easy to do but I felt his performance part was a little flat as he was trying.

4. Refresh – Torn and restored piece of chewing gum

I was rather disappoint with this as I don’t quite understand what was going on.  When he was performing this to a spectator, I felt that the spectator was like me, we don’t know what’s going on.  I had to watch the performance 3 times to know what the effect was about.  However, after watching the explanation, I realized that this has to be perform up close.  So it was not that bad afterall.

5. Lotto Wallet : A production of a dollar bill from a piece of lottery paper

Maybe it was the magician in me watching it.  I think this is rather easy to figure it out, that was until I saw the subtlety in the gimmick.  Gimmick is easy to make and the materials needed is also easy to acquire.

6. Travel Transpo : A transposition of a travel card and ticket.

I’d think this effect will not work in certain countries due to the difference in the type of travelling cards/tickets used.  However, you may still use a credit card and membership card to perform this.  Again, easy to do and prepare.

7. ATM : A production of a dollar from a credit card.

Some handicraft skills needed here, nothing complicating, just some cutting and taping.  Performing this is also very easy.  A great way to introduce a dollar bill for your next effect.

The word “organic” again is used here to describe the effects.  This time, I agree with it.  The effects here are truly organic as the props used are correlated.  All the effects require you to make the gimmick yourself and they are easy to make.  The only difficult part is probably the scanner to scan certain stuffs in which not everyone will have a scanner.  This is a refreshing DVD and all the props used are familiar objects.  The DVD is shot in HD and everything is explained clearly.  Routines are perform in s studio as well as for a live audience.

AT US$30, this is value for money as you are getting 7 effects unlike the recent trend of single effects DVD.

Recommended.  Rating 8/10.

CANIC by Nicholas Lawrence

Written by Bernard Sim

Effect:

A can’s tab is broken off the can and then put it back on.

Product description:

Described as an organic effect (whatever that term means, seems to be getting used frequently for hyping an effect).  The product description says “grabbing any unprepared soda can off any one and then ripping the tab off”.  Well, that part is not entirely true as the main version does require you to prepare the can.  Alternate versions do allow you to perform an “impromptu” version.

Method:

Without giving away the method, you do have preparations.  The preparation is divided into 2 parts.  A onetime preparation will last you a long time, that is if you want to re-use the can.  However, the preparation can be a pain and it will take some time to do it.

While watching the DVD, I was thinking, why go thru so much trouble to prepare the can when you can use a gimmick which most magicians have?  If you use that gimmick, you will only need to prepare 1 part of the gimmick for the trick.  I can’t tell you what that gimmick is as it will give away the method for this effect.  Having said that, that method I just mentioned will not look as good as the original method but the difference is minute.

The version with the tab on the spectator’s hand looks good and if I were to do this trick, I’d probably do this version

Quality:

Simple gimmicks, detailed instructions.  But not so simple preparation.

Pricing:

At a MSRP of US$29.95, I’d think its over-priced as the gimmick included are pretty simple and not that expensive.  I’d rather spend this money on something else.

Verdict:

The effect looks great but what are you going to do with the can after you finish performing this effect?  The spectator will check the can and you can’t really put away an empty can into your bag.  If you do this at a hawker centre in Singapore, your can will definitely be kept by the cleaners as they are sold to be recycled.

I think the effect is ok, just don’t like the preparation when you have an easier option which is not taught.  But then again, that method is used in another product, which may be the reason they didn’t use that.  Also note that TV rights are not included for this product.

Rating:  6/10