Magic Products Review

RING THROUGH LACES by Smagic Productions

Written by Bernard Sim

This effect is a ring through shoe laces as what the title suggest.  The ring has to be threaded through the opening of the lace and rest on the lace’s knot, with a shake of the leg, the ring penetrates the knot and rest on the loop of the lace.

The description on the DVD cover says that the effect is visual, convincing with full unlimited rotation.  I disagree with all these though.  Moreover, there are many mistakes in the production description which makes it funny, for e.g “you can borrow a ring of spectators”, “taken down and shook his head showlaces”. They should’ve got someone to check on these descriptions before releasing this product.  I can see a sticker with a serial number on the back of the DVD cover, this is probably to show the authenticity of the product.

When I put in the DVD, I had to sit though and watch the trailer twice as the DVD was made to show twice.  The trailer was rather confusing and I don’t know what was going on until almost at the end of the DVD where the more detailed part of the routine was shown.  Even with the more detailed part shown, I still don’t see this as a visual and convincing.  And I can see flies flying around his hands J  The whole DVD was rather boring to watch as everything was shown repeatedly.  Explanation was shown a few times and then shown again using different rings but with the same method.  This feels like they are just trying to fill the DVD to make it longer.

Gimmicks included are meant for flat shoe laces and I think it won’t work for shoe laces that are round.  You can probably find a replacement gimmick if you use round laces.  Preparation of the gimmick is easy and simple.  Once you are set up, I doubt you can last.  I feel that you have to adjust the laces prior to every performance as the gimmick will be repositioned once you walk.

At US$24.95, I think this is overpriced.  I don’t think this should even be released as a standalone product.  It’ll probably be better as part of a multi-trick DVD or even in a magic magazine.

I’m sorry to say I’m not impressed by this trick.  Interlace by Richard Sanders would be a better choice.

Don’t bother.  Rating 4/10

INSIDIOUS by Michael Scanzello

Written by Bernard Sim

What is Insidious?

1. intended to entrap or beguile: an insidious plan.

2. stealthily treacherous or deceitful: an insidious enemy. 3.operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect: an insidious disease.

Ok, Insidious is a cool name for a Copper/ Silver/ Brass type of effect using recognizable everyday objects like coins, key and a matchbox.  You get parts of the props needed to perform this routine and you probably already have the props in your house.  Even if you don’t have them, they are easily obtainable.  To perform this effect, you’d need to do a onetime setup which is easily done and takes less than 5 mins.  Reset is almost instant.

I like this routine as this has an old school feel to it.  Everything is well thought out and there is always a motivation for the moves employed.  The routine has audience interaction and everything can be examined before and after due to the clever constructions of the routine.  Your spectator gets to hold on to the props all the time and the magic happens right in the palm of their hand.

Though Insidious is a CSB based routine, it is easier to follow than the classic CSB routine as it employs 2 different coins and a key.  The misdirectios are what I like most in this routine.  There are no awkward moves for you to execute.  The moves are easy except for the last part where you are required to do a deep back clip (taught in the DVD).  Do not let the last move stop you from getting this.  You can always replace that move for a simpler move.

If you are looking for something flashy/visual, this is probably not for you.  If you are looking for cleverly constructed routine with motivations for all moves, then this is for you.  The routine is not earth shattering, but it sure is worth investing in it.  I like the planning and also the old school flavour of the routine.  Hmmm somehow, this routine make me feel younger J.

Rating:  9/10.  Highly Recommended.

CASH CONVERTER by Richard Griffin

Written by Bernard Sim

Cash Converter is a shop whereby you bring your unwanted stuff and sell it to them.  They will pay a very low price for it and will display and sell it in their shop. They’ll buy your VCD for $0.20 and $1 for your audio CDs.  Haha, nah, in the magic world, cash converter is a totally different thing.  I just had to tell people how cash converter (the shop) work.

Cash Converter is a visual bill switch with borrowed a bill.  The bill is folder in half (lengthwise) and then with a swipe of the palm, it changes into a different bill and then it instantly and visually change back to the original bill.

The effect looks great though the performance segment on the DVD is showing some fidgeting of the fingers.  Like all other effects, there are always pros and cons.  There is a onetime setup which will probably take you about 30 mins to do, after that, you are good to go.  You can use this with any currency, even the plastic ones provided that they don’t have clear sections.  Singapore uses plastic bills and they have clear sections.  HOWEVER, this is not a problem for us.  You can still use Cash Converter with Singapore bills (yay for Singapore Magicians! J)  The best thing about this is that the bill can be borrowed and you are always instantly reset after performing it.  The downside of this is that you will always need to perform the change twice, i.e borrow bill, change it to a different bill, then change it back and return bill.  Unlike the traditional bill change with a TT, you can change it and then giveaway the changed bill.

Comparing this with the TT bill switch, Cash Converter has a more visual appeal but the hands are not as clean as the TT method.  Perhaps a combination of these 2 methods will have a better appeal to your spectators.  Do the Cash Converter first, then do the TT method and finally give it away....anyway, that’s just a thought.

I like Cash Converter (not the shop as they tried to fleece me haha) and its kinda fun performing such effects.  You’d need to have some practice in order for it to look good, otherwise, you’d be fidgeting a lot.

Rating 8/10.  Recommended.

AMAZING JUMPING ARROW by Mark Young

Written by John Teo

Manufactured by:  Meir Yedid Magic (USA)

I love paddle tricks.  Here are a couple of reasons for this.

In all paddle tricks, the magic happens rapidly and visually.  If you watch a magician performing a paddle trick, at every moment, there is something magical happening to the paddle.  This mystifies and entertains the audience.

Also, as the name implies, all paddle tricks depend on the “paddle” move.  There may be variations of it, but the master move that paddle tricks depend on is the paddle move.  If you master this move – I do not think we can call it a sleight – then you can practially perform all types of paddle tricks.  If you cannot perform this move well, then you should not purchase any paddle tricks.  However, it is a move that is not difficult to master.  So go and practise and master this move.  You can perform killer effects with paddles.

I used to start my walk-around magic with a paddle trick.

Let us see what the Amazing Jumping Arrow trick is all about.   

In effect, a small black anodised aluminium stick is shown to be black on both sides.  The performer touches the underneath of one end of the stick with his finger.  When the stick is turned over, a small white arrow makes a magical appearance there.  The performer touches the underside of this end.  The stick is turned over and another white arrow is seen on this end.  The stick is turned over a few times to show that there is a white arrow on both sides of the stick at this end!

The arrows on both ends of the stick are seen to be pointing towards the centre of the stick.  This means it is possible to cause both arrows to move to the centre of the stick.  With a magical gesture, the arrow on one side visually moves to the centre of the stick.  The stick is turned around.  The same magical gesture is used on this side and the arrow there also moves to the centre.  Now the stick has arrows in its centre on both sides!

One more magical gesture, and the arrows on both sides of the stick move from the centre to the other end!  Unfortunately, the arrows on both sides of the stick at this end are now pointing away from the centre, not towards it.  There is no way to cause the arrows to magically move backwards to the centre.  The only way is to move it physically with your finger on the underside of the stick.  This is what you proceed to do.  The stick is turned around and indeed the arrow there has now moved to the centre.  You do the same thing to the other side of the stick.  Now, both sides of the stick have arrows at their centres!

Now, you proceed to do a bizarre move.  When you “hit” the stick on the outstretched fingers of the other hand, the arrow in the centre splits into 2 arrows – one occupying each end of the stick!  The same thing is done on the other side of the stick.  Now the stick has arrows on both sides at both ends!  To reverse the process, the stick is pushed through the fist of the other hand.  When it emerges from the fist, the 2 arrows at each end merge back into one arrow in the centre.  This is done on the other side of the stick.  Now the stick is back to having an arrow on both sides in the centre.

To end the effect, you cause the arrow on one side of the stick to again split into 2.  The stick, now with 2 arrows, one at each end of the stick, and a single arrow in the centre on its other side, is given out to the spectators for examination.

You receive 6 pages of written instructions with photographs, and a well produced aluminium stick anodised in black colour with the arrows engraved in the stick in contrasting white colour.  The instuctions teach you how to perform the paddle move.  However, the routine described here is my own personal routine.  It is the way I perform this trick.  The instructions given describe Mark Young’s routine that is somewhat different from my routine.  Mark’s routine has arrows appearing on the stick, moving around to and from the ends of the stick to its centre.  There is no mention of the direction of the arrow and movement.  I use the direction of the arrow to create a logical reason for the various movements of the arrows.

Here is a great learning point.  Always create a logical meaning for your magic, otherwise it may be confusing to the audience, especially when arrows appear and disappear and move all over the stick for no good reasons.  As the great “professor” Dai Vernon said “Confusion is not magic.”  Paddle tricks allow you to customise your own routine.  Take the various phases or modules of the effect and re-structure them to create your own routine.

Highly recommended!

CUPID by SansMind Creative Lab

Written by Bernard Sim

Cupid is a very visual and fun routine whereby a bow and arrow is drawn onto a playing card and the arrow is shot to the spectator’s signed card.

If you don’t know Sansminds, you’d definitely buy this effect based on their trailer demo.  That demo looks so visual and cool!  If you know Sansminds, you’d know that their demos are always very well done.  The people In Sansminds seems to have endless ideas and they are like a factory churning out effects to sell.  If you have invent many effects, you’d bound to have one that will really stand out and Cupid is one of them.

There is a onetime setup for this effect and it should not take you a long time.  The gimmick that comes with it is customizable to let you decide what you want to do with it.  Sansminds says you don’t have to really draw a bow and arrow, you can also draw a machine gun etc even though they didn’t show you how to draw it.  After you have decided what you want to draw, you cannot change that again.  The gimmick will eventually give in to wear and tear and included is part of that gimmick for you to replace.

                                 

The handling of the effect is not exactly difficult, you’d need to know some basic sleights which most experienced will already know.  The sleights are also taught in a different section on the DVD so that experienced magicians don’t have to waste time watching to learn what they already know.

While I liked the effect, I don’t like how the DVD was produced.  The video was filmed on a beach and it seems like the video was a spur of the moment thing as it seems that it was shot while they were holidaying somewhere.  But then again, this does not affect the learning of this effect.  Another important thing I’d like to point out is, for a guy magician, I don’t think you’d want to perform this to another guy.  Come on, shooting an arrow through a heart drawn on a playing card?  What will this imply?  This is a big NO NO, haha.

So in summary, this is a fun and visual effect, not that difficult to do but effect will subject to wear and tear.

Rating:  7.5/10.

AWESOME SELF-WORKING CARD TRICKS

Written by Bernard Sim

The titles says it all, this is an awesome compilation of very good self working card tricks.  The effects in this DVD are sleight free (hence the title) but some effects will require simple set up.  You’d be wondering if these effects are self working because you need to do a lot of counting or ask the spectators to count the number of cards then add or subtract etc, well you actually don’t as all the effects in the DVD are quality effects. 

One of the best video on self working card effects would be Michael Ammar’s Self Working Card Miracles series.  These are collections of classic self working card effects.  Big Blind Media’s Awesome Self Working Card Tricks is just as good, those who owns Ammar’s series should take a look at this.

The video was very well filmed.  They use good locations for filming, a living room, a huge empty theatre and even a kitchen!  Best of all, they use beautiful girls as their spectators J.  I was misdirected/ distracted by the spectator during the performance of Compatibility (Wayne Dobson).

Compatibility is a card routine that has an Anniversary Waltz effect.  Spectator think of a number and deals down that number of card and sign on it.  Magician thinks of a number, deals face up that number and sign on it.  Both signature ends on the same card.  The card can then be given to the spectator as a souvenir.  This is an excellent piece of magic from the clever mind of my favourite magician Wayne Dobson.  There is no setup and can be done impromptu.  It is very easy to do and once you know the method, you can start performing it.  Well done!

Automatic Ace Triumph (Kuniyasu Fujiware) haha haha haha haha haha haha haha haha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Haha, that was my reaction when I was following the DVD’s instruction for this effect.  This is like Gibreath Principle where you know the method but you don’t know how it works.  I gurantee you will be smiling to yourself when you first learn this.  This is so easy and its even idiot proof!  The effect is 4 face up Aces are mixed up in 4 piles of random cards, they are then mixed face up and face down.  With a few cuts and turn over, all the random cards are face down and the Aces are facing up.  Now, this routine is the best in this DVD, this is worth the price of the whole DVD.

While I can’t say I like all the effects in the DVD, I like quite a bit of the effects in it.   For those who know me will know that I hate card tricks.  However, not many people know the reason why I hate card tricks.  One of the reason I don’t like card tricks is because I find it can be boring for spectators..... well not really, it’s because I can’t do sleights, hehehe.  So this DVD is very suitable for people like me, not really, it is suitable for everyone, newbie or seasoned performer. 

Let me just give you TWO reasons why you should get this DVD.  First one, Automatic Ace Triumph is the only reason you need to buy this DVD.  Second one, if the above reason is still not enough, buy this DVD because of the spectator.  Trust me, you will be misdirectedJ.

Seriously, this is a very good DVD which everyone should own.

Rating:  9/10 Highly Recommended.