Magic Products Review

VOODOO by Liam Montier

Written by Bernard Sim

Most magicians will know what the effect is when the see the name “Voodoo”.  It is basically a prediction of where the pin will be placed on a voodoo doll.  There are many versions out there and is this a better version?  Let’s find out.

First of all, you get some Voodoo photos that resemble Polaroid photos as well as a DVD.  The DVD contains introduction, performance video and an explanation video.  Apart from these video, the DVD also included an instructional PDF eBook to perform other Voodoo routines as well as Jpegs of the Voodoo photos.  Those that are proficient in computer can resize the photos to suit your needs.

For the routine, I think it’s not a bad routine.  Liam uses names to get to the desired photo.  There is a limitation on this as some names can be quite long.  If you perform it to someone who uses an English name, you will be fine.  However, if you use an Asian name, some of the names will not work if it’s too long.  However, fret not as there are other methods found in the eBook that allows you to achieve the same results.   There are also other presentation ideas in which you can use keychain voodoo dolls to perform.

The qualities of the photos are good however, the size of the photos is not very ideal for performing and carrying around.  I’d prefer the photos to be in poker size or even business cards size.  But then again, it’s up to individual preference.  The Jpegs on the DVD can give you the option to resize it.

While the routine is not new, I feel that this routine will work well with professionals.  There are no difficult moves, the most difficult move is doing a DL on your business card and even this is optional.  The routine is easy to comprehend and I think spectators will like it.  At US$25, it is reasonably priced.

Rating:  7.5/10 

EXTRACT by Jason Yu

Written by Bernard Sim

The basic effect is of an item printed on a bill is magically and visually flicked out of the bill.  If you have seen the trailer of this effect, I am very sure you will be awed by how visual this effect looks.

Sansmind always has very good trailers but not always a good product.  In this case this effect is a spinned off by Imprint, also by Sansmind.  Extract’s effect is the opposite of Imprint.  Both look equally impressive on video.  And both can be performed individually and also combined into a loner routine.

Apart from the DVD, you will also get a small item for you to construct your gimmick.  So far so good... now the construction part, I think this is the most difficult part for this effect.  Construction of this effect is so tedious and you will probably spend a long time preparing it.  The other thing to take note of is the material of your bill.  This effect will work with paper currencies and not plastic.  So, for Singaporeans, this effect will be costly for you since the lowest denomination on a paper bill is $50.  However, you can always make up excuses and use other currencies.  Once your gimmick is made, reset is almost instant and very easy.

Once you have made up the gimmick, performing it is relatively easy; it will depend on how clean you want it to be.  Producing a coin or chocolate and then give it away will always make the spectator happy.  You have to take note that the props can’t be examined before and after the effect, but then again, everything can be examined if you do a switch.  You can produce anything you want as long as the items produced are smaller than the bill.

If you’re prepared to spend $50 plus price of Extract and have patience to construct the gimmick go ahead and get this.  While I do admit that the effect looks good and I’m also pretty sure spectators will be impressed by it, I am just too lazy to make one.

Rating:  6.5/10, impressed by the effect but not impressed by the preparation of the gimmick.

THUMB FUN by Sid Lorraine and Devin

Written by Bernard Sim

Thumb Fun was released by Sid Lorraine more than 50 years ago and was discontinued for more than 30 years by Abbot Magic Company.  Devin Knight took this and marketed it with updated instructions.  This is basically a card revelation effect, nothing fanciful.

Like all Devin Knight’s release, the product description is written so well and overly hyped to make you want to buy it.  Thumb Fun so happens to fall under the category of over hyped product description.

I was rather disappointed when I open it.  The product packaging is probably the same as when it was first released 50 years ago.  What you get are 2 stapled sheets of A4 size written instructions and some very small cards (size of a passport photo).  The cards are from business card stock and thus fanning it will be a problem, it was suggested you use fanning powder.  I’m just puzzled at this modern day, why can’t this be printed on better quality cards?  To maximize profit margin?  At US$19.95, I’d expect some decent quality card.

So, the basic effect is, you get a spectator to select a card, then you bring out 5 small blank cards, then you press your thumb onto one of the card which caused the card to have a thumb print with the selected card in the middle.  That’s it, you can’t give away the card as you will need it for the next performance.

Product description says you can repeat it again with different results, true to that but not immediately.  You have to reset with another card to perform it with a different result.  The included small cards come with a variety of revelations including some customizable cards.

This effect is rather easy to do and magicians of any skill level will be able to perform it.  I am not sure the routine is as impactful as what the product description says.  Somehow, I feel that this routine is a bit weak, especially when the card looks cheap.  There are many card revelation routines out there and I don’t think you need another one.  But then again, some people may like this, this just doesn’t appeal to me.

Rating: 5/10

FRENCH POSTCARDS by Phil Philpott

Written by Bernard Sim

Out of This World is probably one of the card effect that has been morphed into many variations.  Paul Curry’s original version is one of the most clever and easy to do card effect I love.  I am not a fan of card tricks but I sure do like this effect.  If you don’t know about this effect, it’s basically a card separation of the black cards and red cards into two piles, all these are seemingly done by the spectator without the magician’s involvement.   It is easy to do as well as magical.

Throughout the years, many variations have come and gone.  There are variations on handlings and some can even be done impromptu.   Susbsequently, gimmicked versions also arrived.   One of the gimmicked versions would be the late Dean Dill and Michael Weber’s New World.  This version is very strong but the only downside is that this cannot be examined by the spectator.

Then came variations where the plot is the same but the presentation is different.  One of them would be Whitestar by Jim Critchlow.  The presentation evolve around survivors and non-survivors of the sunken Titanic.  This is the closest resemblance to French Postcards among the many variations out there.

I think I will use Whitestar as a comparison to French Postcards for this review.  I like Whitestar, it has a very spooky effect and yet unexplainable, seems that the dead is doing all the separation work.  The cards are small which makes it easy to handle but the card stock make give in to wear and tear eventually.  Due to that, I had my set laminated to prevent wear and tear.  I even made a marking on the laminate in order to do the no-setup version.

For French Postcards, the cards are funny and will bound to make your spectator smile.  Depending on how raunchy you want it to be, you can control that with your patter.  With cards like that, you will not run out of patter.  I like the thoughts behind this effect and I am always a sucker for adult themed effects.  Having said that, I find that postcard size cards are a bit difficult to handle.  Though they are more visible and can be catered to a larger crowd, I feel that smaller size cards is also suitable for large crowds.  The postcards are thick but spreading them is very difficult.  One of the performance method will require you to spread the cards and do a cut.  This is very important but it is not as easy as what was written, perhaps fanning powder will help.

Instructions came in a booklet form; those who perform Out Of This World would probably have no need for the instructions.  However, there is a second method by Jon Armstrong that does not require the spectator to switch side (you know what I’m talking about if you perform OOTW).  It is easy to do and I immediately tried that on my wife.  She was enjoying the effect when I was revealing on she did so far until I did the “move”.  She caught it immediately; perhaps she is a magician’s wife which makes it harder to pull that move.  I think with proper misdirection, this can be accomplished.  Included are video instructions and additional effects but you’d be require to email Chris Philpott with a password.  I don’t know why he doesn’t want to include it in the booklet.

So to wrap things up, I like OOTW, I like Whitestar and I like French Postcards but I don’t really like the size and quality of the cards.  It make great presentation patters.  At $24.95, this is a good buy.

Rating: 7.5/10 (would be higher if the card stock is better)

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR FIVE by Ton Onosaka

Written by John Teo

Manufactured by:  Magic Land (Japan)

This is a packet trick that involves the Joker of a Bicycle card.  The Jokers are normally not used in a magic performance with a deck of playing cards.  If you do an effect with the Joker itself, it will be a novel trick.  This effect has a stunning climax.  Here is what happens.

Five cards are shown to be all Jokers.  The first Joker is known as the leader Joker.  He

is turned face downwards and placed on the table.

The four other Jokers will follow the leader Joker.  When the four cards are counted, one by one of the Jokers turn face downwards.  The four face-down Jokers are then turned face upwards.  Surprise No 1: the four Joker cards all have empty bicycles – the riders (Jokers) have left their bicycles! It is a strange thing to see such cards!

Where did the Jokers go?  The leader Joker card on the table is turned face upwards.  All the four Jokers have joined the leader Joker in an acrobatic act on his bicycle!  This is Surprise No 2!  See the beautiful drawing of the five Jokers balancing on the bicycle.  This is a surprise and is bound to cause a smile from the audience!

You are provided with an alternative ending card.  Instead of the acrobatic Jokers on the bicycle, the four Jokers have joined their leader Joker in relaxing with a tumbler of beer!

Is it difficult to perform?  As with most packet tricks, this effect requires you to be able to perform an Elmsey Count.  You also need to perform a Hamman Count as well as a Glide.  All are standard sleights with cards, and are fully explained in the printed instructions sheet. 

You are supplied with all six cards.  The drawings are beautifully done by Ton Onosaka himself, who is an acclaimed artist, inventor and magician.

To see an ordinary Bicycle card with an empty Joker’s bicycle as well as five Jokers gathering together is unexpected and truly surprising!  It is an effect that will never fail to bring smiles all around!

Highly recommended!

SLICER by Rizki Nanda

Written by Bernard Sim

The basic effect of slicer is a single playing card slices through the flap of a card box.  You can also use a credit card or dollar note to pass through the flap of the card box.

The effect when performed by itself will not be strong.  In my opinion, this effect should be part of a longer routine.  When performed with other card routines, this adds variety to your performance, especially if you are doing an Ambitious Card routine.  It also add some visual magic to that routine.

Unlike the recent releases in magic where you need to make your own gimmick, Slicer comes with a special readymade gimmick.  The gimmick has a rather clever design, not complicated by getting the job done.  I can foresee that this will eventually succumb to wear and tear but rebuilding it will not be a problem due to the simple and effective design.

Before I watch the video, I didn’t know how to handle the gimmick but once the video shows how its done, everything becomes clear.  The video instructions are viewed online via streaming or you can also download it.  The video is easy to understand and follow.  While watching it via streaming, I encounter some lag but that’s a small issue. I think this form of instructions is the way to go for future releases.  Without a DVD, it keeps the cost low and you don’t need a computer to watch the instructions.

One thing that bugs me for this effect is the bonus routine where you “tear” the flap away from the card box and then put it back restoring it.  I feel that this is a giveaway to the method and if you buy this, I don’t recommend you performing the bonus routine.

While I’m not overly excited about this release, I can see cardicians using this as part of their routine.  This effect doesn’t require extra pocket space, thus making it easy for the strolling magicians.  It also adds variety to their card routine.  Magicians always like to play with gimmicks; this is also a fun toy for magicians to play with.

I don’t think I will use this as I’m more of a coin guy but cardicians can give this a try.

Rating : 7/10