Magic Products Review

SEARCH ENGINE PEN by Jeff Prace

Written by John Teo

The “Hot Rod” trick, as with most paddle effects, is visual and quick, and this captivates a spectator’s attention. I still perform my “hot rod” trick using a clear plastic rod and 6 embedded colour gemstones. Ladies love this trick because it involves jewelry. The rather contrived colour force is quickly forgotten when all the 6 gem stones visually changed to the one she selects.

Now, Jeff Prace gives even more reason to perform “hot rod” – it involves the world’s most iconic search engine, Google. This beings the magic up to date. Using a pen also makes it look innocent and impromptu.

You display a pen with the Google logo, which comprises 6 letters in 5 different colours – both the “G” and “g” are in the same purple colour. A spectator chooses a colour and magically all the letters in Google change to this colour. The pen can be shown on both sides.

You receive 2 Google pens, one with the forced colour on both sides so that you can secretly switch for this pen and hand it out for examination, if required. The other pen consists of purple Google on one side and the multi-colour Google on the other side. Included is a sheet of printed instructions which explains everything you need to know about performing the effect. It covers the standard paddle moves, the usual force as well as an alternative force, and the switch.

It also mentions that the cover of the pen is deliberately made in purple colour. This enables you to perform this effect in 2 phases. In phase 1, you bring to the spectator’s attention that coincidentally (or is it?) the cover of the pen is also of the same colour as her choice. In effect no 2. the entire Google word changes to to her selected colour!

However, there are 2 downsides to the pens supplied. The first one is that the “G” in Google does not look like a “G” – it looks like a “C” because it does not have the “tongue” on the bottom of the letter. Secondly, the yellow colour of the second “o” is too light to be seen properly against the white colour of the pen. You may have to find reason(s) to tell the audience when they ask on either one or both of these “defects”.

Despite these 2 imperfections, I would love to perform this trick. The imperfections do bring down the rating of this wonderful prop. (7/10 stars rating)

HOLE by Michael Chatelain

Written by John Teo

Michael Chatelain has a reputation of coming out with direct yet impossible looking card effect using gimmick that is not easily detectable.

This is the first effect in the series. A red back card with a circular hole cut out in its centre is shown and examined by the spectators. It is then hinged to a card taken from a deck of cards on their short edges with a sticky circular label. The 2 cards can be opened like a landscape book. Because of what is about to happen, the label is first signed before it is fixed to the 2 cards, to make sure it is the same label at the end of the trick.

A card is taken from the deck and also signed. This card is inserted at right angles between the 2 hinged cards. Its signed face can be seen through the circular cut-out in the red back card. The entire “sandwich” cards are shown front and back to ensure that everything is what it should be.

Slowly, the sandwiched signed card is brought to the hinged edge and then it penetrates the hinged label! The hinged cards are undone, and everything can be examined by the spectators.

You receive a hole card, a specially gimmicked card, some sticky circular labels, and an instructional DVD. Bicycle cards are used, and when ordering, you should specify whether you want the gimmicked card to be of red or blue back. In the DVD, Michael also describes how you can construct a simpler form of the gimmick yourself.

The penetration of the sandwiched card through the label hinge is clean and direct. This makes the effect seems so impossible that no amount of sleight-of-hand can duplicate it. The effect is guaranteed to wow any spectator. (9/10 stars rating.)

REVERSE WALLET by Dominique Duvivier

Written by John Teo

As the name suggests, this is a wallet that reverses itself: both the appearance of the wallet as well as the contents of the wallet.

You receive a wallet that has newsprint design both on the outside as well as in the inside. Instead of bank notes, this wallet contains sheets of newspaper prints. In an instant, this wallet transforms into a usual black colour leather looking wallet, complete with black sheets of papers inside it instead of the newspaper sheets.

This is the basic effect. You receive everything as mentioned above, plus an instructional DVD. The reverse wallet is well made, and has a “locking” device when it is in the black wallet side. The DVD is also well produced and you can choose to view it in either the French or English language. In the case of the English language, you will hear the voice of a lady translator. Both the wallet and DVD come with a nice black paper bag.

A variation of the basic effect is to show a newsprint wallet with loose newspaper sheets and transforms it into a black wallet with real money inside it. Different ways of transforming the wallet are also shown in the DVD.

Quoc Tien Tran offers 2 routines. “Countdown” is an interesting novel prediction effect. A newsprint wallet is shown to contain a prediction envelope. A deck of playing cards is shown to contain different letters of the alphabet on each of its back. A stack of cards is selected. The letters on the cards spell “Diamonds” (in French). Some of the letters can also be rearranged to read “Four” (in French). The prediction inside the envelope is shown to be the 4 of diamonds. Magically, the stack of selected cards change to be all 4 of diamonds. The wallet is now transformed into a black wallet but with numerous digits in white colour printed on it. The remaining cards are now shown to be all 4 of diamonds and their backs are now printed with numbers instead of with letters! A lot of transformation both on the faces and backs of the cards as well as of the wallet.

Quoc Tien Tran’s second routine, “Bingo”, is not so intriguing. But it shows how, with some creative thinking, the reverse wallet can be applied to many different effects. - 13 - If you like novelty effects, and do not mind gimmicked looking props, you will love the reverse wallet. (7/10 stars rating.)

MENTAL BOARD

Written by John Teo

The Mental Board effect has become a classic in magic.

Known by various names, different models are available in the market.  This particular model is one of the more economical versions.

For those who are not in the know, here is the effect.

The performer displays a large clear plastic board that has 2 columns of elastic bands divided into 5 sections each to hold 5 poker sized cards.  One column has large numerals 1 to 5 running down it with each numeral occupying one section.

2 sets of ESP cards are shown.  One set has the 5 ESP symbols printed in black colour whereas the other set has the same 5 ESP symbols in green colour.

The performer takes the green ESP cards, mixes them up, and inserts each card into each section in the column without the numerals.  The cards are inserted with the backs facing the audience so that nobody (except the performer) knows the position of each of the 5 ESP symbols.

The performer then has the black set of ESP cards thoroughly mixed by a spectator.  Taking each card with the back facing the audience, the performer asks a member of the audience which of the 5 sections on the other column they want this card to be inserted into.  Assume the reply is number “2”.  The performer complies and slips this card face unseen into the section with the numeral 2.  

This process is repeated with the other 4 cards until all the 5 numerals have a card each slide behind it.

The time has come for the revelation.  The entire board is turned around to show that the audience has managed to match exactly all the 5 green ESP symbols placed by the performer on the other column of the board.

You receive the nicely made transparent acrylic board, and the 2 separate sets of the 5 ESP symbols, one set is printed in black, and the other set in green colour.  You are given a link to a video tutorial by Jeremy Pei at his personal magic coach web-site. 

The acrylic board measures 8 inches by 14.5 inches.  It is large and visual and suitable for stage presentation.

Although this is an economical model, both the board and the 10 cards are well made, and they work smoothly. 

The 10 cards are also cleverly marked on their backs.  You can use these 2 sets of 5 ESP cards, without the board, to perform other ESP effects.  Jeremy Pei teaches you 2 different matching routines in the tutorial.

Highly Recommended!

JACK 4 YOU by Hideki Tani

Written by John Teo

Here is the best version of the classic 4 Queens (or 4 Jacks) packet brainwave effect.  It seems to have eliminated the weak points of the trick, and at the same time, make it even more effective.

A packet of cards is displayed on a small stand.  A spectator names any one of the 4 Jacks, say, Jack of Diamonds.  Performer spreads the cards on the stand and only the Jack of Diamonds is facing the audience.  This card is taken off the stand to show that it also has a different colour back.

Finally, the remaining 3 cards on the stand are turned around to show that they are the three 4’s of the non-selected suits, niz 4 of Spades, 4 of Clubs and 4 of Hearts.

You are supplied with a special stand, 4 specially printed playing cards, and printed instructions.

When Max Maven came up with his “B’Wave”, his brilliant use of the blank cards not only eliminated a major weak point of the 4 Queens brainwave trick, it gave a separate climax as well.  Hideki Tani’s ingenious use of the small card stand plus the special printed cards brings the B’Wave to an even higher level.  Now, any one of the 4 Jacks can be shown reversed, plus the other 3 non-selected cards can be shown to be the 4’s of the non-selected suit.  Two of them can almost be shown full face-on to the audience.  The handling of the cards is casual and above-board.

It will be hard, if not impossible, to find another version of the 4 Queens (or 4 Jacks) brainwave trick that can top “Jack 4 You”.  (9/10 stars rating.)

ANOMALY by Michael Scanzello

Written by John Teo

Anomaly means a deviation from the norm.  And in this case, it is the transposition of an Ace not into just another card, but into 4 different Kings!

This is the basic effect and it goes like this:  4 Kings and an Ace of Hearts are shown.  The performer takes the Ace of Hearts and places it inbetween the 2 palms of a spectator’s hands.  Nothing can get into or out of her hands.  The performer shows and asks which King the spectator wants to change place with the Ace of Hearts in her hands.  Regardless of the spectator’s reply, the 4 Kings in the performer’s hand become the single Ace of Hearts, and the 4 Kings are shown to be in-between her palms!  The transposition is most visual!  In the end, all the 5 cards can be examined.

You receive 2 sets of Bicycle cards, one set with red backs and one with blue backs.  In each set is a special gimmicked card.  You need to supply your own Bicycle deck of cards. 

You are also provided with a Rapid Training Sheet, and a link to 3 sets of video instructions that feature Michael Scanzello himself.

Michael is a meticulous person, and his attention to details show through in all the 3 sets of video instructions.

Video No 1 features Micheal discussing the history of the effect, care of the gaff, how to make a practice card, how to revitalise the gaff after some time of use, and a comedy Twisting effect.  It runs for 27 minutes. 

The comedy Twisting effect is another good one to do with the Anomaly gaff.  It is similar to Dai Vernon’s Twisting The Aces, but it is more visual, and has an unexpected climax at the end.  4 Kings are facing downwards.  Each one turns over face upwards, except for the King of Hearts.  This card then transforms into the Ace of Hearts, and all the other 3 Kings now become the 3 other Aces.

Video No 2 runs for 24 minutes.  It shows Michael performing and explaining the basic effect called “One For Four”.  Michael also gives a variation where the transposition occurs inside an empty card box instead of in-between the spectator’s palms.

Video No 3 runs for 42 minutes.  In this video, Michael explains a variation called “No King Left’.  In this effect, 4 Aces are shown and they are placed inside an empty card box.  4 Kings are next shown.  They change into the 4 Aces, and the 4 Aces placed inside the card box earlier now become 4 blank face cards!

There is a rountine called “Chosen” in which a card is selected and lost in the deck.  The performer shows the 4 Kings.  3 of the Kings transform into the 3 Aces except for the King of the same suit as the spectator’s chosen card.  This King then changes into the spectator’s selected card.  A variation of this effect called “Signed” is also taught where the chosen card is signed.

The Anomaly gaff is actually a tool for transforming the 4 Kings into the 4 Aces.  Once you understand the application, you can create your own routines.  Of all the different effects and variations shown by Michael in the videos, the “One For Four” routine has the greatest impact because the transformation, which is quite visual, takes place in-between a spectator’s palms.  (9/10 stars rating)