Magic Products Review

THE MAN WHO KNOWS by Liam Montier

Written by John Teo

“The Man Who Knows” is a prediction effect using a deck of cards and some miniature posters of past magicians.

Here is how the effect looks.  A prediction envelope is set aside.  5 colourful miniature posters of past magicians are shown.  They feature magicians such as Thurston, Kellar, Alexander, von Arv and Houdini.

Each of these posters is placed inside a small envelope.  The envelopes are mixed around and one randomly chosen by a spectator. 

A deck of cards is shuffled and then dealt one card at a time onto the table.  At an point she likes, the spectator inserts her chosen envelope into the deck.  The envelope is therefore trapped somewhere in the middle of the deck.  The card next to the envelope is taken out as the card chosen randomly by the envelope.

The spectator takes out the postcard from her own small envelope.  Her chosen mini poster is of Alexander, “the man who knows”.  The audience’s attention is draw to the prediction envelope placed earlier at the start of the trick.  The performer takes out the content of the prediction envelope.  It is a folded poster.  When unfolded, it shows a large poster of Alexander.  This poster differs slightly from the small one.  This one features a large crystal ball.  In the crystal ball is an image of 4 of clubs.  When the  slected card is turned over, it is also the 4 of clubs!  It is a double prediction!  Alexandar is indeed “The Man Who Knows” everything!

You are supplied with everything you need to perform this effect, except the deck of playing cards, which can be borrowed.

You are provided with the 5 mini magician posters, each measuring 3.00 X 4.25 inches, and a large Alexander poster measuring approximately 8.5 X 12.0 inches.  All the 6 posters are nicely printed in full colour.  You are also supplied 5 small envelopes for the mini posters and a larger envelope for the folder large poster.  Also included is a nicely printed booklet of instructions and a link to an instruction video of Liam Montier performing and explaining the effect.

This trick scores high because of its unique props, which will attract immediate attention from the audience, and the double prediction which will baffle them.  The selections of both the mini poster and the playing card are quite deceptive, especially to the lay audience. 

The trick is almost self-working which means you can concentrate fully on your presentation.  The effect makes use of a couple of old principles and has nothing new for the seasoned magicians.  However, it plays well and is highly entertaining to the audience.  Is this not what a good magic effect should be?  (9/10 star rating)

PRAEMOVO by Alan Rorrison

Written by John Teo

n this age of social media and advanced technology, magic using a smartphone is considered as a modern and up-to-date thing.  However, with today’s powerful and sophisticated mobile apps, people will suspect that the performer uses such an app to make the magic happens on the cell phone.

Praemovo is an effect that uses a smartphone yet nobody will attribute it to the secret use of an app.  This is because the mobile phone does not need to be switched on at all.  The magic is performed using the back of the phone.

In effect, a mobile phone is borrowed.  Using a non-permanent market, the performer draws on the back of the phone, a stick figure holding onto his kite.  He adds in 2 curved lines to indicate the direction of the wind.  Mysteriously, the entire drawing becomes animated and the kite rises upwards on its own accord, as though “blown” by the wind.  Before it reaches the top edge of the phone, the performer erases the drawing of the kite off with his hand.  He then passes the phone to the spectator for her to erase the stickman and the rest of the sketch off her phone with her own hand.

The animation of the kite is such a fun and enjoyable thing to see.  It will definitely bring a smile and a gasp from the audience.

You receive the necessary materials for you to construct your own gimmick, and a well-produced instructional DVD.  You are taught everything in the DVD: how to construct your gimmick, the get-ready, and full handling.

The mobile phone can be borrowed, but it must meet 2 requirements.  The back of the phone must be of a light colour, to allow the drawing done with black ink to be easily visible.  Its back must also be glossy, to allow the erasable ink to be wiped off later.  For example, the mobile has a transparent back protector or put into a casing that has a smoooth and glossy back.  However, you must be ready with such a phone yourself in case you cannot borrow one.  Using your own mobile phone is just as effective because it will be handed over to the spectator for examination at the end of the performance.

The sketch does not need to be limited to a stickman with a kite.  Once you understand how the effect works, you can conceive your own drawing.  Watch the trailer – it gives you 2 ideas: an ufo lifting off from the ground to the sky, and a lady who gets disected at her waist.

Although there is some get-ready, the effect is easy to do, and the reset is quite instantaneous.  Unlike other products where the construction of the gimmick can be quite involved, this one is super easy.  No precision work is needed.

Animation magic, such as moving ink and drawing coming to life, never fails to enthral any audience.  (8/10 star rating)

PIGGY MONTE

Written by John Teo

Piggy Monte is a monte-type effect using 3 little piggy toys, as depicted in the photograph here.

In effect, 3 cute little piggy toys are intoduced: only one of them is shown to squeak when it is  squeezed with the fingers, the other two do not.

The performer tells the audience that since all the pigs look alike, it is not easy to identify the only one pig that squeaks. 

He proceeds to play a guessing game with them.  He places the 3 pigs in a row and shows that the middle one squeaks.  He switches the positions of the 2 extreme end pigs, and challenges the audience to guess which pig squeeks.  It is of course no problem at all for anyone to point to the middle pig as the one that squeaks.  This person’s choice is proved to be correct.

The performer now switches the positions of 2 random pigs around, not once, but several times.  It is not easy for any one to follow the movements of the pig that squeaks.  However, to an astute person, it is still possible to trace to the correct pig.  The spectator is asked to point to the pig that squeaks, and it is shown that she is correct. 

Once again, the guessing game continues.  The performer switches the positions of 2 random pigs around several times.  Once again, the spectator identifies the correct pig, but this time, the performer shows that it does not squeak.  Another pig is picked up and shown to have the squeaking sound!  Was the spectator wrong in choice?

The guessing game is played one more time.  The audience is now more determined to watch the switching closely.  Again, the apparently correct pig does not squeak, but another one does!  The audience is mystified.

At this stage, the performer concedes that he can magically tranfer the sound from one pig to another.  He demonstrates this by transferring the sound from the pig that squeaks to another one that does not.

The performer says that it is two times easier to pick a pig that does not squeak.  Once again, the three pigs are moved around and a spectator is invited to pick the non squeaking pig.  Her first choice proves to be wrong.  Her second choice was also shown to be incorrect.  The performer shows that now all three pigs can squeak!

You receive 3 cute piggy toys and a nice velvet draw-string carrying pouch.  Video instructions are available from Jeremy’s personal magic coach web site.

In the video, Jeremy provides a bonus effect using one of the pigs.  A card is selected and shuffled back into the deck.  The deck is spread face upwards on the table, and the pig is moved along the spread.  At some location, the pig squeaks.  A bunch of 6 to 8 cards at that area is picked up.  The rest of the cards are put aside.  This packet is now spread more widely.  The pig is moved along this spread and squeaks at the region of 3 cards.  These 3 cards are now isolated and placed in a row on the table.  The pig is moved across each of these 3 cards – it squeaks at a particular card – this proves to be the chosen card.

The secret is actually hidden in plain sight with each of the 3 piggy toys.  In this case, the effect is almost self-working.  You do not have to fumble around to depress some hidden device worn in your body in order to create the sound, as with most audio monte tricks.

In Asia, this year is the year of the Pig, according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar.  Therefore, the Piggy Monte is a good thematic effect to perform in 2019.

The monte effect has several phases, so it is more than just a quick trick.  Even in the bonus effect, the pig is able to short-list the deck of cards down in stages to eventually locate the single selected card.

 

Highly Recommended!

JENZO by Simon Craze

Written by John Teo

What is Jenzo?  This name does not sound like anything we know.

Jenzo is a 4-piece tile that has mysterious scribbles etched onto it.

Each piece is a small thin square tile, measuring 4 X 4 cm.  They can be placed together to form a larger square with strange designs on it. 

The tiles are available in black colour with white scribbles (like in the picture here) or in white colour with black scribbles.  Each of the 4 tiles has scribbles etched on both sides. 

There are therefore myriad ways of forming a large square with the 4 tiles.  Since each small tile is a square and has 4 equal length sides, there are 4 X 4 X 4 X4 or 256 ways to form a larger square.  But each tile has its back side that can also be used.  Therefore the total number of ways of forming the larger square is 4,096.  Out of these designs, there are only 11 designs that make sense.  The 11 designs are a heart, a diamond, a spade, a club, a Queen, a Jack, a King, three of diamonds, ten of hearts, three and a half, and 1998.

With these properties of the Jenzo tiles, here is how Jenzo is used in an actual routine.

The performer displays the 4 mysterious looking tiles as some ancient divination tool.  He forms them into a larger tile showing a heart design.  This is quickly rearranged to form a diamond design, then a spade, a club, a Queen, a Jack and a King design.  The performer claims these tiles can predict any selected playing card.  As an example, he re-arranges the 4 tiles to show a three of diamonds.

2 playing cards are selected.  The performer arranges the 4 tiles to reveal the ten of hearts, the identity of the first card.  Since the second card is also a number card, the performer asks for its value to be halfed.  The tiles then revealed correctly the result. 

Finally, the performer has the spectator key in several random numbers to be multiplied by themselves using the calculator function of his mobile phone,.  The total is a massive number.  The performer has the spectator note the first 4 digits of this number.  Jenzo predicts correctly these 4 digits.   

You receive the 4 nice looking tiles and a small leather pouch to carry them in.  they come in a nice drawer box.  You are also given a link to an online instructional video that is almost half an hour long. 

In the video, you are taught how to form each one of the various revelations.  This opens up many uses of the Jenzo tiles.  The routine taught in the video contains several phases and involves the use of a deck of cards and the calculator on the mobile phone.  You can also reveal each of the 12 court cards.

In the video, you are also taught a simple and interesting card force by Paul Harris.  You are also shown how to force a total using the calculator of your mobile phone.

You need to know the various ways of arranging the tiles to get the revelations you want.  If you are familiar with this, Jenzo becomes an almost self-working trick.

If you like to inject novelty and mystery into your close-up or card magic, Jenzo is highly recommended.  (8/10 star rating)

FACE OFF by Mark Setteducati

Written by John Teo

This is a mathematical oddity based on what Martin Gardner dubbed as the “Principle of Conceled Distribution”.  Many variations have appeared based on works by Sam Loyd, Theodore DeLand, Paul Curry, Mel Stover and Masao Atsukawa.  Many magicians have also tried to turn it into a magic trick.  In my opinion, none is as successful and as clever as “Face Off” by Mark Setteducati.

Mark is a magician as well as an inventor of magic, illusions, games and puzzles.  He was featured in the PBS series “Inventors” in 2013.  We know him best as the co-creator of the hardcover interactive magic book entitled “Magic Show”, together with Anne Benkovitz.  This book is now a much sought after collector’s item.

In effect, a small frame measuring 14.5 cm X 11.0 cm is displayed.  It features a picture inside it showing 6 human faces.  The picture is made up of 3 transparent plastic pieces.  The entire frame itself has an clear acetate overlay attached to it so that the pieces do not fall off the frame prematuredly. 

The audience counts and confirms there are 6 faces on the picture.  The clear acetate sheet is lifted up and each of the 3 pieces is taken out for examination.  A spectator inspects each piece to ensure that the same picture appears on both sides since the plastic is transparent throughout.  She also ensures that the picture cannot be changed or wiped off each of the 3 plastic pieces. 

When she is satisfied that everything is alright, the 3 pieces are put back into the frame.  Mysteriously, the picture now shows not 6, but only 5 faces.  One face has mysteriously disappeared, and there seems to be no explanation for it! 

You receive the product ready for performance.  It is very well manufactured by Ton Onosaka of MagicLand, Japan.  Included is a sheet of written instructions by Seo Magic of USA.

Ton has provided a piece of the “missing man”.  With this extra item, you can make the missing person re-appear from underneath the frame, indicating that the person has penetrated the frame.  You can slso make the “missing man” re-appear in some impossible location.

If you do walk-around magic, this piece of novelty never fails to interest the audience.  Since the pieces are transparent, the vanish of a face is really quite magical, and there appears to be no explanation for it.  (8/10 star rating)

T.U.C. POKER CHIP GREEN by Tango Magic

Written by John Teo

T.U.C. stands for “Tango Ultimate Coin”.  It is a special gimmicked coin designed by Marcelo Insua, who is also known as Mr Tango, and manufactured by his company, Tango Magic.  In my opinion, the word “ultimate” is justified in its use as a description for this gimmicked coin.  It is a shell and coin set that is cleverly crafted so that the shell will not come off the coin easily unless activated.  This enables a shelled coin to be handled with greater ease and confidence.  This is indeed quite an “ultimate” gimmicked coin.  It won for Marcelo the Invention Award at FISM in 2012.

T.U.C. Poker Chip Green uses the same T.U.C. gimmick applied onto a green colour poker chip.  You receive the T.U.C. green poker chip together with 3 other regular green chips.  Together, they allow you to perform coin effects that require up to 5 coins.  The T.U.C. poker chip is precision made.  The shell is hard and will not bend easily.

The separation of the shell and chip is usually done with one hand.  It is not a difficult thing to do, but it does take some practice to get it done smoothly.

There are some confussions concerning accessing the instructions online. 

You are given a link with a password.  However, there is no direct tutorial for the T.U.C. Poker Chip Green.  The closest to it is the section entitled “T.U.C. and Triple T.U.C. Basic Concepts”.  Here, the concept and handling of the T.U.C. coin is explained, together with a 4 coin across routine using a glass tumbler and 2 spectators.  You can use this tutorial for your T.U.C. Poker Chip Green. 

There is another source that you can check out for your T.U.C. Poker Chip Green.  The trailer for this product, which is available in the web site of any magic dealer, shows the performances of both a “3 Fly” as well as a “4 Coin Across” routine using the T.U.C. Poker Chip Green.  There are no explanations, of course.  But if you are familiar with coin magic, you can easily figure out how to perform the 2 routines.

There is also a statement on the product packaging that says you get to see “Tangopedia”, which is like an encyclopedia on gimmicked coins that contains 50 coin routines.  However, the “Tangopedia” is no longer in the web-site.  Previously, it was.  One of the reasons for this could be that “T.U.C. Secrets The DVD” is now available separately.

If you perform coin magic using shells, an understanding of the construction and handling of the T.U.C. is good enough for you to add T.U.C. to your coin routines.  In this case, you can use your TUC Poker Chip Green in your coin routines, using green poker chips instead of coins.  Although it is not common for people to carry poker chips with them unless they are in a casino, magic with poker chips is more visual and colourful than magic performed with coins.

If you like using poker chips for coin tricks, Tango Magic also supplies other types of gimmicked poker chips.  There are magnetic poker chips, expanded poker chip shells, and magnetic scotch and soda poker chip sets.  The poker chips are also available in different colours too, such as in red as well as in blue colours.

Welcome to the world of coin magic using poker chips.  (10/10 star rating)