Magic Products Review

MELT 2.0 by Matthew Johnson

Written by Derek Lee

This is a bill penetration effect with a playing card by Matthew Johnson, a UK magician based in Canada.

The magician borrows a dollar bill from the spectator.  He takes the playing card and visually under the spectator’s eyes, penetrates the card through the folded bill. 

This product is a video download from Penguin which comes with detailed instructions to construct the gimmick.  It is not difficult to get the material required to construct the gimmick (you should be able find it at home or get it from the stationery shop).  Matthew Johnson describes the handling of the gimmick and the performance in precise detail.

I like this effect very much.  It is simple, very visual and this trick can be done close-up and surrounded.  The gimmick is easy to construct.  Unlike many other effects on the market which requires more practice before you can do it.  You will be able to easily perform this effect after the gimmick is constructed.  It’s a great idea and if you are creative enough, you can even adapt this effect to other props (not just playing cards), for example business cards.  A famous magician Rick Lax adapts this effect into an envelope instead of playing card.  You can even make this a signed card effect.

My rating: 9/10

NEVER THERE by Morgan Strebler

Written by Bernard Sim

Was it a special app?  No, it’s their phone.

Was it special programming?  No, programming can’t be done on the spot (right?).

Was it an old photo in their phone?  That’s possible but highly unlikely (right?).

The above were the questions I thought of while watching the trailer.  Again, another great trailer from Sandsmind.  The effect of being able to take oneself out of a digital photo is certainly intriguing.  There is no sleight of hand required for the effect.  While the method is not difficult, you’d be required to make some gutsy move while pattering.  I feel that some of the sharp-eyed spectators may find discrepancies in the vanished photo.  Morgan Strebler kept stressing that you have to really practice before performing this trick.  While you can practice some of the moves, you’d probably need real performance as a practice to make it good.  The main part of the effect is to be able to add misdirection using patter, and you can only get good with that when you really perform it.

The DVD covers says that you can perform this with any smartphone.  That is not true, you probably can perform this with most Smartphone but definitely not ALL Smartphones.  There are certain restrictions on some phones that will give away the secret move when performing it.  The DVD only teaches you how to perform this effect on an iPhone and doesn’t even talk about other phones with different OS.

I am not really impressed by this, especially when there are phone restrictions.

Rating:  6.5/10

LIGHT SPEED by Rick Lax

Written by Derek Lee

This effect shows that the magician is able to control the location of the cards effortlessly, almost instantly, hence the name of the trick – light speed.  He does that by putting the named cards at its exact position after spelling out the card.  This product is available as a video download from Penguin.

Example scenario, magician gets two spectators to say aloud two different cards.  Spectator A names the five of hearts and spectator B names the ten of clubs.  Magician demonstrates extraordinary skills by being able to put the five of hearts card into his desired position and that is by counting f-i-v-e-o-f-h-e-a-r-t-s, the card five of hearts would be revealed.  For the 2nd phase, he is able to seemingly take out the other named card and put it almost instantly in his desired location.  By spelling out t-e-n-o-f-c-l-u-b-s, the ten of clubs is revealed. 

This is a great idea for a magical effect as it can be an ‘impromptu trick’ with a borrowed deck.  The trailer really looks good and is misleading because it only shows the second phase.  People who buy the trick will be disappointed to know that to achieve the miracle shown on the video, some preparation is required in first phase and the first phase deteriorates the whole trick unless you are very good at reacting superfast in different scenarios.  Lots of practice is required to make this effect look good in performance.  Luckily this is not a very expensive trick.

Instructions are very clear and concise as Rick took time to explain the handling of the trick thoroughly.

My rating: 7/10 

VICTORIAN COINS AND GLASS by Kainoa Harbottle

Written by Bernard Sim

When I first saw Harbottle’s magic, it was on VHS under Curtis Kam’s Palms of Steel one.  He left a deep impression on me as his coin magic was graceful and at the same time very tough.  I have no doubt many people like him and his coin magic and at the same time, I don’t think many will do his routine as they are not so easy.

Victorian Coins and Glass fall in between easy and tough and it’s actually quite doable.   What you get is a very nice glass and a DVD.  The design of the glass makes it very easy to manipulate the coins and perform Harbottle’s routine.  You will need to provide your own special coin in order to do his routine.  This gimmick is very common and serious coin magician would already have it.

The moves taught in the DVD are refreshing and they are not your standard coin moves.  While some of the moves are not so easy, you can always substitute it with other moves.  With the glass, it aids in hiding the coin in plain sight.  You can see from the top down pic here.

Routine

The routine is basically a coins across routine done on a glass.  It has a lot of audience participation and it will make your spectator seems like they are doing the magic, especially when they are holding the coins/ glass when the coins travels.  The coins travels one at a time and every time the coin travels, it seems to be more impossible than the one before.

There are also 2 bonus routines included to be used with the glass. The first one is a 4 coin production and the second one is a copper silver transpo routine.

With this glass, you can do a lot more than what is taught in the dvd.  The moves taught in the DVD can also be applied to your regular coin magic.  At $30, I think this is worth it as the glass is not some cheapo prop that you see many magician put out these days just to make a buck.

Rating:  Tough but doable coin magic.  Highly recommended 8.5/10

SPLIT by Yves Doumergue and JeanLuc Bertrand

Written by Derek Lee

A bill instantly becomes 2 different bills when it is pulled.  When I saw the trailer, I was very excited because the effect really looks like real magic and very visual.  John Archer and Dynamo were featured in the trailer making the effect look even more interesting.

Unfortunately I was very disappointed upon receiving the trick.  It costs around sixty dollars.  For this price, I expected a lot more from the product.   As the gimmick is on the dollar bill, you cannot use spectator’s bill to perform this effect.  The product comes with ten fake waterproof bills (which I find pretty useless as it would took more organic with making the gimmick with real dollar notes), material (to make the gimmick) and a link to an online tutorial about ten minutes to teach you only how to make the gimmick.  They did not cover any tips on the presentation or even the handling.  The instructions are rather poor, although you should be able to comprehend after watching it repeatedly.

The gimmick was not very difficult to construct but still take some effort to perfect it.   The final appearance of the two dollar bills is not 100% examinable, only one can be handed out for examination.  Please note that if you appear two bills at the end of your effect, you will have to cut up one bill initially to construct the gimmick.

To sum it up, personally I feel that this effect cannot be performed close-up commercially and especially not under bright lights.  The product is simply over-valued.  The instruction video was very disappointing to me.  Nevertheless it is a great idea and will be suitable for anyone who wants to make a fantastic video magic performance or perhaps a parlour trick.

Rating: 6/10 

TOKEN by SanaMinds Creative Lab

Written by Bernard Sim

Again, another very good trailer from Sandsmind.  These guys really know how to produce nice trailers.  Token is a visual effect whereby a straw is slowly pushed into the fist and becomes a heart shaped origami straw.

Effect wise I think this one is not too bad, at least your spectator gets to keep a souvenir of your performance and will also remember you.  You get the instructional DVD and a set of gimmicks.  The gimmicks are not specially made items but are ordinary objects which I think some of you may already have.  At US$34.95, I think the price is quite fair considering the added gimmicks.

There are certain requirements when performing Token.  First of all, you need to be wearing a jacket.  You will also need to prepare the straw (easy) and also fold the heart shaped straw for giveaways.  The heart shaped straw requires 2 straws to make, but that should not be a problem as straws are pretty cheap.  It is very easy to perform Token, no complicated moves.

The only thing I don’t like about this is how the trailer portrays this product.  By watching the trailer, you’d think that you can just take a straw from a spectator and then do the magic.  I counted 8 spectators accepting the heart shaped straw from the magician.  What are the chances of the people on the beach using the same straw?   The trailer shows the magician borrowing the straw from the spectator and then go into performing the effect.  That segment has something missing which makes it vital for this product.  You can’t simply take the straw from someone and then go into performing the effect without doing that part.  Though that part is not difficult to do, it may be decision making part of buying this product.

The DVD says that this may be a good effect from working magicians as one of the methods allows it to be performed surrounded.  However, it will not make sense for a magician to be carrying a drinking cup with a straw while working.

It’s a nice concept and effect. I just simply don’t like the trailer.

Rating:  7/10