Magic Products Review

UNBOUND: GIMMICKLESS INVISIBLE DECK by Darryl Davis

Written by Bernard Sim

Unbound is an impromptu ungimmicked Invisible Deck, at least for 1 version.  There are a few versions where some requires some setup and even a gimmicked box version.

I’m pretty sure most magicians will have at least bought 1 Invisible deck before.  While some use this very often, some people (that’s me) will put it in the drawer to collect dust.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the effect.  Very often, prolong storage or usage will make the deck not as effective as it use to be.  With Unbound, you won’t have that problem anymore.  Having said that, you will have some problems if you want to use Unbound and that is practiceJ.  It’s not easy; you will need to have lots of practice before you can perform it.  The good thing for this version is that you can perform it with a brand new deck or a borrowed deck.  There is even an ungimmciked (but not impromptu) version of a Brainwave deck.  The Brainwave deck effect looks great!  Apart from learning the sleights, you will also need to learn some equivoque.

One of the routine that caught my attention was Akerman’s opener.  This routine is a non-gimmicked ID combined with Triumph routine and a memorised deck routine.   This one is really cool but tough work.  Purist will have fun with this.  While I enjoyed this routine, I can’t imagine how it would look like for me to put in effort to learn this.   Haha,I liked it, but I don’t like to practice this J.

There are tons of info and the effect is taught in great detail.  However, the question you want to ask yourself is..... do you want to go through all these when you have the gimmicked version?  For me, I think it is too much of a hassle when there are easier gimmicked versions to perform the same effect.  I think the gimmicked version looks better too.  Of course there are purists who would put this to the test.

Lots of info, lots of materials and of course lots of practice.  Suitable for some but not for all.

Rating: 6/10 

NUMBERIC by Taiwan Ben

Written by Bernard Sim

Anyone who has own a beginner’s magic kit before is likely to have seen the number cards which Numberic is based on.  Basically, the original effect uses a few cards that has numbers on it.  Spectators will choose a number and the magician will flash the cards 1 at a time to the spectator and ask if that number is in that particular card.  This is repeated until the cards are exhausted and the magician will be able to tell the identity of the card.  Numberic is the same except that this is in 3D version on a Rubik’s 5x5 cube.

When I first saw this prop, I was fascinated by the design as it’s a Rubik’s cube with numbers on it.  However, when I realized what the effect was, I was rather disappointed.  Numberic comes with a link to watch the video.  I was probably very tired and I fell asleep 3 times and had to rewind it to watch from where I doze off.  A friend came to visit me, so I stopped watching it.  After he left, I continued to watch, this time without falling asleepJ.  The video was rather dry and the way Taiwan Ben speaks is too slow for me, explanations are repeated many times and the “variations” are very similar.  The effect is based on an easy system in which you have to remember.  Once you get that down, you are good to go.  Method is very easy, much like the original card version.  There are a few routines taught but I felt that the routines are too similar to each other.

When I first opened up the package, the first thing that came to mind was what if I screw up the cube and can’t solve it?  Well, Taiwan Ben has a set of instructions on how to take the cube apart and assemble it back (many of us is probably already very experienced in taking apart Rubik’s cube J)

In summary, while the effect is easy, there is a high chance that the spectators will think that the method involve some sort of mathematics formula.  I wouldn’t use this effect but I know some people would.  You’d need a very interesting presentation to impress your spectator.

Rating 6/10.  I think Taiwan Ben has probably spent a lot of time coming out with this product, though this is a simple effect, I think the workings behind is brilliant. 

AROUND THE WORLD MIND READING DECK by Magic Makers

Written by John Teo

The “Fred” card trick has become a classic novelty card prediction effect.  There are now numerous variations of it both in terms of performances as well as in the methods.

This is a new application of the “Fred” trick using names and flags of countries instead of names of a person.

In effect, a boxed deck of cards is placed on the table.  A spectator is asked to think of any of the 52 cards in the deck.  The performer writes something on a piece of paper, folds it, and leaves it in the safe keeping of the spectator.

The spectator is asked to name her thought-of card.  Let us assume she names the Seven of Diamonds.  The performer unboxes the deck of cards and shows that on the back of each card is printed the name of a different country in the world.  The spectator withdraws her Seven of Diamonds from the deck and it has CANADA on its back.  The prediction is unfoled and it states exactly CANADA!

This is the routine performed and taught by Rob Stiff of Magic Makers, Inc.  I prefer to perform this type of effect without a written prediction.  It also has a nice play on the phrase “I will name your card”.  You are welcome to use my presentation if you wish.

Place a boxed deck of playing cards in a conspicuous place on the table.  Ask a spectator to think of any one of the 52 cards in a deck of cards, and say you will name her card.  When she indicates she has thought of one card, tell her that the name of her card is CANADA.   She will not understand you.  You then jokingly remind her that you promise to “name” your card and you just did it – you name it CANADA, the name of a country. You unbox the deck of cards on the table and show her that on the backs of every card is printed a name and flag of a different country in the world.  She takes out her Seven of Diamonds and turns over the card – it has CANADA printed on its back!

You are supplied with a special deck of cards that allows you to perform this effect sleight free.  Any one of the 52 cards can be named and you will know the country printed on its back.  The deck of cards is nicely printed not only with the names of different countries, but also their respective flags.  The effect is easy to do and fast to reset.  You are also given a printed instruction and a link to the internet to watch both a performance and an explanation video.

Highly recommended!

COMPRESS by Brian Kennedy

Written by Bernard Sim

Compress is an effect whereby you can shrink the length of bills. Compress uses 5 bills and 1 of the bill is used for wrapping around the middle of the rest of the bills.  They are then seen to slowly shrink and then restored. Everything can be examined.

Again, like all Sansminds products, the DVD will start with a guy saying how great this looks and how it will blow the minds of your spectators, how organic (whatever that means) this is and with all the spectators shouting. While I agree this type of intro/ trailer will impress certain people, I find it kind of a turn off with the overhyped description.

This effect is impromptu and can be performed anywhere. The only restriction would be the angle. You can only perform it with your spectators in front of you. The sides are sensitive and will give away the secret. I am not impressed by the effect itself.  Seeing bill shrinking is not the same as seeing a human in a box shrinking. When I first saw the performance of Compress, all I can think of is how they are hiding the folds, I even managed to make a close guess on the method. The actually method is not easy and you’d need lots of practice before you can perform it.

While looking at the product description on Murphy’s website, I see the excerpts of positive reviews for this item at the bottom of the page. I somehow don’t agree with what they say on how good this effect is. I don’t think your spectators will think of this as a piece of magic, I’d think that they will see this as a piece of clever origami style of folding.

Something very important to note before you purchase this. You can perform this with any paper currency so plastic currency is out. I don’t think this is worth the asking price of $19.95 and this is not worthy of being released as an effect by itself.  This is probably more suitable to be released as part of other compilation of effects or even in a magazine. I feel that this effect was created as a product to make money and not as something you are using for a long time before you decide to release it. 

Rating:  4/10

AMAZEBOX by Mark Shortland

Written by Bernard Sim

I had this thing sitting on my office floor for a long time before I finally open it for review. The packing for this thing is flat but big. It’s like the size of A2. When I opened it, there is a white piece of cardboard with lines for easy folding.  So far, I haven’t a single clue on what it does or how it works. Inside the package, there is a card that tells you not to assemble the box before watching the video. As for the video, it’s a link to an online video and this is the first time I watch an instructional video without having to key in a password. I guess the creator doesn’t see the need for a password which I more or less agree as a general password doesn’t really help in protecting it. Anyway, back to the review.

While watching how the box is being folded, I can’t help but wonder how the creator can come up with such an idea. The folds of the box are rather clever and fit nicely. I think this box has many potential uses. You can easily force a billet; do predictions and a LOT more. I am not a mentalist and I can see so much use for this box. Mentalist will surely have many ideas for the use of this box. Imagine a force bag made in the shape of a box, much like a suggestion box with a slot where you can put in pieces of paper. The box doesn’t look like a magic prop and thus will not create suspicion. This box works great in a stage or parlour setting. You can still use it in a close-up setting if you don’t mind bringing the box around. The video doesn’t teach you any routines but I think you can easily come up with a few routines with it. The box can be packed flat and bring around. However, due to the material of the box, it will eventually succumb to wear and tear.

While I like the construction of the box and its secret, I wish a different material is used. Nonetheless, I still think this is a great utility device.

Rating:  8/10 Highly Recommended.

50 FIFTY by Brian Kennedy

Written by Bernard Sim

Effect:

A sawing a woman in half type of illusion using cards.

Product description:

The description states what this product can do but I am slightly disappointed by the video demo. In the demo, you can see the performance but in edited segments. A weak point in the routine was edited out. But then again, if that weak part is in it, it probably gives away the method.

Method:

I wouldn’t say the method is neither sound nor weak, I can tell where and how the card is placed before I watched the explanation part of the DVD. The weakest part of the routine is when the card is being taken out of the box. You can see a little fumbling when the hand is inside the box trying to retrieve the card. Without giving away the method, if you don’t do the last “move” properly, your spectator will see how the effect is done.

Quality

Part of the materials required to construct the box is included. You will need to supply your own card boxes, tapes, glue, superglue, ruler, knife etc. From the video, it took him about 17 minutes to make 1 box. These 17 minutes does not include preparing some of the pre-cut parts. Actual time spent to make the box will take much longer than that, especially if you have not done it before. I feel that the box will eventually give way to wear and tear given the weak parts in the constructions.

Pricing

At US$38, this is way overpriced, especially when you have to spend time on a tedious process of constructing the card. At this priced, I would think that the finished gimmick should be included. But I guess having to spend time to construct the gimmick is not feasible to include this in the product.

Verdict

It’s a no go for me; somehow, I don’t feel that this is magic. Somehow, it looks more like a puzzle to me. You can probably use this as a filler.... a rather weak one though and that is if you still want to construct the gimmick after you go through the instructions.

Rating:  3/10