Magic Products Review

SVENLOPES HOLLYWOOD by Sven Lee

Written by John Teo

Sven Lee’s Svenlopes have now become a classic resource for mentalism.

If you do not already know, they are a stack of envelopes specially manufactured using the Svengali principle to force an item.

In this effect, the Svenlopes are used with a set of movies posters.  A spectator freely cuts a stack of 24 envelopes, inside each envelope is a different miniature movie poster.  The cut-to envelope is set aside.  Both the bottom and the upper envelopes of the cut-to envelope are opened to reveal a different movie poster each.  In other words, had to spectator cut the stack of envelopes one too few or one too many, she would have arrived at a different movie poster.  Inside the cut-to envelope is, say, the Titanic movie poster.  This movie is predicted in advance by a prediction inside a prediction envelope placed to one side at the start of the effect.

The spectator is then asked to turn over the Titanic poster and silently choose one of the actors of the movie printed on the back of the poster.  The performer is able to divine the selected actor letter by letter.

You receive a total of 24 black 4 X 6 inches Svenlopes, one spare Svenlope, one prediction envelope, 6 poker sized multi-coloured envelopes, and 38 miniature movie posters.  The colourful movie posters are very well printed on glossy stiff art paper.  Included is also a tough clear plastic transportation container.

The movie posters are only 3 X 4 inches.  Each of them is to be put inside a 4 X 6 inches Svenlope.  A larger sized poser of 3 X 5 inches would make a better fit for the Svenlopes.

The stack of black Svenlopes is an utility item.  You can download a pdf of 126 pages that gives 22 routines for use with these envelopes and an additional 10 routines for the 6 multi-coloured envelopes.

There are 2 other pdfs that can also be downloaded.  One is a 30-page pdf that gives you the detailed handlings of the Svenlopes.  The other is a 17-page pdf instructions showing you how to perform Svenlopes Hollywood.

You receive a massive amount of items.  They are all very well manufactured.  The Svenlopes can be used in other effects.  Movies are popular with people.  Magic using movie posters will never fail to entertain.  This is a good investment (8/10 star rating)

THE MEMORY ARTS by Sarah & David Trustman

Written by John Teo

Magicians like the fantastic effects that a memorised deck can offer.  But many of them dread learning it because there is no logical system or structure to help them to remember the stack.  They remain contended with the Si Stabbins or “8 Kings” stack.  Yet they do not mind spending hours and months perfecting a certain sleight or move.  To them, memorising a deck of cards is not only difficult, but also extremely boring.

To these magicians, Sarah and David Trustman’s book “The Memory Arts”, is their perfect solution.  This is a book that teaches you how to store vast amounts of information with the minimal of effort, and specifically, how to memorise the Arason’s as well as the Tamariz’s deck stacks.

The book itself is attractive in every way.  It has an unusual square shape, measuring 7.5 X 7.5 inches, and contains 341 pages.  It is a hard cover book and has an artistically designed brown dust jacket.  Most of the pages are printed in full colours and contains beautiful drawings by David Trustman himself.  There is a black ribbon that attaches to the book and serves as a bookmark.  The book will sit proudly in any book-shelf.

The tome starts with a historical introduction to the world of mnemonics.  It then describes the benefits of having a good memeory, including that of combating Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. 

The brain stores information best as images.  The more weird and absurd and interesting the visuals, as versus those that are mundane and boring, the better our minds can retain them.  We also need a structure known as the Memory Palace in our minds to house myraids of information.  This also serves as a prompt or trigger so that we can easily recall and get the information we need.

Based on this principle, the authors show us how to link stunning visuals to each of 26 locations in our Magic Palace in our minds.  The next chapter shows us how to associate images to each of the 13 values of a playing card as well as to each of the 4 suits.  If we attach 2 playing cards to each of the 26 locations, we can then recall the identity of any card at any one of the 52 positions in a deck of cards.  This is done by creating a fantasy story for each of the 52 playing cards at each of the 26 locations.  The authors then straight-away show us how to memorise the Aronson stack as well as the Tamariz’s Mnemonica stack. 

In the next section of the book, they teach us how to remember locations 27 to 52.  If we again attach 2 cards to each of these locations, we can memorise 2 different memorised stacks and recall any of them at any of the 1 to 52 locations!  This is powerful and useful.  You can now easily memorise not one but both the Aronson as well as the Tamariz stacks and recall any or both of them!

“The Feinaiglian Grid”, with a slight modification, provides another method of organising and recalling 52 different items.  

There is an effect by Corinda called “The Amazing Memory Test”.  Inspired by this, the authors describe an effect called “The List Game”.  The performer draws up a list consisting of numerous items randomly generated by the audience.  He takes less than a minute to memorise this list and can immediately recall any item from any position in the list called for by the audience.  This can be performed either as a magic effect or a feat of extraordinary memory.  This system is helpful in preparing a shopping list.

Names also get a treatment in the book too.  An example is shown on how to remember the first 23 monarchs of England by associating images to 13 Christian names.

Before the book ends, the authors discuss the following important points:

  • How to erase the original images, if they are no longer required, in order to makle way for a fresh round of memorisation.
  • How to create alternative paths when locations become overcrowded with information.
  • The importance of mnemonics in this present age of advanced technology where information is readily available at the push of a button.

This is a most wonderful book to read.  You can use your own imageries once you understand the principles used in memorisation.  But you will want to use the visuals in the book because they are so stunning beautiful.  Once you start reading the book, it is hard to put it down.

The book is useful to laymen because they can easily remember phone numbers, birthdays, appointment dates and times, shopping lists, passwords and other important codes, and also where they keep certain important items in their homes.

The book is most useful to magicians because it gives the complete sytem of remembering not only the Aronson’s or the Tamariz’s stack, but both of them at the same time.  (10/10 star rating)

RIP by Christopher Wiehl

Written by John Teo

RIP is a torn and restored card effect.

What makes this different from other T & R card tricks is its straight-forward effect.  In its most basic form, a card is torn into several pieces.  You can hear the ripping sound as the card is being torn.  The torn pieces are held together in one hand.  With a flick of the hand, the torn pieces come together as a whole card.  It can be shown on both sides, and can be tossed from hand to hand.  With a little care, the effect can be performed surrounded.  The entire effect is over within 15 seconds.  There is no need to restore the card piece by piece or perform some other moves with the card.  It is highly visual.

You receive a well produced DVD and the very well hand-made gimmicked card that is ready for use in a performance.  The great thing about RIP is that this gimmicked card can be reused and there is no need for any replacement.  The reset is almost instantaneous.

However, you need to practise to get the knack in performing RIP well.  Properly performed, RIP is quite convincing, especially with the tearing sound.  Because of its very quick effect, it is good as an opener in a card routine.

If RIP is to be used in the middle of a card routine, a duplicate card has to be forced, switched to the gimmicked card, and then switch out for examination.  This is all taught in the DVD.   

The DVD is 1 hour 20 minutes long.  Christopher Wiehl also teaches you how to construct the gimmicked card from scratch, in case the present one is damaged or gets worn out through repeated use.

The concept of this gimmicked card can be utilised in different ways to create different effects.  This is why the creator teaches you how to construct this gimmicked card which is 3 layers thick.  Christopher shows you how to make 3 variations of this card to perform the following 3 different effects:

Changed – the performer tries to locate a spectator’s chosen card, but falis, and gets the wrong one instead.  He tears this card up, but it immediatelyt gets restored and transformed into the correct card.

Prediction – a spectator selects one card and places it face downwards without revealing the identity.  The performer claims he tries to make a prediction using another deck of cards.  He has several cards in mind, but he thinks none of them is the correct prediction.  He has torn all the cards up.  He brings out a mess of torn pieces of cards.  He discards a couple of the torn pieces.  With a flick of the hand, all the other remaining torn pieces magically restore into a particular card.  When the spectator’s selected card is turned over, it is seen to match exactly this card.

T & R Signed Card – a selected card is signed.  This gets torn up and then restored.  In this case, any court card can be used as the signed selection.  There is a variation in which the signed card can be shown to be actually torn before it is restored.  In this case, it is recommended that you get 2 different spectators to sign the chosen card.

The clever gimmicked card is not difficult to construct.  But if you are not a DIY person, simply use the supplied gimmick card and perform the recommended routine.  (7/10 star rating)

THE MAGICIAN’S INSURANCE POLICY

Written by John Teo

The Magician’s Insurance Policy has become a classic effect.  Many magicians shun performing this because they think it is too well known.

It is “too well known” because it is an old effect.  It is well-known to magicians, but it is not too well-known to laymen.

It is an interesting premise for a magician to purchase an insurance policy against failing to find the correct chosen card!  It is a sure laughter generator the moment the performer brings out his Magician’s Insurance Policy.  The audience has not seen or heard about such an insurance scheme for magicians.

Here is the actual effect:  the performer explains that he is about to perform the world’s most difficult card trick.  Therefore he has purchased a Magician’s Insurance Policy to guard him against failing to find the selected card.  He brings out the Policy and places it on the table.  He has a card chosen and then lose it back into the deck.  He claims he can cut to the chosen card.  He cuts the deck but the card cut at turns out to be the wrong selected card.  He asks to have another chance.  He fails again on the second trial.  It is time to turn to his Insurance Policy.  He opens the policy and reads out the 8 conditions of the policy.  They all contain comical terms.  The last and 8th condition refers to enacting the “big finish”.  The performer unfolds the policy and reveals a giant sized image of the chosen card!

You receive 2 policies in 2 sizes: one for parlour or stage performance and the other for close-up show.  When opened fully, the stage sized policy reveals a giant-sized King of Hearts measuring 18” X 24”.  When folded, the policy measures 4” X 9”.  The close-up policy reveals a 7” X 9” Queen of Diamonds, and folds down to a 1.5” X 3.5” document.  Both policies are well designed and produced in thick paper that will last through dozens of performances.

There is a printed instruction on how to perform the criss-cross force of a card.  Video performance is given via a link, but this link no longer works.  Instead, a search in the internet produces this link to the video performance:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27CdA8iGnd0

Since you receive 2 policies with different reveals, you can actually use either one for repeat performance.  The close-up policy is small when folded (1.5” X 3.5”), but it is large enough for parlour performance when it is opened to a 7” X 9” Queen of Diamonds reveal.  The parlour sized policy can be used for close-up.  With the final reveal of a 18” X 24” King of Hearts, it is quite large for close-up performance, but this large reveal gives you the comical element especially when it is used as a climax to the close-up performance.

There are various ways of presenting the effect too.  Instead of bringing out the policy at the beginning of the effect, take it out only when you apparently “fail” to find the chosen card.

If you have not owned a Magician’s Insurance Policy, and hesitate to purchase one, I trust this will encourage you to buy this effect and perform it.  You will not regret it.

Highly recommended!

LIQUID KILLER by Morgan Strebler

Written by John Teo

After the release of his “Liquid Metal” DVD, Morgan Strebler has become well known in association with metal bending.

Now, after more than 10 years later, he has come up with another fork bending routine in Liquid Killer.  This new effect has new bends and ends with a nice artistic piece in which the spectator can take away as a souvenir.  Here is the effect:

The performer displays 2 forks, one in each hand.  A spectator chooses one of them.  The performer places the non-selected fork in his back pocket as he turns his attention to the chosen fork.  He puts a lot of mental concentration on the fork, and has the spectator touch the fork with her finger.  Mysteriously, a cockscrew twist is found at the neck of the utensil.  More concentration and more personal touching by the spectator – the tines part of the fork now bends at the neck and finally breaks off and falls onto the floor.

The performer brings out the other fork from his pocket.  He causes 2 cockscrew twists to occur at one end tine.  This tine is then bent at right angle to the rest of the tines.  Another tine now bends at right angle but in the opposite direction to the first tine.  The 2 middle tines now bend away from each other, and the entire tine structure looks like an X or a 4-pointed start.  After the audience recovers from their shock, they find that there are now 2 bends at the neck of the fork.  The entire fork now looks like a beautiful piece of art.  It is given away as a souvenir to the spectator who helped the performer.

You receive a well-produced DVD with Morgan Strebler performing and explaining the entire routine.

This routine requires you to prepare the forks in advance.  Morgan also teaches an impromptu version where you can use a borrowed fork.  This impromptu version does not include the cockscrew twists.  The final twisted fork looks like the one in the first routine and you can give this away to a spectator as a souvenir.

The strong point of Liquid Killer is the multi-phase routine that helps build up the suspense, culmulating to the final artistic piece that can be given away to a spectator.  The delighted spectator can use this souvenir as an advertisement for you.

You need to put in some work in order to perform Liquid Killer.  Bending the fork and the tines requires some strength and a lot of practice to get them right.  Once you have mastered the techniques and the misdirections, Liquid Killer can be the most talked about piece of magic in your repertoire.  (10/10 star rating)

SVENLOPES YIN & YANG by Sven Lee

Written by Joshua

The use of the Svengali principle with playing cards has been extended to writing pads, and now, to envelopes.

Sven Lee’s Svenlopes have added another dimension of deception to the Svengali force.  You are also given more flexibility to force different objects, so long as they can be inserted into the envelopes.

Sven Lee has also provided actual props for use with his Svenlopes in his superheroes and Hollywood movies effects.  Svenlopes Yin & Yang is another routine in which the props are supplied.

This is an effect that involves mysticism and mystic symbols.  Two packets of small envelopes are displayed.  One packet consists of black colour envelopes while the other packet comprises lighter colour envelopes.  Inside each of the envelopes are different mystic symbols.  Two spectators help out.  One chooses one of the black envelopes and the other selects a light coloured envelope.  Mysteriously, one person has chosen one half of the Yin & Yang symbol, while the other person selects the other half of the Yin & Yang symbol.  When placed together, the two selections form the complete Yin & Yang symbol.  The two spectators must be in sync with one another!  The Yin & Yang symbol also matches the prediction placed inside an envelope earlier.

In the second phase, the prediction card is turned over to show several different numbers. The numbers are printed in different colours.  Each of them is also associated with a different shape.  A spectator chooses either a shape or a colour and adds all the numbers found in the selected shape or colour.  The total coincides with a prediction placed by the performer before the start of this phase.

In the third phase, another spectator is given a mystic card that contains 15 words.  She is told to read all the words to the audience.  She turns the card over and it is seen that the 15 words are used to form a sentence.  She then reads only the alternative words in that sentence.  They form a phrase.  Everyone in the audience googles that phrase with their mobile phones.  The result is a number.  Mysteriously, this number coincides with the total arrived at in phase two!

This is a multi-phase prediction effect.

You receive a packet of 20 black Svenlopes and another packet of 20 Svenlopes of a lighter colour, and 40 small mystic symbols, 20 of which are the force symbols.  You also receive a separate prediction envelope and 2 prediction cards.

The Svenlopes are precision laser cut and they are beautifully manufactured.  To protect them, especially to prevent their corners from being crushed, you are supplied with a tempered-proof transparent box to contain and transport the 2 packets of Svenlopes.

You are given with a password to download 3 pdfs:

  • A 28-page pdf describing the Svenlopes product, the advantages of using Svenlopes, and various methods of handling the envelopes during a performance.
  • A 16-page pdf providing the full instructions for performing the Yin & Yang prediction effect.
  • A 91-page pdf describing the Svengali principle and 22 routines using the Svenlopes.

If you like the multi-phase prediction effect as described, you will want to invest in this product.  You get the quality Svenlopes which can be used in other tricks.  (8/10 star rating)