Magic Products Review

HELIX by Tom Elderfield

Written by Bernard Sim

Helix is a novel way of moving a small object, well not really moving, more like turning.

This comes in a really small package and it really intrigues me as what is inside that is able to “move” things.  Due to the small and flat package, I immediately rule out magnet and due to the product description, I also ruled out IT / loops.  I had to open it to see what’s in it.   When I saw what was inside, I was even more intrigued.   The gimmick doesn’t give me any hint that it could do any of the things as written in the product description.  So I had to watch the online video to learn how to do it.

I had not watch any trailer prior to watching the instructions video, so I had no idea what the ”moving” was all about.  When I finally saw the moving action, I was really looking forward to learn how this was done.  The method was really unorthodox; it truly is unique in method.  Notice I say “method” and not “effect”.  We’ll talk about this later.

When Tom Elderfield began the video with his introduction, you can clearly hear a voiceover when he mentioned the name “Helix”.  So clearly, Helix was not the original name when they filmed the video, but that’s not important.  The method is really easy and you are supplied with about 30 of these gimmicks as they are expandable.  Each gimmick may allow you to performance once only, depending on what effects you are doing.  There are 4 effects taught (effects not routines), turning Tic Tac box, “haunted” deck, turning of the “angel” in a bicycle deck and a linking rubber band routine. 

I find that the effects are nothing spectacular and there are many other methods which are better than this.  You don’t have much control when you perform Helix.  Once you set-up, leave the hands off the object, it will start turning immediately.  There is no way you can delay this and this really makes routining difficult.  The instructions except for the card effects didn’t show you how to do it in a full routine.  I actually tried to film a video of this and I had to give up eventually as the effect was too short to be worth uploading.  The turn for the object is about a quarter turn of the clock and it is restricted to small and light objects.  To turn a card box, you’d need to empty the box in order to turn it.

While method is unique, the effect has been around for a long time.  In the trailer, you can see a slow spinning straw, this could have easily been replicated by the effect PENomenom which requires no gimmick.  In fact, you could replicate it with using magnet or IT.  I think other methods are more superior than Helix.

I admire the method but I won’t replace other methods with this.  The effect is too short and to put this into a routine is also not easy.  IT is still the best way for such effects.

Rating:  6/10.

FLASHY by SansMinds Creative Lab

Written by Bernard Sim

I always wonder how Sandsminds can come up with so many ideas and products for sale.  Products that were created by Sandsminds Creative Lab seems like a factory churning out products to make money.  I’m not saying that is a bad thing, occasionally, they do have good products.  As for flashy, I’m kinda mixed here.
Flashy allows you to visually vanish a Smartphone with the blink of the flash of the Smartphone.  While the method and effect is not new, the gimmick’s material is new (at least to my knowledge).  While this material is more sturdy than the traditional material, I have a feeling that this won’t last due to repeated use. 

Eventually, this will wear out and I don’t know if this is easily replaceable.  Sandsminds call this “The System” it sounds really cool but not so after you see what “The System” consists of.

Apart from vanishing phones, you can also use this to vanish anything that has a hard and smooth surface such as a credit card.  While I like the effect, I don’t like the way the phone is being held prior to the vanish, it just looks like the magician is doing something fishy for the get ready.  The flash of the camera helps to make the vanish looks more magical but I think the flash is not mandatory.

Flashy is limited to what it can vanish due to the gimmick used.  A more versatile prop would be Gecko.  Gecko can do what Flashy can and also do what Flashy can’t.  Both gimmick requires you to wear a jacket to perform it.  Another option is to use a Topit, no get ready prior to vanish.

I like the effect but I’m not overly impressed by it as there are many other options out there for the same effect.  At US$29.95, the price is not very attractive too.
Rating: 6/10.

“COINS THRU THE TABLE” by Shigeo Futagawa

Written by John Teo

Four coins through the table has become a classic trick in coin magic.  The effect is that one coin passes through the solid table one at a time.

What about performing this classic trick using picture cards instead of actual coins and a table?  Immediately, this will arouse much interest with the audience especially when the picture cards are being displayed.

In effect, six cards are shown to consist of the following pictures.  One card has the picture of a solid wooden table.  One card has a blank face, and four cards have a picture of a coin on each of their faces.

The blank face card is placed face downwards under the table card.  The four coin cards are counted to show there are four coins.

With a magic gesture, one of the coin cards become blank.  One coin has penetrated through the table.  Another gesture and another coin card has beome blank.  Two coins have penetrated the table, claims the performer.

The third card is turned face downwards.  When it is next turned face upwards, the coin is gone, leaving a blank face.  Similarly, the fourth coin card is turned face down and then face up – it too becomes blank.  There are now four blank cards where originally, there were four coin cards.

The blank card underneath the table card is turned over.  It now has the picture of all four coins together in this card.  The four coins have passed through the table, one at a time!

The performer then proceeds to reveal how the coins managed to go through the table.  Mysteriously, there is now a hole through the table card!  Originally, there was no hole seen at all on this table card.  The coins have apparently passed through this hole!  Where did this hole come from?

This is a well constructed trick with a stong climax.  You receive the 6 specially printed cards plus a sheet of instructions written by Max Maven.  The illustrations are by Ton Onosaka and the cards are very well produced.

You need to cut the hole on one of the cards with an exacto knife.  Since this is a packet card trick, you also need to know the sleights associated with packet card tricks such as Jordan Count, Glide and other card moves.  If you find it difficult to follow the written instructions, you can go to the youtube to watch the demonstration:

Watch the Demo!

This should help tremendously.  With proper handling, the effect can be performed surrounded.  If you are both a card and coin enthusiast, you will love Shigeo Futagawa’s “Coins Thru The Table” packet card trick.

Highly recommended!

REVOLUTION by Greg Wilson

Written by Bernard Sim

When was the last time you see a bad release by Greg Wilson?  Greg Wilson in my book is an awesome magician which always releases good and practical magic products.  Most of his releases have been time tested but Revolution was only recently discovered.  He even uses his prototype for his video tutorial.

When I first saw this a few months ago, I was so impressed with it.  The gimmick allows you to spin the deck easily, well not that easy if you don’t practice it.   My magic buddy Satish does it really well and it seems so easy to spin the deck.   When I tried his prepared deck, it doesn’t seem to spin as well as how Satish does it.  Having said that, I am confident that with practice, anyone can do it.

What you get is a gimmick that will last you a lifetime (maybe a few generations if there is no zombie outbreakJ).  The main gimmick is precision made in metal.  Apart from that, you get 3 specially printed cards to use with Revolution.  See the picture.

The video tutorial is very detailed as well as humorous.  You get to see Greg Wilson spin a Macbook and even a huge poster.  He will teach you how to do a brotha spin as well as a heckler’s spin (my favourite), you’ll know what I mean when you see the tutorial.  Tutorial is via online streaming or download and is about 1 hr 34 mins long.   Instructions are easy to follow and Greg Wilson got a guy who has no experience in Revolution to try it.  While he was learning how to spin, Greg Wilson was there giving tips on how to spin.  This is very useful for most people as they will be making the same mistakes.

Revolution is something new and I am very sure everyone will like this despite having to practice to get it right.  I am also very sure you will have fun practising it.

Rating:  9/10.  Highly recommended.

RING THROUGH LACES by Smagic Productions

Written by Bernard Sim

This effect is a ring through shoe laces as what the title suggest.  The ring has to be threaded through the opening of the lace and rest on the lace’s knot, with a shake of the leg, the ring penetrates the knot and rest on the loop of the lace.

The description on the DVD cover says that the effect is visual, convincing with full unlimited rotation.  I disagree with all these though.  Moreover, there are many mistakes in the production description which makes it funny, for e.g “you can borrow a ring of spectators”, “taken down and shook his head showlaces”. They should’ve got someone to check on these descriptions before releasing this product.  I can see a sticker with a serial number on the back of the DVD cover, this is probably to show the authenticity of the product.

When I put in the DVD, I had to sit though and watch the trailer twice as the DVD was made to show twice.  The trailer was rather confusing and I don’t know what was going on until almost at the end of the DVD where the more detailed part of the routine was shown.  Even with the more detailed part shown, I still don’t see this as a visual and convincing.  And I can see flies flying around his hands J  The whole DVD was rather boring to watch as everything was shown repeatedly.  Explanation was shown a few times and then shown again using different rings but with the same method.  This feels like they are just trying to fill the DVD to make it longer.

Gimmicks included are meant for flat shoe laces and I think it won’t work for shoe laces that are round.  You can probably find a replacement gimmick if you use round laces.  Preparation of the gimmick is easy and simple.  Once you are set up, I doubt you can last.  I feel that you have to adjust the laces prior to every performance as the gimmick will be repositioned once you walk.

At US$24.95, I think this is overpriced.  I don’t think this should even be released as a standalone product.  It’ll probably be better as part of a multi-trick DVD or even in a magic magazine.

I’m sorry to say I’m not impressed by this trick.  Interlace by Richard Sanders would be a better choice.

Don’t bother.  Rating 4/10

INSIDIOUS by Michael Scanzello

Written by Bernard Sim

What is Insidious?

1. intended to entrap or beguile: an insidious plan.

2. stealthily treacherous or deceitful: an insidious enemy. 3.operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect: an insidious disease.

Ok, Insidious is a cool name for a Copper/ Silver/ Brass type of effect using recognizable everyday objects like coins, key and a matchbox.  You get parts of the props needed to perform this routine and you probably already have the props in your house.  Even if you don’t have them, they are easily obtainable.  To perform this effect, you’d need to do a onetime setup which is easily done and takes less than 5 mins.  Reset is almost instant.

I like this routine as this has an old school feel to it.  Everything is well thought out and there is always a motivation for the moves employed.  The routine has audience interaction and everything can be examined before and after due to the clever constructions of the routine.  Your spectator gets to hold on to the props all the time and the magic happens right in the palm of their hand.

Though Insidious is a CSB based routine, it is easier to follow than the classic CSB routine as it employs 2 different coins and a key.  The misdirectios are what I like most in this routine.  There are no awkward moves for you to execute.  The moves are easy except for the last part where you are required to do a deep back clip (taught in the DVD).  Do not let the last move stop you from getting this.  You can always replace that move for a simpler move.

If you are looking for something flashy/visual, this is probably not for you.  If you are looking for cleverly constructed routine with motivations for all moves, then this is for you.  The routine is not earth shattering, but it sure is worth investing in it.  I like the planning and also the old school flavour of the routine.  Hmmm somehow, this routine make me feel younger J.

Rating:  9/10.  Highly Recommended.