Magic Products Review

GAG PHONE 20 by Aska Chuang

Written by John Teo

With smart phones being the main wireless communication device, magic with smart phones is topical.  There are dozens of magic applications for smart phones in the market.  What makes this effect different from other tricks with smart phone is that it is not application based.  This fact alone offers a lot of avenue for comedy.  Fancy trying to simulate an electronic effect of a smart phone by merely using mechanical means!

In effect, here is what happens.  You show a paper model of what appears to be an iPhone 4.  The audience will smile when shown a paper model of an iPhone.  To use the iPhone, one has to “unlock” the screen.  With the finger of the other hand, you swipe the screen.  Suddenly, the cover picture of the iPhone is slid out and falls away, revealing another picture of the iPhone with a picture of a face of a kitten on the screen (apparently the wall-paper) beneath it.  This gets another chuckle, as the screen is now :unlocked”.

Then you “pinch” the screen and the picture of the kitten’s face become very small!  Another chuckle from the audience!  You “unpich” and the picture returns to normal size.  If you wish to see a larger picture of the screen, an iPad is better.  As you utter these words, the iPhone visually expands to the size of an iPad!

Remove the iPad.  Show the iPhone 4 with icons on the screen.  Visually, the iPhone now becomes a little longer.  You say that “this is iPhone 5.”  Now the iPhone becomes very long such that it is not so practical to hold in your hand.  You then say “this is iPhone 10!”

You shrink the iPhone 10 back to iPhone 4.  This time, when you stretch the iphone again, it becomes very long, about 25 inchese in total length, complete with more than 110 colourful aplication icons on the elongated black screen.  Obviousy, this makes it impractical to carry around!  “This is iPhone 20!” you say.  This makes a very visual and climatic ending, and is a sure cue for applause!

You receive all the gimmicked paper iPhones.  They are very well made in laminated paper and seems to be quite durable.  The paper iPhones are stiff enough so that it makes the various handling easy.  It is not difficult to do.  You need to remember the stacking order and the patter for the various phases of the effects.  There are 4 disctict phases of the effect.  Reset is quite quick.  It can be done surrounded.  It is suitable for both close-up and parlour performances.  It comes with 2 pages of written instructions with colourful photographs.

This is a timeless piece of magic.  Even if Apple eventually develops a new model iPhone such that it no longer resembles the iPhone 4 or its derivatives, the fact that the climax is an iPhone 20 still makes it relevant!  You simple need to weave into the patter the latest iPhone model!  If you have an android smart phone, this is still a relevant trick because it involves the smart phone.

If you like comedy magic, you should not let this one by.

Highly recommended!

SWEET’N SALTY by Vernet

Written by Bernard Sim

I’m in a dilemma, is Sweet N Salty good or junk?   When I first saw the packaging in a pile of review stuff, it doesn’t stand out.  In fact, it looks cheap and I am hesitant in reviewing it as I have other stuff to review.  Look at the packaging and see if it gives you the same feeling it gave me.

NEVER judge a book by its cover!  I open it and saw what’s in it.......i was even more disappointed!  I thought it was a common gimmick which everyone had.  Upon closer inspection, it was actually different from what I thought.  When I read the instructions and saw the important part of the gimmick, I was impressed!

The written instruction is very basic, it doesn’t teach you any routine and it only explains how to use it and it includes a link to download the 150mb video instructions.  The written instruction “teaches” you how to vanish the salt but first you must buy Vernet’s Ethereal Salt.  Ha, a subtle but not so subtle pitch.  Never about the written instructions, I’m sure most of you would just download and watch the video, that’s what I did.  I downloaded the video.......5 mins later, I get this:

4 hours to download! I’m on a 100mps fibre connection and it takes 4 hours to download!  Well, I guess I can’t review now; I’ll have to wait for it to finish downloading. I’ll be back......

45 mins later....... still downloading. ….  I’m back!  Finally downloading is completed!  And it took 1 hour to download the 150mb size video.  Let me go watch the video and I’ll be back and continue with the review..

Ok, I’m back with the reviews.  A total of 10 routines in the video, while some routines are similar, they are quite practical.  Most routines are vanishing and appearing in impossible places such as a sharpie’s pen cap.  The gimmick also be used to produce salt from person’s nose, elbow, ears etc, much like a miser’s dream routine.

An interesting routine would be the combination of this and a Gypsy Thread routine.  At the end of the thread restoration, the thread is then transformed into a stream of salt.  Another strong routine is the separation of salt and pepper, this routine would work well in a restaurant and you don’t even have to prepare in advance to perform this routine.  Most of the routines are interesting and most importantly, workable.

Despite all the hiccups, I am really impressed by this utility device.  Unlike single trick releases in recent times, you are getting plenty of bang for your buck for this trick. This is like old school magic, I like old school.  Do not be put off by the simple packaging, do yourself a favour and get this.

Rating:  9/10. Highly recommended

PIERCE by Jibrizy Taylor and SansMinds

Written by Bernard Sim

Another organic effect (as stated by SansMinds) of a straw going through the cap of a water bottle, the cap then disappears and reappears and handed out for examination.

Seems like SansMinds always like to use the word “organic” when they are describing their effects.  When they talk about their effect, they are always full of energy..... as if their effect is the next best invention since sliced bread.  At times I can find it quite irritating, especially when you see many of their DVDs having the same pitching style.

Let’s talk about the effect.  The penetration of the straw through the cap is pretty easy to understand and perform.  However, somehow, I feel that the penetration doesn’t look good.  The straw seems to be going in too easily, much like passing through a big hole.  For the vanishing of the cap, it took me a while to register that they are trying to show the cap vanished.  The appearance of the cap is also not convincing for me.  Preparing the bottle is pretty easy and the reset is almost instant.   There is a performance angle you have to take note of. 

I don’t really like this effect.  This shouldn’t even be out in the market as a standalone effect.  A similar and much stronger effect would be Skycap by Luke Dancy.  At $19.95, this is a rip off.

Rating:  2/10, perhaps it’s about time SansMinds filter their magic release.  No doubt SansMinds have good releases but nowadays, it is very obvious that they are more interested in making money rather than releasing decent products.  Don’t bother about this effect.

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