Magic Products Review

A MASTERCLASS IN THE CUPS AND BALLS by Jamy Ian Swiss

Written by John Teo

The cups and balls is a classic of magic, but not one that can be performed well.  This is because of the effect contains many different occurrences of magic.  Little balls appear and disappear under the cups, they penetrate the cups and also get transported from one cup to another cup.  Finally, they transform into other objects.  The entire effect can be quite confusing and difficult to follow by the audience.

The great Dai Vernon has solved this problem by breaking the entire routine into phases – each phase has a different theme, and there is a transition from one phase into another.  This makes the entire act easy for the audience to follow, and for them to better appreciate the climax ending.

The cups and balls routine by Jamy Ian Swiss is a variation of the Dai Vernon routine, but it also includes some ideas and moves by other magic greats.  The routine has evolved to become the Jamy’s personalised routine of cups and balls because it incorporates a lot of Jamy’s own ideas and presentations.

Jamy starts the performance by telling a little about the history of cups and balls.  He then introduces each item of his props.  This includes a 2-piece wand which he screws together in front of the audience to form the complete wand.  3 cups are then introduced and only 1 ball.  The wand penetrates the cups, and the cups themselves penetrate each other.  Magically, 2 more balls make their appearance.  From here, the basic routine of cups and balls is performed. 

A spectator is invited to participate in the middle of the act.  She uses the magician’s wand and causes magic to happen by herself.  The introduction of the spectator brings variety and interaction to the routine.  Finally, a ball and 3 fruits make their appearance under the cups.  When the audience think the effect is over, the performer produces a shot glass with a drink from underneath one of the cups as a befitting climax to the entire act.

You receive a well produced DVD with Jamy Ian Swiss performing and then explaining his full cups and balls routine.  The DVD runs for a little over 1 hour and contains a menu that makes it easy to navigate around the contents.

Jamy explains the various false transfers of the balls, his method of loading objects under the cups, and his special apparent wand spin vanish of not 1, but 3 balls.  He also shares his own design of a holder for liquid load.

The best take-aways from the DVD are the valuable insights you gain on how to construct an effective magic routiine as Jamy explains the why and how he puts together the various phases of his cups and balls act. 

At the price of $15, this is a must-have DVD whether you are a beginner in cups and balls or you already have your own routine.  (9/10 star rating)

SWITCHBOX (RED OR BLUE) by Mickael Chatelain

Written by John Teo

This is another one of Mickael Chatelain’s creations that is highly visual and uses an ingeniously conceived gimmick.

The name “SwitchBox” can be a misnomer.  It does not refer to a special box in which an object placed inside it is switched into another object.

The SwitchBox is a poker-sized Bicycle playing card case.  A folded playing card sits on top of the box.  When the folded card is picked up, it switches undetectably into another folded playing card.

Here is the basic routine for using SwitchBox. 

A folded playing card is held onto the outside of a card box with an elastic band.  The flap of the card box is opened and the deck of playing cards is taken out of the box.  The elastic band is removed and the folded card is left sitting on top of the box.  A card is freely chosen from the deck, and signed.  It is then lost back into the deck.

The performer asks the audience how long they think he will take to find the signed card.  A time period is named.  What if he does it even without looking at the deck of cards at all, that is, if he brings the deck behind his back or under the table?  A longer time period is named.  The performer brings the deck behind his back (or under the table).  In less than a minute, he brings the deck out again.  He has already done it.  He points to the folded card on top of the card box that was there all along even before the trick begins.  By now, the audience is thinking “No way!”  The performer picks up the folded card from the box, unfolds it, and shows that it is indeed the signed card!  The signed card travels back in time!

There is hardly any difficult sleight-of-hand being used.  Mickael also teaches an alternative version where you do not have to bring your hands behind your back or under the table.  You need to be able to perform a classic card move and the entire effect can be performed without having to go undercover.

You receive the very well-made gimmicked Bicycle card box and a couple of accessories.  Each box is hand-made and works very smoothly.  When ordering, you need to specify whether you want a red or blue colour Bicycle card box.  You are also given a link to download a set of video instructions.

You need to supply your own folded playing card and also put the finishing touches to the box.  Do not worry about this – there is no contruction work needed, only how to finish setting up the box.

English is not Michael’s first language.  But you will have no difficulty in understanding what he wants you to do in the video.

Resetting the box is quite instantaneous.  If part of the gimmick breaks, spares are supplied.

Obviously the SwitchBox is capable of other applications, such as a folded piece of paper changes into a folded bill, or a red back folded card changes into a blue back folded card.  However, to utilise the SwitchBox in this manner implies that a switch has taken place.  The original routine is the best use of the SwitchBox.

The effect has a great impact, the switch is undetectable, and the SwitchBox works like a dream!  This is a worthwhile investment.  (8/10 star rating)

THE PRESENT

Written by John Teo

Manufactured by:  Duo Magic (South Korea)

 

This is a card trick with a difference – a huge difference!  “The Present” is a novelty card trick that is sure to bring bewilderment as well as a smile from the spectators.  Here is the effect:

The performer displays a deck of Bicycle cards.  He explains why they are called that because the backs of the cards have the drawing of an angel riding on a bicycle, and the Joker itself has the Joker riding on a bicycle.

The Joker is placed to one side on the table.  A card is chosen and signed by a spectator.  This ensures the performer cannot get a duplicate card and claim it as the chosen card.  It is then lost in the deck.

The Joker card is inserted perpendicular into the deck.

The deck is ribbon-spread face-downwards on the table.  It is seen that the Joker on his bicycle magically leaves the card and leaving it blank.  He travels along the spread and stops on one card. 

As the performer clears away the rest of the cards, the spectators can see that the card stopped at with the Joker and his bicycle on it are part of the same card.  When this card is turned over, it is the spectator’s sign selection!

There is a sense of bewilderment to see the printed Joker on his bicycle leaves the card and travels along the spread to attach itself to one card, the signed selection.  The audience was certain that the chosen card was previously a single card without any attachment. 

The signed card with the Joker attached to it can be given to the spectator as a souvenir and as a reminder of having experienced a wonderful piece of magic!

You receive an instructional DVD taught by Zeki (Yoo Hyun Min) in the Korean language, but there are English subtitles.  You will have no problems at all following the instructions.  What is interesting about the DVD is how Zeki came out with “The Present” after he learnt about a card control called the “Tamariz Perpendicular Control”.  This shows the creative mind of Zeki.

You also receive the necessary gaff cards, including 3 duplicates to be signed and given away.  Refills are available separately from Redefine Magic Outlet.  Instead of signing the card, you get the spectator to sign a sticker or label, and then stick this onto the chosen card.  After each performance, you can carefully peel off the sticker and you can use the gaff card again.  In this case, you do not give the gaff card away as a souvenir.

The effect is simple to do, but you must get used to the handling.

Zeki gives another presentation where you do not have to spread the cards.  Therefore you do not require a table.  When the Joker card is inserted perpendicular into the deck, the Joker and his bicycle magically jumps out of the card and attaches itself onto a card.  The cards are then spread from hand to hand to reveal the chosen card with the Joker on it.

“The Present” is easy to perform, mytifies the spectators, and brings a smile to everyone!

 

Highly recommended!

IMPOSSIBLE LOCATION CARD TRICKS by John Carey

Written by John Teo

“Impossible Location” card tricks refer to card effects where a card is chosen and then lost in the deck or in a packet of cards, and yet the performer is able to find it in a variety of ways.

This is a DVD that features 10 of such effects.  They are practically all self-working.  They are cleverly constructured such that their mathematical based methods are well hidden.  It will be quite difficult for the aduience to back track and find out what has happened.

Self-working effects tend to involve heavy counting and spelling of cards.  While this provides a lot of participations with the audience, they can become draggy and boring.

This is where a well thought-out presentation is important.  John Carey is known to be an expert in this.  His straight-forward approach to card tricks makes them easy for the audience to follow, and yet they defy explanations on how the tricks are accomplished.

False shuffles and cuts help to hide the self-working nature of the effects.  Several methods are taught by John Carey in the DVD.

The DVD is well produced.  Each of the 10 effects is first performed with a spectator or with several people, and then explained.  It is easy to maneuver about the menu to get to any performance or explanation.

The 10 effects are:

  • Entrapped (John Carey) – a chosen card is lost in a packet of 5 cards. 2 red Queens are added into the packet.  Not only is the performer able to divine the chosen card, it is eventually trapped inbetween the 2 red Queens.
  • The 7 Card 21 Card Trick (Mike Powers) – this is a truth/lie spelling effect using 21 cards. There are a lot of dealing of cards involved, and you need to keep it moving along to prevent the effect being draggy.  However, it is a nice interactive piece of magic.  
  • Bake Off (Jack Tighe) – a very deceptive effect in which the performer is not only able to divine the chosen card, but also able to take it out of a shuffled deck placed inside his pocket.
  • Impossible (Larry Jennings) – a chosen card is lost in the deck. The cards are mixed up and yet the spectator is able to find her own card by simply spelling to the word IMPOSSIBLE.
  • Bloody Amazing! (Steve Bryant) – a chosen card lost in a packet of cards is found by spelling BLOODY AMAZING.
  • Lost & Found (Nick Trost) – a cunning priciple is used to find a chosen card that is lost in a deck, and in which the deck can be riffle-shuffled by the spectator.
  • Counting On You (John Carey) – a spectator secretly count to a small packet of cards and notes the card there. The entire packet of cards is lost in the deck, yet the performer is able to cut to a packet of cards that contains the same number of cards as originally counted off by the spectator, and finds her selected card at the same time.
  • Princess In My Pocket (John Carey) – chosen card is lost in a packet of 5 cards. The packet is mixed up and performer puts it inside his pocket.  Performer is able to take out the selected card without looking at the packet of cards.
  • Waikiki Location (Bull Morata) – a interesting principle used in divining a chosen card lost in a deck.
  • Emotional Reaction Plus (Dai Vernon) – a very fair and straight-forward discovery of a freely chosen card lost in a deck of cards that defies any explanation.

My favourites are all the 3 John Carey effects: niz Entrapped, Counting On You and Princess In My Pocket as well as Dai Vernon’s Emotional Reaction Plus.  Based on your own performing styles, your choice effects may differ from mine.

Here are 10 gems for you to use anytime and anywhere and most of them can be performed with a borrowed deck of cards.  (8/10 star rating)

PERPLEX by Criss Smith

Written by John Teo

Perplex is a card move by the underground card magician Criss Smith.

You receive a well produced DVD with the creator performing and explaining the moves as well as 4 effects.

Essentially,Perplex is a visual card change.  The top card of a deck is turned face up and held at an angle on the top of the deck.  Its full face can be seen.  It is not the card the performer is looking for.  With a wave of his other hand over this card, it visually changes into the correct card.  This card is turned face down on top of the deck and can immediately be dealt out to any member of the audience for examination.  The change is very visual and appears to be magical.

Criss also teaches a version two of Perplex.  This is a non-visual card change.  It is used to secretly exchange one card for another.  It starts off the same as in the first version.  Instead of the hand waving over the turned over card, the other hand with the deck and the card is turned palm downwards, and the protruding card is taken out and placed face down on the table.  It changes into another card. 

As a bonus, Criss teaches his Octopus Force.  A deck is shuffled using the Hindu Shuffle.  A spectator calls “stop”.  The card stopped at is flipped over face upwards – this is deemed as the chosen card.  The other half of the deck is replaced on top and the force card is seen face upwards jutting out in the middle of the deck.  This force requires some work to get it looking right.

Criss then offers 4 effects.  They are:

Desirous

A deck is shuffled and a spectator calls “stop”.  The card stopped at is shown and replaced back in the middle of the deck.  The top card is turned over to show a different card.  With a wave of the hand, it visibly changes into the chosen card.  It is like a visual ambitious card.

The method taught requires a duplicate card.  This seems a little weak to use a duplicate especially for a DVD such as this one that teaches sleight-of-hand.  Criss does mention the possible use of the “Butterfly Pass” instead of depending on a duplicate card, but he is not obliged to teach this marketed technique.

Chameleon

A card is selected and signed across its face.  It is turned face downwards and inserted back into the deck.  Immediately, the deck is spread face downwards and the signed card is seen to magically turn face upwards.  This signed selection is turned over to show that its back has now changed to a completely different back design.

Will To Gleason

Two red jacks are set aside.  A card is freely chosen and returned back into the deck.  The 2 Jacks are inserted into the deck face upwards.  The deck is spread and one card is now seen between the 2 red Jacks.  The sandwiched card turns out to be the selected card.

Deliverance

This is like a varation of the efffect “Will To Gleason”.  4 Aces are put to one side.  A card is chosen and is inserted face downwards into a face up deck.  The 4 Aces are shown face up.  Magically, one card turns face downwards.  It can be deduced from the rest of the face up Aces that the suit of this Ace is the same suit as that of the chosen card.  The face down Ace is turned over to reveal it is indeed the chosen card.  The only face down card in the middle of the face up deck is turned over and found to be the Ace of the same suit.

The DVD is well produced and has an excellent menu to help you maneuver to the various sections in the DVD easily.

The 2 versions of the Perplex move are excellent moves to learn and to add to your card magic arsenal.  Version 1 is a visual transformation of a card while version 2 provides a very good invisible switch of a card.  

“Will To Gleason” and “Deliverance” are wonderful effects you can use with a borrowed deck, while “Desirous” and “Chameleon” are very good effects using a duplicate and a different card respectively.  (9/10 star rating)

THE TIMELESS PROJECT by Russ Stevens

Written by John Teo

If you love card magic with a novel twist, you will like “The Timeless Project”.  It is based on a beautifully designed deck of cards produced by RSVP Magic called Timeless.  In this deck, all the 12 court cards contain a drawing of the face of a clock.  Since there are 12 cards, each court card features a different hour on its clock face.  The back design depicts the mechanical clockwork used in operating the clocks.  Included in this deck are several specially printed cards that can be used for magic.   

“The Timeless Project” gives you 5 different effects you can do utilising the Timeless deck.  What you receive is not one, but 2 Timeless deck.  The first deck is the regular Timeless deck as mentioned, while the other Timeless deck has the entire deck specially gaffed.  A well-produced DVD that contains all the instructions comes together in the package.

The DVD features Gary Jones performing and then explaining each of the 5 effects.  Gary is an entertaining performer and he also does an excellent job in the explanation.  The 5 effects taught are:

TIMELESS CLOCK – this is the classic “clock” effect given the Timeless treatment.  A spectator thinks of her favourite time and secretly takes that number of cards from the deck.  With the remainder of the deck, the performer takes 12 cards and arranges them in the form of a clock face.  He proceeds to divine the favourite time thought of by the spectator.  The card at the selected time happens to be the only card that contains a written message to refer to the Timeless deck.  The performer takes out the Timeless deck and one card is found to face the other way.  This card is the court card that depicts the chosen time of the spectator.

TIME WARP – using the Timeless deck, a spectator selects, say, the Jack of Spades, which features a clock at 3 o’clock.  This card is placed face downwards on the palm of her hand.  Her other hand is brought quickly down onto this hand, trapping the card inbetween.  Unfortunately the force of this movement breaks the clock.  When the card is turned over, the clock on the Jack of Spades is now shown shattered!  She is told to move back in time and reverse her action.  She raises her other hand and the clock on this card is now found to be completely restored back to the original 3 o’clock.  The spectator chooses another card – this turns out to be another court card, say, the King of Hearts which features a clock at 10 o’clock.  This card is turned face downwards, and is caused to travel ahead in time.  When it is next turned face upwards, instead of 10 o’clock, the clock now shows 3 o’clock, a perfect match to the original time chosen in the first card.

JUST A SECOND – a card is chosen from the Timeless deck.  It shows the King of Hearts which features a clock at 10 o’clock.  It is placed face downwards to one side.  The winder of a wrist watch is pulled out and rotated to show that it moves the hour hand of the watch.  The watch is turned face downwards and a spectator rotates the winder freely and stops at any point she wishes.  She then pushes in the winder to lock the time.  The performer says he has influenced her to stop at the same time, 10 o’clock, as that shown in her chosen card.  When the watch is then turned around, it does not show 10 o’clocl, but a different time: 3 o’clock.  Her chosen card is turned around.  The same King of Hearts now features a clock set at 3 o’clock instead of 10 o’clock!

DUEL TIME – 2 decks of cards are displayed: a common deck of cards and a Timeless deck of cards.  A spectator states her favourite hour.  One card is found to be facing the other way in the common deck.  It is a court card, say, Queen of Diamonds.  From the Timeless deck, the Queen of Diamonds is taken out and shown to have a clock face depicting exactly 5 o’clock.

SECOND HAND – a spectator thinks of her favourite hour.  While the performer turns his head away, the spectator looks at the seconds hand on her own watch.  When this hand ticks past her selected hour, she calls out “stop!”  The performer turns around, takes out the Timeless deck and shows that there is one card that is facing the other way.  It is, say, the Jack of Clubs, and this card has a clock that depicts 1 o’clock, the selected time of the spectator!  This effect makes use of a brilliant time force that is sure-fire and impromptu.  This force is worth the investment of this product.

“Time” is an important part of our lives.  Performing magic concerning time will attract a lot of attention from the audience.  Performing it using a specially designed deck with the time/clock theme adds novelty to your performances and makes them memorable.  You cannot go wrong with “The Timeless Project”, you get the special decks of cards as well as 5 different effects to add to your repertoire.  (9/10 star rating)