Magic Products Review

FACE OFF by Mark Setteducati

Written by John Teo

This is a mathematical oddity based on what Martin Gardner dubbed as the “Principle of Conceled Distribution”.  Many variations have appeared based on works by Sam Loyd, Theodore DeLand, Paul Curry, Mel Stover and Masao Atsukawa.  Many magicians have also tried to turn it into a magic trick.  In my opinion, none is as successful and as clever as “Face Off” by Mark Setteducati.

Mark is a magician as well as an inventor of magic, illusions, games and puzzles.  He was featured in the PBS series “Inventors” in 2013.  We know him best as the co-creator of the hardcover interactive magic book entitled “Magic Show”, together with Anne Benkovitz.  This book is now a much sought after collector’s item.

In effect, a small frame measuring 14.5 cm X 11.0 cm is displayed.  It features a picture inside it showing 6 human faces.  The picture is made up of 3 transparent plastic pieces.  The entire frame itself has an clear acetate overlay attached to it so that the pieces do not fall off the frame prematuredly. 

The audience counts and confirms there are 6 faces on the picture.  The clear acetate sheet is lifted up and each of the 3 pieces is taken out for examination.  A spectator inspects each piece to ensure that the same picture appears on both sides since the plastic is transparent throughout.  She also ensures that the picture cannot be changed or wiped off each of the 3 plastic pieces. 

When she is satisfied that everything is alright, the 3 pieces are put back into the frame.  Mysteriously, the picture now shows not 6, but only 5 faces.  One face has mysteriously disappeared, and there seems to be no explanation for it! 

You receive the product ready for performance.  It is very well manufactured by Ton Onosaka of MagicLand, Japan.  Included is a sheet of written instructions by Seo Magic of USA.

Ton has provided a piece of the “missing man”.  With this extra item, you can make the missing person re-appear from underneath the frame, indicating that the person has penetrated the frame.  You can slso make the “missing man” re-appear in some impossible location.

If you do walk-around magic, this piece of novelty never fails to interest the audience.  Since the pieces are transparent, the vanish of a face is really quite magical, and there appears to be no explanation for it.  (8/10 star rating)

T.U.C. POKER CHIP GREEN by Tango Magic

Written by John Teo

T.U.C. stands for “Tango Ultimate Coin”.  It is a special gimmicked coin designed by Marcelo Insua, who is also known as Mr Tango, and manufactured by his company, Tango Magic.  In my opinion, the word “ultimate” is justified in its use as a description for this gimmicked coin.  It is a shell and coin set that is cleverly crafted so that the shell will not come off the coin easily unless activated.  This enables a shelled coin to be handled with greater ease and confidence.  This is indeed quite an “ultimate” gimmicked coin.  It won for Marcelo the Invention Award at FISM in 2012.

T.U.C. Poker Chip Green uses the same T.U.C. gimmick applied onto a green colour poker chip.  You receive the T.U.C. green poker chip together with 3 other regular green chips.  Together, they allow you to perform coin effects that require up to 5 coins.  The T.U.C. poker chip is precision made.  The shell is hard and will not bend easily.

The separation of the shell and chip is usually done with one hand.  It is not a difficult thing to do, but it does take some practice to get it done smoothly.

There are some confussions concerning accessing the instructions online. 

You are given a link with a password.  However, there is no direct tutorial for the T.U.C. Poker Chip Green.  The closest to it is the section entitled “T.U.C. and Triple T.U.C. Basic Concepts”.  Here, the concept and handling of the T.U.C. coin is explained, together with a 4 coin across routine using a glass tumbler and 2 spectators.  You can use this tutorial for your T.U.C. Poker Chip Green. 

There is another source that you can check out for your T.U.C. Poker Chip Green.  The trailer for this product, which is available in the web site of any magic dealer, shows the performances of both a “3 Fly” as well as a “4 Coin Across” routine using the T.U.C. Poker Chip Green.  There are no explanations, of course.  But if you are familiar with coin magic, you can easily figure out how to perform the 2 routines.

There is also a statement on the product packaging that says you get to see “Tangopedia”, which is like an encyclopedia on gimmicked coins that contains 50 coin routines.  However, the “Tangopedia” is no longer in the web-site.  Previously, it was.  One of the reasons for this could be that “T.U.C. Secrets The DVD” is now available separately.

If you perform coin magic using shells, an understanding of the construction and handling of the T.U.C. is good enough for you to add T.U.C. to your coin routines.  In this case, you can use your TUC Poker Chip Green in your coin routines, using green poker chips instead of coins.  Although it is not common for people to carry poker chips with them unless they are in a casino, magic with poker chips is more visual and colourful than magic performed with coins.

If you like using poker chips for coin tricks, Tango Magic also supplies other types of gimmicked poker chips.  There are magnetic poker chips, expanded poker chip shells, and magnetic scotch and soda poker chip sets.  The poker chips are also available in different colours too, such as in red as well as in blue colours.

Welcome to the world of coin magic using poker chips.  (10/10 star rating)

FANTASY WALLET

Written by John Teo

Manufactured by: Vincent Di Fatta (Italy)

Sold By: Jeremy Pei

Fantasy Wallet is a Himber-Wallet type of folder that has 5 separate compartments.

If you are familiar with a Himber Wallet, this has only 2 compartments. You can secretly switch from one compartment to the other compartment simply by closing and then re-opening the wallet, and no one will be the wiser.

Its most useful application is to switch one item to another. You open the wallet, put in an item such as a playing card supposedly to keep it safe from prying hands. You then open the wallet to retrieve the playing card – the card has already been switched to

- 26 -

another one without causing much suspicion to anyone.

Here are the main differences between the Fantasy Wallet and the Himber Wallet:

  1. Fantasy Wallet is not a wallet per se – it is therefore not designed to look like one with compartments for notes and credit cards. It is a simple folder like a book with only the front and back hard covers and without all its internal printed pages in-between.

  2. Fantasy Wallet is usually made of hard board and not manufactured out of leather.

  3. There are 5 compartments in a Fantasy Wallet instead of the usual 2 in a Himber Wallet.

  4. Fantasy Wallet is used for production of items instead of switching an item as in the use of the Himber Wallet.

  5. The fact that a Fantasy Wallet has several secret compartments is not concealed from the audience: a Himber wallet, however, appears to be an ordinary wallet used by men and the audience is not aware that it is gimmicked.

Here is the effect for Fantasy Wallet.

The performer opens the Fantasy Wallet to display a large colourful flower. This flower is put to one side. The performer closes the Wallet/Folder. When he opens it again, another large colourful flower emerges.
This one is also put aside. The Wallet is closed and then opens again – another colourful flower makes its appearance. This action can be carried out a total of 5 times, and each time, a different colour flower appears.

The Fantasy Wallet looks flat, and each time it is opened, a flower blooms and opens up. It is very visual and very entertaining to watch.

It is easy to perform – there is no sleight-of-hand involved. However, setting up the flowers inside the wallet may take a little getting used-to, but nothing difficult.

You receive the Fantasy Wallet and 6 large colourful spring flowers. The Wallet is black in colour and measures 10” X 6” when closed. The individual flower is 6.5” high and can open up to a width of 8.5”. The flowers come in 6 bright colours: yellow, breen, blue, purple and red (2 of them).

When you produce an individual flower each time, you can produce up to 5 flowers. To produce 6 flowers, your last production must be of 2 instead of 1 flower.

Because of its size, it is viaual and suitable for use on stage. The effect is colourful, and fast-paced. It is usually performed silent to background music as part of a longer routine. If you like this type of effect, this comes ...

Highly Recommended!

ECLECTICA by John Carey

Written by John Teo

This is a DVD by John Carey, so you know that the materials are streamlined, and yet powerful. The presentations are straightforward and entertaining, and the effects are practical and within the reach of most average close-up performers.

Eclectic means choosing from various sources, or made up of what is selected from different sources. So, in this DVD, which is entitled “Eclectica”, the majority of the effects are variations of other people’s effects. Some of the sources are from Dai Vernon, John Bannon, Larry Jennings, Jerry Sandowitz and Al Leech. However, John Carey’s brilliant patter and presentations make them like brand new effects.

Altogether, there are 15 effects taught in this 1 hour and 50 minutes DVD. There is an effect with sponge balls, one with coins, and the rest of the 13 effects are card tricks which John Carey has come to be popularly associated with. Here are the descriptions of the effects:

  1. Backs To The Wall – an All Backs routine that does not include the selection of a card. Short and sweet. It ends with a full non-gimmicked deck.

  2. Ensemble – an interactive production of 4 Aces with 2 spectators. You will learn the Bluff Cull.

  3. Three-Phase Daley – Dr Daley’s Last Trick is given 2 addition phases. It uses 2 Jokers and 2 red Aces.

  4. Mental Sandwich – a thought-of card appears between 2 Jokers. You will learn the JK Hartman’s force, the Shuffle Ose and the Hofzinser’s spread cull.

  5. Sent and Received – based on Dai Vernon’s emotional reaction effect, it is incredibly easy to do and makes the spectator the star.

  1. Top, Middle and Bottom – this is the only effect that requires a duplicate card. It is a fun routine but very easy to do. The selected card is thoroughly shuffled back in the deck which is then placed inside the performer’s pocket. Not only is the performer able to divine the chosen card, he is also able to instantly bring it out of his pocket.

  2. Slow Motion Triumph – this is a slow-motion progressive triumph effect using only 8 cards, 4 face-up and 4 face-down cards. One by one, the face up cards becomes face down except the chosen card.

  3. Telekenetic–afunroutineinwhichnotonlydoestheperformerdivinethe spectator’s card, the spectator herself causes her card to turn over in the deck.

  4. Splitsville – a variation of Paul Harris’ “Las Vegas Split” in which a Four becomes 2 Two’s and then they transform into 4 Aces. You will learn Larry Jenning’s Reverse Lariat.

10.Homeage to Bannon – a variation of John Bannon’s “Fat City” where the entire deck gets sanwiched between the 2 Jokers, and the selected card jumps out of the sandwich.

11.Whispers – each of 3 selected cards which is sandwhiched between 2 Jokers, rises to the top. Finally, the 2 Jokers become the other 2 selections.

12.Assisted Ambitions – an ambitious card routine done with only 4 cards, and in the spectator’s hands. The 4 cards change to 4-of-a-kind to match the selection. You will learn the Bannon’s criss-cross force.

13.Invisible Interlude – a coin finds the selected card lost in the deck. Includes a one coin flurry. Nothing difficult to accomplish. Unfortunately, the spectator is left holding onto the deck of cards between her hands for quite some time as the perfomer does his one coin routine.

14.Two’s Company And? – interesting sponge ball moves with 2 sponge balls. Just like the previous effect, a spectator is left holding onto 2 sponge balls between her hands for quite some time as the performer magish with the 2 sponge balls.

15.One Card and One Thought – inspired by Al Leech, this is a delighful card routine for a couple, without the use of any gimmick cards like that utilised in the popular Anniversary Waltz.

There are no performances for the effects Mental Sandwich, Splitsville and Two’s Company And? John Carey goes straight into the explanations. Nothiing is lost here, though.

Although John Carey’s effects are meant for the average close-up performers, some of them do demand some work on the card moves. These are found in the effects Slow Motion Triumph, Splitsville and Homeage to Bannon.

Out of the 15 effects offered in the DVD, you should be able to find at least a couple that you can add to your performing repertoire. I have found 6 effects that I like. They are Backs to the Wall, Ensemble, Three-Phase Daley, Sent and Received, Top, Middle And Bottom, and One Card And One Thought. (9/10 star rating)

MOVING HOME by SansMinds Creative Lab

Written by John Teo

Almost everybody carries a smart phone. Magic with a cell phone is therefore modern day magic.

Here is the effect of Moving Home.

The performer displays his smart phone and draws attention to the Home button situated at the bottom of the phone. He presses the button and his phone’s screen lights up. Everybody knows that this button is used to start up a mobile phone.

He switches off the phone, and then proceeds to move the Home button sideways!

At this point everyone is amazed that the performer can move a button that should be fixed onto the cell phone.

Now, without even touching the button, he causes it to move across the screen all the way to the middle of the top of the phone, where the Receiver and the face-time Carmera are located! But can it function? The performer presses on this button and the screen lights up!

The phone is switched off, and the performer causes the button to move back by itself all the way across the screen to its original poistion at the bottom of the phone. He presses on the button, and the screen lights up!

At this point, the performer hands his phone out to the spectators for examination. Moving Home is the moving Home button effect of a smart phone.

You receive a well produced instructional DVD and a couple of materials for you to construct your own gimmick.

The good points of Moving Home are:

  •   The effect is highly visual – not only does the fixed button move, it is shown to be operational at whichever point it is moved to on the phone.

  •   It can be performed on different types and makes of cell phone. Once you understand the secret behind this effect, you can adapt it to any type of phone that meets certain characteristics. However, the gimmick has to be customised to that make and type of phone. The best way is to construct the gimmick for your own cell phone. When you find a spectator who has the same colour, model and make of cell phone as yours, you can actually borrow his or her phone for performance. This raises the effect to become magic with a borrowed object and increases the effectiveness of the trick greatly.

  •   The phone can be given out for examination at the end of the performance. This is a strong point.

  •   With the sophistication and abundance of apps on the mobile phone, it is fortunate that this effect cannot be attributed to the secret use of any of these apps or software. Credit for the magic therefore belongs solely to the performer. This is an important point.

  •   Once set up, the effect is easy to perform and reset. This is therefore suitable for walkaround performance.

    Points for consideration of Moving Home are:

  •   Some arts and crafts skill are needed to construct the gimmick suitable for your cell phone. If this is a problem for you, you can get a DIY person to make the gaff for you.

  •   There are some set-up and clean-up on your mobile phone to do, but nothing difficult. You need to practise in order to be able to perform the effect properly. Some audience management skill is also needed. Again, both are not difficult to accomplish.

  •   As with most animation effects, you may have to pay attention to the lighting in your perofrming area, but nothing very critical.

Herman of SansMinds Creative Lab does a very good job in providing clear instructions in the DVD. He also covers the subject matter well. In the event your mobile phone poses some difficulty for the movement of the “button”, he suggests a “manual” way of doing it. You get the same effect except the button does not move by its own across the screen. You have to physically move the button with one of your fingers. This may diminish the impact somewhat, but the overall effect is still visual and powerful. (8/10 star rating)

SECRETS OF A PUERTO RICAN GAMBLER (THE CONDITIONALLY GUARANTEED MAGIC OF DARYL) by Stephen Minch

Written by John Teo

This is a reprint of the book by the same name that was first published in 1980. It was written by the same author, Stephen Minch, and was available only as a soft cover, center-stitched book.

This is now re-edited, much more photographs as well as a new routine added in, and handsomely bound within hardcovers by Vanishing Inc.

It features 11 of the close-up magic of multi award-winning magician Daryl Martinez. Daryl was the Puerto Rican Gambler. The effects are:

  1. The Boomerang Card Of Mystery – a randomly named card acts as a boomerang and sails across from one hand and lands in the middle of the deck held in the other hand. Both the card above as well as below the boomerang card happen to be the 2 independent cards selected by 2 spectators. You are taught the Hofzinger Spread Cull and the Spin Cut Control.

  2. The Chicago Conspiracy – a variation of the first effect. The randomly named card does not boomerang but springs face-up into the middle of the deck trapping the 2 selections.

  3. Quick Silver – another variation of the first effect. Instead of the boomerang card, a coin is thrown and caught in the middle of the deck, sandwiched between 2 selections.

  4. Holding On – Daryl’s take on Alex Elmsley’s “Between The Palm” with a kicker finish. A random card placed beneath a spectator’s hand turns out to be the signed selection. 3 earlier failed attempts to find the chosen card turn out to be the 3 mates of the signed selection. You are taught Tommy Tucker’s Bluff Pass and Up-The-Ladder False Cut.

  5. The Puerto Rican Triumph – this is Vernon’s Triumph with the now classic Daryl’s “Puerto Rican Cutting Display”. The deck is mixed up with cards facing up and facing down. Magically, it straightens itself with the exception of the selection. You are taught Harry Lorayne’s Delayed Spread Pass.

  1. The Mysterious Cross Of India – 4 coins across from hand to hand without the need of hand-to-hand transfer or the use of an extra coin. Another Daryl’s classic.

  2. In The Pinch – an innovative use of the Piet Forton’s Pop-Up Move to trap a selection as a spectator dribbles half a deck of cards.

  3. Just Tweezing – a variation in the handling for “In The Pinch”.

  4. Conditional Assembly – Daryl’s take on the 4 Ace Assembly done with the Ace,

    Two, Three and Four of Diamonds.

10.Twisted Aces Redivivus – a variation of Dai Vernon’s Twisting The Aces in

which one Ace magically vanishes and found face upwards in the face-down

deck. You are taught the Stanyon Count.
11.Double Dazzling Triump – a bonus effect not found in the original book. It is a

triumph routine with 2 selected cards. The deck rights itself except 2 cards – these are indicator cards which are used to count to the 2 selected cards. As a climax, the deck also separates into reds and blacks.

All the effects, maybe with the exception of the coin trick, require intermediate skills in card handling. The various moves and sleights are used by Daryl to achieve certain psychological subtleties in the effects. You will also read about the “cancelling” principle or technique used by daryl in all his routines.

Stephen Minch writes well and with much humour. The various moves are clearly described with the aids of photographs. However, all the photographs in the book appear to be misty and blurred, although they do convey what they are supposed to.

Daryl is known as “The Magician’s Magician”. If you like Daryl’s magic, you will also enjoy his companion book, written by Stephen Minch and produced in the same style, entitled “For Your Entertainment Pleasure”. (9/10 star rating)