Magic Products Review

THE GOLD STANDARD by David Regal

Written by John Teo
The Gold Standard is basically a card to impossible location.  In David Regal’s presentation, it can be much more than this.
 
In effect, a card is freely selected (and can be signed) and lost in the deck.  Magically, the chosen (and signed) card appears between the performer’s tie tack and his tie.  The card can be pulled on or spun to show that it is indeed impaled onto the tie tack.  The tie tack has to be removed from the tie before the card can be removed.  And there is a hole through the card where the spike of the tie tack goes through. 
 
Here is a description of David Regal’s presentation.  He has 2 spectators seated on opposite sides of him at a close-up table.  He has spectator no 1 freely selects a card and then loses it in the deck.  Only this spectator knows what card he has chosen.
 
He then turns to spectator no 2, and has his back facing spectator no 1.  He spreads the deck to show spectator no 2 that the chosen card is lost in the deck.  Immediately spectator no 2 as well as the rest of the audience see the chosen card (signed or otherwise) impaled onto the performer’s tie tack. 
 
David then asks this spectator no 2 to concentrate and call out the name of spectator no 1’s chosen card.  He acts surprised that this spectator is able to do so.  After a moment, from the laughter of the audience, David suddenly realizes that the chosen card is pinned in his tie tack.

He removes the tie tack, and takes out the chosen card.  There is a hole in the card.  This presentation is very much like “paper balls over the head” where the audience can see what is happening except the spectator on stage, or in this case, spectator no 1 who is at the close-up table together with the performer.
 
The performer can then continue with his close-up show.  Somewhere in the show, another card, or another object, such as a bill, can be impaled on his tie tack.  This is removed from the tie tack, and then further through his show, another object can get pinned onto his tie tack.  This “visual gag” is like the “water of India” running gag that a stage performer uses throughout his performance.
 
You receive the specially manufactured tie tack which is plated in 18k gold and comprises the tie tack and its clutch.  You also receive a gimmick piece to be used with this tie tack.  You are supplied with a carrying pouch as well as an instructional DVD.
 
In the DVD, David Regal performs and explains everything with much clarity.  For those who are interested in the history of such effect, they will be glad to know that David discusses quite a bit of it in his introduction.
 
The effect is not difficult to do.  David teaches you the Mahatma and other controls.  There is no problem with performing angles, although it is best performed with the audience in front.
Instead of playing card, a good alternative to use with The Gold Standard is your business card.  Your spectator (or client) then gets to keep it with the special hole.
 
The effect can be performed close-up or stand-up.  The “card to tie tack” effect itself is a wow to the audience.  If you do David’s routine, you get a comedy effect as well, similar to “paper balls over the head”.  You can also use it as a running “gag” throughout your performance, much like “water of India”.
 
The product is not cheap, but you get a very well made professional prop which is 18k gold plated.

When you remove the tie tack and the pierced card, everything can be examined by the spectator.  The good thing is that the pierced card can be given out as a souvenir to the spectator.
After you fix the tie tack back onto your tie, in front of the audience, you are already set up and good to go again.

The Gold Standard is truly a “gold standard” effect.  (8/10 stars rating)

OX BENDER by Menny Lindenfield

Written by Bernard Sim

Another coin bender, there are already many versions out there, is this for you?   Read on.


My last review of a coin bender was the Biobender, the Biobender was actually not bad.  The gimmick is hidden in plain sight.  As for Ox Bender, you will need to palm it to hide it.  Palming it is no big deal as the gimmick is small.


All coin bender’s end result is almost the same.  The difference with using Ox Bender is that you only use 1 hand to bend it and the bent on the coin is curve and without any scratch marks.  You can also bend spoons and keys (spiral twist).   Loading the coin into the gimmick is also a breeze as the gimmick is designed in such a way whereby there is a guide built-in for easy load.  I tested the Oxbender and the bend was pretty easy for me.  Unlike Biobender, Ox Bender is able to bend thicker coins like Singapore’s $1 coin.


Now for the downside, though you can bend thicker coins, you can’t bend embedded coins that is made of 2 metals, e.g. new S$1 coin.  I asked a female colleague to try the bend and she says that she doesn’t have enough strength to bend it using 1 hand.  In the explanation video, you are encouraged to train by squeezing the hand grip strengthener .

The Oxbender is a good coin bender (that is if you are strong enough to use 1 hand).  What impresses me is the ability to spiral twist a spoon and a key.  This is something that you can’t do with other coin benders.

Rating:  8/10.  Cool coin bender.  Recommended.

 

INSTANT T by Les French Twins

Written by John Teo

As its name suggests, Instant T is an instantaneous change of a playing card into a sachet of instant tea, complete with a string and the square paper label.  It is also a card to impossible location.  And where is the impossible location?  Inside a sealed sachet of tea – one has to tear the sachet open in order to find the chosen card nicely folded into quarters, and attached to the string with the square label.


This is how the basic routine looks like.  A card is selected and then lost into the deck.  The performer brings out his prediction card, but it is of the wrong back colour.  Feeling rather disappointed, he changes it instantly into a sachet of instant tea.  He then proceeds to tear the paper sachet.  Inside it is the chosen card neatly folded into quarters and attached to a string connected to its small square label.


You receive the following:
• A specially gimmicked paper tea sachet
• 50 replacement paper sachets
• 50 tea labels, each complete with a string
• A very nice yellow colour tea box which is self-locking
• A link to a video instructions which is more than 60 minutes long
The transformation of a playing card into the sachet of tea is indeed very visual.  The performer handles the playing card freely, throwing it into the air and catching it with his hand.  It does not appear to be prepared in any way.  Yet, instantly, it changes into a sachet of tea and the performer is now holding the small square label complete with a string, and at the other of which is a paper tea sachet.  This will catch any audience unaware.  The transformed sachet of tea can be freely shown all around.


This gimmicked sachet is sturdily made and should be able to last through many performances.  Resetting the gimmick for the next performance is also very fast – it is a matter of a couple of seconds.


The instructional videos are quite easy to follow, despite the fact that The French Twins speak with limited knowledge of the English language.  They offer several variations in handling as well as in presentation.


The chosen card can even be signed, or torn up into pieces and later one of its torn pieces that was retained matches with the restored card found inside the tea sachet.  In order to do the signed card routine, you need to learn the Mercury card fold.  This and other card sleights such as copping a card and different card forces, are well taught by the French Twins.


There is a nice routine where one spectator selects a country, say, England, and another spectator selects USA.  A playing card transforms into a tea sachet, tea being the favourite drink of the English people.  Inside the tea sachet is the crown of a Coke bottle, Coke signifies the favourite drink of the American people.


You are also taught in the video how to load small items, such as a finger ring, into the tea sachet.


Instant T can be performed close-up, in a cabaret or stage setting.  There is a mental effect where the performer is able to predict onto a spectator’s chosen card who this spectator is having tea with, and also the venue, time and date she is having tea with this person.


The transformation of the playing card to a tea sachet cannot be performed surrounded.  Some form of audience management is also required to present Instant T.  However, the visual change of a playing card to a tea sachet itself is guaranteed to wow any audience.  (8/10 star rating).

NU FLASH by Zamm Wong & Bond Lee

Written by Bernard Sim

Nu Flash is a very visual bill to playing card which can be used to change a bill to a single playing card, a name card, an envelope, a pile of cards or even a full deck.


There are many visual card changes around.  Most of them will just require you to throw the gimmick card into the air for the change to occur.  For Nu Flash, you’d need to do a few moves before the bill can be changed.  If you are familiar with those that exist in the market, Nu Flash’s method is different, you’d need some practice to get it to be smooth.


Nu Flash comes with an instructional DVD and a gimmick which has been prepared.   All you need to do is to add your own bill.  The DVD starts with teaching you how to prepare the gimmick and then teaches you several other ways to use the gimmick.   There is also a non-bill version which seems to be like an after-thought thrown in as a filler.  You’d have to take note that polymer bills will not work here.


The DVD has Zamm Wong teaching it accompanied by Bond Lee asking questions to aid in the learning process.  I find it very difficult to listen to what they were saying as the background music were at the same volume as their conversation.  I like the visual change of this effect but I find that there must be a reason to justify the change from a bill to a card.  If you’d use it just to change from a bill to a card and end there, I think that will not work, however, if it’s part of a longer routine, that’s fine.


Rating:  6.5/10  At least they made an effort to provide a pre-made gimmick, unlike some who just throw in a DVD and sell.

CARTOON VISIBLE PAINTING

Written by John Teo

“Frozen” was a computer-animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It was released in 2013 and it won several awards for being the best animated feature film. It was awarded Best Original Song for “Let It Go”. It quickly became one of the most popular computer-animated movies for children.
To my knowledge, there was no magical effect directly related to the Frozen movie, until Hitmitsu Magic came out with “Cartoon Visible Painting”. This one should be a hit for children.
In effect, the back of a square folder is shown to contain a matrix of 16 pictures feauring the 4 main charcters of Frozen. They are Queen Elsa, the snowman Olaf, Princess Anna, and Kristoff. The 16 pictures appear to be in no particular arrangement.
A child is ask to freely name any number from 1 to 16. The chosen number is counted around the matrix and it ends on the picture of Olaf the snowman. Olaf is considered as the chosen character.
The board is turned around to reveal the outline of Queen Elsa instead. This appears to be the wrong prediction. The performer insists that this is the correct prediction.
This picture is then withdrawn from the square folder. It suddenly becomes fully coloured and everyone can now see that it is Olaf the snowman donning Elsa’s dress! The predicted character is correct after all!
As a climax, the folder is turned around to show its back. It has the matrix of 16 pictures, but they are all the pictures of Olaf! The previous pictures of Queen Elsa, Princess Anna and Kristoff have disappeared!
You receive the complete props, plus a QR code to view a short performance of the effect in the Mandarin language. The props are well-made of sturdy cardboard and are nicely designed. You need to take a marker pen and draw the outline of Queen Elsa yourself. Why this outline is not already drawn in when the props are supplied is anybody’s guess.
I would personally like to perform it in another way. I have studied the matrix of the 16 pictures on the back of the folder, and have noticed that Queen Elsa can also be forced using the method of forcing Olaf, except you have to start counting from another side of the folder. A little study of the matrix will enable you to quickly understand this.
Force Queen Elsa, and turn around the folder to show the outline of Queen Elsa as your prediction. Go into your colouring routine for any classic visible painting. Pull out the picture to show a fully coloured picture of Queen Elsa. It is here that the audience realises it is actually Olaf in Queen Elsa’s dressing.
You insist that the child originally picked Olaf, not Queen Elsa. When you have disagreements, turn around the folder to expose the matric of the 16 all Olaf pictures! How could anyone pick some other character originally?
In this effect, you have all the fun of visible painting, plus a sucker prediction!
Highly recommended!

FLASH FORWARD by Jason Palter

Written by John Teo

One of the greatest gimmicked decks to be invented is Burling Hull’s Svengali Deck. Unfortunately, it is readily available in shopping malls and most magicians shun its use. This is quite unfortunate because a well-crafted routine using the Svengali Deck can effectively disguise the methodology and truly wow the audience.

Jason Palter has come out with a Svengali Deck using flash cards that are used to teach young children in kindergartens and schools. These cards consist of simple pictures and words. Somehow, by not using playing cards, the Svengali principle is not suspect, even for those in the know.

Such cards are, of course, ideal for performing for children. Because of the pictures, it is also suitable for use in mentalism effects with adults. The use of children’s flash cards makes the prop look like an everyday object.

You receive 2 decks of flash cards. One is the Svengali Deck, and the other is an ordinary deck for you to switch out for. It also comes with 4 pages of well-written instructions. Jason adequately explains the handling of the Svengali Deck and describes an interesting kids routine.

Creative Magic also produces a similar type of Svengali flash cards. However, they are the same size as the poker playing cards. Flash Forward uses the actual-sized children’s flash cards. These cards are larger and therefore more showy, however, they handle quite well as a Svengali deck. The thickness of the cards is just right and this also makes them suitable for use as a Svengali deck.

The possibilities of effects that you can churn out using the Svengali principle are only limited by your imagination. If you wish to incorporate a card effect in your children shows, Flash Forward is a good investment. (9/10 stars rating.)