Review by Andy Martin for Mind Chips by Mikame Craft

Review by Andy Martin for Mind Chips by Mikame Craft
Review by Andy Martin for Mind Chips by Mikame Craft
5 out of 5

I love this effect!

This is a very simple and clean prediction effect that looks great and is very reasonably priced. Mikame Craft have thought of everything on this one. Reset is easy, the turned wood box for the chips is a delight and each move in the routine makes perfect sense.

The basic effect is this: you show the box, tip out the 6 chips, place one on the top of the box as your prediction, then spread out the other 5 face down on the mat. The spectator chooses any one and it is stacked on top of your prediction chip. You then show the other 4 are all different colors, and turn over their chip and the prediction chip and they match. There are no sleights and there can be a different result for repeat performances and reset is a few seconds.

The chips are made of a heavy plasic that will last a lifetime, and it is true that it would be nicer if they were made of wood but for the price its really hard to fault this effect. The reason they are using the plastic chips is because the chips were marketed separately as a different effect and all that Mikame have done is add the box. But by adding the box they turn this into a wonderful little piece and make use of the box in a number of ways that ensure the prediction is clean and smooth.

I highly recommend this effect!

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Review by Andy Martin for Man Who Was Erdnase, The by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner, Jeff Busby

Review by Andy Martin for Man Who Was Erdnase, The by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner, Jeff Busby
Review by Andy Martin for Man Who Was Erdnase, The by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner, Jeff Busby
4 out of 5

A bit too heavy for me!

This is a very thorough book about the man who susposedly wrote one of the great card Classics: The Expert at The Card Table by S.W. Erdnase. Unfortunately, for me it was a bit too heavy going. Over 430 pages of fairly small type. I managed the first 100 pages and flipped through the rest.

The conclusions reached by Bart Whaley, Martin Gardner and Jeff Busby are the subject of a great deal of contention and there appears to be a lot of evidence to support the theory that S.W. Erdnase was not Milton Franklin Andrews. A great thread on this whole subject can be found on the Genii Forum by $link(http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=000947 target=_blank,clicking here).

I think you would find this very stimulating reading if you were a big fan of Erdnase, but given that I have not read it yet (oh my word!) its hard for me to get too excited by it. I have however just $link(http://www.canick.com/erdnase.html target=_blank,ordered) the 100 year Anniversary edition so maybe I will revisit this book another day after I have emersed myself in the classic itself!

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Review by Andy Martin for MC Arm Guillotine by Mikame Craft

Review by Andy Martin for MC Arm Guillotine by Mikame Craft
Review by Andy Martin for MC Arm Guillotine by Mikame Craft
5 out of 5

It’s not Milson Worth, but it is very close!

This is a solid and beautiful arm chopper from Mikame Craft. It has a solid blade and is very well finished. It doesn’t quite match up to the finish and quality of the Milson Worth chopper – but it is much easier to find and is a very fine attempt.

The mechanism is straight forward and classic and allows for a carrot to be placed beneath the arm when the chop is made. It looks very convincing. It also has the blade extend past the stocks to add to the illusion of the chop.

It’s hard to go wrong with Mikame Craft!

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Review by Andy Martin for Double Flap Drawer Box by Mikame Craft

Review by Andy Martin for Double Flap Drawer  Box by Mikame Craft
Review by Andy Martin for Double Flap Drawer Box by Mikame Craft
5 out of 5

Forget about everything else, this is the one!

I like the fact that Mikame Craft props are much easier to come by than a few years ago, since it gives people a chance to realise what they should be expecting from a magical manufacturer.

This box is heavier than a lot of Mikame’s pieces, beautiful, and very convincing with TWO changes! It’s a wonderful piece with a lot of uses and very quiet. It fits jumbo cards and other flatish items.

The only slight problem I have seen with this item when setting it up is sometimes the flaps fall prematiurely – I have found this usually because the box is not used enough. If you use it on a regular basis this never seems to happen. So the answer is to ensure you get it off the shelf and use it! Once set correctly I have never had any problems with this part however.

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Review by Andy Martin for Merlin's Coffer by Eduardo Kozuch

Review by Andy Martin for Merlin's Coffer by Eduardo Kozuch
Review by Andy Martin for Merlin's Coffer by Eduardo Kozuch
3 out of 5

This is almost a Great Effect!

This prop looks intriguing with these funny looking wizards/witches in a distressed looking box. It’s bascailly the same as $link(1739,Quantimental), but dressed up, and it also uses the same method. When looked at by the spectator the box appears to be finished well. The figures are not the best quality and neither is their paint job, but they suffice.

However, like so many props these days it suffers from some fundamental usability flaws. Firstly, the set-up on this item is tricky and requires some luck and practice to get it right smoothly each time so that the gimmick does not dislodge. Secondly, when the wizards are standing up you cannot close the box. This seems really stupid to me, why have a presentation box that you can’t close. This means that once you set-up this unit you have to carry the box around with the lid open and the wizards balancing. Now for technical reasons the box does need to be a bit deeper than the space taken up by the figures, but why not have different figures that are lying down or something so that they fit the box? Finally, the colors of the wizards do not match the gimmicks that prompt you with the answer and you have to do some mental decoding: purple is white, orange is yellow.

Quantimental does not suffer from these problems and in fact, because it has a stand that is ordinary looking it raises much less suspicion. This Coffer is however very quiet in operation, even quieter than Quantimental.

If only inventors would use their props a bit more and see how impractical some of them are for real performers. Unless, of course they are planning for magicians to never really perform these things. If that is the case then this is actually a very nice prop, as long as you don’t take it apart and look at the glue marks on the underside of the felt!

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Review by Andy Martin for A. Atsma's Chicken Sword by Wolf's Magic

Review by Andy Martin for A. Atsma's Chicken Sword by Wolf's Magic
Review by Andy Martin for A. Atsma's Chicken Sword by Wolf's Magic
5 out of 5

The Wolf is Back!

One of the biggest problems with "expensive" magic props is they are frequently delicate, complicated to set-up, more suited to shelves than performances, work inconsistently, and sometimes just don’t work at all. This is great if you just want to have nice things on the shelves, but if you plan on performing them … forget it!

$link(http://www.wolfsmagic.com/Chicken%20Sword.htm target=_blank,click here) to buy this wonderful creation.

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Review by Andy Martin for Marker Epic by Eduardo Kozuch

Review by Andy Martin for Marker Epic by Eduardo Kozuch
Review by Andy Martin for Marker Epic by Eduardo Kozuch
4 out of 5

Great Idea, Ok Props.

This is a really great idea for doing the standard Mental Epic with nothing more than the 3 pens and some cards. It works well and is convincing.

However, my pens could have been gimmicked better … I ended up gluing them myself when they arrived. On talking to the inventor I think I had an isolated case and in fact the pens that are used are good quality markers and once you play with them a while they work fine.

If you love Mental Epic, but want to travel light these are perfect for you!

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Review by Andy Martin for Jumbo Balloon Wand by Wolf's Magic

Review by Andy Martin for Jumbo Balloon Wand by Wolf's Magic
Review by Andy Martin for Jumbo Balloon Wand by Wolf's Magic
5 out of 5

Workable and Beautiful Props!

This is the $link(//www.martinsmagic.com/?keywords=Wolf’s%20Magic&html=gallery&nav1=gallery&flag=Wolf’s%20Magic,third item) I have from the very talented Mr.Wolf over at $link(http://www.wolfsmagic.com target=_blank,Wolf’s Magic). As with the others, it is beautifully made and very functional. It took me about 30 mintues to try this out including opening the well packaged box.

The instructions are bright and very clear and on the very first attempt of trying this effect all the balloons worked exactly the way they should. For a balloon wand/table type effect this is almost unheard of. Every effect $link(//www.martinsmagic.com/?html=gallery&keywords=barnum%7Ccomedy+balloon,I’ve owned) up until now has required quite a lot of tweaking to get the balloons to pop and blow away on cue. Not so with this. Chance has clearly thought through the usability aspects of this effect.

Unlike his previous two items this effect does not have quite the same unique, zany routine but it still is a wonderful prop with all the fun of any other Balloon Wand. The set-up is very easy and the props very solid.

What I like about the Wolf’s Magic line I have seen so far is that not only are the props beautifully made, very colorful, and uniquely designed – they actually can be used by real performers for real shows. This is sadly not something I can say about a lot of higher end collectable props.

Wolf’s Magic is certainly turning a few heads in the magic Industry, and about time too – this is the way magic should be built and operate. Highly recommended!

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Review by Andy Martin for Strong Box by Joe Porper

Review by Andy Martin for Strong Box by Joe Porper
Review by Andy Martin for Strong Box by Joe Porper
4 out of 5

Beautiful, Small, Clever and Different!

This is a wonderfully clever little box that defies detection, even with the utmost of scrutiny. Plus its very beautifully made by Joe Porper himself.

Unlike the normal Lippencott box, this can be started off in the "closed" condition. The spectator can even hold it in their hands, and lock it themselves and hang onto the key if you so desire – though of course that would not make any sense if you were doing a prediction with this. It is a matter of a second to release it to load a billet or ring or anything small inside the box. It almost locks itself when you’re done! In fact, the one problem with this is that it locks itself too quick and you hear it talk!

This is a wonderful item and I’m sure it will become a collectible. As with all of Joe’s work, it is made to a high degree of precision and there is nothing else out there quite like it, which surely must appeal to both the performer and the collector in you!

Great Job!

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Review by Andy Martin for Marked for Life by Kirk Charles

Review by Andy Martin for Marked for Life by Kirk Charles
Review by Andy Martin for Marked for Life by Kirk Charles
3 out of 5

Good book to breathe a new lease of life into your Readers!

When you first start out in magic it seems you quickly go off using stripper decks and marked decks. I remember using a marked deck all the time before the age of 15. I also remember have great fun with Deland’s Deck, which of course is a combination of a stripper deck, a marked deck, and a stacked deck all in one. In fact I used to do all sorts of miracles with the Deland Deck. But I haven’t picked one up now for over 25 years!

At some point you figure these tools are not good magic and move on. Well Kirk Charles’ book Marked for Life reminds you that marked cards are still very useful and by mixing in sleights, non-reader effects, and reader effects you not only can create some huge miracles, but also you can keep the audience guessing.

This 95 page soft covered book spends about a third of the book going through various types of marking systems and its very interesting to see the different approaches various people take. I decided to give the bold, but easy, $link(//www.martinsmagic.com/?html=gallery&keywords=lesley+marked,Ted Lesley’s Working Performers Marked Deck) a shot.

Once you read this book you will start using a marked deck again. It has many wonderful routines that just are so much better with a marked deck. And providing you follow the tips and tactics mentioned in this book no one will ever suspect a marked deck is being used. I think that is the key thing for me: by combining the marked deck with other principles you can make a good effect into a complete mind blower that could not be easily achieved in any other manner.

The book is well written and researched and comes with a large bibliography of other areas to continue reading about marked decks. Many of which I’m sure you already have, much to your surprise. It may not be a classic book, but it does provide you the path back to an old friend that really should be in every magician’s toolkit.

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