Review by Andy Martin for Mini Die Penetration (Mini Würfel Durchdringung) by Vienna Magic

Review by Andy Martin for Mini Die  Penetration (Mini Würfel Durchdringung) by Vienna Magic
Review by Andy Martin for Mini Die Penetration (Mini Würfel Durchdringung) by Vienna Magic
4 out of 5

This is an interesting die penetration from Vienna Magic and although it does not have the refinements of Thomas Pohle’s later Super Block Penetration, it still looks effective.  The tube cannot be examined and the penetration is not quite as clean (due to the fact that the hole does not go all the way through the top of the tube).

I don’t know if this version by Vienna Magic was the original version that inspired Thomas because the effect and method has been seen in a number of other versions over the years.

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Review by Andy Martin for The Red Ruby (Der Rote Rubin) by Eckhard Boettcher

Review by Andy Martin for The Red Ruby (Der Rote Rubin) by Eckhard Boettcher
Review by Andy Martin for The Red Ruby (Der Rote Rubin) by Eckhard Boettcher
4 out of 5

This is basically a re-release of Alan Warner’s beautiful Pharaoh’s Curse.  The method is the same but the props are not as well made.  This effect normally comes with a “red ruby” but this one comes with a blueish “stone” as can be seen.

The effect is easy to do and does not require any sleights to perform.  Just as Alan Warner devised, what makes the effect extra convincing is that you can apparently see the backs and fronts of each wooden panel before and after the vanish.

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Review by Andy Martin for Color Rod Divination by West German Craftsman, Unknown

Review by Andy Martin for Color Rod Divination by West German Craftsman, Unknown
Review by Andy Martin for Color Rod Divination by West German Craftsman, Unknown
4 out of 5

This is a great item made well with a good mechanical method.  All I know is it was made in West Germany, but certainly not recently.  Ed Mishell released a similar effect c. 1970 but this set is nicer and I’m sure predates that version.

When performing this I would take all four rods out of the box as I found my fingers too big to easily take each rod out, so that could cause some delays in performance.  This is always ready to go and there is nothing added or taken away.

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Review by Andy Martin for Wonder Dice (Wonder Die) by Vienna Magic

Review by Andy Martin for Wonder Dice (Wonder Die) by Vienna Magic
Review by Andy Martin for Wonder Dice (Wonder Die) by Vienna Magic
5 out of 5

From Vienna Magic comes this beautiful miniature illusion.  Self working and mechanical and works like a charm.  The standard ad copy and the instructions describe a situation where the die appears and then vanishes – but the only way that is possible is if you switch out the appearing die for the vanishing die mid-stream.  If you don’t have the die appearance then this is basically a version of Norman’s Block Vanish with a silk vanish and appearance for good measure.

Both sets I’ve had of this effect (including this one) only come with one die not two – the instructions describe two dice but I am not convinced that is correct, even if you read through the instructions I’m not sure you actually ever get two dice.  Based on the props you get, you can construct an appearing die or a vanishing die but not both at the same time.   The effect looks much better if you start with the die that you can show complete on all six sides, then go into the vanish.  This requires no switching and looks perfect.

I believe the best way to perform this effect is to start with the die in plain sight and then proceed to vanish a silk, then vanish the die and finally have the silk reappear.  If  you use a convincing vanish of the silk (which is not including as standard such as Viking’s Wonder Silk Vanishing Tube) you can perform a real miracle right in front of their eyes.

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Review by Andy Martin for Al Koran's Locking Three Silver Rings by Ken Brooke, Ben Stone, Stevens Magic

Review by Andy Martin for Al Koran's Locking Three Silver Rings by Ken Brooke, Ben Stone, Stevens Magic
Review by Andy Martin for Al Koran's Locking Three Silver Rings by Ken Brooke, Ben Stone, Stevens Magic
5 out of 5

These beautiful rings were Designed and Manufactured under the direction of Ben Stone (of Delben fame) by the Mid-America Magic Mfg. Company and sold as a package by Joe Stevens back in the 1980’s.  They are hollow stainless steel 12″ rings and they are perfect and look and sound great even even from the back of the stage.  The locking key ring looks amazing even close-up and is easy to lock and unlock.

These rings are lightweight for maximum handling ease and you will quickly prefer their handling if you are only familiar with the heavy style.

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Review by Andy Martin for Sand and Sugar (Chrome) by Abbott's, Louis Histed

Review by Andy Martin for Sand and Sugar (Chrome) by Abbott's, Louis Histed
Review by Andy Martin for Sand and Sugar (Chrome) by Abbott's, Louis Histed
5 out of 5

This wonderful effect was invented by Louis Histed.  There was some controversy when this was released (stolen) by Abbott’s as the instructions and adverts said that Dr. H Park Shackleton was the inventor.  Dr Shackleton may have been the first person to perform it in the USA (though Jack Le Dair performed it regularly in the UK years before this).  Anyway, later ads and editorials in Abbott’s own Tops magazine admitted it was Louis Histed so there is no doubt who created it.

It is a great trick and the Chrome version by Abbott’s is a real beauty.  Performance does require about 1.5lbs of white sugar/salt and 1.5lbs of sand or colored salt – partly depends on what your patter will be and what you can obtain.  For my photos and demo I used fine ornamental sand in white and yellow.

You can always spot when a clever inventor is at work because they think about a lot of things, and there are few inventors at the level of Louis Histed.  With Sand and Sugar you will see all of these elements at work:

  • Reuse of materials – yes you will loose a few ozs of sand and sugar each time you perform this but a lot less than you might imagine, particularly if you are careful.
  • Clean-up – anything dealing with sand is going to be a little messy, but if you have a tray you’ll find it pretty easy to empty out the containers and reset for the next show without too much effort.  There is a convenient hole on the bottom of the large canister which lets the sand flow out freely from the bottom when you are done.
  • Effectiveness of illusion – the pouring of the sand/sugar from the small canister to the large is perfect, it takes time (though not too much time) and looks like a lot of grains.
  • Simplicity of Method – although there is a lot going on with the effect, the mechanics are surprisingly simple and robust.

You rarely see effects these days with this much thought and with props built so well.  Another really fine effect from almost ninety years ago – they certainly don’t make them like this anymore 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Zombie In The Coffin (Skeleton In The Closet) by Michael Baker

Review by Andy Martin for Zombie In The Coffin (Skeleton In The Closet) by Michael Baker
Review by Andy Martin for Zombie In The Coffin (Skeleton In The Closet) by Michael Baker
5 out of 5

This effect was first invented by James Lucier as The Cockeyed Skeleton In The Closet and described in Genii October 1949. The effect was also released c. 1949 through Sedghill Industries as The Scrambled Skeleton  with credit also going to James Lucier. There have been many versions of all shapes and sizes ever since.

This version from the talented and inventive craftsman Michael Baker is easily the prettiest and most substantial version I have ever seen. In addition to outstanding construction it includes some neat features:

  • The blocks are double sided with a skeleton on one side and a zombie on the other so you can switch up the routine as desired.
  • It includes a unique Tombstone in a wheelbarrow container that not only has a very effective vanish but it much more entertaining than the more usual Devil’s Hanky or similar approach to vanish.  The vanish involves a penetration of the block by a large spike and even close-up looks perfect.
  • The main tube has a three-dimensional rustic coffin facade which makes the whole unit seem more authentic and certainly lends itself to some more interesting patter presentations.

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Review by Andy Martin for Tommy Wonder Classic Collection Nest of Boxes by JM Craft, Tommy Wonder

Review by Andy Martin for Tommy Wonder Classic Collection Nest of Boxes by JM Craft, Tommy Wonder
Review by Andy Martin for Tommy Wonder Classic Collection Nest of Boxes by JM Craft, Tommy Wonder
5 out of 5

I’ve seen many types of nest of boxes over the years but this design by Tommy Wonder expertly reproduced by JM Craft is certainly one of the cleverest.  It is surprisingly easy to perform with Tommy’s routine taking care of all of the tricky parts and it works perfectly and looks amazing.

In Tommy’s book and also when Tommy discusses the method in Visions of Wonder with Max Maven, Tommy refers to a special table that he uses for this effect.  There seems to be some confusion if the table is needed to perform this and I can confirm it is not.  It is best if the box cannot be seen at first and is lifted from behind another prop on a standard table, from a shelf in the table, or from behind the bar, etc.  but apart from that any table works.

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Review by Andy Martin for Brass Prediction Box by Terry Roses

Review by Andy Martin for Brass Prediction Box by Terry Roses
Review by Andy Martin for Brass Prediction Box by Terry Roses
5 out of 5

This is another beautiful brass item from the craftsman Terry Roses.  And as with Terry’s other brass collectible line it comes in a beautiful inlaid oak carrying case too.  Identifying this item was a little trickier as it has been misnamed in every ad and website, I have seen it, including where I purchased it from. 

From the outside it looks almost exactly like Terry’s Brass Plug-Box and in fact in the Stevens Magic advert it is even called a plug-box.  But the second you remove the lid and see how it functions it is certainly not a plug-box.  Plug-boxes can be used to vanish, appear or exchange coins and thin items.  This is designed for much larger items over an inch square and has no exchange capability.

The next most popular identification is that this is a Devil’s Bank or Devil’s Coin Box first created by Carl Brema c. 1926 used for vanishing a coin.  This box can certainly vanish a coin.  However, it is missing two features of the Devil’s Bank: a slot in the top and a rattle feature (as added by George Robinson at Viking Mfg.) when the coin has been stolen away.  These are key components of the Devil’s Bank.  In particular, without the slot in the top the load chamber is over an inch square which makes it a little unwieldy to hide when first displaying.  Particularly as you must start by unscrewing the lid. 

Which leads to the most likely purpose of this box …

The final identification of Brass Prediction Box I decided upon is derived from half of the name used by Stevens Magic in their advert for this item c. 1987.  In that ad it is called: “Ultimate Prediction Bottle (Plug Box)“.  Well they have the prediction part right because this is perfectly designed for the secret insertion of a prediction, signed coin, any small object or billet around one inch square. In fact, it could be used as a small Lippincott Box or a (very) small watch or ring box.

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