Review by Andy Martin for Collector's ESP Die by Secret Factory

Review by Andy Martin for Collector's ESP Die by Secret Factory
Review by Andy Martin for Collector's ESP Die by Secret Factory
5 out of 5

As cool and reliable as the latest version of Anverdi’s Mental Dice is there are plenty of magicians that avoid any sort of electronics in their magic.  Luckily, there have been a number of effects where you can discern the value of the die on top without any electronics.  They began c. 1973 with Milson’s (yes before Milson-Worth) Mental Die, the next version was Chazpro’s Die-Cipher c. 1990, then Die-Cipher II was released c. 1994. 

Now the Secret Factory have released their own high end Collector’s version that improves the method from all previous versions and looks stunning.  Of course the price is substantially more too, but if you wanted to get the simplest and most beautiful version of this great effect with zero electronics you will need to search no longer.

Click here for more information.

Review by Andy Martin for Q-rrito IV by Xavier Tapias, XT Magic Productions

Review by Andy Martin for Q-rrito IV by Xavier Tapias, XT Magic Productions
Review by Andy Martin for Q-rrito IV by Xavier Tapias, XT Magic Productions
5 out of 5

Q-rrito IV is a beautiful looking rabbit that is quite animated.  This version IV released c. 2013 improves upon Version III  introduced c. 2009.  Although the circuit board is programmable I did not even attempt to do that, I just worked with the standard routine.   The instructions detail how to program the device step by step, but I would be very careful because there are no backups and if you mess things up you’ll be stuck with possibly an unusable rabbit 🙁

The original instructions are four pages long, but most of that is maintenance and how to program the unit.  Only three sentences cover the routine with little information on how to make it work.  I spent about 6 hours playing with and positioning things correctly and finally came up with this basic routine that seems to work well.  You can still add more patter of course, but the basic routine is laid out clearly for you below, rather than in the original instructions.

The standard routine is about a 2 minute program where Q-rrito  follows precisely the same movements each time.  Once you have the rabbit you can play with what he can do.  He picks up things using Velcro and magnets and it is easy enough change the cards should you desire. Because the rabbit follows the same motion each time you can see where he will go and place things accordingly.  This is my routine:

  • You start with the top hat covered with a silk. 
  • Turn on the rabbit, and say: “Would you like to meet my friend Reggie?” (they say yes).
  • Remove the silk and announce “Ladies and Gentlmen: Reggie the Rabbit! 
  • To your embarrassment they just see Reggie‘s back as he continues to nap. The rabbit will take 10 seconds to wake up.
  • Then finally Reggie pops up and looks around moving his head had paws and bobbing and weaving. Learn the motions and the more you interact with him the better the performance.
  • You have a card chosen (forced) and place the cards in the top hat while Reggie is still moving around.
  • “What’s wrong Reggie?”  He goes down again and picks up a carrot …
  • You say “No, No, that won’t work, (removing the carrot) please find the card Reggie!”  And he goes down and brings back the Tree of Hearts!
  • “No No Reggie! That is not the right card, perhaps you need these glasses?” – and you place a pair of small glasses on his head.  He looks quite cute.  “You ask him will they work for you?”
  • Reggie goes back down into the hat and the glasses either fall off or move to the top of his head and he comes back quickly shaking his head No No No!  These glasses won’t work.
  • Then Reggie goes down again and this time he finds the card and shows it for all to see!
  • He takes his well-earned applause, thanks the audience and goes back into the hat to sleep.
  • Then you cover him up again (and turn him off).

You have quite a lot of lee way and if you play with Q-rrito IV  but the placement of the cards and carrot are important.  With the set-up I use I now have almost 100% success rate of picking up the cards, carrot, and glasses.  As long as you build up a good rapport with him it won’t matter too much if one of the things fails.  But if you position them correctly it should be fine.  I spent hours figuring out where to place the Velcro, the cards and the carrot so you don’t have to.  None of this was in the instructions when I received it.

The Rabbit itself is adorable and very plush made from the WWF Plush Collection by the prestigious Dutch firm Ann Club Plush.

My wife loves Reggie 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Ring-A-Majig by Mike Giusti, Tim Wisseman

Review by Andy Martin for Ring-A-Majig by Mike Giusti, Tim Wisseman
Review by Andy Martin for Ring-A-Majig by Mike Giusti, Tim Wisseman
5 out of 5

When you first get this you’ll probably be disappointed 🙁  But don’t despair read on …

The Ring-A-Majig does not look as well engineered or finished as Chance Wolf’s Ultimate Ring Grinder, and it is nowhere near as pretty as Viking’s Deluxe Ring Grinder or as elegant as CW’s Ring Cruncher.  But if you plan on actually vanishing a ring this is the perfect utility device.  It is true it doesn’t look like a collectible magic prop, but it does look like an industrial device that a mad scientist could have created in his back room.  This is a good thing and looks can be deceiving because although it might not look as slick as Chance’s grinder, it functions perfectly.  It is built by Tim Wisseman so you know it is engineered to last.

If I wanted to actually perform a Ring Grinder type effect, the reasons I prefer this to other Ring Grinders are:

  • It doesn’t look like a magic prop.
  • Although there is a large hole in the bottom to deliver the ring, it can covered with three fingers and convincingly be shown on all sides.
  • The flash addition creates a perfect distraction to steal away the ring at the appropriate time.  In fact you could steal away an elephant if you wanted 🙂
  • Because it looks like an industrial device it is much easier for the audience to believe something has really gone wrong.
  • The comedy potential with this device is improved because of the above.

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Review by Andy Martin for Mental Clock by Arsene Lupin

Review by Andy Martin for Mental Clock by Arsene Lupin
Review by Andy Martin for Mental Clock by Arsene Lupin
4 out of 5

Arsène Lupin (Slawomir Piestrzeniewicz) is a qualified medical doctor from Poland who  became a full-time professional magician in 1980.  He placed second for Manipulation in FISM 1982 and 1991, and third for Invention in 2003.  He creates some really wonderful and unique magic that is well priced. 

This is well made effect by the Arsène that is similar in method to Final Card however instead of just one card being found, 4 numbers are revealed in the end.  The effect described, with all of the audience looking at their watches, sounds more amazing than the method really is.  For sure it is possible to perform the effect as stated below, but it does require fairly precise timing and most people will probably not want to be bothered with it.  Instead they will go with a more fixed target of a prediction or a birth date, etc.

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Review by Andy Martin for N.M.C. Instruction Sheets (Vols: 1-3) by Jim Sherman, National Magic Company

Review by Andy Martin for N.M.C. Instruction Sheets (Vols: 1-3) by Jim Sherman, National Magic Company
Review by Andy Martin for N.M.C. Instruction Sheets (Vols: 1-3) by Jim Sherman, National Magic Company
5 out of 5

I’ve often appreciated the extra effort that Jim Sherman’s National Magic Company put into their instruction sheets, the N.M.C. Presentation Routines, as they were called.  They are consistently formatted, with tips, ideas, and details, and much better than many magic dealers and manufacturers.

So imagine my surprise when I found these three volumes of well over 300 N.M.C. effects fully described with their full, original, instruction sheets. Unlike Glenn Gravatt’s impressive Thayer Quality Magic Instruction Sheets  these volumes are not traditionally printed books, they are instead created from the actual instruction sheets and bound.  I have no idea how many of these were sold or even whether they were created by keen enthusiasts I’m just pleased they were done. 

The three volumes cover over 300 effects created and/or sold by N.M.C. c. 1928-1950 (N.M.C. was sold c. 1963 and I’m not sure how many new effects were added during the 50’s and 60’s, but this seems like a pretty complete file.)

There is a lot of magic in these bad boys 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Multum in Parvo – Plus (Multum en Parvo) by Mephisto-Huis

Review by Andy Martin for Multum in Parvo - Plus (Multum en Parvo) by Mephisto-Huis
Review by Andy Martin for Multum in Parvo – Plus (Multum en Parvo) by Mephisto-Huis
5 out of 5

This is the best version of the classic effect Multum in Parvo (Multum en Parvo, Multum in Reverse) using the significantly simplified and self-contained method created by the Malaysian Magician and Inventor, Tan Hock Chuan, c. 1947, though conceived years earlier.

Tan Hock Chuan published his method in The Magic Wand (Vol. 36, 1947) after reading an effect that was credited to Benson DuLay in The Magic Wand (Vol. 35, 1946) called: Milko Multum Im Parvo. DuLay’s method was considerably more complex and required the use of custom glasses, table and tray and although the effect was pretty much the same, once you had seen Tan Hock Chuan’s self-contained glasses without a gimmicked table and tray, there was little reason to ever use the DuLay method again. In Bart Whaley’s wonderful resource, Who’s Who in Magic, Benson Dulay is credited as the creator of Multum in Parvo, and Burtini even won 1st Prize for the Invention, at the 1948 FISM. This is accurate, but the method created by Tan Hock Chuan, is the version that everyone sees and has used pretty much since he created it.  Indeed, in Tan Hock Chuan’s original routine he actually vanishes the small tumbler at the end using a Squash style gimmick, which makes for an even more impressive ending to an already clever routine.

This version, true to Tan Hock Chuan’s method, was first introduced by Mephisto-Huis in the 1960’s. Custom crafted using thick Perspex (plexi-glass) and sold by Harry Stanley, and later Ron MacMillan, The Magic Hands, and others and is still the gold standard for this effect. 

Unlike some versions. Mephisto-Huis thought through the design and added in a useful feature by including a special molding inside each glass to widen the pour area.  If you know the method and effect you will understand immediately what I am referring to.

To give you an idea of how thick the perspex is, the hole designs you can see on each glass are actually drilled into the glass.  Although this is clearly a stage effect even from about six feet it is  very difficult to make out any gimmickry with the glasses.  This is a really wonderful version of this classic effect and performed well looks absolutely amazing.

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Review by Andy Martin for Revelation! by Magic Wagon, John M. Talbot

Review by Andy Martin for Revelation! by Magic Wagon, John M. Talbot
Review by Andy Martin for Revelation! by Magic Wagon, John M. Talbot
5 out of 5

2020 began very well for Magic Wagon with two wonderful releases early in the year. This is a perfect utility device to cleanly force 1 out of 5 billets or small cards.  It is inspired by Magic Wagon’s earlier release the MasterMind Box c. 2010 (which is one of the few items I missed when it came out originally for no particular reason).  It is quite similar to Louis Gaynor’s Miser’s Dream Box also from the same year, however the mechanism is quite different and easier to use with nothing hidden in your hands, or added or taken away.  But what really sets this release apart is the two wonderful routines written by John M. Talbot which are very well written and really make the most of this beautiful prop. 

When John gets involved you know you are in for a treat as we saw with his wonderful routine 3rd Degree Psychic included with Mini Diceloation.  With Revelation! John is back in fine form. Along with writing the overall routines for the basic effect he includes two other wonderful routines:

  • The Wish Box – a great idea which maximizes the experience and really engages the audience.  Done well there won’t be a dry eye in the house.  What is also neat about this routine is that it is very versatile and it will allow you to include all sorts of cultural references to fully capture the imagination of the audience.  It can be applied to almost any theme you need for your show (Christmas, Graduation, Wedding, New Baby, Retirement, etc.)
  • The Gamble – this provides a great bit of mentalism, combined with surprising finish that will have them kicking and praising you at the same time.

What John also does is to inspire you to to think about how you could use this box to improve existing routines.  When you have five  guaranteed outs you can often think of routines you already do that could be extended or improved with this box.  Because it is a box it could possibly hold the props too, so  you can provide a reason for the box in the first place and perform the standard routine and then make it stronger with a final killer revelation.

This is a wonderful box that comes with some wonderful routines and has plenty of potential besides.  Great Job guys 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Atomic Glass Penetration by Magic Wagon

Review by Andy Martin for Atomic Glass Penetration by Magic Wagon
Review by Andy Martin for Atomic Glass Penetration by Magic Wagon
5 out of 5

One of my favorite glass penetrations is the Glass (Quadruple) Penetration that was invented by Peter Warlock c. 1937. It is sometimes known as the English Glass Penetration and there have been a number of versions created, even as recently as 2008 when Magic Wagon had  their own attempt with their Mod Quad Penetration.

Twelve years later they are back again with a new version which is much closer to the original, but in close-up size.  This prop scales down very well and because of the size the mechanism is much easier to use.  If you watch the video you will witness the perfect routine created by Simon Corneille.  Simon’s routine is a master class in how to get everything out of this beautiful prop.  He adds a few components and chooses the perfect music and his execution is flawless.

If you don’t believe you are watching real magic then you never will.  Simon’s video is one of the best I have ever seen for any Magic Wagon item.  The amazing prop and Simon’s routine are both really excellent 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Buried Treasure by Ed Massey

Review by Andy Martin for Buried Treasure by Ed Massey
Review by Andy Martin for Buried Treasure by Ed Massey
5 out of 5

This is Ed Massey’s beautiful and original creation Buried Treasure c. 1957. In 1964 (the same year that Ed Massed passed away) another effect with a slightly refined method, but same basic principle also called Buried Treasure was created by Arturo (Glenn Babbs) and marketed by U.F. Grant and Abbott’s.

As far as I could tell there was no mention of Ed Massey as the original creator.  If you look at both effects the main change is that Arturo added two extra nested boxes and a fixed gimmick but there is no doubt the effect is the same (a marked coin is found embedded deep in rice or beans) and the method is very similar too.  That being said the effect looks better in Arturo’s version and his method is probably easier to perform but it would be at least nice to credit the creator of the original idea. Without Ed Massey’s version being released seven years earlier it is unlikely Arturo could have “invented” his version.

Arturo’s version has become the more popular version with builders like Mel Babcock and Louis Gaynor creating beautiful versions along with other versions, and so most people credit this effect to Arturo.  But the original effect that began it all by the great Ed Massey is still a wonderful surprising effect and a real fooler.

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Review by Andy Martin for The Patriotic Silk Cabby by Michael Baker

Review by Andy Martin for The Patriotic Silk Cabby by Michael Baker
Review by Andy Martin for The Patriotic Silk Cabby by Michael Baker
5 out of 5

The Silk Cabby was invented by British Magician Tom Sellers c. 1933 in his booklet More Secrets, and it was originally called A Colour Change Handkerchief Box. Described in Dr. Albo 6, and also with historical detail in The Ultimate Thayer (pg. 71). The the name Silk Cabby was coined by Floyd Thayer as he advertised his first version November 1933.

This colorful and beautiful version was created by Michael Baker exclusively for Stevens Magic. As always with Michael’s creations he has added features that he has refined over the years as a long time performer.  This Silk Cabby does not use the older elevator method which means the mechanism is smoother and less error prone.  Michael has also added felt to dampen any sounds, a larger chamber to accommodate bigger loads, and uses magnets for the doors to streamline opening and closing the doors.  In addition, the box is painted in such a way that from a short distance it appears that the base is open, making the illusion even stronger.

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