Review by Andy Martin for Betcha by Kent Bergmann

Review by Andy Martin for Betcha by Kent Bergmann
Review by Andy Martin for Betcha by Kent Bergmann
4 out of 5

One more from the talented Kent Bergmann! Before Kent became the king of 3D printing he created quite a stir with his Z-Wood (Zebrawood) line of magic. This is a rare beauty from those times. Anything from his Z-Wood Magic line is highly sought after by collectors.

Betcha looks really pretty, but the effects that come with it are a little disappointing compared with the quality of the props.  In essence there is a magician’s choice, a mathematical game, a corny joke, and a surprising magical transposition to end. Luckily all is not lost … if I was to perform Betcha I would incorporate one or two other effects:

  • Free Will using the props that come with Betcha (die, chess piece, domino, and prediction)
  • And for a real optional kicker the new Anverdi Mental Dice.

This is the order I would run them in:

  1. Play the game of NIM
  2. Free Will (play this last if you don’t do the Anverdi Mental Dice)
  3. Domino transposition
  4. Anverdi Mental Dice (Extra Optional Bonus)

If you don’t have either Free Will or the new Anverdi Mental Dice I would strongly advise that you get them …

Of course you can stick with the original routine and you might decide to tweak it a little.  It is not bad, but just felt a little light for the beautiful props. If it was a cheaper item it would probably be fine.  But who are we kidding, if you are a collector you’ll probably never perform this anyway, so it will look great on the shelf regardless 🙂

I would give this 5 stars if Free Will had been incorporated into the original effect.

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Review by Andy Martin for Majestic Meteor Ball by Magic Wagon

Review by Andy Martin for Majestic Meteor Ball by Magic Wagon
Review by Andy Martin for Majestic Meteor Ball by Magic Wagon
4 out of 5

And here is the final effect from Magic Wagon for 2019 and I’m actually caught up for the first time in years! This is another unique and well made effect which looks good and will certainly appeal to collectors. There appears to be no sign as to where the little golden meteor ball disappears too – it simply vanishes between the two blocks into thin air!

In some ways it is similar to the Atomic ball effect with a little more dressing. Some collector’s really love all the dressing up of the props, but if you are going to perform to lay people I prefer things stripped down – well made, but without all the frills. That is why I much prefer the original Magiro Hydro Die to the much more impressive Magic Wagon Majestic Hydro Die. In many ways this is why I like Eddy Taytelbaum’s magic so much – he makes really excellent props but with the possible exception of his Mummies they are understated without too many extra embellishments. But it takes all sorts and these beautiful props do make for a very wonderful display 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for The Talismanic Card in Wallet (Window Wallet) by R.A.R. Magic, Ed Brown

Review by Andy Martin for The Talismanic Card in Wallet (Window Wallet) by R.A.R. Magic, Ed Brown
Review by Andy Martin for The Talismanic Card in Wallet (Window Wallet) by R.A.R. Magic, Ed Brown
4 out of 5

This is the Talismanic Card in Wallet or Window Wallet that inspired Dave Bendix to create the Bendix Bombshell.  This wallet was made by Roy Roth, but it is based on the original ones made by Ed Brown. Ed Brown created the Window Wallet c. 1975 and a routine using it was published in Kabbala Vol.3, No. 1, January 1976, called: Between Elmsley, Brown, and Himber. The Window Wallet was the inspiration for a number of great card men including, Ed Marlo, Dave Solomon (using Ed Brown’s own wallet), Jon Rachenbaumer (Talismanic Card in Wallet – Lecture Notes 1, 1976) , and Dave Bendix to create some wonderful Card to Wallet routines.  The second you see the the diagram on page 1 of the Kabbala article you will recognize the familiar set-up for the special Himber wallet that we recognize today as the Bendix Bombshell.

Having seen both wallets up close I still prefer the Bendix, but both wallets have interesting applications.

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Review by Andy Martin for Self-Locking Card Box by Wayne Sanderson, Tannen's

Review by Andy Martin for Self-Locking Card Box by Wayne Sanderson, Tannen's
Review by Andy Martin for Self-Locking Card Box by Wayne Sanderson, Tannen's
4 out of 5

Locking Card boxes have been around at least as early as 1876 with Professor Hoffmann’s seminal Modern Magic and also  1897 with the publication of August Roterberg’s amazing and detailed book New Era Card Tricks but the locking mechanism’s in both Hoffman’s and Roterberg’s designs use springs and/or pressure.   Even Thayer’s beautiful mahogany Lock-Flap Card Box c. 1931 used a similar method. 

Most modern locking card boxes use magnets and as far as I can ascertain this one by Wayne Sanderson was the first of it’s kind and it was released by Tannen’s in 1947.  This particular version is designed for bridge sized cards and can hold a full deck (though not in the card case).  The locking mechanism is so perfectly weighted that it does not need an external magnet to release the flap, just shaking the box in the hand with the correct downward motion will release the flap.  This is actually a nice touch if you have lost as many magnets as I have 🙂  The other feature of note on this box is that it has a black painted interior such that you don’t have to worry about the wood grain changing after the reveal.

The wood used is not a fine hard wood like many of the special card boxes produced today, but it works well and the flap works very reliably.

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Review by Andy Martin for Pocket Sawing in Half (Kartenetui) by Wolfgang Grosskopf

Review by Andy Martin for Pocket Sawing in Half (Kartenetui) by Wolfgang Grosskopf
Review by Andy Martin for Pocket Sawing in Half (Kartenetui) by Wolfgang Grosskopf
4 out of 5

A rare close-up effect from the inventive German craftsman Wolfgang Grosskopf. This is Wolfgang’s version of a Pocket Sawing in Half.

The name of this prop in German is actually Kartenetui:  which Google translates to Card Case.  And the German instructions refer to three distinct effects. Unfortunately, their are only English instructions for the final sawing effect, and although there are German instructions I am not sure if they are complete or not.  I don’t speak German and the Google translation was not that useful. 

As a collectible this is certainly rare, but you will need to spend some time with the props and a good translator to figure out all the details.  As it stands you can perform the final sawing effect but the other two are a little more elusive and should be considered bonus items if you can figure them out.  At the very least a deck of bridge sized cards would be needed.

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Review by Andy Martin for Mystic Prediction by Magic Wagon

Review by Andy Martin for Mystic Prediction by Magic Wagon
Review by Andy Martin for Mystic Prediction by Magic Wagon
4 out of 5

As usual Magic Wagon have no problems creating a beautiful looking prop.  This one seems to have had mixed reactions which I think might be a little unfair based on my first impressions at least. I think the mechanism that makes this work is very clever and works reliably. The fact that you can choose any six symbols and have six outs is pretty neat for sure.  It would be quite easy to expand that number with the right routine. Also you can freely show the device from all sides and even give it to the spectator without fear of them seeing anything, both before and after the work is done.

The problem is that the unit is a little contrived.  It is not a whiteboard, but a whiteboard with a drawer at the bottom – it looks great but may not be that logical.    Also, there are some angle issues when you do the actual work and it is a little tricky to get ready in plain sight.  I think this is another example of a good idea not fully fleshed out. 

I’ve seen it compared to T.A. Waters’ Box Office but the big difference is that although many versions of Box Office have the drawer below where the prediction is, they work because the items are displayed in a box or tray above. If you wanted to make this be very convincing with the whiteboard, the whiteboard would need to be very thin or transparent.

But to be fair with nearly all Magic Wagon items you have to accept the fact that they are going to be creating fairly large, cool looking magical boxes which if you like wooden boxes (as I do) you will love, but if you trying to convince an audience you are performing real magic with, it might be a stretch. But this is pretty much true with any box or prop that is designed for magic – the second you get a way from basic non-prop items such as cards, coins, paper, pens, ropes, etc. there is always going to be more suspicion on the prop. And props that Magic Collector’s and hobbyists like tend to be much more ornate than you really need and Magic Wagon excel and filling that space.  So you end up with props that look kind of large and contrived.  But they are giving the people what they want 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Chinese Lion Mystery by Magic Wagon

Review by Andy Martin for Chinese Lion Mystery by Magic Wagon
Review by Andy Martin for Chinese Lion Mystery by Magic Wagon
4 out of 5

The Aldini Bowl Production was created by Aldini (Alex Weiner) c. 1964 and was an approach to the Westgate Bowl of Water Production c. 1940 with the goal of removing the need for an assistant. Both of these effects are really stage effects.

The Chinese Lion Mystery was inspired by the Aldini version and scaled down to be more suitable for a formal close-up setting. You still cannot perform this right on top of the spectator but a large circular dining table should provide enough distance to perform it effectively. The method does not use any body or table loads and the mechanical method for this is very ingenious. With a little practice you’ll have the perfect dual production on your hands from what seems like an empty “table” and foulard. The set is quite stunningly decorated, very solidly built and works smoothly.

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Review by Andy Martin for Utopia Prediction Box by Magic Wagon

Review by Andy Martin for Utopia Prediction Box by Magic Wagon
Review by Andy Martin for Utopia Prediction Box by Magic Wagon
4 out of 5

Another beautiful box from Magic Wagon – they almost never fail to produce beautiful boxes and cool items.   I like the method, the simplicity and the effect it can achieve.  However, I have one issue with this box – why can’t it hold the deck of cards you are going to use for the effect?  It would make so much sense if you took the box out.  Removed the deck and left the prediction for all to see in the box.  But you can’t store the full deck in the box, all the cards won’t fit.  If you could carry the cards in the box, it would at least give you a stronger reason for having the box in the first place.  Maybe I’m getting too old to see the magic in this this stuff …

Utopia Prediction Box reminds me of the Viking effect English Card Box with which you can perform a very similar effect (though the method is different) with a nice looking box, that holds the deck too, for about $150 less.

_EF The performer shows a folded sheet of paper which he states will be the prediction outcome and places it inside an elegant wooden box where it remains clearly visible through a glass window. The spectator is then handed a deck of cards to examine, thoroughly shuffle and then give a final cut. The box is then opened and the spectator himself removes the prediction inside. Let’s say it is shown to be, for example, “The Seven of Hearts will be the 4th card of the deck”. The spectator is now asked to tum over the 4th card of the deck that he himself just seconds ago legitimately shuffled and cut to. Unbelievably, it is the Seven of Hearts! 

Remember:

  • The window box remains in full view at all times!
  • The pack of cards used is completely normal!
  • The effect can be repeated with a different outcome each and every time!

The box measures approximately 8.25cm wide, 3.50cm high and 10.80cm deep and has been completely handcrafted from yellow wood with a dark brown matte coating finish.

(Does not come with deck of cards, use your own.)

Click here for more information.

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