Review by Andy Martin for Beauty Contest (Pin-Up Girl Transposition) by Magiarte

Review by Andy Martin for Beauty Contest (Pin-Up Girl Transposition) by Magiarte
Review by Andy Martin for Beauty Contest (Pin-Up Girl Transposition) by Magiarte
4 out of 5

Magiarte were a magic dealer and manufacturer in Portugal of a unique line of magic c. 1956-1996.  They were founded by Armindo de Matos and Eduardo Franco.  Their beautiful hand painted props are quite rare today and are perfect for display.

The instructions that came with this item say that the photo album starts off with all six color postcards and then just one vanishes to appear later in the ornate frame.  But a listing on Potter & Potter says the album starts empty and then the six color postcards appear inside the album.  I think the best way to present this would be like this:

  • Show the empty stage stand and six color postcard and flags.
  • Place the six flags (Portugal, France, Spain, UK, USA, and Brazil) with the back out on the stand
  • Show the six color postcards.
  • Flip through the empty photo album that has place holders for six countries with flags.
  • Have a flag chosen from the stand to select which country wins the contest.
  • Vanish the six color postcards (using your favorite method!).
  • Show the appearance of postcards inside the photo album.
  • But one is missing and instead a large flag is shown in its place.
  • Reveal the chosen flag (it is the same flag as appeared in the album).
  • Show the chosen color postcard appearing on the stage stand.

This seems to be a better routine with a lot of magic and some beautiful colorful props the likes of which you probably have not seen very often.

This effect certainly could be performed, but it probably has more appeal to the collector. The stage stand where the beauty contest winner appears is a little temperamental and has to be handled with some extra control. The photo album and flag cards are cardboard and paper and they probably would not stand up to too much abuse. Having said that they look very good for a sixty year old prop!

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Review by Andy Martin for Color Changing Knives by David Regal

Review by Andy Martin for Color Changing Knives by David Regal
Review by Andy Martin for Color Changing Knives by David Regal
5 out of 5

David Regal’s Color Changing Knives are a custom-made four knife set that really deliver 🙂  I’ve owned dozens of sets of knives but I must say how very impressed I am with these new knives from David Regal.  Not only are they a perfect size at 3″, they are a good weight and have a good heft in the hand without being too heavy.  And the routine is perfect and logical with a novel climax that makes sense.

Also the very useful online video that comes with the knives is perfect.  David cleanly and swiftly takes you through all the possible moves you could want and he teaches them so well, most of them don’t even seem like moves or sleights.  If you are just getting into the color changing knives, this is really a great routine to start with but even if you are a seasoned professional there is enough here to keep you happy and thinking.

And at $125 they are also priced well too, a really wonderful package you should not miss out on 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Chan Chu by Alan Warner

Review by Andy Martin for Chan Chu by Alan Warner
Review by Andy Martin for Chan Chu by Alan Warner
5 out of 5

This is an overlooked beauty from Alan. Firstly this is not a drawer box, although it looks like one and could easily be confused for one. It uses a method that I have not seen in any other Alan Warner piece and in fact I can’t think of another prop that uses the same method.

What is clever about this effect is that instead of switching one thing for another as a standard drawer box would do, it allows you to add the coins to the existing card and single gold coin. What this means is you could have the card or coin signed or you could do more with less space. Once you see it you will notice what I am talking about. But when I opened this up I was very pleased to see the new, clever, and very deceiving method.

Of course it looks colorful and beautiful too so if you were looking for a neat item to add to your collection and you missed this the first time around, this is it.

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Review by Andy Martin for Mental Case by Steve Cook, Magic Wagon,Tony Curtis

Review by Andy Martin for Mental Case by Steve Cook, Magic Wagon,Tony Curtis
Review by Andy Martin for Mental Case by Steve Cook, Magic Wagon,Tony Curtis
5 out of 5

Magic Wagon items have become very popular over the last few years. Mental Case is from their early days and was produced by Tony Curtis and it utilizes the strengths of Magic Wagon for creating beautiful clean boxes coupled with the clever and devious thinking of the amazing Steve Cook.

The Mental Case box has several custom features that make this a self-contained and clean prediction of any of the five ESP symbols boldly displayed on the top of the box.  Although this uses multiple outs,  each revelation is almost as strong the next and you’ll leave the spectator quite convinced you knew precisely what they would choose. 

There is almost no memory work and once you try it a few times you will quickly remember what to do – all of the revelations are quite striking. Not to mention this box just slips in your pocket and is ready to go.  This is all thanks to Steve Cook carefully thinking through the revelations, including:

  • The only card in the window.
  • The only card in the lid.
  • The only card turned face up.
  • The only blank card.
  • The only card to penetrate the box.

This is one you’ll love the look of and actually use 🙂

Click here for more information.

Review by Andy Martin for Friends by Collectors' Workshop

Review by Andy Martin for Friends by Collectors' Workshop
Review by Andy Martin for Friends by Collectors' Workshop
5 out of 5

Created by Nick Ruggiero and Rich Bloch from an idea by Woody Pitman.  This is another of the amazing effects created by Nick and Rich in the early days of Collectors’ Workshop and for some reason has not been remade since George Robinson took over, and so they are quite rare now.  Although the effect is similar (particularly to the spectator) to CW’s other coin routine, Coin Classic, this method is very different.  There is no deck of cards between the glasses and the glasses and coins can be minutely examined as they are not gimmicked. 

There is a sophisticated mechanism involved that makes the whole thing work, but in looking at the props you would never guess and it creates a very effective and deceptive presentation.  A little audacious to be sure, but some of CW’s best items are.  This is one that will most certainly fool them and with a little practice to get the timing right you’ll have a real treat on your hands, and you’ll love the method too 🙂

Click here for more information.

Review by Andy Martin for Solid Brass Weight-Trix 3-D Matrix (with DVD) by Bob Sheets, Glenn Morphew

Review by Andy Martin for Solid Brass Weight-Trix 3-D Matrix (with DVD) by Bob Sheets, Glenn Morphew
Review by Andy Martin for Solid Brass Weight-Trix 3-D Matrix (with DVD) by Bob Sheets, Glenn Morphew
5 out of 5

Wow, these weights are really amazing and beautiful!  They are made of solid brass, look and feel perfect and come with a clean and entertaining routine that is taught perfectly by Bob Sheets and Glenn Morphew.  The weights are even nicer than the Jim Riser ones which were the gold standard for many years. Just amazingly solid and there is no way you can spot the gimmick, it is perfect (I can’t pick it out from the line-up without looking first) 🙂

The routine created by Bob Sheets and Glenn Morphew is also one of the best Matrix routines I have seen and Bob & Glenn clearly spent months refining and improving it.  It is taught perfectly by Bob Sheets and Glenn Morphew (in separate sessions) on the included 53 minute DVD. They have made it as easy as possible to perform and it is funny and entertaining too.

If you ever wanted to perform a Matrix/Chink-a-Chink routine this has it all:

  • Beautiful Solid Brass Weights
  • Perfect seamless gimmick
  • Clean and Entertaining Routine
  • Clear and Easy to Follow Video directions from both Bob Sheets and Glenn Morphew

Just watch Bob’s performance and I think you will look at this classic effect in a whole new light.  Amazing, funny stuff 🙂

Click here for more information.

Review by Andy Martin for Imperial Vase Mystery by Magic Wagon

Review by Andy Martin for Imperial Vase Mystery by Magic Wagon
Review by Andy Martin for Imperial Vase Mystery by Magic Wagon
4 out of 5

Magic Wagon had a phenomenal 2020 and created some amazing items.  This is Magic Wagon’s version of U.F. Grant’s Bamboo Chest and Glass. Until I saw Rob’s video (brotherbor on youtube) I was going to write this one off as a bit of a dud, but Rob really brings it home with the extra vanish – that was a stroke of genius!

I still think that by removing the liquid piece and making the vase smaller Magic Wagon have made this less amazing than the original.  But as Rob clearly shows, with a little big of imagination you can still perform this and make it seem quite amazing and entertaining 🙂

It is beautifully made, and if you perform it the way Rob does with the bonus “vanish” I think it can be a fooler.  But if you don’t, I think this is more of a puzzle and not an outright fooler as the original version clearly was (assuming of course it was performed well!).

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Review by Andy Martin for Death Toll by Bruce Ballon, Taylor Imagineering

Review by Andy Martin for Death Toll by Bruce Ballon, Taylor Imagineering
Review by Andy Martin for Death Toll by Bruce Ballon, Taylor Imagineering
5 out of 5

When I first saw this a few years ago I missed getting one primarily because I was happy with the wonderful Cesaral Spirit Bell (I even brought one of each!).  However, I recently picked up Death Toll and am very pleased that I did.  Although the Cesaral has a bunch of extra programmable features they are only any good if you plan on using them, and most of us use a Spirit Bell to ring the bell unattended, and nothing else.  This is where Death Toll excels.  Not only does it look 100% genuine, the bell is very clear and loud and you can actually see the plunger pushed. It looks wonderful!

Death Toll is extremely authentic looking too.  In fact when I first received it I thought there is no way this is not a real bell retrofitted. I looked into it further and found out that Taylor Imagineering had these built from the ground up just for this effect.  It also uses two standard AAA batteries, and even the top bell can be removed to see all the innards inside – there looks like nothing going on except the ringer.

Death Toll comes in two versions: the Bright Finish (featured on this page) and the Antique Finish. Although I often go for the antique finish, in this case I went for the Bright Finish as I have mainly seen bright and shiny bells at all the hotels I have visited.  Both versions are the same otherwise and they all sound amazing.

The remote works perfectly and you can ring the bell about once every second, you have to wait for the ringer to fall back before it can be rung again, which is just like a real desk bell in fact. There is also an extra toe switch that you get so you can operate this 100% hands free.  The toe switch plugins into the remote so you don’t have to have wires going all the way up your leg, just tuck it into your sock. I’m pushing it down as I write this and it works perfectly.

Unless your routine actually needs the advanced programming capabilities of the Cesaral this is my new favorite Spirit Bell,  I love it 🙂

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Review by Andy Martin for Berg's Improved Card Drawer by Marvin Cull, Joe Berg

Review by Andy Martin for Berg's Improved Card Drawer by Marvin Cull, Joe Berg
Review by Andy Martin for Berg's Improved Card Drawer by Marvin Cull, Joe Berg
5 out of 5

This is beautiful remake of Joe Berg’s wonderful Improved Card Drawer c. 1945 by avid magician and talented woodworker Marvin Cull c. 1998.  Marvin did a wonderful job and although I have not seen the original Berg boxes in person, from photos it appears that this is as good if not better than the originals.

The Improved Card Drawer is a card drawer box that allows for two changes and the drawer can be removed 100% and can be examined.  Even the outer cover can be shown quite cleanly and handled by the spectator, though I would not recommend a thorough examination.  What also works well about the design is the cleanness of the release mechanism.  There are no levers or slides to change.  Just push the drawer in all the way and the change happens, so the moment it happens is up to you with nothing added or taken away.  You’ll love this box for sure.

Click here for more information.

Review by Andy Martin for Okito's Mystery Paddle by Okito-Williams

Review by Andy Martin for Okito's Mystery Paddle by Okito-Williams
Review by Andy Martin for Okito's Mystery Paddle by Okito-Williams
5 out of 5

Here we have another beautiful recreation by Carl Williams of the Okito Mystery Paddle that was originally created by Okito c. 1955.  This version by Carl Williams was released c. 2000 in a limited edition of less than 30.

The instructions say this is an adaption of a well-known slate trick marketed by Annemann, which I was unable to find a reference to. But as far as I know it is an adaptation of U.F. Grant’s Slate of Mind.  Apart from looking significantly nicer I like the fact you start with a full deck and have six cards “randomly” chosen from the deck with neither the audience or the performer knowing what they are.  That gives the impression that one card out of a whole deck was in fact predicted.

If you ever wanted to perform any form of Slate of Mind, Okito’s Mystery Paddle would be the best way to do it: it looks beautiful and is more convincing.

Click here for more information.

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