Review: A Myriad of Marvels from Magic Makers

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Review: A Myriad of Marvels from Magic Makers

Postby EndersGame » Mar 22nd, '19, 16:24



A Myriad of Marvels from Magic Makers

Magic Makers is a magic wholesaler located in South Dakota, and run by magician Rob Stiff. I first came across Magic Makers a number of years ago when I was looking for a versatile gaff deck containing numerous packet tricks and video instruction. I received many recommendations for Packet Killer by Magic Makers, which came with a video featuring Simon Lovell. I took the advice, purchased it, and it proved to be an outstanding product that was exactly what I was looking for. Since then I've picked up and enjoyed several other Magic Makers products.

One thing that Magic Makers brings to the table is some slick marketing and high quality filming. That's because Rob Stiff not only has experience with the business side of magic, but also has expertise in cinematography. His camera experience holds him in good stead, and he has produced some of the most lavish video trailers for magic effects that you'll ever see, such as the impressive collection available here. Many of them are like miniature movie shorts, and have been produced with a very high degree of professionalism.

But in the end, what we're really interested in isn't a flashy video trailer, but the products themselves. Magic Makers specializes in all kinds of magic related products, including tricks, playing cards and gaff decks, instructional videos, and more. To help keep prices down for the retailers they supply with stock, they import many of their products at a low cost from manufacturers in Asia. With the help of low prices and wide distribution, they've even been able to get a foothold into the mass market, and as a result you'll often find Magic Makers products on sites like Amazon and eBay, at reasonable prices making them very attractive to the budding magician.

While parts of their catalogue will interest experienced and professional magicians, it's especially new and intermediate magicians that the Magic Makers inventory will appeal to the most. In other words, people like me. In this article I'll cover some of the recent additions to my own collection of magic products from Magic Makers, and share some of the fun items I've been enjoying lately.

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*** FOR BEGINNERS ***

Ultimate Magic Trick Kit

When I first saw the Ultimate Magic Trick Kit online, I found it hard to believe that it was selling for only around twenty bucks, given the amazing contents.

Here's what all comes inside:
● 4x Red Sponge Balls
● 1x Crazy Cube
● 1x TT & Silk
● 1x Deland's Automatic Deck
● 1x IT & Wax
● 1x Do You Want To Learn Magic DVD

Most of these items are geared towards genuine magic newbies, and I have reviewed some of these individually. The sponge balls are of course a classic in magic, and a set of four balls is enough to get you started with some basic routines. I'm not a huge fan of the Crazy Cube, but kids and first-timers will get some good mileage from it, as you use your mindpower to figure out which number a spectator has chosen on a die they've placed inside a sealed tube. Many newcomers to magic won't know what a TT is, but it is a simple and classic magic accessory that can be used to perform miracle vanishes and appearances with small items. The idea of levitating small objects has instant crowd appeal, and the IT and wax supplied with the kit will give you all you need to get started. Then there's Deland's Automatic Deck, which has a time-tested system of markings that enable you to discern any card, plus it's a stripper deck at the same time.

All this won't help without instruction, and that's why it's a good thing that this kit includes the Do You Want To Learn Magic DVD. Designed for those relatively new to magic, this video has a ton of material on it, because it is effectively four videos in one, with around 2 hours of footage. It features Rob Stiff himself teaching you how to perform 12 different impromptu style tricks, plus it includes a bonus levitation trick, some one-handed card flourishes, and over half an hour of instruction by Gerry Griffin that explains how to do 10 different card forces.

But the DVD is really just the icing on top of the cake. The Kit also comes with a secret link to the publisher's website, which gives you access to a Magic Portal, with streaming videos that explain how to do all the tricks included in the magic kit. There are separate sections for the floating tricks, the sponge balls, the automatic deck, the TT and silk, and the crazy cube, plus four bonus tricks.

Just be aware that the quality of the products themselves is on the lower end of the spectrum, and the difficulty level leans towards beginner. The playing cards, for example, don't match the quality of a Bicycle deck. Even so, you really do get a ton of stuff, especially considering all the training videos included, making this a good value product for the young magician or newcomer.

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*** EASY MIRACLES ***

Ultimate Magician's Insurance Policy

I've had enormous fun with the Ultimate Magician's Insurance Policy ever since I got it. It's an old gag where the spectator selects a card, after which the magician has several unsuccessful attempts to find it. Then as a last resort he pulls out his Magician's Insurance Policy, and opens it up to reveal a picture of the selected card.

Several versions of this insurance policy have been produced over the years, and this is one of the best I've seen. It comes with two different copies of the policy, the first of which has dimensions of 4 x 9 inches and unfolds to 18 x 24 inches, which makes it ideal for stage or parlour use. In addition there's a small version that is 1.5 x 3.5 inches in size when folded, which is perfect for your wallet. I keep mine permanently in my wallet, and so I'm ready to perform this as an impromptu routine at any moment someone puts a deck in my hands.

The link to the official learning video that is provided with the product unfortunately is a dead link, and I think that this might be because Magic Makers is currently reorganizing their site, so hopefully this will be live again soon. But if you know how to force a card, you can do this trick, because it's really all about providing a humorous revelation of the forced card. The wording on the insurance policy has some great comedic one-liners you can naturally incorporate into your performance, and the quality of both the stage and wallet sized policies is very high. Given the great reactions I've had with this, it's well worth the investment.

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The Secret Cups

In The Secret Cups, the spectator has the job of secreting a yellow wooden pawn under one of three cups. They can mix up the cups as much as they like, but no matter where they hide the pawn, you are always able to find it!

This is a quick fooler that is super easy to learn. A four minute learning video online will tell you all you need to know for performing this. My suspicions about the method were correct, and I wonder if there is a risk for spectators to figure it out. As the tutorial video mentions, it's not recommended to do this more than twice to the same spectator. But it is a nice easy effect that you can have a lot of fun with.

The entire set comes in a velvet style drawstring bag for nice presentation. And the cups - while small - have a nice shiny chrome finish. So it is an attractive looking product at the same time, that is eye-catching and gives an immediate impression of quality and style.

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*** CLASSICS OF MAGIC ***

Hot Rod

Every budding magician needs to have some experience with the Hot Rod, or as Magic Makers calls their version, the Magic Stick. Lots of versions of this classic exist, and this particular one is an inexpensive item that is just under 4 inches in length. Don't let the simplicity of this trick deceive you into underestimating its impact. Especially when seen close-up for the first time, it can really generate astonishment. And because it's not inherently difficult, it's ideal for beginner magicians.

So how does it work? A typical routine begins with showing your spectator that your magic stick has six colors on each side. They freely select a number from one to six, and you use this to select a particular colour. Then with a simple wave, all the colours on the stick magically turn into the spectator's chosen colour - on both sides! The original colours can be restored, although alternate ways of ending the trick and other routines are also possible.

This popular trick relies on successfully executing the paddle move, which is taught on the package. A link to online instructions is also provided. While this particular piece of magic has been around for over 50 years, most people have never seen it performed first-hand, and when well performed it still produces the same amazement today that it has always generated. The reflective material on this stick, and the shiny colours, ensure that you can do something that is visual and entertaining. Given that this usually sells for only around $7, it's a good value magic product that belongs in virtually every magician's cupboard.

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Giant Cups and Balls

The Cups and Balls routine is another evergreen classic that never fails to entertain when performed well. You can certainly do this routine with a cheap set, but if you are serious about your magic, at some stage you'll want to get a quality set of cups and balls. And that's where the Giant Cups and Balls (Street Size) from Magic Makers comes in.

You immediately get a sense of quality when feeling these cups for the first time. When stacked together, the combined weight is over a pound. These are heavy metal babies, and when treated right, you can expect them to last for a lifetime. The cups are 3.75 inches tall, with a base that is 2.3 inches in diameter and an opening that is 3.4 inches across. They're chrome plated for a stylish look.

Not only does the chrome plating look good, but the balance of the cups, including the weight and feel, is good. The mouth beads are well made, and the cups are consistently shaped, and other reviewers agree that they are a big improvement over the original Giant Cups and Balls produced by Magic Makers. Four red knit balls are provided along with the cups, so you're set with everything you need for performing. These don't come cheap, but you are getting something that is of a professional standard, and looks and feels it too.

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Antique Golden Shells

The 3 Shell Game is a classic of magic, and with the Antique Golden Shells we have a very stylish version of this golden chestnut. Except that in this case it's not quite golden, but rather the shells themselves have an antique look. They are made out of a very heavy metal, and have an aged look to them that makes for a nice presentation. In addition you get four small green "peas". A velvet-style drawstring bag is also included to make the entire package portable and stylish.

I've always wanted to learn this classic, but I'm quickly realizing that it really does require some serious skills to be performed quickly and cleanly. To help us on our way, Magic Makers provides a link to their online learning materials, which features Sal Piacente, and is the material also found on his Three Shell Game DVD. Sal is a real pro, and this DVD is widely considered to be one of the very best on the subject, with great instruction and good camera work. The DVD itself is an excellent buy, and is the best place to begin if ever you've wanted to have a go at this classic routine. With the Antique Golden Shells, you get both the props you need and the tutorial videos, and so a passable performance is well within reach of the beginner willing to put a bit of effort into it.

I can't really comment on the quality of the props, since I have nothing to compare them with. But I have seen reports that they don't match the quality of the much respected "Golden Shells" offered by Pop Haydn's School for Scoundrels. But even if they're not top of the line, considering that you get the best instructional video on the subject included, it's a great place for people wanting to learn this routine to begin. Made out of solid metal, and with an attractive antique finish, they certainly look and feel great.

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*** ILLUSIONS WITH PROPS ***

Illusion Card Box

The Illusion Card Box is another well-presented product with the look and feel of sophistication and style. It promises the accomplishment of a real miracle: "Make a signed card magically appear inside the box." The premise seems truly impossible - a spectator selects and signs a card, which eventually appears inside the closed box.

The package notes that this is for the advanced performer, because it does require some sleight of hand and "moves". A link provided with the product gives you access to written instructions about how to perform the effect, along with a 5 minute video. While the instruction provided is not very extensive, I think that the target audience for this effect mostly already knows how to do this trick, and is just looking for a quality prop for the routine. If that's what you're looking for, this is it.

The box is made out of real wood, and measures around 2.4 x 1.9 x 1.5 inches in size. It is specially designed with a secret that enables you to perform the effect along with some sleight of hand. Without giving away too much, those who are familiar with how this works will be interested to know that a magnetic flap is built into the box to enable it to be examined without giving away the secret. Buying this prop is of course no substitute for a good performance. But this is a powerful effect, and in order to do it you will need a gimmick like this one. Various models have been produced over the years by different manufacturers, but I'm very pleased with this lovely version from Magic Makers.

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Coin Thru Card Illusion

Much like the previous item, the Coin Thru Card Illusion is a quality prop that enables you to perform a complete miracle. It's important in magic that your spectators can clearly understand what the effect is, and in this case it's very straightforward and apparently impossible: two cylinders are placed together to make a long tube, while a playing card is placed between them to prevent anything passing from one side to the other. Four coins are placed into one side of the cylinder, and amazingly pass through the playing card one at a time, and appear on the other side!

The cylindrical prop you get with this is around 4.5 x 1.5 inches in size, and in no way looks cheap or nasty. You have to provide your own coins, and while the instructions recommend using American half dollars due to their ideal size, you can certainly use other coins as well.

My only real disappointment with this trick was the learning materials. The link provided gives step by step written instructions along with a few simple illustrations. While these are adequate, what I was really hoping for was a teaching video. The page does offer a 20 minute tutorial video for the Coin Squeeze Illusion, which uses a similar principle. To be fair, it does state on the tutorial page: "We are currently working on a video for Coin Thru Card. For now, please see demonstration for Coin Squeeze, as your will perform these in the same manner." So hopefully in due time a tutorial specifically for the Coin Thru Card Illusion will also appear on this page. Meanwhile you are provided with enough information to perform this routine, and it is the kind of thing that can cause jaws to drop when done well.

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*** MAGIC VIDEOS ***

The Best Triple Bill Change Ever DVD

The Best Triple Bill Change Ever DVD is presented by magician George Bradley. The premise is simple: first you change a $1 bill into a $20 bill. Then you change it into a $100 bill. And then you make it disappear completely!

It's not uncommon for creators to make magic sound easier to perform than it really is, and in this case the promise is that you can accomplish this stunning illusion with "no props, no gimmicks, nor any sleight of hand". I was rather skeptical, but have to admit that the triple change that George Bradley teaches on this video was actually quite impressive. The triple change is surprisingly straight forward to learn. Two bonus tricks are also taught - the "Nowhere Vanish" and "Spectator's Bill" - and these admittedly require more skill. The instruction for the main bill switch is about 20 minutes long altogether, while the material for the two bonus effects is a similar length. Both of these will need much more practice to get all the moves down smoothly and invisibly.

Given my rather low key expectations, I was pleasantly surprised with this DVD. All the reviews of this product that I've found online were also positive, so clearly I'm not alone in my enthusiasm of this video, and I'm happy to recommend it.

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The Disappearing Card DVD

The Disappearing Card is a classic in card magic, and is most familiar under the name "The 2 Card Monte". It's not to be confused with 3 Card Monte, which is the traditional "find the lady" gambling scam with three cards. In the Disappearing Card trick the basic effect is that you show two cards and remove one, and your spectator can never guess which of the two remains. Even if you show them the one you have removed, it can magically change places in an instant. It's a very basic effect that is easy to do, and can really astonish.

This DVD features a ton of instruction, with the main teaching by magician Brian Thomas Moore. He covers topics such as the history of the trick, the mechanics of the Mexican Turnover, and much more. There are several different routines taught, including one by Rob Stiff. And besides the video instruction, it also comes with the gaff cards (in Bicycle riderback) needed to perform the routine.

There's good reason that this is a classic. It's well suited for the beginner, while the experienced magician can also get a lot of mileage out of it. Given that you get both an instructional video with several bonus routines, and the gaff cards you need, it's great value.

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*** NOVELTIES ***

Magic Pyramid Puzzle

Sometimes we're looking for something a bit more light-hearted, and the Magic Pyramid Puzzle is perfect for that.

The idea is simple: combine and arrange two matching shapes, so that together they form a triangular shaped pyramid. It sounds easy, and once you know the secret, it is a piece of cake to do. Written instructions explain how to do it - if you get stuck and need them - and there's very little mystery once you know how it is done. But now what happens if you give it to a spectator, can they replicate your efforts as quickly? And that's of course where the fun comes in. Apparently most people can't solve this puzzle under three minutes, although you will come across some folks who solve it almost instantly.

I've seen a similar product before, made cheaply out of two low quality pieces of plastic. This product, however, immediately impresses with two metal pieces that have a brass look to them, and offer a real sense of heft when you hold them. They look and feel attractive, making them far more enjoyable to handle with and admire. The difficulty level of this puzzle is easy, but that also makes it ideal for a light ice-breaker, or even something to have lying around on the coffee table.

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Rattleback

The Rattleback is sometimes categorized as a science puzzle or brain teaser, and it's true that its secret lies in physics. But you can take advantage of its unique physical properties to turn it into a demonstration of mind-power or magic. An oddly shaped object, made of a polished metal and having a unique weight and feel, you can introduce this as an ancient artifact or Celtic stone. You spin it in one direction, and it performs exactly as expected, rotating rapidly. But now spin it in the other direction, and (with the help of a magical gesture or word if you wish) it will quickly slow down, stop, and reverse direction!

This scientific curiosity needs to be seen to be believed (see for example a video here, here and here). The physics behind how this works can melt your brain, but there's no doubt that this is a very cool item to have. Once you see it and play around with it, you'll want one for yourself!

Unlike many rattlebacks I've seen online, this one isn't made out of cheap plastic or acrylic, but is constructed out of a material that looks like stainless steel. It's nearly 4 inches long, and is one of those executive type toys/puzzles that is bound to please everyone.

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*** CONCLUSIONS ***

Range: So are any of the above items for you? As you can see, Magic Makers has a wide range of different magic related products, and what you see here is only a small taste of the kinds of things they offer. Whether it is gaff decks, packet tricks, other tricks, instructional videos, or accessories that you're after, there's a lot to choose from.

Target market: Certainly Magic Makers has some items that will appeal to the professional magician, such as the Giant Cups and Balls, or the Antique Golden Shells. Many of their tricks do require an intermediate ability in magic. But a great deal of their range is especially going to be appreciated and enjoyed by relative newcomers to magic, or by people who are looking to enjoy magic as a fun hobby without breaking the bank.

Quality: I have no complaints about the products themselves. I can't compare with top-of-the-line high-end magic products, because those are usually beyond my own budget, and I'm just a hobbyist magician. But the Magic Maker products aren't typically geared to be the absolute best they can be, otherwise they would be well beyond the budget of the average person. Considering that most of these items aren't that expensive, the quality is quite pleasing, and I'm more than happy with all of them.

Instructions: One thing I really do appreciate is that these magic products typically come not only with written instructions, but with a secret link to online video tutorials that teach you how to perform. Experienced magicians may find these explanations rather rudimentary, but for the person that hasn't been exposed to these tricks before, it's exactly what you're looking for. The video quality is typically good, and the instructions are easy to follow, making them ideal for people learning magic or just enjoying it casually.

Value: Buying magic can quickly cost a lot of money. Magic Makers products aren't usually at the top end of the scale when it comes to cost, and that's why most of these items are available at a reasonable price. The value is particularly good considering that you're not just getting a gimmick, but in most cases are also getting video instructions along with it. Some of the products like the Giant Cups and Balls are definitely on the expensive side, and will likely only be of real interest to the more serious magician. But the vast majority of what is on offer is good value for the amateur magician, with the Ultimate Magic Kit being of particularly good value for the newcomer to magic.

Availability: Because Magic Makers is a large wholesaler, their products are readily available from a range of websites and online retailers, including big names like Amazon and eBay (I've used both as a source). That means that if you see something here that you want to get for yourself, it's likely going to be quite easy to get hold of.

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Recommendation

So what is the bottom line about the above products from Magic Makers? It depends what you're looking for. More serious magicians will probably be eyeing off things like the Antique 3 Shell Game, the Giant Cups and Balls, or perhaps the Illusion Card Box. For the typical amateur like me, I'll probably get more mileage out of things like the Ultimate Magicians Insurance Policy and the Disappearing Card, especially when performing casually to people as an ice-breaker. And almost everyone can have fun with a novelty item like the Rattleback.

But now, it's time for me to stop writing, and get back to playing with some of my new tricks!

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Want to learn more? Check out the Magic Makers website.

Direct links for items featured in this review:
For Beginners: Ultimate Magic Trick Kit ($20)
Easy Miracles: Ultimate Magician's Insurance Policy ($12), The Secret Cups ($20)
Illusions With Props: Illusion Card Box (~$25), Coin Thru Card Illusion ($35)
Classics of Magic: Hot Rod ($7), Giant Cups and Balls ($100+), Antique Golden Shells ($40)
Magic Videos: The Best Triple Bill Change Ever DVD ($10), Disappearing Card DVD ($10)
Novelties: Magic Pyramid Puzzle ($10), Rattleback
NB: prices are approximations based on what I'm seeing right now for these products on Amazon and eBay.

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