Review: One Dozen Deceptive Delights

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Review: One Dozen Deceptive Delights

Postby EndersGame » Dec 10th, '19, 01:26



One Dozen Devious Devices and Deceptive Delights

I'm not a pro magician. I'm just an amateur hobbyist who has enjoyed a lot of magic over the last 30 years or so. So I don't want to spend weeks and months learning knuckle-busting sleights and complex technical moves. For me magic is mostly about entertaining family and friends, and having fun. I love learning new tricks, especially ones that don't cost a fortune, and that I can get into performing quite quickly.

Over the years I've picked up and enjoyed a lot of tricks produced by Magic Makers, because they specialize in making products geared to beginners and intermediate magicians like myself. Magic Makers is a magic wholesaler located in South Dakota, and the man behind them is magician Rob Stiff. He has experience with the business side of magic as well as expertise in cinematography, so it's no surprise that they combine magic with slick marketing and high quality filming. Their video trailers are typically very lavish and extravagant, and many of them have the feel of a miniature movie short. The online instructional videos that typically accompany their products also have a high degree of professionalism.

More importantly, Magic Makers sells all kinds of magic related products, including tricks, playing cards and gaff decks, instructional videos, and much more. By importing products from Asian manufacturers, they're able to make their magic very affordable, and you'll find a lot of their inventory on the mass market on sites like Amazon and eBay, which means that their products are easy for people like me to get hold of. They certainly also have a large range of items that advanced and professional magicians will appreciate, but many of their products target people like myself - the intermediate level magician, the amateur hobbyist, and the beginner. In this article I'll cover some of the items from Magic Makers that I've particularly enjoyed lately. I'm not being paid to write this - I just love magic, and I love writing about it and sharing my experiences with fun products, and these certainly qualify!

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*** CLOSE-UP MIRACLES ***

Psychic Escape

In Psychic Escape, a spectator chooses one of five different coloured brass discs, and places them into a brass cylinder which is then closed and sealed. A string is threaded through the cylinder, including through the holes in all the discs, and your spectator holds the string on both sides, so that the cylinder and discs are genuinely trapped on the string. Now comes the magic: the cylinder is opened, and only four of the discs are on the string, and the spectator's selected disc melts right through the string and drops into your hand! See a demo of a performance here.

When you see this effect being performed, it seems truly impossible - which is the mark of good magic: the illusion of impossibility! The secret lies somewhere in the props, but I'm not going to spoil things by revealing how it works. Suffice it to say that the spectator genuinely can make a free choice of which coloured disc they'd like, and there's no duplicate discs or palming required. To add to the mystery, you can even have the spectator turn the five discs face down before making a selection, and keeping the colours hidden while putting them in the cylinder (so that you don't even know what their chosen colour is). Even if they only name their selected colour for the very first time merely a moment before opening the cylinder with the final reveal, the disc of their selected colour is still the only one that escapes. I don't think I'd go so far as letting the spectator examine the cylinder closely afterwards, although you certainly can show everything quite openly beforehand.

The props for this illusion are outstanding, and just scream high quality: a solid brass cylinder, and attractive coloured discs also finished with brass. Even the string that you thread through the discs is durable and attractive, ensuring a classy look all round. The written instructions that come with the trick are all that you'll need, but a link is provided to the publisher's website with a two minute video that shows a performance followed by the explanation. The trick promises to be so easy that it's basically self-working, and many people will be able to perform this within a couple of minutes of learning it. I found it a little knacky to get the angles right, but with a small amount of practice was able to pull off the required move consistently. Beautifully made, easy and fun to perform, and generating strong reactions - exactly the combination of things most magicians will love!

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The Great Matchbox Illusion

If you really want to make an impression with a completely baffling illusion, it's hard to look past the Great Matchbox Illusion. You start by displaying a small matchbox which has a charming retro look. Then you show a toothpick, which can be examined, and push the toothpick completely through the center of the matchbox, so it is showing on both sides. Nothing amazing so far - until you open the matchbox to reveal that inside it is a solid and impenetrable brass block!

I don't want to give the secret away, but obviously something is heavily gimmicked in order to make this illusion work. The gimmick is easy to operate and understand, and the secret is a simple but very effective one. Most importantly, it is incredibly convincing - see a demo of this effect here and another video trailer here. You can even involve the spectator by having them hold the matchbox and push the toothpick through it. If you're bold you can even let the spectator examine everything at the end of the trick, and it's highly unlikely they'll discover anything.

The written instructions provided are brief, but there is secret link included that gives you access to video instructions from the publisher, including a two minute tutorial video that teaches you all you need to know. It really is super easy to do, and you can literally be performing this to people less than five minutes after opening the package and watching the video. Putting a solid block into someone's hand that they have just penetrated - now that's amazing!

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*** ILLUSIONS WITH PROPS ***

The Vanishing Box

Being able to vanish small objects has always been a great way to create wonder and amazement, and that's exactly what you'll be able to do with ease courtesy of The Vanishing Box. This fantastic prop also goes under the name Professional Rattle Box. As you can see from the official video trailer here, the concept is very simple: insert a small object like a coin or ring into a small wooden box and close the lid. You can hear the object rattling inside, and yet when the box is opened, the object has completely vanished!

The box is nicely constructed out of wood and opens easily. As you'd expect, it is heavily gimmicked, and while I'd be reluctant to hand it out for examination at the risk of someone discovering the secret, you can certainly show it openly from all sides, because there's nothing to hide. What's more, after having vanished the small object, you can give the box to your spectator to shake, so that they confirm for themselves by the absence of a rattling sound that the object has indeed vanished. As an extra convincer, you can make the object reappear at will, easily producing it from your pocket or another location - this of course takes away any heat from the idea that there is a secret compartment hiding the object.

Along with brief written instructions, you get access to a two minute online video that shows you exactly how to do the routine. You will need to be able to hide the object in your palm, but the box is so cleverly designed that you don't need the skills usually required for coin magic and similar effects in order to accomplish this. I was pleasantly surprised how easy this was to accomplish, as a result of the box's ingenious design. Due to how it all works, you'll have the object tucked away very early on, but your spectators will be completely convinced it's still in the box, so there's no risk of getting caught. I highly recommend this one!

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The Haunted Key

Is it really possible to move objects purely with the power of your mind? That's the premise of telekinesis, which has long fascinated curious spectators around the world. And it is into this exciting world of mystery that we enter with the help of The Original Haunted Key. Can we move this with our mind? Do ghosts exist and do they have the ability to make things move?

What you get with this product is a package containing a fairly large key. It feels quite solid, and has a classic and antique look, which adds some credibility and authenticity to whatever background story you choose to use. An initial inspection reveals nothing unusual about it whatsoever, and one strength of this trick is that the key is fully examinable both before and after the effect. But when placed on the palm of your hand, moved by apparent mind-power, the key slowly rolls over by itself.

The key comes with some written instructions that tell you the basics of what to do. A link is also provided to online instructions that give some additional information, including a five minute video that shows a performance and also teaches how to do the magic. I like the fact that there are different possible handlings, one of which can even be done using the spectator's hand, as you can see from the performance video here (also see the official trailer here). It's not difficult, because it's all about balance, but it is worth a little practice in order to be able to do it consistently, smoothly, and slowly. Like many magic tricks, the strength of this will depend mainly on adding a good story to the easy technical moves, and performing this with an entertaining presentation.

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*** CLASSICS OF MAGIC ***

Magic Ball & Vase

One thing I've learned over the years is that a good magician can make miracles happen even with the simplest props, and that's especially true with classics of magic. The Magic Ball & Vase is often found in magic kits, and some might scoff at its simplicity, while others will overlook its potential. This is a very inexpensive item, and while you may have come across this before in a kids magic set, don't make the mistake of thinking that it's a waste of time. The average member of the public will not have seen this done before, so this trick is ideal for budding magicians or even for the amateur looking for a small item to have fun with.

What you get is a small box, inside of which you'll find a red plastic vase, along with a set of written instructions. The vase is made out of relatively shiny plastic, but it's slightly larger and looks to be of better quality than similar products I've seen in magic sets, so it doesn't immediately scream cheap and nasty. The concept is simple: you remove the top of the vase to reveal a blue plastic ball inside. After replacing and removing the top again, the plastic ball has vanished! You can do this multiple times, and with ease you can even make the ball transport magically to your hand or your pocket.

The instructions included a link to a free instruction video, but Magic Makers has recently given their website a complete overhaul, so that link is no longer functional. Fortunately written instructions are provided, and it's simple enough to follow and perform. You can also check out the promo video here and a sample performance here. Despite the simplicity, In the right hands and with the right presentation, this can be a fantastic and fun little trick.

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Jumping Dots

Almost every magician will have come across the classic Hot Rod, which is a staple of magic. In its usual form, a magic stick is shown to have six dots in different colours on each side. After one is apparently chosen randomly, with a single wave all the dots change into the chosen colour. There are many variations of this effect, and Jumping Dots is a solid addition that builds on this classic tradition.

There is plenty of scope for different routines, but a typical performance would begin by displaying both sides of two shiny metal rods that have no markings on them at all. Magically, a dot is produced at the end of one of the rods, and the dot can be made to move from one rod to the other. Next the dot appears on both rods at the same time, until it `moves' onto the top and then bottom of a single rod. Now the dots move together, and as a finale, change in colour from black to red. View the official trailer here to see a sample routine along these lines.

Like the Hot Rod, this trick relies on the simple paddle move. The product comes with a link to a publisher page with online instructions, which consist of a performance video and a seven minute tutorial video that explains how to do the moves required. There's more going on with this trick than with the Hot Rod, so Jumping Dots has the advantage that there are multiple moments where you can create amazement. It does mean that there's more to remember than with the Hot Rod, especially if you use this to perform a longer routine, so I wouldn't recommend this for a complete beginner. But if you like the premise of the Hot Rod and have always wanted to turn it into a larger routine, this is perfect. The two rods that come with this trick are high quality, feel solid, and have an attractive and shiny chrome look. This product is a fine variation on the classic Hot Rod that will enable you to do a relatively simple routine that is highly visual, and with real potential to amaze.

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*** NOVELTIES & PRANKS ***

Pea Can

Magic is all about entertaining as well as amazing, and there are tricks that do a great job of entertaining by getting a good laugh. A fine example is the Pea Can Trick, which will amuse as well as amaze.

A metal canister is displayed, and emptied to reveal four different coloured peas: green, black, white, and yellow. Your spectator can return them into the can, which is corked, and then secretly thinks of one of them. Now for the magic: you promise that when you open the canister, all the peas will disappear except the one that your spectator is thinking about. You can even have the spectator say "I want my pea!" as you open the can and empty it into their hand. The peas have completely vanished, and instead out onto their hand spills warm water: "You wanted your pee!"

The secret of course lies in the prop itself, and I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that it has two chambers, one of which you'll be using to store the warm water. The product comes with written instructions that give you all the information that you need, including some diagrams. The canister is made of what seems to be a brass, and feels solid and durable. This trick is super easy to perform, making it ideal for beginners, although you do have to use the prop carefully enough so that no sounds give away the secret. But quite frankly I think the big moment is the prank itself, so it wouldn't even bother me too much if the spectator discovers the method afterwards. This trick can create some magic, but it's really about the laughs of creating that completely unexpected moment that the spectator doesn't see coming at all, and you'll certainly accomplish that!

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Fake Barf

If you enjoy fooling people with magic, then it's very likely that you also have a streak of mischief. If you're anything like me, you'll also get a kick out of pulling a good prank on those around you. If you're looking for something a more light-hearted, then the Fake Barf may just be the thing for you.

This product is exactly what it sounds like: fake vomit. It's around 7 x 4 inches in size, and the base is made of a soft rubber plastic that ensures that it stays in place wherever you choose to put it. It's so realistic that I find it hard to study and describe it without ... well, throwing up! Even checking it out closely can give you the urge to start heaving, because it's that realistic! It basically looks like a gooey liquid full of half-digested food bits, much like a pavement pizza of sorts. Adding some water can make it even more convincing, but I found it did the job just fine as is. It's super realistic, and there's no sense of actually recognizable foods that would immediately give it away for someone who hasn't eaten those particular kinds of foods. In fact, I pranked my family with this so convincingly that a couple of my family members literally ran screaming out of the room in disgust, when they came across me making retching noises in the kitchen and found the fake puke on the floor. Not for a moment did they even think I was having them on!

So when might you use this? Well the potential for pranking is limited only by your imagination. Check out the official trailer here here to see what it looks like in action. You might put it beside a choice location, like the toilet or garbage can, or you might leave it in the middle of the kitchen floor or on a table for others to stumble across. Talking about feeling sick or making some suitable noises ahead of time can be an excellent convincer. Yes this is disgusting, and I felt somewhat juvenile pranking people with this, but the satisfaction was oh so good! I'm sure that the child in all of us can appreciate a terrific product like this!

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*** CARD TRICKS ***

Knockout Deck

I love card tricks, and I have a special fondness for gaff decks. A gaff deck is typically a full deck of playing cards which seems to be a regular deck but is in fact a "trick" deck. Using gimmicked cards allows you to accomplish miracles that simply wouldn't be possible with a standard deck, and some of the world's best card tricks are accomplished with gaff decks, with classics including the Svengali Deck, Stripper Deck, ID, and Mental Photography Deck. The Knockout Deck, at one time also marketed under the name Sneak-A-Peek Deck, fits well in this category. To get an idea of its potential, view the official video demo of a performance here.

You start by showing both sides of the deck, and all the backs are shown to be blue-backed, while all the faces are shown to be different. Your spectator chooses a random card, which first jumps magically to the top of the deck. But it gets better: now you change all the cards in the entire deck so that they are the chosen card. And as a final kicker, you reveal that all the cards have changed from blue-backed to red-backed. It's a brilliant effect that would be impossible to accomplish with a regular deck, and there are multiple points of increasing astonishment and surprise leading up to the final revelation.

What you get is a deck of standard looking Bicycle rider-backed cards, packaged in a normal looking box. Aside from initial appearances, the cards are of course anything but standard, and are heavily gaffed in order to accomplish the effect. But it certainly looks like a perfectly regular deck, and the use of Bicycle rider-back design and traditional faces is a good choice that helps you avoid immediate suspicion about the cards. If you really wanted, you could secretly switch the deck with a regular one before or after the performance, to make it appear that you have used a normal deck all along. Besides written instructions, you also get a link to online instructions, with a performance of the effect, and a 12 minute video explaining how to do it. The difficulty level is very easy, and if you can evenly spread a deck of playing cards, then you can do this trick. Considering how simple this trick is to perform, with the gaff deck doing all the work for you, it's a great gaff deck that lets you create a wonderful and impossible illusion that will really amaze.

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The Ultimate Card Trick Collection

Playing cards are a magician's bread-and-butter, and there's a whole category of card tricks that involve smaller sets of cards called "packet tricks". Instead of using regular playing cards, some packet tricks use pictures or have unusual artwork, which offers an entertaining change-up from regular card magic. In this category, few are better than the Ultimate Card Trick Collection created by UK magician Paul Hallas. Paul is a highly respected authority on packet tricks, even having written books on the subject. In The Ultimate Card Trick Collection, we have no less than seven different sets of packet tricks packaged together: Fortune Deck, Cloned, Vampire Dawn, Not Another 3 Card Trick, Handy Tricks, Water to Wine, and Something From Nothing (click the links to view a performance of each routine). This product comes with over 50 novelty cards which are gaffed and completely custom, and you also get several plastic card wallets which you can use for storing or carrying the packet tricks.

Also provided is a link to online instructional videos, which show Paul Hallas demonstrating each effect, and then immediately explaining how to perform it, sometimes along with a couple of variations. To give you some sense of how much material is included, the video instructions run for almost two hours in total. So you get a large amount of high quality teaching materials, and a huge number of different routines to perform. The Fortune Deck, for example, consists of ten different cards featuring fortune-style pictures, and there's over half an hour of video teaching for these, with a whole series of routines that these cards alone can be used for. Of the other tricks, I especially enjoyed Cloned, where four animals are cloned one at a time, then each fade away and turn blank, with a final kicker producing a failed experimental clone that combines all four animals! Not Another 3 Card Trick is another strong and easy-to-learn routine, where four blank cards are turned into 3s one at a time, with a twist at the end as the final card is printed on the reverse.

While relatively easy to learn and perform, these tricks aren't geared for complete beginners, because they do require technical skills with fundamental sleights like the glide, DL, and the elmsley count. These moves are all covered and explained in the video instruction, and the handling is quite straight-forward, but they are most suited to someone who already has some experience with handling cards. But the real strength of this collection is the novelty element of the cards, which you can use for some entertaining and light-hearted magic, with potential for some fun patter too. With the right presentation, you can produce some strong reactions, and really entertain. It's terrific value considering that you get seven completely different sets of gaff cards, with a tremendous variety of different packet tricks in the one package.

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*** MENTALISM WALLETS ***

Invisible Peek Wallet

Mentalism is the branch of magic that deals with magic of the mind, and typically a routine is presented as an act of mind-reading. The beauty of mentalism is that it gives a lot of scope for acting and working on a entertaining presentation. But in order to accomplish the mental magic you will need some tools of the trade to help you along. One such is the Invisible Peek Wallet.

The way this looks from your spectator's point of view, is that they write down some secret information on the back of a business card, such as their favourite food, colour, or a random number. They put this face-down in the wallet, which is closed and put in the mind-reader's pocket. Now the mind-reader works his mysterious magic, and impossibly reveals the secret that was written down!

The black wallet comes nicely packaged and wrapped in a well-presented box. I'm not sure if it's made out of actual leather, but it certainly has a leather look, feel, and smell. If you wanted to, you could certainly use it for regular use as a wallet, because it has a number of pockets for credit cards and other compartments. The name of the product is a strong clue to the method, and the wallet lets you get a "peek" in a very easy way requires minimal skill and effort. It also comes with complete written instructions, which are replicated exactly at an online link that is also provided, which includes the promise of "video coming soon". For the experienced mentalist the method will be obvious, and this is all about having a quality product like this Invisible Peek Wallet which enables them to add their own creative presentation.

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Magician's Mentalism Wallet

Another option for the mentalist is the Magician's Mentalism Wallet. This is a different style of wallet, with a more slim and sophisticated look, that gives the impression of a narrower coat wallet belonging to a gentleman. It functions as a rectangular flip wallet with a single fold in the center. It has a fine black leather look, feel, and smell, and makes an immediate positive impression of class and style.

The effects possible with this wallet are similar the ones possible with the peek wallet, but the different design and style does open up different possibilities. This is a Z-fold wallet, which allows access from both sides, each appearing identical. My only criticism is that the leather Z-fold mechanism in my wallet wasn't cut quite cleanly, causing it to occasionally "catch" when opening or closing, but this was a minor issue and would pass unnoticed by any audience. One nice thing about this wallet is that it is larger and more rectangular in size than the Invisible Peek Wallet, which means that you can insert bigger things such as a standard playing card. It also has a bill-fold look, and when opened one side has a small pocket in which you can insert a dollar bill, to use as a convincer that both sides are identical, or to use for making a "bet" that you'll read the spectator's mind.

The Z-fold design is typical of a Himber Wallet, which also means you can use this for more standard magical effects like card vanishes and switches. This gives it an extra element of flexible use, and if you wanted you could even just use this as a Himber Wallet. Little is provided in the way of instructions or routine ideas, but most mentalists and magicians will already have plenty of these in their repertoire, and are simply looking for a quality product that enables them to perform their arsenal of tricks. Certainly this is a fine product that will help accomplish exactly that goal, and I'm very pleased to have it.

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*** VIDEO INSTRUCTION ***

MasterMagicTricks.com Streaming Video

Magic Makers has recently also begun a new project, by rolling out a website that has unlimited streaming of many instructional videos, that literally includes 1000s of tricks. You'll find it at mastermagictricks.com. Subscription is around $13 for a month or $100 for a year, but you can do a free trial for three days, which gives you access to all the content. There is a section with a small section of some free content here, but the free trial is the best way to check things out.

Besides what you see on the site right now, more content is being added on a regular basis. Whatever you might think about Magic Makers (and let's not get into a debate about that here), the fact is that they have produced some useful material over the years, typically with high production values. The current selection they are making available in this way does include some good videos, like the ones from Simon Lovell. Streaming online video instruction does seem to be the way more sites are going, rather than the traditional "video" model, so this is a welcome addition to the options available for magicians interested in getting access to solid learning materials at a very affordable cost.

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*** CONCLUSIONS ***

What do I think?

Range: 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. Besides these items they have a good collection of magic essentials like wands, sponge balls, silks, rings, custom decks, gaff decks, packet tricks, card tricks, accessories, instructional videos and more, so there's a lot to choose from.

Target market: They do have items that will appeal to the professional magician, and many of their tricks require an intermediate ability in magic. But a great deal of their range is especially suited to relative newcomers to magic, or to people who are looking to enjoy magic as a fun hobby without breaking the bank - people like me!

Quality: Typically the products I've had experience with have all been good quality. They're manufactured at an affordable cost, and keeping the prices down sometimes means that they aren't going to be the highest end version you'll find on the market. But considering the price, they are more than satisfactory, while some of them are really outstanding.

Instructions: I especially like the fact that most of their products come with a link to online instructional videos that teach you how to perform. The video quality of these is typically very good, and the instructions are easy to follow, making them ideal for people learning magic or just enjoying it casually.

Value: Some products are on the more expensive side, but most of their products that I've had experience with are available at a reasonable price. I find them good value especially given that you're not just getting the trick, but access to video tutorials that teach you everything you need to know. That makes them especially good value for amateur magicians like me, and even for complete beginners.

Availability: Because they are a large wholesaler, their products are typically available from a range of websites and online retailers, including big names like Amazon and eBay (I've used both as a source).

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Recommendation

So what is the bottom line about the above products from Magic Makers? As you can tell from my enthusiasm, I've had a lot of fun with these tricks - otherwise I certainly wouldn't bother spending the time to write about them.

What will be of interest to you will depend on your own personal taste and interests in magic. But whether you're a typical amateur like me or a serious magician, you're almost certain to find something that you'll enjoy and get good mileage out of! Enough said - it's time for me to get back to having fun playing with my tricks!

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

Direct links for items featured in this review:
Close-up Miracles: Psychic Escape ($35), Great Matchbox Illusion ($25)
Illusions with Props: The Vanishing Box ($20), The Original Haunted Key ($25)
Classics of Magic: Magic Ball & Vase ($7), Jumping Dots ($25)
Novelties & Pranks:Pea Can Trick ($15), Fake Barf ($10)
Card Tricks: Knockout Deck ($25), Ultimate Card Trick Collection ($20)
Mentalist Wallets: Invisible Peek Wallet ($25), Magician's Mentalism Wallet ($25)
Video Instruction: MasterMagicTricks.com Streaming Video

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