I seem to be spinning more plates than usual lately. Lot’s of projects in the works, both personally and professionally. Combine that with my somewhat insane travel schedule of late and what you get is one pooped Paul. In fact as I type these words, I’m less then 12 hours from yet another flight to Chicago.
But before I hit the road I wanted to make sure to start July off right and get my Picks for the month live on the blog. Enjoy...
- Toastmaster: Sometimes the simplest answer is the best. This low tech holder allows you to keep a champagne glass with liquid comfortable under a jacket for easy production. It holds it securely, safely, and in a position that does not require any cover for the glass. This allows for a pretty shocking production for either close up or stage. A very nice well made and designed prop.
- Gypsy Balloon: This is definitely one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” routines! With so many people working on the Gypsy Thread it’s really amazing that no one has thought of this...I take my hat off to Tony Clark. It’s such a lovely presentation and makes the effect play large enough for any show. I fell in love with this idea and I think you will too!
- Pop Art: Go watch the video demo. Did you watch it? It looks that good live! This is a very clever amalgam of a number of ideas to create a very visual transformation of a picture to a real item. The main effect is the picture of a deck of cards changing into a real deck...but really the method can be applied to almost anything of similar size (a cell phone, a box of crayons, a cigarette pack, etc). The included DVD is comprehensive and shows many applications for the prop, as well as the complete “care and feeding”. You will have some angle concerns but this would make a great piece for any formal close up or stand up show. It could also be a lovely way to introduce an Invisible Deck.
- Alarmed: I must admit I’m a little on the fence about this one. It’s not that I dislike it...to the contrary; I think it’s a very nice effect with a diabolically clever method. But I wasn’t too thrilled with the handlings as shown on the DVD. I think with a bit of effort and thought this could be a very memorable effect. I could see it being a very strong addition to a larger effect, perhaps a kicker in a Confabulation routine. In the end, if you’re willing to get you’re thinking cap on, I think you’ll find this well worth your time. (No pun intended!)
- Royal Wave: If you’re a fan of the B’wave and Twisted Sisters type effects, then I think you’ll really enjoy Royal Wave. This handling allows you to perform a very clean prediction using a combination of gaffed cards and a clever wallet – no rough and smooth, no sleights, or complex moves to remember. The included switching wallet is thin and deceptive; it could easily be used for other effects as well. This effect is manufactured in the parlor size Phoenix Back cards - which means it can be used close up as well as for smaller stand up shows.
- Shoe Business: If you’re a fan of the now classic Vanishing Bandana effect, then your about to discover a new favorite. This is a well constructed and fun routine conceived and perfected by Scott Alexander and Puck. These are two working pros who know how to deliver the goods when it comes to strong, practical material for the stage. They’ve thought of every detail and you’re getting a polished routine that you can add to your stand up show right out of the box. That’s a seriously good deal for the price. If this type of effect and routine appeals to you...you will be very happy with your purchase.
In the last six weeks I’ve worked at FIVE conventions and I hit the road for yet another one this week! I must admit that my time on the road has made it hard to devote as much time as I’d like to Paul’s Picks. But what this list lacks in size - it makes up in quality. Enjoy...
- Scared: I love simple and elegant solutions to problems and this one is BOTH! Fiendishly clever and ever so practical - this really and truly is a fine looking Haunted Deck that can be created on the fly. The DVD has all the details and you'll be able to do this in a matter of moments. You'll also find many different approaches and handlings for the method - all of which are very nice. You'll be amazed at how well this works!
- Monkey Fist Combo Balls: I’m not sure if the phrase, “I really like Monkey Fist Combo Balls” is the strangest thing I’ve said...but it’s up there. Regardless, I do like them. Nice weight, easy to manipulate, and no worries about them rolling away. If you do Cups & Balls or Chop Cup these are definitely worth a look-see. The balls do tend to “shed” a little when new, so I recommend rubbing them down with a rough cloth prior to using them. Ok, that last phrase was stranger than the first. Let’s move on...
- Postcards: If you’re in the market for a flashy and offbeat opener to your card set this could be the gem you’ve waited for. The cleverly designed gimmick allows you to produce a normal deck of cards is fun and surprising way. The gimmick well made and easy to use and the instructional DVD covers every last detail, including approaches for performers who work seated and standing.
- Behind The Curtain: Thom Peterson is clearly a worker. This DVD is filled with great well thought out effects and inspired presentations. Great close up stuff using everything from fortune telling fish and post it notes to wine glasses and photographs. You also find some terrific stand up material as well. A few of my favorites were a very nice take on the McCombical Deck that moves it away from a card trick and has a number of charming moments and two great card stab routines that were so clever I almost hate mentioning them. All in all this is a great set - worth EVERY penny and then some!
Recently three killer releases hit the market from Bob Cassidy and I’m amazed at how little I’ve heard about these. These are all seriously great products. Here’s a little insight into each....
- Artful Mentalism, An Evening with Bob Cassidy: If you feel you need to buy just one of these items - but frankly I’m not sure why you would - I would start here. This is a fantastic package that contains a two hour MP3 interview with Cassidy hosted by Michael Weber. It also has three great PDF e-books with boatloads of information. Including techniques for creating effective presentations, audience management, developing character, selecting the right material...and SOOO much more. Buy this now!
- Artful Mentalism, 3 Secrets: Again this collection contains a two hour MP3 and detailed PDF e-books. This product moves forward from the material covered on the previous volume and man does Cassidy continue to deliver the goods. There are a lot of provocative ideas here and some might be hard for the burgeoning mentalist to swallow...but all of them are valuable. If you’re serious about mentalism, this is another must own.
- The Invisible Billet: This item a departure from the first two volumes, as it focuses on Bob Cassidy’s Invisible Billet e-book. It contains the complete PDF e-book along with Cassidy’s nearly hour long commentary on the method. You will learn invaluable techniques that allow for stunningly powerful effects. Along the way you will learn to understand the real power of the creating moments that appear impromptu. At the risk of sounding repetitive...this is another must own.
Working hard on some exciting new projects, so I need to keep things short this month. Feel free to insert your own clever commentary here. Now on to the picks...
- Telethought 2 – What can I say about Telethought 2 that I haven’t said already? I loved the original and I REALLY love this update. The change in position on the filter adds greatly to the look of the wallet and allows for a much cleaner display after the peek. If you’ve seen our video demo for this, then you’ll see that I like keeping my card in the interior window pocket. When you remove the card for the spectator to write something down, the audience will see an empty window. Moments later, when you go for your peek, the audience will see the window still empty…even though you’re getting your peek right in front of them! A subtle but lovely moment that always makes me smile. Highly Recommended!
- MiniMax – The wait for MiniMax seemed to be growing each week and I pleased to say our first batch finally arrived. As of this moment, we only have a couple left – so if you’re interested I suggest clicking over now. I am very pleased with final product. The unit is small, well made, and gives a clear strong read for a magnetic field. Obviously the stronger the field, the better the read. We’ve had some questions about using it with a magnetic coin but I’ve yet to find a coin that I think is strong enough for every hand size and shape. Personally I prefer to use a PK Ring or borrowed bill that I secretly add a magnet to while rolling it to a ball. A little experimentation will allow for many possibilities with this device.
- Legacy – Kudos to Vanishing Inc and The Underground Collective on this wonderful new effect. The routine is great, the props are excellent, and the skill required is about as close to nil as you can get! If you like the effects with a bit of an emotional hook, then check out Legacy.
- Double Face Super Triple – Johnny Wong is one clever guy. He’s invented some of the most ingenious coin gaffs on the market and I’ve recently added his latest to my personal repertoire. The Double Face Super Triple Coin may have the clumsiest name in the world of magic but the effects possible are outstanding! If you are familiar with Johnny’s Super Triple Coin then you will easily be able to transition to this...but now you’ll be able to change the halves to Chinese coins at ANY moment in the routine! This is seriously strong stuff and it makes you look like a master coin worker in no time. I personally use this in conjunction with the Trabucco Holdout which takes the effect to a whole new level - truly a devastating combination.
- ZZM Money Maker – Any oldie but a goody returns to Elmwood Magic! Over the years there have been countless money makers to appear on magic shop shelves but this design takes the cake. It looks so open and fair that the transformation looks like real magic. This is a super product - well made and very effective. If the effect appeals to you, I guarantee that you’ll be pleased with the purchase.
- Redonkulous - Anthony Lindan is a worker. He develops material that is designed to be done in the real world for paying audiences. He wants his material to be strong, different, and memorable. If those are qualities you can relate to – then I think you will love Redonkulous. This is NOT for the causal performer looking to add a new trick to wow some friends...if that’s you, then move on. But if you do banquet shows, keynotes, or any show that involves a sizable audience - then this is one strong piece of magic. Anthony goes into great detail over every aspect of routine, he truly leaves no stone unturned. There’s also some valuable advice that goes beyond this routine about preparedness, audience management, pre-show, and more. To get the complete workings of a routine from a performer’s real world act for only sixty bucks is pretty darn amazing. If you ask me this is an absolute steal and worth many times the asking price.
- incREDIBULL – I’m a big fan of Eric Buss. He’s one of the cleverest and most entertaining magicians performing today. So when a guy like Eric releases a new item, I’m interested. incREDIBULL is a great example of Eric’s divergent thinking when it comes to creating magic. This can play as a fun site gag, a cool visual transformation, or even be used as a revelatory prediction. Any way you choose, you’ll have a nifty magical moment guaranteed to take your audience by surprise!
It is officially Spring!
I wish someone would tell that to the snow that keeps staring at me from outside my office window. Seriously Mother Nature, lets get on the ball and start melting this stuff. I’ll do my part to heat things up with this month's Paul’s Picks...
- The Gathering: I’ve said it in the past and I’ll say it again: Spend some time working on a great magic that requires preparation - and you’ll have a great trick that almost no one is doing. This is one such trick. A borrowed ring links onto a signed playing card. It looks very magical and leaves you with a wonderful bit of weird. It will take preparation, but it’s hardly back breaking and you’ll be will rewarded in the end. The DVD also has a very visual bonus effect that you should definitely check out...I bet many will overlook it and you’ll have another great trick no one is doing!
- Mental Epic Pad: If the classic Mental Epic ever had one weakness, it’s that the board always seems suspect. It is clearly a magician’s prop. Marc Oberon has tackled this issue head on and devised an absolutely lovely solution. This is another item that will require a bit of preparation. Nothing too difficult, all of the necessary items can be found in almost any craft or office supply store. When you’re done you will have one of the most disarming and deceptive versions of Mental Epic you’ll ever see! It looks like nothing but piece of foam core with some paper…there appears to be no room for trickery. That’s the beauty of Marc’s creation, the “normalness” of the prop adds immensely to its credibility and the strength. If you’ve been toying with adding a Mental Epic to your show, give this a try.
- Triplex: An unusual prediction effect from Wayne Dobson that I’ve been having a great deal of fun with. It’s simple in working and direct in performance. It will require a bit of thinking on your feet but nothing too difficult. I like the cleverness of this and there are number of performance approaches discussed on the instructional DVD. If you’re in the market for something a little different that won’t break the bank, this is well worth checking out.
- Creation: The folks at Collector’s Workshop really don’t need me to sing their praises. If you’ve been in magic any length of time then you already know they produce products that are top notch. Creation is ingenious, well made, and a strong piece of magic. When I first toyed around with it, the gimmick completely flew by me. When I finally realized that I was ACTUALLY holding the gaff - I just had to smile. If you want a nice show piece that could easily be used close up or platform, this is well worth your attention. Comes with a clever presentation and an ingenious gimmicked prop...you’ll need to supply flash paper.
- Deception V1: If you’re a card guy I think you’ll really love this new DVD from David Forrest. It is filled with clever plots, interesting methods, and most importantly...solid useable material. A few personal highlights for me were One More Thing, Discarded, and Problem Solved. Two stand outs were Spectre, a VERY deceptive gimmick that you can easily make and allows for a killer prediction, and RSMS, a very natural and deceptive control of multiple cards. If there was ONE issue I had with the DVD it was that the camera work was a little spotty at times...but trust me it’s not a deal breaker and the content is what you’re after. Highly recommended!
- Little Man: Two years is a LONG time to wait for an item to finally hit the shelves. Little Man may have been one of the most hyped pre-release items in the history of magic and the never ending delays started to make it seem like the whole project was a farce. In fact, I must admit that my expectations for this were pretty low…all the delays just made me feel there was no way it could come out find in the end. So I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I like this thing! I’m VERY impressed with how well thought out this is and how well made the components are. After seeing the entire unit, I see why the cost is what it is....I don't think it's over priced for the work that has gone into it. Yes, there is set-up involved but once you get that down the reset is a few minutes at most. All in all, I feel very comfortable recommending this. If the effect appeals to you, I think you’ll be very pleased with the product.
For the shortest month of the year, I’ve decided to post a mini Paul’s Picks...
If you’ve ever seen the Elmwood Magic booth at a convention, then you already know that I’m there to work. We use conventions as a way to primarily showcase the products we manufacture and distribute. These are products I had enough faith in that I invested considerable time, money, and energy into transforming them from mere ideas to a physical product. The best part about the convention experience is that I get immediate feedback on these items. It’s pretty easy to see the promise of a new effect once you’ve had a chance to demonstrate it a few thousand times . Especially when those demonstrations are in front of an audience deciding to part with hard earned cash to purchase an item from our line.
We recently introduced two new Elmwood Magic items, The Vanishing and Tag-O-Magic, both of which have been very well received by exactly that kind of audience. Based on the live response at conventions, I suspect these two will take the ranks among some of our all time best sellers.
The Vanishing is an effect from Jon Allen that I’ve had on the back burner for years. I’m sure Jon was beginning to think it would never see the light of day, but in the end, I think it was well worth the wait. Lay people and magicians alike really react positively to the story and the Houdini “hook“ adds immediate interest to the effect. The cards were designed to look like old photographs and yet they handle like a dream. The effect is clean, clear, and quite amazing. In all honestly, I’ve seen it fool some pretty knowledgeable magicians. If you like packet effects, I think you’ll love this item and if you hate them...I bet you’ll still think this is pretty cool!
Next up in the new Elmwood releases is Cameron Francis’ Tag-O-Magic. If you’ve seen the video demo for this then you already know I’ve tried to have some fun with a situation EVERY magician has been in - being unprepared when asked to do a trick. Tag-O-Magic is designed to give you a powerful collection of tricks ready to be released any time you have your key chain in your pocket. The broken and restored tag is VERY visual. I can personally attest to how, when done right, it makes peoples eyes bug out! The prop seems very organic and innocent, which makes the entire routine truly surprising.
As side note, I’ve read a few people on a popular magic forum suggest that you could just make one of these tags yourself, to which I have two responses: thanks for the theft and your gimmick will suck. I don’t man to be vulgar but Tag-O-Magic was painstakingly designed and die cut at great expense to look normal but be perfectly suited for the routine. It is most definitely NOT a normal tag...but was simply designed to appear as one. Not to mention you’ll miss out on the five cool effects built into the back of the tag. But more importantly, a creator and producer deserves to be compensated for an effect if you choose to use their work. Do I seriously need to point that out?
Regardless, I really love this thing and the proof is that it’s sitting on my regular everyday key chain right now. If you’re looking for a cool modern and apparently impromptu effect Tag-O-Magic is definitely worth checking out.