Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Extreme Burn 2.0

If you've ever become jaded with magic and just can't appreciate that "WOW!" moment the spectators feel anymore, then this is the effect for you. In all honesty, I've watched the change happen dozens of times and even though I know how it's being done, it still blows my mind each time. "Extreme Burn 2.0" is easily the most "magical magic effect" I've seen this year.

You read the copy of some tricks saying it'll even fool you and such, but this one really can. With the 2.0 version, Sanders has taken every weak spot of the first presentation (and there weren't many) and fixed them. Now you can hand out the bills when you are finished with the transformation and have no fear of anything being discovered or said since you are handing the normal, ungimmicked money. You can perform this effect completely surrounded if need be, though the best changes are the ones you can do with the spectators in front of you.

And speaking of changes, Sanders offers you more than you'll ever use. He even updates some and adds a few more from the original. No matter what your performance style is, I promise you there's one in here to fit it. This will require a lot of practice to begin with, but just watching the demo video will show you how worth it the practice will be.

The gimmick is fairly easy to construct and will take you about 15 minutes or so. If you treat it well, it will last you a very long time. The gimmick construction will depend on the amount of money you're wanting to change ($1 to $20, or $1 to $100, for example) but nothing is permanent you can you spend the cash later if need be.

I'm usually not a fan of pricey DVDs with only one effect on them (and the gimmick here would cost you less than a dollar at a hardware store), but just the wealth of information on this makes it worth it. Sanders takes this amazing effect apart piece by piece and gives you everything you need to adapt it to your style of performing.

I promise you when you get this down smoothly and perform it for the first time, you'll keep this one close forever. This truly is as close to real magic as you'll ever get as far as your spectators are concerned.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Twisted Blizzard

I love this effect! The demo video is straight to the point and gives you the perfect idea of what's happening here. The spectator chooses any card (yep, any card) and it's the only card in the deck that has anything on it. The rest of the deck is blank! While this may sound like the standard blizzard, the nice thing here is you're using one deck, and everything resets nicely. There is also a bonus effect here called "White Trash" that is an "Out of This World" type effect with a nice twist.

The only thing I don't like about this effect is that there comes a point where it's possible for a spectator to choose a suit that you'll need to sort of magician's force them out of. To me, that lessens the effect greatly from the pick any card strength. To fix that, here's a variation on the trick I came up with that is to me just as miraculous: ask the spectator why they chose that card, then say it doesn't matter and show that it is the only blank card in the pile of four. Then spread the deck and show the rest of the deck is printed up with their chosen card being the only blank one. Yes, it's an entirely different effect that way, but the spectator will feel they've truly chosen the only card in the deck that was blank and have no idea how they did it. If you wanted to, you could then repeat the effect to a different spectator and if they chose any other suit you can do the Twisted Blizzard as written...giving you a real miracle for the spectator of how the deck went blank after they saw the faces on there.

This is one of those wonderful effects that you practice for a few minutes and then can just concentrate totally on performance rather than worrying about keeping up with everything going on. The DVD is a great step-by-step guide to everything you need to know.

If you're looking for a nice effect that gives you a great bang for the reasonable price, grab this one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


If you watch the demo of this you'll be extremely excited, and yes it does look like a miracle...but that's because there was something important left out of the demo vid that you won't find out until after you own the effect: contrary to what they claim, the spectator does NOT have free choice of any drink.

The first part of this routine (and the part conveniently left out of the video) is the part where the spectator "chooses" the drink from a prepared list of possibilities (and you can see where this goes from there). Then you proceed to make the drink appear out of a Coke or whatever. There is no "pick any drink you can think of" walk up like they do in the video. While this might not set some folks off on the effect, it's something that should have been shown rather than misrepresenting the entirety of the effect.

Next is the gimmick. You are given enough for 15 performances, after which you buy refills (don't try to make these yourself). Then there is a good amount of prep work done before you perform, but that's to be expected. Just be careful because the prepared drink can and will leak if you don't keep it upright. And the spectator cannot hold or inspect the can during or after the effect.

There is actually an easier way to prepare the can that doesn't involve the gimmicks and actually plays bigger and safer because the spectator could actually open the can and pour the drink out. I won't give away the secret of "Cansposed", but for a non-gimmicked version let me just say concentrate on the bottom of the can and the idea will probably open up to you.

On the plus side, the gimmick could be used for other effects. It's easy to see where this could be strong for several things if you use your imagination.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mash Pack by Garrett Thomas

This is literally a one-trick pony. You can "vanish" a card box and have the deck appear, then have the box reappear if you'd like. Unfortunately, the deck cannot be used for a trick itself as the sides are marked too much for use. Garrett does a good job of showing how to ditch the deck for one you can move into with your act, but you'll need to be wearing a jacket in order for this to be effective (deck switch only as he shows it...you can do the disappearance of the box without it). It seems a little limiting for a card trick like this.

The follow up using the other included deck isn't much more impressive, though in its defense it is an effect you can slip into your routine as a closer (since the entire deck has the card box's face on it). You could use the deck for any other trick after the "transformation" though, because the backs are identical even if they are different from what the spectator is used to seeing.

There are two things I don't like about this. First, the price is far too steep for something like this. While you do get two decks and a DVD, I feel this could easily have gone for $20-$25 and been more in line. Second, the performance on the DVD is less than impressive. At one point he's going to vanish the deck into a hat and have it switch places with the box. Unfortunately, while he's holding the box and deck in the same hand he's got it positioned so it plainly shows the marks of the deck parallel with the box (making it painfully obvious to the spectator and us what's going on). Likewise, his performance with the other deck is unimpressive. He does the effects with two different audiences, and the two ladies he chose to use in the pool hall are completely under-whelmed at everything. They look like they know they're supposed to be acting impressed, but are either too nervous to act natural or just aren't impressed with what's going on. I'm not asking for some Criss Angel crowd screaming and fainting here, but he might have done better using a more enthusiastic pair.

This isn't the worst effect I've bought this year, but it's definitely not one I'd feel comfortable performing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Hawk 2.0

This is another case of where watching the demo video might make you his "Add to Cart" immediately (as it did with me). After all, a card very visually changes right in front of the spectator's eyes while you have left the deck on the ground and are a few feet away...how much more powerful does it get than that?

Unfortunately, this is also one of those effects that leave out a few rather vital caveats that change this from an "anytime/anywhere" trick to one for a specific time and place.

First, the gimmick. It's not indestructible, but it appears rather sturdy (after you finish building it). Yes, it's one of those tricks where you get some parts and are shown how to finish the gimmick up and prepare the deck you supply for the effect. While I don't mind this on tricks where I could build my own gimmick later if the supplied one breaks, I don't think most people could create this gimmick from scratch.

The setup is another issue. You won't do this one impromptu or in a quiet room. You'll need a least ambient noise to keep the gimmick's sound from registering with the spectator. Also, you'll need to be the one grabbing the deck from the ground. You can hand the spectator the card that appears at the top (they can even have signed it), but the gimmick needs to be ditched before handing the deck out for examination.

Does that mean you should avoid this effect? Well, the payoff for it is a very visual card change that looks like real magic and can be done even in a street magic environment. You just have to know you probably won't be doing this at the office for a friend (a small crowd that's talking, sure).

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Just watching the demo video gives you an idea of how incredibly visual this appears to be. It really does happen as the video shows, but contrary to their claim this is most definitely not impromptu.

You have a spectator select a card and put it back into the deck, then you spring the cards into the air and grab their card out of mid air in the midst of the fluttering cards. It's not a bad effect, but you definitely need to be prepared ahead of time for it.

First of all, you have to be wearing a jacket. The spectator needs to be back a little way from you. You cannot let them examine the card you have plucked from the air. You cannot do this with a signed card. You must be able to do a card force, and for safety's sake you must be able to control the card and palm it from the deck before you spring it into the air (otherwise it could land face up at your feet while you're supposedly holding the one they chose). You cannot repeat this trick with another card (unless you have very roomy sleeves and two gimmicks). Once finished, you must walk away to get rid of the "caught" card because you can't lose it in front of the spectator. If you've got all that covered, you are ready to perform "Catch!".

Does this sound like a lot more work than it should be for an "impromptu" trick?

The gimmick takes a few minutes to put together, but it's nothing major. Once it's done it'll last you quite a few times if you are careful. I have to give this two stars simply because it is indeed very visual. Done in a stage environment this would be an excellent closer. In a street magic scenario it's not as practical because you have 51 cards scattered to the wind around you, leaving you with a lot of cleanup after the payoff.

The DVD is very well done and the effect is taught clearly. Creation of the gimmick is also very carefully explained and easy to do. This isn't for everyone, but for the right magician in the right environment it can make you look impressive.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


While you've probably seen Derrin Brown do his famous subway "instant hypnosis" on people, have you ever considered doing it yourself? If so, you are the person this product was aimed at. The claims are wonderful: "be able to instantly hypnotize someone and drop them like a sack of potatoes"...and all of this with very little training outside of a 2 hour DVD and very thin booklet of information.

And yes, it's too good to be true.

The DVD shows a few examples of Zap in action on random spectators, and then you are given about 90 minutes of "you can do Zap, and here are things to keep in mind" speeches with very little training at all. If you think you're going to walk away from watching this and control people like Derrin Brown, you are dead wrong.

I honestly don't know how Penguin Magic could support this incredibly expensive effect. They usually have a very good track record of keeping high quality effects, but this time through they have dropped the ball. This is something you will watch a time or two, attempt (and fail) a couple of times, and then throw on Ebay. The price of this is high to keep it to a specific audience, which makes the finished product that much more of an insult.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This has to be the first time I've ever seen a magic trick where the "impromptu and ungimmicked" version of the effect is more powerful than the gimmicked version. Don't get me wrong, both will play big to the right audience in the right environment, but the gimmick itself is a little hard to manage. This could work very well in a casual restaurant magic environment though, especially if they sell bottled water so you can adapt your gimmick to the standard bottle.

The impromptu version though is so much better. Yes, there is a little setup involved, but honestly it's nothing difficult and can be done in literally seconds. Then you can walk up to the spectator with your bottled water and talk for a few minutes before launching into the trick. Can they figure out how it's done? Yes, some of them will...but many will not--especially if you've been holding the bottle for a while and appearing casual throughout. You put the bottle in their hands and it crushes...that plays big.

The key to the impromptu version is knowing which type of bottled water is going to be the most impressive. Deer Park water has a very thin plastic, and when it crushes it seems to really implode and is very visual. Dasani, on the other hand, barely dents. It's something you'll play around with and figure out for yourself.

The price for this is all right, I suppose, though I doubt very many people will use the gimmick often (unless you perform in a jacket).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Silent Running

I'm always on the look out for good mentalism effects that are big on presentation while not requiring days of my life in tireless study to accomplish. "Silent Running" sounds like the perfect fit as the spectator thinks of a card and the magician names it, causes it to disappear from the deck, or stabs it with a knife from an shuffled, covered deck. It's sort of a hit-and-miss project that you will either love or hate.

First of all, it's fairly simple to learn. There is a little bit of patter and action you must master (as in most mentalism) but you can get it done in perhaps 20 minutes of good study. After that, it's all in presentation. I applaud the author for giving us 3 very solid ways of telling the spectator what their card was, and I can easily see where they would fit into most environments. The card stab is very high on presentation, but limited in where you can do it. The best choice is the "Dissolving Card", where the spectator counts the cards and finds one missing one: the one they thought of. I prefer his other suggested method, and that's having a blank card in the deck so the spectator finds one blank card and it is supposedly their thought-of card.

None of the choices are necessarily impromptu except the "Direct Mind Read", and even that requires pen and paper. There is a huge bonus section, however, where several other magicians have included their suggestions for using this principle for other versions of the effect, and that practically ensures something for everyone.

The price works for what you get, and I feel I've spent the money wisely on this effect. I won't necessarily do it as the book lays it out, but I've learned a valuable principle I can use for other effects.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


For an "impromptu" prediction routine using playing cards, this is one incredible little effect. I would venture to say any laymen you perform this for would be completely blown away (though magicians might figure it out in a few minutes). This effect is versatile in that it allows you to play it either as a light-hearted routine, or a deeper Derrin Brown type mental effect.

Showing a perfectly shuffled deck, you show how each card has a different number on it. Ask three spectators to each choose a different card (or one spectator can choose all three, of course). As they choose the cards--no force on your part at all...they really are randomly and fairly chosen--you pull them out of the deck and lay them face up on the table. When you're finished, you show them a photograph from your pocket showing three facedown cards with numbers on them. As you flip the cards the spectators chose over, they show to be the same three numbers.

The routine is incredibly easy to perform with zero sleight of hand on your part. It resets in two seconds. It comes with the photographs and a DVD teaching you how to do everything. It also includes two other kickers if you already own a B.I.P. Book. The only thing you have to do is supply your own red-back Bicycle deck and number the cards with a Sharpie.

The only thing that keeps this from being the perfect effect is that you can't let them examine the deck afterward. I don't think anyone would think to though since you show the different numbered cards so freely.

With two minutes of practice, you are ready to perform this wonderful little miracle. It's a nice way for a card performer to introduce a little mentalism, or vice versa.