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 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).