Monthly Archives: December 2013

Phil’s Top Ten Magic Tricks for 2013

Evelyn Matlin

Evelyn Matlin

Phil’s Top Ten Tricks for 2013

Even though I’ve been in the Magic business for the last 36 years, this is the first time I am publishing my Top Ten Magic Trick picks for 2013. Why? For the first time in many years I am excited about the quality and diversity of some of the new items on the market.

The reasons for my choices are, in no particular order or preference.

  1. Quality of construction.
  2. Breaking new ground or worthwhile improvements of existing items.
  3. Value for your dollar.
  4. Practical and doable by the average abilities of most magicians.
  5. Audience impact.

What has NOT figured into my decisions are the methods used and price alone. I also have not included books or DVDs, unless one is included with the props.

Everyone’s opinions are different and I do not expect everyone to agree with me, and that is as it should be. I would greatly enjoy hearing your thoughts, ideas and reasons for your Top Ten List.

Starting from # 10 and working my to #1 – Here’s my list:

10. Spider Pen Pro. – Yigal Mesika: Yigal Mesika’s Spider Pen Pro is the cream of the crop when it comes to thread reels. As great as the original Spider Pen was, the pro version leaves the original far behind. There are no buttons or switches to manipulate. It is completely silent in operation. All you have to do is attach the thread to wherever you are going to anchor it and when the effect is over, just release it from the anchor and the thread retracts silently back into the reel. There is nothing for you to do, it works by itself. The thread is the finest, strongest and most invisible on the market today. Maintenance is a breeze. The only replaceables are the battery and the thread. Both a cinch to replace. Well worth the cost of Spider Pen Pro if for only the reason of it’s simplicity and reliability. Of course there a other many reasons as you will discover once you own it and worked with it. You’ll love it.

9. Ace – Richard Sanders: There are probably more card tricks on the market than any two or three other types combined. So, what is so special about Richard Sander’s Ace’s? Well, for starters it done completely in the spectator’s hands. The change from 4 jokers to the 4 Aces in their hands is both mind blowing and startling. Of all the outstanding expert card workers and/or innovators, Richard Sanders is right there at the top of the list. His handlings are painstakingly worked out. Nothing necessary is left out and anything not needed or confusing to the spectator is left out. Ace will become one of your favourites.

8. Bob’s Box – Bob Swaddling and Mark Mason: Bob’s Box is not new. I first saw it many years ago at a Boston Magicale where I had a dealer booth next to Bob Swadlding’s. I watched him do this for 4 consecutive days and was blown away each time he performed it. I wanted to buy all the left overs after the convention, but alas, they were sold out. I did order them from him and within a couple of weeks he shipped me 50 if the them. A month or two later I received another shipment of 50. This was a lot for me, seeing it was a $100.00+ trick. Soon after Bob withdrew from the magic scene and with it went Bob’s Box. Now, this year, along comes Mark Mason and buys the rights from Bob and starts manufacturing Bob’s Box to the same strict standards and quality that Bob did, and Bob did the video DVD that now comes with the trick. Don’t be fooled. This is not just another coin box. Without giving anything away, I will only say that each and every piece that comes with this prop is expertly gaffed and, except for one thing, can be safely examined. Even that piece, if handled properly can also be safely examined. No serious coin worker should be without Bob’s Box. Thank you Mark Mason for making this gem available again.

7. The (W)hole Card – Marc Arthur: Although I’ve put this in 7th place, it is Evy’s favorite trick. Not only that, she took the time to study the DVD and learned how to do it. This is extraordinary in itself. The entire routine is a beautiful thing to watch from the audience view, but there is one very special moment in the routine that will make their jaws drop. It’s that good. A dynamite routine and effect in anyone’s arsenal. The kicker ending will leave them laughing and in total amazement.

6. Porthole – Darryl Vanamburg: This version of the travelling hole effect is the best. It is the only version I know of that – You actually see the hole moving from one end of the card to the other: The card selected by the spectator is the actual card used in the effect: The hole is made in the card after the selection: At the end the spectator is handed the card with his signature and the hole in it. Once the card is selected, the rest of the deck is put aside and not used again in the effect. It’s true that it will take you upwards of an hour to make your first gimmick. After a while, your will be able to make the gimmick in less than ½ hour. All the materials needed to construct the gimmick are included. (Even an ordinary golf tee). I mean EVERYTHING, all you supply is little labour time. The included DVD fully explains the construction of the gimmick. It is clear and easy to understand. The routines and handlings are also clearly detailed.

5. Northern Lights – Dave Harvey: Necessity invariably breeds solutions to problems. Dave Harvey, a Quebec magician has some vision problems and many of his routines use a marked deck. As he gets older, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to read the markings in any of the currently available marked decks. So he started experimenting and came up with a marking method that that can be seen from 6 feet more or less depending on your eyesight. Evy, in her 70’s can read them from a 6 feet away. When Dave showed us this deck, we knew he had something revolutionary here. We have, before we marketed  it, shown to many magicians and expert card workers and the markings were not visible to them. The one or two who saw something a little unusual, could not figure out how what they saw could be applied. True, $70.00 plus is a lot for a marked deck, but there is nothing else like this on the market. Also each card is marked by hand, one by one, and available in Red, Blue and Black backed bicycle cards. This really is revolutionary in the field of marked cards.

4. Ring Flight Revolution – Prop Dogs (Dave Bonsall): Ring Flights abound on the market, so why pay upwards of $150.00 for one? Simply because it’s the best bay far. Apart from the fact that once the ring is on the chain, it is locked there and the audience member can remove it. That alone makes it worth the price. However, there is much more. The quality of the prop is top notch. It is modular and is easily repaired and the available parts can be installed by just about anyone. Even though it is easily repaired, it comes with a 2 year unlimited guarantee. It’s practical in that it uses a modern car key. The kit comes with a variety of decals so you can pick the car of your choice, a replacement length of thread a choice of 3 different safety clips for the ring and in my opinion the best instructional and informational DVD I have ever watched. If you do Ring Flight regularly, you must have ring Flight Revolution.

3. 52 Shades of Red – Shin Lim: There are many color changing card, decks and boxes around, but none like this. To be honest, I have not played the accompanying DVD because for now I really do not want to know how it’s done. I am unreserved in saying that this is the most visual and magical colour change I have ever seen. The method, whatever it is, is well worth whatever time it takes to learn. Once you’ve mastered this, you have a true miracle in your arsenal.

2. Vapr – Will Tsai: Over the years there have been many variations of producing smoke from apparently nowhere. All have used chemicals to accomplish the effect. Some had decent safety precautions, others didn’t. I have never felt comfortable selling these items. The chemicals are toxic and no matter how careful or what protective devices used, there is still a potential problem – UNTIL NOW! Will Tsai has produced a quality device that does not use chemicals. The unit is extremely well made, easy to understand instructions, and above all it’s safe. We are proud to offer this item to the magic fraternity. Thank you Will for releasing this item.

1. Clarity Box –  David Regal: I love the concept of a signed card in a box. Up until now, the Kennedy Mystery Box topped my list. Now, David Regal’s Clarity Box has taken first place. Although the gimmick is not new, David has completely redesigned it and the fact that an undisputedly clear box with a folded card in it is in plain view right from the beginning of the presentation adds a new dimension to the trick. Audience impact has been amazement. Quality of the prop and accompanying DVD are first class. 

So there you have it. For whatever it’s worth, it’s my opinion of the Top Ten in the 2013 product year.

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A Merry Magical Year, 2013

Evelyn Matlin

Evelyn Matlin

As the year draws to a close, I get letters from friends I haven’t heard from, some not since last Christmas. It seems to be the fashion now, instead of a card, to send a letter of the years events complete with photos. Its interesting to read a condensed version of all the goings on in the year before.

Now if I wanted to do that I would have a definite problem because it would involve remembering what happened. But this much I know. It has been a wonderful year. We have many new young customers. The thing that is both heartening and disheartening simultaneously, is that some of these new young customers are children of the once new young customers. We’ve had many new people coming in and it has been a pleasure to meet them and spend time with them, mostly. It reminds me of a sign I saw in an antique store last summer in Adamstown or State College PA. (Can’t remember which). It said, “Everyone who comes to our shop brings us happiness, some on their way in and some on their way out!” We had a great laugh over that.

Oh, I do remember some stuff, like the great time we had at the CAM Convention in Niagara Falls where we had a fabulous time and had the chance to meet Nicole from Canada’s Magic  and meet up with old friends like Shawn Farquhar as well as all the fabulous lecturers.

But not only have the people been great. There has been a lot of fantastic new magic products, which is a relief, because there was, for many years, nothing to write home about. And there have been changes, that make it easier and less costly for everyone, such as DOWNLOADS, which more and more people are starting to take advantage of. We’ve had terrific feedback  from people who have purchased items like the Clarity Box, Whole Deck, Ring Flight Revolution, My Pet Boris, Spider Pen Pro, Zycho, Vapr, 52 Shades of Red just to name a few.

I’m sure there are many good ones that I missed, please feel free to share if you found a favorite this year.

Let’s hope 2014 keeps up the positive trend.  I’ll get back to you then. Have a Merry Magical Christmas and A Happy New Year.


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You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Evelyn Matlin

Evelyn Matlin

Yes you can. To say that I am not familiar with many of the options that are available on the internet would be an understatement. I learned two new tricks today, one of which, I had been trying to do for months.

It used to be that when I posted a blog the announcement would appear on Facebook with  the upper part of my face on it. I like that photo. Suddenly it disappeared and a photo of the shop came up instead, the photo on the top of this page, and reduced to Facebook size, it made no sense at all. Besides, the shop didn’t write the post. I did. I wanted my photo up there. I asked Phil for help, but he said he had no control over it. There was an arrow on the photo indicating I could have another photo if I wished, but I couldn’t. Then to make matters worse, instead of the shop photo, the WordPress Icon replaced that photo. Then to make matters even worse, last post there was no photo. There was a place for a photo but it was blank!

I told my daughter of the problem. She got the photo I wanted on the desktop. It still was not where I wanted it, but I managed to get it on my media photo file, which I never even knew existed, until she pointed it out. We’ll see if I succeed with my plan to get it on Facebook. That would be trick number one.

Trick number two.   When Phil puts up the banners on the homepage, (which I make, by the way) I usually look for related items or other items made by that person to put at the bottom of the page. It was quite a process.  While I was looking up John Bannon to go along with his new book, High Caliber, I thought why can’t I just go to the Manufactures on our Nav Bar (which Phil just completed) and Click on John Bannon and link his products to that page in one click, which I did and it worked. New trick 2. So if you go to the Banners on our Home page from now on, and click on the ones you are interested in, at the bottom of their  write-ups most will say, “For more books or effects by so and so, click here.”

It may not seem like much to you, but its a real breakthrough for me. Of course Phil had to say, “Had I not listed all the manufacturers and creators, you wouldn’t be able to do it.” But I don’t care. Try it.

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A Magic Christmas Story by Evelyn Matlin

I don’t know how many of you know this, but when Santa got back to the North Pole last year, he got a argument from his traffic director, who told him his reindeer were much too slow, and it was not their fault. Santa was steering them into to wind, and the wind was slowing them down. He almost missed some of children’s houses on account of it.

Santa said he couldn’t tell which way the wind was blowing. His director told him to tie 2 ribbons or handkerchiefs to the back of his sled, near the top and when he finished delivering gifts to one house he should look at the ribbons to see which way they were flying. That was how he could tell where the wind was coming from and he should go with the wind, not against it.

So Santa looked all over for ribbons. He had lots of ribbons, but they were for presents. He couldn’t use those. Finally he found two hankies, but they were tied together and no matter how he tried and how his helpers tried, they couldn’t take them apart. The knot was too tight.   But luckily, one of the elves said he found a open magic set just lying around. Maybe something in the set could help them.

Santa picked up a bag with a handle on it, and said, “This must be a Magic Bag, Ho! Ho! Ho! and put the hankies in the bag. He took them out but they were still tied together.

One of the elves suggested they all scream Abracadabra.  He put them back in the bag. Everyone screamed as loud as they could. Still tied together.

Another elf saw a magic wand in the box. It was black with gold tips. Santa tapped the bag. Nothing happened. Santa said, ” Maybe we need a magic CHRISTMAS wand” and suddenly the wand he was holding turned from black to red.  He tapped the bag with the red wand. Still nothing. And another elf said, Maybe we should say the Magic word when you tap the bag. So Santa put the hankies back in the bag, tapped it with his red wand and everybody yelled at the top of their lungs, Abbracadabra, and he said, : I cannot take another disappointment. Will one of you reach in the bag and take out the hankies. I can’t even bear to watch. If they are tied together we’ll know the magic didn’t work, but if they are apart, scream “Hurrah “on the top of your lungs so I’ll know. He called an elf up to take out the hankies as he looked away. The elf took the hankies out of the bag one by one. Then Santa had to block his ears because of the loud screams.

So now Santa is using the hankies to help guide him through the route the fastest way possible. He should be at your at  your home on time.    

                                                 ***               ***

So if you are on a tight budget and you happen to have a Change Bag and a few silks and a Colour Changing Wand. you can put Christmas Magic in your show! (The mini Change Bag is $11.50)

On the other hand if you are not on a tight budget, click here!

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