So what might magicians want under their trees this year? While it's difficult to peg the needs of every magician out there, here are some solid magic products that have recently hit the market.
There's bound to be something here for every magician out there.
Any magician appreciates high-end, premium decks of quality playing cards. Add that intangible "cool" factor that comes with edgy graphics and you've got a definite winner. "For this, Theory 11 offers an assortment of impressive decks. I'm partial to the "Guardian" and "Sentinel" decks. In addition to its striking back design, the Sentinel deck offers intriguing artwork for its face cards and its box is a work of art in itself.
"I also like Ellusionist's Arcane decks with their intriguing "fade-out" face card graphics and black backs. These premium decks will make any magician look great when performing card magic. And the high quality of these decks makes them a pleasure to work with.
"Tapping into "silly bandz," the latest fad for kids - rubber bands in the shape of characters and animals - Fun Inc.'s excellent "Magic Bandz" offers a series of magic-related shapes. Aside from the ESP symbols and magic top hats, I'm partial to the card revelation - the three of clubs - which gets great reactions. And the price, $4.95, is right. Read more here.
The Main Events
"Here's something different. Touting a skill called "dermioptic vision," Luke Jermay's excellent "Colorblind" offers a kit that seemingly allows you to read the color of playing card faces - black or red - using only the tips of your fingers. The kit includes gimmicks to accomplish this feat with different methods. It's an insightful and in-depth treatment of the topic that will have you ready to perform under almost any circumstance. You can read my review here.
"Aside from Bobo's "Modern Coin Magic," if you want to get into coin magic and learn the fundamental moves and techniques, Ellusionist offers its new "Metal" DVD. Your teacher is the ultra-smooth Eric Jones who not only teaches Bobo basics, but moves that have gained in popularity and usage that are not explained in the classic.
Most of the great DVDs that teach close-up magic are coming from the UK. Lee Smith's "Step System," which stands for "Simple Tricks, Extraordinary Power," teaches commercial tricks that are not overly difficult to perform. The routines here are excellent for those who are beginning to entertain in walk-around situations and want strong, commercial routines.
As the title implies, "Magic at the Bar" with Chris Randall teaches several tricks that one can perform in front of or behind the bar, or in bars. The routines are not in the vein of classic bar magic ala Doc Eason, Scotty York or Bob Sheets, but employ objects found around a bar: bottles, ice cubes and napkins, and there is only one card-based trick - a refreshingly different direction in close-up magic.
"A different kind of close-up routine, "Transit" offers a tightly bound rubber band that appears to jump from finger to finger. The magic lies in the fact that not only does it appear that you can readily move the rubber band from finger to finger with no effort, but the band seemingly passes through your fingers. Strikingly different, "Transit" can be a great add-on to a rubber band set.
With "Technicolor Oil and Water," David Solomon has created an amazingly visual version of classic "oil and water" that employs both blue and red-backed cards and the traditional black and red cards on the faces. As a result, the phases alternate between mixing and separating the backs and faces of the cards. You can read my review here.
"A close-up classic that's been updated for our modern day is Chad Long's "Color-Changing Flash Drives". Long has taken color-changing knives and updated the theme to flash drives, the kind that everyone uses these days to store data. And Long has also come up with a cool finale. You can read my review here.
"A brilliant variation on standard linking rings, Paul Romhany's "Linking Hearts" are just that, intriguing linking rings in the shape of hearts. It's a quality close-up product with lots of potential for themes. I love the links and moves that Romhany has created that take full advantage of the geometry of the heart shaped rings. You can read my review here.
Magicians are always trying to secretly get signed cards into impossible places. Most intriguing is Mark Southworth's "Tin Opener" where the signed card ends up in a mint tin that's been sitting on the table. There have been versions of this before with different boxes, but the twist here is that when the mint tin is opened, the spectators see a folded playing card, and after the card is dumped out, the box is empty. You can read my review here.
Two other noteworthy "card into impossible places" include: 1) Peter Eggink's "Flightcase," which transports a signed card to a card box; and 2) James Howell's "Consignment," which places a signed card into an envelope. You can read about both in detail here.
""The Magical Arts Journal" is a handsome and comprehensive book that is a compilation of Michael Ammar's "Magical Arts Journal" newsletters from 1986 to 1990. The book includes articles about and by a who's who of magic of the era. The Journal not only teaches tricks, it's a comprehensive reference on techniques for building a magic business. This is a book that I plan to read yearly to mine ideas. You can read more here.
One of the funniest magicians out there is the UK's famous Wayne Dobson. His new DVD set, "A Life in Magic," showcases and teaches Dobson's excellent and commercial close-up and stand-up routines. You can read more here.
"John Guastaferro's excellent "One Degree" offers 20 first rate card routines and five insightful essays on connecting with audiences and improving one's magic. It's a classy book with great material that is clever and commercial. You can read more here.
"Harlan Live" stars Dan Harlan and teaches a complete stand-up act. If you've been around in magic for a while you are probably familiar with many of the routines as most have been published by Harlan himself before. The material is commercial and entertaining. You can read more here.
The best introduction to the Mene Tekel deck that I have seen comes in Nathan Kranzo's "Mene Tekel Miracles." Kranzo has come up with a comprehensive assortment of effects that may be performed with different types of Mene Tekel decks, all of which he explains. My favorites are the mentalism-style prediction routines. Included with the kit are two decks. You can read more here.
A new book, Brent Geris' "Best of All Worlds" offers the most comprehensive treatment of Paul Curry's masterpiece, "Out of This World," that I have seen. If you were to bring together the greatest minds in magic and listen in as they discuss OOTW, you would end up with this book. The various versions have been gathered and published in this book from their original manuscripts, book entries and lecture notes. Some have even been transposed from instructions originally provided on video. Red or black anyone? You can read more here.
Daryl's "Odd Quad" offers an excellent commercial packet card trick for beginners. The effect itself is good and easy to learn and perform. It's essentially four aces that constantly change backs, and at the end, you're clean. You can read more here.