Ask anyone who is into magic and they'll probably tell you that they owned a magic set when they were younger. I am no exception and did go through a few magic sets in my youth. While there are "executive" magic sets for grown-ups, in this article, we'll focus on magic sets for kids, the type that dominate the market.
So what does a magic set offer the beginning magician and what can you expect in a magic set? Here are some answers.
When you purchase a magic set, you're buying a bunch of tricks that are designed for beginners and should be easy to learn and perform. And you're probably getting a lot of tricks for less than what you would pay for them separately. That is, if you knew that the tricks existed and if they are available.
In general, magic sets tend toward pre-made, gimmicked magic props, those that do not require magic skills. While you do receive lots of tricks in a magic set, many of the props, particularly those in the least expensive sets, tend to be cheaply made items that are of poor quality and construction.
The quality of props varies from set to set, but price is usually, but not always, an indicator of the quality to be found within a kit. Some props are so poorly constructed that you may have difficulty performing the tricks.
While a kit may advertise a set number of tricks that you can learn, this doesn't mean that there is a prop for each of the tricks. For example, it's not uncommon for a magic set to feature a simple magic wand, and the instructions then teach you several tricks that you can perform with the wand, which can often include the magnetic pencil and rubber pencil.
At times, a magic set will provide all of the props to perform a particular trick, and other times, you'll have to provide your own. For example, it's not unusual for a magic set to teach the well known paper clips and dollar trick, and a set won’t provide the dollar bill and paper clips. So when a magic set advertises that it teaches 50 tricks, for example, these are tricks that are taught but not necessarily provided for.
Also, watch out when a magic kit says that it includes a "magic table." This is often the cardboard box that the set comes in.
Age of Magic
I often see magic sets and tricks given to children who are far too young to adequately use them. While some magic sets come with DVDs to teach tricks, most provide written instructions. So as a start, it's important that any youngster who is given a magic set be able to read as well as follow instructions.
Parts Is Not Parts
Magic sets tend to have lots of parts that can potentially be scattered and lost. When you later find a lost part from a magic set, it may not look like anything that you recognize.
Also, when parts are missing, kids won't be able to perform the tricks because of a key element that is needed. As a result, if you are buying for a kid who tends to scatter toys and parts, a magic set may not be the best gift. It will be welcome, but once the parts become lost and scattered, the remainder of the set quickly becomes useless and destined for the landfill.
Don't get me wrong, a magic set is a great way to inspire budding magicians. But for best results, do your best to make sure that the magic kit fits the child and that the child is ready for one.