Draven Reviews: Heirloom Deluxe

approvedTitle: Heirloom Deluxe
Artist:  Jamie Badman & Colin Miller
Producers: Alakazam Magic UK
Retail Price: $50.85 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: 1:20 min
Notes: You’ll want access to a printer for all the good extra PDF stuff on the DVD

 

 
Features:
•    Play Movie
•    Chapters
•    Original Heirloom
•    Bonus Materials

Comes With:
•    DVD
•    Custom Photos
•    4 Custom Printed Letters
•    The Original Heirloom PDF
•    The Movie File
•    The Underground Collective PDF
•    Bonus Card Images (back designs) PDF
•    Silent Past PDF
•    Hit Letter for Original Heirloom PDF
•    Heirloom Redux PDF (Mark Elsdon’s streamlined version)
•    Full Script for “Emily’s Revenge” Presentation

You tell a story of your Uncle Charlie who was a gambler.  He always had a favorite card, and you ask the spectator to name a card.  At the end of the story you turn over a photo showing your Uncle Charlie, his wife Emily, and his favorite card he was holding is the spectators named card!

Heirloom is based on Kenten Knepper’s Colossal Killer, and is a powerhouse of an effect.  I was disappointed when it was discontinued in 2012 because it always got such strong reactions.  I was elated to see that it was re-released in this now highly more upgraded version called Heirloom Deluxe.

There is so much information, so many good gems jammed packed into this DVD it’s hard to know where to start.  Heirloom is one of those tricks that sort of have a life of its own.  Since its release there have been many magicians who have added their own twists, turns, and handlings to it, and some of the best alternative versions have been included in this DVD.  This is literally one of those tricks you could spend hours on researching, practicing, refining, and still find new nuances of this masterpiece that will make it play stronger for your audiences.

If you missed your chance to own the original Heirloom don’t panic!  This deluxe version comes complete with the original typed and printed reveal letter, as well as “upgraded” reveal photos.  I’ll discuss these “upgrades” later.  If you suspect a fair amount of sarcasm in my writing regarding this then you’d be right.  The original story in Heirloom pits your Uncle Charlie against a den of gamblers in a situation where the spectators freely named card either is the card featured in the photo of your Uncle Charlie (the card he needed to win his fortune) or it will be off by one as referenced in the letter he writes to your Aunt Emily.  In this original version we don’t really ever get to know much about Emily’s character but in the Deluxe version you have the option to build on that more.  Emily apparently had some gifts of her own, and her psychic premonitions leaves a chilling added kick at the end of the story that every bizarrest will love.  If you perform White Star by Jim Critchlow, then the Emily’s Revenge version of Heirloom would be an ideal opener to segue into that routine.  The Emily’s Revenge take on Heirloom will leave your audience with more than just a magical memory.  It may send them off with a creepy unsettling feeling that could haunt their dreams.

One of the weaker points in the original Heirloom is the use of the One Off letter.  If your spectator would name a card that wasn’t a hit with a photo out you’d have to produce the wrong card photo, same suit but one off of the card the spectator named, and then the one off letter as well to explain this miss and turn it around into a hit.  The problem is you only use the letter if it’s a miss so only during half the performances would the audience see this letter.  I say that’s a problem because a prop like that in a story telling trick like Heirloom, I think really adds something to it.  In Heirloom deluxe you get a hit letter as well as a miss letter so it doesn’t matter which way the story ends the spectators still get a creepy letter to read that ties it all up nicely.

The DVD has a lot of extra bonus material on it too.  You get copies in PDF format of everything you get in prop format.  So if you wanted to you could produce your own letters and photos on whatever paper stock you wanted.  This is something that I HIGHLY recommend.  One of the things that I absolutely hated about Heirloom deluxe is the crappy thick card stock quality of the photos.  In the original Heirloom the photos were printed on photo paper which made them feel organic and real.  This crappy card stock photo takes away that mystery of plausible realness and makes it feel very much like another magic trick.  Personally I just took my old Heirloom photos, put them with the new Emily’s Revenge reveal letter, and chucked the new card stock photos into a zip lock bag destined for the bottom of my magic trunk.  The hit letters are marginally better in so much as they are printed and designed to look like aged paper but honestly a quick run through a quality printer on a nice thick paper stock and a tea treatment and you’d have something of equal if not better quality.  Included in the DVD is PDF copies of all the hit letters, as well as the original letter from Heirloom.

The DVD comes with PDF copies of the full script for Emily’s Revenge presentation, and a PDF of Mark Elsdon’s version of Heirloom which only uses four photos, the Queens, for the reveal and is much more streamlined than the usual Heirloom presentation.  Along with the Bonus items included you’ll also find the instructions for the original Heirloom, and the Heirloom Wallet.  It’s like they went through their archives and took out everything they had related to Heirloom and threw it together onto one DVD.  The Legacy PDF covers more ideas for Heirloom and even gives you some solid tips on how to age paper and photos.  So if you have never done that before and you don’t want to use the crappy photos that come with Heirloom Deluxe, then just follow the tips given in Legacy and you can make your own.  Legacy gives you some additional Heirloom presentation ideas such as a no letter reveal, making your own Heirloom Diary, and some more ideas on how to work Heirloom into existing magician’s wallets like the Real Man’s wallet, and the Stealth Assassin wallet.  The final PDF in the bonus section is the Silent Past presentation.  Silent Past is based off of Ben Harris’s Cross Roads principle, and in this version of Heirloom there is no letter, and there are no off by one.  This is a script heavy routine but it requires less photo outs than the usual Heirloom.

Heirloom is one of my favorite effects of all time.  It goes with me everywhere I go, and I keep it handy in my wallet for any occasion.  I can vary the degree of impact from impossible magic trick to a creepy story with a heavy atmosphere around it by changing the presentation just a little bit.  Heirloom is supported by products, like the Heirloom wallet that was made specifically for this trick.  Many magicians, as evident by all the bonus material, have contributed their own thoughts and ideas into making this a truly unique piece of magic.  Heirloom has a life of its own, and I’m sure you’ll even come up with a few ideas of your own on how to present it.  It’s ideal for close up, or walk around, and I’d say even parlor if you play it right.  I love this effect and I’m so glad that once again it is available on the market.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality:  4
Let me explain this grade real quick.  I LOVE Heirloom.  I love all the bonus material you get.  I HATE the cheesy card stock “photos” the Deluxe version comes with.  IF the photos were printed on actual photo paper like the original was this failing grade of 4 would have been an instant 10.  Moral of the story folks: If you’re going to call something “deluxe” don’t cut corners on production costs by changing an aspect that made the original so unique.

Teaching Quality: 9
Bang on, and with so much information to digest.  You can spend hours alone just pouring over the wealth of information included in the bonus section.

Video & Sound Quality: 9
Good sound and video.  No problems with the DVD portion.

Overall Quality: 7
Don’t let the Product Quality grade or the Overall grade (affected strongly by the score of 4 in the Product Quality) fool you.  This is an AMAZING effect.  It’s a blessing to be back out on the market, and you really need to get a copy before it disappears again.  I love Heirloom, I use Heirloom all the time personally, and I strongly recommend it.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

Posted in DVD Review, Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Draven Reviews: Sparks by JC James

approvedTitle: Sparks

Artist: JC Jamees

Producers: Murphy’s Magic

Retail Price: $24.95 USD

Learning Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Notes: None.

 

Features:

  • Play All
  • Chapters

 

The magic in this DVD is simple, direct, and powerful. A deck of cards, and a sharpie, and some moderate skills in sleight of hand is all that is required to bring some hard hitting magic tricks strait to your spectators without any extra gimmicks to carry around with you. These aren’t commercial tricks, these are working tricks that you’ll use all the time, everywhere you go. A practical one man walk around show in a single DVD. This is Sparks.

 

JC James has an amazing amount of skill. It’s no wonder he’s one of the busiest working magicians in Europe. Just watching him work you’ll see him make some of the hardest sleight of hand moves look butter smooth and painfully easy. This DVD covers 13 of his personal routines which you will find absolutely useful. These aren’t things that a beginner magician will fun. They require some time and dedication to learn. Let’s take a look at what’s taught on this DVD.

 

Spin: Take a marker, or borrow a pen, pencil, anything really, and as you slowly spin in around in your hands it vanishes before the spectators eyes! I love the flip stick method and this is just another move to use to make a marker vanish. It’s very visual, very fooling. It’s also angle sensitive.

Latex Slydini: You either use a rubber band that you produce, or one can be borrowed (but other than magicians who honestly carries rubber bands around with them these days?!) and placed around the performer’s hand. The performers hand can be held by spectators and when it’s opened the rubber band will be gone replaced by any small object you want, like a dollar bill! You can use this to produce a signed playing card in the ultimate ending to the ambitious card routine.

POG Production: You can make four cards jump out of the deck without the need for a gimmicked deck. This is great for a four ace production, or any setup to a card trick that requires four cards. Hell you could also just use this to shoot four random cards out of the deck if you really wanted to because it just looks cool. The drawback is that this move is knacky and can be finicky sometimes. You’ll need to work with this one quite a bit to get it dialed in right.

Wave Change: You wave a card back and forth causing it to change into another card. The drawback to this is you have to place it back on the deck first. As a magician we criticize the little things like this when in reality the majority of the people we perform for won’t even notice. This is a color change and can be applied to many different effects. I like the usefulness of this move.
ACAP (As Close As Possible): Four cards are placed in different parts of the deck, and then the deck is squared up and set on the table. Without touching it the four cards appear in the center of the deck all together again.   ACAP is another powerful utility move to control a packet of cards, but even on its own the move is powerful magic trick. The move though is knacky and will require practice.
Fake Tilt: This is another version of the Marlo Tilt. It is a false tilt, as the name implies, and can be done with a single card or multiples. This is another utility move that will have greater importance beyond the limited presentations seen in this DVD.

CHLAK: This is a four for four switch out move that has many applications. In the basic form, the spectator blindly points to the backs of four random cards. Then when they are pulled out of the deck and turned over they are all four matching cards. You could use four Queens, four Aces, four Kings, etc.

Fan Change: This utility color change move looks absolutely amazing on camera and it looks even better in person. I LOVE this move! Four cards are held, say four queens for example, then you simply flick one of the cards and it instantly changes into a different card. Could be a card a spectator already selected from before. The applications are endless! The drawback is this is a move knacky thing to master.

Clean Transpo: Another utility move. You have two cards selected. One placed on top of the deck, the other on the bottom, and in a flash they trade places.

Drunken Production: A comical plot where you end up producing all four jacks while acting like you’re not sure what is going on. The magic is happening to you as well as the spectators. After the four jacks have been produced an indifferent card is selected. You’ll try to put the indifferent card away and use one of the jacks but it keeps coming back. You add it to the pile of jacks but when they are turned over they are the four matching indifferent cards. I love this routine. Anytime you can share a comical moment with the audience is a special one.

UnSleeve: I’ve always hated trying to sleeve coins and pens. I’m not good at it, and it drives me up a wall. Justin Millers “Dream’s of Silver” was the bane of my existence for a good couple summers before I ultimately just gave up trying to sleeve beyond anything that would be equated to just fooling around. UnSleeve is a very unique way to approach sleeving, and has gotten me to pull back out my coins once again and re-try learning this old technique.

Behind the Force: You say you need a specific card for a trick, for example the nine of hearts, and you ask a spectator to say stop EXACTLY on that card. They call stop, you split the deck, and low and behold it’s the nine of hearts. I’m not a fan of this move because it’s too fast and it just looks like you did something “magical”. I haven’t played around with it too much personally, so maybe someone out there will figure out a way to make it look more natural but on the DVD it’s just too jerky.

T2P: This was a pretty neat routine actually. This is a unique variation to the classic card to pocket routine. A card is selected and signed, and after it’s been produced from the pocket in the usual method, a twist occurs. It’s returned to the deck. Your finger is placed over the card and moved down slowly and it visually starts to disappear. When they call stop you remove your finger showing half a signed card on the deck, and the other half of the signed card is now in your pocket. The drawback is to make all this work there’s a lot of visual do as you explain motions going on which seems unnecessary to me. The routine is cleaver, but I’m not sure I’d use it myself.

 

 

Overall I’m pretty impressed with this DVD. There’s a lot of strong magic in here. Some of it will require a lot of effort to master. Other tricks on here I’m not sure I’d really use myself because, at least how it’s taught on the DVD, they look too “magiciany” in how they’re handled. I’m not a fan of sharp fast movements. There are many very useful utility moves in Sparks and whether you perform the tricks as they are out of the package or you incorporate the moves into your existing tricks you’ll find a little something in here for everyone.

 

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

 

Product Quality: 7

Skillful sleight of hand, coupled with move knacky sleights, and magically motivated not naturally motivated moves makes for a collection of material that is sure to have something in here for everyone.

 

Teaching Quality: 8

The moves are easy to learn but some of them are hard to do. It takes time to master.

 

Video & Sound Quality: 9

Good sound. Good video.

 

Overall Quality: 8

I liked Sparks. There’s a lot of good material in here that you can do with just a deck of cards and a marker. No gimmicks, and easy set ups.

 

 

Have a product you want reviewed? Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval? Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

 

Posted in DVD Review, Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Draven Reviews: Look by Limin

approvedEffect: Look
Artist: Limin
Retail Price: $19.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Includes:
•    1 Bag of Plastic Googlie Eyes
•    1 Packet of Look Performance Blank Cards
•    1 Gimmicked Playing Card
•    1 Printed Set of Instructions with Illustrations

 

The Effect:

This is such a cute trick for kids!  You have a card selected and then returned to the deck.  You draw a smilie face on a blank card and attach a pair of googlie eyes to it.  It’s now a funny looking character!  You pass cards over the eyes one at a time but they don’t react to it at all.  When you pass the selected card over it the eyes follow the card back and forth!  You turn the card over and it’s their selected card!  Kids giggle, and laugh.  This is by far one of my favorite new tricks to do for families, girls, and anyone else who just enjoys a light hearted approach to card tricks.

The trick itself is very easy to learn and requires very little sleight of hand to master.  This is one of those tricks you’ll pick up within minutes of opening the package.  The illustrations in the instruction card pretty much shows you what to do.  There’s an online teaching video but you’ll need a smart phone that can read QC codes in order to view it.  Honestly I don’t know why they didn’t just print the link to the online video inside the instructions card.  How annoying that I have to have a smart phone in order to view the video.  What if I don’t have a smart phone?  Lame.

Performance wise everything packs down nicely and fits into your pockets.  Great for strolling, walk around, street, or anywhere that has small intimate audiences.  It’s a fun quick trick that’s easy to learn.  For the price, and the wide range of appeal I really don’t see how you can go wrong with Look.  This is a must for children entertainers.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Performance Practicality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 7
You get enough eyes, and blank performance cards to last a couple shows.  Above and beyond that you’ll need to find your own.  Blank playing cards would certainly work, and as for the eyes you’ll need to go to any party or craft store.  Just make sure you get the ones that react to the gimmicked card.

Teaching Quality: 5
The teaching quality is barely passable.  The instructions are great in the book but they lost serious points by making the online video only available to smart phone owners.

Performance Practicality: 8
I love performing Look for kids.  It’s one of the few things I do for kids that always gets a good reaction.

Over All Quality: 7
It’s not unreasonably priced, and it’s really a cute trick.  I’d recommend it.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

Posted in Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Draven Reviews: Flown Away

approvedTitle: Flown Away
Author: Paul Romhany & Jasper Blakeley
Publicist: Pro-Mentalism Stand-Up Series
Retail Price: $39.95 USD
Reading Difficulty: Easy
Notes:  75 pages + Accompanying DVD

 

 

 
Features:
•    Paperback
•    DVD
◦    Play All
◦    Scene Selection
◦    Graphics

Flown away is a mentalism routine in which a spectator gets an opportunity to “fly” to any destination they want among a list of fifty of the world’s most popular tourist stops.  The spectator gets to make a selection, from a stack of fifty cards each with a different destination on them, keeping the selection and returning the rest to an envelope.  The selected destination card is then put in a smaller envelop and isolated.  Before they “depart” on their “vacation” they are given a travel insurance brochure to hold onto.  The mentalist then tries to mentally see where they are going, and of course gets it wrong.  The performer describes Las Vegas.  The performer tries again, and gets the spectator’s destination correct on the second try, opens the envelope with their destination card inside and verifies for the audience.  The kicker ending is the performer speculating whether or not this was all predicted in advance.  When the insurance brochure is opened it says that they couldn’t land in their original destination of XXX because it was too foggy and they were forced to land in Vegas instead!

I’m a huge fan of tricks that pack small and play big, and outside of a couple envelopes and some index cards Flown Away falls into that category.  But what I’m not a fan of is make it yourself magic!  When you get Flown Away you get a 75 page paperback book with the routine fully described and written out inside along with a DVD of Jaspers performances.  The book has five additional ways to modify or adapt the performance to your own style including a zoo theme for children or a whodunit mystery theme which I rather liked.  There’s even a drawing duplication version which was pretty neat too.  All versions make use of a gimmicked envelope which you’ll have to build yourself.  As much as I hate Arts ‘N Crafts type of magic tricks this is pretty simple to assemble.  You’ll need some scissors or a knife and some spray mount or a glue stick.  You’ll also need access to a printer so you can make up the travel insurance documents.

The routine is pretty fun to perform and there’s a lot of room for impromptu bi-play that can be done with your spectator.  Jasper I feel has a strong point when it comes to being entertaining and putting your own spin on things as opposed to just being another carbon copy of another magicians act.  Once you’ve built your gimmick, assembled your destination cards, and got everything ready to perform this entire act will fit nicely into a space the size of a brief case.

The DVD is utter crap.  The video is grainy and the sound is not professionally done.  It looks like Jasper just put his own camcorder up on a tripod and recorded three of his night club performances and slapped it on a DVD with no label or cover graphics.  It’s just one static shot for the entire performance.  The DVD is amateur at best, and frankly brings nothing to the table in product quality other than having images on it of what his travel insurance brochure looks like; images mind you.  Not a PDF file you can download and open, just images.  You’ll have to create your own if you want to do this routine using your computer.

Flown Away represents a working mentalism routine that will be fun and entertaining for the audience when executed with any mote of showmanship.  It’s flexible enough to be applied to different performance themes, as you’ll see in the book since it lists five different adaptations on its own, and I’m sure you’ll probably come up with your own adaptation that works for your character too.  This is something that will travel with you and play to audiences of just about any size.  Close up to parlor and stage.  This will work on them all.  The DVD sucks but at least the material is solid.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Readability and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 7
Good working material.  Easy read.  Good price.  Pathetic excuse for a companion DVD.

Teaching Quality: 7
The book is direct and to the point.  The material is easy to understand and after some assembly easy enough to perform.

Readability: 7
The book is a quick read, and a good reference to stage mentalism acts.

Over All Quality: 7
Anyone interested in learning a fun mentalism act that plays well to audiences of any size will love Flown Away.  The kicker confabulation ending is just icing on the cake.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

Posted in Book Review, Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Draven Reviews: Spinnerets by Stexen

approvedTitle: Spinnerets
Artist:  Stexen
Producers: Stexen Productions
Retail Price: $39.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy to Medium (depending on your familiarity with thread work)
Length of DVD: 40 min
Notes: You will need to buy refills.

 

 
Features:
•    Play Movie
•    Scene Selection

Spin webs like a spider anytime, anywhere you want and then levitate a variety of objects with the webs.  Spinnerets is the world’s smallest IT reels.

WARNING:  EXPOSURE INSIDE
The following review is of a product called Spinnerets by Stexen.  Spinnerets are an ITR, and use IT.  While I will do my best to use vague terms, and acronyms to protect the magician’s secrets in this review there must be an understood level of transparency that is required in order to do a fair review.  Due to the nature of the product there maybe some elements in this review that could be regarded as exposure and for that I offer my apologies up front.  Please understand that I will do my best to minimize that as much as possible.  If you are easily offended by even the slightest possibility of exposure then I encourage you to stop reading this review now.

Spinnerets is a DVD packaged with the unique gimmicks that are the reels themselves.  On the back of the DVD it advertises you’ll be able to float heavy objects like cake, meat, and ice cream among other traditional objects like bills, cigarettes, and paper.  The idea of being able to carry up to 213 reels in my pocket for instant use really appealed to me, where they got that exact number I’m not sure.  Sadly after I got the product home and in the DVD player I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was when I saw it in the store.

Spinnerets are a onetime use ITR.  So on one hand getting a dozen or so of them in the DVD is nice, but you’ll need to restock your supply if you use it frequently enough.  Because of the properties of the ITR you won’t be able to repair or reuse it.  The construction of the reel is pretty ingenious.  I loved the concept, but I question the practicality.   They are small enough to be finger palmed until you can pop them into position to be used.  You could carry them lose in your pocket but I put mine in an Altoids tin, as suggested in the DVD.  The problem I have with the construction of Spinnerets as a gimmick is that they have a limited amount of time that you can get the thread out of it once they are in place since the gimmick will break down.  I wish I could elaborate more on that but it would expose the gimmick.  While performing with Spinnerets you won’t be able to talk.  That’s an important point to understand if you rely heavily on patter for your presentations.  Other than those limitations the only other real problem I have with this product is that they rely on the need for glasses (sun or reading) to make it all work.

The DVD itself is packed with a lot of really cool levitation and animation ideas that you can use Spinnerets to accomplish.  You can do the classical UFO card, as well as the floating cigarette.  I’m not sure what brand of IT Spinnerets uses, but it’s strong enough to hold the weight of small fruits as well.  Some of the levitations you’ll see on the DVD, such as the strawberry levitation, aren’t practical for walk around situations, which seems to be a large selling point of this product- the fact that you can do most of this stuff impromptu.  But I can say that the thread seems to hold up well enough and not break too easily during use.  If you’re never done any work with ITR before, and you’re looking to get into it, this maybe a good starting point for you.  I’m not sure magicians who have a lot of experience working with ITR’s are going to find this a better option.  I don’t do a lot of IT work myself, but between this ITR and my usual one I use, I would probably stick with my other one.  Stexen’s approach to teaching is pretty minimal.  The DVD sacrifices long winded explanations in favor of giving you as many options for use as it can.

Overall when it comes to IT work there’s a lot of products on the market to do what Spinnerets does.  You have a range of IT itself, all with different tensile strengths, as well as ITR’s to dispense it.  Spinnerets are the smallest ITR’s I’ve ever seen, but I’m not sold on the idea of making an ITR disposable.  The one time use of this makes it a difficult sell for me because I’ll have to keep stock on this if I want to use it a lot.  You can buy the refills at $9.95 for a pack of 12 at just about any magic store that would sell the DVD or online.  The different tricks you see done on the DVD aren’t anything that can only be done with Spinnerets.  Just about any ITR setup will accomplish the same things.  Spinnerets only have one place they were really designed to work from.  Since I don’t wear glasses or perform using sunglasses the “usual” place you’d hook up the ITR isn’t practical for me.  This is going to be a product you’ll have to evaluate for yourself to figure out if it’s going to be something you can use or not.  As a product the IT in Spinnerets is dependable.   It holds up well under use, doesn’t break easily (from my experiments with it) and can hold a good amount of weight on it.  Using Spinnerets over another ITR system is going to be a personal choice.  Kind of like why some people use Bicycle playing cards while others prefer custom designs.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality:  7
Personally I feel that this is more of 6 out of 10 for me but I know there are those out there that this is perfect for, so I’ll bump the score up by one.  The price for what you get isn’t bad, and it stacks up there pretty well against other ITR systems.  I’m not a fan of the disposable one shot use nature of this item.

Teaching Quality: 7
Stexen has a strait forward delivery for his explanations.  No long winded talk.  Also there is no thread theory.  Never worked with IT before?  That could be a problem for you.

Video & Sound Quality: 7
Sound and video is both good.  The back ground music gets a bit repetitive.

Overall Quality: 7
Not the product for me, but not a bad product either.  Purchase at your own discretion.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

Posted in DVD Review, Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Draven Reviews: Utsukushii by Fraser Parker

approvedTitle: Utsukushii
Author: Fraser Parker
Publicist: Intuition Publishing
Retail Price: $40.50 USD.  For the book.  The download is the same price.
Reading Difficulty:  Easy but you’ll want to read it through a couple times to get everything.

 

 

 
Notes:  Downloadable PDF version is available.  The following review is of the PDF version.  Added note: The phone unlock pin code will only work on phones with a numeric pin unlock.  Stick to I-phone users and avoid androids that use a pattern recognition.

Divination:  A specific form of Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP for short.  It deals with obtaining knowledge from remote places that the medium would not otherwise have access to such as the future, or remote places.  Utsukushii is a real treat from mentalist Fraser Parker in that it gives the performer near god like powers of divination over a spectator’s secret numbers. This propless routine can enable you to be able to divine serial numbers off bank notes, pin codes to unlock cell phones, or even a single thought up number.  The kicker is all of this work is done verbally.  You realize you could start a religion with this alone right?

The PDF book that I read can be a little hard to follow in some places.  Diving a single thought of number using an adaptation to an older method (trying my best to not reveal too much information in this review so I apologize for the vagueness) uses some mathematical skills.  Math was never a subject I was good in.  So I had to read through this section a couple of times before things started to make sense to me.  However once I had done it a few times I started to find it quite easy after I had my head wrapped around just what it was I was trying to do.  Like a lot of propless mentalism the success of this act will depend greatly upon your presentation skills, and your ability to follow a script.  If you ad lib too much dialog you will find yourself in trouble.

The divination of a person’s pin number to unlock their cell phone is freaking genius.  Talk about getting inside someone’s head and making them feel vulnerable.  The silent implied abilities can really give a spectator the creeps.  If you can read their thoughts and divine their cell phone unlock code then what ELSE could you divine about them?  Their bank account information?  Credit card pin numbers?  This is the kind of stuff people remember long after they’ve forgotten about the card tricks or the sponge rabbits.  This stuff stays with people and haunts them.  This is also the level of material where you have to start keeping yourself to a higher ethical code.  In the wrong hands or done carelessly you could possibly cause harm to a person by revealing such personal secrets like their bank pin code.  Once you’ve learned how to divine a single number a spectator is thinking of from the first half of the book then you can apply that method to divining a person’s phone unlock code.

The scripting in this effect is great.  Everything seems motivated by natural causes, and if you encounter a miss just play it off as nothing.  The spectators won’t know anything is a miss if you don’t give them reason to suspect it.  Not only is this a practical piece of mentalism suitable for close up work but it would play very well on a stage too.  This could be a single act or a part of a much bigger demonstration of psychic power.   Once again Fraser has put out something that is deceptive and devastating.  What will this guy think of next?

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Readability and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 9
$40 bucks for something that I could start a religion with?  Yes please.

Teaching Quality: 8
Fraser is complete with what you need to know and he makes it as easy as he can for you to understand it.

Readability: 7
It can be a tough read at first.  There’s some numbers you have to process, and some mathematical skills you have to exercise but once you read through it a couple times things start to come together.  It’s not difficult; it just takes a few times reading through it to get it all.  At least that was the case for me.  Admittedly I’m not a good reader nor am I good at math.

Over All Quality: 9
Fraser Parker is a star.  His material so far has been gold, and not only that but Utsukushii is a highly effective piece of mentalism that if you use it right will convince your audience that without a doubt you are some kind of supernatural person with the ability to read  minds.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!

Posted in Book Review, Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Draven Reviews: The Entertainers Handbook

approved Title: Entertainer’s Handbook
Author: Mike Stilwell
Publicist: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Retail Price: $15.95 USD
Reading Difficulty:
Notes:  Over 100 pages

 

 

 

Features:
•    Paperback

Writing a book about getting gigs as a working magician is something I know a lot about personally.  With a marketing and sales background I know what to say and how to say it to get the sale closed.  Whether that is selling a high end car or my own act, it’s all the same at the end of the day.  When it comes to marketing and sales for magicians reference materials aren’t hard to come by either.  There’s a hundred books written on the subject (including my own PDF on getting gigs and keeping clients) so when this book hit my desk I took to doing this review as a personal interest.

There are certain books that are must owns if you’re going to become a magician.  Everyone should own a copy of Tarbell, Mark Wilsons Course in Magic, and Card College, Strong Magic, Scripting Magic, Maximum Entertainment with strong considerations made to Expert at the Card Table, 13 Steps to Mentalism, Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic, Royal Road to Card Magic for more specialized focus on certain aspects of magic.  But these are all excellent resource guides for learning magic and none of them teach you how to become a magician.  Doing tricks for people in an entertaining fashion is only half the show after all because unless you know how to get a gig in the first place all that knowledge of what to do once you’re there is wasted.

Fortunately the field of reference books that you should own on getting gigs is relatively small.  My own narcissistic tendencies to promote my own material aside I’d really only recommend “The Approach” by Jamie D. Grant as the definitive go to for this subject.  That all changed after I read The Entertainers Handbook.  Author and magician Mike Stilwell has somehow managed to distill over 40 years of experience as a working magician into a solid tome of how to instructions that should be one of the first books you own and read after you’ve decided to do magic for profit (right next to Jamie’s and mine!).

Mike covers everything, and I mean everything, that a magician starting fresh in the world of professional work needs to think about.  The subjects in the book take in-depth looks at personal subjects like finding your talent, stage names, hygiene, and stage fright, to more business like aspects like business cards, pricing, hecklers, and marketing.  I particularly found his chapter on ethics and behavior to be an interesting consideration because almost no one really talks about those subjects these days but nothing can kill a career faster than poor ethics.

The book is written in an easy to understand language.  Mike comes from years of experience and that experience shows through.  He’s not suggesting you do something that isn’t tested and proven.  In fact if anything the advice he gives, if followed like a road map, should have you making money as a performing magician in no time.  Even the consummate pro with years of experience working the paid to perform scene could stand to benefit from reading his book.  I really liked his real world experience with needing a passport- something that has inspired me to get off my own rear and get one for myself.

This book doesn’t teach you a single trick to do with magic.  So if you’re looking for the next cool card trick, or juggling move this isn’t the book for you.  If you’re not really interested in learning how to make money doing magic this book won’t help you either.  There’s nothing wrong with collecting magic, or just performing it as a hobby for friends at parties on the weekend don’t get me wrong.  If that’s all you are interested in then there’s nothing you’ll find useful here in this book.  However if you have even the slightest interest or curiosity in learning how you can take your past time, hobby, or art and make money doing it, then you owe it to yourself to read the Entertainer’s Handbook.  If there was a school for magic this would be required reading for any year one student.  If you teach magic professionally then you need to make sure all of your students own a copy and you review it with them if they are interested in working professionally.  You’d be doing them a disservice not to.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Readability and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 9
A book that’s less than $20 bucks and it’s full of awesome useful information that could change someone’s life forever?  Sign me up.

Teaching Quality: 9
Mike’s real world approach makes this not only easy to learn from but highly practical.

Readability: 9
Read through it once, then keep reading it over and over at least once a year.  You can’t go wrong with this book.

Over All Quality: 9
Who needs this book?  Everyone that’s who!  Teachers, students, anyone who wants to learn how to get paid for doing their magic.  Hell I may even buy a second copy so I have one to loan out to my friends without worry about losing the one I intend to keep on my book shelf.

Posted in Book Review, Product Review, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment