Jeff McBride to be At The Table Next Week

Dear Readers,
     Check this out!   I think you may find this incredibly awesome.

So Murphy’s Magic has been doing this At The Table online lecture series and so far it’s been pretty darn good.  The talent they’ve had on, and the quality of information shared is just second to none.  Somewhere if I can ever find an extra hour or two in my day I intend to actually start cranking out some reviews on the individual episodes.  Anyways coming up next week one of magics legends Jeff McBride is set to join the table for another installment.  I believe he was also on last week’s episode that was filmed live.
I’m a huge fan of Jeff’s work.  He’s a master class performer and educator in the art of magic so when the teacher talks I almost want to tell any student to shut up and listen.  From what I’ve heard next week’s At The Table is going to be a bit unique.  Jeff is pre-taping it so there’s an opertunity to skype into the session and ask your questions and get answers from Jeff himself.  I’ve been told that the episode will air online soetime on the 18th after 4pm PST.
What makes this even cooler is that the location being filmed in is at Jeff’s personal home!  So I imagine there will be lots of insight into his School of Mystery as well.
So if you wanted to participate you can Skype in your questions no later than 5pm PST on Saturday Feb. 14th.  The Skype name is “At_The_Table”.  If you haven’t seen an at the table yet then I would encourage you to do so.  I plan on getting my questions in early, and I figured I’d share this with everyone else here too.  Why wouldn’t you want to ask Jeff you’re questions right?
Hope this helps some people, and you find this useful.
Cheers,
Draven
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Draven Reviews: Forces Project by Liam Montier

approvedTitle: The Forces Project
Artist: Liam Montier
Producers: Big Blind Media
Retail Price: $35.00 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Notes: none.
Features:
•    Play All
•    Techniques
•    Tricks
•    Trailers

The Forces Project is a great introductory DVD into the art of forcing cards in close up magic.  Big Blind Media in combination with the talent of Liam Montier take you through an impressive list of card forces ranging from the easy to the more advanced moves.  The DVD breaks down not only the mechanics by the theory behind why each force is deceptive and what conditions you should use the force in.  Then just to make sure things are complete Liam teaches you a couple great routines using what you’ve learned that will surely impress your friends and family.

I remember learning my first force from Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic.  I’m pretty sure I used his riffle force verbatim from the book for a number of years before changing my handling.  From there I think I picked up a few new forcing techniques from Royal Road before I settled into using the current set of forces that I have today.  This DVD isn’t going to be the one stop encyclopedia on forcing.  There’s a lot of ways to force a card that aren’t in this project, but this is a great place for a newcomer to start.

Liam teaches 24 different forces on this DVD and the tutorial is quite nice.  He walks you through slowly so you can perform the moves with confidence yourself.  Some of the forces are very easy to do, others like the classic force will take some time to master.  Liam leaves you with the confidence that you’ll be able to learn this stuff.  I don’t think anyone will feel flustered or confused when watching this DVD.  The format follows the classic formula of demonstration followed by explanation.

Learning how to force a card is pretty much one of the most important things you can learn to do in card magic since so much magic deals with this concept.  And while this DVD certainly isn’t the be-all-end-all final chapter in the book of forcing it is a great resource and reference point for a magician of any skill level.  It doesn’t matter if you’re new and wanting to find something that you can work with or expert and want something to challenge you.  Liam also teaches six different routines using the forces taught in the DVD which I thought were pretty cool.

Without going into too much detail this DVD teaches great forces like the Cross Cut Force, Riffle Force, Dribble Force, Classic Force, Back Slip Force, Swindle Force, among many others.  All of these moves are utility devices and as I’ve already said a nice touch is that Liam gives you some insight into some of the psychology behind why you should use a specific force for what situation you may find yourself in.  I really liked how he shows you what the tools are, AND how to use them effectively.  It’s a win- win.

So who would I recommend this DVD to?  Anyone.  Everyone.  This is a great DVD to have in your library and as a reference source it’s filled with tons of useful moves and performance theory.

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: 8
At a price of $35 bucks this DVD is a little more expensive than on average, but it’s worth it.

Teaching Quality: 8
I liked watching Liam, and he found a way to keep the material fresh.  One of the problems with working on a single topic, such as forces, is that the material can get dry and repetitive.  Liam found a way to keep my attention from start to finish.

Video & Sound Quality: 9
Sound and Audio were both great.

Overall Quality: 8
This is an excellent DVD, and I highly recommend you look into 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!  Don’t forget to like my blog!

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Draven Reviews: Space Shifter by Nicholas Lawrence

approvedTitle: Space Shifter
Artist: Nicholas Lawrence
Producers: SansMinds Magic
Retail Price: $24.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD:  aprox. 36 minutes

Features:
•    Play All
•    Menu
•    SansMinds Products
•    Credits

The classic Torn and Restored card trick.  The plot has been around for ages and everyone from David Copperfield on down has at one point in time played with this concept. At its heart it really is about warping reality, time and space.  It’s truly impossible to take an object, destroy it, and then slowly restore it back to its full original self.  Space Shifter is kind of like that but takes the concept out of the box and then runs as far away with it as it can.  Instead of tearing a piece of the card off and visually restoring it, you’re going to tear a chunk of the card off and then move that missing chunk into the middle of the card with the missing piece still fitting perfectly back in.  This is Nicholas Lawrence’s Space Shifter.

So now you know what the effect is let’s talk about the product.  Space Shifter is one of those kinds of magic tricks that you slap your forehead hard enough to give yourself a headache when you learn how it’s done.  The mechanics are brutally simple, and require next to no skill to operate.  I think the hardest sleight you’ll require for this trick maybe a double lift.  However you will need to construct a gimmick so go grab your art supplies.

It takes less time to build the Space Shifter gimmick than it takes Herman to explain what he’s doing.  I mean from the second he shows the gaff revealed you pretty much know what you need to do.  This is a great example of way over explaining something.  I get that a lot of newer magicians maybe watching this DVD but they are new, not stupid.  I think the explanation was over killed with this one.

Performing this trick is a hell of a lot of fun.  The reactions it gets are fairly strong on a consistent basis.  The only thing you have to take into consideration is the constant need to keep preparing cards to be ripped up.  Space Shifter isn’t going to be something you just do on the fly.  For ease of performance I’d recommend keeping a small envelope in your close up case with several of these cards prepped for show ready to go.  The downside to performing Space Shifter is, and like with many card tricks that utilize a specialized gimmick, you’ve pretty much got a one trick pony in your pocket.  While it’s possible to do other things with the deck you’re going to need to figure out a way to either load the gimmick onto the deck or ditch it after depending on if you plan to open with Space Shifter or run it later in your set.  This could be as simple as palming it off, or just boldly changing decks, but none the less it’s a bit of busy work that will need to be done.

So overall Space Shifter is a fun visual card rip and I absolutely love to play with it.  It was one of those tricks that I just started to like the more I performed it.  The gimmick is easy enough to make and the reactions you get are well worth it.  It makes for a great souvenir to give away at the end and for me that is important.  Space Shifter is light on the performance side in the DVD but this doesn’t really need a lot of story.  I think for this effect less is certainly more, and simply having a card selected, signed, ripped, and the ripped hole move to the center of the card says enough on its own.  You could certainly apply your own script to it if you wish, but I really don’t think it needs that.  Space Shifter proves that you don’t need knuckle busting sleight of hand to create powerful magical presentations that will defy a spectators’ logic and leave them with a lasting memory of the truly impossible.  Check this one out.  This earns the Draven Seal of Approval.

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: 8
Good magic for a good price.

Teaching Quality: 6
Overkill on the gimmick construction, and probably the entire DVD as a whole.  There isn’t a lot going on with this effect that you couldn’t intuitively figure out for yourself.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
Good sound and video.  Seems standard for SansMinds products.

Overall Quality: 8
Fun trick to perform!  You need to check this out.

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!  Don’t forget to like my blog!

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Draven Reviews: 52 Pieces of Paper by Idan Kaufman

approved Title: 52 Pieces of Paper
Artist: Idan Kaufman
Producers: Big Blind Media
Retail Price: $29.95
Learning Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Length of DVD:  1 Hour

Features:
•    Play All
•    Introduction
•    Productions
•    Moves
•    Routines
•    Goodbye
•    Extras

52 Pieces of Paper is the brain child of Israeli magician Idan Kaufman (pronounced ‘He-Done’) and is based off a small paperback book of a similar name that he wrote.  This DVD features a varying range of card magic from productions and utility moves to routines you can perform.  Idan’s skill level is amazing in this DVD oh and did I mention he’s only 17?  Grab your deck of cards, and let’s put 52 Pieces of Paper to the Draven Review test.

Honestly I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this DVD.  Card magic really is hit and miss for me anymore, and speaking personally I’ve become less of a fan of card magic over the years.  I personally find card magic to lack inspiration, creativity, and purpose.  To me it’s just the same plots over and over to the point that if a magician asks you to pick a card I would be more impressed if the trick screwed up and he didn’t find the right card than if he did.  Considering that I started out as a close up magician mostly focusing on card work I’ve already got a fairly impressive library of card material as is.  But there was something about 52 Pieces of Paper that caught my attention and it wasn’t the magic.  It was the talent.  Here I’ve got a 17 year old kid who has some serious performance skill putting out a DVD on one of the most beaten into the ground subjects in magic.  Either he’s naïve, delusional, or he’s got something to say on the subject.  I put my bets on the later and couldn’t have been more happier with the results.

The DVD follows the typical Demonstrate, Review/ Teach formula common with most magic DVD’s with a bit of an artistic flair.  After you see the demonstration the first time the video does a rewind complete with sound effect to repeat the demonstration over again before teaching the trick.  I’ve already said that I was impressed with Idan’s technical skills, but what I’m not overly impressed by was the material he’s teaching.  For the bulk of the DVD it wouldn’t appear that Idan is teaching material that he created.  Rather he’s teaching his variation of others material that he has been inspired from.  Granted he’s nice enough to site his sources of inspiration on everything he does but I’m not sure saying where you got the move from is the same thing as having permission to teach it.  Ethics start to get a little blurry here.  But since I’m not intimately familiar with all the original works he cites so I can’t say for myself if what he’s teaching is original enough to be his own or if he’s basically teaching the same thing, and since I write a review blog, not an ethics blog, I’m going to leave it at that.  His sources are well cited, and he’s clear (or at least his editing crew is) on whether or not the move he’s teaching was printed somewhere else or just inspired by something else.

Idan teaches you five different kinds of productions, five different moves, and five routines.  They range in difficulty levels, and I’m sure there’s going to be something in here for everyone.  This may not be a DVD you use every last bit of material in it for your act, but I’m confident that you’re going to find something in here you’ll like.  Personally I loved his Bazinga routine because of its comedic moments on the off beats.  Just to give you an idea of what this routine is about a card is selected, lost, and shuffled through the deck.  The top four cards on the deck are used to tell the performer something about the selected card.  The questions these top four cards reveal answers to are: Red or Black, Odd or Even, Spade/Club or Heart/Diamond, and finally what the card is.  All four cards turned over is the same identical card, and what is better the card is the spectators selected card.  Each time the card is revealed answering a question it is then turned face down, and pitched onto the table.  At the end the four cards on the table have become the four aces!  The effect ends with the spectators selected card becoming a card to impossible location effect.

I enjoyed 52 Pieces of Paper.  There’s a lot of great material in this DVD, and the bonus section has a couple palming variations that Idan talks about during his Moves portion of the video.  The tricks in this DVD range from the kinds of things you’d expect to find in a formal close up show, to things that you could do around the kitchen table to amaze your friends and family.  If you are into card magic, you may want to check this out.

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: 5
The price isn’t bad, and the magic is certainly usable. Lower than expected marks due to the ethics issue I personally have with teaching other peoples published work without expressing permissions were given.  Citing source is not the same as having permission, unless it’s public domain.  I don’t know enough about the source material to make any further judgment calls other than raising a cautionary eyebrow.

Teaching Quality: 7
Easy enough to follow along with.  The material ranges in difficulty.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
Sound and Video are both good.

Overall Quality: 7
52 Pieces of Paper is a solid card magic DVD, and Idan is a very skilled young magician.  Well worth taking a look at if you’re into card magic.

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!  Don’t forget to like my blog!

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Draven Reviews: Cards ‘N Logics

approved Title: Cards ‘N Logics
Artist: Nicolas Pierri
Retail Price: NOT OUT YET!
Learning Difficulty: Moderate
Length of DVD:  Aprox. 40 Minutes
Notes: This is a preview review of an upcoming trick!

Cards ‘N Logics comes from the working repertoire of magician Nicolas Pierri.  I’ve never heard of Nicolas before but after reviewing this material I’m interested to see where he goes from here.  The young man has quite a lot of talent and an eye for creative detail.

Cards ‘N Logics is a multi-phase complete card routine that could be preformed either in a formal setting, as part of a show, or in intimate impromptu close up.  The advertisements suggests that you don’t need roughing fluid, or have angle issues to worry about, which admittedly after watching the performance portion I wonder why these would even be items of concern in the first place?  I suppose this was included as sort of a way to make this sound more impressive.  I don’t know.  At any rate yes this is correct.  Angles are not a problem and you will not need roughing fluid for any of this.

The effect is called Cards ‘N Logic because the performance is structured like a bit of a sucker gag.  The magician prompts the spectator to answer simple questions based on observation that always turn out to be inaccurate because the magician has done a bit of sneaky business beforehand; ala Three Card Monte, Cups and Balls, Hopping Halves, Chop Cup, etc.  The performer corrects the spectator in their observations being logical, but not magical before revealing the changes that take place.

The routine opens with a psychological force that couldn’t be any more obvious even if you printed the answer on a baseball bat and beat the spectator over the head with it.  Nicolas teaches two different ways to do this force.  Saying his preferred method is better than his original one is like saying you prefer to be beaten with a wooden baseball bat instead of a metal one.  Fortunately the psychological force is really just a moot point.  In theory you could work with four of any kind of card the spectator mentions, you’d just prefer the force because it’s frankly less work.

So you start with a four of a kind assembly.  Now the way Nicolas does it is pretty casual and very open.  The deck is shuffled and ribbon spread face up on the table, a card is named (via psychological force), and he just picks up the deck, squares it, and then turns four of a kind over from the top of the deck.  There will be those who will love how incredibly casual this is.  I mean the spectator just shuffled the deck and somehow managed to shuffle four of a kind to the top of the deck before they even named them.  When you think about it it’s a pretty stunning revelation, but sadly the punch this should carry just seems to fall flat when he just flips the four top cards over revealing the four of a kind.  I really didn’t like this approach at all.  There are hundreds of ways to assemble four of a kind, so why not do this a little more magically than just turning over the top four cards?  I feel like a magical opportunity was missed here.

In the next phase of this routine we see selected cards magically turn over in the magicians hands as he just moves the cards from the top of the stack to the bottom ala Twisting the Aces.  It doesn’t seem to matter how many cards the magician has that are face up when he starts, they all end face down.  It defies logic that he should have this kind of control over these cards.

In the third phase of the routine the performer has three of his spectators’ select a single card each, holding back the spade for himself.  The performer shields his eyes to prevent accidently seeing the selections being made.  The performer returns all three cards to the stack, and turns them over showing his/her card (the spade) showing on the bottom.  The performer explains that rubbing the spade somehow makes it magical, and then magically causes their spade to turn into each of the other cards one at a time.

In the final phase of the routine the performer puts a single card on the table showing the spectator which card it is, and another matching in color is placed next to it face down.  The performer asks the spectator to identify which of the two cards on the table was the card shown to them.  They are of course wrong, it’s the other card.  The magician does this again only this time the two on the table switch places with the two in the performer’s hands while the spectator’s finger is still on them.

There is nothing new magic wise in Cards ‘N Logic.  It’s a psychological force into four of a kind assembly, with a variation of Twisting the Aces, and a splash of a four card transposition thrown in for good measure.  All of the different phases seen have been in existence before, and the sleights used to perform all of these miracles are all well known in the magic community.  What Cards ‘N Logic succeeds at is not providing a piece of card magic, though it does do that, but instead it does a better job at giving the viewer a prime example of how you can take fundamental sleights, classic routines, and blend them together into a single performance that can be quite enjoyable to watch.

Cards ‘N Logic suffers from some questionable scripting, which admittedly many magic tricks these days do, in so much as it relies on playfully challenging the spectators concept of reality and using sneaky business to ensure they have the wrong answers.  This of course is done in a tongue and cheek kind of way so it’s still fun and no one really feels like an idiot they are being made out to be.  Personally I’d throw out the entire logic of magic premise and just write a new script to suit my own personality.  But it is a fun routine from start to finish, and it is loaded with lots of magical moments that your audiences will marvel at.

The tutorial on the video is a little over a half hour long, and is crammed full of sleights.  Routine wise this is going to be quite heavy on the magical monkey business compared to some other card effects out there.  I think that is mostly because this is an amalgamation of multiple other card plots structured together into a single routine.  Fortunately I don’t think any of the sleights used are going to be too difficult for a beginner let alone someone who has been doing card magic for a while.  The video is in spoken Spanish with English subtitles.

I liked Cards ‘N Logic.  I thought it was a fun way to look back at some classic effects and figure out how to put a personal spin on them.  There is a lot to be gained from watching this video.  For the magicians who have been around card magic for a while you may enjoy seeing how Nicolas blends together classical effects to make something that is uniquely his own, while newer students of magic will find a treasure trove of essential utility moves.  There’s a little something for everyone in this product.  Nicolas has some creative ideas, and I do expect to see more from him in the future.  If you haven’t already, take a look at Cards ‘N Logics.  I think you’re going to like it.

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
I enjoyed the routine from front to back.  I think there are some obvious areas for improvement such as the four of a kind assembly, but I’m sure those will come on an individual level.

Teaching Quality: 6
I think the tutorial was well taught.  There’s a lot to learn here.  Great video for newer students of card magic.  There is a lot going on here.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
The sound and video wasn’t the best.  Certainly wasn’t studio HD quality.

Overall Quality: 7
Not a bad find.  It’s worth checking out especially if you are newer to card magic.

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!  Don’t forget to like my blog!

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Draven Reviews: Looking Glass 2.0

approved Title: Looking Glass 2.0
Artist: Romanos
Producers: Magic Tao
Retail Price: $29.95
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD:  1 Hour 8 Minutes
Includes:
•    Instructional DVD
•    Two Gimmicks

Features:
•    Play All
•    Props
•    Chapters
•    Credits

Looking Glass 2.0 by Romanos and Magic Tao is a great introduction to the use of Shiners for anyone who hasn’t worked with them before.  It even comes with a couple inside the DVD so you can start practicing right away.

The difficulty in writing this review is trying to describe the quality, and what you get without giving too much away.  Shiners have been used for many years and are referenced in a lot of work.  They’re a rather simple device to use, easy to conceal, and devastating in the amount of information they can give you when used proper.  Shiners were a tool of the crooked gambler long before they were secret devices used to aid magicians in their act.

Looking Glass 2.0 takes the subject of Shiners and gives you a great starting point for using them in your own act.  You’ll get a chance to see how they can be used for peeks which can translate into a whole range of different presentations.  Card tricks, to drawing duplications, to mentalism.  Shiners are a great item to have in your magician’s tool kit.

Included in the DVD are two different versions of a Shiner.  One is the standard version you may already be familiar with, and the other is a magnetic version that can attack to a PK ring, or any other magnetic sensitive ring you may have.  I understand that with the magnetic one they’re going for ease of use.  “Let the magnet do all the positioning work for you” kind of simplicity but honestly it’s not an improvement on the classic handling.  If anything the magnet just makes it more awkward, especially if you’re trying to conceal the “click” sound it makes when it attaches to your ring.

The quality of the Shiners included in the DVD is decent.  They are made from a hard plastic, so they won’t break or shatter the way glass would, and they don’t have particularly sharp edges the way metal ones might.  They are sized to fit perfectly into finger palm for most people, and take up very little pocket room.  Texture, and weight makes them easily identifiable by touch when you’re going into your pockets to retrieve them.  Since the Shiners are made from a thick hard plastic they don’t appear to be subject to being scratched easily.  I’ve rubbed them together against each other, against coins, and dropped them several times to test that for myself.  Without deliberate intent to try and break or scratch these things up they seem to hold up pretty well.  So for general use with proper attention to care and handling and I think you’ll have a product that will last you many years.  As for storage I keep mine in a small felt bag that was originally used to hold dice.  You can probably find these bags at any craft, hobby, or game store.

Shiners are kind of like a Swiss Army Knife when it comes to utility devices.  They are designed to help you peek at information without the spectator realizing it right from under their own noses.  This along with their compact size makes the range of applications infinitely useful from close up, to street, walk around, parlor, and even stage.  It’s really up to you to figure out what kind of magic you can create with the device, the DVD only gives you some good starting points to jump from.

If you’ve never worked with this kind of peek device before, pick up Looking Glass 2.0 and give it a chance.  These are quite useful little things and I think you’ll enjoy what you get.

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: 8
DVD is good, product holds up well under use, easy to use, and has a wide range of applications.

Teaching Quality: 8
There are a lot of different ways to apply this device to magic.  The DVD gives some great suggestions to get you started.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
Good sound and video.  No issues.

Overall Quality: 8
A solid 8!  This passes the Draven’s Seal of Approval with flying colors.

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!  Don’t forget to like my blog!

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Draven Reviews: Alchemist Screwdriver by SansMinds Magic

approved Title: Alchemist Series: Self-Bending Screwdriver
Artist: Taiwan Ben
Producers: SansMinds Magic
Retail Price: $129.95
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: 25 Minutes (aprox)
Notes: Includes two self-bending screwdrivers.
Includes:
•    Two Gimmicked Screwdrivers.  One that Self-Bends and One that Unbends by Itself.
•    Instructional DVD

Features:
•    Play All
•    Menu
•    SandsMinds Products
•    Trailers
•    Credits

What an interesting time we live in!  Magic previews are starting to get to the point where they almost look like movie trailers and that’s certainly the case with the trailer for SandsMinds new Alchemist series effect: Self-Bending Screwdriver.

The name leaves a little bit to be desired.  It’s not as flashy as some of the other products being put out by younger magicians.  I would have expected something that sounded more edgy that had nothing to do with what the effect was but Self-Bending Screwdriver has at least a mote of honesty in the name.  There’s no doubt at all to what you’re buying, a screwdriver that bends itself.

Self-bending items have been around for a few years now and other companies have put out products that behave similarly.  I’ve seen products like this take the form of paperclips, keys, nails, and of course silverware.  But a self-bending screwdriver… now that’s new.  The ideology behind why SandsMinds chose to make a screwdriver into a self-bending effect was interesting.  They say that when you think about a tool like a screwdriver you think of something that is used to manipulate other metal, and not something in itself to be easily manipulated.  I suppose they’ve got a bit of a point with that.

The screwdrivers themselves are pretty well made.  You get two of them in the set.  You get one that bends itself, and one that unbends.  They look identical so it’s possible to take out one, bend it, switch it, and then unbend it in one full unbroken routine. The only thing that bothers me a little about the screw drivers is that they look a little small to me.  They both fit inside the DVD case the video comes in.  Then again I don’t really work a lot with screw drivers so this maybe the right size for an all purpose flathead around the home general use.  I prefer the unbending one more just because it actually looks strait when you finish.  The bending one, once you’ve got it set up, even if you are careful about the setup, still has a sleight bend to it.  It may just be me but I think that’s a bit telling.

The method behind why the screwdriver bends itself works like a charm.  Sometimes products like this have to be kept in certain temperatures, but these seem to work just fine at room temperature where I live.  The plastic handles on the screwdrivers actually make it easier to handle them without causing the metal to bend.  Resetting them is fairly quick and easy.  I will throw in a word of caution though:  If you are under the age of 18 you may need your parents help with the resetting process as it involves using a product in a way that is expressly ill advised on the product label.  The metal holds its form quite well.  I’ve carried them around with me in my close up case for a couple hours now and I’ve not had any problems with the metal bending itself without my direct influence.

The DVD is well taught, and I don’t feel it ran too long with trivial extra information. I feel the boys over at SandsMinds did a good job of putting together the information, discussing how it is used, and giving you some ideas with how to play with it.

Whether you do this routine as a standalone, or you incorporate it with your other metal bending stuff the Alchemist Screwdriver is going to be a crowd pleaser.  The magic can happen in your hands or in their hands, which I think is even better.  There’s nothing to suspect, you start and end as clean as you can, and it will as good on stage as it does in close up.  The product does look like a small screw driver and has the right weight, feel, and texture that you’d expect to find from a real screwdriver.

If you are into self working metal bending effects this maybe the one to get.  If not for anything other than the amount of product you get for the price.  For a $130 bucks you get two screw drivers, where as other similar products are selling at anywhere from $100 to $200 dollars depending on where you look and what you are looking for.

Overall I have to say that I’m pleased with Alchemist: Self-Bending Screwdriver.  For what it is, what it does, and for how much you pay for it I think it’s a solid product.  I don’t do a lot of metal bending in my work, but this is certainly something that I’d add into the act if I wanted a little extra bang.  If you do perform metal bending then I would strongly encourage you to take a look at this.  You’re going to love it!

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: 8
Good price for what you get.  Well made.  Works, and stays stable in room temperature until needed to bend.

Teaching Quality: 8
Not a lot to say here.  It’s a tutorial.  It’s complete, and it doesn’t run on with too much needless information.

Video & Sound Quality: 8
Great sound and video.  Amazing trailer!

Overall Quality: 8
This is a fun little product.  I think metal benders are going to get some good use out of it, and it may just inspire others to start exploring metal bending as an act as well.

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