Thursday, August 4, 2011

Murder By Magic Countdown, Nick Wenger is Awesome and REVIEW: Slingshot

Howdy, everyone!

As I write this, it's just a few days away from the day my Murder By Magic: The ULTIMATE Corporate Magic Show package jumps from the pre-release price of $795 to $995, so in case you've been debating, don't forget, the date is August 11, so order before then, save $200, and have an incredibly unique service you can offer clients for the upcoming holiday season! This month, usually a dead month for many magicians, I'm performing the show five times for a total of over $7000! (Hey, for a guy who is only part-time in the market, that ain't bad!) To put it in a different perspective, you should be able to cover the meager investment with ONE booking.

Here's the ad copy link:

Before I get into this week's review of Slingshot, I also want to throw a shout out to Nick Wenger, electronics God! (Nick is, along with Sean Bogunia and Tim Wisseman, the Holy Trinity of Electronics Magic!)

Anyway, after ordering Slingshot, I decided that the trick would be easier to do with a card fountain, so I had Nick build me a remote control card fountain. This sucker ROCKS! The cards shoot up 4-5 feet in the air, operation is silent, reliable as hell and sturdy, too. This is the third thing Nick's built for me and it's top-notch.I've had a hard time finding remote control card fountains online that were NOT built in China. As many magicians know, most anything built in China is mostly CRAP, so finding Nick was a blessing for me.

You can contact Nick Wenger at

Onto Slingshot! It's available from Hocus Pocus for $695.

You can read the ad copy and watch the video here:

EFFECT: A card is chosen and shuffled back into the pack. A large aluminum slingshot is shown and a spiked ball is placed into it. Spectator throws the cards into the air and magician shoots the spiked ball into them. One card is caught on one of the spikes. It's the chosen card.

WHAT YOU GET: You receive the slingshot itself with the leather holder and (attached) spiked ball. You also receive a DVD that explains the effect.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: This is a nicely produced DVD as Richard explains all of the nuances of the effect against a black background with white lights (stars) in the background. Its pleasing to the eye and looks good. Lighting and camera angles are good, too. Richard takes his time explaining the nuances of the effect, pro tips, troubleshooting and more. Great effort and much appreciated.

QUALITY OF PROPS: For $695, I expect a sturdy, well-built prop. The slingshot itself is terrific - it looks EVIL as hell and gets a great reaction when the audience sees it for the first time. The metal also is scratch resistent, so it should both last a long time and look great, too.

Unfortunately, the spike ball lost one of its spikes the first time I fired it. To be fair, Richard explains how to fix it in case this happens in the instructions. The repair process took me 2 minutes and cost $4, so it wound up not being a big deal, but it really bugged me coming out of the package.

Similarly, the leather harness (holder) came apart at one of the seams after rehearsing for a day. Again, this didn't even affect the performance of the effect but it's irritating.

ANGLES: Here's where this effect shines as opposed to card swords and other similar effects. If you're familiar with the card sword effect, you know that some models can have some angles issues and handling can be a chore. The angles on Slingshot are GREAT, and in many (not all) cases, you could pull this off surrounded. Distance would be a requirement for a surrounded performance, but with that ball bouncing around, you wouldn't want to do this in a living room anyway!

MY THOUGHTS: First of all, I bought this as an alternative to the card sword as I wanted a unique way to reveal a selected card and specifically, I bought this for audiences who have already seen my Pro Viper routine. I liked the quasi-danger aspect of the routine.

As I began working with the effect, I very quickly found out that this is NOT, repeat, NOT a "no skill required" trick. Quite frankly, I despise it when creators say that in ad copy as it implies that magic is easy to do and while it may be 'easy to do,' magic is NOT easy to PERFORM. It's like acting - anyone can recite lines in front of an audience or camera, but to PERFORM is exceedingly difficult.

Anyway, even if the trick WAS easy, I would hate the ad copy. However, the effect is NOT easy to do. Richard explains that you can't just pull back the ball and fire it through the slingshot - if you do, the ball will clang against the uprights and you will have a dead effect. Fair enough so the buyer should know this will require work.

Over the course of a few days, I used two full decks of cards practicing the effect. (Each time you use a card, it is ruined, so use cheap cards while rehearsing.)

The subtlety of aiming through (or rather higher than) the top of the slingshot's uprights proved to be quite challenging for me and it wasn't until I was up in around the 150 mark in terms of attempts that I found I could do it consistently. Be aware I am NT complaining and I am NOT saying this is a bad thing with the effect. Actually, I'm delighted that the required practice involved will keep this from turning into the Vanishing Bandanna of the 21st Century!

After all of that practice, i'm REALLY glad I got a Card Fountain as it makes the aiming part of the effect quite consistent as opposed to trying to compensate for a volunteer's clumsy toss of the deck.

After all of the rehearsal, I performed it for an actual audience for the first time yesterday and the response was terrific. I had developed a nice little routine designed for laughs and it went great.

MY RATING: Great effect and the main unit is well built. The instruction is quite good. I'll take 2 points off for the two repairs I had to make 8 out of 10.

Until next week...



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