Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sean Bogunia's Manual Ultimate Sketch Pad

Hey everybody,

I'm in Nebraska getting ready for a gig, but I'm committed to getting this review out as it's been over a week since my last post.

The item I'm reviewing has been out for quite a while, but I LOVE it and besides, some of the newer items I plan on reviewing will take a little while to get to me.

This week's review is The Manual Ultimate Sketch Pad by Sean Bogunia. It's available for $159.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the add copy:

This is it: the drawing pad that you have been waiting for!

Many customers have asked us over the years to make a MANUAL version of our Ultimate Sketch Pad. Well, here it is! This MANUAL version is a great option for those who want to perform this great effect, without the electronics. We have also included our improved mouth movement which really adds to the illusion!


Pick up an artist sketch pad any time during your performance and draw a face. Unexpectedly the Drawing suddenly becomes animated with eyes and mouth moving! After a conversation with your newly drawn friend, comes the killer ending...You lift up the single sheet of paper you drew the face on and tear it from the sketch pad in full view of the audience! NO SWITCHES! NO TRICKY MOVES! You tear out the actual drawing and can hand it to a spectator for a souvenir they will never forget!


Pad size is 11" wide and 14" tall, perfect for stage performances! Also, since this uses a real paper artist's pad, there is NO GLARE! Comes complete with everything you need for dozens of performances. Easily refillable with same size pad from any art supply store or from us! Also includes DVD instructions that include bonus tips for your pad!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You get the gimmick itself, attached to a sketch pad, all set to go. You also receive some replacement "eyes" and "mouth" in case you lose anything. Finally, you receive a DVD which explains it all.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Sean teaches his effects very well and this DVD is no exception. You get some ways to alter the basic movements of the eyes and mouth, presentational ideas and most importantly, how to change the gimmick from one pad of paper to another once you've run out. Finally, you also learn how to remove and handout the SAME paper that was just animating!! This is stunning and kills.

Sean also gives users an alternate to handing out the same paper by making use of a switch...personally, I found this technique to be a little harder so I never do it. Handing out the SAME paper that was just seen animating is stunning! It makes for a terrific souvenir, too.

I personally LOVE the Axtel drawing boards but feel Sean's creation edges it out because of the fact you can leave audiences with such a memorable momento.

DIFFICULTY: Surprisingly, this is dead easy, a 1 or 2 on the technical scale, allowing you to really concentrate on presentation. And most happily, changing the gimmick from one pad to another is simple, too. It only takes a couple of minutes, as the pad of paper itself is NOT altered in any way, but Sean's gimmick is simply attached to the pad.

MY THOUGHTS: I bought this several years ago when I was looking for a 'character' to interact with onstage. I had been using Rocky Raccoon, and for repeat audiences I will still use Rocky, but I decided on this based mostly from past experiences with Sean's products and the reaction, from the very first time I used it was unbelievable! Much of the time there is a learning curve once I put an effect into a show, an adjustment not so much of the physical skill to pull it off but more from a presentation standpoint.

For instance, the first few times I performed the Losander Floating Table, the response was rather tepid, forcing me to tweak my presentation (regardless of technique), but the Sketchpad killed right from the first show.

Angles are quite good, as once you have the techniques down, hiding the gaffus is quite easy as the sketch pad itself does much of this for you.

Additionally, I have done this in people's living rooms before, so distance to audience is more than acceptable.

Replacement sketch pads are available from Sean himself or from local art supply stores - they are readily available.

I've performed this somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 times or so over the last four years and it's been a highlight of my school shows constantly, with teachers raving about it and asking me how in the heck I did it. If I had to list my top five purchases EVER in the world of magic, THIS effect would be on it. This receives my highest recommendations. The ONLY reason I did not review it sooner is because I don't want every one and their uncle doing this.


Thanks for reading - it looks like I'll get this posted just in time before my battery on my laptop dies. (I forgot to pack my power cord!!)

Until next week...



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

REVIEW: Gypsy Balloon by Tony Clark

Hey everyone....

This blog will be shorter than most. I'm fighting a screaming headache and general exhaustion. Traveling kicks my butt so much lately. I don't know how my buddy Paul Romhany travels internationally like he does. His constitution must be amazing!!

Speaking of Paul, I have to say I was unbelievably flattered when he approached me to collaborate on his Headline Prediction - Pro Series book. My contribution for the headline prediction has a unique twist on it - you can, if you choose, allow audience members to choose WHICH headlines or even passages will be predicted!! It's a novel twist using my spin on a classic in mentalism.

Personally, I can't wait to read Paul's solutions to this plot as his thinking is always outside the box!

On to this week's review...Gypsy Balloon by Tony Clark. It's available for $24.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the ad copy:
Tony Clark has taken the classic Gypsy Thread routine to a whole new level and we're very excited to be able to offer it to you.!

Tony Clark says, "this is one of the strongest pieces I've ever created. I just used it to close my hit show "Masters of Magic" in the 1200 seat Montbleu theater in Lake Tahoe!"

"After seeing Tony do his Gypsy Balloon Routine, I was blown away. Tony has found a way to motivate and elevate the classic and powerful Gypsy Thread trick into a truly powerful piece of magic and theater. His routine is actually too good to release and I wish I had the exclusive rights to it. This is something I would put into my show immediately and I predict a lot of people will do just that."
-Danny Cole

"The Gypsy Thread is a classic routine that needed a face-lift and Tony did it! It has such a visual impact for all audiences, both young and old. If you are looking for a NEW exciting routine, this is it! Silent or with music - the Gypsy Balloon is the way to go"
-Brent Geris

** Includes 30 feet of thread - (Balloons not included)

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A very nicely produced (short) DVD and 30 feet of the string used for the effect.

QUALIITY OF INSTRUCTION: Even though the DVD is short, Tony teaches the effect very well. There's a reason why this guy has been a top name in magic for all these years. Tony tips a cheap, easy to find source for the helium for the effect, or if you're performing locally and you know where to grab a hellium balloon from a grocery store or party store, you may be able to use one of those.

I say "may" because a tad bit of care must be done when filling & tying off the balloon. This may preclude using a store bought, already filled balloon. I can't go into it more without risking exposure, but honestly, the helium Tony recommends is readily available and at $20 or so, quite a modest investment for the working pro.

DIFFICULTY: If you're familiar with the basic handling for Gypsy Thread, then you are already 3/4 of the way there for this effect. Tony's modifications to the handling by using the balloon actually makes the handling easier and of course the use of the balloon is inspired and a perfect way to do this effect on stage. It truly is an advance for a classical plot.

Also, I read a lot of talk on the Cafe (Yeck....) about how tough it was to break Tony's supplied string for the effect. All I can say is I had ZERO problems right out of the box. Nevertheless, if you don't care for Tony's string, options are available at your local craft store.

PRESENTATION: Tony provides two live videos of live performances. The performances are slightly different from each other and there is a cute laugh line in the presentation I really liked...and one I didn't like. The line is one I've heard a zillion magicians use and it always makes me roll my eyes...but then again, maybe Tony invented it and I've been hearing magicians rip him off for years, who knows?

MY THOUGHTS: Right away this goes on the short list for the best releases of 2012. (I didn't notice if this actually came out in 2011 or if that was a pre-release, so I'm counting it for 2012!)

I've been entranced with the effect ever since I first saw Eugene Burger's classic take on the effect with his powerful presentation that infused a lot of Eastern theology. Great stuff, but no way I was going to touch it! My own experience performing the effect was by using dental floss, an idea taught to me by kid magician guru Dave Risley. It was part of a dental hygiene show I did briefly and I've been looking for a presentation for large audiences for years and this totally fits the bill.

I can't wait to add this to my family shows. I highly recommend this! 10/10.

Here's a sneak peek of upcoming reviews (stuff I've bought). Not all are new releases but I'm really looking forward to exploring my 'dark side' with this stuff!

- Jitters by Peter Loughran
- The Black Box by John Kennedy
- Butchers Blade by Tim Wisseman
- Beware of Anvil by Anton Corradin