Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Reviews: Ker-Plunk Magic Wand & The Big Reaction

Welcome, loyal readers!

This week I'm getting right to it as I have two reviews - the reason being neither review will take a tremendous amount of time to get to it.

the first is Tommy James' Comedy Ker-Plunk Wand, available for $52.00 from Hocus Pocus.

Here's the ad copy:

Its wacky, hysterical and klutzy! Its the Tommy James Comedy Ker PLUNK Wand!

Effect: A blue draw-string bag is tucked under your arm. Tell the kids you can't find your magic wand and that you always keep it in a blue bag. The kids will shout it is under your arm. You look under the other arm, but it is not there. The kids tell you to look under the other arm! You state "This IS my other arm!"

After some more antics, you eventually discover the blue bag but are disappointed because the only thing in the blue bag is a RED bag. Remove the red bag. The kids tell you to look in the red bag. Out of the red bag you pull a GREEN bag. Once again the kids will tell you to look in the GREEN bag. Finally remove the wand from the green bag.

State that this wand is the most powerful wand in the whole world. You wave the wand to make some magic happen but to your surprise ker-plunk!. . . the tip falls off the end of the wand onto the floor! You replace it but it does it again and again. Then the tip is stuck to your finger. You don't see it, but the kids do and are quick to let you know. You pull the tip from your finger but oh no, you pulled your finger off! (Don't worry, you replace it. Whew!)

Now you can't find the tip but the kids inform you it is hanging off the end of the wand, dangling from side to side! Finally you have all the kids wiggle their fingers at the wand and say the magic words. To everyone's surprise, in an animated motion the tip moves and POPS up and back onto the wand all by itself! The kids have done the magic and fixed the wand! You may now use the wand in your favorite routine.

Wand is 15" long and 3/4" diameter, black with silver prism tips. Very easy to operate. Complete with three satin drawstring bags, magic wand and Tommy's full routine. A guaranteed hit at your next kid show!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The wand, three satin bags, and written instructions with routine ideas and additional ideas from other performers.

MY THOUGHTS: I LOVE this! This wand is extremely well-made. This looks like something that took quite a while to make. If Tommy is making these in his house, I'm extremely impressed. Regardless, while 50 bucks may seem like a lot for a comedy magic wand, this is very well thought out and this will play great for kids' shows. I'm doing this for the first time at tomorrow's school shows.

A quick note - the last item I reviewed of Tommy James was his Read to Achieve DVD and I came down pretty hard on Tommy for some of his humor as I felt some of it was mean spirited towards kids. One of the things that frustrated me so much about it is that other than those bits, Tommy is a FANTASTIC performer, one of the best school show magicians I've seen - great messages, great magic and a lot of fun.

I know the forum crowd came down on me pretty hard, and while I still think Tommy's humor is sometimes rough for kids' shows, make no bones about it - he puts on a GREAT school show and puts out great props. I LOVE this wand and will be picking up Tommy's Production Tubes very soon as the look and feel of the prop is unbelievable and a great value.

My rating: 10/10. If you do kids' shows, buy this wand!! I can see this little baby getting several minutes of fun for me on stage!

UPDATE: I performed this in front of 300 kids in my school show on Friday and as expected, this routine KILLED. I say "routine" because rather than just one gag repeated ad nauseum (like the 'classic' breakaway wand) Tommy's creation has a structures beginning middle and end with several different bits of business. I LOVE this.

The second item this week is Andy Nyman's Big Reaction, available from Hocus Pocus for $39.95.

Here's the ad copy:

The magician has several spectators "create" a card by naming each piece of the card, such as the color, suit and value. They are told that if the magician gets the effect wrong, they can "BOO" him and if he gets it correct, they can all "GO CRAZY" with the cheers and applause.

The magician then goes thru the face up deck and finds the card that was named and it is placed aside.

The backs of all of the other cards are shown to have the word "BOO" written on the back of each one. The attention is returned to the chosen card and in a different colored ink, the words "GO CRAZY" are written on the back of the chosen card.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The DVD and special playing cards.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: This really shines as while the DVD is short, around 15 minutes or so, Andy gives users some really great real-world advice in terms of why he changes the original Roy Johnson premise so there is not a feeling of letdown once the effect is done. The effect also serves beautifully for an opener or closer during a strolling/closeup set.

The production values of the DVD are nothing to write home about but it's OK, does the job and more importantly, based on the real world tips, tricks and techniques Andy tips, you KNOW he's done this trick hundreds and hundreds of times.

DIFFICULTY: This effect is extremely easy to do from a technical standpoint. You'll need a bit of spectator management skills to keep people from grabbing the cards, but even that is simple.

Also, Andy talks about a crucial acting tip to help 'sell' the deck as normal, which it is not.

MY THOUGHTS: Here, I will break in and say that this effect is WONDERFUL...for workers. What I mean by this is this: you cannot let spectators examine the deck. There's no rough and smooth and no ultra thin cards, but there is something the spectators cannot check out about the cards.

What this means is, this is NOT the effect to invest in if you are a hobbyist looking to amuse your friends. I know when I was just performing for friends, everyone wanted to check everything out. When you're a hobbyist performing for friends, it seems they want to get 'all grabby' with props. That's my experience from years past and judging by the questions people are asking on the forums about this effect, it seems that "inspectability" is a concern. So don't get this for your friends.

However, if you're a working pro, this is AWESOME! In my experience, performing strolling magic for corporate audiences, with one notable drunken spectator exception, no one ever wants to check things out. Most are amused and willing to play along and if they are not, I can walk away, the beauty of corporate strolling work!!

I only do around 10 or so strolling gigs a year these days as I vastly prefer stage work but nonetheless, at each of those gigs I may perform an effect 30 or so times, so about twice a year I get an urge to try out some new closeup effects.

With all that in mind, I cannot wait to add this to my strolling act. There are no re-set issues (resets instantly) and no technical demands. The premise is easy to understand and making the chosen card RED really "pops!"

Add all that to the fact that the card chosen is 100% a free choice and they CAN hold the selection makes this a no-brainer.

Rating: 10/10 for pros and 4/10 for amateurs only because the deck cannot be examined.

Thanks for reading!

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