It has been a LONG time since I have done a review on these forums (at least several months, if not longer). Well, I decided that from now on, I am only going to do reviews on products that I have either found incredibly spectacular or terrifyingly horrid. I have found that people do not really enjoy reading a long winded review if it is just basically to say that a trick is decent. If a trick is really horrid or really incredible, then a long review is justified as it allows you to see why.
I come back to write these reviews for a few reasons...
1) I see fewer and fewer reviews on the boards, and I would like to see more.
2) I found writing reviews a lot of fun and want to see if I still can.
3) To give people a sense about what I have been REALLY impressed or horribly disgusted by.
Well, I am happy to say that today, I am reviewing a product that I was INCREDIBLY impressed with. It is an eBook called "Primer" by Daniel Madison, and it is one that I was truly surprised to find that I would like so much.
So... without further ado, ON WITH THE REVIEW!
What Daniel and his other people say...Initial Thoughts:
Primer is a trick deck that has existed in Daniel Madison's repertoire for almost a decade. At first glance one may judge the deck as a 'beginners prop' but after using it I can say that this is a most powerful tool when performing. It achieves things, which in fairness can be achieved with a normal (modified) deck, but what's amazing about it is that it eliminates the sleights that at some point some of us could do without.
Wow. I did not have high hopes for this manuscript at all (I received it as part of Anthology, Daniel's big compilation). I assumed that it would be some filler, just another sleight modification to a pre-existing gaff deck that wouldn't really help anything. Calling it a "beginner's prop" in the advertisement also left me with less than high hopes for the deck.
Well, upon reading it for the first time, I could say that it was a REALLY clever idea. Not the most original gaffed deck, but the handlings included inside are GENIUS.The Deck Itself:
This deck, as I stated, is not the most original gaff deck. It is something that I have seen in many places before (Old Magazines, the same principal as Thomas Medina's "The Cardiologist Deck"). However, the amount of work and ideas that Daniel has put into the deck REALLY do really do show that he has been working this effect for a VERY long time.
Basically, before I go further, what the deck allows you to do, in of itself, is have anyone choose a card. As soon as they look at it, with NO moves, no controls, you are INSTANTLY in control of that card. SUPER practical, and something that you WILL use.Making The Deck:
This IS an eBook, so it does require that you make your own gaff deck. The good news is that making this deck does not require going to a magic shop or spending money on extra props. You can head over to a grocery store and spend $5-$6 to make TWO of these. It is really easy to make and incredibly cheap.The Handlings:
This deck, again, is not original to Daniel Madison. However, the handlings that he and Randall Freeman have come up with in this manuscript really set this deck apart and REALLY make me want to go out and use it.
Again, without knowing exactly how the deck works or the exact idiosyncrasies that Daniel has put in place with these routines, it is hard to know exactly how valuable they are if you do not own them. However, I will do my best do describe my thoughts on each one in the way that I think of them.READER:
This is the classic, "You choose a card while I am turned around, and as SOON as you take it, I know what it is." type of thing. While simple (and obvious, when you know the secret to the deck), this is INCREDIBLY powerful. I used to do an un-gimmicked peek with a normal deck that FRIES laypeople, so I imagine this would be EVEN more powerful. Plus, if I am ever asked again "Well, name MY card!" I can now be prepared to do it.STOLEN:
This is probably my favorite of all the effects. Again, SUPER simple, but the concept is genius. Basically, the spectator grabs a card, shows it around. The magician very fairly vanishes the card, and without ANY moves, it is sticking halfway out of the magicians pocket. REALLY powerful, and one that I WILL perform. Plus, it requires no palms or funny steals; the move happens under PERFECT misdirection.IMPOSSIBLE TRANSPO:
This is a simple transpo, just done with this gaffed deck. The benefit to doing it this way is that they hold on to their card until the final moment of the transpo, where it changes. Very fair looking and subtly a LOT more powerful than most transpositions. RESET:
This one is a bit hard to describe. Basically, the top and bottom cards of the deck are shown. The top card is fairly placed on the table and the deck is dribbled on top. The top card of the dribble is then turned over and shown to be the same card that the cards were just dribbled on top of, and the bottom card of the deck (the original top card) is shown to have never changed.
As I said, it is hard to describe but very clear in performance. This works very well as a standalone, as an ambitious card move (if you can do an ambitious card with this deck) and just as an awesome part of any routine. VERY easy, as with everything.OUT:
This is kind of like an in the hands "CLUTCH" by Oz Pearlman. Basically, the spectator takes out a card. The deck is put inside the box and the spectator is invited to push their card ANYWHERE in the center and close the case. The spectator holds on to the case, and the magician GRABS it out of their hand; the selected card somehow remains in their hand.
WOW. This is a cool effect, and one that has every element that I believe it takes to create a good magic trick. The concept is simple, fast and VERY visual. You have the TOTAL element of surprise here, which is always good. Like any other effect with this deck, it is practically sleightless and VERY direct.UNDER:
This is just another method for Card Under Glass, but because of the deck, makes it more direct, easy and more believable. Big fan of this effect and I think that it is a great way to build up confidence if you do not already do any card under glass work.PREDICTION:
Basically, an envelope (sealed or not) is set on the table before you begin. The spectator chooses a card (no force) and the envelope is opened to show that it has held the same card the spectator chose.
This is pure awesome. I LOVE the effect and how direct it is. VERY powerful, and again, dead easy.MR. WRITER:
This is a REALLY cool effect, reminiscent of one called "Punched Transpo" by Jay Sankey. Basically, the idea is that you show a card and write its value on the back. You do the same with another card. In an attempt to make them "switch places", you accidentally cause the fronts of the cards to switch (leaving each card with the other's value and suit on the back).
I like this one a lot, and it is practical to do. You DO have to ruin two cards every time you do this, but they are easy to replace as these decks are cheap to make.FLUSH:
This one is one that I wasn't SUPER crazy about, but even Daniel says in the instruction that he "only performs this when the time is right". The effect is that you have a spectator choose a card, and then they put it back in the middle. When they check THEIR back pocket, it is their card. It's neat, but again, the handling is a little too.... "cozy" for me. There is ample misdirection for the "put-pocketing", but if you get it wrong, it's bad.VANISH:
This is a clever application for using this deck to do an interesting transposition. Basically, the spectator chooses a card, which is lost in the deck. With no moves, the selection is shown (no force) to be in the performers pocket. The magician explains that it works both ways, putting the selection back inside the pocket, only to later show that in his hand, he only holds the selection as the rest of the deck is now in his pocket.
This is really neat, but requires a few more sleights than any of the other handlings. It is very worth the effort (as this is a HUGE fooler), but again, is not as sleightless or self working as the other effects in this manuscript.Subtleties:
Daniel really does give this deck subtleties that it never had before. He explains how you can show the deck (which you couldn't originally) and he also explains different ways to convince the audience that the deck is normal. While the deck isn't examinable, because the effect takes place with a specific card, no heat is on the deck anyway.Overall:
This is an INCREDIBLY good value (particularly if you get it with Daniel Madison's "Inside" or "Anthology" books). I am a huge fan of this deck, and I can easily see it joining me repitoire very soon and I HIGHLY recommend it. I think stating it as a "beginner's deck" is something of a misnomer as it can (and probably will) easily find its way into my professional gigs.You can find this at Lybrary or on Daniel Madison's personal website.