I’m going to talk about the Deluxe Pen thru Dollar as opposed to the Stealth Pen thru Dollar, and why they are at opposite ends of my arsenal of magic, as well as the Original Pen from Penguin. I’ll start with the Deluxe and say right off the bat, I don’t recommend it. The cons for this gimmick are: It is a silver, executive style pen, which they market as an advantage, but I find to be a disadvantage. This pen screams gimmick to the spectator. It almost looks like a magic trick. Performing this trick keeps the performer on the edge of his seat. It is a rough not-user-friendly trick to work with. If you are using an old dollar, or most any other form of paper (newspaper, magazine, etc.), and you pull the pen out, you are at risk for ripping it, simply because the gimmick is not even. (The reason it is not even is that the unevenness adds depth to the illusion of the pen sticking through.) For what I have done to somebody’s dollar, this is not worth it at all. Also, you are limited to jabbing the pen through the bill unfolded, which, while it is a still a good effect, makes the trick less gives the trick less variety. The instructions say that you can do the “bill folded around the pen and push the pen up” but honestly I haven’t had much success with this routine and doubt it could be pulled off realistically, as it can with the Stealth Pen thru Dollar. This trick claims to be fully examinable. Fully examinable – for any trick by the way, cards, coins, pens – should mean that the spectator could, in theory, take it home with them, break it apart and find nothing at all. Fully examinable means that whatever the gimmick was that accomplished the effect is the now gone completely. But there is something to find in the Deluxe, and though it is hard to find, I’ve had people find it! The pros for this gimmick are: A good effect, BRIEF examination, heavy duty quality, and one of the deepest cuts for the pen-thru effect, which is still more shallow than any of us would like. In the Deluxe Pen thru Dollar, the cons outweigh the pros, and especially owning the Stealth Pen thru Dollar, I cannot say that I will ever use it again. I give it a 3.
My opinion for the Stealth Pen is nearly opposite. It has its faults, but for all its appeals, the Stealth is definitely part of my absolute arsenal. The pros of this gimmick are: Obviously, the effect is outstanding. Sticking a pen through the dollar bill and pulling it out unharmed plays huge, if done with the correct presentation. It is an ordinary-looking, full-inked, Bic style pen that has a lot of credibility. One of the best parts about this effect, contrary to the Deluxe Pen thru Dollar is that the pen is 100% fully up for examination. There is absolutely nothing left for the spectators to find after the effect is done. In fact, if you have experience with the gimmick and handling, you can have it be fully examined both before and after the effect, which is great. There are a variety of ways you can send the pen through the bill. For one you can jab it through the bill with nothing hidden, or you can fold the bill and push the pen right up through it. These are equally great ways of performing the effect and when you do them back to back, the spectator has trouble forming theories of how the trick is done. The pen can penetrate through anything, as well. Take newspaper, computer paper, the bill, a card, even tissue paper! Finally, the price is less than the Deluxe Pen thru Dollar. It is a great effect for an affordable price. I love this gimmick and use it everywhere, leaving everyone who sees it completely baffled. The cons of this gimmick are: the extremely short distance the pen can go through the bill, which often leads to a lot of suspicion, the ditch of the gimmick, which requires a simple sleight, and the lack of quality of the pen, which as I mentioned, can actually serve as an advantage. I give it an 8.
The Original Pen thru Dollar is well made and has the nice effect. I have a lot of respect for the original but unfortunately it has become outdated. The pros of this gimmick are: This is the most common looking of all pen thru dollar effects because it actually uses a real type of pen, Papermate. The cut is nice and deep, and the pen does everything the Stealth Pen thru Dollar does except for the very serious drawback. The con of this gimmick is: It is not examinable. The Deluxe is kind of examinable, the Stealth fully examinable, but the Original Pen thru Dollar does require a switch to be handed out for examination. The switch is not hard. (Put the pen in your pocket, when they ask to see it, take it back out.) However, because of the alternative that the Stealth Pen provides, I can not recommend this to you most of all. If you are at a professional level of magic, I still do recommend this pen. Paradoxically speaking, the Deluxe Pen is better quality than this, but is more a ripoff than this. Still today I use this pen just for variation, and the switch works fine. I recommend it if you are really into the pen-thru stuff and want a variation. I give it a 5.
Note: Despite my differences in opinion for the Deluxe, Stealth, and Original Pen thru Dollar, both of these gimmicks accomplish the same effect using the same basic principle, as opposed to such tricks as Misled, Dough, and Just Passin’ Thru, also sold at Penguin Magic, which are also pen(cil)-thru effects, but are different methods. I decided not to include comparative reviews of these products, because they work differently. I may post reviews of them individually later, but if you’re shopping for a pen(cil)-thru effect right now, here is how I rank them best to worst: Stealth Pen, Misled, Just Passin’ Thru, Dough, Deluxe Pen.
(Tomorrow’s Review: Hopping Half)