We always get round-ups of the best gifts to buy someone for the holidays. We don’t need another one of those. So instead I’ve gathered here a few of the least essential magic gifts to put on your wishlist or buy for your magic friends.
Guys, please, whatever you do. Don’t tell me how this works. Please! You promise you won’t, right? Not that you’re going to have any idea anyway. I just don’t want someone to spoil this mystery for me. It’s not often that I get to feel truly enchanted by something but this is just the definition of magical.
This is, perhaps, the only trick I’ve ever seen where—if you didn’t tell someone you were doing a trick—they would have no clue that’s what you thought you were doing. “Oh, he pulled a shitty looking mop with a telescoping handle out of a decent sized box. Okay.”
I may do a round-up of the 2019 Tenyo line at some point if I get my hands on them all. But here’s a sneak-peek: this one is dogshit. An obviously fake bar of chocolate that can’t be looked at in any manner by the spectator. It might make some sense if you appeared to bite the piece off, but you can’t do that convincingly either.
The only thing of any potential interest in this is the secret, and even that isn’t very interesting.
So you have a fake looking prop that can’t be looked at before or after. This is the type of trick where the best thing you can hope for is total indifference by the spectator because if they take any interest at all in what you’re showing them, the trick will fall completely apart. The second they realize it’s not real chocolate (which is the second they look at it), they will know that it’s just a plastic gimmick and realize if they had one moment to look at it, they’d figure it out. In some Tenyo tricks, some suspicion of the props isn’t a bad thing. With Burglar Ball, for instance, I want them to think this is some little toy and an “obvious trick,” because when it turns out they can examine everything at the end, that fools them extra hard.
With this, they think it’s just an obvious plastic gimmick (which it is) and the moment they say, “Wait, let me see,” your only defense is tell yell NO, tell them you’re not okay with it, and run the other way. Quite literally, you have to treat them showing any interest in the prop as you would a potential sexual assault.
I like Michael Ammar quite a bit, but I’ll be honest, they’d have to pay me a lot more than $40 to hang a poster of him on my wall.
They want me to pay the $40? Yeah, that’s going to be a hard pass on that one I’m afraid.
As I said once before:
“[Having that poster in your bedroom] would fuck you up. He may have some Easy to Master Card Miracles, but frankly, I think it would be a Miracle if you find it Easy to Masturbate in the presence of that gleaming melon of his.“
As that link shows, I’ve officially been making fun of the idea of a Michael Ammar poster for 14 years now. It’s a rich life.
In the 90s, this depressingly shitty pattern was used on Solo cups. In 2015 their was a brief resurgence in the popularity of the pattern as people went though a “hey, remember this shit?” period with it. The pattern was put on shoes, t-shirts, and sweatshirts. Then, with typical magician timing, three years after the revival came and went, someone released a deck of cards with that pattern on it.
Of course, if you have an affinity or nostalgia for this pattern, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s always funny to me to read something as in the ad for this deck which says “Limited Edition of 6000.” If you had asked me, “How many people are there who would want a deck of cards with a pattern on the back that looks like an old paper cup?” I would have said, “Somewhere between three and six?” The fact they made 6000 of these things is mind-boggling to me. But good for them. I hope they sell every one.
As reader L.J. wrote when he proposed this product to me as being one of the least essential: “When magicians do predictions we want something that really touches people on an emotional level. What better than predicting which bolt a spectator unscrews from 5 numbered bolts affixed to the upper portion of a 17cm aluminum plate?”
So true. This hits people right in the heart because it deals with something people actually care about. Bolts and aluminum plates. Surely you’d want to lug this around for the opportunity to show someone a 1 in 5 chance. There’s no response to an effect a magician likes more than, “Oh, so does everyone say ‘3’?”
I like to up the emotional resonance with this fun patter line. “I want you to imagine your child died in a plane crash. This is a piece of the wreckage. The plane crashed because a crucial bolt was missing. How many times do you think your son screamed your name as the plane went down? Three? Well, believe it or not that’s the one that’s missing.”
The video makes this look even more magical than you’re imagining it. The magician only has to fiddle around behind the metal sheet for 20 seconds before doing the reveal.
The nice thing about is, when someone say, “What is the point of the top row of bolts anyway? Why not just have the numbers and the five covered bolts below them? Is it because you had to do something in the back while you were pretending to unscrew the bolt?” The prop is the perfect size and weight to pick up and smash them in the skull with.
For my money, there is no better way to accidentally set fire to your head than with the Combustible Hat by A House of Fire.
I realize “Combustible Hat” sounds like a joke product I would make up. It’s not.
I encourage you to visit A House of Fire to check out their other products. There’s genuinely nothing but compliments about this guy’s stuff on the Cafe. I just don’t trust myself with a combustible hat.
Be warned, the website looks like it hasn’t been updated in 30 years. But that’s before websites existed. Yeah, that’s my point.
But it’s worth the visit anyway. This guy is a great character. Like out of a Tim and Eric sketch. He has a new fan in me.
That’s it for this year’s list except for one more least essential item—perhaps the very least essential— that I’m putting out and which will be announced on this site next week. Just in time for Christmas. Stay tuned.