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December 2004 | Vol. III - No. 12
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December 2004 | Vol. III - No. 12
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Magic Sets: They Appeal Because “It’s Magic”


Article Synopsis

  • Harry Potter has revived children’s interest in magic sets.
  • Magic appeals to children’s desire to perform.
  • By showing tricks to an audience, kids improve their social skills.
  • Magic sets grow in complexity, creating ongoing appeal.
  • It is important to note the age appropriateness of tricks.
  • Many tricks involve household items or come in easily transportable bags.
“Pick a card, any card.” How many of us have heard this simple phrase from a trickster, who knows what card we picked, memorized, and replaced in the deck? Charm, social interaction and mystery blend in both simple and complex magic tricks that appeal to all ages.

The familiar magic wand and pronouncement of “abracadabra,” hallmarks of magicians everywhere, continue to find their way into new hands, aided recently by the Harry Potter series. Budding magicians interested because of Harry Potter, and their parents, can purchase Hogwarts wizard hats and any of an assortment of magic wands through their online store. In addition, Alivans (ToyShow) offers a wand care kit!

Van Taylor, product manager for Cadaco in Chicago, Ill., which has an extensive line of magic sets and items, says that his company’s collapsible magic hat is their most popular magic item. It pops open, and 25 tricks are included.

"Children love to perform especially when they feel that no one knows how they accomplished the trick," says John Reilly, director of sales promotion and public relations for KB Toys in Pittsfield, Mass. And when they perform, they also work on their social skills because of the interaction between the entertainer and the audience.

Children as young as four years old may have the ability to learn some of the simplest magic tricks, such as passing a ball through a cup. Yet that same trick has innumerable variations and can become more complex as a magician grows in years and ability, Taylor notes, which accounts for the ongoing appeal of many illusions. He adds that the idea of playing a trick, creating an illusion, appeals to all ages, and performing for others helps hone social skills.

To avoid any frustration by children using magic tricks and sets, it is important for purchasers, whether parents, relatives, or friends, “to know it´s age-appropriate,” notes Lars Larsen, vice president of sales for the John N. Hansen Co. in Millbrae, Calif., which includes providing magic sets for specialty markets as part of its manufacturing, distributing, and importing operations.

Parents often buy sets for their children, and Taylor notes that Cadaco magic, which includes lines from professional magicians Marshall Brodien and Lance Burton, have videos because seeing a trick performed is critical to being able to learn how to do it.

But, some magicians may wish for a book that gives details and step-by-step instructions on performing tricks. A revised edition of Mark Wilson´s Complete Course in Magic covers basic card tricks and advanced levitation as well as insight on putting on a magic show.

In addition to the flexibility of doing tricks with items found in every household such as coins or newspaper, many tricks or sets are easily carried around, and often come in their own box or bag. The color vision trick in which the magician can tell what color on a block faces up once placed in a box, or the ball that disappears and reappears inside a vase on a pedestal, are two of the easier “Bag of Tricks” offered by S.S. Adams Co. (ToyDirectory) in Neptune, N.J., a long-time manufacturer of novelties, pranks, and magic.

“Magic is ageless and captivates us all,” says Larsen, recalling a recent David Copperfield performance where he tried to see wires or any of the smallest hints of how his tricks work. Larsen didn’t.

After all, it’s magic!



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