Throughout history, pulling a rabbit from a hat has fascinated people. Young and old always want to know "how it's done." Now, toy companies are making it easier to learn the secrets of legerdemain, by producing magic tricks and kits for everyone. TDmonthly Magazine put this to the test by handing six of these kits over to an 11-year-old, Maggie, and a 15-year-old, Nick, and seeing if they liked them, or wanted to "make them disappear."
| “The [Street Magic] directions were hard to understand. It was like reading and guessing.” — Nick, a 15-year-old
First put to the test was the Magic Baseball Cap from the Street Magic line by Drumond Park Ltd. (distributed by First for Magic). The kit includes a DVD explaining how to prestidigitate with the enclosed props.
As magician Dick Stoner of Stoner's Fun Stores in Fort Wayne, Ind. explained to TDmonthly, "These are the types of tricks you do up close for people." He encourages introducing kids as young as 6 years old to magic. "They enjoy it and it develops confidence."
When put to the test, Maggie was able to do some of the tricks, although not smoothly. She liked using the cap to make things disappear. The 15-year-old, Nick, was disappointed that the instructions to levitate really didn't make anyone appear to leave the ground.
"Street Magic was just way too hard," he said. "I couldn't figure out how to do any of the tricks. The directions were hard to understand. It was like reading and guessing."
The tricks in the Instant Magic 150 Trick Kit by International Playthings (ToyDirectory), however, were a hit. The clear instructions came with easy-to-follow drawings. And though some tricks required materials from home, substitutions could easily be made for items not on hand.
A coin box trick that made coins change was the favorite of Nick and his two friends. "It was a good trick and believable," Nick said.
"My favorite was the rabbits multiplying," Maggie said. "I did it for my friends and tricked them. They thought it was great!"
Sue Tice, public relations director for International Playthings, told TDmonthly, "The sets are designed so that a child can read the instructions for one trick and be able to perform it right afterward."
This did not appear to be the case for Marshal Brodien's Magic Show by Cadaco. The company sent four different kits, including My First Magic Set for ages 4 and up, and three different Magic Show kits, two with secrets to 25 tricks and one with 100. One of the 25-trick kits featured the Changing Places Illusion and the other featured the Drawer Box. The 100-trick kit featured the tricks Block Through the Wand, Production Box and Disappearing Juice. Though Maggie appreciated the high-quality materials, she found the tricks too difficult. "The stuff was sturdy and I liked that, but the tricks were too hard. An adult would have to do them," Maggie said.
Nick was turned off by the packaging and merely glanced over the product, which also failed to hold his interest. Reading briefly through the directions, he said they were confusing.
Robert Bokor, president of Abracadabra Magic, an online retailer in Middlesex, N.J., prefers to individually select tricks specifically for the customer. He doesn't believe all of the items are age-appropriate in a box of many tricks. "For example, if the set states 8 years and up, many of the items will not be able to be performed by an 8-year-old," Bokor said. "And if you are buying this for a 12- or 13-year-old, some tricks may look like toys, which a 13-year-old will not find appropriate."
The following is more information about the products reviewed in this article.
This magic kit includes the materials and written instructions for tricks that range from easy to somewhat difficult. It comes equipped with an enchanted wand, easy instructions, cups and balls, cards, rope tricks, coin tricks and much, much more. Also included is an easy-to-understand instruction booklet with step-by-step illustrations for the up-and-coming magician to share with no one.