December 30th, 2002 11:10pm
|The concept for "Explosive Card Rise" is a good one. And if you are a collector, you will probably appreciate the beautiful look of this prop.
But as a working magician, this just doesn't cut it for me.
Be aware that this uses REAL pyrotechnics. Flash paper, flash powder, smoke powder, and flash string are all required for this trick. And there is extensive set-up. It initially took me about 1/2 hour to set this up, but I soon had it down to about 6 minutes.
When the prop blows apart, it REALLY blows apart. Pieces fly everywhere, and it could be very easy to lose something. I went through two lost firing springs before I realized that the spring really isn't needed, and that the force of the blast is enough to scatter the cards. Eliminating the spring also greatly simplifies setup.
The biggest drawback is that the thing doesn't always work. And when I'm doing a show, I need a reliable prop. The firing mechanism is a glow plug, like those found in model airplanes. The explosion that causes the cards to scatter also fouls the plug with carbon. After a time or two, it needs to be cleaned, and the only way to do so is to dismantle the whole thing, which is quite a chore. I tried using brushes and cleaning solvents to avoid having to do this, but the only sure thing was to take it apart. The same soot and carbon will dirty the nice golden finish of the houlette pices. You will also go through a lot of decks doing this trick, as the combination of the explosion along with cards flying about will ruin them in a hurry.
In addition, the plug works via SMALL leads (wires). If one of these breaks, you have to replace it with a new plug.
But let's assume you get past that. How does it perform otherwise? Well, the first time out it worked as planned, but the resulting explosion created so much soot and carbon that it dirtied the selected card. Not a major problem, but I did have to wipe it off so it could be identified, and that took away from the pacing and may have looked suspicious to the sudience.
Next time, the chosen card flew off along with the rest of the deck. It's supposed to be held on with wax (guess what? Hot flash paper melts wax!), but I decided to do away with the signing and permanently attached a duplicate force card to the back plate of the houlette (the only part of the houlette that doesn't fly apart is the back, which stays intact)
Third time out, the bottom wooden frame of the houlette broke; the rear ledge actually fell off when the rest of the houlette blew apart. Since this supported the aforementioned back plate, the plate fell off, too, and there was no revelation. My solution? I screwed the back plate permanently to the houlete base (I think this should have been done upon original construction, and I would advise anyone buying this trick to attach it right away with a few screws or small nails).
Admittedly, much of this was just part of the "learning curve" of a new effect. But the reliability issue is a major one. Until the problem with the fouling plug can be addressed, or a new firing mechanism is developed for this trick, I would not recommend it for anything other than a nice collectors' piece.
Product info for Explosive Card Rise
Author: Vinson & McKeePublisher: VikingAverage Rating: (1)Retail Price: $325.00
A beautifully crafted wooden houlette is shown. The houlette is crafted from polished hardwood with gold, black and copper trim. First class all the way. A card is selected from a shuffled deck. The card is shuffled backin the deck. The deck is placed in the houlette. So far, nothing special. You command the card to rise from the deck. Nothing happens. You say the magic words and comnad the card to rise. Still nothing. You wave your magic wand and say the magic words and do a little magic dance. Still nothing. Bummer. In complete frustration, you bring out an explosive plunger box. You know, the same kind they use in Roadrunner cartoons. Hook the wires up from the plunger box to the base of the houlette stand. Push the plunger and BLAM. A flash and a puff of smoke and the houlette is blown to pieces, leaving but one card standing. Of course, it is the signed, selected card.