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BioBender (Gimmick and Online Instructions) Review

Official Review

December 24th, 2016 8:51pm
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
I am not into metal bending all that much because it does not fit my style or character - even in my pure mentalism shows. However, there is absolutely no denying the strength of such things, especially when you bend a borrowed object (which is very personal to the lender) and that object is impossible to bend (they intuitively know that keys, coins, silverware are "impossible" to bend). It is made that much stronger if it happens in 'their' hands. This system is yet another method that allows you to do just that, so if you are into metal bending, is this for you? Let us take a closer look.

First off you get a very nice box which contains two gimmicks, a nice little two-headed keychain screwdriver and the link to the streaming instruction video which can also be downloaded. The video is very good quality with good video, audio and lighting and there is a menu on the website that allows you to play the whole video or choose a particular section to watch. If you download it you will not have that option. The camera work on this video is a little bit iffy sometimes but I will get to that later.

I want to tackle the ad copy here for a minute: I want to clarify that later on I will be talking about thumb tips here and because they tell you exactly what the gimmick is and the ad trailer shows you the actual gimmicks, I am not revealing anything. There is a line in the ad copy that, while I do not feel they meant it to be deceptive, could lead someone to think that this is a mechanical or automatic thing: "...Bio Bender secretly creates the bend so you can produce the magic." To clarify, this does not do everything for you (it is NOT automatic) and you have to actually provide the "motive power" - more on that later. The last thing I want to clarify - Again not deceptive but it could cause you to think you are missing something when you look in the box. The two relevant statements in the ad copy are where it says that this includes: "Two precision engineered modular gimmicks...Two thumb tips..." To clarify: The gimmicks and the thumb tips are one unit - one gimmick is attached to one thumb tip and you get two identical gimmicks. There is one thing in the ad copy which I appreciate - they had the foresight to tell you the thickness of coins that can be bent with these gimmicks, which is 2 millimeters.

As far as the quality of the gimmicks, they are very well made and should last a long, long time. The thumb tips they used for these are Vernet and they attempted to match the thumb size of the "average" person, which means these thumb tips may or may not fit on your thumb very well. I can appreciate this train of thought and this product will not take a hit in rating for that because we are all made differently and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all thumb tip. If you have to buy bigger ones for this it is not going to set you back even tens of dollars - less than $10/USD in fact. Now, keep in mind that these are not supposed to fit on your thumb like a regular TT - only up to the first joint of the thumb. That being said, the TTs in the box barely fit the tip of my thumbs. Eric does give you a couple of ways to make them larger first before you have to resort to spending a couple of extra dollars to replace them with larger or smaller ones that fit. Should you need to replace the thumbtips over time from wear and tear or because they are not the right size for you, the included screwdriver will allow you to transfer the gimmicks easily. Eric also shows you how to do this in the video.

Using these gimmicks to actually bend a coin is quite easy (it really does not take a lot of effort and even a 10-year old could easily use this), but that also depends on the coin that you are using. Eric shows you a wide variety of U.S and foreign coins that will and will not work with these gimmicks. I want to focus on the U.S. coins for a moment. First of all, dollar coins and half dollars will not work (who would really want to bend those anyway?) and all other coins will fit just fine BUT I did find that the American $.5 (the nickel) is hit or miss. I grabbed 10 random nickels out of a change jar to test the gimmicks and only 4 of them fit the gimmicks; the other 6 were just a tad too thick. The nickels that did fit were a little bit difficult to bend because of the thickness. I found the easiest to bend was the American penny and the American quarter ($.25), but the quarter can be tricky if you are not careful. The dime ($.10) was easy to bend but it does not bend as "smoothly" as the others - more on that in a second. Also, the nickels that did fit in the gimmick really pushed them to a limit as far as the fulcrum action goes - I could feel the screws being pushed and pulled from the effort it took to bend them.

The design of this gimmick gives you a nice round bend in the coins as opposed to the staple-shaped bend that many others produce (think of how a staple has two vertical ends and one horizontal piece). I found that the gimmicks have to be lined up close to what you might call "mouth-to-mouth" in order to get the smooth bend in the coins; if they are not you will get something more like that staple-shape. I also found that the dime does not bend with a curve because of its small size but ends up rather like a tent shape (or an upside down 'V').

Here is where we get to something that kind of disappointed me, and that is the quality of the instructions. Normally Eric is a very thorough teacher and leaves nothing to be desired, but that is not quite the case here. I really like Eric and I am a huge fan of his work and his other products, but I am calling it the way I see it here. The instructions were not as detailed as they should have been. He talks a lot about the fit of the thumb tips and why they need to fit that way, but when it came to actual instruction for the working aspects of the effect, you are left on your own to figure this out. He talks about getting into the effects, about bringing the gimmicks into play and taking them out of play but here is the rub: He never show you how to do the latter two. There is one part where he shows you how to hold the gimmicks properly prior to taking the coin from the spectator and getting into the gimmick, but he does not show you how he brings them into play and gets them out of play after the bend is done.

You do get a couple of live performances but only in one of them do you see him doing the bending and (sort of) the ditching actions, but for the most part he is out of frame...a lot. That, to me, is concerning because normally that leads me to believe that this would look horrible in a live situation. It may not, but how is a viewer to judge that because you cannot see all of the actions of the performer? I am okay with magic books and videos leaving certain details out and leaving the reader/viewer to figure it out on their own - it challenges your creativity, but this is something that needed more detail than was given. The way that these gimmicks are made, there is no way you can "hide them in plain sight" and in a natural way as you do in wearing a normal TT. For the actual bending action, Eric shows you what you should do and it is a smart action, and watching the performances he literally seemed to bring the gimmicks into play, do the dirty work AND ditch the gimmicks in the small amount of time it takes a spectator to cap a marker. That is a gargantuan effort if not speedy, but what are the specifics of what needs to be done? I have no clue, because you could not see him during these moments, and he never details them (except for the aforementioned 'smart action') in the instructions. You know he has ditched the gimmicks because for the rest of the effect immediately following this you clearly see his hands and thumbs absolutely empty and very clean.

He does give you a couple of different ways to do the effect, including a way to do it in your own hands if you want and how to do it in the hands of a spectator. He talks a little bit about different ways to get into the effect as well. He mentions but does not show you that these gimmicks can bend a key as well, which only requires one of the gimmicks.

There is one more point that he keeps mentioning (thought not in a deceptive manner) that bugs me. He talks about how he came to develop these gimmicks, and his history/crediting is very good as always, and one of his goals was to have something that he did not have to ditch or 'get rid of' at the end. Say what? As I already said, there is absolutely no way to leave these on your thumbs and hide them like a normal TT, and he clearly ditches them in the performances because he finishes the effect in the live performances with very clean hands. Either way, you 'are' ditching something. So, if you are not 'ditching' these, how do you hide them after you use them? Beats me.

One more quick aside about the thickness of the coins: In Europe and the UK you will be quite limited to the coins that can be used with these gimmicks. The rest of the world is in the same boat, so if you decide to buy this check out my note below first.

I really think the idea behind this version of a coin bend is good but if I were to use it, they would be too bulky for my tastes. Personally I would prefer something more streamlined, such as one of the versions that inspired this design - the Roy Kueppers Super Man Coin Bend. If you are familiar with that version, you will readily recognize the design inspiration with this one, though it is a different shape.

I think there are a bunch of you out there that will like this and will like the design as it is, but the instructions in the video needed to be better than they are with a bit more detail focused on getting the gimmicks in and out of play. This is especially so for viewers that may not be as experienced as others. The quality of the gimmicks, the production quality and the great modular design of the gimmicks are all there - they just need to update the instructions with a little more detail and this would be a solid 5 star product. As it stands, as much as it pains me:

3.5 stars.

Suggestions from the Reviewer

NOTE: A quick pre-purchase test for you to judge 2 millimeter thickness: The gimmicks will fit 6 Tally Ho playing cards - a 7th card will not fit inside. If you square six cards and place the 7th one on top and slightly outjogged, you can try sliding a coin under it. If the coin slides under the outjogged card, it will fit into the Bio Benders. If not, it is too thick.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for BioBender (Gimmick and Online Instructions)

Author: Jones, Eric
Publisher: Murphy's Magic Supplies, Inc.
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $39.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

What if you had the ability to distort metal at the palm of your spectator's hands or at the very tips of your own fingers? Introducing Eric Jones' BioBender. BioBender is a set of tools that allow you to create the illusion that you can bend a coin, warp a key, or misshape any small metallic object.

And before you even ask, yes this can be signed! BioBender is one of the few metal benders that allows you to do real-time, in their face bends, without ever needing long sleeves or any type of clothing restrictions. No need to perform any switches and no awkward handling as the spectator signs the coin - it is their coin the entire time.

It utilizes a simple hidden in plain sight gimmick that you are already familiar with - a thumb tip. And for those who have mastered this tool, you already know exactly how invisible it can be. It's ready to be performed right out of the box, and its modular design allows you to re-attach the gimmick to any thumb tip of your choosing. BioBender secretly creates the bend so you can produce the magic.

What you get:Two precision engineered modular gimmicksExpert instruction from coin master, Eric JonesTwo thumb tipsThe ability to create real moments of magic for your spectatorsNOTE: BioBender works with any coin 2mm thick and under.

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