Magic Buying Guide: 5 Things You Should Know Before You Buy Your Next Trick

How DO YOU buy magic right now?

Take a moment before we start here and think about that!

Let’s face it, there are people out there who are REALLY good at writing ad copy and make us think we are looking at the item that will make us a God.

I, like most people, have been sucked in by these amazing sounding ads. My shelves are full of things listed as “the best trick ever” and… I’m still not a God.

In fact, the majority of the magic I’ve bought has sat on my shelf, waiting to be used by someone. It’s like that sad scene in Toy Story where the toys get packed to go into the attic.

But, through experience I’ve found a simple method that helps me decide if I should buy something.

Sure, I still do the impulse buy now and then, but if I did that all the time… I would end up broke and nothing in my repertoire developed.

So how do I go about digging through all this stuff I’m NEVER going to use and find things I like? And not only like, KNOW I’m going to use.

I developed a 5-step list of things I need before I make the jump to buy something. (It’s a magic buying guide!)

About the Author:
Shawn Mullins ProReviews has quickly become a favorite staple of our Online Events for Conjuror Community members. In each episode, Shawn leads you step-by-step through everything you need to tackle a great piece of magic. 

Check out Shawn's live shows on Conjuror Community.

1. Do you know and like the Author, Creator & Company?

This seems obvious but it’s not. I’m thinking of all the times I’ve just tossed something in the cart because either the trailer fooled me or the price was really low and I had a couple extra dollars to spend. This leads to junk pretty fast. So, as a general rule, I have to like what I see and not just be fooled by it.

With books, I tend to follow authors who I like.

For example: I really enjoyed Roberto Giobbi’s Card College, so when he comes out with a new book, I typically take a peek at the description. If I like the description and see it’s something I’m looking for, I’ll probably buy it.

2. Take a Critical Look at the Trailer and Ad Copy:

This can be tricky. Magic companies want you to see their products but not all their products are great.

So, how do you figure out if the trick is practical?

You have to use your best judgment. You have to ask yourself if anything sticks out as ‘fishy’.

Some things to look for are:

  • vague descriptions
  • too many jump cuts
  • no performance footage

Sometimes these things are omitted because it preserves the integrity of the effect.

More times than not, the dealer may be hiding some impractical element of the product.

Also, see Step #1. Has the company, who produced the info, been criticized for not being truthful?

3. Does the Trick Look and Feel Magical?

For me this is a big one. The trick/ routine etc. has to look magical. I’m not into performing con-style routines or “comedy” magic. This means I’m looking for effects that have a large element of magic to them.

If you’re going to try this system to save yourself from buying ‘dust collectors’, you’ll want to alter this one to suit your style.  If, for example, you like the ‘magician-as-con-artist’ approach, you’ll want to ask of any routine,  “could I make this into a con routine? Could this work for me?”. In fact, you’ll discover many ideas this way that lead to uniquely personal routines.

Which leads me to…

4.  Can You See Yourself Performing This Trick?

If I can’t see myself performing it, I don’t buy it.

There is a TON of magic that I love to watch, but I don’t perform at all.

I really enjoy watching card manipulation acts. I think they are fun to watch, but would be WAY out of place for me to perform (in my mind – and that’s what counts here!). For another example, take Stan, Kate and Edith released by Doc Eason.

I love to see great performers play the routine and it makes me laugh…but I can’t see myself performing it at all. So I don’t buy it.

5. Wait Two Weeks Before You Buy!

This is a big one. When a trick comes from a reputable source, the ad-copy passes muster, and I’m really impressed by something, (meaning I can imagine myself performing it all day….and getting reactions like David Blaine on a Street Magic TV special)…

I stop. I do NOT pass go…

Instead, I let it ‘marinate’ for several days. Once the first rush passes, I start to ask..,

“Do I really need this? Will I really USE this?”

Then, if I still feel the momentum and excitement, I’ll probably take the plunge.

What About Books?

Books are a little different because there typically isn’t a trailer.

Instead I go by what I am looking for and if I like the author’s previous work.

If I’ve never heard of the author, I’ll go by their reputation.

What About Reviews?

Reviews are sometimes helpful but you can’t be sure if the reviewer really put in the time.

Remember, in a magic book, tricks can read like they’ll be miracles, only to be found lacking in front of an audience.

Sometimes a product gets a bad reputation because it takes a little bit of work, preparation and/or practice to make ready for successful performance.

This happens to GREAT tricks and products all the time.

For that reason, you can never quite be sure if the reviewer got a ‘dud’ from the manufacturer, or they didn’t give it ANY practice…or they just don’t want to palm a card.

So with magic, it’s important to learn, through a bit of experience, which reviewers you can trust.

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I would love to know what you think of this article, and any tips YOU have for fellow magicians that want to make sure the love and use the magic they purchase.

And if there’s something you would LOVE to see reviewed, please leave that in your comments as well. That’s how I decide what to present on each and every ProReviews on Conjuror.Community!

Wishing you success,
Shawn Mullins

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  • Adam Grace

    January 19, 2016

    Here it is – the guide we all needed growing up. I could have saved so much money if I would have just stuck to this guide! (Take that Jay Scott Berry!)

    Thank you Shawn!

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