Every once in a while I need to remind my readers of my take on writing reviews. This particular effect seems a good place to do so. Here's the skinny folks. Whether I like an effect or not is irrelevant. If I only like coin tricks, is it fair to say that Al Baker's The Pack That Cuts Itself is a bad trick/product? I think not. Every trick out there will attract different magicians. Many of you will like an effect that I'll not like and vice versa.
So how do I review tricks? I look at three main things:
- The Practicality of The Method
- The Quality of the prop/gimmick
- The honesty of the advertisement claims
If the method for the aforementioned Baker effect was that you needed a deck of 52 shimmed cards and a magnetic table, I might give the effect a lesser rating because it's not the most practical method. If the product came with shimmed cards and they were poorly made, again . . . lower rating. Finally, if the advertisement claimed that you could use a borrowed deck and that no magnets were used . . . well that would be a lie (in the case of this fictitious version of the effect).
Having said all that, let's take a look at Mintalist and see how it stands up to those three criteria.
The Practicality of The Method
The method is simply a gimmicked Tic Tac box that supposedly does all the work for you. However, it's not so simple. First, the spectator is handed the gimmicked box and told to pour out some mints in their hand behind their back. The box is such that only a certain amount can come out of the box. You control what that amount is during your pre-trick set up. However, it only controls the maximum that comes out, not the minimum.
So if you've got it set to only let 6 mints out, they won't be able to pour out more than 6, but they can certainly pour out less than 6. Well, when the effect is that you've predicted how many they'll pour out, that's not a very practical method. In experimenting with the box, I loaded it with some mints. Then I tried to shake them out. One of them got stuck and was refusing to come out. I was purposely trying to get all of the mints out of the gimmick, and I was not doing it behind my back.
Imagine, now, giving this to a spectator to do behind her back. First, she won't be trying to shake out all of the mints in the gimmicked chamber because she won't know that it exists. She'll just try shaking some out in her hands. Further, it's behind her back - it has to be behind her back so she doesn't discover the gimmick - which is awkward. So the odds of a mint or two staying behind are pretty good, thus your effect fails.
The Quality of the prop/gimmick
The gimmick seems to be well made. However, the little secret "something" that allows the effect to work gets stuck easily. This impacts the ability to reset the gimmick, and the ability to allow the box to be handed out. Further, the one I got absolutely would not reset. It is permanently stuck in the locked position. No matter how I tried to do what the instructions said, it would not unlock.
The gimmick is supposed to easily unlock during performance by simply giving the box a quick (very suspicious looking) shake. Sorry folks, but it doesn't work. In order to get the gimmick to unlock, I had to basically bang the crap out of the box and finally it unlocked . . . not exactly the most natural of actions.
The honesty of the advertisement claims
Well, if the gimmick worked as smoothly and reliably as it should, then I might say that the ad copy claims were accurate, but the problem is that the gimmick is unreliable. Additionally, the effect called Mintal Separation is slightly misrepresented. It claims that the spectator thinks of a color and all the mints in her hand change to that color. That's not quite true. That happens 50% of the time when she names the "right" color. The other 50% of the time (when she names the "wrong" color) the effect is not what it claims.
That one effect aside, the gimmick has the potential to do all of the effects that it claims. The concern I have is that the gimmick is very unreliable. The ad copy also says that it's 100% examinable. That is true if you can easily unlock the gimmick. There are two problems there. First problem is that if the spectator left behind a mint or two, the gimmick won't unlock until you remove those left behind. But the bigger issue is that even when none are left behind, in order to unlock (and thus hide) the gimmick, you have to pound the crap out of the box on your hand and cross your fingers and hope that it dislodges. My experience so far is that it doesn't - at least not easily.
This type of effect, if it worked, would only be practical in a more casual setting which I like. I'm a fan of the kind of magic that happens outside of the confines of a "show." Unfortunately, this gimmick just doesn't live up to its potential.
Half Star with a Stone Status of Rubble