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Knuckle Busters Volume 4 Review

Official Review

January 21st, 2004 10:52pm
Reviewed by Brad Henderson
This latest edition to the Knuckle Buster series contains 4 pieces of technically demanding coin magic, three by McClintock and one by coin guru Curtis Kam.

First, the manuscript is clearly written though I wish more detail had been provided for some of the transition elements. The illustrations are good, but could have been a tad larger. Overall though, the manuscript is fine for someone who has experience with coin work. Raw beginners need not apply. For one, moves such as the muscle pass and positions such as the J.W. grip are mentioned only by name, not taught. Again, for the niche market this manuscript intends to serve, I don't feel this is a problem.

Let's look at the tricks.

"Neverland Coin Production": Allow me to quote, "The requirements for this effect are simple: be able to classic palm three silver dollars and muscle pass from both hands." Now you do believe me when I say beginners need not apply?

I feel this is one of the more practical pieces in the book. I can see this being very magical, if performed properly. And there lies the rub. There's a little more required than JUST muscle passing coins, but if you want a visual production that will take some work, look no further.

"New World Chink-a-Chink": While I respect the reasoning behind the creation of this effect, being able to present a chink-a-chink type effect in a walk around environment without getting on one's hands and knees, I believe the thinking here is misguided.

Reed performs the chink-a-chink on his outstretched palm. See, the thing which makes the chink-a-chink magical is the fact that there is no way for the objects to move from position to position without being seen by the spectators. It's is the distance factor that makes the trick, well a trick.

When performed on the palm of the hand, the covering hand pretty much hides everything, decreasing the magic in my mind. The trick is no longer one of how did the coin dematerialize here and appear there, but how did he slide that coin under his hand without us seeing him.

I appreciate the problem he was trying to solve, but I think the solution creates bigger obstacles, like the lessening of magical impact. I will contend that this is a problem that when solved properly will become a hit.

"No One to Four" is Curtis Kam's production of a single coin which is then split into four. I would say this would make a great opening effect for someone whose presentations are more skill based than magical.

I do have one caveat. Coin guys (and I know a few, heck some of them are even my friends) suffer from making things too hard. In this routine we begin with a stack of coins in classic palm and are told to move (silently) to finger palm. Why? Why not start in finger palm. One, it's an easier position to load into from one's pockets; and two, it's where you are going to end up anyway. Plus all of the open handed flashing subtleties can still be employed. Just a thought.

Finally we close with Reed's 20 coin production called the American Dream. Of all the routines, this one needed more by way of explanations. For example, "Bring your hands together and silently place one stack of six coins into left finger palm..." Ok, it's going to take a little more than that to make that move fly, assuming it can be done deceptively. Plus getting loaded up for this after the finish of another routine is a trick in and of itself.

At the Coinvention one thing I noticed is how undeceptive a lot of modern coin magic is. You might not know exactly from what position a coin is moving from to where, but you know that something is going on when the hands come together or linger for no apparent reason.

Based solely on the printed word, this routine seems to suffer from that condition. Perhaps Reed has built enough shade into his presentation to hide the work which must be done. If he has, it is not provided in this manuscript.

To me, this piece would make a great "etude." Something to practice though probably not perform. For one reason, Reed suggests this as a kicker to any routine involving the production of a jumbo coin. Let's think about that. You've just done a coin routine which has hopefully deceived your audience. Now, you show them basically that you can hide 20 coins in your hands without them seeing you (which is how this trick comes off in print). Doesn't that seem unwise to anyone? Let's say you did a coins across and follow it with this. Well, it doesn't take a genius to realize that the coins might not have been traveling but that you were merely using extra coins, afterall you just showed me 20 of them. Same with the mere production of the jumbo.

A nicely produced manuscript. Hard tricks. Fun for those who want to be challenged. I don't think any of these pieces will become staples of the working magician consciousness world wide, but they might help you develop some technique and give you something to think about for your own work.

3 stars.

Product info for Knuckle Busters Volume 4

Author: Reed McClintock
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $14.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

This manuscript is designed for the working pro and the experienced coin magician. Volume Four of “Knuckle Busters” contain four professional routines specifically for dedicated and skilled magicians who are willing to put in the time and practice it takes to perform first-rate coin magic.

The fun and visual “Neverland Coin Production” is very direct and guarantees gasps from your audience. There is also a pretty flourish at the end.
“New World Chink-a-Chink” is an effort to take the classic “Chink-a-Chink” off the table and put it into the hands, enabling the magician to perform this effect in any walk-around situation.

Curtis Kam offers “No One to Four”, a fun, visual and startling effect. Following the theme of “Knuckle Busters, Volume 4”, this is a four (or eight)-coin production.

“The American Dream” is a close-up “Miser’s Dream” with meaning and purpose. This effect ends with an amazing tribute to the American spirit.

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