Ian Adair – Boxesof Toy Magic

Columnist:
Ian Adair
Boxes of Toy Magic

The first magic set I got as a boy was the, “Ernest Sewell Box of Conjuring Tricks.” One set came in round postal tubing resembling a magic wand. I had other magic sets, but what is puzzling me is why makers including Fisher and Peter Pan, and other major firms are still using the same old ideas within their sets as they did years ago?

Can a child really use a paddle type effect? I don’t think so. I have talked to children and asked them what it does. They couldn’t tell me, nor could they work the trick. In the instruction booklet there were no illustrations either. Way back in the seventies I wrote a book on paddles called, “Paddle-Antics.” I had photos and drawings to illustrate the moves – even the penknife routine.

The next magic kit: A flat-pack set of magic, in the form of a book with press-out bits, very much like “dressing dolly books.” I purchased this recently – just to see what it was all about. The “Clip-It” strip card effect was there, as to was the Chinese Compass, all made in cardboard. Two of the effects, old ones at that (and there was nothing new about any of them), were wrongly made.

Another magic kit (outfit), a Polish lady friend brought back recently contained very few tricks, although at a glance it provided a great illusion to the contrary – making the contents look greater then they really were. The Ball Cup was displayed in four different units set within a bubble pack; the top, the middle section, the fake (showing), and the ball – all of which were on display of course to make it look healthy. In the center was a book of magic — upon opening it — there inside were the instructions to the few items enclosed, plus twenty more effects which were not included. It appeared in different languages, Polish, Dutch, German, French and English, which as you can imagine served to make the book much, much thicker (which I’m sure was coincidental of course – ha ha), and thus more of a bargain to purchase. The magic wand, which was stated on the front of the box as being able to do, “real magic tricks,” turned out to be a thin black dowel rod with one white tip painted on, (actually, upon careful examination it was selotape!) along with a sliding tip. This of course, was the well known, “Penetrating Wand” effect. However, there was no white tip painted or stuck on underneath the sliding end, which meant the wand could not be handed out for examination! This also means to me that people watching automatically think the wand is telescopic, (would it be for a toy set of magic, I ask?). They had forgotten to put on the “white tip!”

In all, the set looked good cosmetically. Certainly the front cover of the box as always, was excellent. Take away the bubble packing which raises up the small tricks, and you can easily put them all into a little paper bag.

No wonder of all the millions of children in this country’s population, comparatively few become magicians.