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Unboxing – Review – Nicholas Lawrence

unboxing review - nicholas lawrence and sans minds

SansMinds have put our some interesting effects over the last few years – but someone needs to tell them to chill out! The introductions to their DVD may work well in the US but feel completely over the top to our quiet reserved UK populace. Phew. Needed to get that off my chest. Now on to the Unboxing review…

unboxing review - nicholas lawrence and sans mindsThere have been a number of vanishing card case effects released in the last few years. Their popularity is obvious – what better or more visual way to start a card routine than to have the box disappear? From the trailer, the visuals on this looked spectacular – so how did the reality measure up?

What do you get?

A DVD and all the materials you need to construct your own gimmick. And there’s the first and really important thing you need to know if you’re considering buying Unboxing. It is quite an intensive craft project to make your gimmick. In fact, I would say you need to be a bit of a craft ninja – since there is precise cutting, glueing and sticking involved, some of it a little fiddly. You’re provided with most of the necessary bits, though you will also need a couple of extra cards you will probably already have lying around.

We’re not done on construction yet. The explanation takes about 20 minutes on the DVD – I say explanation, but it is a silent video (well there is some background music) with no verbal instructions apart from the odd sentence on screen. So I think you’re going to need a lot longer than this to check you’re doing the right things and get the bits together. And did I mention, it’s quite fiddly.

I also think the advert video is slightly misleading. It shows a move which isn’t possible with the main gimmick but requires the construction of a second (much easier) gimmick.

On the plus side

Once you’ve constructed the gimmick, the effect itself is self-working and very visual. Depending on how good your craft skills are, this may be more or less convincing. Even on the teaching videos there are some ‘flashes’ which expose the gimmick. In the real world, if you keep things moving, this shouldn’t be a problem – and some of the live performances show the strength of reactions possible.

On and on

I found the rest of the DVD rather tiresome. They go into a slightly laboured amount of explanation about how to set up and clean up. I couldn’t decide whether to feel patronised or thankful for the endless detail on presentation and minor variations – not far short of an hour!

The credits section is not really a proper set of credits but rather a short history of versions of this kind of effect – without attributing particular inspirations, and more importantly failing to include a number of modern versions.

If I’m honest, I feel like this is on the one hand over-engineered, and then alarmingly reliant on our own construction. If it was over-engineered and professionally built, I might be less concerned, or less complex and self-constructed – but this feels like a worrying combination – and I would have some concerns about the gimmick in operation. I understand that providing an assembled gimmick would have massively impacted the price, and perhaps I’m just not crafty enough, but for me this is a concern.

It feels a bit like the desire for the amazing visual has over-run itself. And I think I would be happier using the lower tech, but not much less visual and substantially easier to assemble Travelling Deck 2.0 (see our review here).

Unboxing is available from for £17.50 at the time of writing.

Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.

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1 Comment

  1. DB

    Completely agree! I was pulled in by the promo video, and thought the effect looked great. There was no indication, from the supplier I got it from, that some construction work was needed. I had assumed, looking at the nature of it, and from the experience of buying similar things in the past, that the gimmick would be supplied ready to work. I am not a master craftsman, and certainly don’t have the skills required to make this. I contacted Sansminds directly, and even offered to pay extra if they would construct the gimmick for me, but they declined. Add to this the extremely annoying DVD – that background music is nauseating – and it’s meant that I feel I will no longer be investing in any Sansminds products again. At the very least, they need to make it clear that you need to construct the gimmick. “Cut through the first two layers of the three layers that make up a playing card, taking care not to cut through the third layer…” – it’ll never happen in my house!!!!!!

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