I can still remember the feeling of anticipation, when I was a boy, when I had ordered a new magic trick. I’ve been around the block a bit since then, and though I still get a little bit of that feeling, it is rare that I will be really excited about unwrapping a parcel these days. But I have to admit that I was feeling a bit like that with Peter Eggink’s Phantom.
A Phantom Hope?
And the answer, it seems, is yes and no.
For a start, when I opened the parcel I was extremely surprised by what I saw in the Phantom packaging. The ‘specially engendered utility gimmick’ was certainly not what I was expecting. I do not want to expose too much here, but the gimmick itself is disguised as a Sharpie. This has pros and cons.
I have seen some people talk about this like a James Bond style gimmick – and I see what they mean. Using an everyday object does mean it is ‘hidden in plain sight.’ However, it is at this point that its strength becomes its weakness, since the Sharpie does need to be very close to the action for this to work. And to my mind that looks a little bit odd with some of the handling.
It also, and this is only a minor gripe, makes the advertising video a little misleading – since the advert has been shot from angles which mean the Sharpie cannot be seen at all. I understand why inventors and dealers are always keen to show their products in the best possible light, but this is definitely teetering on the edge of misleading.
The gimmick comes with a link to watch or download video instructions. These are well shot and demonstrate 3 or 4 effects. There are helpful ‘re-cap’ sections after each effect is taught. The effects are a rising card, a haunted deck, an self-unscrewing bottle and a coin vanish.
The rising card is probably the strongest and least unnatural handling but I think there are probably better ways of accomplishing the haunted deck. I really like the concept of the self-unscrewing bottle, but in practise I’m not sure how reliable it is. The coin vanish is relatively clean, but offers almost no advantages over straight sleight of hand, or even other much older gimmicks (e.g. the Raven) – I can’t really see it being much use.
The gimmick is versatile and so perhaps we’re still waiting for the killer application of it. It is well made and should last for a long time with careful handling. I think the strongest feature of all the routines is that they can be done with borrowed props – which is certainly an advantage over many rising card decks I own. However, for handling cleanness I think I’ll be sticking to a more traditional method for the time being.
Available direct from Merchant of Magic for £27.99 (at time of writing).
Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.