Friday, June 6, 2008

DVD Review: Ultimate Aces

DVD Review: Ultimate Aces

Living in a smaller Midwestern city, my opportunities to visit a brick and mortar magic shop is few and far between. Currently, I'm on vacation in Florida, visiting the mouse mecca known as Disney World. So I had to locate any magic shops close to our resort. Luckily, I found at least two shops with a few miles.

One shop is in Downtown Disney under a giant top hat called Magic Masters. Wow what an enormous disappointment. This is an absolutely beautiful magic shop that sells almost nothing. Perhaps 20-30 generic, overpriced magic items with such imaginative names such as "cups and balls." Magic Masters is clearly oriented towards selling tricks to tourists and not people interested in the art of magic.

The second shop was Magic Max in what's know as Old Town or the Fun Spot. This was also a bit of a disappointment however they did have a reasonable inventory of magic and novelty items (gags). The sales dude was a young but capable magician. He rattled off a dozen tricks and gags within the first few minutes in the store. After sizing me up by quizzing me on a few magical topics, he pointed me to a DVD called Ultimate Aces by Magic Makers. I really wasn't all that interested but it was pouring rain outside so I was stuck in the shop, and finally, the $25 slipped out of my billfold.

Here is an example of a trick learned from this DVD:

Marketing Fluff

Amaze people with seven stunning card tricks! These are all tricks with Aces. As Kings become Aces, Aces become Jokers, and Jokers vanish, it is no wonder why this small collection generates big impact. Each trick is performed and explained, plus a bonus section includes three spectator performances.
Special cards needed are included with this DVD.

Degree of Difficulty

Intermediate. You could probably take these on with a little experience in the basics. Ben Salinas teaches all of the sleights so you could attempt all of these tricks with no experience. However, if you are a beginner I would look elsewhere for some instruction in the basics first.

It is a great intermediate DVD though. You'll get an opportunity to work on your TLs and Elmsley Counts. Plus you'll learn the Ascanio Spread which is a brilliant and fun move.


Ultimate Aces is my first encounter with Ben Salinas. Ben is a smooth magician and a reasonably good instructor. He appears to be left handed which is a bit confusing on his Elmsley Count explanation. If you have not learned the Elmsley Count you may want to reference additional instructional DVDs on this often used sleight such as the Born To Perform Card Magic DVD.

His patter is good and provides some little jokes to add a humorous flair. The only downside is that his pace is a little fast and he only shows you the moves once so be prepared to rewind a lot. Ben credits the creators of most of the sleights and the routines themselves.

The downside is that the performance videos are just for the studio camera. I'm getting used to the real, on-the-street or in-the-Castle demos on other DVDs. I would rather see real performances for real people as you get a sense of the reactions and how that affects the patter and timing during a routine.

There is also a "bonus" section on the DVD that has Salinas performing three of the tricks for "Ashley" in the studio. Ashley doesn't provide much reaction so this is not all too useful.

Quantity of Effects

Pretty good considering I paid well over retail price, I'm still satisfied with my purchase due to the number of good tricks on the DVD. I've learned a few new sleights including the wonderful Ascanio Spread. All in all, there are seven great tricks on this DVD and you can easily find it for $15 on the internet. That's a pretty good buy if you don't already have these seven dandy tricks.

Plus you get a packet of cards including one gaffed card. The cards are blue-backed Bicycles.

There is also a good variety of effects on here. Half of the routines are pure sleight of hand. The other half employs gimmicks or gaffs.

Quality of Effects

Solid, solid, solid. I've mastered two great tricks in just a couple days (I already am comfortable with the Elmsley Count so your mileage may vary).

Ultimate Ace Assembly (Mc Donalds Aces) - the aces vanish from three piles of cards only to join the ace of spades in a four pile of cards. This is a very visual trick in that one moment the aces is amoung three cards and the next second it is gone. I already have a version of the Ultimate Ace Assembly I purchased as an instant download from Penguin Magic. This is a killer trick but one that requires a good deal of set-up and a dedicated deck of cards, just for this trick. This version is a little different that the Oz Perlman version. Oz adds a few more magical moves in his version but Salinas' version is pretty good as well.

Mo Money Monte - yet another "follow the ace" routine. A good routine, but we'll have to see if it is good enough to replace my Color Monte.

Impossible (gimmicked) - Four Jokers are shown. One at a time the jokers turn face down. The four face down cards are turned to reveal that they were never jokers but the four aces. Really a brilliant trick but it does require some set-up and it is not instantly resettable.

Impossible (ungimmicked) - Virtually the same trick except that it is completely ungimmicked, the handling is a bit different and Salinas uses kings instead of jokers. This might be a great impromptu effect but it is a bit more risky to pull off as you might imagine.

Dai Vernon's Twisting the Aces - I've seen other magicians do this trick but I've never learned it myself. Show four aces and turn them face down. One by one, each ace turns face-up in the packet. Brilliant piece of ungimmicked card magic.

Easy Aces - Taking the 4 Aces from the deck, you give a magical twist and spread the aces in a fancy flourish. One of the aces has turned face down. Each time the move is repeated, a different aces appears face down. This trick teaches you the pretty Ascanio Spread created by Arturo de Ascanio.

Spectator Cuts to the Aces - This is a straight forward, yet completely beguiling trick where the spectator is asked to cut the deck into 4 piles. Taking the top card from each pile, the spectator has unwittingly cut to the four aces. There are other versions of this trick - this is a very good version using a gimmick. I hadn't seen this simple gimmick before and I'll be using it for other situations. I'm still inclined to use the version of Spectator Cuts to the Aces I learned from Greg Wilson's Pyrotechnic Pasteboards DVD.

Production Quality

The overall production is good. The video quality is very good. There is very little editing as each segment is taken in one shot. The menus are sparse but functional. The sound track is okay but a little overly dramatic and repetitive.

Overall: 7/10

This isn't going to tear up the magic community but it is a nice collection of ace tricks. The false counts and Ascanio Spread are great additions to your toolbox if you do not already have them. Plus you get a packet of cards including a nice gaff. A solid value for $15 that will give you some classic effects to add to you repertoire.

1 comment:

Jordan's magic said...

Nice reviews maybe we could change ideas on magic

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