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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Bottom Ridge Shells -- a review (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bill Palmer
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Al generously sent me a set of the Bottom Ridge Shells for a review. I have already posted most of this in a discussion about the shells, but I think it needs to be said again in an easy to find location.

I believe that most of us have seen the pictures of the Bottom Ridge shells that are on the internet. The way they are constructed may appear a bit unusual to most magicians, but that may not be a problem with laymen.

What you get is a set of three shells, some specially made peas that you can do some unusual things with, and a capsule that holds the shells.

You also get a link to an online video that shows Al's unusual grip on the shells, as well as how to move them around. This grip is very deceptive. It's not quite the same as the standard "Tom Osborne/Jack Chanin" grip. It does a allow a better hold on the shells, so if you use really heavy, slippery shells, you won't lose your grip on them.

The Bottom Ridge construction makes these shells very easy to work and to do magic with. Some of the traditionalists do not believe that you should do magic in a three shell game routine. That's fine. If you don't think you should do magic, don't do it. But if it is an option for you, these shells should literally "do the trick."

In addition to the bottom ridge shells, Al also provides his "natural" shells, which are quite conventional and are very attractive.

I will be posting photos to the museum in a few weeks. At this time, my photo gear is very difficult for me to access due to some reorganizing of my house.
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shellgame-al
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Thanks Bill for your review.


The specially made peas are a vinyl metal blend soft pea and the unusual things this pea brings is it can act like a hard or soft pea at any time with the bottom ridge shells, which brings the feature of retaining the pea in the shell with all movements of the shell. Also has the feature to act like a soft pea to steal or load at your discretion. Having the metal vinyl blend pea brings the feature of not having to have a special magnet pea. The standard pea does it all and the material of the pea makes the finger clipping of the pea much easier.

Yes, the new grip that I use on the shells does work better for heavy slippery shells, because there is a full grip on the shell that also brings better control of the shell and a much more full view on the shell for the spectator.

I tried to make a different selection of shells that could fit most performers. For the ones that don't need the added features that come with the added ridge, the True Walnut Shells are the same shell that were made from a real walnut shell without the added ridge. True shells do have more head space to work with a larger selection of peas.

Thanks again for your review Bill!

I just thought I would explain what these new added designs were for
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mota
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Here are some thoughts on these shells. The bottle cap version came out on a Friday. I had them the following Monday. The following comments relate to the bottle cap version only as that is all I have.

My set is red and came on a Monday a week or so ago. Since then I have played a lot with them. I like the bottle caps as they have more of a street feel to them. They are larger than normal shells. This is good as larger shells tend to handle easier in my experience. You don't need pinpoint accuracy to do the moves. This means you can do them at a pace more consistent with street games. Compare the Bonnaroo Grifter youtube video with any magic presentation and you will see what I mean. The street caps have a lively pace not usually seen in magic presentations.

The peas are softer than I have worked with before. They remind me of the old Karl Norman peas but these are solid, not just coated foam. The softness makes the various moves much easier as they grip well and don't pop out or fall from your fingers. They do take a little getting used to...all of ten minutes or so. I haven't tried the magnetic feature of the pea yet.

They work on just about any surface. The only surface I couldn't get them to stay in on was shag carpet and considering how uneven that surface is, that is understandable. Otherwise they are smoooooooth.

The size of the caps also is realistic. In street games they use large caps, often much larger than these.

I had an experience today that reminded me how this effect draws people. At my apartment complex we have a shade tree mechanic that does small auto repairs for the locals. He was in the back lot changing oil on a car and I thought I would show him my new toy.

I did it right down on the concrete (though you should use newspaper as concrete is a bit rough). As soon as I started another person showed up and I kept hearing people saying, "What's going on?" and the answer was "tops". That's all anyone called it...tops. Everybody knew what that was. When I looked up I had a crowd.

The tops handled perfectly under pressure. I used the grip taught on the web page you get with the order. Someone even reached down and moved the tops themselves and nothing popped out. During the demo I had the tops turned up and no one even blinked at the ridge.

So my experience with these is A+. I am looking forward to seeing the new handling videos and hearing of other people's experiences.
shellgame-al
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Mota, thanks for sharing your outing with the new Stinger caps. I can picture it by reading your post.

It sounds like you put on a real show and had them eating out of your hand.

I have tested and kept track of all the feedback on the bottom ridge shells from the users, the spectators and can honestly say I have never heard anyone with any problems with the ridge.

The only ones that I have heard that “maybe” there could be a problem is from the ones that have never tried them.

As the ridge brings the handler many advantages and strongly appears to be an advantage to the player.

The standard type shell without the ridge is a much easier shell for me to make, because it does not have any sharp undercuts.

Anyone that knows anything about casting a product with sharp under cuts knows you better not try taking any short cuts and the ridge is one big under cut.

So why would anyone want to make something that cost them more to make?

I make both for the same price. The “Bottom Ridge Shells” and the standard type design shells “True Shells”. Because we all had different needs.

When I was performing I performed for many repeat customers, all close-up magic.
So I needed to always have new material, so I didn't perform the same old thing.

Well the magic stores could not come up with my needs and it wasn't the magic stores fault. The new ways in our manufacturing today is making it as cheap as you can.

It all became based around profit, not pride in what they supplied. I will not buy into that.

This is why I started designing and making my own tools for work.

Now I am retired from performing and I am just sharing the tools that I had found that worked for me.

The Magic Café has been a very interesting place for me. I wish there had been a place like this back when I was performing. Young performing magicians are very lucky to have a place like this to share and learn from each other. I learn something every time I'm on this site.

I don't think any of us have all the right answers, but I think the magic Café is the best place to get a lot of input to come up with your own answer.

Mota, I'm very happy the caps were the answer for you. Hope you keep having fun in keeping them guessing!
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Dave V
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I just ordered a set of the "Peanut" shells, thinking the visible difference could help break away from the typical walnut shell game and possibly help to explain the (to me) unusual look of the bottoms of the shells.

There are several other shells on the market that are also flat bottomed, so that in itself isn't really enough to make it unique.

The only improvement in presentation I see so far is in the ability to let the spectator play with the loaded shell, something I would never do anyway. I'm still not convinced the addition of the bottom lip justifies the unnatural look of the shells, and wouldn't use these in a "real" game environment. In his defense, he intended these to be for a magic trick, not a gambling game.

Shellgame-al has already kindly sent me a link to the video explanation. I was somewhat surprised that there was very little new in the handling, just a variation I learned from Pop Haydn and Bob Sheets that I had already dismissed as too "iffy" for me for various reasons that I won't explain in an open forum. I'm hoping the pea itself helps facilitate the grip used, as doing the same moves with the "Perfect Pea" usually leaves me with a pea bouncing out of control. The brown "pea-nuts" will show up nicely against my green table, something that bothered me with using a green pea.

He talks up his rubber-metal blend but don't worry, no magnetics are required for these shells unless you want to use it.

Don't get me wrong. I am looking forward to the Peanut set as it looks like it will make handling easier than normal shells whether I use his handling or the standard handling I already know, and I can use it as a pocket game without a full "old time" presentation, but I won't be giving up any of my other shells any time soon.

I'll let you know if I have a different opinion once I get my hands on them and have a chance to play with them for a while.
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shellgame-al
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Dave,

Like I said in my email, the videos I am making now will show more detail on the handling.

What makes the shells unique is the bottom ridge on the shell. This brings many different features that no shell has been able to do. The Patent Attorneys and patent searches have all said that the bottom ridge is unique.

Like being able to move the shell with the soft pea inside the shell and only coming out when you want it to come out. I won't go into all the other unique features as they have all been mentioned before.

As for presentation, I have never told anyone they should use any type presentation. I have said to use the presentation that fits you.

What is unique about the handling is the thumb; first and second fingers are used for better shell control and give a full view of the shell at the same time.

The third and fourth fingers are used for ball control in the background, not the foreground.

The pea is unique for the fact that you never need to switch it out for a special pea and can be examine with the shells.

The pea is much softer than the perfect pea. This makes sense that there will be less movement of the shell when the pea is coming out or in.

You will find that the pea being softer will be easier to finger clip and control to other areas of the hand with more smoothness.

Maybe you can explain to me why you think you couldn't use your "old time" presentation with these shells.

Like I mention before, if you feel more comfortable with a shell without a ridge bottom I have the True Shells that maybe would work better for you and you can apply what you are set in doing.

As it sounds like you really don't want them to work before you even get them.

I learned in life that the only way something works, is if you want it to work or you are just wasting time and money.

This is why I have such a large selection of shells, as I know most people have different need for what they want to do.

If you would like to change your order I have no problem with that, as I want to supply you what you really want, so your money goes towards something good for you
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Dave V
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No, I definitely want the peanut shells. For an old west night I strive for authenticity and play the game as it was intended. If these are as nice as everyone says they may end up being my daily use set for everywhere else.

Thank you for clarifying some of the moves. I wasn't comfortable saying that much myself.
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Dave V
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I'm a skeptic but I'm not closed-minded. I don't cling to a belief if something better comes along. On the other hand, I also don't switch easily just because someone says they have something new.

Once I see how these work, if I like them I'll definitely say so!
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jcsum
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Greetings from Italy at the moment! I've had the shells for a few weeks but wifi has been eratic and I have not been able to post a review or upload photos still but here is a review of the Bottom Ridge Shells and True Walnut Shells.

As some of you might have read in my "Ultimate Shells Review", I have worked with a number of shells over the years. It was of great interest to work with and review the new Bottom Ridge shells that Kind Design Products has introduced to the market.

This is a new approach to the shell game and opens up a lot of new possibilities in terms of handling and presentation. The main feature of the Bottom Ridge shells is that the pea is kept under the shell as it is pushed around. Spectators can push the shells around and the pea will move with the shell. The magician can then steal and load the pea when desired. This is a great advantage for performers who want to prove that the pea cannot escape from the shell as it is pushed around. Performers may alter their existing routines to make use of this feature. Depending on your routine and presentation style, this can add a new dimension to your routine. This is especially so if you perform the shell game as more of a legitimate gambling game. Note, you will need to learn a new way of gripping the shell and stealing the pea. If you already perform the shell routine, you will need to relearn the handling which may seem difficult at first but after a few hours you will get used to it.

For some moves like "one hand moves" where the shells are moved around by one hand with the shells between the fingers (like a multiplying ball grip but with the palm on the table), I found that I could only do it on a soft surface.

Some things to note about the Bottom Ridge Shells: Magicians have to get used to the look of the bottom ridge element of the shells. Granted, real walnuts do have that ridge but not in the perfect smooth texture as the Bottom Ridge Shells.

If you work in parlour settings, there is a possibility that skeptical audience members may think the pea is somehow hidden in the bottom ridge. While, it is not possible to actually hide a pea from sight in the bottom ridge, performing magicians will know this will not stop some spectators from suspecting that fact.

There has not been any new developement in the design of shells besides aesthetic or minor improvements based on personal preferences. This is definitely a new development in the design of shells and offers possibilities that the serious shell worker should explore and experiment with. However, there is really no way to state whether this new shell design will work for you as I think it depends on your presentational approach and performance style when presenting the shell game. I'm sure many will love the design and the possibilities it offers but I know there will be some who might feel it makes no difference due to the way their routine is structured.

Overall size rating – Medium

Price: US$75.00

If you do not think the Bottom Ridge Shells are for you, Kind Design Products also produces a traditional walnut shell set. Called the True Walnut shells, this is really a beautiful set of shells molded from a real walnut. These feel good and handle well. These are not over sized or large walnut shells like the La Maggiore Shells but like regular walnut shells that most people would be familiar with. In fact, they reminded me of the real walnut shells that I used in the first few years of my professional career. However, the mold was taken from a walnut of the "right size". The height of the shell is perfect so the grip is fantastic and it is extremely easy to use. One handed moves work well with this set and there is some weight to the shells. This is by far my favourite set of regular shells to use as they feel right and are also virtually indestructible. Appearance-wise, I should mention the sides and bottom edges of the shells are thicker than most shells and real shells. They are about 6mm thick. Some might feel that this looks too thick and is unnatural but I personally think it is not an issue and know the thickness gives strength and sturdiness of the shell.

You can use any of the standard shell/ pea handlings but I actually have been experimenting with using the Bottom Ridge handling with these regular shells. I might just do a complete switch as the moving of the shells appear cleaner with this grip and the concealment of the pea is also more deceptive.

The True Walnut Shells are more expensive than most similar sized resin shells. In fact, they match the La Maggiore Shells in price though the shells are smaller. But I think it is a worthwhile investment and I recommend the True Walnut shells over any other shells (of its type/ size) currently on the market.

Overall size rating – Medium

Price: US$75.00

Along with either the bottom ridge shells, Kind Design Products can make you a matching solid shell. Other ideas that I came up with and requested Al to develop was a "marker" shell the same colour as the pea. This is similar to a bent corner ruse used in the "3 Card Monte". Mine is red as I now use a "Jamican Red Pea" as my pea but I have seen the green shell which is great. The coloured "marker" shell can be made as a Bottom Ridge shell or True Walnut shell.

Highly recommended!

I will be doing a review with photos of other products soon!

J C
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Dave V
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After my initial reluctance over the design, I'm getting to like the handling of the new shells. The traditionalist in me said to order some "non-standard" shells where the novelty factor will compensate for the (to me) odd design of the bottoms. I ordered the "Peanut" shells and the "Renaissance Cups"

The narrow shape of the peanuts lends itself well to some moves, especially his altered grip, and makes some traditional moves virtually impossible. So, I won't be using them in a traditional setting, nor did I intend to. The bottom ridge makes the opening quite narrow across the middle which can run the risk of trapping a larger pea if you're not careful. The steal and load moves themselves work quite well even with the hourglass shape of the shells.

I really LOVE the look of the Renaissance Cups. They are by far my favorites. They are larger in diameter than standard shells, with a knob on the top and some really nice decorative touches inside and out. This larger size tends to minimize the internal lip that makes them "Bottom Ridge" products.

They are a bit awkward to handle compared to normal sized shells, but I've already found some handlings that work well. The knob encourages a very open handling with one finger pushing the cups around which of course means you need to modify handling to do "the move" so it doesn't look out of place. Using these, you could encourage the spectator to move the shells (cups) with one finger which minimizes the urge to lift them, which is a good thing.

All in all, I personally don't care for the bottom ridge look for traditional shells, but really like it for the other offerings.
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shellgame-al
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JC, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Bottom Ridge & True Walnut Shells

Here are some of my explanations to some of your thoughts.

Bottom Ridge Shells

JC's-post: If you work in parlour settings, there is a possibility that skeptical audience members may think the pea is somehow hidden in the bottom ridge. While, it is not possible to actually hide a pea from sight in the bottom ridge, performing magicians will know this will not stop some spectators from suspecting that fact.

Al's- reply: This is all taken out of the spectators thoughts from the magician showing the shells that this cannot happen with the displaying of the shells. The spectators suspecting the wrong way on how something is done can be a good thing, when it proves out wrong. That is our job to keep them guessing on how it is done. I have worked with the ridge shells for years and have not found it being a problem for the spectator at all, because it proves out to look like a fair game and they can now actually believe they have a chance to win. In gambling the no touch rules apply without question, but in magic it does not apply the same. In magic to me any trick displayed with the spectator involved it is always stronger and more fun for the spectator. Even with the gambling theme this is a advantage as now there is nothing to hide.

True Walnut Shells

JC's post: Appearance-wise, I should mention the sides and bottom edges of the shells are thicker than most shells and real shells. They are about 6mm thick. Some might feel that this looks too thick and is unnatural but I personally think it is not an issue and know the thickness gives strength and sturdiness of the shell.

Al's reply: Yes, the selecting of the proper walnut shell is the most important factor, as they come in many shapes and sizes. The reason they are called “True Walnut Shells “is because they are that.
The thickness of the wall is not thicker than a real walnut shell because it was molded from a real walnut shell without any added putty. The inside of the shell is all natural and just smoothed out some.

This type of real walnut shell flares out at the bottom giving a thicker wall for more strength and this is after the thin ridge has been scraped off that holds the nut in place. If you look on http://www.3shells.com on page compared shells, you will see a real walnut shell next to the true walnut shell and you will see that the wall is like a real walnut shell. This is the same case with the bottom ridge shells; a lot of that ridge is the wall thickness. The ridge its self is not that much if you look inside of the shell.

Most the shells today do not have a wall edge, it is all putty filled tapered to the edge of the shell.
This putty filled taper does not help. It just cuts down the head space that limits the pea to roll freely and the pea puts head pressure on the shell that lifts the shell before it comes to the edge to come out.

Head space in a shell to me is one of biggest factors in a shell design. This is why the cheap Vernet shells work so well, they have lots of head space without the long add taper to the edge of shell.
If they had a thicker wall with that head space they would be great working shells.

I looked for a real walnut shell with a strong wall and good head space to make my molds from.
I did not have to reinforce the inside with putty so I didn’t take away any needed head space.
If anyone thinks they’re different, they are comparing it to putty filled shells not a real walnut shell.


JC's post: The True Walnut Shells are more expensive than most similar sized resin shells. In fact, they match the La Maggiore Shells in price though the shells are smaller. But I think it is a worthwhile investment and I recommend the True Walnut shells over any other shells (of its type/ size) currently on the market.

Al's reply: The pricing of our shells compared to others are very fair once you compare the quality.
It is not the material cost that is the biggest factor; it is the design, on how they are made and labor cost for a better quality shell.

Thanks again, JC for sharing your thoughts on the shells

Shellgame-Al
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shellgame-al
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Hello, Dave V

I'm happy the shells are working out for you.

If you have a problem in the center of the peanut shell when using the larger pea, try sanding lightly on both inside edges of the shell. Check by dropping the pea in and out of shell to see if it has the right clearance in the center.

I have found that the larger pea works best for me without any sanding, but the 3/8” pea is the standard pea that comes with the shells, not the larger pea.

I just put in the larger pea for free for you to try.

The Renaissance Cups comes with the larger peas because their larger shells.
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Dave V
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Hi Al,
I really don't have a problem with the size of the pea and the peanut shells. I was just making an observation when trying these with the variety of peas you so graciously provided. (Thanks again)

Thank you too for the sanding tip. It only really affects the largest of the peas and they aren't normally used anyway, so no big deal.

You're right that the softer (than SfS) pea does indeed make the back clip easier to manage. I'm not dropping it nearly as often as I used to.

I have a Renaissance Faire coming up this fall. I'm hoping to have a modified routine put together by then using your Renaissance Cups. I won't be performing for hire or tips, just for the amusement of myself and others throughout the day.
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I have a couple of thoughts on this.

I perform the shell game A LOT, and I perform it with many different types of shells depending on the situation.

To me, the bottom ridge looks "Tricky" I've NEVER had anyone question the channin dip, or the "V" notch in the shells, but I think people would question that. Also, the advertising says somewhere that the standard features raise people's suspicions, but watching the video, a different grip was used when pushing the shell around depending on whether you did or didn't do "the move," and I would think that would raise more suspicions than the other features. Of course, you wouldn't need to change grip if you were always in position to do or not do the move, but then, with normal shells, you can still move the shells around freely and unload and load at appropriate times. I can see how The ability to let a spectator move the shells would be an advantage in many routines.

Plus points. I LOVE some of the designs. The Brass renaissance cups in particular look great, and if I was thinking of adding to my collection, they would be the ones I would go for...er... but I would order them without the bottom ridge.

Of course, in all of this, I have never used the ridged set. If I tried them, I might love them, and I can certainly see how it would help in, for instance the peanut shells, which I also like the look of.

finally. It looks like Al is putting out a very high quality product, that does bring something new to to table, and that he absolutely believes in, and that should be applauded.

My thoughts.

Andy
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shellgame-al
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Hello Andy

The shells in the video are the older version of the Bottom Ridge Shells.
The new versions have a smaller rim and have all rounded edges to look more natural.
These can be seen on the website.

If you have been on my website I'm sure you have noticed that there is a large selection of shells to choose from.

This is because I know one shell set could work great for one person, but not for another.

You have the right to your own opinion, but it is only an opinion of something that you have not tried.

I too, have worked with just about all shells on the market and my opinion is based on what I have actually used.

I am not saying my opinion is for everyone. If that was the case, I would only be selling one type shell.

(Andy; “I've NEVER had anyone question the channin dip, or the "V" notch in the shells.”)

It maybe never questioned because their never allowed to examined them. I’m not saying you need too.

For the ones that want to, the Bottom Ridge Shells have nothing to hide, as they come with no clues or rulers.

The only ones that have questioned the bottom ridge are the magicians that have not used them. Not the spectator.

Even if the spectator did, you are now able to show off the features on how it all works to their advantage.

For the new grip, the spectator has a full view of the shells and the hands are much more natural looking in, moving and coming away from the shells.

When the hand comes away from one shell to another shell the finger tips are not touching one another as in holding something.

Most people that have tried this new grip even with the standard type shells have like it better once they have learned all the advantages.

Andy, if you like the shells without the bottom rim, I can make any of the shells on my website without the bottom ridge.

Making the standard type shells is much easier for me to make, as there are no sharp under cuts to deal
with!

It’s not like we’re giving you one choice. We give more choices that have ever been available.


I hope my reply input has helped to understand the shells a little more.

Al
Manufacture of 3 Shell Game Sets & 3 Disk Monte Sets
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