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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricks & Effects » » Review: EVOLUSHIN Magic Kit by Shin Lim (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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EVOLUSHIN Magic Kit by Shin Lim

The ideal magic kit for beginners, packed with gimmicks and teaching from Shin Lim himself

OVERVIEW

There's a lot of different magic kits for beginners on the market. Typically, they follow a common formula: turn your child into an instant wizard by giving him all kinds of plastic magic props to use. The problem with most of these sets is three-fold: Firstly, the props look cheap and gimmicky, so that anyone who sees tricks performed with them instantly knows that it's a "trick vase", or some other gimmick that can't be handed out for examination. Secondly, while these sets often introduce kids to classic effects, in reality these kinds of tricks require a lot of practice and dedication to learn properly and perform well. Thirdly, most beginner magic sets focus on the method rather than on presentation, and if a child has to figure out how to perform and present a trick all on their own, they will often give up. With his magic set for children and beginners, Shin Lim is wants to give us something much better.

Shin Lim is one of today's undisputed masters of entertainment and showmanship, and his credentials speak for themselves. He's been successful in multiple competitions and TV shows, including Penn & Teller's Fool Us, and America's Got Talent, where he was a two-time winner on both shows. But his first place result in the category of close-up card magic at 2015's FISM, arguably the most prestigious award in magic, also speaks volumes. As a result of his enormous success, Shin Lim has become the face of the modern magician. By combining flawless technical skill, wonderful showmanship, and genuine creativity, he has brought magic to a new level. He's also brought it to a new audience, rekindling the public's love for magic as an art-form.

With his visual and artistic style, Shin Lim is the perfect person to stir up the enthusiasm of a new generation for magic. And now with his EVOLUSHIN Magic Kit, he's also the perfect person to teach budding magicians the basics. This is not your ordinary magic set, full of colourful and cheap plastic gimmicks, that turn out to be much harder to use than the box cover promises. With EVOLUSHIN you don't just get a box full of props and a booklet of small print explaining the moves. Perhaps the most valuable gift of all that comes with this set is the online video with more than two hours of instruction from Shin Lim himself. He's not just the face on the box, but he's actually the guy teaching us the magic. And it's high class, quality magic - that's nonetheless easy to learn and perform, for both children and beginners alike.

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CONTENTS

The first thing you'll notice is the printed book of instructions that comes with the set. It consists of 32 pages on thin paper, and while there are some small photos included, it's very much like the books that come with other magic kits. Yes there are 100 tricks included, all card tricks, but don't expect too much from this. The descriptions of the actual tricks are quite sketchy and minimal, and don't give any suggestions about patter or presentation. It's basically a separate bonus item that gives you ideas for card tricks with a regular deck of cards, and that's not what this kit is even about.

My advice is that you should simply ignore the book with written instructions entirely when starting out with this kit. Put this printed book aside or hide it under everything else in the box - you can always come back to it later. Just check the first page to grab the link and password you'll need to access the online video instructions, because that's where you get the real gold. The link will take you to a page on Murphy's Magic website, where you can download a complete video of instructions with Shin Lim as your personal teacher. You get three different sizes in which you can download the video, ranging from a lower res SD (534MB), to HD (1.4GB), to Full HD (2.6GB). Alternatively you can just stream the video directly from the Murphy's Magic site, and browse straight to each of the 20 different chapters that the video is divided into. Fifteen of these chapters each teach one new trick, each using a different gimmick that is included in the box. There's also a couple of introductory chapters briefly covering the props, two chapters each with a full routine, and a final conclusion.

Here's an overview of everything you get with the set, which I've arranged into categories:
Card Magic: Svengali deck, Spirit Slate (Black Box), Card Box Vanish
Packet Tricks: Prediction Effect, Devious Ace, Royal Flush, Mind Reader, Final Destination
Other Magic: Tic Tac, Cloaking Device (Thumb Tip), Invisible Thread, Self Folding Bill, Instant Cash (Blank Paper to Bills), The Vanisher (Universal Pull), Anti-Gravity Device (Bottle Cap)
Routines: Ambitious Card Act, Coin Act
Video Instructions: 140 minutes with 15 tricks (one for each gimmick) plus 2 routines
Written Instructions: 32 page booklet with 100 other card tricks for a standard deck (not provided)

Let's take a look at each of the 15 gimmicks in turn, and tell you what you actually get, and what you'll learn by following Shin Lim's video tutorial for each. I've grouped the tricks into different categories in what follows, but note that the material on the video covers this in a slightly different order.

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CARD MAGIC

Svengali deck: This is a perfect item to kick off the set and the video, because it is such an incredibly versatile gaff deck. As such it's an ideal inclusion to demonstrate what Shin Lim is looking for in his magic kit: tools, not toys. The deck you get is a bridge sized deck (perhaps to suit smaller hands) rather than the normal poker sized deck. It's not the highest quality product as far as playing cards go, even though it's printed by Cartamundi, because the cards are not embossed, and are smooth and quite thin. Shin performs a simple routine, which boils down to the spectator selecting a random card, and then cutting the deck, each time cutting to their own card. As part of the finale, every card changes to the spectator's chosen card. In the explanation he covers all the basics about setting up the deck, about handling and dribbling the deck, and then the routine itself. He also includes a more advanced palm for a nice colour change you can do as part of the routine, and sleights like dribble are also very useful for card magic generally.

Spirit Slate (Black box): Shin Lim demonstrates this as a way of revealing a forced card, which in this case is done using the Svengali deck, although he also teaches the Criss Cross Force as an alternative way of accomplishing this. The presentation is that a blank paper is placed with a pencil inside the black box. After the spectator chooses a random card, the box is opened and the paper is now shown to have spirit writing on it: the name of the chosen card. This black box is an incredibly versatile tool, and Shin also mentions how you can use it to do other things, like make a card vanish, or a card appear. Proof of its versatility is how it's used for both of the two routines at the end of the video.

Card Box Vanish: After your spectator selects a random card, you remove a prediction card you'd inserted in a deck within a card clip - and it's an exact match. You return your prediction back inside your deck inside the card clip, and suddenly make the entire deck vanish - except the predicted card. This is very visual and powerful, but one down-side is that you are limited to using the bridge sized force card (9 of Hearts) that matches the design of the Svengali deck, so you can't replace this with any card of your choice. I also found the gimmick a little finicky, and the way the box opened and closed was sometimes awkward and not as smooth as I'd like to be reliable.

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PACKET TRICKS

Prediction Effect (Red Envelope): This simple packet trick relies on gaff cards and has the feel of B'Wave, and is a great introduction to the idea of equivoque. Your spectator makes free choices to narrow down an entire deck to just a single card - which turns out to be the only card that is face-up inside a small packet in an envelope. As a twist, it is also the only card that has a different coloured back. The trick comes in a red envelope marked with a question mark, and you'll use this in performance, telling your spectator that you've made a prediction in advance using the four cards inside. The fact that the cards are in an envelope makes the trick more impressive, because it rules out the possibility of you having changed anything after the spectator makes their apparently `free' choices. It's not quite as clean as the classic B'Wave, and while explaining the handling even Shin Lim has to correct himself after messing up a couple of times! But I imagine Shin may have opted to go with a variation out of respect for the original, and the idea of making spectators choose between "men or women?" to help narrow down the options works very well.

Devious Ace: This is a simplified handling of the classic Ultimate 3 Card Monte routine, using three cards that include the standard gaffs for this popular effect. I've always loved this trick, because it can pack a real punch. The handling can take some real practice in order to remember the correct sequence of moves, but the power of the trick makes it very worthwhile. Kids and beginners should consider themselves very privileged to get these cards and have this secret taught as part of this video. Using three cards that are all clubs does take away a little from the visuals of the usual presentation, where the money card is typically a red card like the Ace of Hearts, but it does simplify the handling for beginners, because there's less chance you'll flash the indices. The handling taught is also simplified to make it easier to learn.

Royal Flush: This is a simple packet trick where you show a hand of five cards of varying values and suits, then instantly change them into a royal flush of the same suit. Shin covers all aspects of the handling well, but I'd have liked to see some more hints about the presentation here, to make it more interesting. When it's just presented as a simple change, as taught here, the cards beg to be examined - which of course you can't allow, given that virtually all of them are heavily gaffed. Even so it is a nice simple trick for a complete beginner, and can stun laymen.

Mind Reader: This mentalism trick starts with three custom cards each with a different emoji (selected by Shin's wife Casey): a panda, a butterfly, and a puppy. No matter which card your spectator freely chooses (and it is a genuinely free choice), it turns out to be the very one you had predicted! One nice thing about this trick is how easy it is to perform, and after teaching it Shin gets Casey to perform it several times. Shin also uses it to explain the concept of "multiple outs", another important principle in magic, and he emphasizes how tremendously useful and worth exploring this principle is.

Final Destination: This packet trick also uses fully custom cards, this time with eight cards each featuring a different wonder of the world. Your spectator makes a completely free choice of one of the eight cards. Now you show that all the other seven cards have the same coloured back, while the chosen card is the only one with a different coloured back. Old-timers will recognize this trick as a variation on Nick Trost's 8 Card Brainwave, which is an ingenious packet trick that I've always loved. A variation of the Flustration Count is well-explained (although Shin incorrectly calls it Frustration Count throughout).

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OTHER MAGIC

Tic Tac: You make a coin vanish from your hand and pass straight into a sealed Tic Tac style box. This is a very visual trick, and the hardest part about it is the coin vanish. As part of this Shin Lim first teaches the French Drop, and then a simple Table Vanish using a lapping technique. It's relatively easy to learn and perform, and the secret behind the box is both simple and effective.

Cloaking Device (Thumb Tip): Using a thumb tip, we get taught how to vanish a small silk handkerchief, and how to make it reappear from our spectator's clothing. The magic kit comes with a large sized thumb tip and a small sized one, and of course the red `silk' as well, albeit in a smaller size than usual. Besides the trick, there's some useful teaching here about misdirection, particularly about how you can cover a small action with a larger action.

Invisible Thread: In the envelope labelled "Magic thread" you get some black thread, as well as some clear white fishing line that you'll use as replacement thread for the "Vanisher" utility device. For the Invisible Thread part of the tutorial, Shin Lim has another magician named Blaze demonstrate and teach a levitating bill trick, using the excellent hook-up popularized by Jon LeClair. It briefly covers how to strip the thread, do the set-up, and levitate small objects. Shin himself demonstrates how to use the same set-up to do the popular trick where you levitate a spinning card, ideally with the help of a pirouette flourish.

Self Folding Bill: For this trick we get to use the fake "Fifty Credits" Shin Lim bill that is included. It is pre-folded (mine was actually pre-folded incorrectly), but Shin explains how to do it with real money, or with any rectangular sheet of paper. It's a very visual trick, where an open bill in your hand first folds in half all by itself, then in quarters, and then in eighths. Even when you know how it works, it looks fantastic. A big part of the explanation is about setting it up, and you'll need to supply your own clear thread to do that, since it's not provided with the kit. But you can do this with a real banknote, which makes it even more impressive.

Instant Cash: On the video Shin calls this "Blank Notes", "Blank Bills to Full Bills", and "Nothing to Bills", which basically tells you what the effect is. You show half a dozen pieces of blank paper, and with a quick flick of the wrist, they all turn into "Shin Lim" $10 bills! The bills aren't real obviously, and are much like the fake banknote used for the self-folding bill routine. Unfortunately you can't easily substitute these with actual banknotes, which is a bit of a pity. You also can't hand out everything afterwards - at least, not all of it. But Shin does explain how to use misdirection to ditch the gimmick, and he also mentions how you can make your own gimmick with Monopoly money or with different coloured pieces of paper. Overall it's a pretty impressive visual trick to show people, without being hard to perform.

The Vanisher: This was included by Murphy's Magic, and Shin admits that he's never really used it before personally. In the magic industry this prop is usually known as a universal pull, and is used to magically vanish any object that can fit inside the gimmick - silks, bills, spongeballs, and even coins. Shin also teaches a simplified variation where you tie down the object being vanished instead of using the whole gimmick. I've personally not used one of these gimmicks before either, but apparently it's a popular utility device - and the folks at Murphy's Magic would know, because they're one of the biggest magic wholesalers in the world. Check reviews of the Universal Pull by Vernet if you want to learn more. I really look forward to playing around with it given how simple it is to use, and how you can easily apply it to vanish a range of small objects in a very visual and magical way.

Anti Gravity Device: This is another street magic style of trick, where you take a bottle of water, and turn it upside down ... and amazingly the water doesn't gush out, but defies gravity by remaining suspended, even when you push a toothpick up into the mouth of the bottle. The gimmick does the hard work for you, and the only hard thing about this trick is applying and removing it at the start and end of the trick, without getting caught. While easily done - although it won't fit every bottle - this needs to be done under the cover of some simple misdirection, which Shin Lim teaches. The anti-gravity bottle cap is a classic gimmick that has been around for a while, and I've previously read about a way to make your own in Diamond Jim Tyler's book Bamboozlers Vol 2, but it's nice to actually get what you need so you can perform this straight away.

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ROUTINES

Ambitious Card Act: Your spectator is shown an empty box which is given to them for safe-keeping, after which they select and remember a random card, which is returned to the deck. They help divide the deck into three piles and select pile of their choice, and amazingly the top card of that pile is their card. Now you deal the deck one at a time, and the card your spectator tells you to stop at is their chosen card. You then show the entire deck to be all the same card - their card - but insist this is just a pure illusion, because their chosen card isn't even in the deck (showing all the cards to be different), which you prove by showing it was in the card case all along. Now you vanish their chosen card and indeed the entire card case (using the Vanishing Card Box), and then show that their chosen card was in fact inside the box (the "Spirit Slate" Black Box) that the spectator has been holding the entire time.

Impressions: This is basically a Svengali routine which Shin Lim created specifically for this project, and combines three gimmicks. With his wife behind the camera, Shin really gets into performance mode for the first time, and runs through the whole routine in entirety first. It's a terrific routine that really shows how tricks can be made to feel like real magic when they're strung together with creativity and presented well. Having said that, in his performance Shin does use a few advanced techniques (e.g. a riffle shuffle with a Svengali deck) which he doesn't explain. He also includes a double lift, which is admittedly easier with a Svengali deck, but even so the instruction is really too brief, and doesn't cover how to turn the card over. To be fair, Shin encourages you to create your own routine rather than copy him exactly, but his routine is an excellent starting point.

Coin Act: First you produce a magic wand (sharpie), which you wave over an empty box (the "Spirit Slate" Black Box), which then turns out to have a coin inside it. You take the coin in your hand and make it vanish, and then make it reappear. You make it vanish again, and this time make it reappear from inside the cap of the marker. Then you make the pen vanish, the coin vanish, and finally make the coin magically appear inside a Tic Tac box.

Impressions: It's immediately obvious when watching this routine that it's not going to be easy to perform, and that new techniques and sleights are used. The explanation for producing the sharpie is great, and is a fairly easy move to make. But the next moves all require significantly more sleight of hand, such as making the coin reappear in your hand, and then using a strike vanish to make it disappear. Shin admits this is "a knacky move", and says "Practice it for two hours and you'll get this." Moves like this will quickly prove beyond most beginners, and I can't see too many kids putting in the effort to practice enough to master this. But it's certainly a great routine - at least when Shin performs it - and should be within the reach of the intermediate magician willing to practice.

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OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

1. Contemporary rather than old fashioned: A lot of magic sets include traditional magic props like a wand, ball and vase, and the classic cups and balls. These have their place in magic, but modern magic tends to be more flashy and visual, and with a different emphasis. The creators of this kit have opted to appeal to a new generation, who will often be familiar with the street magic specials that they've seen on TV from magicians like David Blaine, Dynamo, and Criss Angel. Focusing on this modern style is the teaching formula that has been used with great success by Ellusionist with their Street Magic DVDs, and to some extent it's the same formula adopted here, albeit with a little more class. That's why instead of the older classic tricks like sponge balls, linking rings, or cups and balls, we get tricks like a levitating bill, a self-folding bill, blank papers turning into bills, an instant vanishing device, a coin vanish using a Tic Tac style box, a Card Box Vanish, and the anti-gravity bottle trick. All of these are relatively flashy, quick, visual, and will appeal more to a modern audience.

2. Gimmicks rather than standard cards: Without the actual tools in this magic kit, the tutorial video won't get you that far, because everything relies on the gimmicked props that you get. In that sense, what you learn is how to make the most of the various tools and utility devices that come with the set. Even the card tricks taught all rely on the specialized packet tricks or the Svengali deck that is included. For card magic with a standard deck, you'll have to use your own deck, and rely on the printed booklet. Admittedly, this has a lot of material, and you will be able to use some of the techniques learned in the video (e.g. Criss Cross force). But for card magic that goes beyond the props, you'll largely be on your own, because the written instructions don't really cover things like presentation, but only the method. All things said, I wonder if this kit could make kids or beginners rely too much on gimmicks. It would have been great to have had Shin Lim spend another hour teaching half a dozen tricks with a normal deck, whether this was some of the repertoire from the written instructions, or some classic self-workers like Spectator Cuts to the Aces, Gemini Twins (Karl Fulves), Emotional Reaction (Dai Vernon), or Out of This World (Paul Curry). I think this would encourage people to branch out more into "normal" card magic, and would have also helped emphasize the importance of good presentation, although admittedly it may also have increased the difficulty level somewhat.

3. Tools rather than toys: Shin Lim makes this point very deliberately at the start of the video, and also in the introductory page of the booklet: "You will find this kit is very different from all other magic kits on the market today. Typically, you will find a lot of plastic magic items that tend to put the focus on the props rather than the magician performing them. My goal with this kit is to make you the star of the show, not the props. I want you to look at the items supplied to you as "tools" rather than toys." When measured by that standard, this introductory magic kit lives up to what is promised. The kinds of props in a lot of previous generation magic kits are typically items like brightly coloured cups and balls. In contrast, most of the things in Shin Lim's kit aren't flashy, and don't draw attention to themselves at all. In fact, many of them should be completely invisible to your audience, and your spectator should never even see them (e.g. Invisible Thread, Cloaking Device, Anti-Gravity Device, The Vanisher). But as tools they will allow you to accomplish extraordinary miracles like visual levitations and vanishes. They are also quite straight-forward to learn, unlike traditional tricks like the Cups and Balls, which look easy, but in reality require an enormous amount of practice to master and perform well. Some of the gimmicks in Shin Lim's set are one trick ponies (e.g. Tic Tac, Self-Folding Bill, Instant Cash, Anti-Gravity Bottle Cap), so the ad copy over-states things a little when it promises that all the gimmicks are tools with multiple uses. But it's true that most of the gimmicks included are very versatile, and once you've mastered how to use them, you can use them in a variety of other different ways (e.g. Svengali deck, Thumb Tip, Invisible Thread, Universal Pull), limited only by your own creativity and imagination.

4. Easy-to-perform tricks rather than difficult sleight-of-hand: Unlike a lot of other magic videos I've seen for beginners, the focus isn't on teaching sleight of hand with a deck of cards. Even basic techniques like shuffling, cuts, and double lifts aren't really covered. But here that's a good thing, because the aim is to get people performing magic without worrying about complex moves. Not counting the harder routines in the two Acts at the end, virtually the only sleight of hand taught is how to dribble a deck of cards, the Flustration Count, and how to vanish a coin with the French Drop. Because the idea is that the tricks are easy for beginners to perform, they are all self-contained and ready-to-go out of the box (the exception being the self-folding bill, which requires some work to set-up with your own needle and thread), so you don't need to shop for extra components or do any art-and-craft before getting started with any of them. In a lot of cases the gimmicks do a lot of the work for you, so the goal of keeping things easy to perform probably also guided the decision to focus on gimmicks rather than tricks with standard playing cards, which will often require more skill to perform.

5. Techniques rather than only tricks: Despite having just said that this magic kit focuses on things that are easy to perform, it is important to realize that one strength of this set is that Shin Lim does teach much more than just the tricks themselves. For example, in the section about the Svengali deck you learn how to dribble cards. In the section about the Spirit Slate you learn how to do a Criss Cross Force. In the Tic Tac trick you learn coin vanishes like the French Drop and Table Vanish. And in the section about Final Destination you learn about the Mechanics Grip and a variation of the Flustration Count. All of these moves are versatile techniques that you'll be able to use and apply with a multitude of other tricks. As such they help you build a foundation for more magic.

6. Principles rather than only gimmicks: Shin Lin covers a lot of general magical principles in the process of teaching the different tricks covered on the video. For example, in the section dealing with the Thumb Tip and the section on the Instant Cash, he explains how misdirection is achieved by having a big action covering a small action. This of course an important principle that applies in many other magic contexts. In the section about the mystery red envelope he teaches you about equivoque, and in the section about Mind Reader, he teaches you about multiple outs. All of these principles are valuable learning points that will hold you in good stead as you continue exploring the world of magic. It's by using principles like this that you will build up the skills you need to do a lot of other magic. And as Shin also emphasizes in the last part of the video, the secret to magic doesn't lie in the props, or in copying another person's performance, but by bringing in your own personality and style.

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7. An expert teacher rather than an average amateur: Youtube has been both a blessing and a curse for magic, especially in terms of the level of instruction. On the one hand it has helped make it far easier for kids and teens to learn magic than ever before. But it's also given youngsters a free pass to teach others, and many of them do this badly. There are some exceptions, but the majority of magic tutorials on Youtube are mediocre at best, and will cause youngsters to develop bad habits and learn poor technique. With this set you get a genuine professional teaching you, which means that you'll get proper instruction. A lot of magic kits have no video instruction, and even those that do feature tutorials by a teacher who is amateur. Shin Lim is famous for a reason, and he knows what he is talking about. That means that you'll get good teaching from an expert, not from a teenager with poor technique, or from a wannabe amateur magician, or even from a no-name performer. The format he uses for each trick is that he first performs the trick, then teaches it to Casey his wife, who is a genuine newbie to learning magic, and Shin takes his time to explain everything carefully and well - perfect for beginners!

8. Strong magic rather than mediocre material: Sometimes you get magic sets for kids which promise a lot, but prove to be disappointing. What Murphy's Magic and Shin Lim have assembled here, however, is a carefully curated set that includes really good content. On the first page of the book that comes with the set, Shin Lim writes: "Make no mistake, the tricks taught in this kit are professional effects, not kid's toys. They are tricks you would see professional magicians around the world perform." He's right, and I agree that there's definitely some professional magician content here. For example, the section that explains the LeClair hookup for performing levitations with invisible thread is excellent. It's quite brief, admittedly, but it gives the basics, which you'd normally have to go to specialized sources for. And there are genuinely some really good tricks included, that are good enough to be used in the repertoire of a professional magician. The B'wave style Prediction Effect in the red mystery envelope is mind-blowing, and so is the 3 card monte inspired Devious Ace routine, and the 8 Card Brainwave inspired Final Destination. These packet tricks are all variations of commercial effects that are among the very best in the business, and are used by professionals. The Svengali deck is a real miracle worker. The thumb tip and invisible thread can really blow people away. And the few other props that are included, like the Spirit Slate (black box), Card Box Vanish, and Tic Tac box, are the kinds of gimmicks that are good enough to be sold on their own. There's very little here that made me say: "That's a mediocre effect, I can't see myself ever wanting to do that." You will want to be doing most of the things in this kit after seeing the video.

9. Proven content rather than passing fads: I've been involved with magic for a long time now, and it doesn't take long to learn how the magic industry works. Typically a lot of sales are driven by hype and the promises of amazing effects that are more powerful than ever before, and easier than ever before. Over time, many of these fads fade away, only to collect dust and be forgotten. For a beginner, you don't want to start your journey in magic with material that hasn't proven itself. Fortunately what you get in this kit are only familiar gimmicks that are tried and true props which have gone the distance, and have already survived the marketing hype machine. You can be certain that they won't disappoint because they aren't merely new items that may or may not be good, but because Murphy's Magic and Shin Lim know that they are good, and have already proven themselves so.

10. Honesty rather than hype: If there's one mistake that Ellusionist has arguably made with their street magic material, it's that they've often over-hyped their own products, by promising too much, and describing everything with superlatives. According to their ad copy and videos, every trick is "super strong", guaranteed to "slay people", all while being "easy to perform". In contrast, Shin Lim's magic kit doesn't make a pretence of being more than what it actually is, and doesn't create false or unrealistic expectations. He emphasizes the need to practice, and in numerous instances highlights that a particular sleight will take some time to master. And while some visual favourites of modern street magic are included - like invisible thread - this is also combined with some elegant packet tricks and other card magic, much of which a modern audience won't have seen before on television magic specials. As such this kit departs enough from old-school magic to feel like it speaks to a modern generation, without feeling over-the-top as some of the Ellusionist material does. Shin himself is not pretentious or proud, but comes across as genuine, honest, and reliable, and you get the immediate sense that you can trust what he says, and that his teaching is never overblown or exaggerated.

11. Variety rather than overlap: Another mistake made with some magic sets is that they give you ten different variations of doing the same thing. I don't need to know ten different versions of how to perform a cutting to the Aces trick, since I'll only end up doing one anyway. This set avoids that mistake by just teaching one method for each trick, and instead giving a good variety of material. So there's very little sense of duplication or overlap between the different items that are included. That also means that you can more easily combine things as part of a single routine, and you won't just be doing the same card trick in different ways.

12. Value rather than luxury: The incredible value of this set can't be emphasized enough. Priced at fifty bucks, it comes with a stunning array of gimmicks and tools. If you purchased all of these separately, you'd be spending a lot more money. To illustrate, just consider the fact that it comes with five solid packet tricks, and that these days people will easily spend $10 or more for a single packet trick if it's half decent. Or if you wanted to buy a Svengali deck, a B'Wave styled packet trick, or a Universal Pull on its own, you might be looking at anything from $5-15 each. And that might be without decent video tutorials teaching or explaining how to perform a trick with it. It's not hard to see that if you combine all the bits and pieces included in this set, and take into consideration that it comes with over two hours of solid video instruction, this is a real bargain. They may not be the absolute highest end components in some cases, and some of the gimmicks are fairly basic and cheaply made. For example the cards from the Svengali deck and for the packet tricks are just a smooth finish, and not the usual quality of an embossed Bicycle deck with an air cushion finish. You'll probably end up throwing out the box insert before too long too, since it's not exactly sturdy. But who cares! All things considered this is terrific value for beginners considering the amount of things you get, and the quality of the magic itself. And even for people who have been into magic for a while already, there's a lot of tools and utility devices you may not yet have in your arsenal, and this is a great way to pick up a solid collection of goodies to play with, without requiring you to spend a fortune.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

So what's the final assessment of this magic kit? It's good. Very good. And it definitely stands out from your average magic kit. But it is important to come in with the right expectations. Do realize that the printed instructions are at best an extra add-on that you should initially ignore. Do realize that you won't be taught how to do any tricks with a regular deck of cards. Do realize that this is a modern magic set, not a traditional one. Do realize that you won't get a ton of brightly-coloured plastic toys inside the box. Do realize that there's a heavy focus on gimmicks. Do realize that the gimmicks you get are tried and true, and most of them are very versatile. Do realize that the box and even the components included aren't the highest level quality. Do realize that most of the tricks included are strong - very strong. Do realize that the real value is on Shin Lim's 2+ hours of online instruction. Unlike some performers and celebrities, he doesn't come across as full of himself, but as incredibly genuine and honest, and he doesn't even need to mention his achievements, because they already speak for him. Instead he focuses on putting some powerful gimmicks into your hand, and teaching you how to quickly and easily do powerful magic with them.

As such, I think this set is a big success. Yes they may have taken some shortcuts in the production, and what you get isn't necessarily the best in the business in terms of quality. But if they'd gone with top-of-the-line-components, they would have quickly put this set behind the reach of the average person. Quite frankly, most people don't need the best of the best, certainly not as beginners. These do the job just fine, and they still look professional rather than cheap and nasty. To attain the stated price point of around $50, they had to limit themselves on the quantity and quality of the physical contents. But you do get some of the best tricks in the business when it comes to the magic included. And you get one of the best magicians in the business personally teaching them to you. As a result, what is included does allow you to produce some real miracles, and will give the beginner magician an excellent foundation for performing true magic.

And isn't that what a good magic kit should really do? It's of no benefit to give a kid a box of shiny looking props and colourful gimmicks which look cheap, and which may even turn off some of the people the kid would like to perform for. It's also of no benefit if that kid doesn't get decent instruction about good presentation and showmanship, and if the tricks are hard to learn. Shin Lim's magic kit avoids these fatal mistakes, and instead puts into the hands of a beginner something more valuable: tricks that even a professional magician would be proud of, the solid instruction needed to perform them, without a steep learning curve that quickly becomes frustrating. What you do get are tricks that are genuinely easy to learn, and play very strong. And that's exactly the formula that will really get beginners excited about magic. Just as the set promises, they will quickly and easily become the star of the show, and this will give them enough material to keep them busy for a long time with a good variety of tricks, while helping them build a solid foundation for a future in magic at the same time.

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RECOMMENDATION

While the costly boxes of gimmicks found in magic sets available elsewhere will often find themselves gathering dust before too long, Shin Lim's EVOLUSHIN Magic Kit gives children and beginners a real chance to develop their abilities in magic, and to get a taste of what it's like to entertain people by doing amazing things. Even people who have been in magic for a while will want to snap up this set due to the great value of all the gimmicks it includes, and the many solid tricks you can do with these.

Shin Lim says that this is the magic kit he wishes he had when he was first starting out, and I agree. Even to those who've been doing card magic with a standard deck for a long time, and who want to branch out with some gimmicks, some packet tricks, and some tricks outside of card magic, I'd say: Go for it, you won't get much better value elsewhere for the price.

Where to get it? EVOLUSHIN Magic Kit by Shin Lim is available from Murphy's Magic retailers.

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Chessmann
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Thank you for your very considerable efforts to bring us your thoughts in this review. Your efforts here, as in your other reviews, are very much appreciated.
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RCarruth
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Thanks so much for the very detailed and solid review. You have eliminated ANY doubt as to whether someone should invest in Shin Lims kit. Bravo!
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Maxy
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Thank you very much for this amazing review!
EndersGame
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Here's some additional thoughts about the target market for the EVOLUSHIN Magic Kit, and who I think it is suitable for:

1. Older children: Any good introductory magic set should be suitable for kids, since they are the ones we'd love to see getting into magic. They are definitely part of the target audience, because in the video tutorial Shin Lim speaks directly to kids several times. However, usually that's when there's anything that requires using a sharp object (e.g. needle, scissors), and which could lead to an unsupervised child injuring themselves. The box says that the kit is suitable for ages 8 to adult. In my opinion age 8 is perhaps on the low side, because it would have to be a fairly keen eight year old who would be dedicated enough to watch the video carefully and to put in the practice that is needed, and they might struggle to learn some things entirely on their own. But most of the material should comfortably be within the reach of 8-12 year olds. Teens would probably especially thrive in exploring a kit like this, particularly with the tricks that have a street magic feel. But certainly the majority of the teaching is aimed at a level that most older kids will be able to understand and perform, and for this reason Shin usually goes over things a couple of times when explaining how to do a trick. I just hope that kids getting this set realize how fortunate they are, and how good the stuff that they're getting really is!

2. Beginning magicians: Don't make the mistake of thinking that this magic kit is just for kids. The emphasis is on beginners, so that includes people who have long left childhood behind. There's a lot of people who become interested in magic long after they've got out of their teens, and this would make a great place to start. Are you an adult interested in starting with magic, and wondering if this set is for you? The answer is: Absolutely! There's nothing that looks childish or trivial about the props - which proves that the decision not to go with gaudy plastic toys was a good one. As the product description emphasizes, this magic kit is about giving you tools rather than toys, and these tools will work just as well in the hands of an adult as they will in the hands of a child. Make no mistake, people seeing the magic you perform with the gimmicks you get with this set won't think that you're playing with kiddie stuff. There's a lot of professional grade secrets inside here, and much of the material you're given and taught is used by real magicians. So regardless of your age, if you're a beginner this set is terrific value.

3. Intermediate magicians: Maybe you've already been into magic for quite a while, and already know a lot of card tricks. Is this kit still worth picking up? The answer here is: Maybe. Some intermediate magicians will already have some of the props included, and certainly experienced magicians will. But one great thing about this kit is that it's an opportunity to get a ton of magic tricks all at once. Remember that this doesn't even teach tricks with a regular deck of cards. So if your experience with magic is limited to a regular deck of cards, then you won't have anything that's in this set. Practically everything involves some kind of gimmick or magical utility item. So this is a great way to score more than a dozen items (including five decent packet tricks and a gaff deck) together at a great value price. In one purchase, you'll have a quiver of 15 solid and easy-to-learn tricks that you can perform, some of which are tools that are very versatile and that can be used in a multitude of ways beyond the specific trick taught on the instructional video. I personally have been involved in magic for numerous years since my teens, but had much less than half of the gimmicks included, so there was still a lot of new stuff here for me to play with. So while the explicit goal of this set is to inspire young magicians or beginners to begin their journey into the art of magic, they aren't the only ones who will benefit from this kit.

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Forza Azzurri
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Thanks much, EndersGame! You just did a Master Class in how to do a magic review. Outstanding work. Better? Useful.
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