Magic Trick Review: Switchblade by Dan Harlan

There are certainly no shortage of gaffed Three Card Monte routines in the magic marketplace. From the classic Skinner routine to flap cards and rough and smooth, it seems as if everything has been done. So why in the world am I reviewing yet another one? Well, because Switchblade is cool… that’s why!

Switchblade is a precision made utility gimmick built into a normal looking playing card. It allows you to perform vanishes, color changes, transpositions, and more. All of which can look quite good. Just take a look at the video.

The gimmick itself cannot be handled by the audience but will withstand casual scrutiny. There are no mis-indexed pips or flaps to hide. The card may be shown fully on both sides. That’s because the gimmick is built into the card. Also, the gimmick is never the card that actually changes. It is only used to effect the change of other cards. As a result, the audience should have no desire to inspect it. If they want to look at anything, it will be the card that has just transformed, which of course is perfectly normal.

There are two main routines taught on the disc (the other ones are just variations). The first is pretty much the standard Biddle Trick. However, the gimmick allows you to actually show the selection among the five cards in your hand before it cleanly vanishes and reappears face up in the center of the deck that the spectator has been holding. This is my favorite use of the gimmick discussed on the disc as it is used in a more subtle manner. The second routine is a multi-phased Three Card Monte effect where the money card never seems to be where it’s supposed to be. To make it easier to follow, the magician magically changes it to an odd back. For the finale, the card’s face changes into a Joker.

All of the tricks taught on the disc are relatively easy to do since the special card does most of the work for you. The only part that will require some experimentation is the manner in which the gimmick must be activated. Since the publisher gives this information on their website, I don’t mind telling you about the unnatural action that must be utilized to engage the special something. Basically, the cards are held at one index corner and tapped sharply against the performer’s other hand. The action takes place in an instant but it does look a little weird. Once the gimmick is engaged, however, there is no chance of it failing. It is very reliable as long as it doesn’t become bent in your pocket or something like that.

Carrying around a gimmick is always a bit of a hassle. And if you’re thinking to yourself that all of these things could be easily accomplished via other methods, you are absolutely correct. If you are a beginner to card magic, you will certainly get a lot of mileage out of Switchblade. Seasoned pros, however, will have to decide for themselves whether it’s worth carrying something extra to perform the kind of visual effects that this gimmick makes possible.

- Available for $24.95 from Paper Crane Magic

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