Magic set recommendations?

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby merenkov2 » 12/02/08 03:56 PM

Looking for recommendations for a good magic set for a precocious 6-year old. Actually, recommendations for sets for older children would be appreciated too, for future reference. The magic sets I see in stores nowadays seem loaded with cheap, plastic crap. Do they even make good magic sets anymore?
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Postby Steve Bryant » 12/02/08 04:06 PM

Go to Amazon and look at the Melissa and Doug sets. As I posted in this month's Little Egypt Magic:

For many years now, the Melissa and Doug line of toys has produced quality magic sets for very young children, with nice props made mostly of wood. This year they have expanded into specialty magic sets for somewhat older kids, the line including Melissa and Doug Card Tricks Unshuffled, Melissa and Doug Coin Tricks Unrolled, Melissa and Doug Thumb Tricks Ungloved, and Melissa and Doug Rope Tricks Untangled. I've seen the card and coin trick sets, and they each contain props you would have been proud to own as a kid. All the tricks come packaged in boxes that "fold like a book for easy storage." The card trick set contains, for example, gimmicked decks, individual trick cards, X-ray glasses, and instructions for more than 30 tricks. All are available at Amazon, where you can find deals on individual sets or grouped sets.
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Postby merenkov2 » 12/02/08 08:08 PM

Good find, Steve, thank you.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 12/02/08 08:39 PM

I haven't seen the Melissa and Doug magic set, but with a 1+ year old daughter, I'm certainly familiar with other products of theirs. Their stuff is definitely good quality.

You may also wish to check out the Mac King Suitcase O'Magic, which I believe is available via Barnes and Noble.

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Postby Jim Sisti » 12/02/08 09:42 PM

I'd like to echo Steve's sentiments regarding the sets that were introduced this year by Melissa & Doug. I was hired by Melissa & Doug as their magic demonstrator at the International Toy Fair in New York last February so I became quite familiar with all four of the new sets.

To add on to what Steve pointed out, the coin tricks set, for example, has a Scotch and Soda (it's not named that in the kit, of course), a folding coin, a pair of coin cups, etc.

For a kid 8 or older, it's a much better choice than the common plastic injection-molded stuff that has been the norm in children's magic sets for way too long.
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Postby Spellbinder » 12/03/08 04:02 AM

There is an alternative to the traditional Magic Set, but it only works if you are willing to spend quality magic time with the recipient. You give the child an antique looking suitcase or trunk (Michael's Craft Store has some nice ones). Inside it is an individual trick you have selected yourself, along with a magic wand and a magic book of your choice. Instructions are for the child to get a magic lesson from you on performing the trick, and when you have decided the trick has been mastered, the child gets to choose another trick... three wishes or some such arrangement if you want to put a limit on the number. The child can use the book to choose the next trick, and perhaps can earn points towards a really great next trick by reading the book and learning some additional tricks on his or her own to show you the next time you visit.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/03/08 05:53 AM

I'll give you an opposing view for the Melissa and Doug sets: they're extremely expensive at almost $50 each, in enormous boxes, and if you remove the meager little group of props you actually receive you'll find very few items. Yes, the tricks are good, but the coins included are all fake. In other words, the Scotch and Soda is made with a plastic half dollar (why they aren't being pursued for counterfeiting is amazing). Definitely not worth the money.

At the moment, in the US, some of the Fantasma sets are definitely more worthwhile. I just featured one in Genii speaks: for $20 the kid will get a lot more. Royal and Adams sets will also produce great delight for kids--you're talking about a 6-year old! He or she doesn't know the difference between wood and plastic.

And stop talking about plastic as if it's some spawn of hell--magic sets have been made of plastic since the late 1950s when Remco put out the three Sneaky Pete Magic Shows.

The earlier Doug and Melissa magic sets, which cost about $20 and have wooden props, are better than the new line, but the props are definitely clunky.

The only sets I would actively avoid are the Cadaco sets--they really are junk.
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Postby Jim Sisti » 12/03/08 12:41 PM

While you're certainly entitled to your opinion about the Melissa & Doug sets, your assertion that the Scotch and Soda is made out of plastic is simply wrong. I demonstrated this trick, among the others, for nine hours a day over a three-day period, and while the included coin sets are certainly not Johnson Products quality, they are metal. Period.

You've been misinformed.
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Postby Duane Gillam » 12/03/08 12:46 PM

Proceed directly to your nearest Borders bookstore; do not pass Go; do not collect $200; go to Borders immediately. They are selling the magic sets that John Railing and Danny Orleans designed for Scholastic. Scholastic has discontinued them, and Borders is selling them for $3.99 each! An article describing these magic sets and their production was run in Genii sometime within the past few months. Sure the props are mostly plastic and lack the old world charm of wooden props, but plastic is now and not just the future (thank you very much Mr. Robinson). And if you did happen to pass Go and collect $200, you could buy 50 of these magic sets!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/03/08 05:57 PM

Jim, I am actually in London at the moment and thanks to your post I'm pretty sure I mis-remembered. The Scotch and Soda coin is not plastic--if I am now remembering correctly, all the coins were metal, but they are all fake and pressed for use in the magic set. Either way, don't be fooled by the enormous boxes: there's very little in the Melissa and Doug sets. A kid will get just as much enjoyment, if not more, out of the $20 Fantasma set that's getting sold at BJ's this season.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 12/04/08 01:16 AM

There are - I take it - at least two generation of Melissa and Doug kits. I bought the first batch. And while I thought the concept was cool, some of the items are a little clunky. And some of the items aren't very deceptive. I know when I was a kid, any trick that didn't fool my friends was not a good trick. One of the sets has a zippered change bag with is nice. And one of the kits has a very clever sword and the stone type effect, but the "ring" you have to wear looks ridiculous - even if you are a kid.

Can't speak to the current batch, but the older sets were hit and miss for me.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/04/08 06:26 AM

Yes, older sets = big wooden clunky pieces, ostensibly easier for kids to handle. Different approach and interesting. Retail for about $20 each.
New sets = enormous boxes with a little group of items inside and retail for $50 each.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 12/04/08 09:20 AM

Although Richard is correct re recommended retail price, do as I said in the original post and go to Amazon. The thumb set: 29.47, the rope set 34.95, the coin set 28.49, and the card set 28.47. Plus free shipping, no tax.
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Postby The Magic Apple » 12/04/08 12:55 PM

the magic kits by Melissa and Doug are great!
-Thumb Tricks is too good of a kit for the retail price
-The Deluxe Kit is INCREDIBLE - great tricks ad good instructions
-The coin set it good for kids. The coins are clearly not real coins but it is a great intro!

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Postby merenkov2 » 12/09/08 01:03 AM

Thanks everyone for the solid advice. I found the Melissa and Doug sets at my local Borders bookstore, and they are very nice. I've heard good things about Mac King's sets on another site, but I have not seen one in person.

I wish we had more quality magic sets to choose from. We are all worried about the future of magic, and I think good magic sets are one of the keys. (How many of us began our journey in magic because of a magic set? I know I did.) Richard, I think you should consider putting out a Genii Magic Set. You're the perfect person to put together an ideal magic set: impeccable taste in magic, tons of connections, and a great platform from which to initiate it (the Genii brand and its subscribers). Not only could you make a profit from the magic sets, you would also be creating a whole new generation of magicians loyal to Genii Magazine!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/09/08 01:52 AM

merenkov, you should find Mac King magic sets at Barnes & Noble bookstores, or on Mac's website:
http://www.mackingshop.com/
The Trunk 'o Tricks is very good. Everything he sells on the site is excellent.
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Postby James Foster » 12/10/08 10:03 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:merenkov, you should find Mac King magic sets at Barnes & Noble bookstores, or on Mac's website:
http://www.mackingshop.com/
The Trunk 'o Tricks is very good. Everything he sells on the site is excellent.


merenkov - in Austin, check Terra Toys on Anderson Lane. They carry some of the Mac King stuff as well as some other sets.
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Postby Mike Carr » 12/16/08 04:29 AM

I had a sneaky pete broadway set when I was a kid and it was GREAT!
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Postby magicalt » 12/16/08 10:13 AM

About 30 years ago when I got the magic bug it was because of the Ronco TV magic set which my parents gave me unfortunately all I have left of this set it the plasic record that it came with which explains the rules of magic. Now a dsys my 6 year old son loves the Mac King magic sets we have all of them to include the individual tricks that were sold at Toys R Us.
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Postby Matthew Field » 12/16/08 12:39 PM

My vote goes to Marvin's Magic and "Freaky Body Magic". It's expensive in the US, but in the UK not too bad for some extraordinary magic.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/16/08 12:59 PM

Freaky Body Magic is $100 in the US, but only 24 pounds (about $42) on amazon.co.uk. It's currently discounted to 20 pounds:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marvins-Magic-F ... 608&sr=8-1

Unfortunately amazon.co.uk won't let you order it if your delivery address is in the US.

I don't see many folks spending $100 on a magic set for a kid this year.
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Postby Naphtalia » 12/16/08 02:50 PM

Mac King's magic tricks and sets are well worth making the effort to find. I know they're available on-line at his site. We've had some of them in our shop.

Mac really gets it right. Classic tricks that are well themed. Links to a kidsafe website. Some include a DVD that is worth the price of the trick. An instruction book done in comic book format that encourages reading.

Only the very best comments to make about these.
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Postby susanmathew » 03/20/09 03:19 AM

oh thank you for the recommendations
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