Is it all about money?

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Scott » 06/09/03 07:20 PM

The recent threads which keep getting locked due to all the mud slinging raises a very interesting discussion. One that seems to have been overlooked (or either I'm the only stupid one in the bunch- HEY - I HEARD THAT!).

The issue is about secrets and money.

With all magic (I assume), you pay for the secret. Isn't the question really at what price is the secret free access for public domain? A top notch magician can sell a packet trick with a double faced card for $15. If you're showing magician friends, I think it's safe to say that if they ask how it's done, you'd show them the double faced card.

However, it you spent $1000 on something that's not mainstream magic, as far as being able to go to 1 of 50 online magic shops and buy it off the shelf, and you showed those same magician friends, would you be more than willing to spill the beans on how it works? I've seen the magic switchboard thing probably 100 times or more and I still don't have a clue on how it's done. I have friends who own it. They won't tell me how it works and I don't press them on it because it's something they paid a lot of money for. Same with any high priced item. You pay the price because it's out of mainstream availibility. Dean Dill's Explosion, for example. Would you spend over $1000 on that trick, perform it and immediately go to the internet and write up how it's done? Damned if I would. I would have paid $1000 (or whatever it costs) for the secret and the gaffs. If it was exposed, I would be pissed and I'd probably not buy another expensive trick like that again.

However, if I were to buy it, it stayed secret, and wasn't exposed, I'd get great usage out of it and I'd probably consider buying another high quality trick next time I was in the market. If I found my trick exposed to magicians on a site that non-magicians wouldn't ever visit, I would still fell ripped off and I'd not buy another item like this.

It kills the creator (or marketer) of the trick, in my opinion. Why should anyone pay you $1000 for a trick when the inner workings will be exposed in a forum?

I think it's all about money and getting what you pay for. If it's public, then the value is diminished. That's just a fact. How many tricks have you seen, thought were amazing, bought, took it out the package and said "Crap, I didn't know it worked like that" and it goes into that drawer of unused magic tricks. Had someone said in advance "It works off of a rayon ignitor", you would have said "Oh, no thanks, have you got anything else?". Exposing tricks and especially expensive, clever creations reduces sales. If it didn't, then every magic ad would say "Uses the Elmsley Count and a Double Faced Card". By NOT telling you the method, it sells you on the effect, doesn't it?


Please don't mention U3F,Todd, or Bob so we can keep this thread open.
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Postby Robert Allen » 06/09/03 08:29 PM

Well, IMHO if there was more exposure of crummy magic tricks then the overall opinion of magic dealers and manufacturers would go up a few orders of magnitude. In fact that's basically what I use price for: to guesstimate if the apparatus might actually NOT suck for a change. Seriously. On a $3 item I figure, well, it was only three bucks. On a $40 item I figure, this better be pretty decent as that's not cheap. For $299.99 I figure it better be pretty awesome both in construction and handling, unless, say, it's advertised as made of some semi-precious metal (as Van Warrens 4 Magical Elements were about 8 years ago).

There's always a flipside to protecting the manufacturer. In magic it's crummy apparatus, or a knuckle-busting masturbational routine, which isn't called for what it is because "you're buying the secret". I can think of a certain well known personage who sold a "self-cutting key". You'd show a key blank, hocus pocus, now it was cut like a regular key. This was sold by another certain personage along with a folding key, using the same keys so you could routine the whole thing. What did you get for your $40 for the cutting key part the set? Well since I paid for it I'm going to tell you: ****************************. Total material cost: $2.00 or less. This same guy also sold a small levitating pyramid. There's no way I'd buy it as I'm pretty sure from the ad photos what you get is an origami paper pyramid and a thumb tip with a short length of wire soldered on.

There's 2 sides to everything. There are no absolute rules. IMHO of course.
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Postby Steve Hook » 06/09/03 10:55 PM

Originally posted by Robert Allen:
What did you get for your $40 for the cutting key part the set? Well since I paid for it I'm going to tell you: you got...
After all this past week's discourse, you just don't get it, Robert. I can't wait for you to market something!!!

Over on the "other" bulletin board, there has been a lot of talk about "Braco's Floating Ball". In spite of a few hints, no one, last I looked, ever spilled the beans on that turkey like you did on this one. It's the principle of the thing, man.

Depressed (by Robert's post and the poll-ees who voted for exposure),

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Postby Guest » 06/10/03 12:10 AM

Originally posted by Steve Hook:
Originally posted by Robert Allen:
[b] What did you get for your $40 for the cutting key part the set? Well since I paid for it I'm going to tell you: you got...
After all this past week's discourse, you just don't get it, Robert. I can't wait for you to market something!!!

Over on the "other" bulletin board, there has been a lot of talk about "Braco's Floating Ball". In spite of a few hints, no one, last I looked, ever spilled the beans on that turkey like you did on this one. It's the principle of the thing, man.

Depressed (by Robert's post and the poll-ees who voted for exposure),

Steve H [/b]
The internet gives people space to vent their anger. And a guy who buys a conjuring effect might feel that he's been ripped off. And he can use the internet to complain publicly about that. And in the process, he also "saves" others from making his "mistake". And he gets the pleasure of annoying the guy who marketed the effect.

Of course, whether or not he was ripped off is quite subjective.

That's not a comment on Robert's expos of the Self-Cutting Key. I know neither the effect, nor Robert, nor the effect's originator. In no way do I suggest what Robert's motives were. But his post is an example of what people write and the effect that it has.

And that sort of post will continue for as long as people feel (rightly or wrongly) ripped off. Which will probably be forever.

Dave
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/10/03 12:14 AM

Hi all,

I think Mark Leveridge should be praised for having the forethought to make up Keyvolution with the same blanks as Uni*Key. As Robert said (although I'd wager he didn't mean it as a compliment) this enabled people to routine the effects together, if that fitted in with the style of the performer; You have a bag of blank keys, hold one in your hand as it cuts itself, and then link a borrowed finger ring to the hole in the head of the key. Superb.

Everything else is rehash mishmash. You paid for the R&D time and overheads. Deal with it.

Take care, Ian
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/10/03 09:21 AM

I put an item on the market that sold for around $50 -- the first one I had made cost me almost $1,000.00 because I took the time and effort to make it right. :cool:

Wait til you see the next one that Jim Riser and I are working on.
:cool:
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/10/03 09:22 AM

Oh, then add the trips to and from the fabrication shop, then the packing and mailing time and effort, and the ads and the few bounced checks... fun eh? :p
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Postby Guest » 06/10/03 10:10 AM

I think that the greatest irony in magic is that one can get as much mileage out of a 5 cents pair of rubberbands as one can out of a five hundred dollar illusion. In the right hands, a cheap trick, such as the CMHC's, can create as much astonishment as an expensive card or coin trick.

The cost of manufacturing the apparatus often determines the price of the routine. Therefore, the issue of exclusiveness creeps in. I think that there are a lot more guys doing CMHC's than some of the more expensive routines, not necessarily because CMHC's is better than the high-priced routines, but simply because its more accessible. It seems that the price isn't determined by how strong the effect is; but the price does help determine how exclusive the routine will be.

I wish that there was a way to base the price on how strong a routine is. For example, it would be nice if the "hundred dollar bill switch" really cost a hundred dollars (or more) to learn rather than being simply the price of a thumb tip and a bootlegged copy of the Ammar video. Obviously this isn't possible because the moment some guy starts charging a thousand dollars for a thumb tip and the instructions for the routine, some other guy will turn around and sell them for a lot less. The power of magic is founded in its secrets. Unfortunately, some folks will sell any and all of our secrets to anyone with some cold hard cash.

P.S. I realize that there are some less tangible secrets of magic which can't really be sold by the opportunists out there. But the question is: Would they if they could?
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Postby Robert Allen » 06/10/03 11:20 AM

First, I'll just point out that *I* wasn't the one who put a name to the product I described. While it may (or may not) be the only magical key cutting routine out there, the casual buyers which so many here are concerned about tipping wouldn't have known that. 'Grats Ian :( .

Second, Pete, I could be wrong, but my impression is that if you and/or James Riser market a trick for $50, odds are pretty good that impartial observiers might admit that it's not an unreasonable price for the apparatus and/or routine provided. Basic manufacturing and marketing rules dictate that startup costs will be amortized across a production run. Even then however, for you to decide to bring it to market, is it not fair for me to assume that you have spent some significant time assessing the cost of bringing it to market vs. the likely upper limit of how many items you'll be able to sell, or how much you'll charge for each item? Charging a hefty profit is the American way, just as charging interest on a loan is morally and legally acceptable. At some point however the markup on a product (such as the price of power in California a couple years ago), or the interest on a loan (such as given by a loan shark) become at best morally unaceptable.

I've been wanting to post something here for some time, but up to now I didn't think it would have been completely relevent. Now it is. From pg 139 of the 1972 issue of Magic Digest, Fun Magic for Everyone, by George B. Anderons:

"Truth in Advertising.

"Fly-by-night magic dealers have, from time to time, let their eagerness to make sales overcome their honesty in their direct-mail and trade journal advertising. Many a purchaster has been hard put to find any resemblance with the material he received and the material described in such glowing terms in the dealer's advertising

"One classic example was the Floating Glass of Milk trick. The dealer advertised, "No threads, cords, or wires are attached to the glass at any time."

"The purchaser of the trick read the instructions, "Instead of thread, cord, or wire, this trick employs a fine silk line which is invisible from a short distance."

"Another dealer, advertising a trick in which a billiard ball first appeared in an empty box, and then,"removed from the box and held openly in the magicians hand, mysteriously vanishes without cover," sent customers a crude box with a black flap, a ball, and instructions to "vanish the ball by your favorite method."

One dealer, advertising a card trick which could, to the best of his potential customers' knowledge, be done only with special cards, said "No trick cards are employed." Instructions that came withe the trick said, "You will notice that the cards we send you are the same size, weight and quality as those found in standard decks. They have, of course, been specially printd to meet the requirements of this magical effect."

"A dealer advertised his Vanishing Alarm Clock trick with the wordsss, "No trick boxes or canisters. You simply cover the clock with a silk handkerchief and when you flip the silk in toe the air, the clock is gone!" Purchasers received instructions to "cut a hole in th etop of your magic table laarge enough to take the alarm clock. Tack a loose piece of cloth to the under-side of the hole so the clock won't fall to the floor. The ring at the top of of the clock is unattached. Pout the handkerchief over the clock, grasp the ring though the silk, move the clock back to the hole in the table and flip the handkerchief into the air."

"Reputable dealers describe their tricks in glowing terms, but accurately. If an established dealer says of a trick, "No sleight of hand require", you may be sure that you won't have to "vanish the water pitcher by your favorite method."

The same book tips how Blackstones vanishing bird cage and dancing hanky were done. Both were still the stock in trade of Harry Blackstone Jr. at the time the book was published. But that didn't keep me from spending the money for both effects at the time, again, because just knowing how the trick is done has little to do with how it affects an audience.

Robert Houdin was attributed as saying "The magician is an actor who plays the part of a magician". Most actors I've seen interviewed view it as their primary job to entertain the public, not hold secrets to the exclusion of all else. If secrets are your bag then I'd suggest some form of priesthood might be more appropriate.

Sigh. Long-winded again :( .
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/10/03 01:17 PM

Robert,

I mentioned the name of the products because I feel they are both worthwhile routines, and that I thought your comments (since edited) were inflammatory, spiteful and unneccessary.

I understand your frustration. All of us have bought tricks that were less than expected, and there is the desire to tell the world. But the world deserves to be told in a rational manner so we do not look like a fox describing a bunch of sour grapes. Did you talk to Mark about the routine? Did you try the routine at any point, or did you open the packet and throw it in the bottom drawer? I remember these items in 1987 and they are still available; if they were truely that awful is it not likely that some of the many people who own them would have spoken up? And given the quote in your post I would suggest that Mark falls in the 'reputable dealer' side of the scale rather than 'fly-by-night'.

I support the discussion of tricks (but not the MO, natch...) but only if it is done rationally and without the mud slinging and flame wars that are looming over the horizon.

I think many of us see the forum as a virtual session, as if we were sitting in a bar of a convention talking about the common interest. In that situation I could reasonably expect you to mention a trick you bought which dissatisfied you, and you could expect me to offer a counter arguement.

As noted by Dave, people will vent their spleen against the dealers, as we've seen quite a lot of late (witness the attack on Chris Smith a couple of weeks ago). It's one of the joys of free speech. We have the choice, however, to do so with dignity or get covered in mud.

Take care,

Ian

An addendum after the fact: I remember when Copperfield first came to the UK. There were posters all over London proclaiming 'Without wings or strings, a man will fly'. Noted researcher Richard Weisman commented at a meeting of the Edinburgh MC; 'I hope that one doesn't get to court...'
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Postby Robert Allen » 06/10/03 03:16 PM

Originally posted by Ian Kendall:
Robert,

[snip]

I understand your frustration. All of us have bought tricks that were less than expected, and there is the desire to tell the world. But the world deserves to be told in a rational manner so we do not look like a fox describing a bunch of sour grapes. Did you talk to Mark about the routine? Did you try the routine at any point, or did you open the packet and throw it in the bottom drawer? I remember these items in 1987 and they are still available; if they were truely that awful is it not likely that some of the many people who own them would have spoken up? And given the quote in your post I would suggest that Mark falls in the 'reputable dealer' side of the scale rather than 'fly-by-night'.

I support the discussion of tricks (but not the MO, natch...) but only if it is done rationally and without the mud slinging and flame wars that are looming over the horizon.

I think many of us see the forum as a virtual session, as if we were sitting in a bar of a convention talking about the common interest. In that situation I could reasonably expect you to mention a trick you bought which dissatisfied you, and you could expect me to offer a counter arguement.

As noted by Dave, people will vent their spleen against the dealers, as we've seen quite a lot of late (witness the attack on Chris Smith a couple of weeks ago). It's one of the joys of free speech. We have the choice, however, to do so with dignity or get covered in mud.

Take care,

Ian

An addendum after the fact: I remember when Copperfield first came to the UK. There were posters all over London proclaiming 'Without wings or strings, a man will fly'. Noted researcher Richard Weisman commented at a meeting of the Edinburgh MC; 'I hope that one doesn't get to court...'
ROFL, I like that Weisman quote :) .

As for the others I'll just answer your specific questions and then try to 'chuddup for a while, I've been posting too much in the past couple days anyhow.

1) Since Richard Kaufman has edited my post I'll take that as notice that I need to be more circmspect in my discussion of how tricks are constructed. {Sorry Richard!}

2) No I didn't talk to Mark. If I recall correctly, he is in England I am in the US for one thing. For another I thought the apparatus spoke for itself.

3) No I didn't try the key-cutting trick. I did play with the, uh, "linking" key and it's a nice piece of equipment, with a nice set of instructions if I recall correctly. About what I'd expect for the $40 price tag. I didn't feel that I could show the key cutting effect and not have someone notice the gaff. But I paid $40 for the linking key, and another $35 for the self-cutting key (a Busby package deal). I felt there wasn't $35 worth of apparatus or routine provided. Thats all. And that was in 1990. It just stuck in my mind as the most memorable of recent purchases that were disappointing. I could just as easily have mentioned the Alexander Spirit Bell, $75 in 1990, as a piece of disappointing apparatus (saw one on ebay a while back and don't think it even got an opening bid).

4) As you might know, tone doesn't come in to print, or over the Internet, well, unless a plethora of flowery adjectives are used, and I'm long-winded enough as it is. But even accounting for that I'm confused as to how you could imply that I'm mud-slinging. I simply described the trick, within the context of what I felt were overpriced/inaccurately-advertised tricks. I assure you, if I *was* mud-slinging, I'd be over in the Bob Kohlers At It Again thread in the anti-Kohler camp, and I'm not (even though I personally am definately not a fan of the way he's trying to market his holdout).

I think the reason we have this fundamental disagreement remains with some the assumptions I stated in the original U3F thread about what exactly one is paying for when one buys a trick. If it's a book, then basically you are buying copyrighted instructional material. If it's an effect, either you're buying the props for window dressing (in the case of many small-production Bizarre props), or you're buying the apparatus and routine. I expect that one or both of the apparatus/routine are worth what I paid for the trick. At the same time I expect (and this is truly dumb of me given that it violates every convention of product/trademark licensing real world business) that a person lending their name to an item would care that it didn't reflect poorly on them (q.v. Harry Andersons Needle Through Arm for example)

Perhaps at the same time I shoute note that I'm more critical than some buyers. I have a beautiful Lippincott box made by Clarence Miller. Limited production, top quality implementation, and a devilish gimmick..and he engraved his name and the item number right on the bottom of the box. Sort of makes it hard to pass it off as a box I bought at a new age store or something eh? Then there's the Mikame rattle box I bought a while back. It's a great utility prop and much better than the 30+ year old one I have with the faux aligator skin vinyl on the bottom to disguise the gaff. Of course they cut one corner: the pivot pin for the gaff was put in after the box was assembled and the hole covered with wood putty that barely matches. Will a spectator notice? Probably not. But I did, since I was the one who paid the money, and anyone who's done even basic woodworking would recognise this as a corner that was cut sloppily. If I was buying Mak Magic then it would be different. But names like Mikame, Miller, Worth, Owen, etc., to me mean Attention to Detail, and Pride in design and manufacture.

Regards,

Regards,

P.S. UniKey, mentioned in an earlier post, was created and sold by Peter Crush. I have his UniKey 3. Mark Leveridge did KeyVolution, and through an agreement unknown to me Peter Crush marketed UniKey 3 in a compatible key format. The instructions and after sales support info provided by Peter Crush with his product was *excellent*. Each key came with a reg card with a 'born on' date. The instructions said if the born on date of your key was more than 3 months you should rebuild the gimmick with the materials and instructions provided. How's that for top quality customer care?
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Postby Scott » 06/10/03 06:02 PM

I said no mention of Bob, Todd, or U3F! I knew it wasn't possible. So, I'll say it again, let's not turn this into that.

Pete, I'm all for you selling a trick for whatever you can get for it. I think you should be regaining all tooling and start up costs. That's my point exactly.

Let's say you, or Jim Riser in this case, as he seems to fit the mold well, create a new set of cups. It costs you $10K to tool up and get the first batch out. Now, you sell these hand made beauties for $300 a pop (or more). You sell them well, start recooping some of your investment and then some bright eyed bushy tailed swindler comes in town, buys a set of your cups, drives down to the shop who has a CNC spinning machine (I've seen them, they are sweet), and asks the guy to quote making 1000 sets, delivering 100 sets at a time for 10 months. I'd venture to say, he'd spend far less than $10K in tooling cost (I know because I've had tooling pricing done for me before), and he'd probably get the cups made for a few dollars each. Certainly less than $10 each.

So, at the extreme, he's paying $30, selling them to dealers for $60 and they're selling them for $120.

Now, stack that $120 set of cups up against the guy who created them who's selling them for $300+ and you're probably not going to venture into too many more projects like this.

The quality and shape would be the same, the function the same, yet, the price is the only difference.

I'm saying that if we "rob" creators like this and treat craftsmen as if their creations are only created to be copied, how many more creations will they create? Probably few.

Are you ripping me off at $300 for a set of cups? No. Would I pay you $300 if someone else were making the same cup for $120? No.

Better be careful, as shopping for the cheapest prices for everything, buying copies when you can does nothing but put pressure on craftsmen and creators to pack up their tool boxes and stop making and creating tricks and gaffs.

If I were in the business of creating magic gaffs and someone wanted something created, it'd have to be a 1 time, up front tooling charge. And it would be one hell of a charge. It'd probably take you $5000 to get me to think about making anything for anyone. All the "Make me a prototype, I think we (WE) can sell 1000 of them". Only to find that after the 1st one, they have them mass produced and you worked for $1.50 a hour.
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Postby Robert Allen » 06/10/03 06:12 PM

Uh, using your example, how are you going to make a set of ripoff cups (hypothetically of course!) without a set of blueprints or a set of codes to tell the NC machine to spin that cup? Yes measurements can be taken off a cup, but you still need a mechanical engineer to draw up the part, and (my knowledge is limited here) some sort of coder to code up the machine instructions, or maybe an Autocad file or soemthing? You'd also potentially need to know the exact material used in order to get the metal to flow to the correct thickness, wouldn't you?

(and did you factor in finishing costs?)
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Postby Robert Allen » 06/10/03 06:24 PM

Hmm, I'd be really really curious to know what the average production #'s of the various popular magic cups are over the past few years:

1) Sisti's Cups

2) Busbys machined cups - (stainless: first set of 50, were there ever any other sets? There were reportedly some machined copper and brass sets..)

3) The recent run of Galli Galli cups (in 2 finishes).

4) Mark Burgers Pewter cups (2 finishes)

5) The Johny Paul cups Stevens was selling (from Pete Biro or someone else?)

6) Johnson machined cups

7) Porper machined cups

8) Riser cups of various shapes and sizes

I have to admit, I'd be surprised if anyone was running off more than say 200-300 sets, which means the cost per set will be higher. My experience is limited, but I'd guess there are fairly few people in the global scheme of things who would pay $200+ for a set of 3 metal cups (unless they're made out of solid gold). Of course *I* am one of those people...but there can't be too many out there as dumb as I am :) .

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Postby Robert Allen » 06/10/03 06:36 PM

I've got an idea. I'm going to buy a few thousand of the Riser Mini Cup Do It Yourself kits, http://www.jamesriser.com/Magic/MiniCup/DYI.html, and make them! Since I'm not working right now I have lots of spare time to do hand polishing and THAT will be my market differentiator!!!
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/10/03 08:09 PM

Robert;
I can give you a little price break on a few thousand of that item. :D
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Postby Steve Hook » 06/10/03 08:32 PM

Originally posted by Robert Allen:
...Most actors I've seen interviewed view it as their primary job to entertain the public, not hold secrets to the exclusion of all else. If secrets are your bag then I'd suggest some form of priesthood might be more appropriate.
I guess that's where you and 49% of the people at Genii Forum differ. All I know is, I ain't showin' you ****!

Steve "I'll be prayin' fer ya" H.
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Postby Bizzaro » 06/10/03 08:34 PM

I agree magic is a very large capitilist venture nowadays.. which sux. Hats off to websites like mylovelyassistant.com who let's you voice your (More or less) opinion about stuff.

I recently discovered a trick that costs 100 dollars is about 10 bucks to fabricate. This reminds me of a trick we got recently. It was 20 some odd dollars.... for a hole in the back of a card box. Some secrets just aren't worth to others what they are to some.

I understand all of the time and research and whatnot that goes into it... but when trix like the baxt newspaper tear comes out and it is more of an ad than a trick then we have to take a step back and say "Hey... what's goin' on?"

Keep the art alive.. not your wallet... money to burn? That's the only way it will keep you warm on a lonely night.
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/10/03 08:38 PM

Robert;
Cup numbers are really quite small.

I will only spin 12 sets of my jumbos per year. And, yes, that number is firm and will not be swayed by thousands of orders and thoughts of getting a new house. I can only make so many of the cups. It is time consuming work. The jumbos I count! If someone misses the run for one year, I add them to the list for the following year's run.

The minis and standards will be made as ordered - less than 12 sets of each per month. Frankly, I have lost count of the number of minis made. I'm too busy spinning to count.

The very heavy Traditionals are one of the more difficult to make and will be made as ordered - perhaps up to three sets per month.

In between this spinning I am very busy making other items and developing new products.

The market for cups is limited. BTW - a new CNC spinning lathe can easily cost $400,000. That would be quite a number of cups.

Many involved in magic do not realize that more money can be made making spun auto parts or scientific equipment. The guys making magic do it because they like magic. The people making the apparatus are not getting rich. People merely selling the work of others may well be getting rich. The word for today is "greed".

RE: Making prototypes
With all of the exposure regarding treatment of others making items, there will be many changes in the prototype game. Money will be up front. Items will be made as per detailed/measured drawings - no more rough sketches. Any changes to the original design will be my intellectual property and must be bought or licensed from me. No more Mr. Nice Guy - and this is all a result of how others have been treated. Everyone in magic will suffer due to the actions of a few rather greedy control freaks. I can play by those rules. The buliders/designers must protect themselves from such ilk.
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Postby Scott » 06/11/03 03:33 AM

Jim, I'm with you. Yeah, a CNC Spinning machine is up there in price. I wouldn't buy one, I'd go to someone who does it for a living. There are quite a number of "job shops" who have them.

As for having a machanical engineer draw it. That was the stone ages. All you need is a couple of measuring instruments and you can reverse engineer just about anything in the magic world. The material wouldn't be an issue. People who spin metal know what spins and looks nice as well.

Yes, it's a limited market for Cups. But, is it limited because of price or because of demand? I don't think demand is the limit. Look how many people are making cups out there. You can buy a set for $30 all day long at every magic site on the internet and every brick and motar shop.

My point was that if someone wanted to, they could "steal" your concept and flood the market with cheaper made cups.

I appreciate the fact things are handmade, but sadly, most magicians don't and will shop and support the lowest price.

And the wolves are out there, waiting and looking for opportunities to steal your dinner.
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/11/03 09:12 AM

Scott;
Yes, the wolves and sleazeballs are out there. Anyone in manufacturing today knows that it is a worldwide competitive situation. It is always a matter of time before India or China starts stealing items designed and made in the USA. Then there are also the domestic guys wanting to take your small market share.

I have notebooks crammed full of items I hope to get around to spinning. These will be rather involved spinnings and not easily copied by the free loaders of the world. I, also, am considering engraving several sets of my cups to make them definitely different. So when they start copying my cups, I'll move on to bigger and better things. There is no limit as to what can be made.

One must be aware of the scumbags wanting to steal your dinner; but not run scared. There are always new items to make to keep ahead of those who would take from you.

One advantage of what I do is that I can drop a line instantly and add a new line just as fast. One must be flexible in business to stay ahead of the wolves.
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Postby Todd Lassen » 06/11/03 10:41 AM

RE: Making prototypes
With all of the exposure regarding treatment of others making items, there will be many changes in the prototype game. Money will be up front. Items will be made as per detailed/measured drawings - no more rough sketches. Any changes to the original design will be my intellectual property and must be bought or licensed from me. No more Mr. Nice Guy - and this is all a result of how others have been treated. Everyone in magic will suffer due to the actions of a few rather greedy control freaks. I can play by those rules. The buliders/designers must protect themselves from such ilk.
That's some great advice Jim! I am with you 100%. Cheers.
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Postby Guest » 06/11/03 01:20 PM

Jim and Todd, you guys are in a different category than most machine shops. In Todds case his primary business is making coin gaffs and selling them to guys like me (the direct end user).

Jim you have your own in house product lines that you sell directly to users or in the case products like your mini-chop cup, a partnership (I assume).

In the case where a company has a machine shop or a vendor manufacture a proprietary product, I have found that it is actually the opposite of what you stated above. Typically the company hiring the vendor will have the vendor sign a confidentiality agreement and agree that the work done on their project is proprietary and that they will not own the intellectual rights to it.

In my business, we have potential vendors that solicit us all the time to be a supplier to us. In the cases where we are buying off the shelf stuff, its simply a matter of a transaction of money for the product.

However, one of our primary vendors is a large heavy duty equipment manufacturer that sells their own product line. We have a proprietary concept design. In order for them to build equipment for us, they had to sign a confidentiality and exclusivity contract with us. We gave them the design criteria, and they engineered it for us. We own the engineering drawings they did on our behalf (as part of the contract), and they legally cannot produce the design for anyone else but us. This is only a sound business practice so that our vendors do not produce our equipment for our competition. It also allows us to take our design to another vendor if the current one does not service us well. The new vendor would again sign a confidentiality and exclusivity agreement and use our design criteria to engineer their equipment for us. Regarding the cost of the prototyping, it is built into the price of the product they quoted to us.

If we needed to find another primary vendor and the potential vendor said to us that all work they do will be their intellectual property, we have effectively handed over a key part of our business to a vendor. That would be a ridiculous business decision and we would never do it.

I am not a magic creator, but if I was and wanted to hire someone to build a custom object for me in quantity, I sure wouldnt sign away my rights to it, it would be quite the opposite, that all engineering to my product would either be my property, or limited to production for me. If the machine shop balked, they wouldnt get my order.

The question becomes how bad the machine shop or the vendor wants the business. Those who want to work for other people will probably not be able to dictate terms like you said.

My business is similar to yours and Todds to the extent we produce a product line. People can choose to buy our product or not to buy. We however do not build to custom specifications and will turn that business away.

Ultimately one must make a choice, build your own product line where you can build under your own terms, or be a contract builder under the terms of the person who is hiring you.

Anyway, thats my views, Id be curious in hearing your thoughts are in light of my comments.

Best,

Dan
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Postby Jim Riser » 06/11/03 02:20 PM

Dan;
Perhaps everything was not clear in my post above. On custom/prototype work I will require dimensioned drawings (the client's). I will make a prototype as per their drawings for "x" amount of dollars. I own nothing related to their project.

But, if after making the item as per their drawing and it does not work as the client expected and the client wants me to figure out how to make it work - then any changes to the design are mine and will need to be bought or licensed from me.

Due to what has happened recently (and is still going on behind the scenes with organized attempts to discredit a particular maker), I will no longer provide any gratis problem solving. This decision has been forced upon me due to the behavior of others. I must protect myself from them and their kind. This will cause the prices of new magic products to rise. I think we all know who to blame for these decisions and the coming increased costs.

People who want a prototype made may, of course, go elsewhere; but that is my new policy.
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Postby Guest » 06/11/03 02:55 PM

I understand.

What about if a customer had something that did essentially work, but because of your experience and expertise as a machinist you know of a way to make it easier for you and it makes the end product better than specified. Isn't that just good customer service?

I would assume most magicians that would come to you are not as skilled in actually making things (God knows I'm not), and there is just common sense modifications that makes your job easier and the product better. (Not talking major overhaul here just simple common sense changes that make sense for both parties).

There has to be some room for this right? Stuff that will benefit you in production and the customer in sales thus orders for you?
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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/11/03 03:03 PM

Dan -- Just curious, what is your field of business?

Bill Mullins
(an engineer for the U.S. Army -- "We break other countries' stuff")
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Postby Guest » 06/11/03 06:00 PM

He's a spy...shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

"Rosie"
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Postby Brian Marks » 06/11/03 06:28 PM

This is interesting.
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Postby Scott » 06/11/03 06:46 PM

Todd and Jim, thanks for getting EXACTLY to what I had hoped to get to in this conversation.

One thing is sure. What goes around, comes around. Cutting the throats of craftsmen will leave a vaccuum for a lot of people in the magic community. Todd, if you said "I've had it. Enough is enough,it's not worth it", then there would be one hell of a void in the gaff coin world. People who have ideas wouldn't be able to get them to market. Sure, you could argue there are people out there to fill the void, but one by one, they could disappear due to treatment.

What good is a notebook full of ideas if you have no one to make them real?

I'm right with you 2. Give me the money up front and I'll work for you. If I make 1 and you sell 1000 and have someone else make the other 999, then good for you, at least I didn't lose my ass on it. If you want me to make the 999 others, then here's the price. Cash up front.

Dan, it's a bit different than subcontracting work to a job shop. You're paying for someone to use their knowledge of magic INCLUDED with their machining skills. That's a rare combination. But, I do agree with you, if you want me to make something for you, it's yours. I won't make sugestions on how to make it better unless I'm being paid for my opinion. I'm making it like the drawing. If you ask for my opinion of it, then be prepared to pay for it in cash or in some sort of loyalty for the remaining order. There are 100,000's if not 1,000,000's of machinists out there. There are probably less than 250 who are into magic probably less than 50 who can take your idea and make it better. Why screw with them over dollars?

If you were making 70% profit on the item you had me "create" and you were in the profit range of $200,000 per year from this product I was making for you, would you really shop around to try and make another 10%? Or is that loyalty to me for helping you make your product better worth nothing to you? (I don't mean that as a dig at you Dan, it was a hypothetical question).
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Postby Bill Duncan » 06/11/03 08:05 PM

Originally posted by Bizzaro:
I agree magic is a very large capitilist venture nowadays.. which sux. Hats off to websites like mylovelyassistant.com who let's you voice your (More or less) opinion about stuff.
If your business is selling magic it's a capitalist venture. And it has been as long as any of us have been alive. There's this myth that at some time in the past magic shops didn't need to make a profit to stay in business. That's only true of the retired guys who sold magic out of their basements and lived on their pensions. That's not a business, it's a hobby.

My I'd rather pay for a copy of MAGIC and read Mike Close's reviews or those in Genii that visit
mylovelyassitant.com which has some of the most worthless reviews I've every read by people who have no skill at writing and pretty poor judgement to boot. If it weren't for Brad Henderson, David Acer and David Parr's reviews it wouldn't be worth visitng...

Business is business in magic just as in the rest of life. The best thing about the magic "business" is that it's a fairly small community and word gets around quickly to the customers, who will (still) vote with their pocketbooks. And let's face it. If Jeff Busby started selling U3Fly for $45.00 he'd sell a ton of them.

As for me... I'm selling my Ninja Rings DVD and sending an order to Todd. I need a new Copper/Silver set...
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Postby Guest » 06/11/03 08:31 PM

Originally posted by Scott:

Dan, it's a bit different than subcontracting work to a job shop. You're paying for someone to use their knowledge of magic INCLUDED with their machining skills. That's a rare combination. But, I do agree with you, if you want me to make something for you, it's yours. I won't make sugestions on how to make it better unless I'm being paid for my opinion. I'm making it like the drawing. If you ask for my opinion of it, then be prepared to pay for it in cash or in some sort of loyalty for the remaining order. There are 100,000's if not 1,000,000's of machinists out there. There are probably less than 250 who are into magic probably less than 50 who can take your idea and make it better. Why screw with them over dollars?
Hey Scott, maybe my analogy isn't 100% applicable to a machine shop. The vendor I was referring to in my above post makes a high priced complex machine. In their case we are paying them for their engineering expertise and paying them to engineer what we are asking for. In some cases we will provide some of the engineering ourselves, but it is not simply, "here take this drawing and make this". They have an active engineering roll, especially since they are going to warranty their product. We have to give them a order for them to engineer any prototypes. We pay for it in the price. And the engineering they do create is for us exclusively.

If you were making 70% profit on the item you had me "create" and you were in the profit range of $200,000 per year from this product I was making for you, would you really shop around to try and make another 10%? Or is that loyalty to me for helping you make your product better worth nothing to you? (I don't mean that as a dig at you Dan, it was a hypothetical question).
No dig taken, but its a good question. The markup of our final product is MUCH greater than our vendor's markup to us. We will make more money per unit than they do. We have a market that will bear the price we charge. The cost of the machine the vendor supplies us is only a factor in our pricing model. Our company strives for business relationships and does not continually shop for the cheapest vendor. In our industry, we happen to be the most expensive for what we build. Our company has built it's reputation on QUALITY products and we never switch suppliers just to save a few bucks. BUT, if a supplier fails time and again to meet deadlines and can't deliver the goods, or if the machine is riddled with technical problems, then we would seek another source, even if it costs MORE money.

For 20 years we used a specific vendor for this primary part, 3 years ago we did phase away to a new supplier. It's a business decision, the new vendor is actually more expensive, but they make a better product. It is a very time consuming process to switch vendors, so no, its not something we look foward to do, but we will do it for the right business reasons.

We were fortunate enough to be able to have our customers recognize the better product we were using which justified a thousands of dollars higher price than they had paid in the past.
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Postby Guest » 06/11/03 09:31 PM

I love My Lovely Assistant.com and consider their reviews refreshing, honest, and fun. They provide a third opinion to the excellent reviews in Genii and Magic and I find their site well-organized and a useful central hub.
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Postby Wolfgang » 06/12/03 06:53 AM

We do work on a CNC lathe and CNC Router every day in the construction of pop displays for the retail industry and parts for machine construction, as a sideline we produce a growing number of magic items for magic distributors. I can not picture how many people it would take to get all the work done manually that our two CNC machines do. Cost would be exorbitant. Even with the small runs of magic tricks (IMHO 500-1000 units is a lot) it still helps to save time (thus money) and ensures a steady quality.
Real world (thus non magic) prototypes are handled the following way: The customer comes to us with a rough drawing and a confidentiality agreement. We give the customer a design price and a prototype price of x-dollars, a hourly rate for design changes and re-prototyping and a cost per produced part. This works well and is fair to the customer as well as us. I must however point out that our expertise goes in the part during the initial design phase on the computer. This is why the customer comes to us, they know we do the best in our ability to make it work for them. Program changes on a CNC are relatively easy thus for smaller changes we at times waive the hourly fee. We have had very good experiences and I believe that the key to that is to keep the customer constantly informed about what steps are taken.
Our ventures in the magic business have prooven that usually there are no design drawings and that most of the ideas are only sketched on a napkin. Plus the production runs for magic usually are so small that normal business rules can hardly apply. I usually develop the cnc programs in my spare time and thus recoup my time investment only if the customer really is able to sell the part. Of course strictest confidentially applies.
IMHO magic production in most cases is more a labor of love than a real business. I would go so far as to say that there would be no magic business if not some people would devote their time and money to producing magic tricks. If I think about Viking Magic (george robinson) I would not want to picture what kind off money he could make in the real world. So with all the bashing against magic dealers that goes on in chat rooms I feel it is time to tip the head and acknoledge the effort.
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Postby Guest » 06/12/03 07:29 AM

Interresting Wolfgang,

If anyone would know about high tech work it would be you.

I read about some of your work at this link.

http://www.magiciansalliance.com/ripoffs.html

"Rosie"
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Postby Todd Lassen » 06/12/03 08:05 AM

Hmmmm....Henderson, Nevada...Hmmmm. First time poster and new member yesterday. Hmmmmm.
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Postby Jason Wethington » 06/12/03 08:05 AM

The question of the thread was "Is it all about the money?"
The answer is obviously yes. It is ALWAYS about money when you are trying to make a profit.

The second question raised, once inside the thread, concerns secrets.

This issue is deep and there are many twists and turns. There may be no right and wrongs. I think there are.
I think magic at its base is about secrets. It exists because of secrets. Without secrets we are Actors at our best and merely scientists at our worst.
Secrets are there, whether we want our audiences to laugh or to be totally mystified, because we are magicians. Any one who says they don't use secrets as a magician is either lying or not a very good magician.

In the world of mass marketed effects and tricks of the week, we buy methods and gaffs.
We pay good money for them. We dicount others work because of faulty ones or too expensive ones.

Our industry is bulit on the fantasy of real magic, and the buying and selling of that fantasy.

When an ad comes out for a new product we see "no strings, no magnets and no duplicates!" We think "What could it be?", "What is the SECRET!", "I must have it!"
We buy it.
Why do we buy?

A: We buy because we think if I could do this effect people will go nuts!
B: We buy because we want to know how the trick is accomplished, also if we could do this effect people will go nuts!
C: We already own a similiar effect that uses strings, magnets and duplicates. We didn't like the method, and if we could do this effect people will go nuts!

It is all about the fantasy. Marketers have understood that from the beginning. We as the consumer get grandiose ideas of what something should be. Here is a personal example, I remember the first time I saw a magician vanish a silk. I thought I can do THAT for only $5?!? I bought it immediately. When I saw what I bought I was dissapointed. My spirits lifted though because the guy who showed it to me in the first place was using a chrome one. I knew if he could get away with using a chrome one then I could use the one I bought to great effect. Oh by the way I was 20 years old when I saw and bought my first TT.
The secret and the method are synonimous today. The method is the means to the end. The secret to magic is something that cannot be bought or sold. It must be learned. I can sell you a method all day long but the secret is how to turn that method into magic for an audience. Some of you will argue it is a matter of semantics. I will adamantly disagree.

We shouldn't allow secrets to be revealed here or anywhere for free. There is a price on that knowledge. I will tell you it far exceeds the $300 dollar mark.

I think this post reflects sentiments in a post by Geoff Latta. I figured I would throw my thoughts in.
Thanks for reading,
Jason
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Postby Steve Hook » 06/12/03 08:15 AM

Originally posted by Rosie:
Interresting Wolfgang,

If anyone would know about high tech work it would be you. I read about some of your work at this link:
http://www.magiciansalliance.com/ripoffs.html

Say hello to Bob for us.

"Rosie"
Thank you for the information regarding ripoffs, "Rosie". This definitely doesn't bode well for Wolfgans reputation.

Not sure why you threw in the "Bob" thing. Strange...

Wolfgang: The info on that website don't bode well for your reputation. It sounds like you're ripping off some of the most successful professionals in the business.

And Rosie, your sarcasm directed at one of the most successful and respected professional trade show magicians in the world is duly noted.

Steve H
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Postby Doomo » 06/12/03 11:30 AM

Hi Steve,

Actually I have apologized in public about this long ago, and to the people involved.

Evidentally, for something that happened over 20 years ago, this means more to you than it does to those actually involved.

Is what I did wrong...yes
Have I tried to make amends for it...yes
Were you involved in any way...no

It seems, however, that I will not be allowed to put the past behind me. So don't worry Steve, some of us learn from our mistakes, and some people just like dead horses. They make easy targets I guess.

Anthony Miller
Doomo
RFA Productions yeah... It is cool stuff.

www.rfaproductions.com
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Postby Scott Robinson » 06/12/03 12:10 PM

Tony/Steve

I try to keep a low profile about most things but since I saw my name and mention of the 'infamous' Richard Almanac stuff I thought I would jump in.


So that everyone knows the past incident between myself and Tony is over. I contacted him a while back and though I'm sure he was a little shocked to hear from me after so many years he did not try to 'dodge' the issue but took complete responsibility for what he did.

To me, he showed true regret and handled things in a very mature manner.

This issue is over 21 years old - and thankfully it is dead!

-Scott Robinson
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Postby Guest » 06/12/03 01:14 PM

This is why I love magic so.

It's the camaraderie, the backbiting, the finger pointing and name-calling.

It's just like going home for the holidays.
I feel all warm and fuzzy
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