Past articles

I hope to copy the most interesting articles that were once posted at my original website in this section.

Excalibur improved - tips

Excalibur is one of those tricks that doesn't work fluently and consistantly for most collectors. I recently bought a version that came without the correct discs/shells and coins and started experimenting. Bellow the picture is what I found out and could make your version work better/more reliable.

  • I found out that the type of coins you use is important.
    - The version most of us have is designed (?) to work with US quarters. I once read Canadian quarters work better and while not always being the case there is some improvement, but not a lot.
    - Yesterday however I tried with 100 Yen coins that I had and this works a LOT better. They are approximately the same thickness as US quarters but a litle bit smaller in diameter. This did the trick - there is a lot less chance the coins don't slide into the holder in the second phase of the routine. I only have three 100 Yen coins but I can't imagine the fourth one could cause a problem. I tried with three 100 Yen coins and one Canadian quarter at the bottom of the stack and it worked. That makes me wonder, did Tenyo actually produce a 'special' US version or is it just the same as the Japanese version? And what Japanese coins were originally used in the Japanese version? If someone knows please let me know.
    - What I also tried was not using the provided shells but use some coins ('Magic Casino') that came with the used version I recently bought (it came with Quicksilver discs in stead of the Excalibur discs and the Casino coins) and are almost exactly the same thickness and width as the shells. Works great. The coins I used aren't available anywhere (as far as I know). My 'fake Casino coins' now change into 'real' coins ... .
  • As suggested by Roberto Breyer you can always try to 'oil' the apparatus/coins a litle bit. This makes the 'change' of the coins more fluently. I didn't try that yet to be honest but you can't go wrong I believe. It most certainly won't damage your apparatus. Do use a neutral mineral oil like clear parrafine oil that has as less inpurities as possible.
  • Follow the instructions exactly as the manual sais (tilt exactly at the right moment at the right angle). As with Wonder Window this is very important.
  • The last thing I discovered is not so good news ... it seems the Excalibur case and/or holder are also important to some degree. While all the above suggestions can help improve the workings I found out the spare Excalibur I bought just works more reliable then the one I had. Does this have something to do with the appartus being used more and therefore 'adjusted' itself in some manner? Not likely but you never know. Take in mind the suggestions I made above work with both my 'old' and now 'new (but a lot more used!)' version I acquired.
The Excalibur of Stereobasic from Paris that he got from me in a trade also seems to work a lot better according to him.
Give this trick some attention and try a few things out. The handling keeps being akward for me and while this won't go into my 'repertoire' of tricks I casually perform for my friends and family (it's not 100% reliable and I think it is quite obvious how it works, even for laymen) it's a goodie to have around for the occasional spectator that sees is and wants me to perform it. If they find out how it works all the better, I tell them they are very smart. Everyone happy ;)

(originally published june 3rd 2012)

Tenyo 'knock-offs'

My first Tenyo trick, bought a year or 10 ago, was Credit Slasher. When I began to realize this was made by a Japanese company that produced a number of easy to do miracles every year I began to look for Tenyo tricks. Even then they were quite expensive and I decided to by 'cheap versions' of the tricks from a magic shop in Holland. After opening the packages and playing with them I soon began to realise they didn't work good or not at all ... so those were the last Tenyo knock-offs I would ever buy, or so I thought. I ordered the original Tenyo versions and of course the quality was much better, almost no comparable.

I have taken a picture of the knock-offs which you can see bellow. I also had Mini Morphosis (you can still see the red and black ball) and Funnel Vision but they were so bad I trew them away.

Here's a discription/review of the items. I believe these are most of the Chinese knock-offs that were available that time. These items were not sold as Tenyo, they had a Chinese packaging and even different names (I can't remember the original names because I don't have the manuals anymore) though very much sounding like the original Tenyo names, but the manufacturer at least had that much respect. I'm sure Tenyo did absolutely not give permission to produce these items however.

  • The pen of Invisible Pen (Tenyo's 'Invisible Zone') has a different color. Also it doesn't stay in the case (Tenyo version does when you put it in far enough so you can easily 'pull the pen back out') so it is hard to perform.
  • The 'transparant' base for the lady statue of Floating Rock isn't transparant, the rock doesn't float well, the gimmick brakes of easily.
  • The base of Eye OTI has scratches., the statue has traces of glue on the side and it doesn't work OK.
  • The sponge rabbits of Mr. Rabbit are different color and very bad quality.
  • The gimmick of on one of the Krazy Keys falls off.
  • Impossible Pen doens't work fluently.
  • The gimmick of Puzzling Queen only dislodges if you slam it on the table. Also the trick is thicker making the gimmick easier to see.
  • Crystal Pyramid: don't lift the thing or it rattles and the gimmick becomes visible.
  • Mini Morphosis didn't work at all - the gimmick always dislodged too fast. The red ball had small a hole/tear in it.
  • Funnel Vision didn't work at all. It also came with cheap plastic coins in stead of the metal coins in Tenyo's version.

Pictures made by myself and ThatsCool from TheMagicCafe
that explain the differences between the genuine Illusion
Scale (left) and the knock-off (right).

The last couple of weeks I and some people on TheMagicCafe began to realize two newer Tenyo tricks a few of us bought, namely Four Nightmares DX and Illusion Scale smelled 'fishy' ... . After some close examination of the tricks it seems both were being sold as genuine Tenyo but actually weren't ... not that much of a problem with Illusion Scale because it doesn't have the Tenyo logo on the packaging (and what's more, it's an illusion that has been around for decades, however Tenyo is the first one selling it as a magic trick with the bend measuring rod I believe) but the trick Four Nightmares DX is striking ... it has almost the exact same label AND the Tenyo logo printed on the front, but it is not Tenyo.
The genuine Illusion Scale is made from durable plastic and has a curved brown holding case; the copy is made from cardboard and has a straight holding case.

As you can see on the pictures bellow the 4 Nightmares DX copy has traces of glue where the gimmicks are, making the trick by far not as good as the Tenyo version. Click on the photo's for a bigger version.

Orginal Tenyo in package
- complete logo
- white ropes
- ropes in seperate plastic bag
Knock-off in package
- incomplete logo
- ends of ropes greyish probably from dipping it in glue

Close up of the ends 'sticking' together of the 
knock-off version. Notice the discoloration because of the glue.

I do realize that sellers over the world, when they get an item from an overseas wholesale seller with the 'Tenyo' logo on it and the trick resembling the original weren't aware of it being a knock off ... but then again, if some wholesaler in CHINA (!) suddenly has loads of Tenyo items for only a fraction of the Tenyo price I believe they should have been more carefull before advertising it as genuine Tenyo.
A word of advise to all you Tenyo collectors: 
- look carefully at the packaging of tricks where there is doubt;
- if something sells for a lot less there's always a good reason to doubt the authenticity;
- check reliable Ebay sellers like MagicoJapan on Ebay who gets her Tenyo items directly from the Tenyo company;
- ask advise on TheMagicCafe or feel free to ask me a question.

(originally published march 22nd 2012)

How to operate Wonder Window

This information was given to me many years ago by Victor Superanto.
Wonder Window is one of the tricks that sometimes doesn't work when you take it out of the otherwise sealed package. A possible reason for this is that plastic also becomes brittle after many years and the mechanism (especially the 'catching') doesn't work anymore.
This is what Victor wrote ... .

Just want to share some tips to the other tenyo lovers that for this wonder window trick, the setup was very crucial that you have to push the middle part to the left side at the preparation phase before the show. This will activate the mechanic part inside the window to pull the secret window out before the penetration effect. This was also stated in the instruction. The second most important move right after the window switch happen, that we should move the middle part till the maximum position to the right side. This will deactivate the mechanic back to the first position after the penetration effect. Most of the people didn`t realize / forget to do this and they got their wonder windows stuck and broken. But if you perform it right the problem will not exist.

Actually Mr. Sugawara and Mr. Gery Quellet has considered this already. The problem is people (including me) didn`t read the instruction carefully and perform the trick correctly. Maybe you can expose this in your website that for all tenyo lovers who has problem with wonder windows to go back to their instruction, concentrate on explanation on Fig.2 and 10. This will help everybody without reveal the secret and Tenyo company along with Mr. Sugawara will be happy if they hear our contribution.

Note: a more detailed explanation of the inner workings (with photo's) of Wonder Window are available for members of the Funstuffonly Tenyoforum (subsection "for members only").

Taking care of your magic tricks

Here's a summary that may help other collectors take care of their often valuable magic collection.

In short, store your props:
  • protected from direct sunlight (UV-light);
  • at an average humidity (which is between 50 % and 70 %);
  • at room temperature [high temperatures speed up chemical reactions - low temperatures increase relative humidity which increases mold growth (especially in wood)].
  • Also, best is to store your tricks in, for example, closed suitcases with compartments. That way there's less frech oxygen that can oxidize materials. Mine are stored in their original packaging (when I didn't threw it away), in display cabinets, in my litle magic room with the curtains closed.
  • And do not handle your props with greasy, filthy hands, especially for wood and metal this is important.


The biggest enemies of plastic (and the paint used on plastic) are oxygen and sunlight.

Back in the days when I first started collecting I bought myself a Prison Box. Great trick for merely 20 USD (those were the days ;-)). I played with it, performed it and left it outside, in the sun. A day or two later I went picking it up and behold, there was some serious discoloration! Beneath is a picture of that Prison Box (top left) and a 'well stored' version (bottom right). Lesson learned!

Top left: Prison Box stored in direct sunlight

There's nothing you can do about oxygen, apart from keeping your items in a closed environment. You could also buy yourself one of these, but use these at your own risk ;-)
Plastic becomes brittle when it reacts with oxygen (which means the material will break in stead of bend), but this proces takes years. And nowadays antioxidants are mixed in so we are pretty safe. Antioxidants by the way (sorry, I'm a chemistry teacher and feel the need to explain something once in a while ;-) ) are substances which react with oxygen before the material you're protecting does, so that way it preserves the material. Ever sliced an apple? Well, it turns brown because it reacts with oxygen (did I ever tell you my hobby is cooking?). Add some lemon juice [which contains the natural antioxidant ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)] and it will hold its color some time.
So, older plastic items (no antioxidants present): be gentle, and do NOT try to bend them, or force them in one way or another. They will eventually break! A nice example are the elastic bands in an original Billscape: these are brittle and you'll have to replace them. Same goes for the sponge materials in Funny Dog or the plastic sheets in Coin And Glass, which you can see in the photo bellow at the bottom - they're kind of 'glued' together thanks to our good friend O2.

The black plastic sheets of Coin And Glass 'melted' together to form a hard piece of
black plastic.


Wood lives. It is unfluenced by moisture in the air, oxygen, oils/grease/dirt on your skin and UV-light. It needs to be taken care of. A popular type of wood used for magic tricks is teak, which is threated with oil every now and then because the natural oils in it, that protect it, deteriorate over time. How much protection (oil) it needs, depends very much on the atmosphere in which the pieces are stored and how often you play with them with greasy and filthy fingers. Best is to store your teak (or wood in genaral) props away from direct sunlight, at a relative humidity between 50 - 70% and at ambient temperature.
Who better to ask than Mr. Alan Warner about how to take care of our teak wooden tricks. I e-mailed him and he gave me the following advise. Many thanks Mr. Warner!
To keep the teak in tip-top condition it should be re-oiled at least once a year. Pour a tiny amount of teak oil into a container, wrap a soft, lint-free cloth (cotton is OK) around your forefinger and lightly touch the surface of the oil, then rub the oil over the teak. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes to allow the oil to penetrate the teak, then wipe off any excess oil and then polish with another clean, soft lint-free cloth. Moving parts should not be oiled รข€“ they would probably finish up sticking! Care will have to be taken oiling the top of the VOO DOO cover to ensure that excess oil does not penetrate the wood beneath the voo doo head piece. Once again this may cause it to stick. I have used different brands of oil over the years, but am currently using LIBERON teak oil (with UV filter) which I consider to be by far the best.
Wood that has a glossy lacquer layer (like Magic Wagon's Diceolation or Griffin Caddy to name a few) does not need oiling. Just dust it off once in a while and you'll be fine.
Other wood, depending on what kind is used, also needs some oiling once in a while. However always use it on a tiny spot and let it dry out first before attempting to rub it all over your magic trick, just to be on the safe side.
Bellow is a picture of three wooden magic tricks (sorry for the quality, I needed to use my cellphone and tried to make the best out of it). Top left is Magic Wagon's Griffin Caddy, left bottom is Warner's Voodoo (very delicate, store it well and see the advice above from Mr. Warner himself) and Mikame's Card Case, which is very sensitive to humidity: too dry and it will not operate smoothly (this warning was given to me in the past by Mr. J.M. Talbot - thanks again John!).

Metal and coins

Every metal (apart from gold and platina) or alloy eventually rusts, which is basically reacting with oxygen and forming an oxide of the metal. This oxide has a typical color; for example ironoxide is brown and cupperoxide (cupper is part of brass, used in a lot of magic tricks) is blue/green. There's actually nothing you can really do about that, beside protecting it from oxygen by storing it in a closed environment ... . There are products available you can use to clean/polish brass or other alloys and I've used them with succes. My favorite is Sapoli Cupper which is available in department stores in Belgium.
Humidity makes the reaction with oxygen faster, so store your metal props as dry as possible.
Oil/grease/dirt on your skin also 'attacks' metal. I for one never, ever hand out my items for examination (even if they can be examined) at the good old summer barbecues when uncle Pete just finished eating his greasy sausage with his hands ;-)

Coins containing cupper like pennies or Eurocents can be easily cleaned. You can either buy a (rather expensive) product at a shop for coin collectors or you can try this easy and cheap method my grandmother tought me decades ago. Works everytime. First use a nailbrush (or toothbrush) to get rid of the excessive, loose (often dark colored or green/blue) rust. With some diluted vinegar (50/50 with water, you can also use 75/25 or even pure vinegar if it doesn't work fast enough for you) mixed with some salt (sodiumchloride - woops, there's that chemistry teacher in me!) most of the left-over rust comes off and the metal will shine again. Be carefull though, it's quite an agressive threatment so rinse of with plenty of water afterwards! Even better, first apply some soda-solution (not the drink - read further) which will neutralize the acid and than rinse of with water. Needless to say, dry after that.
If your coin is extremely rare and valuable you might consider applying a less agressive method: putting it in water with what in Belgium and Holland is called soda (chemical formula Na2CO3). This takes a serious amount of time though, but it's safe. You can boil the solution to speed things up.
One last remark: some people leave their coins as they are. Old looking, rusty coins might add to the story of your magic trick.


In short: don't heat them, don't drop or slam them, keep them dry. Also, when possible, keep every magnet (or object with magnet in it) in its own litle box/compartment, away from other magnets. The new neodinium magnets won't loose their strength easily, but the older types are best stored this way.


Some time ago we had an interesting discussion at the Funstuffonly forum about leaving batteries in our electronic magic tricks. I've talked with a few of my colleagues (which are also science teachers like myself) and we agreed that while the chances batteries (and I'm talking about brands like Duracel or Energizer, not the cheap ones you can buy at the dollar store) leaking thesedays are very, very slim (especially the round, flat types), it is still prefered to take them out when you're not using your trick for a long time (as in months or years). Better safe then sorry.


While I have a HUGE bunch of card effects, and I must admit these are actually the effects I perform the most, I never had any interest in taking care of them, since they are easy to buy/replace and even (re)make yourself when an effect has been discontinued. I suppose since they are made out of plastic or cardboard (which everyone knows is best stored dry) most advice about plastic in one of the previous paragraphs applies. Here is a very interesting article with specific information about cards.