• Alex Hui

TRICK REVIEW - Unorthodox by Antonio Martinez

Updated: May 14


Here is my in-depth review of Unorthodox by Antonio Martinez.


REVIEW PHILOSOPHY


When I review a product, I’d like to judge the product per se, but not putting past record or creator’s name/reputation into consideration. I will provide what is not said on the advertisement and details beyond the product itself.


I have no affiliation with any magicians or dealers, thus you will have everything good and bad about the product. Almost nothing is left out.


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EFFECT


The audience names a card and it is revealed that the card is the only normal card among the ‘UNO' cards.


Since the ad copy explicitly mentions that it is an improvement of the Ultra Mental deck (Invisible Deck), I will discuss this effect with that understanding but not going into details of secret as there are laymen readers.


WHAT YOU GET?


You will get ONE gimmick deck with a similar look to UNO cards. There are 54 cards in total (one card is a tutorial link card).


You will get link to online instructional video on Vimeo. The video is set to allow download on your device.


While the deck comes with a custom box, you need a normal blue deck box.


QUALITY OF THE CARDS


The card is divided into 2 types: ‘UNO’ card and normal playing card.


The card stock of both types is the same. While the design of the ‘UNO’ is simple & decent, the design of the normal card is executed less satisfactory.


First of all, the back design pattern lacks the distinctive feature and looks like cheap cards. It somehow looks ‘blurry’ from distance. And the face of the card is also small compared with other cards. It really feels like cheap deck we usually get from convenient store.





QUALITY OF THE TUTORIAL


The effect is well explained in a 42 minutes and 5 seconds long video. The explanation is hosted by Peter Nardi & Dave Loosley. The creator Antonio Martinez only appears in the introduction for 30 seconds.


Length (in minutes) of the main parts (I literally counted):


  • Trailer - 3:20

  • Creator Introduction - 0:31

  • Introduction - 3:12

  • Studio Performance - 1:16

  • Gimmick - 10:54

  • Explanation - 10:16

  • Bonus Chapter - 12:36


In ‘Introduction’, Peter and Dave talk about why they love this effect and what improvement it has over Invisible Deck. They point out that the magician-in-trouble presentation has aided the impact of this effect, which I agree. Then they talk about the evolution of this effect from trimmed down deck to a redesigned deck. It’s mainly the background information.


Then there is a studio performance which refreshes viewer’s memory about what the trick is about. The presentation is minimal and nothing much can be learnt from this performance.


In Gimmick session, Peter and Dave go into great details of the gimmick deck. There are indeed several improvements:


  1. First of all, there is no calculation at all. That means reaching the selection requires less effort.

  2. Unlike traditional Invisible Deck, the cards in this effect are prepared in better way. It’s easier to spread when you need to, while the cards are secured nicely before revelation. Personally I like this better but am not sure how long it will last.

  3. The normal playing can be replaced easily with your favorite cards without any preparation. There is no worry even if your audience is freaked out by the effect and ruined your cards.


In ‘Explanation’, Peter and Dave explains the trick in details. Since audience is not allowed to name any cards, they discuss about in great length about the ways to confine the selection range. Two handlings are provided but they don’t look much different. They spent about 8 minutes on this and talk about how natural it is and how it will fool magicians. I will discuss about the shortcoming of this approach in Analysis of The Effect.


In Bonus Chapter, 3 things are taught. The first is how to memorize something in order to make the trick work easier for you. This part is not too helpful because it’s actually nothing much to memorize. I don’t think any performers will have difficulty at all. Then there are 2 more presentations. There is a handling of asking a selection elegantly, I like it much.



DIFFICULTY


The physical technique requirement is minimal. But there is a psychological aspect to handle the card selection process. The details are well covered in the tutorial, thus it’s no issue to even beginners.


EXAMINABLE?


The deck is not examinable. But the card taken by the spectator can be examined and handled freely. The deck is never in the hands of spectators.


PERFORMANCE ANGLE


It’s the same as Invisible Deck.


CLOTHING REQUIREMENT


You can do it naked if you want.


ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECT


I will include my analysis of the effect in my product review. In this analysis, I will present my view on the strength and weakness of the effect. And will also go deeper with magic theory in mind.


Undoubtedly, Invisible Deck is one of the strongest effects in card magic. To improve it is not an easy task, is this trick on the right path on this quest?


The answer is probably no.


While this effect has introduced a nice theme, there is a major issue with it.


Alakazam Magic has chosen to ‘improve’ the creator’s original 2-deck version and make only 1 deck for this effect. Their reason is: 1-deck version is better for workers.


I can’t agree at all.


Not only this weakens the strongest strength (any cards can be named) of Invisible Deck, Alakazam Magic has made a decision which limits the presentation of magicians. Now the buyers have to circumvent the limitation of this effect and come up with a presentation to handle card selection. No matter how many times Peter and Dave talk about the chance is on magicians’s side, that is not true. Due to the deck construction, if allowed to choose freely, audience will surely pick the ‘wrong’ card more often than the ‘right’ card. That is just an easy calculation of probability. No matter how hard they try to convince the viewers, the math won’t change.


Therefore, if the aim of this release is to strengthen the Invisible Deck, why would you want to remove the strongest part of that effect?


At the price of US$40, it doesn’t hurt much to provide the buyers with 2 gimmick decks. Besides, if 2 decks were provided, it can be up to the performers to choose between 1-deck or 2-deck version. But now Alakazam Magic made the decision and eliminated the strongest feature of Invisible Deck by saying that it’s better for workers. That’s quite disappointing and not considerate at all.


I feel sorry for the creator because he had made the right decision, but Alakazam Magic changed it.


IDEAS


  • You can make a 2-deck version by purchasing 2 set of Unorthodox if you want totally free choice. Since the normal cards can be replaced with anything, it’s do-able. However, in doing so you need to think of a system to locate the selection. Whether to spend another US$40 is another issue.


PROS ABOUT THE PRODUCT


  • The treatment of the cards are nice. I like the fact that the normal cards can be replaced easily.

  • The theme is very nice. It is attractive to most audience.


CONS ABOUT THE PRODUCT


  • Due to the treatment of the cards, you have to separate each card once or you will have hard time spreading the cards.

  • Some workers would prefer a wholesome approach with 2 decks. A 1-deck version decision is not ideal to some performers. This decision limits the possible presentations much.

  • The design of the normal card is disappointing.


FINAL VERDICT


Unorthodox is a nice effect with great promise. It’s as easy as Invisible Deck and offers a nice touch with the ‘UNO’ theme. However, execution of this product is poor in some areas.


Though I am very disappointed at the decision of using 1-deck, I don’t disagree that it can be a killer effect to laymen.


Whether you need this or not depends largely on how badly you want to perform Invisible Deck in different way. As mentioned above, this effect comes with sacrifice of free choice. At US$40, it’s a bit pricy with such shortcoming. If your goal with this deck is clear, I think the decision is not hard to make.


  • Video Quality: 8/10

  • Effectiveness of Tricks: 9/10

  • Practical: 7/10

  • Creativity: 7/10

  • Cost Performance: 6/10

  • Final Score: 7/10

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Hope the review helpful to you all.


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Thank you for reading this review.

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