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by Tim Trono
"Branded", a new effect by Tim Trono, takes the classic Tillar plot and turns it on its head with a simple, open handling and a new effect entirely, resulting in powerful, practical magic.
For a while now we've been revealing all sorts of things with blistered fingers: playing cards, ESP symbols... you name it, there's a blister for it. But "Branded" takes that idea and twists it into something new and different.
"Branded" begins with the performer showing a ugly blister on their thumb. A spectator selects a card (say, the Seven of Diamonds) and concentrates on it while looking into the flame coming from a lighter. The performer pinches the flame between their thumb and finger and then shows the blister which has changed shape to reveal their card: the "7" is on the finger and the "diamond" is on the thumb.
Yep, this is not your usually "magically appearing blister" effect. In "Branded", an existing blister magically alters itself to match the selected card. That makes this an entirely different effect and a fine one to say the least. The reactions to this are incredibly strong and that right there would make "Branded" a winner.
But Trono's genius didn't begin and end with a new blister effect. He went beyond the pale with the working here. Namely, the gimmicks.
There are two: one for regular Bic lighters and one for the smaller "mini" lighters. Both function pretty much the same (there are slight differences, but they are minor) and both are simple and brilliant. With these gimmicks, there's no longer any fumbling in the pocket whatsoever. In fact, the dirty work is done brazenly, in front of the spectators, and they'll see nothing. Since pocket juggling is out of the equation, so is the pocket management issue. Really, as long as you've got the lighter you're pretty much done here. Such is the easy of operating "Branded".
While we're on the subject, "Branded" is so practical it's scary. The one-time set-up is not even worth mentioning, and there is no reset (unless you count having to get rid of the blisters on your fingers before going into it again). Repeating this should have been a problem, but Trono's solution is so neat in that regard you'll have no problem doing this one over and over (Gregory Wilson, who teaches "Branded", even mentions a way of making a spectator's initial appear instead of a card, in case you want to do this one again but differently). And when it comes to the handling, which is very easy, it's unbelievably clean and there's no dirty little thing to ditch when you're done.
Man, I love this. A lot. But then I already do one and know just how powerful this effect can be.
And that's the first thing we need to look at. If you already do a blister effect, is "Branded" a good purchase? I'd have to say "yep" on that one. I use Palter's "Third Degree Burn" and get great reactions from it; "Branded", though, is a different effect. That transformation of a blister is hard to beat. Also, in most takes on this effect, spectators are given a free rein when it comes to card selection; such is not the case with "Branded". But with the open and easy handling of "Branded" and that transformation, "Branded" is worth the buy even if you already own and perform a similar effect.
Next, this only works with Bic disposable lighters. Other makes and models won't work. This is not a problem since I've yet to see anyplace where Bics are available. A bit of advice here: get both the regular and the mini sizes and get them in black. And get a couple of 'em: you'll be doing "Branded" a lot.
Last, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the video here. Simply put, it's excellent. Gregory Wilson, of whom I'm a fanboy and proudly admit it, teaches the handling of "Branded" and does so incredibly well. Not only do you learn the ins and outs of the gimmicks, but you also learn all the presentational pieces that can make this miracle-class stuff. More, Wilson even teaches my personal favorite effect, his "Voodoo Card" routine, as a natural lead-in to "Branded", making the whole thing a mind-blowing act in itself. Big thumbs up here and big raves for Wilson's work with Trono's thinking.
All in all, "Branded" is in many ways the perfect effect. Small and practical, easy and powerful, "Branded" is a golden idea with a grand implementation that makes it a must-have for anyone even considering doing a blister effect. Period.
by Tim Trono
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